|Don't you fret about me, can take care of myself.|
|- Milva, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game|
Maria Barring (d. 1268), better known as Milva (Elder Speech: red kite) by the dryads and Sor'ca (Little sister) by the elves, was an archer from Upper Sodden and one of the few non-dryads tolerated in Brokilon. Eithné was said to be rather fond of her. She led four fictional crusades against the dryads in the hope of reducing the number of volunteers for their expeditions but when her true part in this was discovered, she vanished.
Milva came from a long line of hunters that lived in Upper Sodden, though she wasn't initially trained by her father until her brother died in an accident. After her father passed away, her mother re-married but Milva didn't get along with her stepfather, who would make advances on Milva when her mother wasn't looking. Finally fed up with his unwanted advances and refusal to back off, she one day took a rake to him, knocking him out and kicked him several times. A couple days later he was still lying and spitting blood so Milva, at 16 years old, ran off, not daring to see if he survived. She later heard rumors he had in fact died, and her mother shortly after.
For a time she made a living as a hunter, but being young and a woman, she was constantly hounded by various gamekeepers and so turned to poaching in the Brokilon forest when the dryads came across her. However, instead of killing her, they took her in. Indebted to them, Eithné tasked Milva with going out and luring would-be dryad scalpers into an ambush so the young woman went and gathered several expeditions under the pretense they were going to go kill dryads. The ruse worked for a time, as sometimes she'd carry a survivor out on her own and be praised for her courage. However, after causing the deaths of roughly 100 humans, on the fourth expedition someone finally questioned how only Milva appeared to survive in one piece, causing her to disappear before they had a chance to kill her.
In early 1267, she'd been acting as a guide for the Scoia'tael, leading the shattered commando units to the safety of Brokilon. On one such trip in the summer, they were trying to escape a group of soldiers following them, but things weren't looking good. When the group laid down to rest for a bit, the she-elf in the group laid herself out, offering to have sex as they didn't know if they'd be alive or dead come tomorrow. Following suit, Milva did the same and a couple of the elves approached her. By the end of the next day though almost all of them had been killed.
When the Second Northern War started in July 1267, she was busy leading the remains of Scoia'tael units to Brokilon. During one such trip she was asked to go see one of the dryad healers who requested Milva to gather outside news for one of her patients, Geralt. Milva was initially angry at this, as it would put her life at risk to ask around as everyone was wary with the war going on and the fact that she was still wanted for her earlier expeditions. However, she relented after Eithné talked to her and soon found herself caring enough for the witcher to soften any news she heard over the next few weeks. In early August, when she returned to the forest with yet another worn down Scoia'tael unit, she informed Geralt she'd learned Ciri was in Nilfgaard and that the emperor was planning to marry her, causing Geralt to suddenly decide he was going to leave that night to get to Ciri, despite Milva's protests that he was still healing. After he left, Milva then went and hunted down a deer in the woods, with the idea that she could at least catch up to him and give him some food, as he'd left with hardly anything to eat.
On her way south though, she ran into an unusually large band of Scoia'tael and deduced they were planning a massive fight on the same route she was taking. Realizing she needed to catch up with Geralt quickly, she gave the elves the deer so she could move faster and continued south, eventually catching up with the witcher and Dandelion just as they came across two havekars and a group of Nilfgaardian soldiers. As fighting broke out between the latter two groups, with Geralt and Dandelion caught in the middle, she began to fire arrows, helping to take out their attackers. Afterwards, they opened the coffin on one of the wagons to find Cahir, a knight that Geralt spared once but threatened to kill if he ever saw him again. However, Geralt refused to kill him in his tied up state and, with an army approaching, the trio took off, leaving Cahir a knife to free himself.
