At dinner, Kai forces himself not to look at Levana, though the task is difficult. Levana starts to talk about the annual festival and ball, which Torin explains are celebrations of the end of the Fourth World War. Levana says the war was probably a good thing, as it forced the countries to conglomerate in larger groups and find peace. Kai fumes at this assessment—whole cultures were devastated in the war, along with countless natural resources. Levana says that Luna, having one country and one government, is a fairer arrangement. Kai points out that this means assuming that the ruling government is fair. Sybil Mira says that she hopes that Earth and Luna can find a new agreement under Kai’s leadership, and Kai goes over his choices in his head: marriage or war.
Levana’s thoughts on the Fourth World War are emblematic of her political philosophy as a whole. For her, the cost of war to society is almost irrelevant, so long as that society comes out the other side without upheaval. She doesn’t care about the citizens that she is supposed to protect, instead she is merely worried about maintaining political structures that are advantageous to her. Meanwhile, Kai is faced with the opposite choice—pondering what is the best decision for society as a whole, even if it means his own unhappiness.
Suddenly, Queen Levana screams—under the platter that was served to her lay a small hand mirror. Levana demands that the servant who set the platter be punished, but Torin points out that they don’t know the woman is to blame. Sybil takes out a knife and holds its handle out toward the woman. Kai watches in horror as the woman takes the knife herself and points it toward her own eye. Kai hastily shouts that he ordered the kitchen to put a mirror on Levana’s tray as a joke, and that they should blame him instead of this woman. The knife clatters to the floor, and Levana accepts his apology, though she knows that he is lying. She leaves, no longer hungry.
The mirror in this passage symbolizes Levana and Sybil’s refusal to portray themselves as they really are. Mirrors traditionally represent self-reflection and truth, so Levana’s hatred of them suggests that she can’t bear to let others see her for who she is—not can she bear to face who she is beneath her false exterior. This incident also illustrates and the lengths to which Levana and Sybil will go to manipulate others and maintain power: rather than using their Lunar gift to pursue justice, they use it for cruelty. This power allows them to threaten and even force others to harm themselves against their will. While leaders are usually charged with caring for the weak and poor in a country, Levana and Sybil do the opposite. This is an example of how power can be morally corrupting if it goes unchecked, leading those in power to destroy other people (and even entire societies) for their own benefit.
Kai picks up the mirror, noticing that the handle is made of a sparkling material—Lunar material. Torin deduces that Queen Levana was testing Kai. Just then, Kai receives an urgent message from the Secretary of Public Health and safety—a girl attacked a med-droid in the quarantines and escaped. The girl also spoke with a young boy, Sunto, who is now recovering from letumosis.
The revelation about the mirror again shows the contrast between Kai and Levana. While Kai is willing to sacrifice himself to protect others, Levana’s power prompts her to manipulate and destroy those around her to buoy that power further, purposefully lying to test Kai’s mettle. Meanwhile, given that the girl who attacked the med-droid spoke to Sunto, it’s implied that the message is referring to Cinder resisting arrest.