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Spoilers from the books and/or adaptations to follow!

"The End's Beginning" is the first episode of Netflix's The Witcher series and will be based on the short story "The Lesser Evil".

Characters

Summary

Hostile townsfolk and a cunning mage greet Geralt in the town of Blaviken. Ciri finds her royal world upended when Nilfgaard sets its sights on Cintra.

Geralt's timeline

Kikimora

Geralt kills a kikimora

Geralt of Rivia, a witcher, bursts forth from a bog in combat with a kikimora. Although the kikimora initially has the upper hand, Geralt manages to ram his sword through her skull, killing her. He then takes the kikimora to Blaviken for sale, but finds himself untrusted by the locals. Renfri calls off her guards and gets Geralt a drink, convincing everyone to leave him be. Marilka then arrives and directs Geralt to speak with Master Irion, "our wizard" who might be willing to pay for the kikimora. Irion turns out to be Stregobor, a sorcerer in hiding who only took the name Irion from the long-dead creator of the tower he was living in. Geralt deduces that Stregobor wanted to hire him, and so Stregobor reveals that he wants Geralt to assassinate Renfri.

To elaborate on his reasoning, Stregobor explains to Geralt that the Curse of the Black Sun, a solar eclipse, left numerous women born on or near that day internally mutated. This was taken as confirmation of the mage-prophet Eltibald's prediction that 60 women born at that time would usher in the return of Lilit, along with the extermination of the human race. To prevent this, Stregobor and numerous other sorcerers hunted down and killed or imprisoned these women, and although they attempted to cure those they imprisoned, the women always died. They performed autopsies on those who died to confirm they're unnatural mutations, and continued hunting for those women in the hope of preventing the prophecy from being realized.

To this end, Stregobor reveals that he sought to kill Renfri, the last of those women, a princess born while the eclipse was at its peak. She escaped his assassin however, and hunted for Stregobor ever since, being immune to his magic due to her mutations. To save himself from her vengeance, and to save the world from the prophecy, Stregobor attempts to hire Geralt to kill her, but Geralt refuses.

Outside Blaviken, Renfri tracks down Geralt, demanding to know where Stregobor is so that she can kill him, claiming that the assassin he sent after her actually raped her. She threatens to slaughter her way through Blaviken if he does not kill Stregobor, but he is unmoved. As a fellow mutant, Renfri asks Geralt why he wouldn't kill people if they came after him as people had attempted to kill her, to which he says that doing so would make him what they say he is; a monster. He advises her to simply leave Blaviken, and departs.

Later on, Renfri follows Geralt to his camp, where he has just finished recounting his first monster kill to his horse, Roach. She sits with him, claiming her intention to leave Blaviken. They then kiss, and have sex into the night.

As Geralt dreams of his night with Renfri, he hears her tell him of his future, that he would be driven out of Blaviken with stones and that the "girl in the woods" is his destiny that he cannot escape. He awakens alone, knowing that Renfri intends to slaughter her way through Blaviken until she finds Stregobor. Geralt goes to Blaviken to stop her, and easily dispatches her company of soldiers that attempt to stop him.

Marilka & Renfri

Renfri holds Marilka hostage

Geralt then confronts Renfri, warning her to leave Blaviken with a display of magic, to which she says magic has no effect on her; only silver does, as with monsters. Then, despite having Marilka at swordpoint and intending to use her as a hostage, Renfri quickly releases Marilka and attacks Geralt directly. She lands several cuts on Geralt before he eventually disarms her, leaving her with only a dagger. Although he lowers his sword to stop the fight, she attacks with her dagger, which he redirects into her own throat. As she lies in Geralt's arms, Renfri reiterates that Ciri is Geralt's destiny, that she will be with him "always," before finally dying of blood loss.

In the aftermath, Stregobor walks through the carnage of Geralt's duel with Renfri's men. He eventually finds Renfri's corpse, and reveals his intent to do an autopsy on her. When Geralt strenuously objects, Stregobor explains that her mutation allows her to influence people around her, as she did by bending her company of soldiers to her will, and that she must be examined. When Geralt is unmoved, Stregobor then realizes that Geralt himself was similarly influenced, so rather than pay him for the assassination, Stregobor instead brings attention to the piles of bodies Geralt had left in his wake. This incenses the townspeople, even Marilka, against Geralt as a murderous witcher. They then throw stones at him until he leaves, as Renfri predicted.

Ciri's timeline

In the streets of Cintra, Princess Ciri is playing a game of knucklebones when Sir Lazlo arrives and takes her back to the Cintran citadel. There, she attends a ceremony to induct new knights, before retiring to a celebratory feast. There Queen Calanthe and King Eist discuss the encroachment of Nilfgaard. They send their granddaughter Ciri to dance until Sir Danek arrives, informing them of Nilfgaard's imminent attack.

Calanthe mourns Eist

Calanthe grief-stricken over Eist's body

Outside Cintra, Calanthe and Eist meet the Nilfgaardian invaders on the field rather than using fortifications or waiting for their fleet of ships to aid them. Despite the Nilfgaardians' lack of cavalry against the Cintrans, their numbers allow them to overwhelm the Cintrans, whose ships were further delayed due to a storm and unable to assist them. King Eist eventually takes an arrow thought the eye from Cahir, dying instantly, so Queen Calanthe retreats in mourning.

In the Cintran capital, Ciri waits impatiently for Calanthe's return with her protector Sir Lazlo and her druid Mousesack. After several days, Calanthe returns, badly wounded. She speaks with Ciri, assuring her that she will rule Cintra one day, until Mousesack reports that the Nilfgaardians have breached both outer walls of the Cintran capital, the walls entirely undefended after the ruinous battle on the field decreased their numbers. As the Nilfgaardians close in on the citadel, Mousesack erects a magical barrier around the gate to keep the Nilfgaardians at bay.

The Nilfgaardians proceed to barrage the barrier with flaming arrows well into the night, eventually wearing down Mousesack's barrier and breaching the gate. Mousesack reports this to Calanthe, and she orders her entire castle to commit suicide by poison, to spare them from being murdered by Nilfgaardians. She then sends her daughter Ciri away, under Lazlo and Mousesack's protection, telling her to find Geralt of Rivia. Before leaving, Ciri screams in denial, causing a magical reverberation throughout the room.

Cintra burns

Cintra burns

With Ciri and Lazlo departed, Calanthe explains to Mousesack that Ciri is the reason why the Nilfgaardians came for Cintra. Mousesack then leaves Calanthe alone, determined to protect Ciri, and escorts her to the edge of the city. There they are seen by numerous invading soldiers, so Mousesack stays behind to hold them off while Lazlo and Ciri escape. Eventually, as they flee the city on horseback, Cahir hunts them down and kills Lazlo with an arrow. Even as Lazlo takes Ciri captive, all of the Cintran nobility drink poison and die, and Calanthe herself jumps out of a window to her death.

On the outskirts of Cintra, Cahir continues on his way with Ciri in tow. However, while she watches her city burn in the distance, she becomes enraged and screams again, releasing an even more powerful magic pulse through the area. This spooks Cahir's horse, who drops them both. Although Cahir tries to grab Ciri, she simply screams again, paining Cahir and forcing him to release her. She flees, and screams so loudly that an entire stone monolith collapses and falls between them, creating a rift in the ground that allows Ciri to escape without pursuit.

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