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Smooth seas this morn. As if the gods themselves were payin' respect to the great Konung Bran.
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- Sjusta, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Bran Tuirseach, called "the Conqueror", was jarl of An Skellig who ruled as King of the Skellige Isles in the 1250s before the ascension of his brother Eist Tuirseach and from 1267 until 1272.

Though initially a marriage of his nephew Crach an Craite and Princess Pavetta had been planned, King Bran managed to form an alliance with Cintra by marrying Eist off to Queen Calanthe in 1252. With crown passed to Eist, the bond elevated into a personal union.

After an interregnum following King Eist's death, Bran regained the iron crown of Skellige and ruled for a few more years. Once he felt too old, Bran set out to hunt a bear and died.

Biography

Early life

Born in 1192,[N 1] Bran had two siblings, brother Eist Tuirseach and a sister who later gave birth to his nephew Crach an Craite.[3] As a member of Clan Tuirseach, Bran eventually inherited the title of the jarl of An Skellig and thereby the clan's leadership.

After the previous Konung died, Bran submitted his candidacy and proved himself worthy by slaying a dragon named Evren. The display of valor won the hearts of the jarls, and Bran was given the crown.[2]

Gwent cardart skellige bran tuirseach

Bran with the honor guard

Primary reign

King Bran united the clans through the way unknown to his predecessors: compromise. He invited his rivals to banquets and with sweet words, coin, and barrels of mead persuaded most to join his side.[4] During one such feast, warrior Uve Jabberjaw got drunk and insulted the king. Angered, Bran let Uve live but ordered him to tear out his tongue and therefore retain honor.

At some point, Bran had met the love of his life Birna who, although not his first nor last lover, had always been closest to him and had become the mother of his firstborn son, Svanrige Tuirseach.[2] To keep rivals in check, King Bran was aided by his wife, who told him every suspicious rumor or deed that she had noticed during the feasts.[4] Aside from her, King Bran had druid Mousesack as an advisor and confidant. His brother Eist who by then rose to be the jarl of Skellige, commander of the armed forces, was an advisor as well.[3]

When Queen Calanthe of Cintra set up Pavetta's 15th birthday feast in 1252, would-be suitors arrived. Bran sent his nephew Crach an Craite with Eist, Mousesack and Draig Bon-Dhu as an entourage but the event turned out unexpectedly. While Crach didn't win Pavetta's hand, Eist married the queen.[3] Bran was pleased with the result as it seated the remote islands at the same table as the mightiest dynasties of the Continent.[5]

Pause and continuous reign

Despite his wife's repeated requests, the King refused to champion their son Svanrige as rightful heir to the throne. He perceived the concept of hereditary monarchy as preposterous and believed that the boy would earn the crown himself was he worthy.[4] By 1257, the crown has been bequeathed to Eist while Crach became the new jarl of Skellige.[6] The reign of his brother and Queen Calanthe, titled Ard Rhena (High Queen) on Skellige, lasted for over ten years until they died fighting the Nilfgaardian Empire.[7]

After a brief interregnum during which Jarl Crach an Craite was effectively the steward of the Isles, leading the Skelligers against the Black Ones,[8] Bran was reinstated as the king.[9] For the next few years, Bran continued to rule as before, keeping the clans under him and leading them on profitable raids. Nevertheless, he never united the jarls as one massive fleet which could seriously threaten Nilfgaard.[2] Bran's reign was marked by continuous peace and he was given an epithet of "the Conqueror".[1]

Last hunt

Tw3 the king is dead

Bran on his final voyage

Bran lived long and reached 80 years of age in 1272. When his hands began to tremble and his ideas wandered off mid-sentence, Bran decided to go into the woods of An Skellig to hunt a great bear armed with only a knife and dressed in delicate cloth, leaving the world on his own terms.[4]

His body was put on a drakkar in Kaer Trolde Harbor by Tuirseach warriors with all items he could need in an afterlife. When everybody bid him farewell, his young lover willingly lay next to his body as the ship was set out to sea and set ablaze by his nephew, Jarl Crach. One shepherd sacrificed his best mare for the king, while a group of An Craite warriors offered Bran their manes, swearing to remain bald until a new king had been chosen.[2]

Legacy

Tw3 cave of dreams Bran

The specter of Bran

On the same day, a wooden bust of Bran with detailed trimming was carved out by the harbor's artisans to be put up on the shore of Larvik where, the islanders believed, its fierce gaze would protect them from Nilfgaard.

