Malyen Oretsev is a soldier in the First Army and a remarkable tracker.
Crossing into the Fold
Mal is stationed at a First Army camp site, where he joins a fight club to earn extra wages. However, upon the arrival of the Grisha and the Second Army, the Otkazat'sya soldiers disperse. Mal then catches up with Alina and learns from his commander that he will be among the few First Army soldiers stationed on the skiff to Novokribirsk as it crosses through the Shadow Fold. Later that evening, Mal is caught red handed by Zoya while stealing a bowl of grapes from a Grisha tent. He briefly flirts with her until she suggests they have sex, causing Mal to flee and reconvene with Alina.
The following day, Mal boards the skiff headed into the Fold. Much to his dismay, he discovers that Alina and her unit will be joining them on the expedition. The skiff is attacked by volcra two markers into the Fold. Mal attempts to fend them off, but finds himself being gripped by the talons of a volcra and lifted off the skiff. Alina picks up a rifle and fires at the creature, causing it to release Mal, who has sustained possibly fatal injuries. Barely conscious, he tells Alina "I'll meet you at the meadow." A volcra then swoops down and digs its talons into Alina's back, causing a large explosion of light to emerge from within her, destroying the nearby volcra.
The Truth About Alina
Mal awakens in medical only to learn that Alina has been taken to the General Kirigan's tent to be tested, as they suspect that she may be the legendary Sun Summoner. Mal hobbles over to the General's tent insistent that she's not a Grisha only for a sudden beam of light to shoot through the roof of the tent, much to his disbelief. He chases after Alina as she is escorted into a carriage headed for the Little Palace, but he is too to give chase.
After learning that Alina's escort was attacked, Mal approaches his commander demanding they go after her, but with Alina being Grisha, she's now under the command of the Second Army and no longer their concern, the commander explains, refusing to risk any resources on her retrieval.
With his commander refusing to go after Alina, Mal devises a plan to go after her himself, but Mikhael and Dubrov convince him to stand down, as Alina is safer in the hands of the Black General and behind the walls of the Little Palace. They remind Mal that he has no way inside and that leaving now would only make him a deserter, the notion of which is enough to convince Mal to stay in camp.
Hunting Morozova's Stag
Weeks have passed since Alina was taken to the Little Palace. Mal has written her several letters and still no word back. His unit is now stationed at Chernast, where the Fjerdans have been attacking at night. It's there that he volunteers to lead a tracking party with Mikhael and Dubrov for Morozova's Stag. In return, General Kirigan is offering a visit to the Little Palace.
Mal, Mikhael, and Dubrov track Morozova's herd into Fjerdan territory. They set up camp and take refuge. Then suddenly Mal hears a soft high pitched sound calling to him. However, he is forced to divert his attention away from the herd when the Fjerdans attack. They manage to subdue and kill the first three, but Mikhael and Dubrov fall victim to an automatic rifle firing from within the trees. Mal is shot in the shoulder but suffers no fatal wounds. As the two remaining Fjerdans approach, Mal kills the two of them. Unfortunately, he is unable to save Mikhael and Dubrov, who have succumbed to their wounds. Mal manages to get back to his feet and just a few yards away, he spots the Stag — all white with remarkable antlers.
Mal returns to his outpost on the outskirts of Chernast and reports his findings after being taken to medical. After a bit of rest, Mal and Tofin ride to the Little Palace to inform General Kirigan that they've found the Stag north of Chernast, twice as big as any other, all white with enormous antlers marked by a symbol. When Kirigan asks for the exact location he spotted the Stag, Mal requests to see Alina first, insisting that they're friends. In exchange, he will give General Kirigan the exact location of the Stag. Kirigan asks Mal to prove that he knows her by revealing something that only few would know about her, such as her favorite flower, which Mal reveals is blue iris. Assuming Mal is telling the truth, Kirigan promises to bring Alina to him.
Mal is led into an ambush by a Little Palace guard. She has already killed Tofin and intends for Mal to meet the same fate, but he manages to counter her attack and subdue the guard before escaping. Mal sneaks out into the courtyard, where he overhears General Kirigan and Baghra arguing about his intentions for Alina and the Fold.
Reunited with Alina
After months apart, Mal tracks Alina down outside a small town in Ryevost. After they're clear of the soldiers, she accuses him of ignoring her letters for months, but he insists that he wrote her. He then asks how long has she known that she was Grisha, recalling how Alina cheated on the Grisha examiner test when they were children, however, Alina insists that she didn't know until that day in the Fold. She claims that she cheated because she feared that they would be separated if she did in fact pass the test. Mal then reveals that he found the Stag. Kirigan's orders to track it came from her drawings. Alina realizes that he must've stolen her drawings and informs Mal how the Stag's antlers can be used as a Grisha amplifier to rival the General's powers. She then embraces Mal and thanks him for finding her, to which he replies "I'll always find you."
