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Chapter 23 Summary

Prince Kai sits with Torin and Sybil Mira inside the palace, listening to the crowd chant its protest against Queen Levana's visit. He is dismayed at how easily Queen Levana stops them with her mind control. He was privately hoping that she would fail. 

Kai’s dismay increases when Queen Levana rushes inside and accuses him of violating the treaty between Earth and the moon. When he asks what she means, she explains that she just saw a Lunar fugitive among the protestors. Kai does not believe her. He has never heard of Lunars entering the Eastern Commonwealth, let alone New Beijing, and he finds the idea “absurd.” But he knows that it is important to keep the queen happy, so he promises to look into the matter.

Changing the subject, Queen Levana says that she has a coronation gift for Prince Kai. She claims that she is highly concerned by the spread of letumosis on Earth, and that Lunar scientists have spent years searching for a cure. She announces that an antidote has just now been discovered, and she gives Kai a small vial of it. Kai assumes that she has had the antidote much longer than she claims, and he is furious that she did not share it sooner, when it could have helped his father.

Clearly unconcerned by Kai’s anger, Queen Levana goes on to say that the Lunars can produce more of the antidote—for a price. Kai shouts at her for thinking of herself when people are dying, but Queen Levana says breezily that politics “is all about give and take.” Kai gapes at her, so angry he cannot speak.

At that moment, Nainsi appears in the doorway. Queen Levana, who does not like any kind of thinking machine, orders the android away. Kai takes her out himself. As soon as he is out of Queen Levana’s earshot, he screams and punches a wall to vent his feelings. It appalls him that anyone would use millions of innocent lives as a bargaining tool. 

When Kai catches his breath, he asks Nainsi if she is all right. She says that all her memories are intact, so she and Kai can continue their search for Princess Selene immediately. As an afterthought, she adds that Cinder is waiting outside. Hearing this gives Kai a leap of hope. He really wants Cinder to come to the ball with him. If he has a date, he might be able to avoid dancing with Queen Levana.