The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Synopsis

By Michael Busse

Outline

Prologue

The world of The Witcher expands to enormous proportions in the third video game installment, but this summary will be focusing on just the most important quests for the main story of the game.

Side quest upon side quest tell the story of a world on the brink of total collapse, with prejudice, hatred, nationalism, and actual monsters pressing in on all sides. Yet among this chaos we find our protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, back on the path of a witcher, but this time he has another goal. His lost love, Yennefer of Vengerberg, is out there in the world somewhere and Geralt won’t stop until he finds her.

The game’s first scene takes place at Kaer Morhen, where Geralt and Yennefer are spending an intimate morning together as the two’s adopted daughter and witcher-in-training, Ciri, works on her swordplay in the courtyard below. The scene is strangely serene for our hero, but before he can truly enjoy it the stronghold is attacked by the Wild Hunt, the spectral hunting party that haunts the skies of the Continent.

Before the Wild Hunt can cut down the ones he loves, Geralt awakens from his nightmare. Geralt is, in fact, not at Kaer Morhen, Yennefer is still missing, and Ciri hasn’t been seen in years. Taking it as a portent of dark days ahead., Geralt shakes the dream from his mind and saddles up to continue his search for Yennefer.

The village of White Orchard is his first stop, where Geralt and witcher veteran Vesemir find their first real traces of Yennefer. Amidst the village’s problems, including a murderous griffin attacking the occupying force of Nilfgaardians that have recently taken over, Geralt and Yennefer finally reunite after years apart. To Geralt’s surprise, Yennefer is in the employ of the Nilfgaardian Empire. Despite their reunion, there is very little time to savor the moment as the Emperor himself has asked to see Geralt about a gravely important matter. On their way to Vizima, now occupied by the invading Nilfgaardians, the Wild Hunt appears and attacks Geralt and Yennefer, the two barely able to escape before they reach the capital.

Emperor Emhyr var Emreis, or “The White Flame Dancing on the Graves of His Foes”, is an intimidating figure and, thanks to Geralt’s restored memories, we also know that he is Ciri’s biological father. Apparently, the Emperor has received news of Ciri’s reappearance on the Continent and he wants her back so that he may abdicate and cede to her the throne. Yennefer has allied herself with Nilfgaard  in order to receive information on the daughter she has lost for so long and save her from the Hunt. Ciri’s whereabouts are doubtful, but Geralt’s nothing if not an experienced tracker. She’s been spotted in three places: the countryside of Velen, the “free city” of Novigrad, and the isles of Skellige. With a few awkward parting words, Geralt and Yennefer agree to split up and search for their beloved Ciri separately.

Velen 

The swamp-infested, war-torn lands of Velen are where Geralt begins his search. After more evidence that the Wild Hunt is also on Ciri’s tail, Geralt follows whatever leads he can to get information on what she may have been doing in Velen.

One of the best leads he receives is to meet with Velen’s new “Bloody Baron”, Phillip Strenger, as apparently Ciri  had crossed paths with him not too long ago. The Baron has problems of his own, his family having gone missing, and he tasks Geralt with finding them in exchange for information about Ciri. It’s here that the perspective changes. The player actually gets to take control of Ciri herself in a flashback. Ciri appeared out of nowhere in the swamps of Velen one day and, after saving one of the Baron’s men from a dangerous werewolf, she was taken to the Baron’s home to recover.

The Baron is less forthcoming with information until Geralt solves the mystery of where his family has gone. After a horrid tale of domestic abuse, infidelity, and a tragic miscarriage, Geralt is able to find information about the Baron’s wife and daughter, the latter of which having fled to Oxenfurt, the former still missing. It’s also at this point that Geralt first meets Uma, a strange, disfigured, and almost baby-like creature that the Baron won in a card game. Geralt pays him no mind at the moment, but the creature will become quite important later on in his quest.

A meeting with Keira Metz, an old sorceress acquaintance, has Geralt attempting to track down a masked elven mage that was also looking for Ciri. Through his messages, and through more battles with the Wild Hunt and its minions, it’s revealed that Ciri may have been involved with the witches of Crookback Bog. Searching for these witches, Geralt finds a tiny town in the middle of the bog full of children and one old, slightly crazed, woman. Based on his findings, Geralt realizes that the woman is the Baron’s wife, currently being controlled by the Crones of Crookback Bog, who attempted to ransom Ciri to the Wild Hunt when she arrived in their swamp, and returns to the Baron with this information to receive more about Ciri. 

