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"Do you really wish to know?"
Spoilers from the books and/or adaptations to follow!

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Find Geralt of Rivia. He is your destiny.
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- Queen Calanthe to Ciri, The End's Beginning

Calanthe Fiona Riannon of Cintra (b. 1215 - d. 1263), known also as the "Lioness of Cintra" was a queen of Cintra, the mother of Pavetta, and grandmother of Ciri. She was known for her beauty, bravery, and ferocity on the battlefield.

Biography

Defending Cintra from Nilfgaard

Queen Calanthe and King Eist hosts a knight induction ceremony with their granddaughter, Ciri. Afterward, they host a celebratory feast, where Queen Calanthe, King Eist, and Mousesack discuss the encroachment of Nilfgaard. Should they fall, Ciri will rise to throne. Calanthe insists that they won't fall as there won't be a war, but with Ciri being so persistent to know more, Calanthe gives Ciri her first lesson; "as in life, it's impossible to be fully prepared for battle." She's to keep her sword close and keeping moving. Queen Calanthe and King Eist then get word of Nilfgaard's arrival.

Just outside Cintra, Queen Calanthe and King Eist defend their home from the Nilfgaardian invaders in a field as opposed to waiting for aid from their fleet of ships that was delayed by the storm. The Nilfgaardians' sheer force in numbers allow them to overwhelm the Cintran army. Queen Calanthe is forced to retreat after King Eist is killed in battle; an arrow in the eye, fired by Cahir.

Calanthe returns to the castle, where she lies bloody and badly wounded. Cintra is also under attack, and Nilfgaard have made their way to the city. Only 100 or so citizens are within the walls of Queen Calanthe's castle. Calanthe reminds Ciri that one day she will rule Cintra. As the Nilfgaardians reach the gate, Mousesack creates a magical barrier around the citadel.

As night falls, the Nilfgaardians breach the castle gates. In the face of defeat, Queen Calanthe orders the entire castle to commit suicide by poison, to spare them the fate of being tortured and murdered by the imposing army. Calanthe sends Ciri off with Lazlo and Mousesack, telling her to find Geralt of Rivia, as he is her destiny. Calanthe stays behind. On her way out, Ciri screams, causing a magical pulse. With Ciri being escorted out, Calanthe reveals to Mousesack that Ciri is the reason Nilfgaard attacked.

Once Ciri makes it out of the castle safely, Queen Calanthe jumps out a window to her death.[1]

Royal Betrothal

Queen Calanthe returning from a raiding party.

Years in the past, Queen Calanthe returns victorious from a raiding party just in time to oversee a betrothal party for her daughter Princess Pavetta. She has already secretly arranged for her daughter to marry Crach an Craite despite Pavetta's numerous objections. Calanthe explains that marrying Crach is the key to Cintra having power after she dies and that Pavetta's feelings are of little concern.

When Geralt of Rivia arrives, Queen Calanthe inquires about his encounter with the elves. Geralt explains that he got his "ass kicked" and was about to have his throat cut when Filavandrel spared his life. Impressed with Geralt's willingness to paint himself in the shadow of his failures, Calanthe invites him to her table.

Calanthe questions what brought Geralt to her daughter's wedding feast. He explains to the queen that he's only there to protect Jaskier from vengeful, royal cuckolds. However, she hopes that should chaos ensue, that Geralt would strategically move certain "irritants" from her court. However, Geralt insists that he's not for hire and only there to help a friend.

Lord Peregrine of Nilfgaard attends the betrothal party in hopes of wedding Pavetta, claiming that his marriage with Pavetta would unite the jewels of the north and south, forging an unbreakable alliance. He also makes mention of his "potent seed," which would guarantee the strongest of male heirs. Queen Calanthe makes a mockery of him and his backwater country Nilfgaard.

Queen Calanthe speaking with Geralt.

Queen Calanthe questions Geralt on why there are so few witchers remaining. Geralt responds that it is no longer possible to create more of them since the sacking of Kaer Morhen. Geralt asks why she chooses to risk her life in the battlefield when she can rest on the throne. For Queen Calanthe, there's a simplicity in killing monsters.

