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Faction tree

Scroll 1: Humans enjoy marking arbitrary lines on maps, imagining themselves the supreme rulers of the land. Yet, within these borders they draw are forests, swamps, and uninhabited expanses where they dare not venture, for these are still the domains of monsters.
Scroll 2: The Continent is, indeed, home to an astonishing number and variety of monstrosities. Necrophages, relicts, hybrids, draconids... To this day, new species are still being discovered by explorers who, to no great surprise, rarely live long enough to claim a second discovery.
Scroll 3: There is rich diversity among monster species. From mindless, bloodcrazed beasts, such as ghouls, to the frighteningly intelligent, such as higher vampires. From gargantuan fiends to nekker swarms. Yet, they do share a common thread. Humans. Or rather... their appetite for human flesh.
Scroll 4: Yet, it is precisely because of this diversity that humans have been able to maintain some semblance of control over the Continent. But if any force were to unite the monsters of the world, impose a degree of discipline, well... the dominion of man would collapse like a house of cards.
Chest 1: Though difficult to envision now, the Continent was once entirely devoid of monsters. However, that changed over one thousand years ago following the Conjunction of the Spheres – the result of a particularly unfortunate alignment of the planets. Worlds once separate began to merge, plunging the Continent into centuries of chaos, soaking the earth in blood.
Chest 2: In time, humans learned to cope with their monstrous new neighbors. They discovered that many beasts are repelled by salt, hence they scattered it in protective barriers. Through trial and error, they learned that a red ribbon worn on the wrist frightens off nekkers, likewise silver with werewolves and vampires. Last but not least, using both magic and alchemy, they created witchers – itinerant monster-slayers for hire.
Chest 3: "Which monster is most dangerous?" A common topic for debate among the Continent's inhabitants. Is it a fiend, whose wither measures 10 feet? A griffin that can shred an armored knight and his mount in one fell swoop? Or perhaps an arachas, whose venom is so poisonous that just one drop can incapacitate an adult man? The truth is that none of these have killed as many people as the common rat, which exposed all of the Northern Kingdoms to the Catriona Plague...

Arachas Queen

Scroll 1: “Nʼaracche aen woed endicen.”
Elven proverb
"Let sleeping arachasae lie." Sage advice... For where there's one, the queen is likely not far off.
Scroll 2: And woe shall befall any who strays across her path. Many monsters can be deceived, enticed, or by fire and silver scared off... Yet, an arachas queen is no ordinary monster.
Scroll 3: She is driven by raw, primal instinct. Kill, eat, breed, kill, eat, breed... In a single week, a queen can lay over one thousand eggs. If not destroyed in time, you'd be advised to find a new home. And quickly.
Scroll 4: The swarm's allegiance to its queen is absolute. Bewitched by her pheromones, the drones will do anything to serve their matriarch – rush into a blaze, dive into a chasm, sacrifice their bodies in her defense. Human commanders can only dream of such unconditional loyalty.
Chest 1: Once native to the far south, this invasive species migrated north over the course of decades, adjusting as it went to new climates and temperatures. It finds damp woodlands and swamps most hospitable and made them its home, making use of the mulch and moss found there as cover during its winter hibernation. Arachasae often hide their unprotected, sac-like abdomens under a hollow tree-trunk shell worn on their back... Unfortunately, as a result, overlooking them is a far too common – and lethal – mistake.
Chest 2: At first glance, a stationary arachas often looks like a part of the forest undergrowth, a fact it uses to deadly advantage when hunting. It usually begins a battle by spitting venom, then tries to grab its prey with prehensile feelers in order to drag it within reach of its crushing pincers. The best defense against its tactics, you ask? There isn't one.
Chest 3: According to scholars at Oxenfurt, the hive queens of most insect and insectoid species are almost completely defenseless. Arachasae, however, are a notable exception. An arachas queen is the largest and strongest in her swarm. A single drop of her venom is enough to bring down an adult man, a swipe of their claws can cleave through a Nilfgaardian pavise as if through butter. When two arachasae swarms vie for territory and the queens battle for supremacy, all other woodland creatures flee the forest with haste, as if escaping a raging wildfire...

Eredin Bréacc Glas

Scroll 1: When a sudden chill descends upon the night and crickets and frogs fall silent, folk of the Continent scramble from their beds to bolt every last door and window. For they know the Wild Hunt draws near.
Scroll 2: Who are these fiendish riders whose spectral silhouettes race across the night sky? Contrary to common belief, they are not not evil spirits, but elven warriors led by Eredin Bréacc Glas, known to some as Sparrowhawk.
Scroll 3: He arrived from lands exotic and far. His face hidden behind a skull-shaped helm, his heart cut from ice, the King of the Wild Hunt enslaves all those who cry out in terror. Shackled and chained, they are destined to serve the Aen Elle to the end of their days.
Scroll 4: Yet, not all of the Continent's inhabitants fear Eredin and his demonic horsemen. Many beasts and monsters – even those wholly void of reason – show deference to the Wild Hunt. Some even follow their command...
Chest 1: Eredin had but one goal – to open the gate between worlds. Was he to succeed, he would have eliminated the need to traverse realms of frenetic timelessness and bitter cold. The Aen Elle could seize control of the Continent and at last escape their doomed world. In such a scenario, the folk of the Continent would likely haved longed for their former kings – even those considered tyrants and whoresons...
Chest 2: Eredin made great effort to leverage human legends and superstitions. For this reason, his riders wore ghostly armor to appear as specters. What's more, he haunted the waters of Skellige with a ship resembling Naglfar, the mythical drakkar storied to be constructed from the nails of the dead. Due to his fear-mongering tactics, Eredin's Wild Hunt riders rarely had need to draw their weapons. They simply watched as their foes dropped their own...
Chest 3: Eredin has many foul deeds on his conscience – regicide included. Believing that the Aen Elle's leader, Auberon, was too weak to lead their people to victory, he decided to eliminate the king and take his place. While his plot succeeded, Eredin's reign would not last long, for it wasn't long before he stood against a particular witcher of the Wolf School by name of Geralt of Rivia...

