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This article focuses on the Dark One's vault.
For Mr. Samdi's hotel, see The Vault.

The vault will only restore the Dark One in exchange for another life.

Belle to Emma Swan src

The Vault of the Dark One is an Enchanted Forest location featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the fifteenth episode of the third season.


Before First Curse

According to legend, the first Dark One emerged from the Dark One vault, with some claiming that she was actually born from the darkness within it. ("Operation Mongoose Part 2", "Quiet Minds")

In actuality, the first Dark One was Nimue, and she constructed the vault for her own usage. If the legend is to be believed, then the first glimpse the world got of the Dark One was Nimue emerging from the vault she had made. ("Nimue")

The Vault of the Dark One, located in the ground as a circular seal, can restore a Dark One by sacrificing a life. It's not known if the prior Dark One, Zoso, ever used the vault. When Rumplestiltskin gains power as the Dark One, he gains a key from the vault, which is hidden in a book in his castle. ("Quiet Minds")

During his reign as king of Camelot, Arthur becomes consumed with finding Excalibur's missing half, the Dark One Dagger, so much that he begins neglecting his wife, Guinevere. When he thinks that he discovered the location of the dagger, Lancelot prepares to leave to go there, but Arthur insists he stay to protect Guinevere, while he himself goes instead. That night, Guinevere finds a Magic Gauntlet in Merlin's tower that reveals the dagger's location as Arthur's greatest weakness. Intending to get the dagger, she tries to leave, before Lancelot agrees to accompany her. The gauntlet takes them to the Vault of the Dark One, and after entering into it, Guinevere saves Lancelot from the Darkness. Relieved to not have lost him, she kisses him, before apologizing and stating that it can never happen again. And by a magic door from the vault to the Idyllic Garden, they find the dagger on a table stand, but it's protected by a barrier. In exchange for the gauntlet, Rumplestiltskin offers Guinevere Sands of Avalon to give the illusion that Excalibur is whole. Lancelot begs her not to, but she accepts the deal and gives the magic gauntlet to the Dark One. ("The Broken Kingdom")

Before Second Curse
After Mr. Gold's death, no new Dark One assumes the role since he dies after stabbing himself with the dagger. Following a return to the Enchanted Forest, Belle and Neal research for a way to bring him back. The Wicked Witch of the West, with her own ulterior motives, nudges them in the right direction by deploying a candelabrum, Lumiere, to show them the vault key and leading the pair to the vault itself. Once there, Lumiere tells them to brush aside the snow on the ground, which reveals a vault seal. Before Neal can put the key in, Belle realizes Lumiere is lying, after he states having lived in Rumplestiltskin's library for two-hundred years, though the room wasn't built until prior to the first curse. Lumiere admits that he is doing the Wicked Witch's bidding against his will as she wishes to resurrect Rumplestiltskin and control him with the dagger. Belle warns Neal about the consequences if this happens, but he places the key in the vault despite this. The key then brands his palm with a triangle tattoo, and he pays with his life as his father is revived. Rumplestiltskin, unable to accept his son is dying, absorbs him into his own body before Neal perishes. During this distraction, the Wicked Witch grabs the dagger and commands Rumplestiltskin to kill Belle. Before he can follow the order, Lumiere burns his candelabrum flames at the Wicked Witch. Belle then seizes the chance to flee, grabbing Lumiere as she goes, as the Wicked Witch fumbles in anger at her escape. ("Quiet Minds")

During Second Curse
While confined by Zelena, Mr. Gold escapes, and at some point after this, Neal assumes control of their shared body. After fainting, he is taken to the hospital, where Belle notices his palm has a burned triangle symbol and promptly goes to research it. Throughout the day, Neal comes to realize he and his father are sharing the same body. This is further confirmed when Belle finds the symbol on his palm in a book, and it is connected to the Vault of the Dark One, in which someone who uses the vault to resurrect a Dark One is branded and must pay with his life. To ensure Mr. Gold recalls the name of the Wicked Witch of the West, Neal asks Emma to separate him from his father's body. ("Quiet Minds")

