In The Witcher, the quest “Of Monsters and Men” has Geralt decide the fate of a village witch. A powerful monster has been terrorizing the village, and the townsfolk eventually blame the witch, not only for the beast’s existence, but also for all of their hardships and crimes. A lynch mob forms, hell bent on killing Abigail, the witch. The Witcher must identify the guilty in order to get rid of the beast.
Some things to keep in mind:
- The game informs the player that the monster is too powerful for any sorcerer to summon.
- A magic ritual is used to determine how the beast came to be. It’s revealed that the collective hate, greed, and baseness of the village inhabitants created the beast.
- The Witcher’s main objective was to find the criminal organization, Salamandra. It was this quest that got him involved in all this.
- There are five main players involved. Abigail, the Reverend, Odo, Mikul, and Haren.
- The witch provides the villages with both potions and poisons.
- Depending on who you ask, The Scoia’tael (AKA squirrels) are either a group of non-human rebels or terrorists.
Haren is a local merchant in the village. He’s accused of being a Hawker. Hawkers are people who sell weapons and equipment to the Scoia’tael at steep prices. The Scoia’tael rely on them for food, and medicine. No one else will deal with them, so Hawkers make large profits off the Scoia’tael’s misfortune. Hawkers are also known to renege on deals and sell out their own clients for bounties.
The evidence that Haren Brogg is a Hawker comes from the quest Strangers in the Night. For some reason, Haren is keeping his merchandise near the riverbank. Monsters called, Drowners come up from the river at night, and have been ransacking his stock. He hires Geralt to deal with the drowners. After he does, a group of Scoia’tael show up and mistake Geralt for Haren Brogg, who the Scoia’tael leader says promised them some “hawker specialties”. Is Haren Brogg the hawker or a middleman? Does it make a difference?
Later on we find that Haren has also been selling goods to the criminal organisation, Salamandra. Based on this, we can say that he doesn’t have any compulsion against selling things to whoever he can. Abigail also accuses Haren of selling out a Scoia’tael to the guards for money.
When confronted, Haren admits to being a Hawker. But claims that Abigail ‘made’ him do it. He says that Abigail promised to sleep with him if he “helped” the Scoia’tael, and thus according to him, he had no choice. It’s difficult to say that he helped the Scoia’tael when he sold them items at inflated prices.
When pressed on this, he claims that there are principles to abide by. So these principles include, doing business with criminal organisations that kidnap children, hating non-humans, but selling items to them anyway at unfair prices, if you’re promised sex.
There isn’t any actual evidence that he sold out a Scoia’tael to the guards, however. It could be he did and Abigail really did trick him into selling to the Scoia’tael. If that’s the case than he may have realized how profitable it is and also decided to trade with Salamandra for even more money. Or he’s just a Hawker and he’s lying. Even if Abigail promised him sex, he could have said no.
Odo is the richest person in the outskirt village. He’s often drunk and he’s paranoid about spies. Why would he be so worried about spies? Well, Odo is accused of killing his brother. Odo says that he despises soldiers, except for his brother, who was a soldier. Odo keeps his brother’s armor on a stand in his house.
If he did kill his brother, then it can be speculated that he buried him in his front yard. Presumably not deep enough, resulting in his dog being able to smell it and barking at a particular spot. There’s also the matter of the echinopsae plants that he hires the Witcher to kill. Echinopsae are violent plant life that only grow in places where crimes have been committed.
When Odo is confronted, he admits to the crime. His defence is that Abigail tried to use magic on his brother. But more likely by ‘magic’ he means Abigail tried to seduce his brother, because she wanted his gold, Odo claims. His words suggest that his brother had plenty of money. He continues by saying that his brother rejected her. So she used her actual magic on Odo and had him kill his brother.
As a soldier, Odo’s brother could easily defend himself against Odo. Geralt makes the point that Odo must have killed his brother in his sleep. Abigail does have a doll that resembles Odo in her house. Could she be using magic to control Odo? Possibly. Although, to what end? Odo claims that Abigail wanted his brother’s money. But look at what Odo is wearing in the picture above. He’s the richest person in the outskirts, not Abigail. If she wanted the money, and could control Odo, she could just have him bring her the money. When located, the local Salamandra leader tells Geralt that Odo came to them for advice on how to kill a warrior. If Abigail was controlling him, why would she make him go ask for advice?