Woodland Spirit

Scroll 1: Experienced hunters can hide from most dangerous woodland beasts, be they wolves, nekkers, even ekimmaras. But there is no hiding from a leshen.
Scroll 2: It is impossible to conceal one's tracks from a leshen. They cannot be fooled. At one moment, the forest stands still and empty... Then, out of nowhere, staring back at you from the darkness is a pair of dead, hollow eye sockets, burning with an unearthly blue flame.
Scroll 3: Although its claws measure three feet long and are sharper than a Mahakaman sihil, they are not what is to be feared most. The forest – that is a leshen's most dangerous weapon. It can be brought to life and bent to the monster's will.
Scroll 4: Tree roots sprout from underfoot, tangling and gripping your legs. The air thickens with dense fog, obscuring the pack of wolves now on your scent. It is extremely difficult to survive such an attack, and even more difficult to retain your sanity after the fact.
Chest 1: In some regions of the world, cults are formed around leshens. They are offered sacrifices, usually in the form of hares and birds, but sometimes human blood. Many legends have emerged of benevelont leshens that help hunters find prey, guide wayward travelers to safety, even rescue folk from bandit raids. Unfortunately, not a shred of truth can be found in such myths. In fact, leshes see humans as just another source of energy – a source for which their appetites continue to grow.
Chest 2: For years, scholars have debated the true nature of leshens. Although most bestiaries categorize them as relicts, many experts question this classification. Some consider them a being born of black magic, perhaps even necromancy. Others contend that they are demons, akin to djinns or draugs. Autopsies of leshen corpses would undoubtedly shed light on the dispute. However, once slain, its body vanishes... All that remains is of the creature is a yellowed deer skull...
Chest 3: What should one do upon encountering a leshen? Fighting it is out of the question – unless you are an experienced witcher, of course. Naturally, the first instinct would be to flee. Unfortunately, leshens can move between trees at the speed of the wind, making escape nearly impossible. So what is the alternative? Hunters, druids, and elves all agree – any traveler who stumbles upon a leshen should fall to his knees without delay, draw a blade over his wrists, and close his eyes. If fortune smiles upon him, the leshen will be satisfied with the gift of blood and leave the traveler be... And perhaps his wounds can be healed before it is too late.

Unseen Elder

Scroll 1: In the caverns beneath Toussaint, an aeons-old vampire patiently awaits the next Conjunction of the Spheres. His brethren call him the Unseen Elder, and mortals – well... One cannot name what one does not know to exist.
Scroll 2: The Unseen Elder craves not power, wealth nor even blood. His sole desire is to return to the world from which he has long been exile. For centuries he has watched the gate between worlds that now stands closed to him.
Scroll 3: Hanging silently from the cavern's ceiling, the Unseen Elder appears perfectly still as if plunged into a deep slumber, not unlike a bat in winter. Yet swift and terrifying danger awaits any who dare disturb his rest or threaten the gate between worlds.
Scroll 4: One word – enough for the Unseen Elder to demand obedience from any vampire. One movement – enough to slice a foe in two. As a general rule, it's best to give the caves beneath Toussaint a wide, wide berth.
Chest 1: Despite centuries of seclusion in his lair, the Unseen Elder knows Common Speech. Yet the few daring souls who have met him and survived warn of his dangerous impatience with conversation. Just one half-baked question, one lie... And his fangs are at your throat. All are powerless in such a circumstance – even those with the superhuman reflexes of a witcher.
Chest 2: On their honor, the residents of Toussaint swear that sometimes on calm, still nights, the waters of Lac Célavy carry strange, foreign whispers that make skin crawl and hair stand on end. It is the Unseen Elder, speaking to his brothers and sisters, counseling patience. For one day, the gates between the worlds will open again, and they shall at last return from whence then came.
Chest 3: Vampires regard the Unseen Elder with a fawning respect. Upon entering his presence, they bow deeply and bestow offerings. When the Unseen Elder makes demands of them, they subserviently carry out his wishes without a moment's hesitation. Is it not frightening to think what might happen should the Unseen Elder one day emerge from his lair into our world, unite an army of vampiric minions, and declare war on the human race? Well, certainly. Yet such an event is likely to never occur... Right?


Faction tree

Scroll 1: Nilfgaard is a nation of extremes. It is the largest, richest, most populated, most powerful and, without a doubt, the most ruthless.
Scroll 2: Nilfgaardians will stop at nothing to defeat their foes. The slaughter of civilians? An unavoidable pity. Poisoning wells? A pragmatic stratagem. Forcing slaves into a suicidal assault? Well... piled corpses work wonders for scaling walls.
Scroll 3: The word "peace" does not exist in the Nilfgaardian language. Ever since chroniclers began keeping records, Nilfgaard has unceasingly conquered, annexed, and vassalized their neighbors. And they won't rest until the Golden Sun shines upon the entire Continent.
Scroll 4: But why this need to conquer? Centuries of armed conflict have made the Nilfgaardian economy entirely dependent on the spoils of war and slave labor. In other words, if the Nilfgaardian war machine ever halted, their society would risk utter collapse. To survive, the Empire must pillage, pillage, pillage...
Chest 1: Nilfgaardians intrepret loyalty quite differently than the rest of the Continent. For their emperor, they would jump head first into a pool of acid. Yet the moment their leader shows the slightest hint of weakness, it's as if his power turns to smoke and vanishes in the wind. The seat of the Empire cannot allow a mere ounce of incompetence, for due to its vastness and influence, even a minor mistake can lead to far-reaching and unforeseen consequences.
Chest 2: Many believe that Nilfgaard owes its dominance to its superbly equipped legions of heavy infantry. The truth is slightly more complex, however, for Nilfgaard acquires most of its territories without ever declaring war. It often suffices to deploy an assassin to remove the inconvenient leader, then send diplomats to deftly orchestrate the ensuing conflict between his heirs.
Chest 3: In contrast to their squabbling Nordling neighbors, Nilfgaardians have tremendous respect for the law. A court sentence, however unjust, is immediately executed to the letter. Imperial edicts may as well be the word of the gods. As a result, Nilfgaard is incomparably more organized than the kingdoms of the North... And its soldiers execute even the cruelest orders without question.

