While Andrzej Sapkowski is The witcher novels presented the Wolf School and the Griffin School, CD Projekt Red’s Witcher The video game trilogy expanded further on the continent’s monster hunters and introduced several other schools, expanding the history of the witcher profession. Witers are more than what readers or gamers might see in Kaer Morhen. There are several witcher schools, each with their own approach to hunting monsters, earning coins, and training witers.
Before delving into these specific schools, it is important to know that they all share a single root: the Order of the Witers, which was established in the Northern Kingdoms. The first witers were created by the mage Alzur in the 10th century. At Morgraig Castle in the Kestrel Mountains, witers were trained by knights, mages, and other professionals in combat, magic, and monsters. Sadly, Alzur and his fellow mages eventually left, leaving the Order of Witers without a leader. Gradually, the internal struggles caused the split of order in these schools.
The wolf school is the most Witcher fans already know. Based at Kaer Morhen in Kaedwen, this school is the one that produced Geralt of Rivia and his compatriots: Lambert, Eskel and their mentor, Vesemir. The Wolf School was the last to be founded after the last members of the Order of Wizards were disappointed with Morgraig’s plight. The birth of the Wolf School in Kaer Morhen marked the death of the Order and began what witers call the Golden Age.
In the 1170s, a few hundred years before the events of Blood of the Elves, peasants from around Kaedwen rose up and attacked Kaer Morhen with the help of mages, slaughtering the witers and mages inside. This was the result of an anti-witcher sentiment growing alongside the growing scarcity of monsters. With the destruction of the school, the knowledge of the Herbal Trial – necessary to create witers – was lost. Vesemir was the only one to survive, although it is not known how he managed to escape the wrath of the Kaedweni people.
Spawkoski’s the Lady of the Lake mentions the Griffin school. In fact, Coën is hinted that he was associated with it before joining Kaer Morhen. The Griffin school is noble, or at least they try to be. It was founded by Erland de Larvik when he and 13 others left the Order of Witers and traveled to Kovir and Poviss, Kaer Seren. The dungeon had once housed Alzur and his fellow mages at the start of their experiments. The hallways were haunted by the specters of failed experiments and dead witers. When Erland of Larvik discovered him with his troop, they defeated the specters and made Kaer Seren their home.
The Griffin School did its best to adhere to the original chivalrous principles of the Wizarding Order, though they maintained strict neutrality, such as the Bear School and the Wolf School. For a time, the Griffon School enjoyed a high reputation among the people and was even invited to court. However, due to their secrecy surrounding the contents of Kaer Seren’s great library, a group of angry mages caused an avalanche that destroyed the castle and killed the witers inside.
Perhaps the most hated of all witcher schools is the Cat School, formed by some of the younger members of the Order of Witers, who flew away one night with alchemical tools and mutagens, believing that they could form a better order. They settled in the citadel of Stygga at Ebbing, far south towards the borders of the Nilfgaardian Empire. The Cat School suppressed neutrality and became actively involved in the politics of the region and sold itself not only as monster hunters, but as mercenaries, assassins, and spies. Everything went wrong when the Cat School mages continued to experiment to create truly emotionless witcher, leaving behind a pile of dead experiments.
One of them, Gezras, miraculously survived, waking up among abandoned corpses. He freed other witers and fled, taking cover with a group of Aen Siedhe elves. In return, Gezras and the witers aided the elves in their war. Their alliance ruined the reputation of the Cat School and led to the attack on Stygga Citadel by the royal armies, ignoring the school’s shattered status. The armies slaughtered the residents of the school – which had weakened further after Gezras infiltrated it and slaughtered the mages. With the citadel in ruins, the remaining witchers of the Cat School have established the Dyn Marv Caravan, a mobile headquarters. Using a corrupted version of the trials, the Cat School trained new witers, who took on any paid job, be it monster hunting, espionage, or assassination. What really sets this school apart is that its interns aren’t limited to human boys. The cat school trains human girls and even elves. While it was believed that the school had dissolved, there are rumors that witchers from the school have returned.
The first group of witers to break away from the Order of Witers went on to form the Bear School, which we will come back to. Some time after this school was founded, there was more internal strife and betrayal from a group of students who nearly killed the founder of the Bear School, Arnaghad. These witers, led by Ivar Evil-Eye, then left and established the viper school in the nearly barren mountains of Tir Tochair, between the border of the Nilfgaardian Empire and the Korath Desert. These witers killed anything or anyone for money – monsters, humans, and non-humans, earning a
But Ivar built the school for one purpose, which he never revealed to his students: to defeat the Wild Hunt. To this end, Ivar has ensured that the school fortress, Gorthur Gvaed, houses a library filled with tomes centered around the legendary Elven horde. Unfortunately, the library was lost when the Nilgaardian army, led by the usurper – the predecessor of Emhyr var Emreis – entered and attacked it after the viper school refused to be absorbed into the ’empire. School witers are now scattered across Nilfgaard and the mainland.
The downfall of the Order of Witers began when Alzur and his fellow mages, Cosimo Malaspina and Idarran from Ulivo, left. Without a leader to create order, the Witers began to threaten each other, cheat themselves, and cheat themselves on contracts across the continent. Finally, a beefy monster slayer by the name of Arnaghad nearly killed one of his fellow witcher, Rhys, for a contract with Chort. Knowing that he would be attacked by the rest of the Order, which he never felt particularly attached to anyway, Arnaghad assembled a group of witchers he knew he could count on and returned to Morgraig Castle to confront his elders. Brothers in arms. He was defeated but managed to escape the castle and flee, along with the surviving members of his group, to the Amell Mountains, where they founded the Bear School.
Arnaghad instilled a stronger sense of independence in his witers and a focus on the Path, rather than one of the principles that have guided the Order of Wizards. The school was successful for a while, and its members often traveled to Skellige for contracts due to the abundance of monsters. Eventually, however, the inhabitants of the areas surrounding the Amell Mountains came to despise the witers, so much so that they banded together to destroy their headquarters in Haern Caduch, preferring the monsters residing in the mountains to the witers. The Bear School monster hunters were more or less lonely and had no loyalty to the school or to each other. Rather than fight a legion of humans, the Witers have abandoned the Dungeon and the Bear School.
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