Mare wakes to what she assumes is a routine security search. She is surprised to see a Red royal servant with the officers. The young woman tells Mare that she has been summoned to Summerton. Mare is sure that she is going to be killed for her connection to Farley. Having nothing to give Gisa, Mare whispers, “I love you” as she departs.
The notion of “routine” security searches, in which officers of the government invade private homes, demonstrates how easily fascism can become normalized. Mare is completely at the mercy of the royal servant and officers and must face the fact that she is being taken away from Gisa before they can repair their relationship.
After a ride in a gleaming transport, Mare and the royal servant pass through the diamondglass walls into Summerton. The servant introduces herself as Ann Walsh, a Stilts native who once dated Bree. Mare, Walsh says, has been selected for a serving post. Mare thinks Cal must have gotten her the job, and is elated that she is being neither killed nor conscripted. She plans to convince Cal to do the same for Kilorn. Mare sobers when Walsh tells her they must enter the royal palace because, “You serve the king now.”
For one of the first times in the novel, Mare allows herself to be overtaken by optimism. This fresh outlook seems to have something to do with her earlier conversation with Cal, in which she was able to confess the feelings that have been weighing on her. When Walsh tells her that she serves the king now, Mare realizes that upward mobility within the existing social hierarchy is impossible without serving unjust systems of power.
Walsh tells Mare she is to be on duty for an event called Queenstrial, when all the young Silver noblewomen compete for the crown prince’s hand in marriage. Queenstrial is to take place in the Spiral Garden. When Walsh shuffles Mare inside, Mare is struck by the Spiral Garden’s resemblance to the arena back home, except it is much more ornate. She sets to work responding to serving requests from Silver lords, who are seated at tables with buttons that illuminate lights to call servants.
Everything about the Spiral Garden demonstrates the excess wealth of the Silvers. Rather than distribute wealth fairly across the kingdom, the Silvers hoard their riches. The fact that the Spiral Garden is similar to the “Feats” arena, however, suggests that the royal family is asserting the same kind of dominance over the Silver lords that the Silvers assert over the Reds. Hoarding wealth and disbursing it unequally may be key to maintaining the loyalty of the lords as well.
When King Tiberias and Queen Elara enter the arena, Mare cannot believe she is this close to the man who tyrannically oppresses Reds. She observes the crown on his head, which is crafted to look like flames to reflect his gift. Like all the previous kings, he is a “burner” who is able to control heat and fire. The kings used to burn dissenters. The crowd greets the king with the royal motto: “Strength. Power.” The king introduces his sons: Queen Elara’s son, Maven, and the crown prince from the king’s previous marriage to Queen Coriane, Tiberias the Seventh. Mare looks up and is stunned to see that the crown prince is Cal.
The king has the crowd trained to parrot the motto, “Strength. Power,” back to him upon seeing him. The lords seem to have the sense that they are part of the strength and power they are invoking. However, the king’s crown makes a visual statement that the strength and power is consolidated in his body. He only welcomes his subjects into the fold as long as they do not dissent; otherwise, he could easily burn them. Mare notices the tyranny inherent in this arrangement in a way that the crowd seems not to observe.