Emhyr var Emreis

Scroll 1: Emhyr var Emreis, the White Flame Dancing on the Graves of his Foes. No other name arouses such fear in the hearts of Nordlings. It was during his reign Nilfgaardian forces crossed the Yaruga into the North for the first time... And the second... Oh, and the third...
Scroll 2: What motivated Emhyr var Emreis? Historians have long debated it. Some have argued he bent to the will of merchants and traders. Others – that he sought new, fertile lands for Nilfgaardian settlement. But what was the truth?
Scroll 3: Emhyr was a man of near-unparalleled ambition whose plans extended far into the future. In short, the throne of Nilfgaard was never enough for him... He wished to rule the world.
Scroll 4: To realize his ambitions, he required the help of his daughter, Cirilla – Child of the Elder Blood. Emhyr was on the verge of fulfilling his plan... Until, that is, he was stopped for the first and last time by his conscience.
Chest 1: Emhyr var Emreis was prepared to do anything for the sake of power. Spark a war. Kill his own wife. Hurt his own daughter. All without raising his voice, without shedding a tear. His cold eyes never betrayed a glimmer of emotion. They say even the golems who serve in the Imperial Army have more heart than he...
Chest 2: According to royal biographers, Emhyr had, in fact, grown up a bright and cheerful lad, the apple of his father's eye. But then a coup gripped the Imperial court. The conspirators attempted to coerce Fergus var Emreis to cooperate by torturing his son in front of his very eyes. Unsuccessful, the Usurper enlisted the help of a mage, Braathens, who would transform Emhyr into a freakish, hedgehog-like man-beast. Steadfast and unflinching in the face of his son's hideous curse, the plotters had no recourse but to assassinate Fergus.
Chest 3: For many years Emhyr plotted his revenge. At first overwhelmed with pain and fury, he howled his throat raw, ripped hair from head, clawed at his own flesh until caked in blood. But in time his temper cooled and he began to analyze, to calculate. Upon regaining the Imperial throne, Emhyr coldly condemned his father's conspirators to death. He watched their executions in full, then stood without a word and returned to work.

Jan Calveit

Scroll 1: Jan Calveit showed great interest in several fields of study, including medicine and astrology. His critics often scoffed at the impracticality of his academic pursuits. One day, they learned just how wrong they were to doubt his investment...
Scroll 2: Calveit founded a medical university in Vicovaro. One of the academy's departments quickly became notorious, for it was said that its scholars – in contrast to most medical practitioners – preferred working with the dead rather than the living...
Scroll 3: Before long, word circulated quickly of lethally wounded soldiers who miraculously returned from the field hospital back into the fray on the field of battle. Oddly, the soldiers now hid their faces. Under no circumstances would they remove their helmets...
Scroll 4: Greatly upset by the ghastly rumors of soldiers returning from the dead, Nilfgaardian aristocrats conspired to assassinate their Emperor. Yet, their plotting was extinguished as quickly as it began. But how? A traitor in their midst? Not at all, for Calveit's astrologers had long foreseen their treachery.
Chest 1: As a young man, Jan Calveit served in the Magne Division, which was charged with the defense of the Empire's eastern border along the Tir Tochair mountain range. During an expedition against a crew of nomad outlaws roaming the Korath Desert, his unit fell victim to an ambush. Calveit alone escaped with his life. For weeks he wandered the hot sands under a brutal sun, wounded and exhausted. Yet, he eventually returned home... Though forever a changed man.
Chest 2: A deep scar extends diagonally across Emperor Calveit's face. Despite repeated offers from his court mages to hide or remove the mark, the emperor always adamantly refused. "Those who do not reflect upon their mistakes are doomed to repeat them," he asserted. Indeed, it is impossible to forget one's past missteps when they stare back at you in the mirror.
Chest 3: Jan Calveit preferred to observe battle seated in a throne placed at the edge of the battlefield. Even as flaming arrows whistled by and falling stones carved out craters in the earth around him, he would never stand and flee. "Our fates are written in the stars," he would say. "And my day has not yet come."

Morvran Voorhis

Scroll 1: Morvran Voorhis often said he didn't need a sword to win a war. There was much truth in those words.
Scroll 2: At its core, Voorhis's strategy relied on spies, saboteurs, and provocateurs. There was little honor in it, perhaps, but none could deny its effectiveness.
Scroll 3: In preparation for war, Voorhis sent his enemies dozens of letters, the contents of which were full of clichéd ultimatums and hollow threats. What mattered most, however, was that his emissaries have a thorough look around and report back their findings...
Scroll 4: When war eventually broke out, Voorhis already knew precisely where to find enemy camps and supply lines, where prisoners were being held, and which enemy officers to intimidate, which to bribe... And of course, which of them were best dealt with by an assassin's blade
Chest 1: Morvran Voorhis' greatest passion was horses. He could tell a Koviri pony from a Zerrikanian bay from just the clop of their hooves. It's said he could tame and ride a wild horse captured that very morning. To what did Voorhis owe his fascination with the beasts? He used to say that he preferred their company, for he found them to be far more honest than men...
Chest 2: Raised in the imperial court, Morvran Voorhis quickly developed the refinement of a courtier. He never missed a chance to compliment a lady of the court, knew the steps to every dance, and had sophisticated tastes for both wine and literature. Yet behind this facade, something unsettling lurked. His glazed, watery eyes were reminiscent of a zeugl's as it waits beneath the filth, poised to strike...
Chest 3: Voorhis ascended to the throne by way of conspiratorial plot. Thus, he understood the threat of hidden schemes, and once in power, he thought himself surrounded by conspirators and plotters. Pathologically paranoid, he never trusted his advisors, and punished even the smallest offenses with torture and death. As is often the case, his paranoia became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rather than await their turn in the gallows, what remained of the aristocracy simply removed him from the throne...


Scroll 1: Not a lot is known about the Usurper – not even his name. His killer and successor, Emhyr var Emreis, made sure of that.
Scroll 2: The Usurper was the lead conspirator in the plot to assassinate Fergus var Emreis... And to viciously torture the emperor's son and heir, Emhyr.
Scroll 3: Yet, beyond that, how much is truly known? Allegedly, he was a man of the fields, a simple peasant by birth who rose to the rank of general through cunning and courage in battle. But, as the saying goes, the more you hold, the more you desire...
Scroll 4: Merchants and nobles disappointed with Fergus' rule observed the celebrated general with keen interest. They fell over each other in their attempts at flattery and guarantees of support... And yet eventually, once deprived of his crown, he found himself utterly alone.
Chest 1: The Usurper did all he could to grant a semblance of legitimacy to his rule and strengthen his authority. In every major city he erected statues in his honor. He paid poets thousands of florens to craft works in praise of his magnificence, and instructed historians to unearth documentation proving that he was the illegitimate son of the Emperor Torres. Any who were foolish enough to make mention of his peasant origins would have their tongue removed by the Usurper's own hands.
Chest 2: The Usurper's cruelty was legendary. He instituted strict military rule across the empire. Even the slightest offense was punishable by lashing, and more serious crimes either by mutiliation – or excruciating death. The Usurper had hoped these methods would bring order to an empire embroiled in chaos. Alas, the result was rather the opposite.
Chest 3: Having secured his own power through murder, the Usurper placed a high value on spies and assassins. As a result, during his rule the Empire's intelligence apparatus rose to new heights, and alchemists concocted new, alarmingly effective poisons. Emhyr var Emreis criticized his predecessor's methods, calling them cruel and unbecoming of a ruler... Though, of course, he later made frequent use of them himself.