Realizing she couldn't convince the witcher to give up going south, she agreed to lead them there, but only through a safer route going east first. Their trip though wasn't without its incidents. Several days after she joined the group, they discovered the one following them was Cahir. However, the knight refused to fight the witcher, stating he wanted to join them, but the witcher refused to let him go with them but didn't want to cut down an unarmed opponent, putting them in a stalemate. Only when Milva suggested she could put an arrow in the knight's horse, preventing him from following, did he run off and the group continued. Despite this, it turned out Milva's threat had no bearing as she would have refused to kill a creature that hadn't done anything wrong.
A short time later the trio soon came across Zoltan's company and, on learning they couldn't go south from there as originally planned, joined the dwarf and his group to go further east. Despite being frowned upon by the other women in the group (who called her a "slapper"), Milva did what she could to keep them safe. Later, they came across a suspicious farm that still had a cow out in the open, when most would hide them for fear of being attacked. However, they quickly learned why: the people that lived there had come down with smallpox, but one girl was immune and thus stayed. Just as the group decided to carry on though, another group approached and, not heeding the girl's warning, attacked. As they carted the girl off into the barn, Milva joined the rest to attack the bandits, expertly firing deadly arrows. However, she didn't aim quite right on the last one and merely injured the sole soldier that got away, but they quickly heard him being killed off by Cahir, making Milva question Geralt once more if he truly believed the Nilfgaardian was his enemy.
Eventually, they came across Fen Carn, an ancient elven cemetery, and bumped into Regis. After an initially tense introduction, they joined him at his small cottage and Milva helped partake in drinking his mandrake moonshine. When Geralt later went outside for some fresh air, Milva joined him to see what he was really thinking, to learn he was calculating that it was going to take over a year to get to the capital of Nilfgaard at their current rate. Milva explained she didn't have anything comforting to say in response and he needed Yennefer for that, making the witcher question her as to why she decided to ride with him, but the archer responded that she didn't know why anymore before heading back inside to continue drinking.
The next day, Milva was still suffering from a hangover as they marched on to a refugee camp on the Chotla. However, they hadn't even left the cemetery when they bumped into some peasants from the camp who demanded she hand over her black horse, incorrectly believing that black horses could sniff out where a vampire's grave was. Despite Geralt and Regis trying to defuse the situation peacefully, things took a turn for the worse when one of the peasants insulted Milva, stating her place was in a kitchen and she wasn't much use for anything else. Already furious, Milva proceeded to punch the man several times, sending him tripping backwards and hitting his head on a stone, knocking him out, before Milva vomited nearby. Zoltan then revealed to Regis and Geralt that it wasn't the first time she vomited, though he believed it was from the hooch earlier, and the last time from some mushrooms they had scrounged up.
On the Chotla
The group, now with the peasants in tow, made their way to the camp. On reaching it, the women and children in the group suddenly left them, having found some of their relatives in the camp, not bothering to thank the group for getting them there. However, one of the young girls ran back over and thanked the group, giving Milva the prettiest flower she had as thanks. As the group fed their horses, they were approached by the earlier peasants, this time demanding "blood money" for Cloggy, the man Milva hit, despite him being alive. As they then tried to push for them to give up their horses as the group didn't have any money, they still refused and so decided to take up matters with the elder, Hector Laabs, and made their way to him. However, the elder was in the middle of watching a supposed priest condemning a mentally challenged woman of being a witch and in cahoots with a supposed vampire in the area. Seeing that the woman was innocent and an obvious scapegoat, Geralt, Zoltan, and Milva all stepped up to do a trial of ordeal in their chosen skills, but the priest demanded instead that to prove theirs and the woman's innocence they must remove one of the hot horseshoes from the fire and hand it over to him while not bearing any burn marks themselves. Before one of them could act, Regis stepped forward, grabbed a horseshoe out of the fire, and calmly walked over, revealing no burn marks. Before much else could be done though, an alarm sounded that Nilfgaardian troops were approaching and everyone ran off.
