​​​Alina returns to her room in tears after her argument with Mal. She’s alone for some time but later in the night, she hears a knock on her door. To her surprise, it’s not the Darkling, but Baghra. The old woman leads her through a secret door at the end of the hall to an empty chamber. Baghra tells Alina that she must leave the Little Palace that night. Baghra explains that the Darkling is close to finding Morozova’s herd, and if he’s able to secure the antlers as an amplifier for Alina, nothing will stop him from using the Shadow Fold as a weapon. The old woman confesses that the Darkling is, in fact, the Black Heretic who created the Fold and he has no intention of destroying it.  

Alina realizes that Baghra is the Darkling’s mother. Baghra explains that the Darkling plans to use Alina’s power to expand the Fold and take over Ravka and the other countries that surround them. She tells Alina that if the Darkling kills the stag, he will have power over the amplifier and the person who wears it. If the Darkling gives her the antlers, Alina will be under his control. Alina realizes that Baghra is right. She agrees to Baghra’s plan.  

Baghra tells Alina what she needs to do. She details the route she must take to escape the Little Palace, then Os Alta, and finally across the Fold to West Ravka, where she’ll catch a ship. Alina hides among the performers leaving the fete in the back of a wooden cart. They leave Os Alta and make it to a small town named Balakirev. She’s careful as she heads west toward the Fold. In one town, she stops to hear Mass at a small church, where the priest leads the congregation in a prayer for the safety of the Sun Summoner. After several days of walking alone, Alina makes it to a small city called Ryevost. There she resupplies, but on her way out of town, she runs into a man who tumbles drunkenly out of a tavern. The man tries to pull her down an alleyway, but Alina blinds him with a flash of light. The man screams and falls away from her. In the commotion, a soldier exits the tavern and spots Alina. She escapes into the forest.  

The Darkling’s men chase her through the night, but Alina manages to shake her pursuers. Alina sleeps on the forest floor. She’s awakened by the sound of a nearby soldier searching the underbrush. The man leaves before finding her, but when she turns to leave, she sees Mal hiding in the underbrush. Mal signals for her to follow him. The two travel through the rest of the day in silence. When they stop for the night, their conversation is stilted, but Alina asks him if the Darkling has the stag. To her relief, he hasn’t found it but that his trackers are getting close. Mal asks her why she ran, and she replies that she’s trying to save the world. Alina thanks Mal for finding her, to which he whispers that he always will.  


​Baghra’s arrival at Alina’s rooms is a pivotal point of change in the novel as it reveals the truth about the Darkling being a villain. Baghra is frantic when she tells Alina about the Darkling’s plan, which shows a complete reversal of her characterization up to this point. Until now, Baghra has been in complete control of herself. Obviously something has changed. Once Alina also comes to terms with the fact that the Darkling is planning to take control of her power with the stag’s antlers, she finally comes to understand that he’s been her true enemy all along in a cascade of realizations about everything he has done. This creates a moment of choice for Alina. She must decide whether or not she gives up control of her life to the Darkling. Through his manipulations, the Darkling has almost gained complete control over Alina. 

Baghra’s role in the novel takes on a different meaning when it is revealed that she is the Darkling’s mother. While Alina knew that Baghra was older than the other Grisha because she was the Darkling’s teacher, that she’s the Darkling’s mother changes her characterization on a fundamental level. Where previously she was a persnickety, mean old woman working with Alina to use her powers, she is now an ancient, powerful Grisha who raised an evil son with an insatiable hunger for power. Ultimately, she makes the decision to go against her son and helps Alina flee, but it is clear that her relationship with her son is complicated and stained with regret for her own inability to stop him. Alina learns that her training has been something of a counterattack against the Darkling with Baghra teaching Alina so that she might have a chance against the Darkling. At the very beginning of Chapter 16, Alina realizes that the Darkling had been intentionally trying to keep her weak so that she would be easier to control. But because Baghra understood her son’s motivations, she was able to subvert him and help Alina develop her skill.  

The unintended consequences of power are explored through the volcra in Chapter 15. Along with many other things Baghra reveals to Alina in this section, she tells the younger Grisha about how the volcra were truly created—they were an unintended consequence of the Darkling’s power being unleashed on normal people. The people who once lived in the region now occupied by the Fold were mutated into the ravenous volcra accidentally by the sheer force of the Darkling’s power. This suggests that they are the price that was exacted as a result of using that much power. Baghra asserts that the Darkling’s blind pursuit of power made him reckless in creating the Fold and that he should have recognized there would be a price for it. Ironically, the volcra are what has stopped the Darkling from having complete control over the Fold in the first place as their presence makes it too dangerous for him to be able to navigate it safely. This suggests that the pursuit of power contains the material for self-destruction. 

Alina chooses to flee the Darkling to preserve her agency, once again bringing up the theme of self-control. When she finally believes that Baghra is telling her the truth, she knows that her only option is to flee. But though Alina presents this as if it weren’t a question at all, the reality is that she makes a choice to do whatever is in her power to save herself and, by extension, the other people who might be hurt if the Darkling is able to have complete mastery of the Fold. For Alina, her liberty and her moral standing are integrally intertwined. She cannot be subject to the Darkling’s control and remain a good person since she recognizes that the Darkling’s plan is to make her into “a murderer and a slave.” Importantly, Alina’s goodness is a choice. She could have given in to her desire for the Darkling and stayed behind, she could have chosen to join his crusade, she could have even chosen to not believe Baghra’s warnings, but she doesn’t. When faced with even the possibility of being made an accomplice to the Darkling’s plan, Alina chooses to flee and give Ravka a fighting chance at safety.