Northern Realms

Faction tree

Scroll 1: Temeria, Redania, Kaedwen, Aedirn, Kovir, Poviss... There are few who can keep track of the North's many kingdoms and duchies. No sooner had humans seized the land from dwarves and elves than shattered it into dozens of tiny pieces and continued the fight for control amongst each other.
Scroll 2: Time and time again, come the thaw of spring, the leaders of the North resumed their petty wars. Temeria attempted to strip Sodden from Cintra. Aedirn and Kaedwen vied for control of the Pontar Valley. Yet, when the black-clad Nilfgaardian legions appeared from the south, they reckoned that, in the end, they stood more united than divided.
Scroll 3: When the Nilfgaardian invasion began, most presumed the North would be obliterated in a matter of weeks. Yet, to their great surprise, the outnumbered and underequipped Nordlings managed to repel the Empire's legions.
Scroll 4: Had the involvement of mages proved the deciding factor in the North's victory? Or was it the tactical genius of well-trained generals? Perhaps the contributions of Oxenfurt's brilliant inventors? Debates on the topic rage to this day. It seems not even a united victory can keep Nordlings from being at each other's throats for long...
Chest 1: The Northern Realms are bordered by three mountain ranges to the north, east, and south – the Dragon, Blue, and Amell Mountains – and the Great Sea to the west. Yet, what lies beyond these? Nordlings themselves are not quite certain, and to be honest, it's not their most pressing concern. Preoccupied by local disputes, quarrels, and wars, they haven't the time to take interest in foreign lands. Alas, the Nilfgaardian invasion serves as proof that the rest of the world is not of the same mind.
Chest 2: What links a town like Vizima, proud capital of Temeria, or Oxenfurt, a center of learning for all the North, with Aedd Gynvael, a provincial settlement at the end of the known world? Nothing, it would seem... After all, each of these places looks, sounds and even smells different. Their origins, however, are identical – all were founded atop ancient elven cities. The ruins sprawling beneath their streets bear witness to this fact. What caused elven civilization to collapse? Plague? Cataclysm? No... Their destruction was wrought by humans.
Chest 3: Nordlings often feel conflicted about magic and those who practice it. On the one hand, mages served an undeniably crucial role in the North's defense against Nilfgaard. Yet on the other, their unabashed egotism and tendency to meddle in politics became an irritation to communities and sovereigns alike. The epitome of such arrogance was Philippa Eilhart who, rather than sit content as king's counsel, resolved to take on a leading role herself. This dream would not last, however... And in the end, the flames of pyres raged across the North.

Princess Adda

Scroll 1: A beautiful young girl with a button nose and a storm of red hair – what's there to fear? Well, appearances can be deceiving... And in Adda's case, more so than usual.
Scroll 2: It appeared the witcher had, indeed, cured the ghastly affliction that gave Adda the rather nasty habit of turning into a striga. But if you believe the rumors, the princess has been known to relapse.
Scroll 3: At first, it was thought Adda had been cursed by the gods, for she was the product of an incestuous affair between King Foltest and his sister, Adda of Temeria. The truth, as is often the case, was revealed to be quite different...
Scroll 4: The witcher's investigation showed that a romantically-frustrated courtier by name of Ostrit was responsible for Adda's curse. Unsurprisingly, it seemed the gods had played no role, proving yet again to be indifferent toward the foul deeds of man... Fortunately, one does not require divine power to rout out wickedness.
Chest 1: Upon discovering Adda had been transformed into a striga, King Foltest immediately promised a weighty reward to any who could disenchant the princess... And a swift retribution to any who dared slay her. A long while passed before someone stepped up to the task. The volunteer turned out to be none other than Geralt of Rivia, a witcher from the School of the Wolf.
Chest 2: After Geralt lifted the curse, it seemed Adda had become an ordinary girl. Pleasant, eloquent, undeniably beautiful – she quickly became the pride and joy of the Temerian court. However, dark rumors began to circulate among the royal family's servants. In her bedchamber, away from prying eyes, Adda had committed horrible atrocities against her maidservants... Though, details remain unknown as many were never to be seen again.
Chest 3: A telling sign that Adda's curse had not been fully undone was her love for catoblepas flesh. The meat of a catoblepas – known also as a gorgon – has a very peculiar taste, disturbingly similar to that of human flesh. Considering the beasts are scarce and their meat a rare delicacy at banquets in the Temerian court, Princess Adda was forced to settle for a more readily available substitute.

King Demavend III

Scroll 1: Demavend possessed many traits that predisposed the king for greatness. Well-educated, shrewd, cunning, a master of political intrigue. Unfortunately, he was also very, very impatient.
Scroll 2: King Demavend was never satisfied with the present. He always looked to tomorrow, to the great feats of his future, shrugging off the mundane tasks of the court. Whilst his advisers bored him with the nuances of prudent fiscal policy, he quietly planned his next conquest...
Scroll 3: Aedirn's neighbors learned quickly that Demavend could never be appeased with compromise. His kingdom expanded like dough baked in too small a bread pan, pushing and stretching in all directions. Not unlike the Nilfgaardian Empire...
Scroll 4: When Nilfgaardian forces eventually crossed the Yaruga, a panicked fear struck deeply in all the rulers of the North. All except for King Demavend, that is. He rejoiced, for at last he would face an enemy worthy of Aedirn's might! Of course... His jubilation would not last long.
Chest 1: Although all now are too young to recall, Demavend was once a strapping young man. Foltest himself would have envied the man's eagle-like profile. Maidens swooned when caught under the gaze of his piercing emerald eyes. But years of plenty have taken their toll. A plump belly and rosy cheeks show clearly that the king was never want for sumptuous food and drink. His saggy neck and hunched shoulders proved further that he preferred to command his armies from a silk-lined throne in place of a saddle...
Chest 2: Demavend's hatred for elves was legendary. While Vizimir and Foltest fought the Squirrels out of necessity, the King of Aedirn hunted the rebels down with astonishing enthusiasm. Despite the fact that the war with Nilfgaard had nearly drained Aedirn's royal treasury, Demavend offered 50 ducats for every Scoia'tael head. Taking advantage of the lucrative bounty, Aedirnians often falsely accused and captured innocent elves and dwarves. Demavend was perfectly aware his subjects were exploiting the offer. And yet, he didn't seem bothered in the least...
Chest 3: Under his crown, Demavend always wore a white cap embroidered with gold thread – undeterred even by the sweltering summer months. Why? It seems the vain king was ashamed of his retreating hairline. Many alchemists and barbers passed through his court, offering promises to restore the Aedirnian ruler's lustrous mane. Each of them, to the last, spent their remaining days in the Aldersberg dungeons for their failure – deprived of freedom... and their own scalps.