After she saved the Baron’s life from a basilisk using her Elder Blood power, Ciri realized she needed to keep moving as the Wild Hunt would have caught her scent. She rode for Novigrad, in search of assistance and a place to hide from the Wild Hunt. At this point Geralt has the option to aid the Baron in rescuing his wife from the Crones of Crookback Bog. After a brief fight with several monsters sent by the Crones, Geralt, the Baron, and his daughter Tamara (aided by King Radovid of Redania’s Witch Hunters) rescue Anna, the Baron’s wife. Whether she lives or dies (the latter of which causes the Baron to commit suicide, should it occur) is determined by choices Geralt made in previous quests.

Novigrad

The “free city” of Novigrad is becoming anything but. The Church of the Eternal Fire is becoming more and more influential, with anyone considered “other” (non-humans, mages, witchers, sorcerers, etc.) being tried, interrogated, tortured, and burned at the stake in public. Geralt treads carefully here, trying to find information about Ciri and his friend and former paramour, Triss Merigold. Triss is in hiding, doing odd jobs for what money she can get. Geralt helps Triss out of a tough spot and she tells him she hasn’t seen Ciri but she knows someone who can help him find her, a dream seer named Corinne Tilly.

Through some complicated dream magic, Geralt finds out Ciri was in contact with an old friend of his, master bard Dandelion. With the help of some old friends such as Triss, Zoltan Chivay, and former spy Sigismund Dijkstra (now a Novigrad underbelly crime boss), Geralt follows a complex tale that has him trekking all over the city. Assistance from Triss is invaluable in finding out where Dandelion is being held, underneath the main temple of the Eternal Fire. 

In order to free him, Geralt needs the help of a certain doppler, another old friend named Dudu Biberveldt. Putting on a successful play with Geralt as one of the lead actors, Dudu is drawn out of hiding and eventually he agrees to take the shape of Caleb Menge, the commander of the temple guard that Triss killed after being tortured by his cronies. With Dudu taking the place of Menge, and with Zoltan at his side, Geralt finally frees Dandelion from captivity. Unfortunately, the bard has little information for him.

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He does tell Geralt how Ciri was obsessed with deciphering a curse using a phylactery she had and how he put her in contact with notorious crime boss Whoreson Junior. Whoreson had Dudu as a captive, which gave Ciri the notion to save him with Dandelion’s help. Upon saving the changeling, Ciri and Dandelion ran from Whoreson’s men only to cross a group of witch hunters escorting Hierarch Hemmelfart himself, leader of the Church of the Eternal Fire. Before she could be impaled by a crossbow bolt, Dandelion watched Ciri teleport herself in a flash, the unfortunate side effect being Dandelion’s capture and imprisonment.

Novigrad is filled to bursting with other matters that need Geralt’s attention. He once more meets Vernon Roche, now fighting a guerrilla war against Nilfgaard to free Temeria once again. Through Roche, Geralt meets Redanian King Radovid V himself, who asks him to seek information about Phillipa Eilhart’s whereabouts. The king, quite clearly losing his mind, is being targeted by Vernon Roche and Dijkstra in a joint effort to assassinate him before he destroys everything even remotely related to magic or being a non-human. There’s also the matter of Triss attempting to smuggle mages out of Novigrad. Geralt can help her, and even rekindle their romance if he so wishes, before she sails off to Kovir. All of these things, and we haven’t even mentioned that Dandelion needs help starting up his new cabaret business!

Despite Novigrad’s many distractions, Geralt comes up short where it concerns Ciri. With his trace in Velen having led him to Novigrad, and his clues in Novigrad halting at a dead end, there is only one place left to search for his lost daughter, the Isles of Skellige.

Skellige

The Isles of Skellige are wild places, full of monsters and surly locals. Geralt commissions a ship there that is quickly attacked by Skellige raiders and then shipwrecked on Ard Skellig. Luckily Geralt survives and makes his way to Kaer Trolde, where a sad scene awaits him.

King Bran Tuirseach has just recently passed and Geralt enter Kaer Trolde as his funeral is beginning. It’s during this funeral and subsequent wake that Geralt meets back up with Yennefer as well as his old friend Crach an Craite, leader of the an Craite clan. During the wake, Yennefer needs Geralt’s help to steal a magical mask from the head druid’s laboratory that they need to inspect the area where they believe Ciri was.

