This part of Voice of Reason consists of Geralt monologue at Iola (the mute novitiate). I'm going to quote it extensively, as this is the most (and most reliable) insight we had into Geralt's backstory and motivations thus far.
'Let's talk, lola.
'I need this conversation. They say silence is golden. Maybe it is, although I'm not sure it's worth that much. It has its price certainly; you have to pay for it.
'It's easier for you. Yes it is, don't deny it. You're silent through choice; you've made it a sacrifice to your goddess. I don't believe in Melitele, don't believe in the existence of other gods either, but I respect your choice, your sacrifice. Your belief. Because your faith and sacrifice, the price you're paying for your silence, will make you a better, a greater being. Or, at least, it could. But my faithlessness can do nothing. It's powerless.
'You ask what I believe in, in that case.
'I believe in the sword.
'As you can see, I carry two. Every witcher does. It's said, spitefully, the silver one is for monsters and the iron for humans. A lie, of course. As there are monsters which can be struck down only with a silver blade, so there are those for whom iron is lethal. And lola, not just any iron, it must come from a meteorite. What is a meteorite, you ask? It's a falling star. You must have seen them - short, luminous streaks in the night. You've probably made a wish on one. Perhaps it was one more reason for you to believe in the gods. For me, a meteorite is nothing more than a bit of metal, primed by the sun and its fall, metal to make swords.
'You don't know me at all, do you?
'I'm called Geralt. Geralt of- No. Only Geralt. Geralt of nowhere. I'm a witcher.
'My home is Kaer Morhen, the Witcher's Abode. It's ... It was a fortress. Not much remains of it.
'Kaer Morhen . . . That's where the likes of me were produced. It's not done anymore, no one lives in Kaer Morhen now. No one but Vesemir. Who's Vesemir? My father. Why are you so surprised? What's so strange about it? Everyone's got a father, and mine is Vesemir. And so what if he's not my real father? I didn't know him, or my mother. I don't even know if they're still alive, and I don't much care.
Yes, Kaer Morhen. I underwent the usual mutation there, through the Trial of Grasses, and then hormones, herbs, viral infections. And then through them all again. And again, to the bitter end. Apparently, I took the changes unusually well; I was only ill briefly. I was considered to be to be properly immunized - that's a fancy scholarly term - and was chosen for more complicated experiments as a result. They were worse. Much worse. But, as you see, I survived. The only one to live out of all those chosen for further trials. My hair's been white ever since. Total loss of pigmentation. A side-effect, as they say. A trifle.
'Then they taught me various things until the day when I left Kaer Morhen and took to the road. I'd earned my medallion, the Sign of the Wolf's School. I had two swords: silver and iron, and my conviction, enthusiasm, incentive and . . . faith. Faith that I was needed in a world full of monsters and beasts, to protect the innocent. As I left Kaer Morhen I dreamed of meeting my first monster. I couldn't wait to stand eye to eye with him. And the moment arrived.
'My first monster, Iola, was bald and had exceptionally rotten teeth. I came across him on the highway where, with some fellow monsters, deserters, he'd stopped a peasant's cart and pulled out a little girl, maybe thirteen years old. His companions held her father while the bald man tore off her dress, yelling it was time for her to meet a real man. I rode up and said the time had come for him, too - I thought I was very witty. The bald monster released the girl and threw himself at me with an axe. He was slow but tough. I hit him twice - not clean cuts, but spectacular, and only then did he fall. His gang ran away when they saw what a witcher's sword could do to a man . . .
'Am I boring you, Iola?
'I need this. I really do need it.
'Where was I? My first noble deed. You see, they'd told me again and again in Kaer Morhen not to get involved in such incidents, not to play at being knight errant or uphold the law. Not to show off, but to work for money. And I got into this fight, like an idiot, not fifty miles from the mountains. And do you know why? I wanted the girl, sobbing with gratitude, to kiss her saviour on the hands, and her father to thank me on his knees. In reality her father fled with his attackers, and the girl, drenched in the bald man's blood, threw up, became hysterical and fainted in fear when I approached her. Since then, I've only very rarely interfered in such matters.
'I did my job. I quickly learnt how. I'd ride up to village enclosures or town pickets and wait. If they spat, cursed and threw stones I rode away. If someone came out to give me a commission, I'd carry it out.
