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Wild Hunt (Witcher)

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Death descended and the village froze like the heart of winter, if you'd heard the cries sir, if you could hear how a man can scream
~ A villager retelling an unfortunate story of how the Wild Hunt raided his village

The Wild Hunt is a group of specters, led by the King of the Wild Hunt, which is considered to be an omen of misfortune and death. It is said to appear mainly, but not exclusively during the winter. They are main antagonists of video game The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.

Mysterious disappearances and reappearances of people who seem to be suffering the effects of some sort of time dilation are also blamed on this group of spectres. These individuals seemingly return to their loved ones decades later than they left, but apparently not having aged at all. In reality, the "Wild Hunt" were not spectres at all, but an elven cavalry lead by Eredin Bréacc Glas and known as the Dearg Ruadhri, or "Red horsemen" in Elder Speech.

The Witcher: Rise of White Wolf

The King of the Wild Hunt appears at several points over the course of the game. This spectre seems to dog our hero's every step. He also seems to take pleasure in spewing twisted interpretations of past events.

Journal Bestiary Entry

"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.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

The Wild Hunt riders appear in flashbacks, recurring memories of the main character. They kindapped Yennefer, Geralt of Rivia's lover and 23 other people in age 10 to 20. The witcher was searching them for over a year, going on the south. When Geralt finally found them, he couldn't fight them simply because he was outnumbered. The King of the Wild Hunt made an exchange with Geralt, the witcher's life for life of his beloved. Geralt discovered that the Wild Hunt aren't specters, but elves from other dimension, where they are the dominant race instead of humans. They are also responsible for the witcher's amnesia.

Journal Entry

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 to Loc Muinne, where he found a moment of respite. He left a missive according to which the King of the Hunt desires to fling open the gates between the worlds for all time, so that chaos and terror might reign in our world as well.

What is the Wild Hunt in reality? A cavalcade of riders from a world dominated by elves, riders able to travel between different dimensions. The so-called wraiths are these elven warriors' spiritual emanations. They serve a powerful race and even more powerful individuals, whose knowledge of magic and skills in this domain far exceed those of the human and elven mages of our world.

Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

In promotinal trailers the Riders of the Hunt are seen attacking villages and leading the captured to a boat by the shore.

Wild Hunt under command of Eredin Bréacc Glas seek for Cirilla to use her abilities to save their world from incoming ice age and to invade other world.

Eredin himself destroys a village searching for a Nilfgaardian spy who has information about Cirilla. He kills almost everyone and leaves failing to find anything useful.

Ciri gest captured by Crones and Imlerith travel to them for her only to let her escape.

Trivia

  • 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 Noise god Odin.
  • The mediaeval German hero Dietrich von Berne 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.

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