Using the mask, Geralt and Yennefer see echoes of the past. They see Ciri  pursued closely by the Wild Hunt and find out that the nearby village of Lofoten was recently attacked by the hunting party. The townsfolk tell Geralt and Yennefer that Ciri was found by someone they call Craven, so named for fleeing during the Wild Hunt attack. Craven made his way to a nearby sacred garden to dispatch a werewolf that made his home there. Unfortunately, Craven is dead when the two find him. Yet, for a sorceress of Yennefer’s magnitude, even death is only a small hurdle. Using black magic, necromancy, she forces the corpse back to some semblance of life in order to tell the story of how it met Ciri.

The corpse’s real name is Skjall, a young man that brought Ciri and the masked elf back to his village when they seemingly fell from the sky. Ciri was wounded and the masked elf gave her a place to meet once she had recovered. The villagers are kind to Ciri and help her regain her strength, thankfully right before the Wild Hunt arrives. Skjall helps Ciri escape to the meeting place and he sees her get knocked unconscious by the masked elf and taken away on his boat before one of the Wild Hunt knock Skjall himself unconscious. When Skjall comes to, he sees that the boat has returned to shore, it’s only passenger being a shrunken, disfigured humanoid.

While the story is not as helpful as they had hoped, they are not without a lead. The description of the disfigured humanoid matches the description of someone Geralt had once seen long ago: Uma, the strange, misshapen childlike figure that had been won by the Baron of Velen.

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Before Geralt leaves the Isles, there are a few important matters he can attend to. He can rekindle the romance he once had with Yennefer, if the player wishes it, by helping her capture a djinn and removing the tie of fate that the original djinn from Sapkowski’s story “The Last Wish” had put between the two. Also, the Isles of Skellige need a new King or Queen to replace King Bran. Geralt can ignore this or assist one of the an Craite children into becoming the new King or Queen.

With his business in Skellige done, Geralt returns to Velen and retrieves Uma with few problems. As the odd travel companions make their way back to Kaer Morhen, they are halted by Nilfgaardian troops. The Nilfgaardians tells Geralt that the Emperor is displeased and wants to speak with him post-haste. Upon arriving in Vizima, Geralt explains everything that happened to Emperor Emhyr alongside Yennefer. The sorceress agrees with Geralt that Uma is cursed, and that to lift the curse they need to utilize Kaer Morhen’s lab and library, as well as the magic words that Geralt learned from Dandelion. The Emperor is unmoved by Geralt and Yennefer’s efforts, but permits them to leave.

Kaer Morhen

Given the limitations of portals, Geralt arrives at Kaer Morhen on horseback to find that Yennefer is already running the place. Fellow Wolf School witchers Eskel, Lambert, and Vesemir are already doing tasks that Yennefer needs done to prepare to remove the curse on Uma. With Geralt also helping, preparations are made and Yennefer finally reveals her plan to lift the curse.

She plans to submit Uma to the witchers’ Trial of the Grasses, but only the beginning stages of it in order to induce a state of malleability to Uma’s form. This understandably turns the witchers off of her plan as the Trial of the Grasses hasn’t been performed in many years. It is also a horribly painful and potentially deadly procedure. Though they have their doubts, Yennefer’s plan does eventually work and she lifts the curse from Uma to reveal his true form, that of the masked elf. More specifically, an elf named Avallac’h, whom Geralt had encountered in the past under less than friendly circumstances.

Avallac’h tells the group that Ciri is hidden away somewhere on the Isle of Mists, and that the Wild Hunt is pursuing her for her Elder Blood in order to open a permanent gate between worlds. He warns that taking her from the Isle will alert the Wild Hunt of her presence once more. With this knowledge, Kaer Morhen becomes the stage for a siege, where the witchers and their allies will make a stand against the Wild Hunt.

Before Geralt goes to the Isle of Mists, he can go back around the world gathering as many allies as he can to help with the defense of Kaer Morhen. Zoltan, Triss, Dijkstra, the an Craites, Vernon Roche, Keira Metz, Ermion the head druid, and even a rediscovered Letho can all help, given that Geralt has made the right choices and helped the right people.

Isle of Mists

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Geralt is led through the mists around the isle by a light given to him by Avallac’h. He meets a group of dwarves on the island and, after helping them reunite with their mates, they  show him to Ciri. She’s cold, and seems to not be moving, Geralt believes he’s lost her. Thankfully, Avallac’h’s light seems to bring her back from the brink and the two finally embrace after so long apart.

