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Spoilers from the books and/or adaptations to follow!

"Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials" is the fourth episode of Netflix's The Witcher series and is based on the short story "A Question of Price".

Characters

Summary

Against his better judgment, Geralt accompanies Jaskier to a royal ball. Ciri wanders into an enchanted forest. Yennefer tries to protect her charges.

Geralt's timeline

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I will not suffer tonight sober just because you hid your sausage in the wrong royal pantry.
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- Geralt of Rivia to Jaskier


Jaskier is in a tavern, writing down the excited account of a merchant who hired Geralt to slay a selkiemore plaguing his shipments, only to watch in horror as the monster swallowed the Witcher whole. The merchant insists that Geralt could not have survived, but Jaskier knows better, and is proven right when Geralt himself walks into the tavern, covered head to toe in selkiemore guts, explaining that he had to slay it from the inside. The merchant hurriedly pays Geralt the agreed-upon fee, and the bar patrons clear a path for the reeking Witcher as he orders a tankard of beer to wash out his mouth.

Jaskier claims credit for making Geralt famous, but "generously" offers to waive his percentage of Geralt's fees and settle for one "teeny, tiny favor" - accompanying Jaskier as a bodyguard while he performs at a betrothal party in Cintra, since several of the nobles in attendance might recognize him as the man who cuckolded them with their various wives, concubines, and sometimes mothers. Against his better judgment, Geralt agrees.

Jaskier has Geralt wear high quality garb and tells him to stay silent and remain anonymous, but Mousesack immediately recognizes him and calls him out. Mousesack and Geralt walk the hall, and Mousesack fills Geralt in on the political situation. Dozens of noble scions are there as potential suitors for Princess Pavetta's hand, since Queen Calanthe's army is the mightiest in the land, but it is all just a charade. The Queen and Eist Tuirseach of Skellige have already agreed to wed Pavetta to Eist's nephew, Crach an Craite. Mousesack confides that Eist himself proposed marriage to Calanthe three times after King Roegner died, but she turned him down each time.

Geralt quickly has to return to save Jaskier from a noble accusing Jaskier of cuckolding him. Geralt smoothly claims Jaskier to be a eunuch, and the lord leaves. The celebration is interrupted when Calanthe herself returns from a punitive expedition against some rebellious nobles. Still wearing her blood-smeared armour, Calanthe confronts her daughter and insist that she go through with the arranged marriage, for the sake of Cintra's future. Pavetta protests that she can't abide Crach, but Calanthe says Pavetta can have whatever man she wants, after she's married.

Eventually an argument breaks out between Crach and another noble about what a manticore looks like, and one of them angrily turns to Geralt. Geralt claims them both to be wrong, but diplomatically he allows that they might've encountered a "rare subspecies." When they bring up Jaskier's story of Geralt slaying elves, Geralt admits that he was actually captured by them, and the only heroic deed he can honestly claim is not crapping his pants when there was a blade to his throat. Laughing heartily, Calanthe salutes Geralt as the only man there willing to acknowledge his defeats rather than his successes. She asks Geralt to sit at her side as they dine. Privately, she admits to being fed up with all the "male" traditions she has to follow since becoming Queen, and if she had her way, she'd tell all the royal suitors to "f**k off". Knowing Geralt is a fighter and a killer, she asks if she can count on his sword if violence breaks out, but he refuses, saying he only kills genuine monsters.

The next suitor to vie for Pavetta's hand is Lord Peregrine of Nilfgaard (before it became powerful and while it was still under the rule of the Usurper). Despite constant interruptions from Draig Bon-Dhu, Peregrine manages to propose a marriage to "unite the jewels of the north and south", forging an "unbreakable alliance that none would dare cross". However, he goes overboard and disgusts Pavetta by mentioning his "potent seed", prompting Calanthe to dismiss Nilfgaard as the "sh** rag of the south". She then questions his uneasy position as Nilfgaard's heir, and he storms off in rage as Lord Steergart of Kaedwen is called forth.