Before Third Curse

After absorbing the Darkness, Emma disappears from Storybrooke, with her body reforming out of the Vault of the Dark One in the Enchanted Forest. Finding herself garbed in a cloak, she soon discovers a manifestation of Rumplestiltskin is now her guide, and he intends to stay until she fully accepts her powers. ("The Dark Swan")

After Lancelot comes back to Camelot to warn Mary Margaret about Arthur, he leads her to the Vault to keep the dagger inside the Idyllic Garden safe. Lancelot cautions Mary Margaret against putting the dagger on the table stand since it has a barrier. When she insists on trying, he tries to persuade her into letting him do it instead. Upon seeing her hesitation, Lancelot questions if she doesn't trust him, but before she can answer, Arthur arrives, having followed them. Arthur threatens to kill Lancelot unless Mary Margaret gives him the dagger, and after he moves to make good on his threat, she finally hands it over. While relishing in his victory, Arthur tries to summon Emma, only for it to fail, as Mary Margaret admits the dagger is fake, before David corners Arthur from behind. ("The Broken Kingdom")

After a couple of days, Emma tethers an almost dying Hook to Excalibur which was tethered to Merlin by Zelena. She, refusing to accept this, teleports with him to the middlemist field, hoping to tether him to Excalibur and save his life, even if it means making him a Dark One like her. After Hook passes out, Emma sobs that being without him is not good enough for her. Using the sword, she bonds Hook's life to it, causing him to disappear. İnside the vault, he wakes up but suddenly the Darkness surrounds him and makes him recall what Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold has done to him in his whole life. As the anger inside him grows more for the Crocodile, he reemerges from the vault as a Dark One. ("Birth", "Broken Heart")

After a short time, Merlin, Lancelot and the other Storybrooke inhabitants travel to the Vault of the Dark One to find Hook, but they find him already gone. Then Merlin informs them that the Vault has already accepted Hook as a second Dark One. ("Broken Heart")



On-Screen Notes

  • The vault appears in the title card for "Birth".[1]
  • The symbols on the vault[2] includes the tomoe, the triquetra, the triangle, the Eye of Providence (one of the symbols that Guinevere presses to open the vault), the pentagram (which Guinevere also presses) and the sun (which Guinevere also presses). Circling all the other symbols is the Ouroboros, which represents cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself — a reference to the way the Darkness is inherited from one host to the next, and the Dark One's eternal life. ("Quiet Minds", "The Broken Kingdom")
    • The table stand in the idyllic garden also has the same symbols.[3] ("The Broken Kingdom")
  • The Vault of the Dark One is only a day's ride from the Camelot castle. ("The Broken Kingdom")

Production Notes

  • The scene where Hook rises from the vault, is a combination of new footage and recycled footage from the scene where Emma rises from the vault in "The Dark Swan". The shot where the darkness begins to manifest into human form,[4] the following wide-shot where the transformation continues,[5] and the following close-up shot where the camera pans up the manifesting darkness,[6] are exactly the same in both scenes, the only difference being the lighting, and the third shot being shorter during Hook's scene (in Emma's scene, the camera pans up to Emma's face; in Hook's scene, the shot ends before it reaches the face). ("Birth", "Broken Heart")

Props Notes

  • The cover of the book which holds the key to the vault[7] shows an image of the Gnostic deity Abraxas. The text and the image is a replica of the engraving on one of the Abraxas stones, gemstones with the word "Abraxas" engraved on them, which were used as amulets or charms. ("Quiet Minds")
    • The page with the key[8] is a transcript of a page from Book VIII of De Civitate Dei[9] (The City of God), a book of Christian philosophy written in Latin by early Christian theologian and philosopher Augustine of Hippo in the early fifth century. ("Quiet Minds")
      • The page contains part 1, and the start of part 2, from Book VIII. The English translation of part 1 and 2 in their entirety reads:[10]
1. That the question of natural theology is to be discussed with those philosophers who sought a more excellent wisdom.