'Mistakes? Of course I've made them. But I keep to my principles. No, not the code. Although I have at times hidden behind a code. People like that. Those who follow a code are often respected and held in high esteem. But no one's ever compiled a witcher's code. I invented mine. Just like that. And keep to it. Always-
'Well, almost always.
'There have been situations where it seemed there wasn't any room for doubt. When I should say to myself "What do I care? It's nothing to do with me, I'm a witcher". When I should listen to the voice of reason. To listen to my instinct, even if it's fear, if not to what my experience dictates.
'I should have listened to the voice of reason that time . . .
'I thought I was choosing the lesser evil. I chose the lesser evil. Lesser evil! I'm Geralt of Rivia. . . I'm the Butcher of Blaviken-
'Don't touch me! It might make you . . . You might see . . . and I don't want you to. I don't want to know. I know my fate whirls about me like water in a weir. It's hard on my heels, following my tracks, but I never look back.
A loop? Yes, that's what Nenneke sensed. What tempted me, I wonder, in Cintra? How could I have taken such a risk so foolishly-?
'No, no, no. I never look back. I'll never return to Cintra. I'll avoid it like the plague. I'll never go back there.
Narrator: He ended up going back there.
This is a fairly straightforward (on-the-nose, really) look at what Geralt wants to be and why. The world gives him very little incentive to be the knight in shining armor he might have been under other circumstances, and in the hands of a different author.
This is probably the one section of Voice of Reason most directly connected to the following short story. In fact, I'd rather recommend re-reading it the moment you're done with the short story for some interesting insights into what makes Geralt tick in both sections.
I've omitted a few sentences worth of foreshadowing that make the conclusion of the story overtly clear - because, obviously, I know better than Pan Sapkowski just how much the reader should know in advance.
Note how everyone, including CD Projekt, basically dropped "both swords are for monsters".
Geralt is shaved, washed and dressed for his appearance at the Cintra court, in a scene that the first meeting with Emhyr rips off wholesale homages extensively. He is going to be introduced as Ravix of Fourhorn, and seated besides the queen, who has need of his services. What services, exactly? The Castellan would rather not specify.
'Your job isn't to be surprised. And I strongly advise you, witcher, that if the queen orders you to strip naked, paint your arse blue and hang yourself upside down in the entrance hall like a chandelier, you do it without surprise or hesitation. Otherwise you might meet with a fair amount of unpleasantness. Have you got that?'
Calanthe, the dowager queen of Cintra, hosts a banquet for suitors for the hand of Pavetta, her daughter. 15 and of age to wed, the Cintrians are hoping to arrange her marriage with the Vikings Skelligans, on the basis that:
'Those they're allied with aren't attacked as often as others.
The Skelligans are represented by Crach an Craite (the proposed husband to Pavetta - very young, and making it quite clear where Hjalmar gets his personality from) Eist Tuirseach (Crach's uncle, and a total silver fox) Mousesack (a druid) and Draig Bon-Dhu (a Celtic bard, with bagpipes in hand). But other suitors will also be present, to maintain appearances: the pubescent Prince Windhalm of Attre, his bodyguard / nanny Rainfarn, and also Tinglant, Fodcat and Wieldhill, who don't actually matter in the slightest.
Baron Eylembert of Tigg (also known as Coodcoodak, which I supposed ought to have been translated into English as Cockadoodledoo, or something along those lines) assures Calanthe that his wife's health would deteriorate in a hurry, should he be considered an acceptable match. This murderous remark is taken in the same humorous fashion it was apparently intended, and he's permitted to attend the feast, entertaining the guests with his animal impressions (hence his nickname).
As the guests get drunk, Calanthe finally deigns to enlighten Geralt as to his purpose (kinda, but not really). She considers witchers to be mere swords for hire, and feels no need to specify where said sword will strike before the moment comes. Geralt, feeling quite confident (if not outright suicidal), corrects her. Witchers may be hired swords, but not hired assassins. And just as a queen may have ways of "influencing" witchers, witchers have ways of influencing even the highest personages.
Calanthe warns him against ever contradicting royals, and asserts that anyone may be bought. It is only a question of price - a witcher volunteering to solve a problem may name his, a witcher forced to solve a problem will have to settle for whatever price she sees fit to name.
As Draig Bon-Dhu unleashes his bagpipes, and everyone does the obvious "oh noes, Scottish Skellige music" jokes, Mousesack covertly exchanges information with Geralt by animating leftovers into runes. (I think the first question he asks is whether Geralt is in fact a witcher, but it's hard to be sure). Pavetta enters the hall. She's, like, totally banging and shit.
