Scythe Curie writes that she sometimes mourns for all the things that humans lost when they became immortal, such as religion. Now, there are "tone cults," but nobody takes them seriously. She recounts going to her local tone cult's gathering place to glean one of the congregants. The worshippers were singing the "frequency of the universe," and Curie wonders if they actually believe the tuning fork "bident"—their symbol—means something, or if it's just a big joke.
What Curie misses here is that even if a symbol is objectively ridiculous, symbols still mean things—even if, as is possible in this case, the bident just represents a joke the tone cults are playing on the rest of society. It's shortsighted of Curie to discount that even if this is all a ruse, for those who buy into it, the bident is still a symbol of defiance of the immortal age.
A week before Vernal Conclave in May, Scythe Faraday explains to Citra and Rowan what the conclave is. It exists because the Scythedom isn't controlled by the Thunderhead, so scythes get together to resolve disputes and discuss policy three times per year. He also says that the MidMerican Conclave is important, as the region sets trends for the world. Citra and Rowan will be tested at each conclave. Rowan has lots of questions, but lets Citra ask all the questions since they clearly annoy Faraday. The only question he asks is if they'll be disqualified if they fail. Faraday says there will be a consequence, but they'll continue with their training regardless.
Notice that while Faraday explains the purpose of the conclaves, he doesn't necessarily let on that he has any worries about how they function and if they do so effectively. This suggests that he's possibly unaware of what Scythe Goddard is up to with his mass gleanings, which casts these conclaves as the only time per year that scythes are able to function as a community—and therefore, are only really able to check on each other at those times.
A few days before conclave, Rowan and Citra stay up late studying. Citra, riled, slams her book shut and tries to quiz Rowan on his poisons. He gets the formula wrong for one, but he doesn't get upset about it. He tells Citra that he's worried, but less so knowing that he won't be disqualified. Citra slumps and halfheartedly says she doesn't fail things. Rowan pulls out another book on weapons and Citra says she'd miss Rowan if one of them could be disqualified. He considers taking her hand, but it'd be too awkward. Rowan makes a joke instead and wonders if Citra actually likes him more than she lets on.
Recall that scythes aren't allowed to fall in love. The budding romance between Citra and Rowan then, while normal in terms of teenage development, is in direct opposition to what they're both trying to do as they train to become scythes. This suggests that Citra and Rowan are in a situation where they're getting a close look at what they're giving up by following through with their training.