Precursor: This article is a continuation of my last entry, Yennifer’s story. If you have not yet read the first body of work please go back and do so before continuing. Or not, it’s up to you, whatever floats your boat. Now, let’s get back to the story.
When we last saw Yennefer we had just discovered her true heritage, she was part elf. This raised many questions but also provided a lot of answers. The elves in The Witcher series are hated more than any other non-human that appears in the show. The reasoning for this is because of a group of elves called the Scoia’tael. The Scoia’tael had a destain for humans and did not want them around so they took it upon themselves to kill those who were encroaching on their land. With only this knowledge it is easy to see how a human may be upset. However, there is more to the story.
Let’s start from the beginning. Elves came to The Witcher realm around 2,500 years before humans did. They were a very peaceful people and acquired most of their land in a harmonious manner. They never had any issues with any other races until The Conjunction of the Spheres.
The Conjunction of the Spheres was a cataclysm that affected the whole multiverse. This happening is what brought the humans to the world of the Elder Races. It is also the same event that trapped the monsters that the witcher himself chases after. Not to mention it came about the same time as “chaos”, the form of magic you see in the series.
When the humans arrived to this new world they were wildly different from those who had already inhabited the space. They were intolerant, arrogant, and aggressive. The humans ended up building their cities on the ruins of old elven kingdoms. They later would learn how to bend “chaos” at their own will, giving them a power that would later play a big part in the wars to come.
The cultural difference alone was not enough to start the wars. Don’t get me wrong they both had a strong dislike of each other and an outburst of violence was teetering on the edge but there needed to be a catalyst. For this story, it was Lara Dorren and Cragen of Lod. Lara was an elf and Cragen a well-liked human sorcerer. These two were powerful figures in both societies and despite their differences, they fell in love. Their partnership created great controversy between the two races, each telling the story differently from their perspective.
Lara and Cragen ended up getting married and were bearing a child. The news of a child was what sent everyone over the edge. It was bad enough that two different races could love each other but now there would be a new race combining the two, muddying the genetics of a purebred race. Cragen was killed over the uprising but it is unclear by who. The humans claim that the elves committed murder but the elves claim that the humans killed him out of spite and anger for what he had done.
Without the protection of her husband, Lara would face a terrible fate. The queen would accuse her of evil deeds done to others through her magic and chop off her fingers. In the human telling of this story, Lara would curse the queen only to see she was not intimidated and beg like a dog for mercy. However, in the elven rendition, she simply asked for mercy upon her unborn child. Nevertheless, Lara would die that night after giving birth to her daughter Rannon, a half-blooded child.
Rannon would be taken in by the queen of Redania and become the fourth great-grandmother of Ciri. This is a point we will touch on a little later down the line. For now, though, we continue with the story of the elves.
After Lara’s death, the elves were treated horribly. Although most of them had assimilated into human society they were treated as lesser beings. Most of them were forced to live in the slums and ghettos. They face a kind of racism that many in America can relate to today. They were sick and tired of living in poverty and being discriminated against. They wanted a better life. That is when the Scoia’tael was created and where the war began. However, you will see in the series the story of elves being evil beings out for human blood is not exactly true but propaganda made up by the humans that wished to oppress them. Well, as it was addressed by the king of the elves himself.
The elves would be pushed out of their homelands, forced to live in the mountains, and slowly starve. The only reason the elves refused to make peace with the humans is because it would mean to surrender to them and watch their culture, heritage, and people slip away. The consequence is as serious as death and the extinction of an entire race.
Now I know what you’re thinking, Jackie, why are we talking about this? I thought we were going to talk about the girl that went from not to hot!? We are! Being part elf is a huge part of who Yennefer is at the core. The scene where she discloses to Istredd she is part elf is a pivotal moment in her character development. She is literally standing in a room decorated from floor to ceiling with her ancestors’ bones. She is practicing with the very people who brought a whole race down because of the creation of someone like her. She is not flirting with the enemy but working with them.
Yennefer knows she is not only different on the outside but on the inside as well. No matter what she does she can not run from the narrative that she is an outcast and that society will never accept her no matter what she does. The history of Yennefer’s abuse of her trauma spans farther than her own lifespan. It reaches back thousands of years.
Although this all seems like a disadvantage in Yennefer’s story it is also the reason she is able to become so powerful. Once she learns to stop running from who she is and embraces her heritage she is able to unlock her true potential. She learns that her fear of being unlovable is not attached to others’ perceptions of her but her own. With that, she is able to fight back on not only what has oppressed her for a lifetime but her people over centuries.