Milva, knowing peasants were going to try and steal their horses in the chaos, took off for them but was too late to get to them before they were taken. Not giving up, she ran after them and soon found Dandelion's horse, Pegasus, whose inexperienced rider couldn't make the lazy horse gallop. On seeing her approach, the peasant abandoned his attempts and ran off and Milva expertly got the horse to gallop, soon catching up with the peasants who'd stolen the other horses as this time Geralt's horse, Roach, was sulking and refusing to move. She quickly kicked Cloggy but was soon overwhelmed by the other thieves still standing up. However, before they could land more than a few blows on her, suddenly the attackers were crying out, shying away and Milva saw that Cahir had appeared and was striking the thieves. The two quickly dispatched the rest and after an initially tense moment they worked together to round up the rest of the group's horses.
Waiting for nightfall before they attempted to find the others, Milva and Cahir talked, with the knight filling her in on how he ended up in the coffin earlier. While she still didn't quite understand the animosity Geralt had for Cahir, she informed Cahir that where Ciri was concerned, the witcher was highly protective and grew angry about the men that took her. Cahir then informed Milva that the witcher was headed the wrong way as Ciri wasn't in Nilfgaard. Once night fell, the two then went to investigate the refugee camp but saw there were no fires at all, indicating they were all gone. Regis suddenly appeared and explained they needed to move and quickly, as Geralt and Dandelion were in trouble, leading them to Fort Armeria. However, instead of having Milva and Cahir sneak in, Regis told them he'd take care of releasing them and for the two to wait at a certain spot for the witcher and bard.
At the designated spot, Milva and Cahir continued to discuss Ciri when they heard a battle break out at the fort between the Temerian Army and Nilfgaardian troops. A short time later Geralt appeared with a hurt Dandelion and Regis appeared to address the wounds. However, as soon as Regis mentioned the smell of the bard's blood, Milva saw Geralt suddenly pull a sword out on Regis, but the latter completely ignored this as he bandaged up the wounds. Once done though, he then calmly stood up, telling the witcher to go ahead and kill him. Milva complained, stating Regis had saved the woman's life back in the camp and saved all of them as well until Geralt told them they didn't know know what he was and Milva realized Regis didn't cast a shadow, revealing that he was a vampire. However, Geralt let him go but told him not to show his face again. After the vampire left, Geralt then turned to Cahir but Milva, fed up with everything, told off the witcher and that Cahir had saved her life and helped get the horses back and she refused to continue with the witcher if he forced Cahir to leave. The new group then rode off.
As they rode, Milva informed Geralt about Cahir's story before they set up a camp to rest. As Geralt was sulking and giving no directions, Milva and Dandelion began to scrounge for food when Geralt tried to tell them he'd go it alone the rest of the trip. However, the two paid no heed to this and with Regis' help (who'd re-appeared to change Dandelion's bandages) and Cahir's, the group soon made a filling soup for the group. Afterwards, they discussed their next step in finding Ciri and decided to head to Caed Dhu, a druids' circle.
As they traveled through Angren, at one point Milva pulled Regis aside, revealing what he already knew: she was pregnant. She then asked him to make a potion that'd help abort the fetus, even though it'd mean she couldn't ride in a saddle for 10 days afterwards. While she went off to be alone for awhile, Regis informed the rest of the party and Geralt went to talk to her about it. However, instead of trying to change her mind, they just talked about the situation, with Milva revealing how it came to be, that she didn't even know the names of the possible fathers, and they were likely dead, as almost none of the elves had survived the attack. She then revealed she was absolutely terrified of being a mother, feeling she had no skills or useful background to be one as she hunted and killed for a living. As Geralt talked about his own past feelings when it came to losing things that were special to him, Milva then decided she'd keep the baby.
