Yennefer was a sorceress from Vengerberg, the capital city of Aedirn, before being recruited by Tissaia de Vries and brought to Aretuza to study magic. More than 30 years after her ascension, she met Geralt of Rivia, whom she had mixed feelings for due to the circumstances of how they met.
Tutelage at Aretuza
In her home town of Vengerberg, Yennefer, a young lady with a hunchback and disfigured jaw attempts to return a flower to two lustful lovers outside a barn. Disgusted by her appearance, they attack Yennefer, pinning her to the ground and hurling insults her way until she instinctively portals away to Aretuza. There, she meets Istredd, a young sorcerer who informs her that she’s been marked. He then creates an untraceable portal to send Yennefer back home.
Having been marked from her portalling from Aretuza, a sorceress named Tissaia de Vries finds Yennefer and purchases her for four marks from her father, less than half the price of a pig. Yennefer’s mother objects, though it goes without answer, as does Yennefer’s cry for help. Yennefer is forcefully taken from her home in Vengerberg and locked in a room in Aretuza. She looks at herself in the mirror, disgusted in her own right at what looks back at her, and so she shatters the mirror and grabs a shard of glass as she contemplates taking her own life.
Despite slitting her wrists, Yennefer survives the night after her failed suicide attempt due to Tiassai’s intervention. Yennefer wishes she had died, saying that at least she would’ve had control over that. Tiassai retorts that Yennefer wasn’t taking control, she was losing it.
Yennefer enters the greenhouse afterward, where she is among several other young ladies, who much like herself can tap into magic. Tiassai explains the dangers of magic and how each one of them showed an aptitude for controlling it, making them conduits of chaos, though magic itself is the control of chaos. She has gathered them for a trial; before each of them sits a flower and a stone, which they are to lift the stone without touching it. Fringilla is the first initiate to lift the stone, however, as demonstrated, magic comes at a price. Only seconds after Fringilla lifts the stone does her hand rapidly age and shrivel up. There is a give and take with magic, as Tiassai demonstrates by lifting the stone, but with the flowers in hand to represent what is taken as the flowers grow old and die. The remaining initiates follow her lead, with the exception of Yennefer, who is completely unable to move the stone in any manner. Discouraged by her failed attempt, Yennefer flees the greenhouse. She seeks out Istredd and introduces herself.
Several weeks have passed since Yennefer’s arrival in Aretuza. The initiates sit across from each other during an exercise to determine their partner’s greatest fear. Telepathy should occur, however, after hours of analyzing her partner, Anica, Yennefer has failed to determine her fear and lies to cover up her inadequacies. Tiassai calls Yennefer out for her lie and berates her in front of the class, so Yennefer retreats to Istredd and details her shortcomings. He advises her to keep trying, saying that he didn’t give up and now he can read minds. He even helps Yennefer read his mind, revealing glimpses of cicadas, warm bread and other things that she might enjoy.
The initiates are later taken to Tor Lara to bottle lightning. Tor Lara is the most potent place on the continent, off limits to everyone except to the Brotherhood of Sorcerers. This latest trial is to test their ability to control the ultimate expression of chaos, and Yennefer is up next. She raises her bottle and fails, the lightning striking her and sending her across the room. Enraged by her own failures, Yennefer shoots the lightning at Tissaia, and she redirects it back into the sky. Tissaia relates to Yennefer, saying there are two types of mages; those who can control their emotions and those who let their emotions control them. Yennefer and Tissaia being the latter, it is their job to control chaos, not become it.
Yennefer finds Istredd as she’s in fear of being sent home. Istredd insists that they’ll find a way. He can’t show Yennefer what he knows because he has to ensure that the knowledge never reaches the Brotherhood. What he would require is magic other than that of which they’re taught. It’s too potent and can open doors that can’t be shut. Istredd instead shows her the skulls of the elves who built Aretuza. They’re the original sorcerers of the continent. When humans and monsters arrived after the Conjunction of the Spheres, elven mages showed the first humans how to turn chaos into magic. Afterward the humans slaughtered them so they could pretend the power had always belonged to them, rewriting history. Istredd wishes to honor them rather than continue telling the false history. He gives Yennefer a Feainnewedd, a plant that only grows where Elder Blood has spilled. Using this plant, Yennefer summons a portal with no difficulty and reveals that her real father was half-elf, who was killed during the Great Cleansing. His blood is why she’s cursed with a twisted spine and why no one could ever love her. Istredd kisses her, as if to prove Yennefer wrong about no one loving her.
Yennefer takes the flower she got from Istredd to Tissaia. This was a test to see if Yennefer could control her emotions long enough to get it from him. She did so successfully, and Tissaia dismisses her, referring to Yennefer by her actual name rather than "Piglet." Yennefer asks if this means she’s ready to "ascend." Tissaia tells Yennefer to listen for the knock.