We shall require to apply our mind with far greater intensity to the present question than was requisite in the solution and unfolding of the questions handled in the preceding books; for it is not with ordinary men, but with philosophers that we must confer concerning the theology which they call natural. For it is not like the fabulous, that is, the theatrical; nor the civil, that is, the urban theology: the one of which displays the crimes of the gods, whilst the other manifests their criminal desires, which demonstrate them to be rather malign demons than gods. It is, we say, with philosophers we have to confer with respect to this theology,—men whose very name, if rendered into Latin, signifies those who profess the love of wisdom. Now, if wisdom is God, who made all things, as is attested by the divine authority and truth,then the philosopher is a lover of God. But since the thing itself, which is called by this name, exists not in all who glory in the name,—for it does not follow, of course, that all who are called philosophers are lovers of true wisdom,—we must needs select from the number of those with whose opinions we have been able to acquaint ourselves by reading, some with whom we may not unworthily engage in the treatment of this question. For I have not in this work undertaken to refute all the vain opinions of the philosophers, but only such as pertain to theology, which Greek word we understand to mean an account or explanation of the divine nature. Nor, again, have I undertaken to refute all the vain theological opinions of all the philosophers, but only of such of them as, agreeing in the belief that there is a divine nature, and that this divine nature is concerned about human affairs, do nevertheless deny that the worship of the one unchangeable God is sufficient for the obtaining of a blessed life after death, as well as at the present time; and hold that, in order to obtain that life, many gods, created, indeed, and appointed to their several spheres by that one God, are to be worshipped. These approach nearer to the truth than even Varro; for, whilst he saw no difficulty in extending natural theology in its entirety even to the world and the soul of the world, these acknowledge God as existing above all that is of the nature of soul, and as the Creator not only of this visible world, which is often called heaven and earth, but also of every soul whatsoever, and as Him who gives blessedness to the rational soul,—of which kind is the human soul,—by participation in His own unchangeable and incorporeal light. There is no one, who has even a slender knowledge of these things, who does not know of the Platonic philosophers, who derive their name from their master Plato. Concerning this Plato, then, I will briefly state such things as I deem necessary to the present question, mentioning beforehand those who preceded him in time in the same department of literature.

