|The North shall tuck tail and beg for mercy. That is its destiny.|
|- Emhyr var Emreis, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game|
Emhyr var Emreis, Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd (Nilfgaardian language: The White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of his Enemies), also known to a few under his alias as Duny, the Urcheon of Erlenwald (Polish: Jeż z Erlenwaldu) was Emperor of the Nilfgaardian Empire, Lord of Metinna, Ebbing, Gemmera, and Sovereign of Nazair and Vicovaro from 1257 until his death sometime in the late 13th century. He also became the King of Cintra after marrying a false Cirilla in 1268.
His rule of Nilfgaard was highly aggressive, often pursuing expansionist policies similar to those of his predecessors. This led to the outbreak of two wars against the Northern Kingdoms, both of which he lost. Emhyr var Emreis was an intelligent and brilliant ruler. He chose his people well and crushed many plots against him. He was ruthless toward traitors and moved towards his goals with great determination.
He was publicly favorable to the Elder Races, in stark contrast to monarchs of the North.
At the age of 13, Emhyr's father Fergus var Emreis, the emperor of Nilfgaard at the time, was deposed from his title, imprisoned and tortured after a coup led by an influential aristocrat only known as the Usurper.
A sorcerer named Braathens, under the service of the Usurper, turned Emhyr into a humanoid hedgehog form, partially as a joke, as the word "Eimyr" in Nilfgaardian dialect meant "urcheon", an old name for a hedgehog. This served as a way to break Fergus and force him to grant legitimacy to the coup, though the plan failed and the Usurper killed Emhyr's father. Having no more use for Emhyr, he was then released into the woods with dogs set on him. Despite this, Emhyr survived and learned the sorcerer hadn't even done a thorough job on the curse: every night Emhyr regained his human form.
In his escape, Emhyr counted on a few loyal acquaintances for help while hiding at Ardal aep Dahy's place. He met with an astrologer Xarthisius who led him to the North, "beyond the Marnadal Steps", to look for a cure for his curse.
Journey to Cintra
After some time, Emhyr finally arrived in the North and used the moniker "Duny, Urcheon of Erlenwald". In 1237, while prowling Cintra's forest region, he ran into a wounded and helpless King Roegner and after saving him invoked the Law of Surprise.
15 years later, he presented himself before Calanthe during Pavetta's 15th birthday and the princess' would-be suitors in Cintra. Although Princess Pavetta was expected to be married off when she was 15, Duny had already started seeing her a year before and they secretly fell in love so when the queen hosted a feast for Pavetta's birthday, he took the opportunity and announced that from her birth, the princess had belonged to him, and that he had now come for her.
Duny then declared that Pavetta was to be his through the Law of Surprise he'd enacted when he rescued Calanthe's deceased husband, the former King Roegner. After a long and heated exchange, Duny was fooled by Calanthe into removing his helmet before midnight, exposing his monstrous form, yet Pavetta stated her approval of Duny nonetheless. This caused an uproar and the queen's vassals and the would-be suitors tried to attack Duny, with Geralt and Mousesack trying to protect Duny. However, one of the suitors managed to stab Duny and Pavetta's sorcerous abilities suddenly broke loose, sending furniture and people flying and threatening to collapse the castle itself.
After Geralt and Mousesack silenced Pavetta, Duny, now presenting himself as Prince of Maecht and a son of Akerspaark, regained human form as it had struck midnight. After a discussion with Calanthe, who finally gave her approval for Duny and Pavetta to be married, Emhyr's curse was lifted. After thanking Geralt, he and his future wife were surprised with the news that Pavetta was pregnant, and Duny was soon to be a father.
When the child was born, they named her Cirilla.
Reclaiming His Heritage
In the 1250s, after Ciri's birth, the sorcerer Vilgefortz appeared before Duny at Cintra as an ally, wanting to acquire wealth and power only the Nilfgaardian Imperator could provide. When Vilgefortz disclosed with him the prophecy, Duny decided to return to Nilfgaard to reclaim his heritage with Ciri in tow. However, under the watchful eye of Calanthe, Duny and Vilgefortz thought of a ploy to disappear without a trace by faking Pavetta's, Ciri's, and his own death on a sinking ship while Vilgefortz secretly prepared a way for them to survive. However Pavetta, aware of her husband's plans, smuggled Ciri out of the ship in time, leading to a scuffle between Pavetta and Duny as the former was pushed overboard and drowned at sea. Vilgefortz then teleported the ship from a raging maelstrom with Duny being the only survivor. Though distraught from inadvertently murdering his wife, and despite not holding genuine feelings towards her, Emhyr was successful in faking his death as "Duny" and was able to return to his homeland and lead a revolt against the Usurper. One of the first things he did was that he rewarded Xarthisius with a tower in the capital city for his aforementioned services.
