Chapter 20 Summary
Prince Kai stands in the hot sun on the palace landing pad, watching Queen Levana’s shuttle arrive from the moon. The shuttle is made of an unfamiliar material that shimmers in the bright sunlight, and it is covered in runes Kai cannot read. He reflects that the ship is smaller than he expected, considering the importance of the person within.
It is extremely hot on the landing pad, and Kai is sweating badly. He does not like looking at the bright ship, and he wishes that the queen would hurry up and disembark. However, he knows that his own feelings matter little. He forces himself to act patient and composed.
Eventually Queen Levana’s bodyguards emerge from her ship. Moments later, Queen Levana steps outside herself. She is veiled from head to toe, and the bright sun glints off her whitish gown. Sybil Mira greets her first, expressing her pleasure at the queen’s arrival and then lifting the veil to expose the queen's face. When Kai sees her, he cannot help but gasp:
She was indeed beautiful, as if someone had taken the scientific measurements of perfection and used them to mold a perfect specimen.
Queen Levana’s face is perfectly symmetrical, her skin smooth, her hair silken. And yet her appearance is more creepy than pleasing. Kai notes that her lips are so red, she looks as though she has just “drunk a pint of blood.” Overall she looks wrong, like she cannot be real. Kai has trouble keeping his eyes on her. Nevertheless, he imitates Torin, who gazes at the queen with a deliberate lack of emotion.
After Queen Levana exchanges greetings and pleasantries with Kai, her face changes its expression. Kai feels suddenly that the Earth is shaking beneath his feet, and that the sun has blinked out. Impossibly, he begins to feel that he loves Queen Levana, that he needs to be with her forever. However, he keeps his presence of mind just enough to know that she is using her mind control abilities on him. He jabs himself in the arm with his fingernails, and the feeling subsides. He gathers his willpower and offers to show the queen to her rooms.
Sybil Mira says that Kai’s help is unnecessary, and that she will show the queen around herself. The Lunar entourage departs. When they are gone, Torin congratulates Kai on resisting the queen’s illusions. Torin, too, felt their effects as well, and he knows that it was difficult to maintain self-control. “It will only get harder,” he says. With these foreboding words, Book Two of Cinder ends.