Aha,' said Calanthe quietly, clearly pleased. 'And what do you say, Geralt? The girl has taken after her mother. It's even a shame to waste her on that red-haired lout, Crach. The only hope is that the pup might grow into someone with Eist Tuirseach's class. It's the same blood, after all. Are you listening, Geralt? Cintra has to form an alliance with Skellige because the interest of the state demands it. My daughter has to marry the right person. Those are the results you must ensure me.'
'I have to ensure that? Isn't your will alone sufficient for it to happen?'
'Events might take such a turn that it won't be sufficient.'
'What can be stronger than your will?'
he captain of the guard approaches Calanthe, and she gives him some orders. An unknown knight, clad in spiky helm and plate mail, enters the hall. He introduces himself as Urcheon of Erlenwald, and explains that he has made a chivalrous vow forbidding him from revealing his face before midnight.
He banters with Calanthe, as she keeps interrupting him during what is obviously a long-prepared speech, finally coming to a point:
Your words, your Majesty,' called Urcheon, 'are calculated to frighten me, to kindle the anger of the honourable gentlemen gathered here, and the contempt of your pretty daughter, Pavetta. But above all, your words are untrue. And you know it!'
'You accuse me of lying like a dog.' An ugly grimace crept across Calanthe's lips.
'You know very well, your Majesty,' the newcomer continued adamantly, 'what happened then in Erlenwald. You know Roegner, once saved, vowed of his own will to give me whatever I asked for. I call upon every one to witness my words! When the king, rescued from his misadventure, reached his retinue, he asked me what I demanded and I answered. I asked him to promise me whatever he had left at home without knowing or expecting it. The king swore it would be so, and on his return to the castle he found you, Calanthe, in labour. Yes, your Majesty, I waited for fifteen years and the interest on my reward has grown. Today I look at the beautiful Pavetta and see that the wait has been worth it! Gentlemen and knights! Some of you have come to Cintra to ask for the princess's hand. You have come in vain. From the day of her birth, by the power of the royal oath, the beautiful Pavetta has belonged to me!'
Mousesack and Geralt can feel a concentration of magic in the hall. The queen gives whispered instructions to a servant, while the guests get into a major argument:
'If what he says is true,' Eist frowned, 'then the promise will have to be kept.'
'Is that so?'
'Or am I to understand,' the islander asked grimly, 'that you treat all promises this lightly, including those which have etched themselves so deeply in my memory?'
Geralt, who had never expected to see Calanthe blush deeply, with tears in her eyes and trembling lips, was surprised.
'Eist,' whispered the queen, 'this is different-'
'Is it, really?'
'Oh, you son-of-a-bitch!' Crach an Craite yelled unexpectedly, jumping up. 'The last fool who said I'd acted in vain was pinched apart by crabs at the bottom of Allenker bay! I didn't sail here from Skellige to return empty-handed! A husband-to-be, you son of a whore! Someone bring me a sword and give that idiot some iron! We'll soon see who-'
'Maybe you could just shut up, Crach?' Eist snapped scathingly, resting both fists on the table. 'Draig Bon-Dhu! I render you responsible for his future behaviour!'
'And are you going to silence me, too, Tuirseach?' shouted Rainfarn of Attre, standing up. 'Who is going to stop me from washing the insult thrown at my prince away with blood? And his son, Windhalm, the only man worthy of Pavetta's hand and bed! Bring the swords! I'll show that Urcheon, or whatever he's called, how we of Attre take revenge for such abuse! I wonder whether anybody or anything can hold me back?'
'A great many people, I see,' said Calanthe in a drawling voice, 'have an opinion on this problem and are offering it even without my permission. Strange that you aren't interested in mine? And in my opinion, this bloody castle will sooner collapse on my head than I give my Pavetta to this... freak. I haven't the least intention-'
'Roegner's oath-' Urcheon began, but the queen silenced him, banging her golden goblet on the table.
'Roegner's oath means about as much to me as last year's snows! And as for you, Urcheon, I haven't decided whether to allow Crach or Rainfarn to meet you outside, or to simply hang you. You're greatly influencing my decision with your interruptions!'