Following all the power struggles around the throne, Emhyr had all of his dead political enemies disinterred and used their gravestones to pave his ballroom, earning him the nickname "The White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of his Enemies" or in Elder Speech, Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd.
First Northern War
In 1263, as the Emperor of Nilfgaard, Emhyr commenced the First Nilfgaard-Nordling War with the aim of expanding his empire and began by defeating the Cintran Army at the Marnadal Stairs and holding a siege against Cintra, where his daughter was held. While Nilfgaard's forces invade Cintra, Ciri managed to escape and Emhyr soon sent his agents to locate and capture her.
After several successful campaigns against the North, Emhyr's invasion was put to a halt after the utter defeat of his forces during the Second Battle of Sodden Hill, marking the end of the First Nilgaard-Nordling War. In response, Emhyr had the commanders that failed him on Sodden either executed or replaced by younger and more determined officials to lead his armies next time around while readying his forces for the next major war.
The Search for Ciri
After the war, in 1267, Emhyr received a report from Field Marshall Menno Coehoorn that the rulers of the North - specifically Vizimir II of Redania, Foltest of Temeria, Demavend III of Aedirn, Henselt of Kaedwen and Meve of Lyria and Rivia - had a secret council at a castle in Hagge. Emhyr tasked the field marshall to disperse this information among the mages and members of the Chapter. Receiving no further news regarding Rience, Emhyr asked Coehoorn on his thoughts about Cintra. Coehoorn described it as 'gloomy' to which Emhyr followed by stating that it was different once and would be different again, promising Coehoorn a 'beautiful, happy' Cintra, though he would leave governorship to someone else, and wanted Coehoorn stationed at Dol Angra after he had quashed the rebellion within Cintra. At Dol Angra, Emhyr tasked Coehoorn to not allow himself and his fellow officers to be provoked by Meve or Demavend's attacks and only allow themselves to be attack immediately when ordered to do so. Before the marshall could leave, a messenger walked in to report to Emhyr the success of suppressing the rebellion - despite a few escapees - and the capture of its leader, Duke Windhalm of Attre. Pleased by the news, Emhyr ordered Windhalm's public and 'spectacular' execution as an example to frighten others and demanded Coehoorn's presence there as Governor of Cintra and proxy for the emperor. Furthermore, Emhyr - impatient for Rience's report - tasked Coehoorn to have his mages set up a telecommunication link to Redania and eventually Rience, commanding him to immediately dispose of the witcher Geralt while leaving the sorceress Yennefer untouched. Afterward, a count by the name of Cahir, appeared before the emperor and the field marshall. Emhyr reminded the count of his blunder involving capturing Ciri two years prior, and the consequences he would face if he repeated it as he was being provided with a chance for redemption. Commanding the attention of both officers, Emhyr tasked them with an important mission. They learnt that the Emperor decided to arrange what would go down as the Thanedd coup.
He knew Ciri would be on the Thanedd Island and so he gave Cahir a second chance to capture her for him. Cahir, however, failed a second time and Ciri escaped through Benavent's portal on the highest floor of Tor Lara. Around this time, Emhyr learned that Vilgefortz betrayed him, when in fact he was never on his side and had been playing his own game. Thus, Emhyr ordered for Ciri, Vilgefortz and Cahir to be sought out by his Secret Service. Soon, a detachment led by half-elf Schirrú brought him Ciri, but when he saw her, he realized that he was given an imposter. Nevertheless, he pretended to believe it, while still having his secret police seek out Ciri with the ongoing war being in favor of the Empire. Also, as it turned out, a man he sent out to find Ciri, Stefan Skellen, was a conspirator who wanted to overthrow the Emperor and initiate a coup in Nilfgaard. At the time, Aedirn and Lyria and Rivia were already defeated, with only Kaedwen, Temeria, and Redania standing in the Empire's way.
After a short time, both Geralt and Emhyr found Vilgefortz and Ciri at Stygga Castle. Skellen, who worked with Vilgefortz, was captured by Impera Brigade officers who arrived at the castle together with their Emperor. At a meeting, Geralt alone had discovered that Emhyr and Duny are merely two names for the same person. Emhyr then told Geralt about his plans. Hearing about his incestuous plans with Ciri, just because of some prophecy, Geralt calls the emperor a monster and asks him not to delay his and Yennefer's death. By order of Emhyr, the witcher and the sorceress were given time to stay together, while he left the castle with Ciri. But, quite unexpectedly, on the road Emhyr realized the monstrousness of the plan and let his daughter leave, without revealing to her his true identity. Ciri managed to return to Geralt and Yennefer before they could proceed to kill themselves.
