The Wild Hunt, or Wraiths of Mörhogg, as they are called in Skellige, was widely believed to be a group of specters galloping in the sky. They were described by common folk as a cavalcade of wraiths on undead horses galloping across the sky and serving as an omen of war. In fact, they are a group of Aen Elle elves from Tir ná Lia who also call themselves the Dearg Ruadhri in their native Elder Speech, meaning Red Riders. They are led by the general, and later king, Eredin Bréacc Glas, commonly known as the King of the Wild Hunt.
Origin of Red Riders Edit
During the Conjunction of the Spheres, part of the elves from the main world, later described as the Aen Seidhe world, left their kin and, using portals, came to a new world. They took the new world for their own and started to call themselves Aen Elle - the Alder folks. That world however was inhabited by two intelligent species - humans and unicorns. The elves started to wage war with both of them and eventually they completely eradicated all the humans and their settlements.
For some time, everything was great for the elves and their civilization thrived. They built a beautiful palace known as Tir ná Lia that served as their capital. However, after some time, the elves wanted servants or better yet, slaves. The only other sentient beings on their world were unicorns, who they constantly battled with, and unicorns were obviously not very well suited to be slaves. Around that time, the elves managed to force some of the unicorns to open the Gate of the Worlds - Ard Gaeth - giving them access to all possible worlds to massacre as they pleased. Thus the elven King Auberon Muircetach ordered the creation of a cavalry unit with a single goal: to invade alien worlds and capture young humanoids to serve as slaves. The cavalry was named Dearg Ruadhri (meaning Red Riders) due to their red cloaks. The king appointed General Eredin Bréacc Glas as the Red Riders' leader for he was an efficient and ruthless soldier with strong magical abilities.Thus the Red Riders started their invasions of other worlds. To intimidate the local people, they wore skeletal armor that made them look extremely threatening and used exclusively black steeds. On some occasions, they also used a powerful ship known as Naglfar, which is said to be able to float in the sky. On top of it all they used projections to appear more spectral, making people think that the group was made of wraiths and specters.
However, after some time, the unicorns managed to take the Gate away from them and the elves lost their access to space time travel and were only able to partially recover it in the form of special mages known as navigators. Their abilities to travel to different worlds however, was severely limited as the navigators were only able to open portals for a relatively small group of riders and thus they were able to secure only a limited number of slaves. This also made them change their tactics, where they enhanced their spectral projections to such a level that they usually traveled only in this form and only used their true corporeal form when it was absolutely necessary. Yet even in their spectral form they were still able to secure a decent number of slaves and, due to their frightening appearance to common people, they were soon given a more sinister name - the Wild Hunt.
Wild Hunt Edit
For hundreds of years, the hunt periodically returned to different worlds but preferred to raid their original home world known as the Aen Seidhe world. Unlike their new realm where they'd killed off all the original human inhabitants, the Aen Seidhe world had been taken over by humans, but this also made it an ideal place to get more slaves. The Wild Hunt typically appeared during winter and the raids sometimes lasted for months where they literally traveled across the entire Continent.
They seldom traveled in their corporeal form on ground but rather as a spectral projection in the sky. It was also said that their horses had six legs, yet that may have been just a part of their spectral visions for all the horses were in fact normal animals. Every raid was led by Eredin himself who people started to call the King of the Wild Hunt. They believed him to be an extremely powerful spectral king who stole the souls of his victims, and they feared him immensely. Every appearance of the Hunt was feared and considered to be a bad omen - an omen of war, just like a comet.
On Skellige, people witnessed both the riders and their demonic ship, the Naglfar. This encounter left a lasting impact on their culture and traditions, with them calling the riders the Wraiths of Morhogg and believing that they would return as an army during the end of the world - Ragh nar Roog. The Naglfar was, according to Skellige legends, made of the toenails and fingernails of the dead, thus they practiced a ceremonial removing of nails from their dead as well.
