Nikolai Lantsov puts up a most valiant effort against the Darkling and his shadow army, helping Alina in her fight significantly. By the end of the season, he has received the title of a king, but also an injury that is way grimmer than it appears to be.
Nikolai Lantsov is the king of Ravka, and in a strategic move, he has gotten engaged with the Sun Summoner, Alina Starkov, as a form of political alliance. Despite that, however, he has developed feelings for Alina.
It is those feelings as well as his duty to his kingdom that drive him to fight the enemies with such bravado. Unfortunately for the new Ravkan king, an injury from one of the shadow monsters seems to have affected him in ways he never quite anticipated.
It’s the day that Nikolai officially becomes the king of Ravka, and he’s getting ready for the ceremony that will bestow him with the title. However, before he can take off for the event, he takes some time to admire himself in the mirror.
When he feels a slight pang on the back, he begins undressing, revealing to the audience a chiseled frame as well as a concerning new wound on his back, below his right shoulder to be precise.
It’s a black wound, many black veins branch out of this wound and as Nikolai bends himself to get a better look, he’s jump scared by his reflection in the mirror, which for a brief moment turns into that of a Nichevo’ya.
Nikolai has had a run-in with many perils in his career as a privateer and a prince, as well as the leader of many different outfits he’s helmed in different capacities.
However familiar with the wounds and cuts he might be, Nikolai’s newest set of injuries is unlike anything else he’s suffered from before. That’s because this grim-looking wound came courtesy of a Nichevo’ya — the personal shadow monsters of the Darkling.
It was during the final battle, while Alina was fighting Kirigan inside the Fold, Nikolai was with the Crows and his Grisha soldiers, confronting a Nichevo’ya, one which managed to impale the prince’s shoulder and hang him up against the wall.
Almost on the verge of being killed by the monster, he’s saved by Alina who finally kills Kirigan, also destroying the Fold in the process. His death also makes the monster disappear, and Nikolai is attended to by Tolya and others.
Just like Alina seems to be suffering from an after-effect of dabbling with Merzost, Nikolai seems to have been affected by the Darkling’s shadow monster. With the way his wound seems to act up, it’s clear that some residual of the Nichevo’ya remained inside the new Ravkan king.
In the books, he’s turned into a Volcra-like creature instead but remains loyal to Alina. However, the show takes a different route and it’s up to the future of Shadow and Bone to reveal what kind of personality and physical changes await Nikolai.
In terms of the transformation, he’s still human but for a brief moment, he does see himself as a daunting Nichevo’ya in the mirror, implying that he might be awaiting a grim turn of events where he transforms into the shadow monster himself.