"A Grain of Truth" is the first episode of season 2 of Netflix's The Witcher series.
- Geralt of Rivia
- Yennefer of Vengerberg
- Tissaia de Vries
- Fringilla Vigo
- Triss Merigold
- Geralt sets off with Ciri on a journey that leads him to an old friend. After the Battle of Sodden, Tissaia shows no mercy in her search for information.
A merchant and two women arrive in a seemingly abandoned village. They're in search of lodging, but instead meet their demise at the hands of an unknown flying creature that is both fast and strong.
Meanwhile, at the Battle of Sodden Hill, only a few remain, amongst them Tissaia, who is searching for Yennefer by looking through the memories of the fallen and observing their final moments. With thousands dead on all sides, Vilgefortz tells Tissaia to accept that Yennefer is gone, but that is simply not something she can do, as she continues calling out to her protégé. However, instead of Yennefer, she finds Geralt and Ciri, who remarks that she's already seen this in a vision. Geralt asks Tissaia if Yennefer is alive, but despite her efforts to find her, Tissaia is doubtful. While they may have won the battle, Geralt asks if it was worth her life.
Geralt and Ciri camp out in the freezing wilderness, where they share their mutual inability to sleep due to bad dreams. In her dream, a black knight has her on his horse while Cintra is burning, and she's helpless to stop it. Ciri asks how Geralt claimed her as a Child Surprise, to which he explains that it was payment from a debt after he saved her father's life from her grandmother, as she didn't want Ciri's mother marrying an outsider. That said, Geralt assures Ciri that her father didn't know what he was giving up when they made the agreement. Ciri proposes going to Skellige in search of shelter, but Geralt warns her that she'd be married off to the nearest Lord of Bad Breath, who would only be seeking to claim her throne.
Triss is badly wounded from the Battle of Sodden, sending her into a seizure, but with the combined powers of Tissaia, Vilgefortz, and Artorius, they manage to stabilize her. Tissaia fears that Yennefer is lost for good. As for Fringilla, she was at the front and coordinating the Nilfgaardian attack. She has abandoned all rules of Chaos. Fortunately, they won the battle and also took a prisoner, however, no one has been able to break him so far, which Tissaia hopes to change.
Yennefer awakens under a tree, shackled and held prisoner by Fringilla and what remains of her Nilfgaard comrades.
Geralt explains to Ciri that Kaer Morhen is where witchers go during the winter to rest up and heal, as well as replace armor and elixirs. It's Geralt's home, if nothing else. They prefer to keep it a secret after a previous attack when Geralt was a boy that almost wiped them all out. Ciri recalls how in Cintra, she used to dress up as a boy just so that she could play knucklebones. They come to a sudden stop upon noticing a mutilated deer just off the path, and when Roach becomes unnerved, Geralt performs axii, a calming sign to ease Roach's worry. He then takes a blade and cuts a piece of flesh from the deer, tasting it as well.
Geralt and Ciri make their way to a village, but the lack of guards and barking dogs is alarming to say the least, and so Geralt decides to seek shelter in a nearby castle with an old friend. However, upon their arrival, the windows and doors of the castle begin slamming open and shut repeatedly until a beast comes barging out the door and tackles Geralt to the ground. However, he discovers his attacker is Nivellen, the aforementioned old friend, who has been cursed into some kind of monster.
Nivellen welcomes Geralt and Ciri inside and conjures a warm bath for Ciri to bathe in. Meanwhile, Geralt and Nivellen catch up over lost time, as it's been 13 winters since they last saw each other.
Ciri exits the bathtub to find a white gown waiting for her. She presumes it's from Nivellen, unaware that someone is watching her from a hole in the ceiling, leading up to the attic.
Ciri joins Geralt and Nivellen for dinner, in which he summons food and wine for all three of them to enjoy. Ciri inquires about how they met, and Nivellen reveals that many years ago, Geralt was hired by his father to clear their woods of a wyvern infestation. Nivellen tried to prove himself to his father by killing one first, but instead fell into their lair. Luckily, Geralt saved him and slew the wyvern. He then handed Nivellen the wyvern's head and told his father that Nivellen was the one who killed it. It was the first and last time Nivellen's father was proud of him. Geralt then asks about Nivellen's curse, which was the result of him falling in with a bad crew and trashing the Temple of the Lionheaded Spider, high on godflesh mushrooms. After the damage was done, a priestess cursed him to live as a monster forever and alone. All curses have cures, but all Nivellen can recall is her screaming something about "love and blood." He's tried to take his life multiple times, but he keeps coming back.
Geralt asks Nivellen about the village below and why it was abandoned. He claims that after the Battle of Sodden Hill, the countryside is a dangerous place. Geralt questions the legitimacy of his claims, but Nivellen goes on to reveal that the Wild Hunt is also riding over the horizon. He saw them himself, riding their skeleton horses just last week. Nivellen fears that it's the end of days, but after living through a whole dark age and three supposed end-of-days, Geralt isn't convinced. Suddenly, they hear scratching noises from above, which Nivellen claims is his cat, Vereena, though both Geralt and Ciri are skeptical.
Cahir is being held prisoner at Aretuza. When all else has failed, Tissaia tries to get him to crack, though he remains strong, insistent that the White Flame will cleanse them all. Tissaia demands that he reveal what Nilfgaard wants, but when he refuses to speak, she tortures him until the point of screaming.
Fringilla has very little Chaos at her command, but uses what little she has to conjure up a bit of food, though Yennefer remains unimpressed. She then comes to the realization that they won and that Fringilla and Nilfgaard are on the run, however, Fringilla informs her that Sodden was only one of many battles to come. Yennefer can't imagine that her leader, the White Flame, will be too pleased to see her return defeated, which is why she intends to offer Yennefer up as a sacrifice.
