Mare tries to refuse, which Maven agrees is a good idea. However, everyone pushes Mare into the arena, arguing that there are healers nearby to help should her minimal training prove no match for Evangeline. Mare, wondering if she was always supposed to die in a staged accident during Training, resolves not to die here. As they fight, she summons extraordinary power and seems to be fighting Evangeline off. However, Evangeline gets the upper hand and has metal spiders she has summoned out of the earth slice Mare’s face open. Cal and Maven rush to Mare’s aid, helping to hide her red blood from everyone, including the healer who tries to help her.
Mare and Maven think it is a bad idea for Mare to fight Evangeline, because if she bleeds, everyone will see that she is not, in fact, a Silver. Maven and Cal’s concern might be for Mare’s wellbeing, or it might be for the wellbeing of the royal family’s cover story. Mare is in particular danger not only because Elara has promised that she will be killed if her identity is revealed, but also because she must refuse the medical attention of healers who might find out her secret.
Mare convinces Maven to take her to Julian. When they meet, Mare learns that there is animosity between Julian and Maven. Julian says he cannot do much of anything for Mare’s wound and sends Maven to find Sara Skonos, a skin healer and “a discreet friend.” Maven returns with her shortly. Unlike a blood healer, Sara has not artificially concealed her age. Silently, she heals Mare. Mare can tell that Julian used to be in love with Sara. Julian makes no comment but urges Maven and Mare to leave so as not to be missed.
Mare is once again finding that the royal court has a deep and convoluted history. She does not know who trusts who, much less who she ought to trust. In particular, Mare has felt the urge to trust both Julian and Maven. She needs both of their help, and it does seem that in this instance, they are able to put aside their differences to help her. However, it is unclear whether she will be able to reconcile their differences in the long term.
In the hall, Mare and Maven run into Elara, and Mare witnesses the queen read her son’s mind. When Elara turns to Mare and says to be careful not to give herself away with her blood again, Mare challenges her for killing Shade. Elara takes control of Mare, throwing her back against the wall. She tells Mare never to speak to her that way again. Mare wonders why Elara doesn’t just kill her. Maven breaks up the confrontation, telling Mare to get back to her schedule and staring his mother down like “two pieces squaring off in a game I don’t understand.”
Mare realizes that she does not understand the dynamic between Maven and Elara. She wants to trust Maven, but Elara is her enemy. Mare also realizes that there must be aspects of Elara’s plan for her that she does not understand, because she is an inconvenience to Elara, and court gossip would suggest that it is not difficult to have inconvenient people killed. decides to continue tentatively trusting Maven with the understanding that he might be aware of ways in which she is a pawn in a scheme.
Mare must dress for the send-off of a legion of soldiers. Mare is disgusted that Silvers have chosen to go to the war front on what appears to her as a vacation. When she tells this to Cal, he says that choosing to go does not reduce the soldiers’ bravery. In fact, they are to go dressed as Reds to fight alongside Reds already at the front. Cal tells Mare she gave him this idea by causing such disorientation when she fell at Queesntrial. He hopes that the enemy will feel the same about Silvers dressed as Reds.
Cal demonstrates that although he may not be the most radical thinker in terms of social reform, he is a creative tactician and uses all the resources he can to bring about victory on the warfront. This creativity contrasts with the single-mindedness of Maven, who has decided that terrorism is the only way to effect change. Cal’s plan also involves placing Silvers alongside Reds at the warfront. It is not a perfect plan, and Reds might be upset that Silvers are donning their uniforms as costumes that they can ultimately take off. However, Cal is at least thinking about Red and Silver collaboration.
One new soldier praises Cal for leading the legion as the youngest general in history. Mare finds out that Cal will depart for the war front when she departs for the capital. Mare worries that unlike Kilorn, Cal is not equipped with the basic survival skills to make it home alive.
Mare’s concern for Cal demonstrates that she has grown to care for him. She is also continuing her pattern of worrying about others more than about herself. Mare does not yet respect either Kilorn or Cal’s ability to thrive or make good decisions without her.
That evening, Cal stops by Mare’s room to give her dance lessons. Mare knows she should refuse because of her engagement to Maven, but the thought that Cal might die on the war front convinces Mare to go with him.
The imminent danger Cal faces has softened Mare’s feelings toward him. She once again demonstrates that for all her concern over trustworthiness, she is drawn to people because of their vulnerability more than because she finds them trustworthy. She herself might be betraying her commitment to Maven by going with Cal.