Not realizing Geralt had changed plans to try and reached the other side of the Yaruga then cross back to not put Milva in danger by crossing Ysgith, the group found a hidden ferryboat and used it to travel on the river but soon found themselves literally in the middle of a fight between Lyrian guerrillas, led by their queen, Meve, and Nilfgaardian troops, with both looking to take control of a bridge that connected the two banks. Milva once again showed her skill with a bow, never missing a target from the boat to the point the Nilfgaardians backed away from the bank but the group was soon overtaken by crossbow bolts and Milva was hit in the process. Unfortunately, the injury caused her to miscarry and while she physically recovered just fine, she barely spoke for awhile, upset over losing the fetus. Then out of the blue a week later, she cut her hair short and proclaimed she was done mourning, returning back to her normal self.
South of the Yaruga
The group, having now crossed the Yaruga, were then joined by Angoulême, a young criminal who had informed them Nightingale and his gang, along with a half-elf, were planning to kill Geralt in the next town of Belhaven. However, Geralt, falsely believing a traitor was among them to have given such detailed information to the gang, outright accused Cahir and the two began to tussle before Milva, fed up with their behavior, began to strike both of them with her leather belt to get them to stop. A couple days later, Geralt apologized to everyone, explaining he'd jumped to conclusions and didn't take into account that a mage could have scanned them and got the information that way. With that, the group then split into two, with Geralt, Angoulême, and Cahir towards Belhaven and Milva, Regis, and Dandelion to the Sansretour valley, near Toussaint, to try and find the druids.
A couple days later though, trouble soon found Milva's group, with Angoulême rushing to them, telling them to cross over into the duchy on Geralt's orders, as Nightingale, his gang, the half-elf now known as Schirrú, and corrupt Nilfgaardian soldiers were right behind her. Regis took off to find Geralt and Cahir while Milva and the rest made it to the druids, though this didn't stop the soldiers and soon everyone was being killed and their company took shelter in a house in the woods with some pilgrims. When Geralt arrived to help, Milva rushed out, taking out the rest of the bandits before she, the witcher, and Angoulême made their way deeper into the sacred forest to find the bandit leaders, but were instead caught by a tree creature that was capturing everyone that ventured in and was none too gentle, breaking several of Milva's ribs. They were only released when the druid's flaminika, Regis' friend, recognized them and let them go.
It turned out that the Duchess Anna Henrietta was very fond of Dandelion, and thus invited all the company to stay however long they wished in Toussaint, it being October and soon winter would block the mountain passes. Milva though spent the first couple weeks recovering before attending some of the events, where she was seated next to Baron Amadis de Trastamara. Initially the two didn't speak at all until the main dish, an impressive elk, was brought out and the baron commented on it in detail, revealing he was a huntsman. Piquing Milva's interest, the two discussed bows and how well they could shoot, with the baron eventually inviting her to go hunting with him if she had time.
It turned out to be a rather long stay for the company. Geralt, having fallen for Fringilla Vigo within the first couple weeks there, chose to stay to the point it was no longer feasible to get through the now blocked mountain passes. During this time, Milva took up the baron's invitation and went hunting with him several times, with some excursions lasting a couple days at a time. As January came around, Amadis then proposed to Milva, but she turned him down, upsetting both of them. Luckily, a few days later she was able to get her mind off of it when Geralt, with newfound information, now knew where Vilgefortz was and ordered them all ready to head out within the hour.
To Stygga Castle
The group made their way through the treacherous mountain passes, with a blizzard whirling around them. At one point they came across tracks that Milva confirmed were horse tracks, but after they disappeared without a trace, they got back on the trail, not realizing how close Ciri had been to them, nor Ciri realizing they'd been just behind her.
The group eventually reached Vilgefortz's hideout, Stygga Castle in Ebbing, and proceeded to storm it, with most of the mercenaries fleeing. However, the group came under fire from a group of archers and Milva expertly began to take them out but one of the experienced archers aimed well and the two fired off arrows simultaneously. While the rival died instantly, Milva bled to death, having one final flashback of her father teaching her archery before she died. After the battle was over, she, along with the other deceased members, was buried outside the castle.
- In The Witcher, she's mentioned by Dandelion.
- In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, she appears as a gwent card.
- See the GWENT standalone game version card: Milva