Yennefer listens for the knock as instructed. However, it’s not her door that Tissaia knocks on. Nevertheless, she takes the opportunity to spy on Tissaia as she turns three of the initiates into eels. Tissaia instructs her to push them into the water. Tissaia took away their control, but they still have power. They’re conduits for Aretuza. So when Yennefer takes a broom and pushes them into the water, all of Aretuza lights up with magic.
Ascension to Mage
It’s initiation day at Aretuza, and Yennefer and Istredd are having sex in front of an illusory audience. Afterward, they share their mutual fears of being separated with Istredd exploring ruins and Yennefer working as a mage to King Virfuril. Yennefer recalls the frightened girl she once was, completely unaware of her power. She wants to go back home to Aedirn and never be that girl again.
Yennefer meets with the enchanter. Every girl he enchants leaves Aretuza a living work of art, no matter how challenging the task. He allows Yennefer to pick a dress, and she chooses the grey one. Tissaia enters and tells Yennefer that they remake themselves on their terms. Yennefer has the power to "free the victim in the mirror" forever. Tissaia instructs Yennefer to close her eyes and imagine the most powerful woman in the world, and takes that image from her mind and transposes it onto the mirror for Yennefer to see.
Later, Yennefer demands an audience with the Chapter after discovering that she is being sent to Nilfgaard rather than Aedirn as promised. Tissaia reveals that it was her blood that finalized the Chapter’s decision. Sending a quarter-elf to Aedirn would only further ostracize Cintra given their hatred for elves. It was Stregobor who told the Chapter about Yennifer’s true father, and Yennefer realizes that the only way he could’ve known is if Istredd told him.
Yennefer refuses to attend the initiation. Istredd finds her in the ruins forging her father’s name on a deed to declare her as his natural born daughter. Istredd apologizes for telling Stregobor her secret, so she wants him to go back to the Chapter and tell them that he lied, but it’s too late as Yennefer missed initiation and the enchantments are done. Istredd offers to right his wrong, considering that the Brotherhood offered him a seat on the research chapter, so he he wishes to bring Yennefer along. However, she wants more than a life "holding dustpans while he brushes bones." Yennefer storms off, but not before Istredd exclaims that she’s just angry because she lost her chance to be beautiful. Not only beauty, Yennefer wants power, she admits.
She finds the enchanter and demands that he make her beautiful. Despite not having the necessary herbs to sedate her during the procedure, Yennefer demands that he go through with it. Yennefer removes her clothes and is strapped to a chair. She requests that the enchanter leave her purple eyes and scars. Before proceeding, he informs Yennefer there is a cost to a creation. To be reborn, Yennefer will bear no more. The enchanter surgically removes Yennefer reproductive organs. He uses them to form a paste that when applied to Yennefer’s skin, causes a transformation. Yennefer screams out in pain as internal flames crack her skin. Her body takes shape; her spine forcefully straightens, as does her jaw. The pain is so overwhelming that she breaks free of her chains.
Following a successful enchantment, Yennefer arrives at the Aretuzan ball, catching everyone’s eye. Completely reborn, and appearing almost entirely like a new person. She greets the king of Vengerberg, who discards Fringilla in favor of her. The two then dance center floor, and she wins Aedirn as she originally wanted.
Protecting Queen Kalis
30 years have passed, and Yennefer hasn’t aged a day. She travels with Queen Kalis and her newborn child in a carriage guarded by King Virfuril’s soldiers. Many fear for Queen Kalis as she has yet to produce a boy to inherit the throne from Virfuril. Kalis envies Yennefer’s life as a king’s mage. However, Yennefer gave up everything to get her seat at court, and in return, she’s spent the last three miserable decades cleaning up political debacles. Nonetheless, Kalis argues that Yennefer made the right choice, until the horse carriage suddenly comes under attack. Yennefer and Queen Kalis exit the carriage to find all but one of the guards dead. Standing no more than 50 feet away is an assassin and a koshchey. Yennefer opens a portal for Kalis, the guard, and herself to escape through.
They emerge from the portal in a desert, where Yennefer is fairly certain the assassin was paid to kill Queen Kalis as she’s repeatedly failed to provide the king a male heir. The assassin then tracks them to the desert, Yennefer and Kalis managing to escape through another portal while the guard is killed in the process. They now arrive in an undetermined town, and Yennefer asks Kalis if she has something of the king’s that could be traced. Confirming her suspicion, the assassin tracks and joins them not a second later, his koshchey lunging at Yennefer. She slows it down long enough for Queen Kalis, the child, and herself to escape through another portal to a mountain top, where Yennefer leaves the queen and her child after being tracked for a third time.
