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Shadow and Bone Ben Barnes Netflix Darkling
Image via Netflix

Why did the Darkling create the Fold in ‘Shadow and Bone’?

The Darkling is responsible for creating the Fold, and his reasons for doing so are decidedly complicated.

The drama in Shadow and Bone centers on the Shadow Fold, the black scar that separates East and West Ravka, and its creation as just as fascinating as the phenomenon itself. The Fold is a dark, clouded wall that was created a hundred years ago, and the common belief is that it was created by the Darkling in an act of vengeance, but the story goes much deeper.

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First, it’s important to know who the Darkling, also known as the Black Heretic, is before getting into the Fold itself. He’s a Grisha, among the rare individuals gifted with longer lifespans and the ability to manipulate the elements. The Black Heretic turned out to be General Kirigan, the commander of the Second Army, the Shadow Summoner, and the man responsible for training Alina Starkov, a Sun Summoner from East Ravka. She was told when she was younger that the Fold ate her parents and many others who dared cross it, leaving many children orphaned.

Because of their powers, the Grisha were capable of crossing the Fold via ships and aligned with the King for the sake of a prosperous Ravka. Despite this, they were still hated because of the Darkling’s monstrous deed. There was hope that the prophecy of a Sun Summoner (Alina) would come and redeem the Grisha by destroying the Fold altogether. All Alina wants to do is find a place where she isn’t judged for being different, but she learns the only way to change things for the better is by fulfilling her destiny.

Because of the Fold, East Ravka was blocked from the western seaports while the east was left weakened and open to attack from northern and southern nations. This was a terrible catastrophe for many people in this world. There are dangers within the Shadow Fold in the form of monsters, unforgiving weather, and worse. It’s best to travel through in the dark so as to not draw unnecessary attention, and the ships rely on a weak, blue light for safe passage lest they attract unwanted creatures. Malyen Oretsev, a young man who can amplify Grisha powers, experiences this firsthand and nearly dies when he’s taken by a flying monster known as a Volcra, but Alina blasts it away using a gun, then a blast of light emits from her body that casts away the dark creatures.

The true story of the Darkling and the Shadow Fold is one of tragedy. Toward the end of season one, a flashback sequence shows Kirigan in love with a woman named Luda, and they live under the threat of soldiers who raid villages looking for Grisha. The soldiers come to their home and demand the Darkling come out, and when he does, he’s told the king wants him back alive, but they shoot him full of arrows anyway. Luda heals him with her powers until a soldier captures her and the Darkling surrenders. The soldiers kill her anyway, and Kirigan in his anger uses his shadow powers to slay them all.

He goes to his mother Baghra for help. He tells her they need to leave, but she tells him this is because of him. He helped win a war for the king, and it started a war on the Grisha. She advises him to go west and wait for the king to die and then return with a new name. The Darkling disagrees with her idea and wants to instead build an army of Grisha and teach them how to fight. Baghra argues that they only practice the small sciences and not magic, but the Darkling won’t listen and plots to look through Morozova’s journals. He wants to create just like he did, ignoring its instability.

The Darkling goes to the archive and finds a note. He speaks an incantation and black veins spread across his neck and face until a bell tolls and he stops. The soldiers have arrived and it’s time for battle. The Darkling goes out to meet them, and this time, there are more soldiers ready to cut him down. He’s to be taken into custody, but when he holds up his arms, he speaks in Old Ravkan, the dark veins return, and a blast of darkness emits from him. The Darkling breathes heavily and screams to the skies, and the great Shadow Fold emerges and spreads over the land.

He’s able to get his mother to safety, but when she sees the Fold, she condemns him for what he’s done. The Darkling, on the other hand, is proud of his creation. His true purpose for wanting Alina is to use her powers as a Sun Summoner to control the Shadow Fold and destroy those who have harmed the Grisha. He didn’t succeed in season one, but the Darkling’s plans have grown even more sinister in Shadow and Bone season two.

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