Calanthe asks Geralt why there are so few witchers left, and he explains that they cannot create any more after Kaer Morhen was sacked. Suddenly, Lord Urcheon of Erlenwald forces his way into the room and demands Pavetta's hand in marriage. Calanthe demands he remove his helmet and show his face, and when he refuses, Eist knocks it off.

Urcheon

Urcheon

Everyone is stunned to see that Urcheon looks more like a hedgehog than a human, and Calanthe immediately orders Geralt to "kill it". Geralt refuses, saying Urcheon is a cursed man, not a monster, so she orders her soldiers to slay him instead. Although Urcheon claims to own Pavetta under the Law of Surprise for saving King Roegner, the soldiers swarm him anyway. He initially holds them off single-handed.

Eventually one soldier manages to disarm Urcheon, but just as he prepares to kill him, Geralt intervenes and saves Urcheon. The pair then fight off the all of the soldiers together even as the suitors come forward to join the fray. Eist and several others hold the suitors off until eventually Calanthe herself grabs a sword and enters the absolute pandemonium, demanding that everyone stop.

Pavetta then rushes in to reach "Duny", Urcheon's common name, and berates him for not staying away. Urcheon disarms himself and confesses to Calanthe that he was cursed and suffered endlessly until he saved King Roegner from death. Calanthe claims that she'd rather he had died, revealing that she knew of Urcheon and ordered his death anyway. Eist reasons with her however, and Urcheon claims he never intended to claim the Law of Surprise at all, until one night after the curse broke he unintentionally met Pavetta, and they fell in love.

Pavetta

Pavetta's scream

Eist and Mousesack both urge Calanthe to honor destiny, so she appeals to Geralt. Although he agrees with her that there is no "destiny", he insists that a promise made must be honored, as true for a commoner as for a queen. With pressure on all sides Calanthe seems to relent, pulling Urcheon close and whispering "here is your destiny" before pulling out a knife to stab him. Just before she can however, Pavetta screams in denial and a magical pulse blasts through the room, knocking everyone except Urcheon away.

From the pulse comes a magical vortex of wind that keeps everyone to the edges of the room and lifts Pavetta and Urcheon into the air, Pavetta instinctively chanting in Elder Speech all the while. As the vortex accelerates and begins to threaten the integrity of the castle itself, Geralt struggles forward through the wind, failing to use signs to penetrate the vortex. After being pushed back, he drinks a potion and gains the fortitude to begin forcing his way forward, even as Mousesack slows the vortex with his magic. Geralt manages to get just close enough for Pavetta to notice him, at which point his sign cuts through the inner edges of the vortex and knocks her to the floor.

The vortex ceases instantly and everyone rises up from the rubble. Calanthe then relents in the face of destiny and honors the Law of Surprise, with Eist announcing that anyone who takes issue with Urcheon marrying Pavetta would face "the sea hounds of Skellige", as he himself is marrying Queen Calanthe.

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Fear not, Your Majesty, if I am seen in your kingdom again, it'll be to kill a real monster, not lay claim to a crop or a new pup. Destiny can go fu--
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- Geralt of Rivia to Calanthe, just before Pavetta is revealed to be pregnant

Calanthe then blesses their marriage, and when Urcheon and Pavetta kiss, Urcheon miraculously turns into his human form; the curse has been lifted. Geralt then goes to leave, but Urcheon insists on repaying him for saving his life, insisting that he give Geralt something even when he claims to want nothing. At Urcheon's insistence, Geralt also claims the Law of Surprise and then tries to leave again, but Calanthe cries out in rejection at his action. He tries to calm Calanthe, having no intention of even returning to Cintra, but at that very moment Pavetta throws up; she is pregnant, and through the Law of Suprise, her child belongs to Geralt.

Geralt finally leaves while everyone stares at him in shock. Mousesack follows him, announcing his plans to stay and guide Pavetta, and invites Geralt to stay as well. Geralt doesn't want to, and although Mousesack insists that not taking his child surprise would unleash "true calamity upon us all", Geralt says he'll "take that chance", dooming Cintra.