Strangely enough, the Hunt did not raise very strong curiosity amongst the inhabitants of the world. It was viewed as a sort of natural phenomenon like storms or earthquakes, and thus something out of the people's control. Many people also falsely believed that the Hunt only came during winter. Fortunately there were some exceptions. Over the years, a few mages studied the Hunt and its patterns and tried to figure out what they really were. In Nilfgaard, there was an entire school of witchers opened and dedicated to the mysteries of the Wild Hunt - the School of the Viper. This school contained a vast library full of texts and books concerning the Hunt but the school was later dissolved. Also, some of the individuals abducted by the Hunt managed to escape and return home. However, these individuals learned that time had moved much slower on their end and the people they once knew were either dead or extremely old. Furthermore, their stories about an elven world with unicorns was dispelled as them being crazy and they were considered insane. Thus the secret behind the Wild Hunt's origin and purpose remained hidden to most.
Finding Ciri Edit
In 1267, Princess Cirilla escaped her mentor, sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg, during their stay in Gors Velen and headed to a nearby village in hopes of seeing her father figure, Geralt of Rivia. However, due to it being dark and stormy, Ciri struggled to find the right way and was galloping through the area in vain, escaping one frightening scenario after another. During this, the Wild Hunt sensed her Elder Blood abilities and attempted to catch her when she found Geralt and right after Yennefer teleported in. Seeing the girl in danger, the two protected her and the Wild Hunt dissipated. However, this marked a turning point in the Wild Hunt's goal and they began to set their eyes on capturing her.
Some time later, Ciri was able to travel to different worlds. She met another Aen Elle elf named Avallac'h, who knew exactly who the girl was, and what her powers were and lured her into the Aen Elle world. There, she became a sort of prisoner to both him and Eredin. Those two were de facto rulers of their world since the real king Auberon, became very distant and cared not for his subjects nor his world.
Avallac'h explained to her that she is a direct descendant of Lara Dorren, Auberon's daughter and carrier of the Elder Blood gene. That power of Elder Blood was indeed inherited by Ciri and thus, it would be passed on her children as well. They wanted her to mate with the king and give him a child that would reintroduce the Aen Elle to that power again. What's more, The Elder Blood would give them access to the Gate again.
Even though, she resisted at first, she eventually agreed. Auberon however was not so easily convinced. He understood the need for him to impregnate the girl, but she was human, something he considered disgusting. In the eyes of Aen Elle, humans were considered little more than animals, thus the king was unable to perform - the little girl simply did not attract him at all. That is why Eredin came up with an idea to give the king an aphrodisiac. This was however a ruse since Eredin prepared an overdose of the substance. The king, who was the eldest of the elves, more than 650 elven years old, could not handle the dosage and died. There was some speculation whether or not Eredin intended to murder the king or if it was just an accident. Future shown that indeed Eredin committed regicide to elevate himself.
Just like he planned, he became a new king. His ultimate goal was to harness the power from Ciri and reopen the Gate. Ciri received help from her unicorn friend Ihuarraquax who helped her not only escape the palace, but the Aen Elle world itself. Eredin took his Red Riders and pursued her but eventually she evaded them. Thus they returned to their world empty handed.
New order Edit
When Eredin returned, he fully usurped the kingship over the Aen Elle. He appointed Ge'els as his viceroy because he still continued to lead the Red Riders and went with them almost every time. Thus Ge'els ruled in his stead. Also, amongst the Riders themselves, he appointed two elves as his generals - Caranthir, the golden child, as the chief navigator and Imlerith as his second in command. However Eredin was forced to carefully keep the secret regarding his ascension to the throne for Auberon was very loved by the elves. Only individual that was aware of Eredin's regicide was Avallac'h, though he kept the information for himself, for he had no proof. Instead, he left the world, and came on his own to find Ciri.
Around this time, the Aen Elle world faced a terrible danger. The White Frost, a legendary universe-wide destructive force, came and started to freeze the world. Though the most skillful mages tried to stop it, the best they managed was to slow the spread down. Thanks to the fight against the White Frost, those mages discovered some things about the phenomenon, that they managed to use as a weapon. They started to use the frost magic - using snow and freezing temperature in offensive way. They also started to use a special hounds as their first wave. After a while it became obvious, that the Aen Elle cannot save themselves. The only way to save them, was to posses the Elder Blood and thus, another hunt for Ciri, now more desperate then ever, begun.
