The Oprichniki are the elite soldiers who make up the Darkling's personal guard. While they themselves are not Grisha, they are equally as skilled as them, and thus cause the same level of fear and respect in the Ravkan population.
The exact year of their creation unkown, the Oprichniki were created when the Darkling rose to prominence within Ravka's military and political power in order to serve as his personal guard.
While the Darkling is immensely powerful and skilled in combat, the amount of people who would want him dead is enough to warrant the existence of the organization. Excelling at physical and armed combat, the Oprichniki travel with the Darkling during his multiple errands both acting as bodyguards and soldiers, and, if considered necessary by their master, will lend their services to someone else.
Alina Starkov describes their uniform as charcoal colored, but not much description is provided. Given their high ranking military status in Ravka's army, it can be inferred that their uniforms are woven with corecloth and their weaponry is fabricated with grisha steel provided by the Materialki.
The Oprichniki are stern and most of the time remain silent while on duty. While speaking is not forbidden, they rarely talk, surprising those around them when they do so.
The Oprichniki traveled with the Darkling from Os Alta to Kribirsk to oversee the Shadow Fold crossing of Alina's regiment during the beginning of the novel. They guard both the Grisha tent and the Darkling's headquarters, and prevent anyone from entering if they lack permission. It is, however, permitted for the members of the First Army to come closer and see, given how the tents are massive and create curiosity within the First Army.
After one of the sandskiffs comes back from a Volcra attack, they witness the following investigation and display of Alina's powers as a Sun Summoner inside the Grisha tent. The Darkling orders Alina to be taken to the Little Palace immediately in his personal carriage, and assigns two Oprichniki and two Heartrenders, Fedyor and Ivan, to act as her guards. One of said guards was killed during a confrontation with Fjerdan assassins sent to kill Alina. The convoy was vastly outnumbered, but the odds changed after the Darkling joined the battle. Afterwards, the journey towards the capital had no further incident.
The Oprichniki are sporadically seen in both the Grand Palace and the Little Palace during the rest of the novel.
- The Oprichniki are based on the Oprichnina, a state police created by tsar Ivan the Terrible to protect him and censor his opponents. They engaged in confiscation of property, mass repression and public executions.