Yennefer appears in a field of sunflowers after having left the queen and her child behind. Yennefer eventually returns to find Kalis dead. She kills the koshchey, takes the child, and portals to safety. Yennefer emerges on a beach, and drags herself and the child to shore, but the princess doesn’t make it. As the sun sets, Yennefer settles on the beach with the princess’ infant body by her side. She believes the child is better off dead rather than having to endure the trials and tribulations of life. She then buries the child beneath the sand.
Trapping a Djinn
Yennefer enters a shop in search of assistance. Much like herself, the owner of the shop, Hemet, is a mage as well, and both have chosen to live a life off the grid, unbounded by the rules of the Brotherhood. She leaves empty handed after failing to provide enough pay.
Yennefer starts her own business in Rinde; using her magic to fix the problems of the townspeople, so long as they’re willing to pay. She has customers lined down the road until she is confronted by the town mayor, Beau Berrant. He’s come to collect what’s due to the kingdom, but Yennefer ends up arrested when she refuses to comply.
Yennefer receives a visit from Tissaia, who she hasn’t seen in years. Not since she maneuvered her way onto Aedirn court over 30 years ago. Tissaia informs Yennefer that King Virfuril is dead, and King Demavend rules now. Yennefer remained hidden for a while, but now she’s making noise in search of a solution to her problem; Yennefer wishes to bare children. Tissaia has come to warn her that the mages that Yennefer is enlisting won’t help her with her problem, because Yennefer is "pure chaos" at the moment. She wants a cure for her infertility, and it’s making her sloppy. The Brotherhood left her to her own devices once she abandoned Aedirn, but her recent behavior will make her a target. Tissaia invites Yennefer to return to Aretuza, but she turns Tissaia down. Yennefer suspects that Tissaia only wants to see her thrive so long as she has a hand in it. Tissaia swears this is not true, and she questions what more Yennefer could possibly want, to which she replies "everything."
That night, Yennefer hosts an orgy consisting of several dozen townspeople. To her surprise, the witcher, Geralt of Rivia, interrupts. She knows him as the White Wolf. He requests her help in saving his ally, Jaskier. She questions just how powerful Geralt is, but Jaskier was attacked by a djinn and whatever it did to him is spreading, so Geralt insists on focusing on him. Should Yennefer cure him, Geralt promises to indulge her curiosity. Yennefer agrees to his terms, and states the phrase "ragamuffin," releasing the citizens of Rinde awaken from their trance, completely unaware of their actions.
Yennefer puts Jaskier in a deep healing sleep. He’ll be out long enough for Geralt to bathe, and she’s even acquired his clothes. As Geralt bathes, she points out that fishing for a djinn is an extreme measure to remedy sleeplessness. Geralt replies that he’s desperate. Yennefer undresses and sits back-to-back with Geralt in the bath. She wonders if all witchers are as blessed as he is, being as they’re made from magic, mage magic. However, as Geralt explains, it didn’t make for a happy childhood. Judging by Yennefer’s scars, he can tell she didn’t have much of a happy childhood either. He accuses her of capitalizing on the political situation of Rinde, though Yennefer claims that she’s serving the stifled townspeople. Ultimately, they both know there’s more to the other’s claim than they’re revealing. Fortunately for Geralt, Yennefer has decided that his company and conversation is payment enough for her services.
While Geralt doesn't doubt her capabilities, he does doubt her intentions. Yennefer assures Geralt that Jaskier will survive and recover his vocal talents. Geralt looks around and realizes that Yennefer is attempting to trap the djinn. She explains that it’s tied to this plane and its master. With Jaskier only making two wishes, Yennefer needs him to make his third and final wish so that she can capture the djinn. Geralt is taken over by the sudden smell of lilac and gooseberries. Yennefer kisses him and in that moment has full control of him. She uses him to enact her revenge against a couple town council members.
As Yennefer prepares the spell, Jaskier awakens. She holds him against the wall and tells him to make a wish. Jaskier makes his final wish, and Yennefer releases him. She then starts chanting to summon the djinn. Geralt returns, offering his help. He tries to stop Yennefer before the power consumes and kills her. Jaskier expressed his last wish, but the djinn only seems to be getting stronger. That's because as Geralt explains, it is he who has the wishes. He refuses to make the last wish in fear that Yennefer becoming a vessel for the djinn would have her lose control. Yennefer states that true transformation is painful and that she’ll take the djinn herself. Yennefer becomes unstable. The house itself starts to collapse. In saving Yennefer from herself and her own desires, Geralt makes his final wish to free the djinn. The building then caves in on them.
Yennefer manages to portal herself and Geralt downstairs before the building comes crashing down on them. She blames him for the djinn’s escape and all the havoc it will cause. Geralt informs her that djinn are only dark creatures when they’re held captive. He’s certain that it won’t cause much harm now that it’s free. Geralt and Yennefer then have sex. Afterward, Yennefer asks what he wished for, but Geralt does not reveal it. He then sleeps, soundly.