A Walkthrough the Card - PoP Thanedd Coup: Nilfgaard
The Nilfgaardian supporters certainly lived up to that creed with Vilgefortz betraying the North and staging the Thanedd Coup. But even a man of his stature was not able to do so on his own and the new cards bring some light to the shadows as they depict some of his fellow conspirators.
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All card art and premiums were taken from The Voice of Gwent.
He is an old acquaintance of Vilgefortz, they already know each other from the Battle of Sodden Hill in the First Northern War. At Thanedd, he was taken into custody by the Northern Supporters alongside the other Nilfgaard sympathisers and beaten up by Keira Metz which left his face disfigured. Karma struck promptly: after being freed by Tissaia de Vries, he pushed his tormentor out of the window in the ensuing fight. Soon after, he managed to get his hands on Ciri but she was rescued by Philippa Eilhart in owl-form who scratched his eyes out and met his ultimate demise by Geralt who used this opening and beheaded Artaud.
The flavour text Ambition can be blinding. can be understood quite literally because of the events I just mentioned.
The whole artwork condenses the events into one picture: Philippa as owl looming in the background, Artraud’s still bleeding nose from Keira’s abuse, and him clutching to Ciri. Give that girl some space! Especially since he was described as fat short man with disgusting mouth odour, even though this probably is Ciri’s smallest problem in this situation.
Just like Terranova, Fercart of Cidaris fought alongside Vilgefortz in the Battle of Sodden Hill and was a member of the Brotherhood’s Chapter. You may not remember it, but we already mentioned him on our blog when we talked about upcoming Journeys and his connection to Triss Merigold. Together with her and Keira Metz he was advisor to King Foltest of Temeria.
According to his voice lines, he considers the Nilfgaard and the Northern Realms alike to be bad sides, but rather sides with the winning one albeit reluctantly so. It probably was not a well-conceived plan from his side to begin with, as it can be read in his flavour text Pawns will never know of the unseen hands, maneuvering them toward certain doom.. The pawn being him, the unseen hands being the ones of Vilgefortz exploiting him and as for his doom: He was among the victims who did not survive the Coup.
The artwork presumably depicts him in his last battle in the halls of Aretuza after chaos broke loose. His expression seems highly concentrated and stressed the ice spell he is using seems to demand his total commitment. This is not surprising, considering all of his opponents are experienced and skilled magic users themselves. I would like to direct your attention to the lower left corner and look at a great detail: the cold from the ice spell and the heat of a fire burning somewhere outside the frame combined leads to small water droplets which ultimately cast a rainbow onto the scene. This is probably nothing that any of the combatants have an eye for in their current situation, but as a reader you should take the time to admire such an attention to detail.
Master of Puppets
See? One is never too old to play with puppets and puppet theatre is not only for children. The one depicted here certainly is not. The play we are witnessing is a rather obvious case of a tragedy. Maybe those two were looters, searching the desolate wasteland for supplies? Friends for years perhaps, that are now pitted against each other by the puppet master in the background? His size and looming presence above the tiny humans makes the latter look even frailer and more helpless as they have to dance to his whims. His torn robes look like they are crafted from the very same threats he controls the puppets with, which means there is plenty more available to him. What if he started with using his hair as strings and ran out of material so he had to resort to his clothes now?
The question Do you feel in control? as flavour text is a very fitting one: even if they feel in control, they certainly aren’t: their freedom, their choices, their personality – all stripped away from them and replaced by the puppeteers cruel script.
All in all I do prefer cute puppets with hair to comb and pretty clothes to dress them up with…
While quite many mages who partook in the Thanedd Coup are mentioned by name in the Witcher books, there probably is a silent majority without specific names. Considering the students of Aretuza had to make room for all participating mages, it is safe to assume that quite many persons assembled at the island.
The unnamed Nilfgaardian sorceress can been seen right after she was freed by Tissaia de Vries, the destroyed Dimeritium Shackles which were preventing her from using magic are still hanging in the air, her hands are still brimming with the magical power which caused the outburst. More sign of the explosion’s destructive force can be seen in the background: the dust between her legs, more debris in the air and heavy iron chandelier being catapulted into the corner of the room. All the hate for her captors was put into this arcane eruption, and said hate is still written in her face. At first we thought the dark line across it was a strand of hair, but it might as well be dried blood. We wrote about Keira Metz abusing Artaud and the books mentioned that she treated all Nilfgaardian prisoners like this.
This is even more fuel for her hate and the flavour text Hell hath no fury like a sorceress scorned. puts it into words. This idiom (with ‘woman’ instead of sorceress) is often mistakenly attributed to William Shakespeare, but actually comes from William Congreve’s play The Mourning Bride from 1697. The original sentence in the play is as follows: ‘Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.‘