|I saw temples dedicated to the worship of dragons. I heard their voice, almost human, but reverberating with a thousand echoes. I met warrior maids clad in leopard skins, tattooed from head to foot and giving no ground to witchers in mastery of the blade. I saw mages who channeled power from fire. I saw seemingly harmless flies whose solitary bite would make a man fall into a deep slumber, never to awake save to die. In short, Zerrikania is a land where the fantastic is normal, and the impossible occurs daily...|
|- The Wonders of Zerrikania|
Zerrikania is a vast realm located to the east of both the Northern Kingdoms and the Nilfgaardian Empire.[N 1] Isolated from the westerners by mountain ranges, deserts and wastelands, it is often perceived as a mysterious land of warrior women, dragon cults and exotic beasts.
Roots of the modern Zerrikanian realm are found within a great fertile canyon surrounded by steppes and harsh barren plateaus. People of this lush region believed they had been designated by Zerrikanterment, a colossal golden dragon, as his chosen people destined to guard and take care of dragons visiting the chasm.
While the canyon population is perceived as the mythological birthplace of the culture, the bulk of the Zerrikanian nation was formed by numerous steppe clans. Led by matriarchs, these warlike amazons dominated the areas around, eventually imposing the matriarchal system within the chasm itself and establishing a monarchy. The traditional protection of dragons turned into worship, with monumental temples hosting these majestic beasts being erected across the realm.
Contact with Outside World
The continuous shrinking of the number of dragons visiting the realm led Saulrenith, a priestess from one of the northern Zerrikanian cities, to propose an expedition to the Northern Realms in order to search for remaining dragons as well as spread their faith. Six priestesses and six warrioresses spent four years roaming the Continent until they were massacred by a dwarven band hunting for a green dragon. The mission's failure prompted Queen Merineaevelth to found the Faithel: a warrior order tasked with finding and protecting the holy creatures. Over time, the term "Free Warrior" began to be used to refer any Zerrikanian warrior woman abroad.
The failed expedition and establishment of Faithel increased the interest in an outside world by what was once an isolationist country. Holy warriors were followed by traders, alchemists and inventors, introducing previously unknown goods in Nordling and Nilfgaardian lands. By the second half of the 13th century, trade routes were established and western travelers began to roam Zerrikanian lands, returning with many vague or exaggerated tales.
Dissidents and Mercenaries
In the second half of the 13th century, the ruling Queen of Zerriania was a sorceress of bad renown, even outside her realm. She was forced to rely on foreign mercenaries in chasing dissidents dangerous to her rule. One of them, Borch Three Jackdaws, was in fact a golden dragon himself in secret.
Zerrikania did not partake in the Northern Wars thus making it a destination of refugees, including Sigismund Dijkstra, Isengrim Faoiltiarna, and Boreas Mun. However, the realm suffered its own civil wars, fought over the humid, forested regions. Several mercenary bands looking for a job after the Battle of Brenna, including Clan Tuirseach warriors and the famed Kovirian Free Company led by Julia Abatemarco, took part in the conflict. The side supported by mercenaries took heavy loses as the foreigners, unprepared for local dangers, suffered from diseases and predatory fauna. Their native opponents took advantage from familiarity with jungle landscape and succesively won skirmish after skirmish without the mercenaries being able to even locate the enemy. After eight months of war, the foreigners were forced to retreat. The Nordlings who returned home were voluntarily accompanied by Zerrikanian exiles.
Geography and Climate
Descending from the mountains, one would first enter the thick, primeval forest, only to eventually cross it and reach dry steppes, deserts and barren plateaus of the Continent's interior. One such plateau is "broken" by a huge canyon up to 3 km deep. The canyon is basically a gigantic oasis hosting a unique microclimate due to its shadow's cooling effect and multiple sources of freshwater, often in form of waterfalls. All of this makes the growth of rainforest possible and provides habitats for several exotic creatures as well as human settlements. The distance from one end of the gorge to the other is 5 days of journey.