Parallel to these events is the decisive battle of the Second War with Nilfgaard at Brenna, where the army of Nilfgaard loses to the combined forces of the North under the leadership of Constable Jan Natalis. But the war still ended successfully for the Empire: all the lands south of Yaruga, including Cintra, were left under the banner of the Golden Sun. To achieve this end, Emhyr married the false Ciri that Schirrú had brought him, who he grew to love. As a result, an agreement was signed in the capital of the conquered country, which became known as the Peace of Cintra.
Assassins of Kings
In 1271, a mysterious group of witcher murderers killed Demavend III and Foltest, with a witcher Geralt being blamed for the latter's assassination. This group called themselves the Kingslayers and were witchers of the School of the Viper, led by Letho of Gulet. When Letho and Geralt finally met face to face, the Emperor was revealed as Letho's patron, having supported and funded the regicides as a precursor to his plans to destabilize then invade the Northern Kingdoms. As an incentive, he had promised Letho a land within his Empire where Witchers could be free to live without the hatred and prejudice they typically experience. He never fulfilled this, however.
In 1272, Emhyr and his troops crossed the Yaruga for the third time and, due to chaos caused by the Kingslayers, quickly conquered Temeria, Aedirn, Lyria and Rivia, as well as part of Kaedwen up to the source of the Lixela. The remainder of his enemies, Redanians, Temerians, Aedirnians, Kaedwenis and others, gathered under leadership of King Radovid V of Redania, who managed to stop the Nilfgaardian Army on the Pontar river. Emperor Emhyr, certain of a quick and sure victory, started to call himself Ruler of the North and South. However, his war was not popular with Nilfgaard proper, leading to trade corporations and scheming nobles to begin plotting against him, which would force Emhyr to deliver a swift victory, lest his subjects rebel against him. He also decided to offer his daughter, Ciri, the throne as his successor. However, he required help finding her. Having previously captured Yennefer along with the witchers of the Viper School, he made her and Geralt an offer in exchange for them finding Ciri.
After Geralt chased down leads in Velen, Novigrad, and Skellige, Emhyr sent his troops to retrieve him for a progress report. The witcher had brought with him Uma. Geralt explained to the emperor that he and Yennefer suspected that the creature may be a transformed Ciri or maybe the key to finding her. Emhyr turned to Yennefer, asking if she was able to lift the curse on Uma. She stated that she believed she could, and Geralt added a phrase in Elder Speech that Ciri told Dandelion, which would be key to accomplishing it.
When Geralt chose to seek help against Eredin, he spoke with Emhyr, explaining that he had found Ciri's location but, as soon as he would get to her, the Wild Hunt would attack, so he created a plan to bring the battle to Kaer Morhen. Emhyr agreed to lend Geralt Nilfgaardian troops to help with the battle, but only if Morvran Voorhis would lead them. Unwilling to allow this, Geralt backed down, and the two parted ways. Later on, a second battle against the Wild Hunt ensued, taking place on the shores of Undvik. This time, Geralt was more or less forced to agree with Nilfgaardian support and was given an army under the leadership of Duke var Attre.
If Radovid or Dijkstra rule the North (default): Emhyr is assassinated by internal conspirators for losing the war.
If Radovid and Dijkstra are killed: Emhyr takes over the North and wipes out all those who opposed him.
If he won the war and Ciri visited him and survived: Emhyr abdicates the throne to his daughter.
In 1290, Emhyr granted a title of an imperial treasurer of the crown to his confidant, Peter Evertsen. In the final period of rule, he even further extended Peter's prerogatives by raising him to the rank of coadjutor of the Empire, which could suggest he was no longer able to be the sole ruler of the Empire. He eventually died no later than 1301.
- Emhyr var Emreis – among all the rulers of that time, one cannot omit the Nilfgaardian emperor, known as Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd, which means, in the Elder Speech, White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of His Enemies. Kings from the Buina to the Yaruga trembled at the sound of his name. His legions of steel-clad soldiers crushed countries under their heels and cast monarchs from their thrones. In his insatiable ambition, he had tried to conquer the north on several occasions, yet he had been forced to sign peace accords each time. Though he does not appear in our story personally, his long shadow often fell over the events I describe here.
