In the past, Eist Tuirseach and his nephew Crach an Craite attend the royal betrothal. Hidden from all those who attend, Eist has secretly arranged with Queen Calanthe that Crach marry her daughter Princess Pavetta, as their union is the key to Cintra having power after the queen dies.
As he prepares Crach to claim Pavetta's hand in marriage, Lord Urcheon of Erlenwald interrupts the ceremony. His face hidden under knight's armor, he's come to claim Pavetta's hand in marriage. Eist proceeds to knock his helmet off, revealing a monstrous form. Queen Calanthe then orders Geralt to kill him, but he refuses, stating that Urcheon is no monster. He's a man that's been cursed.
Queen Calanthe orders her guards to slay Urcheon anyway, but he disarms the guards and explains to Queen Calanthe that Pavetta belongs to him under the Law of Surprise. Ignoring him, more of the queen's guards attack until Geralt comes to Urcheon's defense. Together, the two of them dispatch of Queen Calanthe's guards with little difficulty. A fight then breaks out amongst the guests, forcing Eist to intervene to hold them at bay until Queen Calanthe stands center room and commands the fighting to end.
Pavetta greets Duny, her secret lover 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 former husband, King Roegner from certain death. By tradition, he chose the Law of Surprise as payment for the deed. Hearing this, Eist pushes for Queen Calanthe to honor the tradition; destiny has determined the surprise be Pavetta. Initially Duny had abandoned all hope of claiming the Law of Surprise when he heard the king returned to find a child on the way. 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 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 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.
Queen Calanthe announces that the Law of Surprise will be honored and Pavetta will marry Duny. Furthermore, she herself has agreed to marry Eist. There will be two vows tonight. Pavetta and Duny kiss, and he transforms back into his human form. The queen's blessing of their marriage lifted the curse and fulfilled the destiny. Duny wishes to repay Geralt for saving his life, so Geralt chooses the Law of Surprise. Although he doesn't actually intend to lay claim to anything, Pavetta suddenly throws up, signifying that she's pregnant moments after Geralt claims Law of Surprise.
Just days prior to the attack on Cintra, Eist escorted Geralt out of the castle after he returned to claim his Child Surprise. Geralt recalled when Eist honored the Law of Surprise. Eist explained that was before he had a granddaughter. Assuming Cintra was attacked by Nilfgaard, Eist would be right by Calanthe's side. Geralt accused him of putting too much faith in the queen, but he wasn't there when Pavetta died. Calanthe would wake up howling in the night. The Lioness, nearly broken. Someone that was able to pull themselves out of that would have Eist's confidence until his final day. He asked Geralt to promise that he wouldn't come back. When Geralt refused, Eist trapped him behind bars.
Defending Cintra from Nilfgaard
King Eist and Queen Calanthe hosts a knight induction ceremony with their granddaughter, Ciri. Afterward, they attend a celebratory feast, where King Eist, Queen Calanthe, 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 keep it moving. King Eist and Queen Calanthe then get word of Nilfgaard's arrival.
Just outside Cintra, King Eist and Queen Calanthe are forced to combat 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 then forced to retreat after King Eist is killed in battle by an arrow in the eye from Cahir.