Yennefer's timeline

Yennefer is escorting Queen Kalis and her infant daughter across the countryside. Kalis laments that she has borne seven daughters, and her husband, the King, has all but given up hope that she can bear him a son; for all the prestige associated with being a queen, she is treated little better than a breeding horse. Yennefer admits that she gave up "everything" (i.e., her ability to conceive a child of her own, though she does not say this aloud to Kalis) to get what she thought she wanted - beauty and a prestigious position as a court mage - only to spend thirty years "putting out political fires".

Their conversation is interrupted by a mage assassin, who slaughters almost their entire retinue of guards with his Krallach. Yennefer teleports herself, Kalis, and their last guard away, but the assassin follows them through his own portal, killing the guard mid-chase. Yennefer realizes that the assassin has been hired by the King, seeking to remove Kalis and replace her with a woman who can bear him a son, and the King has likely given Kalis something that the assassin can use to track her. Yennefer teleports them through several more portals, as they remove and destroy Kalis's jewelry, trying to lose the tracker, but the assassin follows them each time. Growing angry and scared, Kalis blames Yennefer for failing to predict the attack, so Yennefer abandons Kalis to die.

Assassin

The assassin

Left alone on a random mountainside, Kalis pleads with the assassin that she can produce a male heir, and when he doesn't respond, she offers her own daughter as a "sacrifice" to him. Again he ignores her, and telekinetically launches a dagger that slices open her throat, killing her. His Krallach then prepares to kill her daughter, but Yennefer returns through another portal and kills it, wielding power against the assassin directly. When she realizes she cannot defeat him, she creates a portal and takes the baby through it, although not before the assassin lodges another knife in her back.

Arriving in a surf, she stumbles to shore only to find that the baby has suffocated during the fighting. She tries to heal it, but fails. Dejected, Yennefer sits on the beach and says to the dead babe that it's better that she never grew old enough to realize how horrible life is for women. Yennefer then buries the child.

Ciri's timeline

Ciri continues to be drawn into Brokilon forest, and by the time she shrugs off the compulsion she finds herself surrounded by hostile dryads. Eventually Eithné speaks to her, asking her name, and Ciri goes under the alias Fiona. Ciri then goes with the dryads, and Eithné explains that there were once many such forests like Brokilon before the Conjunction of the Spheres, before humans and beasts arrived to destroy them.

They eventually find Dara, who is being painfully tended to by a dryad. Eithné then insists that they drink the waters of Brokilon, which supposedly kills those who have ill-intent toward Brokilon and makes those who are pure begin to forget the past. While they wait to drink, Dara gets Ciri to admit that she's the princess of Cintra, which angers Dara as Calanthe had ordered the slaughtering of his family.

That night Ciri has a dream of her mother's scream of denial from Geralt's timeline. She watches a battle ensue, and finds her own hands covered in blood before Cahir kills her. She then wakes up to find that Dara has already drunk the waters of Brokilon, and although she drinks it herself, nothing happens. Eithné then takes her to Shan-Kayan.

In Cintra, the Nilfgaardians have found Calanthe's corpse. One of Fringilla's servants eats a square of her flesh, and then Fringilla eviscerates him. Reading his entrails, she discovers that Ciri is in Brokilon Forest, and reports this to Cahir. Mousesack is then dragged along with Cahir, who knows that armies are not the way into Brokilon forest.

Shan-Kayan

Shan-Kayan in Ciri's dream

At the heart of Brokilon, Eithné cuts the bark of Shan-Kayan, causing sap to flow from it. She instructs Ciri to drink it, and when she does, she finds herself in the middle of a desert. At its center, she sees a massive tree, which asks her, "what are you, child?"

Notes

  • The selkiemore monster mentioned in the episode is specific to the show; there's no mention of such a creature anywhere else in the Witcher lore.

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