- According to Shilard's words, Geralt had had the honor of facing the Emperor, who spared his life at the time. Though I am well aware of the circumstances surrounding that event, I shall omit them here, as they are not directly connected to this story.
- Few names in the Continent's history arouse as much terror and respect as that of Emhyr var Emreis, Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd - the White Flame Dancing on the Graves of his Foes. Emperor of Nilfgaard, lord of Metinna, Ebbing and Gemmera, sovereign of Nazair and Vicovaro, he was ruler of half the civilized world and aspiring conqueror of the other half. He was a personage whose deeds and decisions shaped the fates of whole kingdoms and populations.
- What then could he possibly want of a simple witcher?
- The emperor clearly and succinctly laid out what he wanted. His daughter and Geralt's ward, Cirilla, was in great danger, for the Wild Hunt was on her trail. Geralt, a superb tracker linked to Emhyr's daughter by the iron bonds of Destiny, stood a better chance of finding her than anyone else in the world.
- If Geralt took Ciri to Emhyr:
- Thanks to Geralt's efforts, Emhyr finally had the chance to talk to his daughter face to face after long years of separation. Geralt doesn't know what topic was broached during their conversation, save that Ciri stormed out of it in a visible huff.
- Imperial Audience
- Ugly Baby
- Brothers In Arms: Nilfgaard
- Blood on the Battlefield (dependent)
- Veni Vidi Vigo
- Something Ends, Something Begins
- Emhyr var Emreis: Emperor of Nilfgaard
- Emhyr var Emreis: His Imperial Majesty
- Emhyr var Emreis: Invader of the North
- Emhyr var Emreis: The White Flame
- Emhyr var Emreis: The Relentless
Reward Tree entries
- Scroll 1: Emhyr var Emreis, the White Flame Dancing on the Graves of his Foes. No other name arouses such fear in the hearts of Nordlings. It was during his reign Nilfgaardian forces crossed the Yaruga into the North for the first time... And the second... Oh, and the third...
- Scroll 2: What motivated Emhyr var Emreis? Historians have long debated it. Some have argued he bent to the will of merchants and traders. Others – that he sought new, fertile lands for Nilfgaardian settlement. But what was the truth?
- Scroll 3: Emhyr was a man of near-unparalleled ambition whose plans extended far into the future. In short, the throne of Nilfgaard was never enough for him... He wished to rule the world.
- Scroll 4: To realize his ambitions, he required the help of his daughter, Cirilla – Child of the Elder Blood. Emhyr was on the verge of fulfilling his plan... Until, that is, he was stopped for the first and last time by his conscience.
- Chest 1: Emhyr var Emreis was prepared to do anything for the sake of power. Spark a war. Kill his own wife. Hurt his own daughter. All without raising his voice, without shedding a tear. His cold eyes never betrayed a glimmer of emotion. They say even the golems who serve in the Imperial Army have more heart than he...
- Chest 2: According to royal biographers, Emhyr had, in fact, grown up a bright and cheerful lad, the apple of his father's eye. But then a coup gripped the Imperial court. The conspirators attempted to coerce Fergus var Emreis to cooperate by torturing his son in front of his very eyes. Unsuccessful, the Usurper enlisted the help of a mage, Braathens, who would transform Emhyr into a freakish, hedgehog-like man-beast. Steadfast and unflinching in the face of his son's hideous curse, the plotters had no recourse but to assassinate Fergus.
- Chest 3: For many years Emhyr plotted his revenge. At first overwhelmed with pain and fury, he howled his throat raw, ripped hair from head, clawed at his own flesh until caked in blood. But in time his temper cooled and he began to analyze, to calculate. Upon regaining the Imperial throne, Emhyr coldly condemned his father's conspirators to death. He watched their executions in full, then stood without a word and returned to work.
- In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the English version of Emhyr is voiced by famous English actor Charles Dance, who played Tywin Lannister on the HBO series Game of Thrones. Even the original model of Emhyr, made by Arkadiusz Matyszewski, resembled Charles Dance more but was later changed.
- In The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, when Geralt of Rivia, Triss Merigold, and Vernon Roche are announcing themselves to the Flotsam guards after the Scoia'Tael ambush, Roche tells them that he is Emhyr var Emreis: Spice Merchant.
- The character of Duny appeared in the 6th episode "Calanthe" in the TV series as well as the feature movie played by Dariusz Jakubowski.
- See the GWENT standalone game version card: Emhyr var Emreis