At the wake in Kaer Trolde citadel that ensued straight after the funeral, Bran was recalled as a hero by all present. Holger Blackhand remembered him fondly for keeping Birna in line and hoped for the next king to be his equal. With toasts raised to his memory, there were still likes of Cerys an Craite who felt Bran did little to resolve old quarrels.

To prove himself a worthy candidate to the crown, Blueboy Lugos set out to best his fears in the Cave of Dreams. He took along witcher Geralt of Rivia and two warriors, Uve Jabberjaw and Jorulf the Wolverine. Inside, Uve saw specters of Tuirseach warriors and Bran. As his fear of insulting Bran once more came true, Uve had to defeat the warriors before he could continue.[2]

Bran was also commemorated as a leader card in Skellige Gwent deck by Igor and Martin Monnier, counts of Toussaint inspired by their visit to the isles sometime prior to 1275.[10]

Personality and traits

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Sit at my table and let's drink!
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- King Bran, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
Audio version:
King Bran voice line

Unlike the other jarls and konungs of Skellige, Bran knew how to use compromise to his advantage. In his early years, hospitality and friendly demeanor enabled him to easily win over any opponent and turn him into his vassal.[4] However, by the end of his reign, memory began to fail Bran and he could no longer unite the clans to pose a serious threat to the Nilfgaardian Empire.[2]

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Journal entry

King Bran, former King of the Skellige Isles, lived a long and storied life. When he finally felt decrepitude taking a hold of him, he went into the woods to hunt a bear armed with only a knife – and thus ended his reign. It was remembered as an honorable and respected one, though some complained he preferred raiding to confronting the Isles' long-term problems, and that he let his wife's tongue wag too freely. Some connected the two, claiming Bran sailed out to fight overseas battles to put off dealing with the ones awaiting him at home.

Associated quests

Gwent: The Witcher Card Game

Bran is a leader in the Homecoming version.

Reward Tree entries

Scroll 1: They say it is easier to tame the seas crashing against Skellige's shores than the Skelligers themselves. Yet Bran did just that. He united the isles and the clans behind him – and long ruled with an iron fist.
Scroll 2: What was his secret? How did he succeed when others failed? Was it courage? Cunning? Intimidation? No, nothing of the sort. Bran tapped into a power previously unknown to the isles' inhabitants – compromise.
Scroll 3: When others would reach for ax and bow, Bran invited his rivals to banquet. With honey-sweet words, purses laden with coin, and barrels heavy with mead, it proved difficult to disagree with Skellige's king for long.
Scroll 4: Despite never slaying an ice giant or raiding the City of Golden Towers, Bran is remembered as a truly great ruler. Though not a hero in his own right, he delivered peace to the Isles, ushering in a period of growth and prosperity for the next generation of Skellige's champions.
Chest 1: Bran's closest advisor and confidant was his wife, Birna. During banquets, she always sat at his side, silent, nearly unnoticeable in the bustle. She could recall every uttered rumor, every knowing wink, every raised eyebrow. Then later, in the bear skin-adorned bed of the royal bedchamber, she would whisper into her husband's ear all that she had learned...
Chest 2: Despite Birna's repeated requests, Bran refused to champion their son, Svanrige, as rightful heir to the throne. He believed if the boy truly deserved the crown, he'd earn it without the king's intercession. If found unworthy, so be it. Bran found the Continent's long history of dynastic rule preposterous. Birna, on the other hand, could not be persuaded to feel the same...
Chest 3: Bran lived a long life – a very long life. When, just after his eightieth birthday, his hands began to tremble and his thoughts began to wander mid-sentence, he set out with a small hunting party. Wearing only delicate linens and armed with only a knife, he departed for An Skellig in search of a bear... And an honorable death.

Trivia

  • In Middle Welsh, brân means "crow".

Gallery

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 In Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, Bran is said to have just passed 80 when he decided to end his life. As The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is set in 1272 and it mentions the king as "recently-departed", Bran's birth year can be deduced as being 1192.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 A Fractured Land: Tales of the Northern Realms
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Last Wish
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
  5. The Art of the Witcher: Gwent Gallery Collection
  6. Genalogy of Ciri - Eist
  7. Blood of Elves
  8. The Tower of the Swallow
  9. The Witcher Role-Playing Game
  10. Blood and Wine expansion

External links

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