'Sirs! Have you not heard of children marked out by destiny? Was not the legendary hero, Zatret Voruta, given to the dwarves as a child because he was the first person his father met on his return? And Mad Dei, who demanded a traveller give him what he left at home without knowing it? That surprise was the famous Supree, who later liberated Mad Dei from the curse which weighed him down. Remember Zivelena, who became the Queen of Metinna with the help of the gnome Rumplestelt, and in return promised him her first-born? Zivelena didn't keep her promise when Rumplestelt came for his reward and, by using spells, she forced him to run away. Not long after that, both she and the child died of the plague. You do not dice with Destiny with impunity!'
'Don't threaten me, Coodcoodak,' Calanthe grimaced. 'Midnight is close, the time for ghosts. Can you remember any more legends from your undoubtedly difficult childhood? If not, then sit down.'
'I ask your Grace,' the baron turned up his long whiskers, 'to allow me to remain standing. I'd like to remind everybody of another legend. It's an old, forgotten legend - we've all probably heard it in our difficult childhoods. In this legend, the kings kept their promises. And we, poor vassals, are only bound to kings by the royal word: treaties, alliances, our privileges and fiefs all rely on it. And now? Are we to doubt all this? Doubt the inviolability of the king's word? Wait to see the day when it's worth as much as yesteryear's snow? If this is how things are to be then a difficult old age awaits us after our difficult childhoods!'
Calanthe has no choice but to agree that Coodcoodak is right - a king's word is his bond. So Pavetta will be surrendered to a kinless vagabond, and the suitors will just have to go back empty handed.Amidst the hum of voices which rumbled through the guests, the witcher managed to pick out Eist Tuirseach's whisper.
'On all the gods of the sea,' sighed the islander. 'This isn't right. This is open incitement to bloodshed. Calanthe, you're simply setting them against each other-'
'Be quiet, Eist,' hissed the queen furiously, 'because I'll get angry.'
But before any of the guests can properly process the implication, and issue a formal challenge (or just get to stabbing), Geralt intervenes.Everyone heard,' spoke Geralt, 'Baron Tigg tell us about the famous heroes taken from their parents on the strength of the same oath that Urcheon received from King Roegner. But why should anyone want such an oath? You know the answer, Urcheon of Erlenwald. It creates a powerful, indissoluble tie of destiny between the person demanding the oath and its object, the child-surprise. Such a child, marked by blind fate, can be destined for extraordinary things. It can play an incredibly important role in the life of the person to whom fate has tied it. That is why, Urcheon, you demanded the prize you claim today. You don't want the throne of Cintra. You want the princess.'
'Roegner knew the power of the Law of Surprise and the gravity of the oath he took. And he took it because he knew law and custom have a power which protects such oaths, ensuring they are only fulfilled when the force of destiny confirms them. I declare, Urcheon, that you have no right to the princess as yet. You will win her only when-'
'When the princess herself agrees to leave with you. This is what the Law of Surprise states. It is the child's, not the parent's, consent which confirms the oath, which proves that the child was born under the shadow of destiny. That's why you returned after fifteen years, Urcheon, and that's the condition King Roegner stipulated in his oath.'
Who are you, Geralt of Rivia, to claim to be an oracle in matters of laws and customs?'
'He knows this law better than anyone else,' Mousesack said in a hoarse voice, 'because it applied to him once. He was taken from his home because he was what his father hadn't expected to find on his return. Because he was destined for other things. And by the power of destiny he became what he is.'
'And what is he?'
The bells ring midnight, and the Urcheon takes off his helm. I kinda have to post this:
(From the terrible "The Hexxer" tv series. As described in the text, the snout is more bestial than adorable)'This is how I look,' spoke the creature, 'which you well knew, Calanthe. Roegner, in telling you of his oath, wouldn't have omitted describing me. Urcheon of Erlenwald to whom - despite my appearance - Roegner swore his oath. You prepared well for my arrival, queen. Your own vassals have pointed out your haughty and contemptuous refusal to keep Roegner's word. When your attempt to set the other suitors on me didn't succeed, you still had a killer witcher in reserve, ready at your right-hand. And finally, common, low deceit. You wanted to humiliate me, Calanthe. Know that it is yourself you have humiliated.'
'Enough,' Calanthe stood up and rested her clenched fist on her hip. 'Let's put an end to this. Pavetta! You see who, or rather what, is standing in front of you, claiming you for himself. In accordance with the Law of Surprise and eternal custom, the decision is yours. Answer. One word from you is enough. Yes, and you become the property, the conquest, of this monster. No, and you will never have to see him again.'