King Foltest

Scroll 1: Foltest seemed the ideal ruler. Intelligent, generous, industrious, and – according to all accounts – devilishly handsome. Yet, none are free of fault. Especially kings...
Scroll 2: In Foltest's case, his failing was excessive amorousness. Indeed, the Lord of Temeria, Pontar, Mahakam, and Sodden could not control himself in matters of the flesh.
Scroll 3: If only Foltest had limited his conquests of love to bored widows and adventurous townswomen... Alas, he preferred to chase after priestesses, the wives of his allies, and the daughters of friends... Even his own sister.
Scroll 4: Foltest's uninhibited lust proved his ultimate downfall. The King of Temeria – a celebrated hero of the Nilfgaard wars – did not fall at Sodden or Brenna. No... Rather, he perished in the midst of civil war against a former lover and their bastard children.
Chest 1: Unlike the other kings of the North, Foltest did not hate the Elder Races. On the contrary, he spoke fluent Elder Speech and was a connoisseur of elven poetry and dwarven ale. Nevertheless, he fought against the Squirrels with unbridled ruthlessness. He sentenced every prisoner of war to the breaking wheel, considered sympathetic humans as spies, and confined all non-humans to segregated city quarters. "After all," he thought, "reasons of state sometimes demand sacrifices."
Chest 2: Foltest claimed dozens of wartime victories – often against overwhelming enemy forces. What was his secret to success? An analytical mind? Swift and decisive action? The king himself used to say that he owed his many victories to an excellent memory. For he knew the names of all his officers – even many of the rank-and-file. He understood their strengths and weaknesses, thus enabling him to assign the right person to any task. As a result, most in Foltest's service considered themselves friends to the king. And all were prepared to give their life for him.
Chest 3: King Foltest was not particularly religious as rulers go. He did not observe fasts nor venture out on pilgrimages. In fact, often without a second thought, he had broken all religious edicts concerning one's private affairs in the alcove. Nevertheless, he spared no expense when it came to erecting new temple and even agreed to a tithe, proving a significant drain on the royal treasury. Yet, to what end? Although he doubted the existence of the gods, he recognized that the power of their priests was very real. Any attempt to limit their influence might provoke their holy wrath...

King Henselt

Scroll 1: King Henselt did not inspire awe with his bandit-like countenance. He did not dazzle ballroom crowds with charisma. He did not impress courtiers with refinement... Yet on the battlefield, one could see a master at work.
Scroll 2: Henselt was capable of determining a catapult's range down to an inch. He walked amongst his siege machines not unlike a proud father – affectionately patting the stones, plucking at the taut ropes as would a troubador with his harp...
Scroll 3: Worse was when his attention shifted away from matters of war, for Henselt preferred the company of his siege machines to that of man. He was quick to anger... But not quick to calm.
Scroll 4: As a result, despite his undisputed talent on the battlefield, Kaedwen's power did not grow under Henselt's leadership. He failed to gain allies and turn his military victories into lasting successes. Though this did not bother the king, as he waged war for its own sake.
Chest 1: Fate has a twisted sense of humor and Henselt was one of its many victims. The King of Kaedwen often enjoyed boasting of his virility. Following several mugs of stout, he once proudly whispered to a confidant that he had fathered enough bastard children to fill all the thrones of the North – perhaps even several Nilfgaardian provinces. However, after his only legitimate heir died on a hunting expedition, the king failed to beget another successor to the throne – despite his many attempts. Some say it was Henselt's failures in the royal bedchambers that contributed to his explosive temperament...
Chest 2: Henselt did not have kingly countenance. Beady, wandering eyes. A bulbous, red nose. A large, bushy beard... Such a description better suits a bandit than one of the North's most prominent monarchs. Aware of less-than-noble visage, Henselt carefully curated his grand and stately attire, always taking care to bear the royal insignia. He wore an immense belt adorned with silver towers, a fifteen-ounce chain of solid gold, a crown topped with the royal unicorn, and a crimson kaftan exquisitely trimmed with weasel fur. But, as King Foltest used to say with a smile on his face, "A hog festooned with gold remains a hog all the same."
Chest 3: Henselt long refused to accept mages and sorceresses into his court. Though, in the end, he eventually included Sabrina Glevissig among his advisors, albeit not as a source of advice, but as yet another symbol of power – much like an ermine coat or golden scepter. Her role in the Kaedweni court was of the cosmetic variety. However, Sabrina refused to stay silent – sometimes silencing her king with a shout or by pounding her fists on the table. In time, she earned Henselt's recognition, but never forgot about the insults and disdain that first greeted her. Years later, when the opportunity struck, Sabrina betrayed the king... An offense for which she paid the ultimate price.


Faction tree

Scroll 1: Not many on the Continent understand Elder Speech – the language of the elves and dwarves. That said, all are familiar with the word "Scoia'tael," or Squirrels – warriors who fight for the rights of non-humans... And don't shy away from cruelty...
Scroll 2: Thrown into crowded ghettos, harrassed at every street corner, elves and dwarves awaited the perfect moment to strike back at the callous kingdoms of the North. That moment came during the war against Nilfgaard. As the Imperials crossed the border, the non-humans began their fight from within.
Scroll 3: As devoted allies of Nilfgaard, no mission for the Scoia'tael was too risky – no sacrifice too great. Yet when it turned out the Empire had overestimated their own might and were forced to seek peace with the Northern Kingdoms, the newborn alliance quickly began to unravel...
Scroll 4: Betrayed by Nilfgaard, despised by the Northern Realms, the Scoia'tael were in no position to achieve victory. Yet, by no measure did this mean they would surrender. Overcome with hatred, they continue to fight – not for victory, but vengeance.
Chest 1: The Scoia'tael's identifying symbol is a squirrel tail pinned to the belt or cap. Perhaps it has something to do their nimbleness and agility in the forest. If not, then their decision to use this particular rodent is indeed puzzling. Not least because in the regions with the greatest Scoia'tael presence, squirrels are on the brink of extinction. Oh, the irony...
Chest 2: The Scoia'tael do not employ the rigid hierarchy of traditional armies. The partisans are divided into groups called commandos, each usually about a dozen strong. The unit's commander is typically a warrior who has displayed exceptional bravery... As well as extreme cruelty toward humans.
Chest 3: It is worth emphasizing that not every non-human supports the Scoia'tael. Many perceive the partisans as shortsighted, naive rebels who likely do more harm than good. The sharpest criticisms of the Squirrels, interestingly enough, came from none other than Brouver Hoog... Characteristically ignorant to the nuances of non-human affairs, most humans nevertheless lump them all into the same group.

