Alina wakes up early the next morning and lies in bed, studying her decorated ceiling, until a servant knocks. The servant has Alina’s kefta and the rest of her new clothes. Alina has never had such nice clothes and never thought she’d wear a kefta, so she puts off getting dressed. But finally, she pulls on breeches, a long blouse, and the soft leather boots. The clothes mimic traditional peasant dress, but they’re finer than anything a peasant would wear. Finally, Alina puts on the kefta. The midnight blue garment looks more like a gown than a coat, and the sleeves are embroidered with gold to denote that Alina can channel light.
Putting on the kefta symbolizes that Alina is stepping into a new identity: that of a Summoner and a Grisha. The clothes themselves add more nuance to the Queen saying earlier that it’s “marvelous” that Alina is a poor orphan. The wealthy upper classes in Ravka clearly idealize the poor and want to emulate them—however, they’re not entirely successful because the fabrics are so fine.
Genya arrives to take Alina to breakfast. As soon as they enter the lavish hall, two Summoner girls swoop in. Marie introduces herself and Nadia and, turning her back to Genya, invites Alina to sit with them. Genya tells Alina to go before Alina can protest, but she insists on giving Alina a tour of the grounds herself after—the Darkling’s orders. Alina follows Marie to the appropriate table, which Marie says is on the Darkling’s right side. She disdainfully points to where the Corporalki sit across the table, and Alina doesn’t say that they sit just as close to him as the Summoners do. Alina is shocked, though, when Marie says the Darkling never even eats with the Grisha. Breakfast is, disgustingly, pickled herring and rye bread, but there are plums and sugar to go in tea.
Marie and Nadia’s entrance highlights how catty and hierarchical things are among the Grisha. Genya, because she’s thought of as little better than a servant, is ignored and insulted. Alina, on the other hand, is held up as the best because she’s perceived as the Darkling’s new favorite. Marie is able to give Alina insight into just how absurd this power struggle is—as Alina notes, the Summoners and the Corporalki sit equally close to the Darkling, and yet Marie clearly looks down on the Corporalki. It seems as though Alina has never had to deal with this kind of social structure before, so once again, she’s lost.
Alina endures Summoners questioning her about her life until Genya appears to rescue her. Genya notes that pickled herring is “vile,” and confides in Alina that because she cured the cook’s daughter’s acne, the cook sends her pastries. But she warns Alina to say nothing; the Darkling wants them to eat “hearty peasant fare.” Grisha try so hard to emulate serf ways—but Alina finds it ironic that they eat “hearty peasant fare” off of porcelain plates.
Other Grisha might scorn Genya, but being a Tailor clearly has its perks: she can barter for better food. The implication is that nobody really likes the “hearty peasant fare,” but again, the point is to emulate the peasants and seem relatable to them. Given how Alina described people like Eva being afraid of Grisha, though, it doesn’t seem like the Darkling’s attempts to make Grisha relatable are working.
Leading Alina through the Little Palace, Genya points out the doors leading to the Darkling’s chambers and the massive library. Its grandness makes Keramzin feel shabby, which makes Alina feel bad. She wonders if she can have guests and if Mal could maybe visit, but Genya drags her along. Genya hurries Alina past the Corporalki practice rooms to the Fabrikators’ workshops. They approach a reedy man in need of a haircut. Genya greets the man, David, but he barely acknowledges her. When Genya says Alina is the Sun Summoner, David says the glass disks he’s working on are for her. As Genya leads Alina away, she says David is skilled, but uninterested in anything not made of metal or glass. She clearly has a crush on David.
Alina makes it seem like as a child she thought Keramzin’s library was pretty great—but now that she’s seen the library at the Little Palace, she can’t ignore how provincial her upbringing was. This happened to Alina in the army as well, but it seems far more common of an occurrence at the Little Palace. Discovering that Genya has a crush on David humanizes her a bit; she might be physically perfect, but she perhaps longs for someone who doesn’t just care about her beauty.
Genya leads Alina out to a lake, where the Summoners’ pavilions are. When Alina notices small children playing, Genya points out the school, where Grisha children are trained once their talents are discovered. Alina wonders why the Grisha Examiners didn’t discover her talent years ago—the Shadow Fold might already be destroyed, and she and Mal probably would’ve forgotten each other. When the kids finish their education, Genya explains, they join the Second Army or, if they’re very talented, they stay here and serve the Darkling. Their families are “compensated handsomely,” but Genya reveals she hasn’t seen her parents since she was five. This is her home. Alina wonders if this is true—she’s never felt at home anywhere. Perhaps she and Genya aren’t so different.
Seeing the school is a bit sad for Alina. These young Grisha are going to help do great things for Ravka—but at the expense of getting to stay with their families. Alina is an orphan, unlike Genya, and it still seems likely to her that growing up without one’s parents leaves a mark, even if Genya isn’t totally willing to admit it. That Alina seems to look back in shock and sadness about how she wasn’t identified earlier in life illustrates how completely she now trusts the Darkling. She believes his insistence that she can change the world—for once, she matters and is vitally important to something.
Reaching a path leading into the woods, Genya points further along to a stone hut nestled in the trees. It’s Baghra’s hut, and Alina doesn’t want to be late. Alina knocks, waits, knocks again, and then opens the door. It’s extremely hot inside—and a small, clearly old woman in a kefta of “indeterminate color” tells Alina she’s late. Baghra asks Alina why she wasn’t tested as a kid and then, inexplicably, gives Alina a bleak expression. She says she hopes Alina is stronger than she looks and grips Alina’s wrist.
Baghra immediately emerges as something of a mystery: it’s not clear who she is, why she lives in this hut alone, or what her power even is. However, Baghra’s “bleak” expression suggests that she knows something Alina doesn’t, though what this might be is left a mystery for now. Whatever it is, though, Baghra hopes that Alina is strong—implying that Alina will have to fight something later on.