Mare wakes to Walsh standing over her. Walsh goes about the business of a servant but mouths at Mare, “Rise, Red as the dawn,” signaling her own involvement with the Guard. There is a piece of paper in the teacup Walsh hands Mare. It says, “midnight.” Mare also has a note from Elara with an updated schedule to accommodate Training along with Protocol and Lessons.
Walsh’s message to Mare indicates that signing up with the Scarlet Guard is not only symbolic but will also affect Mare’s day-to-day life. It also indicates that the Scarlet Guard may be wider-ranging than Mare thought, and that people she has already been interacting with might have unknown political allegiances. Mare is now officially caught up in this tangle of allegiances.
Mare is excited for Training because she will have someone to talk to. Lucas advises her to be careful not to antagonize the instructors. Lucas says his military service wore on him because he began at the age of nine, and “men are not meant to be at war for long.” Mare challenges him, asking whether Reds can last longer than Silvers at war. Mare realizes that Lucas knows she is hiding something when he tells her they would both do best to keep their heads down.
Mare is frustrated with Lucas’s comment because she sees that military service was something he could end when he pleased, whereas her father and brothers have been at the mercy of the military draft. Like the note from Walsh, Lucas’s comment that they should both keep their heads down leads Mare to see that the people she has been interacting with all have secrets, and many of them assume that others do as well.
At Training, Mare must endure the jealous glances of the other noble women who were in the contest for Maven’s hand. It is Evangeline, however, who looks the most threatening. Mare seeks out Maven. He tells her that soon, when they all part for the capital, Evangeline will have too much to do with Cal to pay attention to Mare. They joke about Mare’s struggle learning to dance and about the attention Cal will have to endure at the Parting Ball from girls who want to dance with him.
Although Mare may not entirely trust Maven, he has become the person she seeks out in a crowd of unfriendly faces. Evangeline remains a threat. There is a tension between the building hints about Mare and Cal’s attraction to one another and the hope that Evangeline will be distracted by a partnership with Cal. There is also a tension between Mare’s attraction to Cal and her attraction to Maven.
Maven asks about Mare’s visit home, and she realizes Cal did not tell him how it went. Mare tells Maven about Shade, and he expresses sympathy. Although Maven is a burner, Mare almost gets the feeling that like his mother Elara, he can read her mind.
The fact that Cal has not told Maven about their trip to the Stilts allows Mare to bond with Maven over the news of her brother’s death. This closeness makes Mare uncomfortable, because it seems as though Maven is more aware of her feelings than he ought to be.
As practice commences, Mare loses hope because all the Silvers appear so powerful, and these are only the untrained teenagers. The instructor enters. Mare recognizes him as the man who oversees broadcasted executions in the capital. He has the power to turn Silvers’ abilities off. He sets everyone to do laps. Mare starts off in the lead. However, part of the wall suddenly juts out, tripping her. Evangeline smirks. Only Maven slows down to wait for Mare. Parts of the wall continue to move into the runners’ path. Everyone else seems used to it. Mare manages to keep up but does not give a remarkable performance compared to the others.
There is a juxtaposition between the casual, everyday routine of going to class with a group of teenagers and the horrific idea of broadcasted executions. Mare has always been good at running, and has been looking forward to Training because she thinks she will excel at it. She learns immediately that she is up against strong competition and should not take the Silvers’ physical abilities lightly. Maven cultivates Mare’s trust by waiting for her.
Next, Mare is asked to demonstrate her power by shooting down a ball target with electricity. She misses. The second time, she hits. She receives no congratulations and must reflect only privately on what Julian told her about being special.
As soon as Mare does demonstrate her excellence in Training, the affirmation she hopes for does not come. That her excellence is counted as unremarkable shows that she is in competition with a host of remarkable classmates.
Mare goes to her lesson with Julian sore and sweating. She struggles to focus because she keeps thinking ahead to midnight, when she will take “control of my fate.” Julian shows Mare the death lists from the war, and Mare knows that Shade will not be listed because deserters do not get lines in the books. Julian tells Mare that he heard what happened when she got the news of Shade and that she will need more help than he can give her.
Mare is excited about her work with the Scarlet Guard not only because she believes in the Guard’s politics but also because it is a way to stage a personal rebellion, acting of her own accord against the wishes of her captors. Julian recognizes how important it is for Mare to control her own powers, and seems to be asking her to trust him.
Julian tells Mare that he saw her training session, and she looked very good. He then demonstrates his power: he is a singer, meaning that although he is not as powerful as Elara, he can make anyone do as he wishes as long as he can look into their eyes and be heard by them.
Julian’s demonstration of his own gift marks an exchange of trust. So far, they have discussed only Mare’s talent. Now, Julian reveals to Mare that he has the power to control people’s volition. By revealing this power to Mare, Julian makes it more difficult for himself to use his talent on her.
As Mare backs away, horrified, Julian tells her that she is right not to trust him. He says that he is friends only with books because no one trusts him. However, he emphasizes that he has never tried to use his power to gain the throne. Nor did his sister, Coriane, who was chosen by King Tiberias to be queen not because of any power demonstration but because he loved her. The Silvers did not like Coriane because she promised to raise Cal to be a just king rather than one who would simply stand for Silver interests. Julian tells Mare that, like Shade, his sister was killed under suspicious circumstances. Julian warns Mare not to get in too deep because “they’ll do it again, to anyone they have to. Even Cal, even Maven, and especially you.” Mare reflects internally, “Too late.”
Julian reveals that he feels isolated, just like Mare. On some level, he feels he deserves that isolation because he could so easily abuse his gift—but he also insists that he has not done so. Mare also learns here that the royal family has a history littered with mysterious deaths and struggles for power. Julian’s insinuation that “They’ll do it again” raises the question of who “they” are. Someone seems to have been plotting over a long period of time to gain power. Mare is wise not to trust people, but she now must face the dilemma of whether or not to trust Julian.