There’s also no way of knowing for sure when or why Abigail made the doll. Did she make it before or after Odo’s brother died. Did she make it as a means of self defense? There’s no telling what Odo is capable of. The man may have killed his own brother for money. He’s definitely a greedy individual. Despite being quite wealthy, he still tries to haggle with Geralt, and even after the job’s done he still tried to weasel his way out of paying the agreed upon amount. This one isn’t in contention. Odo killed his brother.
Mikul is a man from the outskirts that became a city guard. A prestigious position for someone of the outskirts. He’s not a particularly educated individual nor does he show much intelligence or maturity. Depending on who you ask, Mikul was either romantically interested in a girl named Ilsa, or he raped her. It’s possible that it’s both.
His reaction of grief to the news of Ilsa’s death seems genuine. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t rape her. Geralt mentions a young woman’s body in the crypt, and Mikul immediately jumps to the conclusion that it must have been Ilsa.
Why the assumption that it’s Ilsa’s dead body in the crypt? Is that where something else happened? Something that may have caused her great pain? Predictably Mikul turns around and blames Abigail, and in his grief, turns on Geralt too.
Later in the quest, a group of salamandra’s thugs take over the local tavern. Once there, you see them surrounding a lady friend of yours, Shani. One of them brings up Ilsa, saying that they should do to Shani what they did to “Mikul’s girl”. On its head this seems to acquit Mikul.
Earlier in the game, Geralt has Abigail cast a spell on a boy named Alvin. Alvin is a Diviner as she says, and a powerful source of magic. The spell will have Alvin reveal where the beast came from. During the ritual Alvin says a lot of cryptic words. Among these words he says: “The girl from outside the village. She screamed horribly, unlike any human. Innocent blood. Evil faces twisted by drink and desire. Plow her well. Show her you’re a man.”
We can extrapolate that the girl who screamed and the innocent blood is Ilsa. Evil faces twisted by drink and desire? A gang of rapists. They were drunk and the desire part speaks for itself. Unless of course ‘drink’ and ‘desire’ is speaking of two different parties. The drunkenness part could be referring to the Salamandra thugs, while the desire part refers to Mikul. Everyone knew he fancied her. Or it could just mean that they were all drunk. But that doesn’t exclude Mikul, mainly because of the following quote.
“Plow her well. Show her you’re a man.” Like I said before, Mikul isn’t very intelligent or mature. He’s very child like. I would assume that it translates to how he’s infatuated with Ilsa as well. Even disregarding that, peer pressure, even when it comes to such a horrific act, can be overwhelming. Such a thing is depicted in a film called “The Accused”, where a gang rape occurs and onlookers cheer, encourage and pressure others into partaking.
One more addition comes from Abigail. She says that Mikul did rape Ilsa and she came to Abigail for a poison. It could be that Ilsa told Abigail that Mikul was involved, but didn’t tell her what she was going to do with the poison. She ended up committing suicide, but in Abigail’s mind, she could have bought it to poison Mikul. But more on Abigail later, because she’s not exactly innocent in all this either.
But I have to admit that this isn’t definitive proof of Mikul’s guilt. I hope I’m not spoiling the game for anybody, but Mikul does also have a history of rape. Later on in the game, you meet a prostitute named, Carmen. Near the end of the game, if you made certain choices, Carmen tells you her story.
She tells Geralt that she used to live in the outskirts. She’s the Reverend’s daughter, and one day she was raped by Mikul and the other guards. When she became pregnant, her father, the reverend, disowned and exiled her. But remember that at this point in the game, you don’t know about this.
But the last thing I will say is that at the end of the quest, Mikul apologizes to Geralt and Geralt tells him to apologize to Ilsa. Mikul doesn’t deny the need to do that.
The Reverend is a priest of the Church of the Eternal Fire and a chaplain of the Order of the Flaming rose. Despite just being a man of religion, he’s also the leader of the people in the outskirts.
Abigail accuses him of banishing his daughter after she became pregnant. Now she works as a prostitute in Vizima. I’ve already covered this. But it’s only much later in the game that this information is verified. At this point you have no one else to corroborate the story and you find no evidence of the Reverend ever having a daughter. No one in the village ever talks about it either.
