Nasty politics, lies, and deception are indeed the forte of The Witcher universe. It is not always the real monsters that we should be afraid of, but the ones hiding behind a mask who trick people into serving their ulterior motives. We believe that the third season of The Witcher really focused on these monsters hiding their true intentions. And the most deceptive and cunning among them all was a traitor called Vilgefortz of Roggeveen.
The entire third season revolved around an intricate web of conspiracies designed by Vilgefortz to gain the trust of Emhyr of Nilfgaard. He wanted to use Emhyr’s armies and power to fulfill his own motives and take revenge on the fraternity that abandoned him in his childhood. As per the books, Vilgefortz’s parents had left him in a gutter in Lan Exeter, where druids from the Kovir Circle found him and raised him. As Vilgefortz grew up and learned about his magical gifts, he came to the conclusion that one of his parents might be a sorcerer, and thus began an eternal hatred against these mages. Vilgefortz wanted to destroy the Brotherhood of Sorcerers, which is why he made a secret alliance with Emhyr to plan a siege on Aretuza.
Emhyr, on the other hand, had lost the battle of Sodden because of the interference of the Brotherhood and thus wanted to get rid of these mages before they would play a part in subsequent defeats. However, Emhyr and Vilgefortz knew that the human soldiers wouldn’t be a match against the sorcerers alone, and they needed a foolproof strategy to trick the mages. Now, we are not sure who came up with this idea, but what they did was orchestrate a clash between their two enemies: the Elves and the Mages. Perhaps Emhyr had promised Aretuza to the Elves, which is why Francesca Findabair attacked the Brotherhood to get their lands back. Meanwhile, Vilgefortz only wanted the death and destruction of all sorcerers, a chaotic wish he eventually fulfilled through Emhyr and the Elves. At the end of The Witcher Season 3, Aretuza is turned to dust, and Vilgefortz, like a cunning wolf, takes shelter in Emhyr’s court.
Make no mistake here, Vilgefortz doesn’t belong to a creed that will serve a king like Emhyr var Emreis. Vilgefortz is an ambitious sorcerer who wants it all for himself because the world (or destiny) robs it from him. Even his parents were too embarrassed to raise him, so they threw him into the gutter. Vilgefortz has always been burning with an eternal fire for revenge, which, over time, has transformed into hatred for everything. Even if Emhyr makes him the governor and ruler of conquered territories in the North, Vilgefortz’s hunger for power won’t be satiated. He craves absolute control. In the series, he suggests to Geralt that he is the one pulling the strings of the Nilfgaardian emperor. However, in the books, he makes it very clear that he isn’t the tool for Emhyr; it’s the other way around. It is the reason why Vilgefortz brought a fake Ciri named Teryn to Emhyr’s court; so that the emperor could marry his own daughter and fulfill a long-forgotten prophecy made by Falka. Emhyr had never seen his grown-up daughter before, as he lost her when she was still a child, which is why Emhyr doesn’t initially suspect the fake one when Vilgefortz brings her to him.
Vilgefortz has been planning this exchange for a long time. He never wanted to give Emhyr the real Ciri, which is why he experimented with half-elf girls whom he had abducted from Aretuza. He took these innocent girls to a castle called Vuilpanne in Redania, where he used ancient elder magic from The Book of Monoliths to turn these half-elf girls into clones of Ciri. In the book “Time of Contempt,” there is no mention of any such experiment. Perhaps Codringher finds out about a war orphaned girl of Cintra nobility who has a striking similarity with Ciri. Codringher had proposed to Geralt that he surrender this girl to Emhyr, which Geralt instantly refused. It is implied that Vilgefortz found out about this intel and acted upon it after killing Codringher and Fenn in their own shop.
Vilgefortz believed that after getting his daughter back, Emhyr would end the hunt for Ciri, and therefore, he would keep the real Ciri for himself. He wanted to make Ciri his pupil so that he could control her and harness her powers in order to access portals and magic that would eventually make him the most powerful Sorcerer in the world. However, before Vilgefortz could get hold of Ciri, she went inside the Tower of Gulls on the Isle of Thanedd. Inside the tower, she came across a chaotic and dangerous portal called The Lara Portal or Benavent’s Portal which sent Ciri to Korath Desert. The portal probably didn’t transport Vilgefortz anywhere else; however, the blast or contact with such unstable powers burned one side of his face, the marks of which were apparently visible after he made an appearance in Emhyr’s court.
According to the book, Emhyr will soon find out the truth about the fake Ciri, which will make him suspicious of Vilgefortz’s true intentions. The fake Ciri or Teryn that Vilgefortz planted in Emhyr’s court might have the memories of the real Ciri, but she lacks the grace and aura of the real one, as Emhyr will soon find out. In the books, the fake Ciri stumbles twice while entering the court, which makes Emhyr believe that she is not his real daughter. After the truth comes to light, Emhyr calls a soothsayer named Xarthisius to locate his real daughter. However, he plans the search in secrecy because he doesn’t want his empire to know that a deceitful sorcerer has tricked him. He plans to keep playing the part until he finds the real Ciri. The real Ciri, on the other hand, becomes a member of “The Rats,” and we are not sure if Vilgefortz or Emhyr will ever be able to get hold of her. Even if they do, will she let these two men control her life? Ciri is slowly turning into a power-hungry monster like Falka, who doesn’t want to be controlled by any man on the continent. And if history is going to repeat itself, then we may speculate that Ciri will eventually kill her father, just like Falka did centuries ago.
However, what we are the most concerned about is Vilgefortz. He mercilessly defeats Geralt in a one-on-one battle, and the Witcher is burning with a desire for revenge. We do expect a second face-off between these two forces of nature, and if cliches are to be followed, then Geralt is indeed going to kill the Sorcerer in the second meeting because now he does consider Vilgefortz a true monster. But the other possibility is that Emhyr, in a fit of rage, could banish and kill Vilgefortz for betraying him before Geralt could clash with him. Whatever the case may be, the stakes for Vilgefortz have just risen as he has dug his own grave by tricking his only protector, i.e., the Nilfgaard Emperor. And obviously, this time, no help will be coming from the outside because Vilgefortz has burned all the bridges himself.