Nivellen conjures a famous piece that he first saw as a lad whilst studying at Oxenfurt. It tells the tale of a doomed young elven warrior and a human she falls in love with. It's called The Fall of the Elders.
Nivellen reminds Ciri of Mousesack, who she sometimes forgets is gone. She wishes that she could go back in time and save everyone. She wonders what it's like for Nivellen to be alone. The loneliness eats him alive. He's tried many times to cure himself, having plied many a lass with treasure to kiss him, hoping there was a grain of truth to the fairy tales. Ciri proposes that he may have simply not found the right girl, recalling how Mousesack told her of a hedgehog man who was cured by true love, which Nivellen doesn't think he's worthy of, informing Ciri about how he killed all his servants the day he turned, not knowing what he was or his own strength. Nivellen believes that he deserves his destiny. While escorting Ciri back to her room, she tells him that it's not his fault for killing his servants. Ciri watched her entire home burn to the ground with her family trapped inside. She knows monsters, but Nivellen simply doesn't seem like one to her. He retorts that monsters are more than just their looks. They're born of deeds done, unforgivable deeds.
While scouting the castle, Geralt notices footprints in the snow. They lead outside and towards the village before disappearing within the snow.
Hoping to get some answers from Nivellen, Geralt proposes a drinking game. They throw daggers at a portrait of Nivellen's father, and whoever misses has to drink and tell a truth. Unfortunately for Geralt, he appears to miss every throw, whereas Nivellen has near perfect aim. Nivellen questions what changed Geralt after willingly spending many lifetimes alone. Geralt reveals that her name is Yennefer, but she unfortunately died, as far as he's aware.
Yennefer tries to convince Fringilla to let her go, as neither of them are certain that her sacrifice will spare Fringilla of her failure. She even invites Fringilla to join them and redeem herself. However, Fringilla insists that what she's doing is in the name of liberation, which is the opposite of what they were taught at Aretuza. There, they were just sent out as pawns to guild kingdoms, nothing more. Yennefer accuses Fringilla of being unable to think for herself, to which Fringilla replies that Yennefer is blind.
Nivellen wonders if Geralt told Ciri the truth about how witchers obtain children so they can feed them with magic herbs. The few who survive become witchers themselves, and all human feelings and reactions are trained out of them, turning them into monsters to kill other monsters. However, Geralt insists it won't come to that. He then pulls his own knife from his boot and hits the portrait spot on, uncovering the fact that Nivellen has been cheating with magic knives, leading Geralt to question what he's hiding, but Nivellen avoids the questions.
Vereena comes down from the attic when Ciri falls asleep, scaling down the wall and quickly crawling over to Ciri's bedside. Ciri awakens from a bad dream to find the blue-eyed girl watching over her. She asks if Ciri liked the dress she left for her and then reveals that she too is different by telepathically communicating with Ciri. She's remarks that she never met anyone so alone in the heart as Ciri is, and then asks why she travels with the Witcher. Ciri questions if Vereena is a monster, but she counters that simply by saying being different doesn't make one a monster and that humans do monstrous things all the time. When Ciri realizes that Nivellen hid Vereena because he loves her, Vereena kisses Ciri's hand and tells her this must be their secret until she leaves, causing Ciri to fall asleep.
Geralt heads down into the village to investigate. He discovers the remains of a merchant and a couple of women. He then sees the footsteps once more, and just like before, they suddenly disappear, leading Geralt to come to the conclusion that there's a bruxa nearby.
Geralt awakens Ciri from her sleep and tells her to be prepared to run after learning that Nivellen is harboring a bruxa. He follows the sounds of her purring to Nivellen's room, where she is draining his blood from him. Geralt kicks in the door and she unleashes a sonic scream that forces Geralt against the wall and allows her to retreat into the attic, though Geralt forces her down and a fight ensues. Geralt sends her flying out the window, where Ciri awaits. Vereena explains that Geralt is wrong about her and that she doesn't want to hurt Ciri, but Geralt resumes his attack until she transforms and flies away. She attempts to swoop back down for an attack, but Geralt stabs Vereena, forcing her back to her human form.
Ciri goes to check on an unconscious Vereena, who awakens and holds her hostage, threatening to rip Ciri's throat out if Geralt doesn't leave them alone. Nivellen intervenes and stabs Vereena with a pole, though this doesn't kill her, it merely allows Ciri to break loose. Vereena contorts her body and pulls herself closer to Nivellen, telling him that she loves him and that if she can't have him, then no one can. However, Geralt comes up from behind and beheads Vereena before she can harm anyone else. Before burning up in flames, Vereena telepathically tells Ciri that Geralt will come for her too. With Vereena's death, Nivellen's curse is lifted, and he is human once more. Nivellen found Vereena injured and starving in the woods. She wasn't scared of him, and when she healed, she chose to stay, and she didn't care what he looked like. To ease her cravings, he allowed Vereena to feed on him, but she couldn't control herself. Geralt recalls Nivellen mentioning "love and blood" earlier. They both possess mighty power. Losing his true love is what broke the curse. Nivellen knowingly turned a blind eye to what she did to the villagers because she didn't care that he looked like a monster, but not for destroying the temple as he originally claimed, but for raping the priestess. Nivellen looks to Ciri and pleads with her to stay and for Geralt to kill him, but neither grant his request and simply leave.
Geralt warns Ciri that the next time he tells her to run, she better do as he says. She thinks there's something wrong with her. Everywhere she goes, people die, and sometimes, she feels like she could burn the whole world without even meaning to. It scares her. Geralt informs her that fear is an illness and that if left untreated, it could consume her. The only way to treat it is for her to face it head on.
As Fringilla and Nilfgaard prepare to pack up camp, her men are attacked by spears until only Yennefer and Fringilla are left standing.