Brouver Hoog

Scroll 1: Brouver Hoog, Mahakam’s elder-in-chief, is quite the controversial figure amongst nonhumans. Some see him as the Elder Races’ last chance for survival, while others perceive in him solely cowardly traitor. How did the voices come to be so divided? To find out, we will need to venture back more than two centuries…
Scroll 2: It was around that time that the elves embarked upon a final, desperate attempt to rid the Continent of humans. A messenger arrived in Mahakam. With an impassioned voice, he spoke of the need for solidarity between the Elder Races. Brouver Hoog listened… then promptly threw him out of dwarven homeland and slammed the gates shut behind him.
Scroll 3: While humans and elves tore at each other’s throats, Brouver waited. Ten, twenty, thirty years… A whole century passed before Mahakam re-opened its doors. Eagerly, the dwarves awaited the first arrivals from the valleys… and any news of the war.
Scroll 4: The elves had suffered total defeat. Their domains had been reduced to utter ruin, and their youth had bled to death on battlefields stretching from the Dragon Mountains all the way to Angren. Had Brouver Hoog answered their call those centuries past, the dwarves would surely have shared the elves’ fate. Thanks to the elder-in-chief’s foresight, Mahakam had flourished in the meantime… though not unburdened, a measure of guilt weighing upon it.
Chest 1: Brouver Hoog would happily sever all contact between Mahakam and the rest of the world. He sees other races as a threat to centuries-old dwarven traditions and culture, in constant danger of being subsumed beneath the thinly veiled guise of assimilation. For this reason, daily life in this mountainous region is tightly controlled. The Council of Clans issues decrees that regulate even the minutest of matters. Suspenders – admissible or not? May folk eat carp just after it has been prepared, or must its bed of jelly first congeal? Is playing the ocarina in line with the stalwart traditions of the dwarven race, or is it a nefarious import from the rotting, decadent culture of humans? And if the former, has it in the meanwhile become simply uncouth?
Chest 2: Elder Brouver Hoog changes his mind about as often as he shaves – which is never. Rulers of the human domains quickly realized they would not buy his favor with fancy gifts, nor intimidate him to action with fanciful threats. The sole way an elder as stubborn as Brouver can be influenced is through the invocation of some long-forgotten dwarven law or some precedent upon which to base one’s plea. Many a king has rushed to fabricate some scrap of an ancient code allegedly lost to time, so as to call upon it when debating the Mahakaman leader…
Chest 3: While mages throughout the Continent worry continually about the prophesied danger that is the White Frost, Brouver Hoog impatiently awaits its arrival. For far beneath the earth’s surface, in the mountains’ very bowels, the dwarves have hollowed out whole cities, where temperatures are stable, and mushrooms grow plentifully without need of any sunlight. So even should the Frost encase the Continent for centuries, the dwarves will be just fine. Then, after the Great Thaw, they will emerge into a world freed of the human scourge.


Scroll 1: Even sworn enemies sometimes negotiate, perhaps in the hope of establishing a comromise or truce. But never Eithné, Queen of the Dryads. Her hatred toward humans is unwavering. To their bargains, pleas, cries, threats, her answer is always the same – a well-aimed arrow between the eyes.
Scroll 2: Under Eithné's leadership, humans are never permitted to enter the forests of Brokilon. Well... Almost never. After all, even dryads must procreate somehow.
Scroll 3: For this reason, dryads will kidnap human girls and, occasionally, men in their prime. Their role in dryad society is easy to guess. However, they are then forever banished from the forest once their "duty" is fulfilled... Despite their impassioned pleas to stay.
Scroll 4: Girls who are brought in to swell the dryads' ranks are made to drink from a source known as the Water of Brokilon. It sharpens their senses, strengthens their bodies... And rids them of their memories.
Chest 1: Dryads possess a power allowing them to influence plants to grow in any shape. In this way they construct their fortifications, homes, and palaces. The process is slow, sometimes lasting centuries... Fortunately, dryads are a patient bunch.
Chest 2: The most gifted dryads are able to push this ability further, to create new life-forms from plants, capable of movement... Even rudimentary thought. These beings are known as treants. Few have laid eyes upon them – knowingly, at least. In a dense forest, they are near impossible to spot... And even more difficult to escape.
Chest 3: From time to time, the human leaders of the realms that border Brokilon – Verden, Cidaris, and Temeria – once again resolve to set ablaze the primeval forest and the dryads who dwell within. Up to the wood's edge they transport barrels of tar and straw. However, they are typically abandoned with haste after the first volley of silent arrows is released from behind the wall of trees.


Scroll 1: Filavandrel nearly always insisted that he be addressed by his full name – Filavandrel aén Fidháil of the Silver Towers and House of Feleaorn of the White Ships. Perhaps his insistance says more about him that the list of titles itself.
Scroll 2: Unlike most elves, Filavandrel never experienced life under human yoke. He never endured the humiliation of descrimination nor the fear of pogroms. He bore the proud expression of one who was never beaten down nor forced to bend knee.
Scroll 3: Filavandrel did not fit the image of a stalwart warrior. He wore flowing robes and paid great attention to his appearance. And yet, sword in hand, he proved more dangerous than a raging fiend.
Scroll 4: Filavandrel served as the the closest advisor and confidant to Francesca Findabair. He had great respect for the Queen of Dol Blathanna. She was the only individual with whom he was carefult to never put on airs.
Chest 1: When the kingdom of elves fell to ruin, Filavandrel found refuge in the Blue Mountains, at the edge of the world, far from human settlements. There, surrounded with rubble and mountain pine, he longed for the day he could return to his beloved Valley of Flowers... And the luxuries with which it overflowed.
Chest 2: The White Ships – words belonging to one of Filavandrel's many titles – are a reference to the vessels on which the elves first arrived to the Continent. Yes, yes... The noble Aen Seidhe were not this world's first inhabitants. A fact they are reluctant to admit... Likely because the cruelty they inflicted upon the land's indigenous races bears a striking resemblance to humans' callous treatment of elves several hundred years later.
Chest 3: Filavandrel has many reasons to be proud. Among them is the fact that he once belonged to a small group who managed to best the legendary Geralt of Rivia in battle. He stood poised to kill the witcher, but his hand was stayed by the sudden appearance of Dana Méadbh, an elven goddess who abhors bloodshed. Had she not intervened, the fate of the world might have turned out rather differently...