Fauna and Flora
Zerrikania has two distinct forest systems, one adjacent to the mountains and another down in the canyon. The canyon's rainforests comprise of several plants, some of which are almost impossible to find outside apart from Brokilon Forest. One can encounter exotic trees with large juicy fruits and flowered climber vines as well as plants that are poisonous or otherwise dangerous. Outside the forests, the vegetation is sparse.
The realm hosts a number of unique animals in its varied areas, including tigers, antelopes, ostriches, jackals, snakes, camels, and leopards. Monsters that may be encountered include venomous basilisks and spiders so large so they can trap elephants in their webs. One should also be vary of tse tse flies which lay eggs within human bodies.
Society and Culture
They are grouped in steppe clans led by women. From these clans also come the notorious free warriors – tattooed women excelling in the use of sabres and archery. Dandelion once said that their archeresses are so skilled in marksmanship that they cut off the breast near their shooting arm so that it doesn't interfere with their aim. Milva was quick to assure him that it's likely a myth because her breasts don't bother her as "You pull the string to your ear and not your breast". Not only are they skilled in using sabres and bows but they are good at manufacturing them too. It's also common practice for Zerrikanian free warriors to tattoo their bodies or at least parts of them.
Women are the ones who take an active part in the life of the land, becoming rulers, priestesses, and teachers. Their men cultivate fields, extract raw materials in mines, deal with orchards and gardens and raise offsprings. It's compulsory neither are they enslaved; this order seems to them to be good and obvious. It has not yet for a Zerrikanian man to be hunter or ruler and only rarely has any been interested in warfare. This has been the order of things for a long time. All Zerrikanians are essentially equal in rights as are all towns.
The people of Zerrikania are sometimes called the "Free Warriors".
Zerrikanians are known to worship dragons and make sacrifices before images of the said creatures. The religion is founded upon a legend of the golden dragon Zerrikanterment and how he created a protective barrier around Zerrikania by burning forests around and thus turning them into deserts and wastelands.
They believe that before the dragons there was no other god, that they are the creators and rulers of the world. The priestesses are in charge of the worship. They explore all religious knowledge, are fluent in writing, and use the heavenly gift, meaning that they use magic drawn from dragons who are the only creatures apart from cats that are known to absorb magical energy.
Zerrikania is not visited in the game, but it is acknowledged as the home for the formulae of bombs, and famous for its alchemists.
- "Zerrikania, home of the venomous Basilisk, has given birth to other equally hideous creatures. Among them are spotted spiders so huge that they trap elephants in their webs and the no-less terrifying tse tse flies. The flies are especially repulsive, laying their eggs in the human body, the resulting larvae maturing within the host's head. The victim's brain serves as sustenance and when the larvae turn into adult flies, they leave the body through the eye sockets, now void of the previously devoured eyes."
- In The Witcher, the descriptions offered suggest that Zerrikania is very much like Africa or Arabia. The people of Zerrikania also resemble those of the Arabian peninsula.
- In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Zerrikania is not visited but several times mentioned. During High Stakes, Carthia van Canten mentions that expensive spices are delivered to Novigrad by various companies trading with Zerrikania. If Geralt doesn't invite Letho to Kaer Morhen at the end of Ghosts of the Past, the latter says that he will flee there. Also, a free DLC called Alternative look for Ciri is actually her armor from Zerrikania.
- Oddly, in Time of Contempt English translation, both demonyms are used instead of sticking to just one of them.
- Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Consistent throughout books and games
- Time of Contempt
- The Witcher: Versus
- Baptism of Fire
- The World of the Witcher
- Szpony i kły
- The Witcher Role-Playing Game
- Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
- The Lady of the Lake
- The Witcher
- Blood and Wine expansion
- The Tower of the Swallow
- Sword of Destiny
- Granica możliwości
- The Witcher
- Marcin Momot:"Yes. It's Ciri's Zerrikanian outfit."