Nightmare of the Wolf isn’t just a fun Witcher detour starring Geralt’s mentor, Vesemir. It’s actually so much more than that.
The animated Netflix movie has set up The Witcher season 2 in unexpected ways and dived into Witcher lore to pull out some of the monster hunters’ deepest, darkest secrets. Instead of being a spinoff, it’s arguably now both a roadmap to the franchise’s future as well as being an integral tool to understanding why Henry Cavill’s Geralt is the way he is.
With that in mind, we’ve dissected some of the key points of the Nightmare of the Wolf ending. Spoilers – including key story beats and deaths – inevitably follow. So, if you haven’t finished up Vesemir’s adventure yet, look away now.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf ending explained
The witchers’ dark secret
Much of Nightmare of the Wolf’s latter half revolves around the hunt for Kitsu, a strange and mutated hybrid human-kahr creature who was found to be kidnapping and experimenting on children.
But that idea didn’t come out of a vacuum. As Vesemir, Tetra, and Filavandarel’s investigations converge, the truth on the mutations come to light.
Kitsu is the product of "mutagenic alchemy", described as a secret "known only to the mages of Kaer Morhen." In short, witchers have been creating their own monsters to help create a self-perpetuating need for witchers. After all, no monsters, then witchers become redundant.
Vesemir confronts his mentor Deglan, who confirms he was the mastermind behind the whole plot.
For Deglan, the scheme was a way to stop the world of men from wiping out the witchers. "The only thing keeping men from hunting us," he says, "are the scarier beasts we keep away."
The two clash and are quickly interrupted by Tetra, Kitsu, and their combined forces. In the ensuing battle, Deglan is mortally wounded. With his finally words, he recants his past actions and tells Vesemir to make the current crop of kids in Kaer Morhen “better men.”
The brutal lineage of witchers is broken. In its place, a slightly more considerate one, led by Vesemir. It remains to be seen just how the bunch of monster slayers will co-exist moving forward in The Witcher season 2 (multiple School of the Wolf alumni are confirmed to appear, including Lambert), but here marks a major divergence in how they treat those willing to become witchers.
It also marks the moment where men – rightly or wrongly – will have a far greater suspicion of witchers. It’s fair to say that their golden era, upon Deglan’s demise, is now over. Vesemir, Geralt, and others will have to go to considerable lengths to make up for the foul plot concocted in the bowels of Kaer Morhen – and all the lives it cost. It’s a dark history that is likely to hang over them for some time to come. And it all started here.
The fall of Kaer Morhen
Kaer Morhen is all but razed to the ground by Nightmare of the Wolf’s end. Fire engulfs much of the fortress, and the remaining children are forced to flee – with Vesemir being the last remaining senior witcher.
Those familiar with the books and games might not be too surprised by its fate. A journal entry in one of The Witcher games refers to a siege that wiped out all but a handful of witchers.
In essence, Nightmare of the Wolf’s ending acts as a reset button for the group of mutated monster hunters. Vesemir remains, and a few might have been scattered to the winds. That positions Vesemir as someone who will need to shed his cocky demeanour and, instead, lead the witchers away from their home and into an uncertain future.
At the very least, we know they eventually return to Kaer Morhen. The Witcher season 2 is confirmed to include what will likely be the mangled ruins of the one-time stronghold. Expect a cobbled collection of witchers, including Vesemir, to continue the legacy of the witchers while Geralt has struck out on his own.
Vesemir: when do we see him next?
A far older Vesemir (Nightmare of the Wolf is set decades before even the earliest events of The Witcher live-action series) is set to appear in The Witcher season 2, played by Kim Bodnia.
"I am so thrilled to welcome Kim Bodnia to the cast of The Witcher," showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich said after the casting announcement. "I have admired his unique talents in shows like Killing Eve and The Bridge, and cannot wait for him to bring strength, tenacity, and warmth to the character of Vesemir, who is such an integral part of our upcoming season."
If Nightmare of the Wolf is a success, we can’t rule out another anime-style movie to help further bridge the gap between Vesemir’s training of a certain someone – more on that shortly – and the events of the Netflix series. If not, The Witcher might utilize some flashbacks to fill in some of the lost years between Nightmare of the Wolf and the ‘present day’ on The Continent.
Geralt’s cameo in Nightmare of the Wolf
A bald child is seen sporadically throughout Nightmare of the Wolf. One of four children to escape Kaer Morhen after its collapse, the movie’s closing moments reveal that the kid is, in fact, Geralt. He’s even handed his own medallion by Vesemir.
What happens in the intervening years between then and The Witcher is likely to be the subject of much speculation. Given Ciri’s chance to train under the witchers in Kaer Morhen in the upcoming second season of The Witcher, expect some parallels (and maybe even some flashback scenes) to be drawn between Ciri’s struggles and Geralt’s own upbringing under Vesemir.
Nightmare of the Wolf, then, is an essential companion piece to The Witcher. It presents the moment where Geralt falls under Vesemir’s wing, as well as why the witchers are so greatly feared and are in a state of disarray by Geralt’s time. It’s even introduced a new leading figure in Vesemir – who we should find out more about on December 17.