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Ciri has much to say about her time gone from Geralt. She tells him how Avallac’h had been teaching her to control her Elder Blood powers while at the same time hiding her from the King of the Wild Hunt, an Aen Elle elf named Eredin. She says that Eredin’s world is dying and he needs Ciri’s power to bring his invading army into their world. Ciri describes some of the worlds she visited and how Avallac’h kept her safe on a world that Eredin could not find her on. Once she felt that Eredin had given up his hunt, she left that world to seek Geralt and Yennefer once again. Geralt asks her to start from the beginning of her story starting back in their world.

Ciri tells the tale of her and Avallac’h originally arriving on Ard Skellig, where the Wild Hunt caught up to them the first time. Eredin cursed Avallac’h and the massive explosion was caused by Avallac’h repelling the Wild Hunt long enough to teleport Ciri to the swamps of Velen. It was there she escaped the Crones of Crookback Bog, met the Bloody Baron, and eventually left once more to find Geralt and Yennefer in Novigrad. With Avallac’h’s curse progressively getting worse, Ciri needed a mage’s help to fix the phylactery that held the curse in place. She reveals that Dandelion left out the detail that their first attempt to meet a mage had been a trap by the Temple guard. Running out of options, they went to Whoreson Junior, who did fix the phylactery but kidnapped Dudu when he thought Dandelion and Ciri were cheating him. Thus the story of Dudu’s rescue and Ciri teleporting out of desperation commenced. She returned to Skellige, but Eredin was hot on her tail. 

She describes that between then and now all she could remember was dreams. She dreamt of Geralt, of Yennefer, and, strangest of all, she had dreams that always seemed to end with her at the base of a great tower searching for its entrance. With time no longer on their side, Ciri teleports herself and Geralt back to Kaer Morhen for the standoff with the Wild Hunt.

Battle for Kaer Morhen #

The defending forces gather in the keep of Kaer Morhen, preparing for the deadly assault. Traps are set, potions are brewed, spells are put in place, and the team stands ready.

The battle for Kaer Morhen is a brutal affair, with many characters possibly facing death. Despite their best efforts, most of the warriors are frozen solid when Eredin arrives with the White Frost at his back, along with his lieutenants, Imlerith and Caranthir. Only Vesemir and Ciri are able to stand before them. Vesemir fights valiantly, but is ultimately captured by Imlerith. Ciri is prepared to give herself up, despite Vesemir’s protests, leading Vesemir to make one final, desperate move against Imlerith, who holds him aloft. The attack costs him his life and Ciri explodes in a magical rage, letting out a piercing, banshee wail of pure magical force that kills many of the Wild Hunt’s soldiers and forces Eredin to fall back at the behest of his lieutenant Caranthir.

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Ciri blames herself for Vesemir’s death. At his funeral, all of the allies gather to see off one of the best witchers the Continent had ever seen. It’s here that Ciri’s resolve crystallizes. She’s tired of running and she grabs Vesemir’s witcher medallion from his funeral pyre before walking off on her own.

Hunting the Hunters #

Geralt does what he can to comfort Ciri as she deals with her own guilt as well as Avallac’h’s continued training. One morning, Ciri wakes him at the crack of dawn and tells him how the witches’ Sabbath is almost upon them. They must ascend Bald Mountain to find the Crones celebrating the day with Wild Hunt lieutenant Imlerith.

Upon reaching Bald Mountain, the two split up tasks. Ciri is to take down the Crones, while Geralt faces off against Imlerith. Ciri finds the Crones deep in the mountain, finishing some vile ritual. Using her Elder Blood powers, and her swordswoman skills, Ciri vanquishes the Crones. At least, she thinks she does, until the youngest Crone hops back to her feet and disappears having stolen Vesemir’s medallion from Ciri’s neck.

Geralt finds Imlerith in a den of earthly pleasures, surrounded by succubi. The battle is long and dangerous, but Geralt proves to be too much for the Wild Hunt lieutenant. Geralt burns his head to a crisp before using Imlerith’s own weapon to deal the final, bloody blow.

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With urging from Yennefer and Triss, Geralt and Ciri join them in trying to reconvene the Lodge of Sorceresses in order to block the Wild Hunt’s escape next time they appear. They go to Novigrad, saving both Phillipa Eilhart and Margarita Laux-Antille from Dijkstra’s wrath and physical captivity, respectively. Ciri returns to a few folk that aided her earlier on her journey and then must speak to sorceresses, either alone, if Geralt trusts her, or with him, should he not be so confident.

While in Novigrad, Avallac’h needs Geralt’s help finding an Aen Elle elf name Ge’els. Avallac’h wishes to show him how Eredin murdered their previous King so that the next time Eredin calls for aid, he receives none. Avallac’h brings Geralt to a number of different worlds, and they talk to each other on a world that has become overcome with the White Frost. It is here that Avallac’h tells Geralt how he escaped the Wild Hunt when he used to ride with them. Ciri had saved him, and that was partially why Eredin is now so dead set on kidnapping her.