The Force pulsating in the hall was squeezing Geralt's temples like an iron vice, buzzing in his ears, making the hair on his neck stand on end. The witcher looked at Mousesack's whitening knuckles, clenched at the edge of the table. At the trickle of sweat running down the queen's cheek. At the breadcrumbs on the table, moving like insects, forming runes, dispersing and again gathering into one word: CAREFUL!
'Pavetta!' Calanthe repeated. 'Answer. Do you choose to leave with this creature?'
Pavetta raised her head. 'Yes.'
The Urcheon commands Calanthe to come on down and place her daughter's hand in his. The guests take a moment to process this, then spring into action.
Rainfarn draws a dagger and jumps the Urcheon, trying to find a vulnerable spot in his armor. Crach an Craite jumps to Rainfarn's help, but is knocked out from behind by his bard. Guards swarm the room, holding the Urcheon down for a good stabbing. Geralt, Eist and Coodcoodak try to oppose them, but are about to be overwhelmed, when Pavetta screams.
Apparently she was the Source of magic energy in the room, and just the untutored manifestation of raw power is enough to send everyone flying. Calanthe is thrown across the room, where Eist shelters her in his arms.
Geralt crawled to Mousesack and they hid behind the heap formed by Fodcat of Strept, a barrel of beer, Drogodar, a chair and Drogodar's lute, in that order.
'It's pure, primordial Force!' the druid yelled over the racket and clatter. 'She's got no control over it!'
'I know!' Geralt yelled back. A roast pheasant with a few striped feathers still stuck in its rump, fell from nowhere and thumped him in the back.
'She has to be restrained! The walls are starting to crack!'
'I can see!'
'One! Two! Now!'
They both hit her simultaneously, Geralt with the Sign of Aard and Mousesack with a terrible, three-staged curse powerful enough to make the floor melt. The chair on which the princess was standing disintegrated into splinters. Pavetta barely noticed - she hung in the air within a transparent green sphere. Without ceasing to shout, she turned her head towards them and her petite face shrunk into a sinister grimace.
'Gods-damned-' roared Mousesack.
'Careful!' shouted the witcher, curling up. 'Block her, Mousesack! Block her or it's the end of us!'
The table thudded heavily to the ground, shattering its trestle and everything beneath it. Crach an Craite, who was lying on the table, was thrown into the air. A heavy rain of plates and remnants of food fell; crystal carafes exploded as they hit the ground. The cornice broke away from the wall, rumbling like thunder, making the floors of the castle quake.
'Everything's letting go!' Mousesack shouted, aiming his wand at the princess. 'The whole Force is going to fall on us!'
Geralt, with a blow of his sword, deflected a huge double-pronged fork which was flying straight at the druid.
Coodcoodak strains his imitation power to the limit in order to distract Pavetta, a distraction which Geralt and Mousesack use to knock her out. If this is meant to be a humorous moment in the story, then the humor is extremely dry / doesn't translate well.
Everyone takes a moment to catch their breath. The Urcheon (Duny) turns back into a handsome human, now that midnight has truly come. Eist and Calanthe, coming out of her swoon, declare their feelings for one another.
'The youth of today,' snorted Mousesack, looking in their direction. 'They start early! They've only got one thing on their minds.'
'Didn't you know, witcher, that a virgin, that is, one who's untouched, wouldn't be able to use the Force?'
Calanthe invites the relevant parties into her chambers, for an explanation. Duny was (obviously) cursed with the face of a beast. He wandered the world in search of a cure, until coming up with the whole "child of destiny" thing as a last resort. Apparently it failed, as he and Pavetta have been at it for a year, and he's still cursed. Duny is welcome to Pavetta's hand though, as long as he's willing to wait for the crown - Calanthe and Eist are going to be the new royal couple.
'The youth of today,' muttered Mousesack. 'The apple doesn't fall far-'
'What are you mumbling, sorcerer?'
Dawn comes, yet Duny remains in human form. Apparently Destiny has some serious hangups about lawfully sanctioned unions, as Duny's involvement with Pavetta didn't count until she was given to him with the proper pomp and circumstance.
