Ponderic (in original: Ponderyk) was a Gemmeran coastal duke living in the second half of the 12th century. He managed to hold Nilfgaardian influences at bay but was ultimately dethroned by children of his brother Woderic whom he had murdered years ago.
Ascension to the throne
Back when he was young, morbidly ambitious Ponderic was secretly converted by Coram Agh Tera cultists. In a special ritual they offered Ponderic's tongue to their god who in return gave him an ability of Spider's Tongue – as long as his real tongue remained in their hidden temple, the duke was able to convince everyone to his words.
The cunning cultists planned to have Ponderic under their control, blackmailing him that if he wouldn't be fulfilling their wishes, they would discard his tongue so that his abilities would vanish. Ponderic prevented it however by ordering his men to kill most of the cultists, leaving behind only one priestess who had to remain in the temple so that the dark god would not abandon it. To keep her under leash, he left a tamed beast nearby which would prevent anyone from entering or leaving the temple.
The priestess managed to send a dream to his brother Woderic wanting him to find the temple, but it was in vain – the beast wounded the ruler who escaped only with the help of a witcher from a school in Stygga. After a couple of days, when he managed to return home and tell his wife Dairida about the hidden temple, he was murdered by Ponderic. Ponderic accused Dairida of this deed and imprisoned her in the Tower of the Winds. He tried to imprison Woderic's son as well but was prevented from it by a knight who escaped with the prince.
Though perceived by folk as an usurper, Ponderic proved a competent ruler and valuable asset to Gemmera. The ability given him by Coram Agh Tera made the Duke a skillful diplomat who prevented the kingdom from being conquered by Nilfgaard. His reign had a dark side however; he ruled as a tyrant, keeping his subjects by iron hand and imprisoning each who would dare oppose him. One of the cruelest deeds was an order to kill the young baby born by Dairida after a few months in prison.
Around 15 years after the usurpation he learned that the first son of Woderic was still alive and heading towards the duchy with some followers. Ponderic greeted him on the border and tried to convince him and his followers that Gemmera cannot afford internal war and it is in their best interest to join his council. However, one of them was a witcher Dragonfly, who did not hear the Duke's words because her medallion prevented his cursed speech to reach her ears. Annoyed by his tongue-less groans and strange behaviour of her companions, she kicked the Duke on his face from her horse. The effects of Spider's Tongue vanished immediately and they escaped. By proving the mischief with the help of the imprisoned priestess they later managed to dethrone the usurper.
Though the folk enjoyed greatly the dictator's fall, their joy did not last long. Soon after the dethronization Nilfgaardian ambassadors appeared and gave the new duke an ultimatum.