​​​The remainder of Alina’s time on the road passes by safely. The group stays off the main road to avoid unwanted attention, and the rough terrain leaves her sore and shaky. On the fifth night of travel, the group stops at an abandoned farm, where the Darkling’s men set up a makeshift camp. Alina and the Darkling have their first real conversation. Alina feels like she’s being studied by the Darkling, though he comes across as kind and sympathetic to her situation. Alina still hesitates to call herself a Grisha, but the Darkling tells her that she’ll come to learn the role she plays in the world. The two sit by the fire and eat only a small helping of grouse for dinner. Alina notes that the Darkling sits on the ground and eats no more than anyone else, even though he’s the second most powerful man in Ravka. 

After they finish eating, the Darkling prompts Alina to ask him questions. Alina first asks how old he is. After some prodding, he confesses that he’s around one hundred and twenty years old, which shocks her. The Darkling tells her that Grisha power acts to strengthen and extend their lives. He also tells Alina that the Black Heretic, the Darkling responsible for creating the Fold, was his great grandfather. He underscores just how important Alina’s role as the Sun Summoner is as the Fold divides Ravka and will slow its progress as the world enters a new age of technology and trade. 

Two days later, the group reaches the capital city of Os Alta. Alina sees the Grand Palace, the winter home of the King, and the Little Palace, where the Grisha live and train. The Darkling leaves Alina in the care of a servant who guides her away to a private room. The servant warns her to lock her door as a precaution and leaves her to rest.  

Alina is troubled by dreams of the volcra and wakes disoriented. Before she has the chance to fall back to sleep, a servant knocks on her door. The servant, a beautiful Grisha woman named Genya, rushes to ready Alina for a meeting with the King set to happen in less than an hour’s time. Genya scrubs the grime of the road away from Alina’s tired form before sitting her down for a cosmetic treatment. Calling herself a “Tailor,” Genya explains that she has the unique power to manipulate a person’s physical appearance. Genya tells Alina that her power is why she works for the Queen. Reluctant at first, Alina allows Genya to use her power on her to make her look better rested.  

Genya guides Alina to the main hall of the Little Palace, where she encounters a cluster of other Grisha. They bicker with one another about which order of Grisha Alina should walk with, the Corporalki because they’re the highest-ranked class of Grisha, or the Etherealki because her power is considered within their domain. Their arguments prove useless, however, as the Darkling appears and insists that she will walk with him to the Grand Palace to meet the King. This silences the conversation.  


On the trip to Os Alta, Alina starts to see the Darkling as a person instead of just a figurehead. Though he’s present from the third chapter on, the Darkling’s personality and motivations do not start to show until his conversation with Alina the night the group spends at an abandoned farm. Here, the Darkling is immediately humanized when Alina sees him wash his face in a stream and sit on the dirt along with his men. As a result of his behavior that night, she comes to see him in a much different light than she had before. Before this, she’d seen him only as an almost super-human being, far removed from the needs and habits of a normal person. In contrast, the Darkling comes off as approachable and even compassionate about Alina’s position during their conversation, which disarms her. Despite letting her guard down a bit in their conversation, Alina senses that something isn’t quite right at the end of the talk and she questions whether or not she did something to hurt his feelings or offend him. Her feeling of having done something wrong illustrates how effective he is at manipulating her thoughts. 

The city of Os Alta puts the stark wealth disparity that exists in Ravka on full display. The sections of the city where the working class live are characterized by narrow, dirty streets and crowded buildings. This stands in sharp contrast to the wealthy part of town, which is bright, open, and filled with all manner of beautiful ornamentation. Importantly, these two sections of town are physically separated from one another by a man-made canal. This canal serves to illustrate the way that the wealthiest Ravkans hold the working classes at a level of remove. The bridge that crosses this canal is also capable of being raised, which further underscores that the Ravkan elite judge other people in Os Alta as lesser than themselves. As Alina observes, the canal can become a moat between that part of town and the “common mess” of the market side of town. This division between the humbler part of the city and the place where the elite Ravkans live points to a major division between the classes of the country. Moreover, that it is a man-made canal asserts that the elite separated themselves from the commoners intentionally and that the division is being consciously enforced.  

The social hierarchy among the Grisha plays a key role in the way that Alina begins to negotiate her place at the Little Palace. While Alina questions whether or not she believes she belongs in a Grisha kefta, she pays close attention to the way that the other Grisha bicker about who she should walk with to see the King. Because she is a unique kind of Grisha, she does not neatly fit into the rigid system that the other Grisha belong to. For this reason, the argument that happens between the Grisha at the entry hall fulfills an important function, whereby Alina’s “place” is being determined by who she walks with. So, when the Darkling ultimately says that she will walk with him, he effectively lumps her in the same category that he occupies in their hierarchy. This literally silences the conversation and brings the subject of where she belongs in the Grisha ranking system to a swift close.  

Genya’s introduction to the story brings a new understanding of the nature of Grisha power. She is presented in distinction to the otherwise rigorously defined roles of the various orders of Grisha. Genya’s power is unique in so far as she can manipulate a person’s physical appearance, but her power is also remarkable because she is one of only a rare few Grisha who can use powers other than those seen in specific Grisha orders. Genya’s ability to leech the colors from an object and apply them to a person to cosmetically enhance their appearance sets her apart from the prescribed fields of Grisha work, like the Etherealki Squallers or the Corporalki Heartrenders. This sets her at odds with the way that the other Grisha define their roles by their work. That her specific power allows her to do something the Grisha consider trivial, however, makes her an outcast where the other Grisha with unique abilities—the Darkling, Alina, and as we will later learn, Baghra—are held above the rest, not below.