2. Concerning the two schools of philosophers, that is, the Italic and Ionic, and their founders.

As far as concerns the literature of the Greeks, whose language holds a more illustrious place than any of the languages of the other nations, history mentions two schools of philosophers, the one called the Italic school, originating in that part of Italy which was formerly called Magna Græcia; the other called the Ionic school, having its origin in those regions which are still called by the name of Greece. The Italic school had for its founder Pythagoras of Samos, to whom also the term "philosophy" is said to owe its origin. For whereas formerly those who seemed to excel others by the laudable manner in which they regulated their lives were called sages, Pythagoras, on being asked what he professed, replied that he was a philosopher, that is, a student or lover of wisdom; for it seemed to him to be the height of arrogance to profess oneself a sage. The founder of the Ionic school, again, was Thales of Miletus, one of those seven who were styled the "seven sages," of whom six were distinguished by the kind of life they lived, and by certain maxims which they gave forth for the proper conduct of life. Thales was distinguished as an investigator into the nature of things; and, in order that he might have successors in his school, he committed his dissertations to writing. That, however, which especially rendered him eminent was his ability, by means of astronomical calculations, even to predict eclipses of the sun and moon. He thought, however, that water was the first principle of things, and that of it all the elements of the world, the world itself, and all things which are generated in it, ultimately consist. Over all this work, however, which, when we consider the world, appears so admirable, he set nothing of the nature of divine mind. To him succeeded Anaximander, his pupil, who held a different opinion concerning the nature of things; for he did not hold that all things spring from one principle, as Thales did, who held that principle to be water, but thought that each thing springs from its own proper principle. These principles of things he believed to be infinite in number, and thought that they generated innumerable worlds, and all the things which arise in them. He thought, also, that these worlds are subject to a perpetual process of alternate dissolution and regeneration, each one continuing for a longer or shorter period of time, according to the nature of the case; nor did he, any more than Thales, attribute anything to a divine mind in the production of all this activity of things. Anaximander left as his successor his disciple Anaximenes, who attributed all the causes of things to an infinite air. He neither denied nor ignored the existence of gods, but, so far from believing that the air was made by them, he held, on the contrary, that they sprang from the air. Anaxagoras, however, who was his pupil, perceived that a divine mind was the productive cause of all things which we see, and said that all the various kinds of things, according to their several modes and species, were produced out of an infinite matter consisting of homogeneous particles, but by the efficiency of a divine mind. Diogenes, also, another pupil of Anaximenes, said that a certain air was the original substance of things out of which all things were produced, but that it was possessed of a divine reason, without which nothing could be produced from it. Anaxagoras was succeeded by his disciple Archelaus, who also thought that all things consisted of homogeneous particles, of which each particular thing was made, but that those particles were pervaded by a divine mind, which perpetually energized all the eternal bodies, namely, those particles, so that they are alternately united and separated. Socrates, the master of Plato, is said to have been the disciple of Archelaus; and on Plato's account it is that I have given this brief historical sketch of the whole history of these schools.
  • The opposite page[8] features an illustration from Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (1595), the most famous work by the German physician and alchemist Heinrich Khunrath, which is about mystical aspects of alchemy. This particular illustration is from an expanded edition published posthumously in 1609.
  • Note that only a small part of the illustration can be seen on-screen. It can be seen in its entirety in concept art for the episode.[11]

Filming Locations


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.

See also


  1. File:508Title.png
  2. File:315VaultOpens.png
  3. File:504TakingTheDagger.png
  4. File:501EmmaEmerges.png
  5. File:501EmmaEmerges2.png
  6. File:501EmmaEmerges3.png
  7. File:315Book.png
  8. 8.0 8.1 File:315ItsAHidingSpot.png
  9. De Civitate Dei, Augustine of Hippo, p. 102. Facsimile by Google Books.
  10. The Works of Aurelius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo: A New Translation. Edited by the Rev. Marcus Dods, M.A. Volume I. The City of God. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved on August 27, 2018.
  11. File:315ConceptArt1.jpg
  12. File:315OnlyRestore.png
  13. File:504DarknessEmerges2.png
  14. File:521ReachingTheDock.png
  15. Once Upon a Time - Hook's Torch / Dark One's Vault Torch (0582). iCollector. Archived from the original on October 10, 2020. Retrieved on October 10, 2020.
  16. InstagramIcon.png vfxsup (Craig Clarke). September 13, 2015.  "shay_missens @elaine_august well it's recorded in Vancouver, Canada... vfxsup Go high enough up in the mountains and snow will be found" (archive copy)
  17. InstagramIcon.png vfxsup (Craig Clarke). February 7, 2019.  "Just playing around with some editing with this pic of Colin as the dark one." (archive copy)
  18. Minaty Bay. Advantage Waste. Retrieved on February 8, 2019. “Minaty Bay is a small community in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District which includes Cheekye, Coquitlam, Nanaimo, Pitt Meadows, Whistler Village, Garibaldi Highlands and Ladner. Sea Island, Lulu Island, Gabriola Island, Roberts Bank Superport, Peace Arch Park and Galiano Park, Browning Lake and Zorro Bay are also around this area.”
  19. InstagramIcon.png vfxsup (Craig Clarke). June 4, 2018.  "Dark Monday's featuring Colin ;)" (archive copy)
    InstagramIcon.png vfxsup (Craig Clarke). June 25, 2018.  "Colin enjoying a full day of screaming 😂" (archive copy)
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