The Wild Hunt solely get a fast, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it point out within the pilot of The Witcher, however they’re definitely a extra outstanding presence within the second season — significantly within the finale, the place they put the worry of god into everybody.
Whereas not touched on with a ton of depth in season 2, they’re an ominous power that’s integral to understanding the machinations of the season and the grander Witcher universe heading into The Witcher season 3. And most significantly, their king is featured prominently in The Witcher: Blood Origin.
What’s the Wild Hunt?
The Wild Hunt is first talked about within the second of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher books, The Sword of Future, and is the main target of the third online game. Referred to as the Wraiths of Mörhogg by the islanders of Skellige, and identified to their very own because the Crimson Riders, the Wild Hunt is a convoy of spectral riders that gallop throughout the sky and are thought to be an omen signaling approaching occasions of struggle, one thing The Witcher present appears to noticed. Their first point out within the Netflix sequence got here simply earlier than Nilfgaard invaded Cintra, from a king who claimed to have seen the Wraiths. On the outset of season 2, sightings of those terrifying riders have fittingly sparked murmurings amongst people of an apocalypse coming to their world.
The thought of the Wild Hunt truly predates the Witcher books, having an actual world mythological counterpart in Northern European folklore motif, which dates again centuries with quite a lot of interpretations. In Scandinavia the riders have been lead by Odin, whereas for some Christians they have been lead by the satan. Generally they’re the undead, generally they’re faeries. Whereas there are lots of accounts that line up, probably the most generally accepted model was solidified by Jacob Grimm (of Brothers Grimm fame) in his guide Teutonic Mythology, who claimed he based mostly them on Germanic tales.
Like their counterparts, the Wild Hunt are identified for kidnapping unsuspecting souls to affix the ranks of their ghastly cavalcade. Folks from Skellige declare the Wraiths of Mörhogg raid their shores aboard a ship known as the Naglfar, a longship created from the nails and toe-nails of useless males, which result in their follow of slicing the nails of the useless to deprive the wraiths of constructing supplies. It’s a reasonably gross and horrifying picture, all informed.
So why do the Wild Hunt try this?
These riders should not mere specters, nor are they aimless. Most of their qualities are the results of psychological warfare: Their skeletal armor is made to appear like it was lifted from corpses, their spectral look to inflate their numbers and conceal these of their rank who’re flesh and blood. It’s all a method to terrify any onlookers whereas they make their raids on the world of people.
In reality, the Wild Hunt aren’t the undead come to say the souls of the dwelling. They’re truly elves from one other world, referred to as the Aen Elle, whose world has by no means been conquered by people. The Aen Elle come to this world to kidnap people, to not be a part of their cavalry, however to take them to change into slaves again of their world.
They might as soon as transfer nice numbers between worlds, which allow them to discover and conquer at their whim. However for the reason that Conjunction of the Spheres, the cataclysmic occasion that introduced dozens of dimensions into collision, their powers have been restricted. The Wild Hunt can now solely take a couple of riders every time, therefore their illusions and theatrics, which intimidate but additionally conveniently conceal their true numbers.
That they’ve any energy in any respect to maneuver between worlds is a feat doable for the riders because of the King of the Wild Hunt, identified to his brethren as Eredin Bréacc Glas, a basic among the many Aen Elle who retains his folks equipped with unwilling topics. Eredin has nothing however contempt for people but additionally regards the elves of the human world, the Aen Seidhe, to be lesser because of their being conquered by the hands of people.
The Witcher: Blood Origin marks the primary time Eredin is on display screen within the Netflix Witcherverse, displaying how he turned the chief of the Wild Hunt — and with an origin story that differs from the one within the books. Captain Eredin (Jacob Collins-Levy) and a small band of his males get stranded in a wierd new world after double-crossing the evil mage Balor (Lenny Henry). As he despondently kneels in a wasteland, Eredin sees a damaged cranium buried within the filth. He places it on his head, and the Wild Hunt, it appears, are born.
With a couple of thousand years of in-universe historical past between the world of Blood Origin and The Witcher correct, there’s plenty of Wild Hunt backstory unaccounted for. However as The Witcher season 2 finale reveals, they’re about to change into a complete lot extra related. As their energy to maneuver between worlds is diminishing and the Wild Hunt now units its eyes on a selected prize: in search of these of Elder Blood.