Lord Urcheon of Erlenwald interrupts the ceremony, his face hidden under knight's armor, there to claim Pavetta's hand in marriage. Eist knocks his helmet off, which hid a monstrous form. Queen Calanthe orders that Geralt kill him, but he refuses, explaining that Urcheon is no monster. Rather, he's a man who's been cursed. Queen Calanthe orders her guards to slay Urcheon anyway, and Urcheon disarms the guards and explains to Queen Calanthe that Pavetta belongs to him under the Law of Surprise. More of the queen's guards attack. Geralt comes to Urcheon's aid. Together, they dispose of Queen Calanthe's guards with ease. An even larger fight then breaks out among the guests until Queen Calanthe stands center room and commands the fighting to end.

Pavetta greets Duny, with whom she's been engaged in a secret relationship with for over a year. He was cursed as a young boy, and lived his whole life in misery until the day he saved Queen Calanthe's husband, King Roegner from certain death. By tradition, he chose the Law of Surprise as payment. Eist recommends that Queen Calanthe honor the tradition, because Destiny has determined the surprise be Pavetta. When he heard the king returned to find a child on the way, Duny had originally abandoned all hope of claiming the Law of Surprise. He knew no woman could accept him as he is. So he waited until the twelfth bell when the curse breaks. He never intended to meet Pavetta, only to watch from afar, but destiny intervened and they fell in love.

Both Eist and Mousesack advise Queen Calanthe to honor destiny's wish. The debt must be paid or the order of the world falls apart. Queen Calanthe seems to reluctantly accept destiny, handing over her sword and extending her hand to Duny. She pulls him close, whispers "here is your destiny," and pulls out a knife aimed at his throat. Pavetta screams out and suddenly her abilities awakens, sending everyone flying across the room. Pavetta and Duny float above the room until Geralt knocks them down.

Calanthe thought that Pavetta's grandmother's gift had skipped her, as it did Calanthe. She admits to be wrong about so many things, and then announces that the Law of Surprise will be honored and Pavetta will marry Duny. Furthermore, Queen Calanthe herself has agreed to marry Eist; there will be two vows tonight. Pavetta kisses Duny, and he transforms back into his human form. Queen Calanthe's blessing of their marriage lifted the curse and fulfilled the destiny.[2]

Denying the Law of Surprise

Just days prior to Nilfgaard's attack on Cintra, Calanthe discussed with Sir Danek and Sir Lazlo the encroachment of Nilfgaard. She then came face-to-face with Geralt of Rivia for the first time in 12 years. Geralt came to protect Ciri, who Calanthe raised on her own. When Calanthe tried to buy Geralt off, Mousesack interjected that money couldn't undo the Law of Surprise. King's who've tried to outbid destiny ended up on pikes. He advises Calanthe to give the child over to him if she had any doubt in her mind that Ciri wasn't safe in Cintra. Geralt promised to take her, protect, and bring her back unharmed. Calanthe reluctantly agreed and exclaimed to the townspeople that Law of Surprise had been called.

Unbeknownst to Geralt, Calanthe had no intentions on giving her up, and instead, disguised someone else's child as Ciri and in preparation to hand her over to Geralt. Mousesack watched on silently. Calanthe then told Geralt that she'd summon him when Ciri was ready to leave.

Calanthe was confronted by Geralt after realizing that she tried to send him off with a girl that wasn't Princess Cirilla. Calanthe insisted that Ciri was safe with her until the day came that she would take over the throne. Furthermore, she refused to give Geralt word any further thought. The last time she listened to him, she let a hedgehog into her court, which ultimately resulted in Pavetta's death. Calanthe refused to lose Ciri the same way she lost Pavetta and ordered Eist to get Geralt out of her kingdom.

Days later, Calanthe led her men to war with Nilfgaard, where Eist was killed by Cahir. After sending Ciri away with Mousesack and Lazlo, she jumped out a window to her death as Nilfgaard invaded Cintra.[3]

References

  1. Season 1, Episode 01: The End's Beginning
  2. Season 1, Episode 04: Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials
  3. Season 1, Episode 07: Before a Fall
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