Hunt for Ciri Edit
The easiest way for the Hunt to follow Ciri was to wait until she used her powers and exactly this happened during 1268 in the Aen Seidhe world in Rivia, where a pogrom occurred. During this pogrom, both Geralt and Yennefer died. Ciri could not bear the loss so with the help of her unicorn friend Ihuarraquax, they managed to resurrect them and then "moved" them to the legendary Avalon island.Though Ciri left them and went on her journey, this was enough for the Hunt to catch her scent. They followed her ever since, sometimes being only a moment behind her. Around that time, Avallac'h came in contact with Ciri and eventually became her mentor and helped her control her Elder Blood powers.
Knowing that they wouldn't catch Ciri using traditional methods, Eredin came up with a new plan. He knew that she cared for both the witcher and the sorceress and thus planned to have them captured to lure the girl out. They invaded the island where the couple was and while Geralt fought bravely and managed to kill many of them, the Wild Hunt managed to capture Yennefer and ride off with her. Geralt, however, managed to return to the Aen Seidhe world and started to pursue the Wild Hunt before eventually being joined by 3 fellow witchers: Letho, Serrit, and Auckes. They eventually caught up with the Wild Hunt at a Hanged Man's Tree in Nilfgaard and the two sides clashed. While the witchers held their own, there were just too many Wild Hunt warriors and a stalemate was called. Geralt then made a proposition: he'd exchange himself for Yennefer. As having either one would work for Eredin's plan, the king agreed and they released Yennefer into the other witchers' care before taking off with Geralt.
Geralt rode with the Hunt for some time and, just like Eredin planned, Ciri discovered this and tried to save him. In 1270, she managed to do so and "placed" Geralt, now with amnesia, near the ruins of Kaer Morhen, where he was discovered by his fellow witchers. Ciri then escaped again, and the Hunt followed her, leaving Geralt to his fate. Though the Hunt left the Aen Seidhe world, Eredin maintained his spectral form there and occasionally hounded Geralt and hindered his quests. This culminated in a fight between the witcher and the spectral form of the King of the Wild Hunt in the Ice Plains, a realm already consumed by the White Frost. Geralt managed to defeat Eredin and, for a time, the Wild Hunt didn't return to the world.
Ciri Returns Edit
In 1272 Ciri, under Avallac'h's guidance, had improved control over her powers, though her training was far from over. Wanting to return to her home world, the duo ended up in Skellige but, having used her abilities, she'd also inadvertently alerted the Wild Hunt where she was and the warriors attacked the two in a forest on Ard Skellig. The Wild Hunt chased them through the forest but Ciri and Avallac'h managed to escape through different portals, but not before the latter was struck with a strong curse.Despite Ciri escaping their grasp once more, they soon knew her new location as she had teleported and passed out in Crookback Bog, a place overseen by some of Eredin's followers, the Crones. They'd taken her in and were preparing to hand her off to Imlerith when they realized she had elder blood, leading them to discuss if they should just kill and eat her instead. Ciri, having woken up and heard them, quickly took off with Imlerith close on her trail but she was able to evade him and the Wild Hunt lost her scent once more.
Some time later, Ciri was once more forced to use her powers to escape death and ended up back in Skellige, this time on Hindarsfjall, alerting both Avallac'h and the Wild Hunt to her location. Not even a day later the Wild Hunt attacked Lofoten village and killed most of the men but Ciri managed to escape thanks to Skjall, a local Skelliger, and met back up with Avallac'h. With the Wild Hunt right on their heels, the elf knocked Ciri out to get her on the boat and hid her away on the Isle of Mists, once more out of the Wild Hunt's grasp.
Now with no other leads, the Wild Hunt began to look elsewhere for clues and soon learned a Nilfgaardian spy named Hendrik was in Heatherton, having been tasked by the emperor to keep tabs on any possible leads regarding Ciri. They soon invaded the village and killed off everyone they could find and tortured the spy. In the end though, Hendrik never caved and they killed him, not realizing the notes were hidden just below their feet.
Later, the Wild Hunt discovered that Avallac'h had a hideout in Velen and they invaded the place in hopes they could find some clues there. Unfortunately for them, Geralt, along with the sorceress Keira Metz, entered the hideout around the same time and ultimately faced and killed one of their warriors, Nithral, while the rest vanished.
Eventually, the Wild Hunt learned Ciri was hidden on the Isle of Mists and sailed there to retrieve her. Geralt, having found her just a short time before, had Ciri use her ability to teleport them to Kaer Morhen as they had no other choice of escape, even if it meant letting the Wild Hunt know where they went.
