Chapter 35 Summary
In spite of Cinder’s warning, Kai decides to go ahead with his decision to marry Queen Levana. At this point, war may be inevitable either way. But at least if he marries her, there is a chance that she will share the antidote to letumosis with the Eastern Commonwealth. Many lives will be saved, even if his own life is lost.
Kai climbs onto a stage at one end of the ballroom to make his announcement. Cinder watches him, certain that she must somehow stop him from making this wrong choice. Without really thinking, she dashes after him and—in front of the assembled crowd—kisses him. Then she says loudly that Kai cannot marry Queen Levana if he is in love with someone else. Kai looks perplexed, and the crowd laughs. Turning around, Cinder sees Queen Levana, who has returned from the gardens. The queen smiles and says:
How charmingly naïve…You must misunderstand my culture. On Luna, we consider monogamy to be nothing more than an archaic sentimentality.
Queen Levana goes on to say that she is far more upset by the fact that Emperor Kai apparently has feelings for a Lunar fugitive. Because Cinder’s ability to manipulate electromagnetic energy has not yet shown itself, Levana assumes Cinder is “an insignificant shell” who has none of the typical Lunar powers. She demands to know what crimes Cinder committed in order to obtain her Earthen identity.
As Kai protests that Cinder is an ordinary Earthen, Cinder realizes that she must tell the truth. She cannot easily explain that she only recently became aware that she was a Lunar. She simply admits that she is one and adds that she is glad she came to Earth. Up on Luna, she would be a slave—or dead.
Kai seems to feel betrayed—especially when Queen Levana says that shells are “quite literally” a plague on Earth. She tells Kai the truth that Dr. Erland has withheld from him: the letumosis plague was brought to Earth by escaped Lunars. Cinder protests that the Lunars did not know what they were doing, but Queen Levana says that this is no excuse. She demands that Cinder be handed over to her for punishment.
Although he is upset at Cinder, Kai remains as fair-minded as always. He says that Cinder is a citizen of his country, and that Queen Levana may not kill her—or anyone. Smiling, Levana offers a deal. She will allow Cinder to live, but only if Kai goes through with the planned marriage.