That night, Mal and Alina find refuge in a cave. He advises Alina against starting a fire, as they are still being tracked and the smoke will lead their enemies to them. So rather than sparking a flame, Alina warms Mal with her sun summoning abilities, which Mal insists don't scare him before professing his love for her. The following morning, Alina treats Mal's wound as he tells her about his time tracking the Stag and how Mikhael and Dubrov died behind the Fjerdan border. The two then decide to hunt the Stag and use it against General Kirigan. Before long, they find themselves only a day or two behind the Stag.
Captured by the Darkling
Just like before, Mal hears the sudden high pitched sound. He and Alina follow it to the Stag, which stands in a clearing just a few yards off. Alina points a rifle at the Stag but ultimately decides against killing the creature, suddenly realizing that she can claim its power without killing it. Alina pets the Stag and her powers are instantly amplified, though only momentarily as General Kirigan arrives with his men and shoots the Stag with an arrow, wounding the creature. Mal attempts to kill the Stag before the Grisha can but is attacked by Zoya and Ivan — shot in the abdomen with an arrow. As Alina pulls the arrow from within Mal, General Kirigan attempts to kill the Stag, but Alina deflects his attack. General Kirigan presents Alina with an ultimatum: either kill the Stag and let Mal die or allow for him to kill the Stag and heal Mal. Alina chooses Mal, allowing General Kirigan to deliver the killing blow to the Stag, cutting the creature's head off with the Cut.
After General Kirgan melds the Stag's antlers into both himself and Alina, he chains Mal up to a banister at the First Army's camp, though he did keep his promise and saw to it that Mal was healed of his arrow wound. Mal refers to him as the Black Heretic. He adds that whatever he has planned, Alina will never forgive him and promises to kill the General himself the first chance he gets. Kirigan admits that Alina has strong feelings for Mal and that Mal feels the same way about her judging by the letters Kirigan read between the two. General Kirigan explains that he has patience. Alina may take years to forgive him, but as Grisha, Kirigan can wait, whereas Mal will age and one day she will forget all about him and realize that she only has one equal, that being the Darkling. So he doesn't need to kill Mal, as time will do it for him.
Mal spots a baby goat with a single bullet tied around its neck like a necklace. He uses the bullet to break his shackles and escape past the sleeping guard. The following day, Mal sneaks aboard the skiff headed into the Fold for Novokribirsk.
Defeating the Darkling
Mal has managed to remain hidden below the deck of the skiff as it passes through the Fold. He remains hidden as Kaz, Jesper, and Inej enter and begin discussing just how they intend to stop the Darkling. However, he is found by Inej and brought out from within the darkness he was using for cover. When Mal reveals that he's aboard to kill the General and save Alina, Kaz orders Inej to return Mal his gun, as they will work together for the time being.
After General Kirigan expands the Fold and consumes a small portion of Novokribirsk, Mal and Inej make their move. Mal shoots two of the General's guards before being stopped in his tracks by Ivan, a Heartrender who the Darkling orders to keep Mal alive, as he may prove useful at another time. The Darkling then extends his hand to Alina. She grabs Inej's knife and stabs General Kirigan, removing the Stag's bone that was embedded in his hand, granting Alina full control of her abilities. As she calls on the light, Mal tackles General Kirigan overboard. They battle alongside the skiff. Mal keeps Kirigan distracted long enough for the volcra to sneak up behind and attack him. Mal then returns to the skiff to find Alina unconscious after being attacked by Ivan. He begs her to wake up. Alina slowly opens her eyes and lights the way for them to escape the Fold.
Mal, Alina, Zoya, and the Crows gather in a clearing after escaping the Fold. She gifts Inej with a new knife and pays Kaz off with royal jewelry in exchange for his silence about her location. While they may not have the resource to do so now, Mal assures Alina that one day they will return to destroy the Fold. Alina and Mal then board a ship headed for Ketterdam.
Mal is a soldier in the First Army with exceptional fighting skill. By Otkazat'sya standards, he is a remarkable tracker however, successfully tracking down Morozova's Stag, which most believed to be a myth. When near such beings, he describes hearing a high pitched sound.
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- The Making at the Heart of the World
- Show Me Who You Are
- The Heart Is An Arrow
- The Unsea
- No Mourners