Battle of Kaer Morhen Edit
Knowing the Wild Hunt was coming soon, the witchers and allies hashed out a plan to protect the place and, despite Ciri's protests, made her stay inside the keep, safe from the Wild Hunt. As they also knew the Wild Hunt's use of portals, Yennefer set up a barrier that would force them to teleport in the areas outside Kaer Morhen.
The Wild Hunt soon began its assault, with portals opening in the forest and warriors and hounds spilling out. The witchers sparred with them but the Wild Hunt had the advantage of numbers and soon the witchers were forced to retreat inside the keep. Imlerith led the charge and broke through into the courtyard and portals were opening everywhere for more Wild Hunt warriors. Ciri, meanwhile, was out in the open fighting with the rest.
Further away, Eskel was ambushed and another of Eredin's generals, Caranthir, appeared and the two began to spar. While the witcher was fast, he couldn't keep up with the navigator's teleporting abilities but as Caranthir went in for the final blow Ciri jumped in, fending him off. As Ciri and the navigator faced off though, the sound of a horn went out and he left, leaving several warriors to deal with the two instead, but they were cut down.
Shortly after, with all the fighting now centralized in the courtyard, Yennefer's barrier collapsed and the Wild Hunt used their portals, this time to release a powerful blast of the White Frost to freeze everyone caught in its blast, leaving only Ciri and Vesemir free from the frost as they had gotten out of the way just in time. As the two moved to escape, Imlerith attacked Vesemir while Eredin grabbed Ciri, intending to drag her through a portal and back to his world, but Vesemir caused enough of a distraction for her to get free. However, Imlerith caught the old witcher and began to beat him up. Eredin noticed that instead of running or teleporting away, Ciri was watching what was happening to Vesemir and called Imlerith off, then motioned Ciri to go with them, with the unspoken statement that they'd kill Vesemir otherwise. Despite Vesemir's protests, she disarmed herself and moved to go with them so, with one final attempt to stop all this, Vesemir pulled out a short dagger and stabbed Imlerith, who, now enraged, snapped the witcher's neck, instantly killing him.
As the Wild Hunt then moved in to take Ciri, the shock and anguish at seeing Vesemir killed in front of her hit and suddenly the Force broke free in a crippling magical scream, paralyzing and killing the Wild Hunt warriors. With no other choice but to retreat, Caranthir opened a portal and Imlerith went through. However Eredin, hellbent on getting Ciri no matter what, moved to still take her, but was soon overwhelmed by the magic as well. Caranthir quickly grabbed the king and forced him through the portal and the two left, once more empty handed.
The Fall of Generals Edit
Though Eredin and his generals retreated safely, they lost countless warriors and needed time to regroup. During this time, the Crones were taking part in the annual Sabbath, an event that Imlerith also joined in every year. However, Ciri also learned of this information and brought Geralt with her to Bald Mountain to exact revenge. Realizing they could strike at both groups, Ciri went to deal with the Crones and Geralt went to face off against the general. The two fought, with Geralt weakening him enough for him to drop his shield, but Imlerith started to use his own teleporting abilities, making the fight more difficult. As he began to choke the witcher, Geralt used Igni, burning the general's face and causing him to drop the witcher as he tried stop the fire. Taking off his helmet, he revealed his severely burned face just before Geralt picked up Imlerith's mace and delivered a devastating blow, crushing his head in. This was the beginning of the end for Eredin's generals.
A short time later, Avallac'h, inspired by Geralt and Ciri's actions at Bald Mountain, set into motion his idea to further weaken the Wild Hunt and Eredin's grip. The elf had long suspected the previous king, Auberon, had been killed by Eredin, but had no direct evidence. With Geralt's help, he contacted Ge'els and convinced him to have his dreams read by the oneiromancer, Corinne Tilly. On seeing the truth that Eredin had killed his beloved king, Ge'els advised them to lure Eredin and his Wild Hunt into a trap here, in the Aen Seidhe world, using the Sunstone and that when the king should request reinforcements, he would receive none.