Francesca Findabair

Scroll 1: Francesca Findabair, known also by her true name Enid an Gleanna, is widely regarded as the Continent's most beautiful woman – elf or otherwise. Yet she is also its saddest – all due to her dream fulfilled...
Scroll 2: Francesca desired one thing above all – to reclaim Dol Blathanna, the Valley of Flowers, from human hands and rebuild the kingdom of elves. The North's war with Nilfgaard destroyed the old order and opened the door for her dream to be realized. The price to pay, however, was great indeed...
Scroll 3: In order to regain Dol Blathanna, Francesca had no choice but to enter an alliance with Emperor Emhyr var Emreis of Nilfgaard. And when the time came for peace negotiations, she was to deliver captured Scoia'tael officers for punishment at the Imperial court.
Scroll 4: Francesca had no doubt she made the right decision – dozens of soldiers in exchange for the fate of her people. The sheer number of lives at stake suggest she made the humane choice, yet solace cannot always be found in cold calculation.
Chest 1: According to the provisions of the Cintrian peace agreement, sovereignty of Dol Blathanna would fall to the elves. However, the treaty did not specify in what condition. With this loophole kept well in mind, all those fleeing the valley carried what they could and burned the rest. In place of her beloved Valley of Flowers, Francesca Findabair inherited a Valley of Ashes.
Chest 2: Francesca sought to return the Valley of Flowers to its former glory, though her aim would prove far more difficult than she had anticipated. Razed palaces can be rebuilt, scorched gardens can be recultivated. Yet after years of exile, the elves had forgotten many of their time-honored traditions and customs, instead soaking in human culture. It seemed Dol Blathanna would never regain its former identity.
Chest 3: Francesca realized that one false move could once again bring ruin upon the Valley of Flowers. Thus, she patiently tolerated her neighbors' incessant provocation. However, were any to cross the border into Dol Blathanna, Francesca would stop at nothing to defend her realm and subjects.


Faction tree

Scroll 1: A smattering of rocks jutting out of the sea, with more sheep than people. At first glance, just a collection of drunkards, unruly shepherds, and rowdy fishermen. Never had a nation seemed so easy to conquer. Or so thought many a leader on the Continent. One after another they came, shattering teeth and bone on the islands' craggy shores...
Scroll 2: But how is it the Skelligers have managed to ward off the Nilfgaardian armada, and incursions from Cidaris? Many attribute their failures to the fierce storms that shatter ship against rock. Little else gets Skelligers to chuckle as much as such excuses.
Scroll 3: Skelligers are of a particular mindset. Can't swim in a storm? Go dawdle in the dirt. Can't brawl on a bluff? Then fiddle in a field.
Scroll 4: Indeed, Skelligers are cut from a different cloth than their landlubbing counterparts on the Continent. They're more rugged, sturdy, more resistant to pain. And most importantly, rather than fear death, they await its glorious arrival.
Chest 1: In the Skellige Isles' rich pantheon of gods, the most prominent place belongs to Freya – goddess of love, fertility, hearth, and harvest. Many consider her the same deity as the beloved Melitele, who is worshipped on the mainland. Though this is best left unsaid on the islands, for Skelligers would consider such a comparison as sacrilege. Freya is also the patron goddess of soothsayers, seers, and telepaths, a fact demonstrated by her associated symbols: a cat who sees and hears what is hidden; a falcon that observes from high above, and Brisingamen – the prophetic necklace of legend.
Chest 2: The Skellige Isles are home to seven clans: Brokvar, Dimun, an Craite, Drummond, Tordarroch, Heymaey and Tuirseach. Members from each considers themselves to be the strongest and the bravest – and any would eagerly duel those who dare question their might. That said, Skelligers recognize authority over the Isles in one king, chosen by popular vote. And who is eligible to have their name considered? Any and all – regardless of sex, age, or lineage.
Chest 3: Skelligers are more closely bound to nature than most on the Continent. Nowhere else do druids command so much respect as in Skellige. Nowhere else do hunters treat animals with such regard. In no other army's ranks do bears roar with such ferocity.

Bran Tuirseach

Scroll 1: They say it is easier to tame the seas crashing against Skellige's shores than the Skelligers themselves. Yet Bran did just that. He united the isles and the clans behind him – and long ruled with an iron fist.
Scroll 2: What was his secret? How did he succeed when others failed? Was it courage? Cunning? Intimidation? No, nothing of the sort. Bran tapped into a power previously unknown to the isles' inhabitants – compromise.
Scroll 3: When others would reach for ax and bow, Bran invited his rivals to banquet. With honey-sweet words, purses laden with coin, and barrels heavy with mead, it proved difficult to disagree with Skellige's king for long.
Scroll 4: Despite never slaying an ice giant or raiding the City of Golden Towers, Bran is remembered as a truly great ruler. Though not a hero in his own right, he delivered peace to the Isles, ushering in a period of growth and prosperity for the next generation of Skellige's champions.
Chest 1: Bran's closest advisor and confidant was his wife, Birna. During banquets, she always sat at his side, silent, nearly unnoticeable in the bustle. She could recall every uttered rumor, every knowing wink, every raised eyebrow. Then later, in the bear skin-adorned bed of the royal bedchamber, she would whisper into her husband's ear all that she had learned...
Chest 2: Despite Birna's repeated requests, Bran refused to champion their son, Svanrige, as rightful heir to the throne. He believed if the boy truly deserved the crown, he'd earn it without the king's intercession. If found unworthy, so be it. Bran found the Continent's long history of dynastic rule preposterous. Birna, on the other hand, could not be persuaded to feel the same...
Chest 3: Bran lived a long life – a very long life. When, just after his eightieth birthday, his hands began to tremble and his thoughts began to wander mid-sentence, he set out with a small hunting party. Wearing only delicate linens and armed with only a knife, he departed for An Skellig in search of a bear... And an honorable death.

