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Spoilers from the books and/or adaptations to follow!

"Rare Species" is the sixth episode of Netflix's The Witcher series and is based on the short story "The Bounds of Reason".

Characters

Summary

A mysterious man tries to entice Geralt to join a hunt for a rampaging dragon, a quest that attracts a familiar face. Ciri questions who she can trust.

Geralt and Yennefer's timeline

Borch Three Jackdaws

Téa, Borch Three Jackdaws, and Véa

Geralt has just finished slaying a basilisk when he arrives to find his hirers preparing to steal Roach and leave without paying. Fortunately, Borch Three Jackdaws, an elderly man, has his Zerrikanian servant, Téa, snap one hirer's neck. Intimidated, the last hirer then turns over the promised payment to Geralt and flees in terror. Borch then introduces himself to Geralt along with Téa and his second Zerrikanian servant, Véa, and invites Geralt and Jaskier along for a drink.

At a local tavern Borch orders a feast for Geralt and their companions. He explains to Geralt that a green dragon had been spotted in King Niedamir's mountains in Caingorn, and that although the locals attempted to attack the dragon in order to get its treasure, they only managed to wound it. In retaliation, the dragon laid waste to them and much of the countryside in return. With King Niedamir set to marry the princess of a rival kingdom, Malleore, he put a price on the dragon's head; the dragon's horde, plus the title of lord over one of his new vassal states.

Borch asks Geralt to join his team to hunt the dragon, and although Geralt is initially dead set against it, refusing to kill an intelligent creature such as a dragon, he suddenly changes his mind and agrees when he sees Yennefer on a rival team. Jaskier, who had been unsuccessfully propositioning the Zerrikanian women the entire time, then lobbies against joining the hunt, but Geralt has already made up his mind.

First day of the hunt

Geralt, Jaskier, Borch, Téa, and Véa form one team, while Yarpen Zigrin and his dwarves form a second, Boholt and his Crinfrid Reavers form a third, and finally, Yennefer and Sir Eyck of Denesle form a fourth. While the groups are en route to the dragon's lair, Jaskier asks the Zerrikanians why they serve Borch. Zerrikanians being dragon worshippers, Véa cryptically says that hunting with Borch is "an honor unsullied by payment", and Téa exasperatedly says that "he is the most beautiful", as if it was plainly obvious, which confuses Jaskier.

Hirikka rearing

The starved hirikka, rearing

Jaskier later gets hungry and wonders off the path in search of food for himself and for the Zerrikanians. He stumbles upon a hirikka, which promptly rears up to its full height and scares Jaskier away. Geralt warns that the hirikka is only hungry, advising everyone to sheathe their weapons, but Eyck heedlessly rushes forward and dismembers the beast before ruthlessly chopping away at its decapitated corpse. Had they simply given it food, this endangered creature would've peacefully departed.

Eyck later cooks the hirikka, and once again ignores advice when Borch warns him not to eat it. After doing so, he is soon forced to leave with impending diarrhea. Yarpen mentions that the vassal state promised to the dragon killer won't exist for long due to Nilfgaard expanding in the south, and Yennefer leaves when Borch cryptically comments that Nilfgaard could have been tempered earlier by "stronger hand", referring to Yennefer's refusal to be assigned to Nilfgaard decades ago.

Jaskier then wonders if dragons really exist, amusing the rest of his hunting party. Geralt confirms that three dragon types exist, starting from most common: green, red, and black. Borch corrects him however, saying that there is an even rarer fourth dragon type, but Geralt dismisses this as mythical. He allows that such a dragon could exist due to an accidental, unique mutation, but insists that it's unlikely because mutations are usually artificial, and even if such an unlikely thing did occur, those dragons have surely been killed off by now.

Second day of the hunt

The next morning it is discovered that Eyck had his throat cut while he was relieving himself. Disturbed by what they suspect to be the reavers' savagery, the dwarves form a temporary compact with Borch's group to use a secret dwarven shortcut through the mountains. Geralt catches up with Yennefer and invites her along as well, and when she reveals that she wants the dragon for its "healing properties", Geralt becomes bemused that she would travel "all this way for made-up fertility cures using fresh dragon hearts".

Dwarven passage

Yarpen Zigrin's mining shortcut

Geralt insists that he and Yennefer were made infertile because children aren't suited to their lifestyles, saying that he'd rather use his Child Surprise as "bruxa bait" than subject it to his lifestyle. Yennefer calls out his hypocrisy of having his own child while mocking her for wanting one, which frustrates Geralt, but he manages to convince her to come with him on the dwarven shortcut.

The shortcut turns out to be an incredibly narrow path of planks flimsily attached to the side of a sheer cliff face. Although the dwarves make quick time along it, one of the planks breaks beneath Borch's feet, leaving him and his Zerrikanian servants dangling from a chain. Supremely unconcerned, Borch lets go and falls into the mists below, with Téa and Véa following suite to fall after him. Geralt, Yennefer, and Jaskier then follow after the dwarves without Borch, and Geralt retires to Yennefer's tent to have sex.

Third day of the hunt

It is revealed that ever since meeting Yennefer in Rinde, Geralt and Yennefer have stumbled into each other repeatedly on random occasions just like this, and every time they would have sex and Yennefer would leave him afterward. That morning, they both stayed together. This time, it's the dwarves who have left them, having abandoned them to go after the dragon alone.

Netflix The Witcher Borch Three Jackdaws Dragon Form

Borch Three Jackdaws as a dragon

Yennefer eventually catches up with the dwarves, shouting in Elder Speech to immobilize them with a spell. She then comes before the corpse of Myrgtabrakke, the green dragon they'd been hunting, who lies protectively around an egg. When Yennefer approaches, Téa and Véa suddenly arrive with swords drawn, warning Yennefer to stay back, and Geralt himself arrives shortly afterward, stunned to see them alive. After that Villentretenmerth, a golden dragon, arrives and announces himself as Borch Three Jackdaws.

Téa and Véa explain that Myrgtabrakke could not leave when the humans attacked her because moving her egg at that time would kill her offspring. Borch, being the father, arrived with his servants to sabotage King Niedamir's hunt. Their story is interrupted when Boholt arrives with his reavers, who immediately attack, forcing Geralt and Yennefer and Borch's servants to hold them at bay.

When the fighting gets difficult, Yennefer joins with Geralt to overpower his simple Sign-based magic, allowing him to cast Aard with such force that the entire band of reavers are launched bodily out of the dragon's cave. The Zerrikanians then split off to combat incoming reinforcements while Yennefer and Geralt attack the main body of reavers. Only a single reaver manages to get past the Zerrikanians, who Villentretenmerth easily dispatches with a stream of fire from his mouth.

Geralt and Yennefer get bogged down fighting the last two reavers, so Geralt throws his sword into the side of the second to last reaver, freeing Yennefer. Boholt, the very last, then takes the opportunity to throw dirt in Geralt's eyes, and bears down on him with his spear. Just before Boholt can kill Geralt however, Yennefer stabs him in the throat, killing him.

End of the hunt

All the way back at camp, poor Jaskier has only just now woken up, seeing that both the dwarves and Geralt and Yennefer left him behind. He rushes to catch up, passing the now-partially mobile dwarves and arriving at the reavers' mound of corpses. There he finds Téa and Véa, who he is astonished to see still alive, and finally the dwarves manage to break free of the remnants of Yennefer's immobility spell to arrive as well.

Big Quote Left
Tell the King if he's not satisfied, he can expect the body of a dragon dropped upon his royal wedding. Free of charge.
Big Quote Right
- Villentretenmerth to Yarpen Zigrin

Before a fight can break out between the dwarves and Zerrikanians, Villentretenmerth, again in his human form, arrives and offers Yarpen Zigrin some dragon teeth to take to King Niedamir. He assures them that Myrgtabrakke's corpse would be dropped on Niedamir's wedding if he doesn't accept the teeth as proof.

After the dwarves leave, Villentretenmerth speaks with Geralt and Yennefer, thanking them for protecting his child. In the process, he reveals that Geralt used his wish to ensure that he would never lose Yennefer, forcing them to always find each other again. Yennefer angrily accuses Geralt of taking her freedom, to which he retorts that the wish saved her life, and that she "flit[s] about like a tornado" just because she wants a baby "to boost [her] fragile ego". Enraged, she says she won't take advice from him regarding children until he takes responsibility "for the one you bound to you and then abandoned".

Villentretenmerth then cuts through the argument to "save you both a lot of hurt with a little pain now". He reveals that Yennefer cannot regain her fertility, and that despite Geralt's wish being honored by the djinn, he will eventually lose Yennefer. In an attempt to preempt this, Yennefer leaves. Villentretenmerth also leaves, telling Geralt that his destiny is still out there. Jaskier tries to comfort Geralt, but Geralt lashes out at him in a rage, blaming him for the party where Geralt became bound by the Law of Surprise, the situation with the djinn, and now his loss of Yennefer. Geralt laments that if life could give him one blessing, "it would be to take you off my hands". Hurt, Jaskier leaves Geralt alone.

Ciri's timeline

As Ciri, Dara, and the doppler (in the guise of Mousesack) make their way out of Brokilon Forest, Ciri keeps up a nonstop stream of questions about Geralt. This aggravates the doppler, who eventually insists she stop asking. Dara becomes suspicious however, and questions why Mousesack "abandoned" Ciri. The doppler claims to have been pulled through a portal by Nilfgaard. He claims to have escaped via Geralt's help and was then sent by him to get Ciri, but when Dara questions why Geralt would not come for Ciri himself, the doppler dodges and insists on Dara asking Geralt himself.

Big Quote Left
Our name is not Mousesack! We killed Mousesack and took his disgusting form...to find you.
Big Quote Right
- The doppler to Ciri

His suspicions rising, Dara urges Ciri to follow Eithné's advice to "ask the right questions". Hearing this, the doppler pulls out Calanthe's sash and gives it to Ciri, distracting her with the gift. However, she still asks Mousesack if he misses the cold, to which he annoyedly confirms, so Ciri realizes that he has been lying because the real Mousesack has arthritis and hates the cold.

The doppler

The doppler after being exposed to silver

Found out, the doppler tries to drag Ciri along, revealing that they killed Mousesack and took his form. Dara then attacks them, forcing the doppler to disarm him, screaming in pain as they touch Dara's silver weapon. Ciri then grabs it and presses it against their neck, singeing the doppler's flesh and driving them back. Dara manages to hold the doppler down with the silver knife and begins to ask them questions, but Ciri insists that the doppler came for her because she's "special" and urges Dara to simply kill them. Bewildered, Dara hesitates, only for Ciri to grab his silver knife to kill the doppler herself. In the confusion, the doppler manages to knock Dara out and disarm Ciri, forcing her to flee.

She ends up getting captured by the doppler, now in the form of Cahir. Rather than take her to the real Cahir as promised, they instead tie Ciri to a tree and present themselves to Cahir in the form of Ciri. Cahir reveals that he is actually just trying to help Ciri fulfill her "destiny", but when he goes to get her some food, he turns around to see himself standing before him; it's the doppler, having taken on Cahir's own form. The doppler says that Cahir "lied to us", and didn't tell them "what she is, what she's capable of". They then attack each other, the doppler taunting Cahir all the while: "Do you really believe all this nonsense in your head? This prophecy? We think you're insane!" Eventually Cahir forces the doppler to flee, slicing a jagged cut along their face and ending the fight.

Ciri, still tied to a tree, is eventually freed by Dara, who the doppler didn't bother to kill. Dara berates her for leaving the safety of Brokilon, and accuses her of bringing "terror" and "death" wherever she goes, just like Calanthe, but Ciri says she's "done apologizing". She insists on continuing onward, but Dara tells her to "find a new family, because I can't be there for you anymore." He then abandons her.

Meanwhile, Cahir is recovering from his fight with the doppler, having failed to hunt him down. Fringilla tends to his wounds and assures him that they will find Ciri, and expand Nilfgaard throughout the Continent.

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