​​​At breakfast one day, a group of Grisha arrive at the Little Palace. Alina is surprised to see that one of them is the black-haired woman who had caught Mal’s eye back in Kribirsk. Alina learns that her name is Zoya. When Zoya gives Alina a hug, she whispers in her ear that she stinks of Keramzin. Alina is shaken by the insult.  

Zoya arrives at the combat lesson and Botkin pairs her with Alina. This quickly turns into a serious fight and other Grisha stop to watch. Alina manages to knock Zoya to the ground, but Zoya lashes out with her wind power. Botkin reprimands Zoya for using her power in the fight, which is forbidden in combat classes. Marie and Nadia take Alina to the infirmary and congratulate her for getting Zoya in trouble. The two gossip about how Zoya must be jealous of Alina.  

Alina awakes in the infirmary to find the Apparat lurking in the shadows. The Apparat tells her that Ravkan people are starting to build altars to her. He tells her that she is becoming dangerous, and that faith is strong enough to topple kings and Darklings. Alina is confused by his riddle-like speech. Alina tells Genya about the Apparat’s visit the next morning, but Genya reassures her that he’s harmless. She asks Genya to look into Mal’s regiment as she still hasn’t received a response to any of her letters. Genya agrees. 

After her censure from Botkin, Zoya ignores Alina. When Alina arrives at Baghra’s hut the following morning, she can hear raised voices. Inside, the Darkling and Baghra are arguing about Alina’s abilities. The Darkling defends Alina’s potential against Baghra’s assessments. The Darkling wants to get Alina an amplifier. Baghra chides him for wanting to get her an amplifier made from the antlers of the stag from Morozova’s herd, a legendary creature. The Darkling takes Alina to the lake where they talk about the possibility of finding the herd. While Alina is hesitant to believe that the stag is anything more than a myth, she chooses to trust the Darkling. Later, she does research on the nature of amplifiers in the library, learning that a Grisha can only have one amplifier in their lifetime.  

When winter comes to Os Alta, Genya delivers a note to Alina with an update on Mal. He’s healthy and stationed near Tsibeya. Genya mentions that Alina can write to Mal care of his regiment, which makes Alina think of all the unanswered letters she’s sent to his regiment so far. She convinces herself that Mal hasn’t responded to her letters is because he doesn’t care for her at all. When Alina arrives at Baghra’s hut later that morning, the old woman senses that there’s something eating at Alina and pushes her to explore the feeling. The moment the Grisha Examiners came to Duke Karemsov’s estate to test Alina and Mal comes to her and Alina realizes that Mal is the reason she suppressed her power as a child. She also realizes that she’d spent an enormous amount of energy hiding her power away ever since. Believing that Mal has turned his back on her, Alina digs deep within herself to release her power. A light emanates from Alina, flooding through Baghra’s hut.  


Zoya bullying Alina puts voice to the kind of resentment some of the other Grisha have for Alina’s sudden rise in power. Specifically, Zoya displays jealous behavior since Zoya had been the Darkling’s “favorite” prior to Alina’s arrival. But Zoya’s cruelty also serves to highlight that not all Grisha feel the same kind of excitement that Maria and Nadia do in having her around. Zoya tries to humiliate and humble her because she feels threatened by the new role that Alina has taken as a high-ranking Grisha. While she’s the only one who overtly says something about Alina not belonging there—when she whispers in her ear “you stink of Keramzin”—Zoya is likely not the only Grisha to harbor such feelings, just the boldest one.  

The Apparat’s appearance in the infirmary unsettles Alina but also clues her into her potential as a political figure. Once again speaking cryptically, the Apparat asserts that Alina is both dangerous and a benediction. While his meaning escapes Alina because she is too distracted by the way he speaks, this dual meaning is very intentional on the Apparat’s part as he is suggesting that whether Alina is dangerous or a benediction is all a matter of perspective. This perspective is cleared up as the conversation continues through his statement that faith “can topple Kings and Darklings” and his assertion that the people of the Ravkan border villages are already building altars to her. What this means is that Alina is dangerous to the King and Darkling for being a symbol of faith to the Ravkan people. This conversation also introduces the idea that there are people who hold allegiances other than just the fealty enjoyed by the King and the Darkling. While the book makes it seem that there is only a choice between backing the Darkling’s plan or supporting the King, the Apparat’s conversation opens the possibility for other kinds of loyalties to play out. 

The Darkling’s search for an amplifier for Alina represents a turning point in the novel where it becomes clear that the Darkling desires great power. According to the Darkling, Alina must be able to perform at an exceptionally high level that is completely inaccessible without the use of an amplifier. Because she has spent weeks just trying to grasp the basics of what it means to be a Grisha, Alina is once again wracked with uncertainty when the Darkling presents his idea of getting her not just any amplifier, but “the most powerful amplifier ever known.” When the Darkling tells her of his plan to seek out Morozova’s stag to create the amplifier, Alina’s uncertainty transforms into frustration and embarrassment. While eager to have the help of an amplifier, her inability to use her power unassisted is at the forefront of her mind making her question her worthiness. Meanwhile, the Darkling’s search for Morozova’s stag takes on the aspect of obsession over power.  

Not getting an answer to any of the letters she has sent to Mal begins to make Alina feel estranged from him and is the impetus behind her being able to let him go emotionally. While Alina thinks about writing to Mal quite often, her primary concern is not that Mal has left her but that he has been killed or otherwise put in danger. This shows her latent feelings for Mal are still strong within her. When she learns from Genya that he’s with his regiment near the region of Tsibeya and is well, she gets frustrated because she has already been sending the letters to Mal using the method Genya mentions. This causes Alina to believe that Mal has been intentionally ignoring her correspondence which embarrasses her and makes her feel pathetic. This contributes directly to her breakthrough with Baghra because she is fully feeling this estrangement when she goes to Baghra’s hut and successfully uses her power. While she isn’t conscious of doing so, the reason she has been suppressing her power for most of her life is Mal.