'And so,' sighed Calanthe, looking at Geralt with tired eyes, 'all's well that ends well. Don't you agree, witcher? The curse has been lifted, two weddings are on their way, it'll take about a month to repair the throne-room, there are four dead, countless wounded and Rainfarn of Attre is half-dead. Let's celebrate. Do you know, witcher, that there was a moment when I wanted to have you-'
'But now I have to do you justice. I demanded a result and got one. Cintra is allied to Skellige. My daughter's marrying the right man. For a moment I thought all this would have been fulfilled according to destiny anyway, even if I hadn't had you brought in for the feast and sat you next to me. But I was wrong. Rainfam's dagger could have changed destiny. And Rainfarn was stopped by a sword held by a witcher. You've done an honest job, Geralt. Now it's a question of price. Tell me what you want.'
'Hold on,' said Duny, fingering his bandaged side. 'A question of price, you say. It is I who am in debt, it's up to me-'
'I still say I am in your debt, witcher. It is my life that Rainfam's dagger endangered. I would have been beaten to death by the guards without you. If there's talk of a price then I should be the one to pay. I assure you I can afford it. What do you ask, Geralt?'
'Duny,' said Geralt slowly, 'a witcher who is asked such a question has to ask to have it repeated.'
'I repeat, therefore. Because, you see, I am in your debt for still another reason. When I found out who you were, there in the hall, I hated you and thought very badly of you. I took you for a blind, bloodthirsty tool, for someone who kills coldly and without question, who wipes his blade clean of blood and counts the cash. But I've become convinced that the witcher's profession is worthy of respect. You protect us not only from the evil lurking in the darkness, but also from that which lies within ourselves. It's a shame there are so few of you.'
'Duny,' said Geralt seriously, 'Calanthe, Pavetta. And you, righteous knight Tuirseach, future king of Cintra. In order to become a witcher, you have to be born in the shadow of destiny, and very few are born like that. That's why there are so few of us. We're growing old, dying, without anyone to pass our knowledge, our gifts, on to. We lack successors. And this world is full of Evil which waits for the day none of us are left.'
'Geralt,' whispered Calanthe.
'Yes, you're not wrong, queen. Duny! You will give me that which you already have but do not know. I'll return to Cintra in six years to see if destiny has been kind to me.'
'Pavetta,' Duny opened his eyes wide. 'Surely you're not-'
'Pavetta!' exclaimed Calanthe. 'Are you . . . are you-?'
The princess lowered her eyes and blushed. Then replied.
For a collection of disparate short stories, the first book really fits in well with the "epic Witcher saga". With the sole exception of A Grain of Truth, which strongly reinforces themes raised elsewhere, but isn't terribly relevant in and of itself, most everything we've reviewed so far will be fundamentally important to Geralt. But this story is the main crux from which most further plot developments in the sage proper stem. Unfortunate, then, then this is probably the weakest story in the first book, as it revolves mostly around uncharacteristically poorly written banter and intrigue. The workings of Destiny are going to be immensely important for the plot to come (which is why I quoted so much of that exposition) but are still both vague and ploddingly boring.
On the one hand, it's nice to see banter that involves someone besides Geralt - it allows for some diversity of styles of argument. It's also interesting to see that not every random noble in the witcher universe is a complete dickbag. On the other hand, both Calanthe and Duny are hella stupid here.
Calanthe REALLY should have settled on a concrete plan to which the witcher would agree before settings things in motion. Obviously, there's suspense in not knowing the details, but the artifice is a bit too naked. Duny is at least moderately more willing to get to the point, but he also rises to every single piece of bait thrown his way, no matter how obvious, and basically dares everyone involved murder him, repeatedly.
And apparently Destiny works by turning everyone involved into a drooling moron / outright puppeteering people? Geralt isn't into, like, a relationship right now, man doesn't WANT to have a child. None of the Cintrian royals ostensibly wants to hand him the child. So what the hell?
There's a repetitive... joke?... about a voivode with a hard to remember name. Absolutely no idea what that is about - a question for some more into inside jokes than I.
When I was first recapping the story, I concluded that Mousesack healed all the injuries, and this is the first witcher story that ends with everyone in one piece. And then I got to Calenthe's summary of the feast - four deaths, though thankfully none are a named character. I feel like this story struggles with it's mostly comedic tone, and fails to balance it with weighty intrigues and matters of destiny. The next story we'll go over maintains its comi-tragic tone much better.
Last and most certainly least, I still deeply loathe Sapkowski's written tick of "And answered". I think it's meant to evoke fairy tale diction, but if so, it doesn't translate at all.
Umm... basic literacy?