Crach an Craite

Scroll 1: At a young age, Crach was foretold that he would one day clash with a foreign ruler, an enemy to Skellige, on the Isles' stormy, coastal seas. For his entire life, the head of Clan an Craite waited for that fateful day...
Scroll 2: Convinced the prophecy referred to the Emperor of Nilfgaard, Crach constantly urged his fleet to remain watchful for black sails bearing the Golden Sun. He eagerly awaited the emperor's arrival, to look him in the eye before wresting the crown from his head.
Scroll 3: Years passed, then decades... Crach sank dozens of Nilfgaardian galleys, yet the emperor's feet remained on dry land. Apparently, he was troubled by matters more important than the taming the rocky isles.
Scroll 4: Crach became convinced the prophecy must have been misinterpreted. Resigned, he ceased his search for the great sea battle that was written for him in the stars. That is, until on Skellige's shores appeared the Naglfar – the ghostly drakkar commanded by the King of the Wild Hunt himself.
Chest 1: Due to the havoc wrought by his fleets in the Empire's coastal territories, Crach earned the moniker "Tirth ys Muire" – the Wild Boar of the Sea. Pleased with the new epithet, Crach decided to sculpt the bow of his drakkar into the likeness of raging boar's head. According to legend, they harvested the wood from Gedyneith, the sacred oak of Ard Skellig. The drakkar instilled fear into the hearts of enemies, for whenever they rammed into an enemy vessel, the wild boar's eyes would glow blood red...
Chest 2: Crach an Craite fathered two children – his son, Hjalmar, and his daughter, Cerys. When asked whom he would wish to see as heir and successor, he could only sigh, conflicted by his thoughts. Hjalmar reminded Crach of his younger self – ambitious, valiant, hungry for glory. An impressive warrior, yes... But a jarl? Cerys, on the other hand, possessed all the qualities required of a capable leader. But were the islanders prepared to follow the word of a woman? Only time would tell...
Chest 3: As a young man – his beard a rich auburn, his smile broad, the famed vanquisher of the Nilfgaardian armada – Crach stole the gaze of many women. Why, even the famous Yennefer of Vengerberg was enticed by Crach's charm. According to rumor, he asked for the sorceress' hand in marriage. In response, Yennefer smiled, kissed him on his brow... then opened a portal and disappeared from the Skellige Isles for nearly three decades.

Eist Tuirseach

Scroll 1: Eist looked different than the other islanders. His hair dark, his skin markedly aged and weathered by the sun – he stood out in a crowd. His appearance, it seemed, paralled a certain longing, for he often looked upon the horizon, his gaze distant, giving the sense that his thoughts were lost somewhere far beyond Skellige's shores...
Scroll 2: Eventually, Eist did leave his homeland to settle in Cintra at the side of the illustrious Queen Calanthe. They say one look from the swarthy pirate was enough to melt the queen's icy heart...
Scroll 3: Although Eist loved Calanthe beyond measure, he was never truly happy in Cintra. He could not shake the lingering feeling that catastrophe awaited him, that a tragic fate had been written for him in the stars...
Scroll 4: Indeed, several years following their wedding, Nilfgaard attacked Cintra. Eist fought the invaders with the fury of a sea devil, but eventually fell, pierced by an arrow. The Skellige Isles, his homeland, now serve as his final resting place. He lies there alone, for Calanthe's body was never found.
Chest 1: Eist Tuirseach and Calanthe never bore children. Some claimed that the Lioness of Cintra – for whom this was her second marriage – was incapable of granting an heir due to her advanced age. However, those closest to Eist knew better. The islander never wished to father a child – not after witnessing what power resided within Calanthe's daughter, Pavetta. In the veins of Cintrian royalty flowed the Elder Blood, which he believed would not mix well with the hot temper so characteristic of Skelligers.
Chest 2: Eist became renowned on the Isles for his skills as a sailor. He could maneuver a longship through Skellige's narrowest fjords on a moonless night, navigate the fiercest storms at full sail, and drive Nilfgaardian ships more than twice the size of his own onto the islands' jagged, rocky coastlines. Who knows what new and exotic lands he might have discovered had he not planted his roots in Cintra...
Chest 3: To ensure his ship never deviated from its course, Eist often closely observed the stars. Yet one night – lying on the deck of his longship, hands clasped behind his head – he eyed something more than just a map etched in sky. He saw something that turned the good-humored, carefree adventurer in him into a grim and somber man. Whenever asked what he saw in the stars that night, Eist merely replied... "The future."

Harald the Cripple

Scroll 1: At an early point in his life, Harald was merely a warrior of average skill. That is, until a bear shattered his leg – an injury that never healed properly. He was left with an intense, lingering pain for the remainder of his days... Yet, since that fateful day, he fought more ferociously than ever before.
Scroll 2: Perhaps because he endured constant pain, day and night, he understood it better than any other ever could. His capacity to inflict suffering likewise grew, for he knew precisely where to strike and how to cause the greatest agony imaginable.
Scroll 3: Harald had a notorious reputation among many on the Isles. Not because he plundered and murdered, for any self-respecting Skelliger would often do the same. But rather because he did not give his foes a chance to receive an honorable death. Unrelentingly, he inflicted horrible suffering until they squirmed in pain at his feet, begging him pathetically for mercy.
Scroll 4: After Harald eventually fell in battle, pierced by an arrow, he was honored with a lavish funeral. The rite lasted three days and nights, and when the longship with his remains was finally engulfed in flame, everyone breathed a deep sigh of relief...
Chest 1: Harald an Craite was easy to spot on the battlefield due, in part, to his limp. Perhaps more noticeable, however, was his iconic helmet decorated with ram horns. Apparently, this one piece of armor weighed nearly two stones. When asked if such a helmet was practical, Harald answered simply, "If you don't train your neck, sooner or later it'll bend to someone." Though his actual language was much more... colorful.
Chest 2: Harald's hair greyed at a young age – a consequence of his visit to the Cave of Dreams. The cavern is known to Skelligers as a mystical place that confronts you with your greatest fear. What Harald witnessed in those caves, no one knows for certain... But some close to the king claimed he saw himself.
Chest 3: Harald never wielded a shield in battle. He entered the fray only ever with a sword in one hand and a bloodred banner in the other. He was of the mind that shields offer a false sense of safety and security. Indeed, Harald believed battle could be reduced to a single, fundamental choice – charge or die.
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