How Nightmare of the Wolf sets the stage for The Witcher season 2
There's a reason we're getting the new anime film before Henry Cavill's return to the live-action series.
Warning: This article contains spoilers about The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, the anime film directed by Kwang-Il Han (The Boondocks), gives us an origin story for Vesemir, Geralt's mentor and father figure. Voiced by Theo James (Divergent, Castlevania), Vesemir, as a swashbuckling young man, investigates the unexpected emergence of a new monster in a politically fraught kingdom and the mysterious events surrounding its arrival. The answers he finds have consequences that not only affect Vesemir but all his fellow Witchers.
There's a reason why this story is being told as a precursor to the live-action Witcher season 2. Lauren Hissrich, showrunner on the main series, executive produces the film and helps lay the groundwork for what could be coming for Geralt, viewers, and the Continent come the show's premiere this December.
The Witcher behind the Witcher
The most obvious connection is the focus on Vesemir. Killing Eve's Kim Bodnia will portray Geralt's mentor in The Witcher season 2, but we get to know what kind of person he is through James' voiceover performance.
Speaking of Vesemir's introduction to The Witcher season 2, Hissrich said during this year's WitcherCon, "In a season that is about Geralt becoming a father to Ciri, it was so important to me to find out who his father figure was."
After meeting Cirilla (Freya Allen) in the season 1 finale, Geralt takes her to Kaer Morhen, the remote fortress located in the mountains of Kaedwen, one of the northernmost kingdoms in the Continent. It's at this stronghold where young boys are trained to become Witchers through the School of the Wolf. Geralt hopes to protect Ciri here, where Vesemir and fellow Witchers rest up in the winter, and to train her to master the immense chaotic power within her.
First, Nightmare of the Wolf shows how a young Vesemir, fed up with a life of servitude to a lord, witnesses a Witcher in action for the first time and flees to follow in the warrior's footsteps. Not all of the boys in his class survive the trials and the cruel magical experimentations, as Vesemir learns through a horrific firsthand account in the cursed Red Swamp.
The sacking of Kaer Morhen
Nightmare of the Wolf appears to take its name from a crucial event in Witcher history that hasn't been told before, even in author Andrzej Sapkowski's original Witcher books. It's a nightmare for the School of the Wolf, if you will.
As dramatized in the film, Tetra Gilcrest, the resident sorceress in the courts of Kaedwen and a descendent of the first human mage, was behind the sacking of Kaer Morhen. She was just a girl when her mother was killed by a Witcher, who had been hired by a priest to kill the one responsible for the curse placed upon him. Tetra only later found out that the Witcher had poisoned the priest into thinking he was cursed in order to earn money. She's been gunning for the demise of all Witcher kind ever since, but it was shady dealings at Kaer Morhen that gave her the ammunition she needed.
With so few monsters roaming the lands, Vesemir's mentor, Deglan, decided to use the same magical experiments that mutate humans into Witchers to create new monsters. That way, their creature-slaying creed could stay in business. This was also their undoing.
One of the monsters created was Kitsu, an elf mage, who was crossbred with a mahr, a being of illusion. Deglan thought he killed her after her power proved uncontainable, but she used magic to fake her death. She then began kidnapping elven girls in an attempt to create more crossbreeds like her, which drew the attention of the elf Filavandrel. Learning of the Witcher experiments, which were unknown by Vesemir, Tetra teams up with Kitsu and launches a full-scale attack on Kaer Morhen.
Vesemir is the only fully trained Witcher to survive the attack, but he keeps the Witcher tradition alive by finding and guiding the young boys who fled from Kaer Morhen in the chaos. One of these boys is a young Geralt.
A different kind of Child of Surprise
The events of Nightmare of the Wolf have further implications for The Witcher beyond this expansion to the lore.
Prior to her attack on Kaer Morhen, Tetra joins Vesemir on a mission. He and his fellow Witcher got into a bar brawl with a few of the king's knights. Instead of executing him, the king tasks Vesemir with killing whatever has been slaughtering his people in the woods.
The journey brings Vesemir and Tetra to an old elven school where Kitsu has been experimenting on children. Only one girl is found to have survived. Vesemir and Tetra fear she could be equally powerful as Kitsu, but Filavandrel takes her back to be with her people. Mutant or not, she's still an elf.
While Geralt trains Ciri at Kaer Morhen in The Witcher season 2, which is loosely based on Sapkowski's Blood of Elves book, the outside world will see "the Continent's kings, elves, humans, and demons strive for supremacy," per an official description. Since elves, like witches and mages, have extended lifespans, it's still possible that Kitsu and this mysterious child could have some part to play in Geralt's story.
The last but crucial connection between Nightmare of the Wolf and The Witcher? Bathtub. Witchers love baths.