I’ve mentioned that Salamandra kidnaps children. But it’s not quite so simple. The people of the outskirts have actually been giving them children as tribute. After the confrontation with the local Salamandra leader, you find the boy, Alvin among other children. Alvin tells Geralt that it was the Reverend who told him to go here and meet with Salamandra agents.
The reverend never attempts to deny or defend any of this. But some people throughout the village claim that they are afraid of Salamandra and that if they didn’t do what they said, the consequences would have been severe.
Yet, Odo went to them for advice on how to kill someone, Haren Brogg profited from selling them goods, and no one tried to alert any authorities. The reverend doesn’t alert the Knights of the Order of the Flaming Rose. No one tries to alert the Viziman guards, preferably the greater Vizima guards from inside the city proper. Mikul is a guard and he tells Geralt that they have passes into the city. Which means, he’s allowing a known criminal organisation come and go as they please. But he lies to get Geralt arrested, even after he helped him out.
They might have even been able to hire those mercenaries at the tavern or come together to fight back against Salamandra. They kept going to Abigail for potions and poisons and such, but never asked her for any help either. Instead of doing any of that, they gave away their own children. I didn’t see too many people broken up about it either. And the Reverend leads these people. So he knew, and who’s to say he didn’t encourage it or justified it in some way?
Remember that you don’t know this at this point, but spoiler alert, Salamandra actually works for the Order of the Flaming Rose. This isn’t to say that the chaplain necessarily knew of the inner workings of the order, but he’s a pious man. He’ll follow orders from his superiors. Don’t forget that the local Salamandra agents have passes to get into the city, and as an Order representative, the reverend is the one that can give people passes. Making it likely that they acquired the passes from him. If true then even if the reverend wasn’t directed to, he’s the one they have to go to in order to get passes.
Finally we have Abigail, the village witch. The village has been organized into a lynch mob. Abigail is being blamed for the beast’s existence and any other problems they can think of. The Reverend even takes it a bit further and blames it on the nature of female kind. There are several women attending the lynch mob, but this does not deter him.
Despite this however, she isn’t exactly a quaker in all of this. Make no mistake, she’s no saint. Like it was mentioned, the village collectively created the beast, and Abigail lives in this village too. She doesn’t deny her sins. She only claims that they aren’t as great as they say.
When she accuses everyone of their crimes, Geralt pushes back, saying that she knew all of this but did nothing? Odo tells a story of how he ‘accidentally’ wandered to Abigail’s hut one night and saw the beast there, staring through her window. So the beast haunts her too. Why?
She claims that she’s only the supplier, not the criminal. She only gave them the means to. “I only sold them the nuclear weapon. It’s not my business how it’s used. Sure I profited from it, but what am I going to do about? Gotta make a living somehow.” Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, that’s her argument.
Make of that what you will, but no matter how you slice it, she does share some of the blame. Especially when you consider that she was the only witch in town. If she had denied them, where were they going to go? Even so, Odo didn’t need her help to kill his brother, Haren didn’t need her help to trade with Salamandra and the Scoia’tael. Mikul didn’t need her help to rape Ilsa.
But Ilsa did need her help to commit suicide. There are many ways to kill yourself, however. Maybe if Ilsa wasn’t able to get the poison, she may have reconsidered, given time. Or she would have tried to kill herself another way and either succeed or failed. An entire bottle of poison was a sure fire way. But jumping into the river is not. Most suicide survivors never try again.
This is another argument that people often use when it comes to firearms. You can either get a gun and pop yourself in the head, alone, ensuring your death; or you do something else, like overdosing on pills, but survive, and regret the attempt.
Also, let’s not forget the accusations of Abigail using feminine charm to manipulate others. Something I generally don’t automatically believe women do or even hold against them if they do. But if true in this case, some very bad things came of it, and Abigail does proposition Geralt. Now you could say that she was desperate, she didn’t know what Geralt was going to do, she did it in an attempt to increase her chances of survival. That is an argument. But it also brings things into question.
But no matter what, while there are some that are guiltier than others, there are no innocents in this story. So the question remains; who do you believe, and what do you do? Well, you tell me. For me personally? I don’t sleep with Abigail. I don’t let them lynch her. Three main people from the mob attack you, so I have to kill them. When she thanks you for saving her life, it ends the same way so many things end in the world. I chose the lesser evil.