For Mare’s next lesson, she enters a room full of books and maps. Her instructor asks her to read a map on the wall. He tells her to look beyond the words, which are written in an unfamiliar language, because, “words can lie.” Mare manages to read the map passably well. She realizes that for the first time, she cannot sense any cameras in the room. The instructor, who calls Mare by her actual name instead of “Mareena,” is intrigued to find that she can sense the lack of cameras. He tells her that he is going to teach her to be a Silver and to be useful, and that he is also going to study how she, Mare Barrow (not Mareena Titanos), came to exist. He tells her never to forget who she actually is.
This is the first time someone has explicitly stated that Mare’s distrust of those around her in the court is wise. This is also the first time since she arrived in the capital that Mare has not felt the constant surveillance of cameras. What the instructor tells Mare makes it seem as though he is on her side and wants to help her through her process of self-discovery, rather than simply help her more effectively perform her assigned role. However, knowing little about this person, it is unclear if Mare should trust him.
The tutor tells Mare that he will not reveal her identity. She asks if there are no cameras so that there is no record of his “examining” her. He replies that there are no cameras because he has turned them off. He introduces himself as Julian Jacos, brother of the former queen (Coriane) and Cal’s uncle. Julian, unlike Elara, wants to help Mare understand herself. However, he also must do as he has been instructed: train her to be the figurehead to stop a rebellion.
Julian has connections to many people at court. He may be on Mare’s side, but he also must contribute to the effort to groom her as a figurehead for maintaining the status quo. Like Mare, he thus has two faces. Even if he wants to be on her side, there is no telling when he might be carrying out his allegiance to others at court.
Julian says that Mare has the power to bring about slower but less violent change than that represented by the Scarlet Guard. The oppression of the Reds, Julian argues, is wrong, but so is the categorical condemnation of Silvers. Mare is proof that Silvers and Reds are equal. Realizing that he might help her, Mare agrees to let him train her to effect change.
Julian speaks what Mare has been realizing during her short time at court: Silvers and Reds alike are more complicated than they allow each other to be. Julian wants change, but shares Mare’s reservations about the ethics of terrorist tactics. However, he sees her as a pawn in a scheme just like the royal family does. Mare chooses to submit to his using her because he represents her best chance at life.
At meals, Mare sits next to Evangeline, who uses her utensils like weapons. Mare tries to remember the names of all the nobles. At one gathering, some of the ladies begin asking Mare how it feels to live in the palace, insulting her home village. Mare tries to hold her tongue. Eventually, she breaks and defends the Reds, saying that, “Being forced to live such lives, with no respite, no reprieve, and no escape, would make servants of anyone.” Elara rushes in to say that Mare is still learning proper etiquette.
Mare must balance her own safety, which requires the performance of her role as Lady Mareena Titanos, with her convictions and allegiance to the Reds. Although her outburst is framed as a loss of control, she manages to put Elara in a defensive position without putting herself in true danger. Mare thus demonstrates an instinctual adeptness at political maneuvers.
Another woman, a colonel, shocks the company by demanding to know what the king is going to do about the Scarlet Guard terrorist attacks. Mare is surprised to learn that there have been more. Elara says it is unwise to give the attacks more weight than they deserve. Everyone agrees except Mare and the colonel, who remain quiet.
On the same page as the colonel, Mare demonstrates a certain political and military savviness. Because Elara must make Mare believable as her son’s fiancée, Mare must be invited to gatherings that make her privy to the kind of political news that might help her scheme against the royal family.
Mare is lonely. She does not see Cal often, and she remains wary of Maven, who she fears might be hiding something. She enjoys Julian’s lessons because they allow her to discover her talents outside the view of Elara or the cameras. Still, progress comes slowly.
Mare has bonded with Cal and, to an extent, Maven. She wants to trust Maven because she feels lonely, but she is worried about the consequences. Julian’s lessons are a respite from her constant worries of breaking character, but they are not the amazing breakthrough of self-discovery and empowerment that might help her escape her all-but imprisonment.
At one lesson, Julian tries to get Mare to harness electricity from a large electrical contraption. When Mare jokes that maybe she needs to be in mortal danger for it to work, Julian suggests that like a child whose abilities have yet to manifest, Mare might need a trigger. Mare remembers that when she fell onto the electrical shield, she was not afraid but peaceful, resigned to death. When she attempts to recreate this mood, electricity arcs between her hands. Julian tells her to try moving it. She throws a fireball of electricity that smashes apart a bookshelf. Mare and Julian feel triumphant.
Mare and Julian are excited by the newfound understanding about how she can wield her gift. However, the fact that Mare needs to feel peacefully resigned to death in order to use her power means that Mare is at her strongest when she is least attached to her own life. This notion ties into ideologies that historically have justified institutions like slavery: oppressors justify oppressing people by saying that those they oppress will be free in death.
Julian and Mare find a larger space to allow more room for Mare to practice aiming bolts of electricity. Julian measures the electricity in the room before and after Mare throws a bolt. He discovers that she generates electricity. He explains that this makes her something more than either Silver or Red: all other Silvers can only manipulate elements, not produce them. Cal and Maven, for example, wear bracelets that produce sparks, without which they would be talentless.
Julian’s excitement might be on Mare’s behalf, but he also seems excited that he might be able to use her as proof that Silvers and Reds are not as biologically distinct from one another as the nation has been led to believe. Still, the idea that Mare’s talent exceeds the talent of most Silvers, including Cal and Maven, is a big turn from Mare’s habitual assumption of her own powerlessness.
Mare, feeling there is something wrong with her, runs from practice. Sentinels grab her to escort her to her next lesson. Maven intervenes, telling them to leave her be. He says he understands Mare’s feelings because he often feels out of place under his mother’s watch and as the “shadow” of Cal’s “flame.” He warns Mare that she should learn to hide her heart. He also tells her he can fix her homesickness.
Mare feels isolated when she runs from the room. She is both far more powerful than she ever thought and also powerless to be herself in the court. Maven strengthens his bond with Mare with this opportunity to help her feel less isolated. Again, Mare and Maven empathize with one another over their respective sibling rivalries.