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The two find Ge’els and, through some more dream magic, show him Eredin’s treachery. Ge’els agrees to send no help to Eredin and tells the group they must face Eredin at an advantage. Avallac’h tells them about an artifact called the Sunstone that can summon the Wild Hunt’s ship, the Naglfar, and devises a plan to ambush the Hunt in the Bay of Undvik in the Skellige Isles.

As the group returns to Skellige to find the Sunstone, Geralt makes a quick stop on the Nilfgaardian fleet to recruit Fringilla Vigo back into the Lodge of Sorceresses. While they find the Sunstone, Ciri learns that Avallac’h has a secret lab, one that he hid even from her. Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer find this lab and are disgusted to find out about Avallac’h’s obsession with Ciri’s bloodline. Ciri understandably hates feeling like Avallac’h’s experiment, and Geralt can help her trash the lab if he wishes to support her.

With everything gathered, Avallac’h summons the Naglfar. The Lodge sorceresses prevent the Wild Hunt from escaping while Geralt and Ciri storm the ship. On their way to finding Eredin, Caranthir attempts to stop them, but is cut down by the combined might of Ciri and Geralt. Eredin is not far, and the battle against him is even more tumultuous than with Imlerith or Caranthir. Eredin teleports Geralt to the top of a mountain where the two fight unopposed before Eredin returns them back to the Naglfar for his final stand. Geralt finally lands the killing blow on Eredin, but not before he tells Geralt that Avallac’h might have his own sinister plan for Ciri.

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Reuniting with Yennefer, both her and Geralt realize that Ciri is with neither of them. Far in the distance, an ancient tower glows with radiant energy that blasts toward the sky, tearing open a rift between the worlds once more. Yennefer gets Geralt through Avallac’h’s barrier around the tower but before Geralt can finish him off, Ciri appears and explains that the rift was her idea. She plans to enter the rift and defeat the White Frost itself, before it comes to destroy all of the worlds.

Geralt pleads with her to not go through with it, tells her she doesn’t need to sacrifice herself, but Ciri declines. She tells Geralt that this is her story and she must see it through to the end. Ciri steps into the rift and faces off against the core of the White Frost. Memories of Geralt flood back to her, and the player’s decisions regarding Ciri play a massive role as to whether or not she succeeds.

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The last thing Geralt sees is the tower’s light vanishing.

A Story Ends, and Begins #

Choice is something that The Witcher games have always presented as important to the narrative. Many of the choices Geralt makes throughout the game have huge impacts on the way the world is before the credits roll. Geralt’s choices affect who wins the war for the North, and who rules whatever remains. His choices affect the future of Skellige and its people. He can choose a lover in either Triss or Yennefer. Just as important as any of those are what happens to Geralt after Ciri fights the White Frost.

The “bad ending” has us observe Geralt returning to Crookback Bog alone after Ciri’s death. He destroys the final Crone and retrieves Vesemir’s, and Ciri’s medallion. As he looks upon the last remnant he has of his family, he’s surrounded by monsters on all sides. His final fate is left unknown.

A different ending takes place should Geralt support Ciri at several crucial moments and reintroduce her to her biological father, Emperor Emhyr. Ciri succeeds against the White Frost and lives.  However, she sees the state that Nilfgaard is in under her father and resolves to become his successor so she can improve the country’s well being. Geralt and Ciri say goodbye to each other as she heads off for Vizima, but both of them feel in their hearts that the goodbye was more of a “see you later”. Additionally Geralt must not help assassinate Radovid V or help assassinate Radovid and side with Roche afterwards for this ending to occur.

The final possible ending takes place should Geralt support Ciri and either not take her to Emhyr before Bald Mountain or do so but cause the North to win the war, either by ignoring Dijkstra and Roche’s assassination plot or by siding with Dijkstra rather than Roche after the successful assassination of Radovid V. We see Geralt back on the road, heading off to meet someone at a tavern. He stops off at a master swordsmith, who has just finished crafting a brand new, top-quality witcher  silver sword for him. Geralt meets his contact at the tavern; it’s Ciri, alive and well. He presents the silver sword to her and calls her a true witcher. Ciri tells Geralt about another contract she’s agreed upon for them. The two head off as they finally walk The Path together, side by side.

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Published by The Second Stylus

The Editor

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