Sometime later, Eredin, not realizing Ge'els was no longer on his side, was prepared for another fight when the Sunstone's signal was used. Falsely believing it was Ciri, the Wild Hunt answered it by bringing in the Naglfar and freezing the sea around it, including all the Nilfgaardian fleet that was waiting and the people caught in the blast, including Geralt. Knowing the only way to unfreeze everyone was to take out the spellcaster, Caranthir, Ciri went against orders once more and sought out the general and the two dueled. However, Ciri managed to break Caranthir's staff, and thus broke the freezing spell, but the resulting explosion knocked both fighters out. Caranthir soon recovered and moved to capture Ciri but she teleported at the last minute. Before the general could figure out his next plan of action, with the freezing spell wearing off, Geralt dropped down to face off against him.
The two sparred, with the general opening portals for other creatures to help fight for him and casting other spells, but Geralt eventually dealt a fatal stab to the navigator. However, before he died, Caranthir had one last trick up his sleeve. Grabbing the witcher's leg, he teleported them into the ocean depth's in an attempt to drown Geralt with him, but Geralt managed to escape out of the dying elf's grip and reached the surface.
Fall of the King Edit
Ciri, still weak from the blast, had managed to teleport nearby, on top of the frozen sea. However, the Naglfar had spotted her and sailed over, with a portal opening and several Wild Hunt warriors going through to get her. They didn't make it very far though as a Skelliger ship on fire cut through the ice, taking out the group, and rammed right into the Naglfar and setting it ablaze as well.
Onboard, Eredin fought Crach an Craite, severely weakening the Skelliger. However, Crach refused to back down and tried one final attack against Eredin, which ultimately failed and Eredin cut him down with ease. Geralt approached just at this time and the two began to fight, with Eredin occasionally opening portals to other realms and where they continued to fight. Eventually though they ended up back on the Naglfar and Geralt managed to stab through one of the holes in Eredin's mask, taking out his left eye. Stunned, the king tried to resume the fight but Geralt easily delivered a fatal blow to his abdomen and the king fell down. With his dying breath, he informed Geralt that Avallac'h had betrayed them both and taken off with Ciri, before dying.
Without their leader, the Wild Hunt was disoriented and the Skelligers proved themselves to be formidable opponents, finishing off what was left of the Wild Hunt.
The King of the Wild Hunt and his specters appear to Geralt over the course of The Witcher, taunting and twisting his memories.
The first glimpse of the King and its minions occur near Kaer Morhen in the Prologue. In Chapter I it appears again in the Outskirts along with the ghost of Leo. In Chapter IV, Geralt must avoid summoning him while completing a quest for the Hermit. These encounters culminate at the end of the game where Geralt must face another major dilemma.
- "The Wild Hunt is a horde of specters that roams the sky during storms and is an omen of disaster. The appearance of the Wild Hunt foreshadows war and woe, much as a comet does. The spectral Wild Hunt sometimes appears in nightmares of the cursed or those touched by Destiny.
- Signs and a silver sword are both effective after dispatching the King of the Wild Hunt.
- During the Prologue, Lambert may say that the Wild Hunt was present when Eskel and Vesemir found Geralt, and that Triss urged them to drive the specters away.
- Furthering the Dead Hand of the Past quest triggers an encounter with the King of the Wild Hunt.
- The Hermit initiates Hunting the Wild Hunt, describing it as "a group of crazed specters who traverse the heavens searching for souls like themselves. They are susceptible to magic, especially of the ritual kind."
- In the Epilogue, Geralt may again discuss the Hunt with the Hermit; this does not result in any new journal entries (not even a bestiary entry if you were missing it).
- If Geralt kills the King, he can loot Vapors of the Hunt with or without the associated journal entries.
A book can be purchased on the topic of the Wild Hunt. Reading the volume adds to the journal entry.
Journal entry Edit
- According to tradition and eye witness accounts, the Wild Hunt abducts people, forcing them to join its mad gallopade on the sky. It's harvest is especially rich just before or during a great war, like a few years ago in Novigrad, when over twenty people went missing without a trace after the Wild Hunt passed. Some of the abductees managed to escape the cavalcade back into the world of the living, but the stories they told were so extraordinary that they were always considered insane.
- Stories of the Wild Hunt do not appear in the dwarven and elven cultures. It is quite interesting, for the Elder Races must have faced the Hunt long before humans did. As it seems, the dwarves ignore everything on mutual terms, while the elves are mysteriously silent on that subject.
- Sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg was abducted by the Wild Hunt, just like witcher Geralt of Rivia. Her fate remains unknown, though she certainly did not join the host of wraith horsemen, unlike her lover who was one of the Hunt's riders for some time. The motivation of the gallopades leader, the King of the Hunt, remains, as always, unknown.
- According to the Nordlings, the Wild Hunt is a procession, or rather a cavalcade of skeletal horsemen. They rush across the sky on the bony remains of steeds. Clad in rusty remnants of armor, they wear jagged swords at their waists. Like comets, the Wild Hunt is an omen of war, which has been confirmed beyond all doubt. The spectral cavalcade ventures out in search of victims every several years, but its harvest was never as rich as just before the last war with Nilfgaard, when over twenty souls went missing in Novigrad alone after the Hunt passed through. Curiously, elven and dwarven legends make not the slightest mention of the Wild Hunt.
- One of the insane asylum's patients claimed to have been abducted by the Wild Hunt and taken to a world where unicorns saunter about lush elven gardens. When he finally succeeded in escaping the Hunt's grasp, he returned to this world only to find that his children had aged and died, so many years had passed...
- According to the notes of a sorcerer, who spent his entire life studying the phenomenon of the Hunt, there is a mysterious power behind the wraith host's incursions into the world.
- Philippa Eilhart also has a theory about the origin, motivation and essence of the Wild Hunt. It is a surprisingly shallow theory for such a learned woman and not worthy of mention next to such illustrious deductions as the ones above.
- Síle de Tansarville showed absolutely no interest in the spectral riders of the Hunt. This was puzzling to say the least given her reputation as a very learned sorceress.
- There are more opinions about the Wild Hunt than there are stars in the sky. Some claim the Hunt is a retinue of the specters of knights who perished in various worlds. Others think the phantoms were created by a powerful force that sends them out into different worlds in search of slaves.
- Astronomical observation can be used to calculate the frequency of the Wild Hunt's appearances. This seems to confirm the hypothesis that the spectral riders come from another world.
- Mages remained silent about the Hunt, as if beset by a hoard of tongue-hungry cats. This silence from so many learned minds was as telling as words, but you'll not learn any more on this subject from me within this tale.
- The poem "The Song of the Hunt" is a book as rare as hen's teeth, and a pile of rubbish about the Hunt at the same time. Experts on the subject are willing to kill for that item, but fortunately there are not many of them. The multilayered narration sends the reader into the world of the author's rich imagination where each verse equals another interpretation. Truth mingles with fantasy in that work, but there's nothing of interest there for one researching the Hunt.
- No poem can remain vague when interpreted by a consummate poet. Master Dandelion thinks that "The Song of the Hunt" symbolically describes how the cavalcade enters our reality from another one. It means that the wraiths of the Hunt are the inhabitants of another world, not necessarily the world of shades, who use the primordial magic of chaos and entropy. The poem, however, fails to explains the reasons they might have for such journeys.
- Aramil, an elf from a parallel world, was pursued by the spectral riders.
The Wild Hunt returns as the main antagonists of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, where they hunt for Ciri, who has returned to the Continent.
They first appear in Geralt's dream when he trained a young Ciri in Kaer Morhen and later the Hunt intercepts Geralt and Yennefer during their travel to Vizima.
- The Wild Hunt originates from European folklore and possibly myth. There are many legends of the Hunt, but notable among them is that the cavalcade is led by the god Odin.
- The Wild Hunt's horses have six legs. This is possibly a reference to Odin's horse Sleipnir, who is described having a similar physique.
- The medieval German hero Dietrich von Bern is said to have been carried off by the Hunt at the end of his life.
- To look upon the riders is perilous. It is also considered an omen of death, as the riders are the souls of the dead themselves.
- One of the earliest references to the Hunt appears in the writings of the 12th-century British writer Walter Map, who names the king as Herla.
- The appearance of the Wild Hunt is also an omen of war, and signifies the coming of war or tragedy.
- The abductions or disappearances affiliated with the Wild Hunt are most common during or before times of war.
- ↑ The Wild Hunt (The Witcher 3) (book)
- ↑ Time of Contempt
- ↑ The Lady of the Lake
- ↑ The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
- ↑ The Witcher
- ↑ The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt