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The School of the Viper was a school of witchers headquartered in Gorthur Gvaed, a keep somewhere in the deep chasms of Tir Tochair mountains.

History[edit | edit source]

Formation[edit | edit source]

The Order of Witchers began to see a splintering among their members, with some fighting and threatening others over contracts. One such witcher, Arnaghad, after nearly killing a fellow witcher over one such contract, led a group against the rest of the Order, resulting in several deaths but ultimately the Order prevailed and Arnaghad, along with the remains of his group, left.

They settled in the Amell Mountains where Arnaghad founded the School of the Bear. Years after the school was established, history repeated itself: this time a group of the Bear School witchers betrayed the school and nearly killed Arnaghad. These witchers then left to form their own school, which embraced the poison of the viper.[4]

Because the Vipers not only accepted contracts monsters, but also on humans and non-humans.[4] it was rumored that the school was founded for that purpose. The real reason however was that its founder had a great purpose in mind. He wanted to defeat the Wild Hunt. But as he couldn't do it alone, he founded a school dedicated to his purpose.[3]

One of the southernmost offshots of the witcher caste, it was probably the most alien and secretive.[5] The Vipers managed to collect an incredible collection of books and scrolls on the Wild Hunt, leading some of its members to speculate whether their school was founded for the very purpose of solving the riddle of the spectral riders. As a result, all Vipers were hugely knowledgeable on the Wild Hunt.[1]

After the Usurper tried unsuccessfully to absorb the Vipers, the Nilfgaardian Army destroyed their keep.[5] Its students scattered throughout the Empire, having been banned from entering larger cities.

Kingslayings[edit | edit source]

For more information, see Kingslayers.

In approximately 1270, soon after an encounter with the Wild Hunt at the Hanged Man's Tree, a group of Viper witchers accompanied by a sorceress with amnesia were arrested by the Nilfgaardian Secret Service. Emperor Emhyr var Emreis gave them a choice they could not refuse: assassinate a few kings in the Northern Realms in exchange for rebuilding the school to its former glory.

The group managed to assassinate Foltest of Temeria and Demavend of Aedirn.[1] The emperor, however, did not keep his promise and instead of rebuilding the school, he sent bounty hunters after its few remaining members to remove any loose ends.[2]

Training[edit | edit source]

Each student is given a pet to raise during their stay at the keep, they would form a strong emotional bond through their training. Years later, before becoming a fully-fledged witcher, they are ordered to slaughter their animal.

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Although the School was founded by Ivar for the purposes of finding and defeating the Wild Hunt he apparently never explicitly shared this with the other Vipers.[3] Although many speculated that it was.[1]

Mentors of the Viper School were especially cold and ruthless with their students. The reason for this was to prepare the would be witchers for the harsh life that awaited them. The clearest example of this ruthlessness was the final trial students had to perform before becoming witchers. Upon the boys arrival at Gorthur Gvaed they were given a pet to care for and form a emotional bond with. Years later as their final test they were ordered to kill their pet in cold blood.

The Vipers were trained on twin small blades and an assassination-based approach to killing monsters. Their fighting style featured sinuous, unpredictable movements using the two blades ("fangs").[5] Another style the Vipers employed was one of fast furious strikes to overwhelm their target. These blades would often be coated with poison as the school made great use of its knowledge of alchemy.[3]

Like the witchers from the School of the Cat, the Vipers did not only accept contracts on monsters. They would also accept contracts on humans and non-humans.[4] Despite this they still maintained a form of neutrality. They would kill for coin, but would never outright join sides in a conflict. Their refusal to do so led to the schools downfall.

Members[edit | edit source]

Gwent: The Witcher Card Game[edit | edit source]

Season of the Viper reward tree[edit | edit source]

This event allows to unlock the lore on this school and a cardback with the school's medallion.

Scroll 1: It is oft said that witchers took on the characteristics of their schools' namesake creatures. Without a doubt, this was true of the Viper School. They were agile, quick, and frequently made use of deadly poisons.
Scroll 2: As with the other witcher schools – the Wolves' Kaer Morhen as sole exception – none were aware of the Viper School's location. Only one detail ever became widely known... That it stood somewhere south of the Yaruga. In Nilfgaard.
Scroll 3: Perhaps it's no wonder then that Vipers were less inclined to neutrality than other witchers. The Empire would never recognize such a stance. There is only obedient servant... Or mortal enemy.
Scroll 4: For this reason, few in the North were surprised to learn that the assassin of King Demavend III of Aedirn and King Foltest of Temeria wore a viper-shaped medallion – and that soon thereafter Nilfgaard readied itself for war.
Chest 1: The School of the Viper no longer exists, yet what exactly led to its demise is not precisely known. Most likely, it was closed by Emhyr var Emreis when he no longer found value in it. Knowing the emperor and his favored methods, one could reasonably suspect that the school's closure spelled a death sentence for every one of its members.
Chest 2: Today, weapons and armor from the Viper School are collectors' items for Vedyminaica enthusiasts – those who occupy themselves with the literature and history of the witcher profession. The owner of the largest collection of such relics was the Countess Mignole of Oxenfurt. Yet what compelled a highborn lady to take such a keen interest in monster hunters? She alone holds the answer.
Chest 3: Although witchers are hired to protect people from monsters, they are often repaid with distrust – even outright hostility. Kolgrim, a witcher from the Viper School, experienced such suspicion firsthand. While working on a contract in White Orchard, a local boy went missing. The villagers unanimously accused the witcher of abducting the child, and – ignoring his pleas of innocence – brought the witcher's life to a gruesome end. The townsfolk learned later that the boy had been killed by a drowner. Alas, it was too late for their judgment to be undone...

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • According to dialogues cut from The Witcher 2, School of the Viper was to be located in Aedirn, and the original "fake reason" for Demavend's assassination was his decision to close the school. It has been completely changed in the final version however, which clearly denotes that the school was located in the modern-day Imperial territory.
    • Given the Nordling origin of witchers though, it is possible that founders of the school were of Aedirnian nationality. In this case, it would have been one of Demavend's ancestors who could have banished them.
  • The Hearts of Stone expansion adds more Viper School equipment: a full set of armor and a new pair of swords.
  • Aside from the kingslayers, Letho states that he knows of two other Viper witchers who were alive as of 1271.

References[edit | edit source]

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