1st of Sickle 1277

I’m with the town guard, surrounding the witch hunter hideout. Zhenor’s idea of disguise for me? Put up the hood.

I once visited a world completely dominated by ghouls. It might have been their homeworld, or just a world they overwhelmed. Everywhere I looked were just ruins and broken machines centuries beyond us. And whole swarms of ghouls. Regular ghouls. Alghouls. Intelligent ghouls in rags, walking on two legs. Kinds I’ve never seen before or since. There were diagrams, showing differences between man and ghoul, though they were falling apart because of their age. These people might have created the ghouls, or perhaps they were just studying them to try stem the tide. No one will ever know.

We’re moving in. Time to stop digressing on ghoul apocalypses.

We briefly saw Kleinvingers. He’s fleeing through some ancient tunnels leading to Temple Isle. We’re in pursuit.

It was a busy evening. I could hardly find time to write anything down. I killed Kleinvingers personally. He was such a coward he literally pissed himself before I put the sword through him. Unfortunately, the real leader is his Hierarch, who’s all the way back in Tretogor as we learned today. Aanklager. Abigail Aanklager. Also, she’s twelve. One of the biggest menaces to civilized society is led by a little girl.

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31st of Linden 1277

This is strange to even write about in this journal. I was never very comfortable with talking about sexuality. So… I slept with Menner. We talked, and I actually laughed, and it just happened. I never slept with a man before. Or a sphinx. Male anything. Not that I had anything against it, it just didn’t happen. I slept with a few women during my time off-world. Mostly one-night stands. Like your typical witcher.

Menner left early in the morning to work for Barrack. I should get done with this alchemy and check if the town guard needs anything today. If they don’t need anything else, perhaps it’s time to move on from Novigrad. Menner will understand. We talked about my lack of commitment. Not that this prejudiced city would understand what happened between us. Unless they would take him for a woman.

I also learned yesterday Menner was not just disguised as a humanoid. Barrack fully mutated him. Silver no longer harms him.

If someone found this journal now, it would probably spell death (or an attempt at one) for us both. Maybe if this journal is found centuries later, we will be clever enough to know a man is not measured by who he loves.

If Barrack can turn a… post-conjunction creature into a non-silver allergic non-human… that is truly astounding.

Thanks to my information, there is a big action against the witch hunter hideout in the slums. Zhenor wants me to join the assault. I hope they do not expect me to sneak. It’s not exactly my strong side.

I just witnessed some kind of merchant or noble telling a strumpet to “fear the gods”. Not sure why her profession would agitate the gods. But since I’m in the mood for denying societal norms, I’ll write this down: the only reason I’d fear the gods is their power.

Some people say gods aren’t real, but I know they are. But in truth, they are just really old, really powerful monsters. Once I fought Moloch, the “one true god” of Gemmera. It turned out to be just a really old monster. It looked like a cross between a fiend, a chort and a leshen. A gargantuan, muscular, cornigerous, ornery bastard. My silver sword and relict oil merely kept it at bay. What truly bound it to the mortal world was his statue.

For centuries, Gemmerians laid offerings to Moloch – animals, as bloody as they could. Often, humans. Or children. Nilfgaard attempted to outlaw the practice, but many people continued it in secret. Every year at the eve of autumn the altar ran with blood. When the offerings became too small, the “god” grew angry and began killing and cursing people. That’s where I come in.

Morvran Voorhis gave me orders to go to Gemmera and find the truth behind this cult, as the entity was clearly real to some degree. I began by breaking the altar. Then Moloch’s cultists came out and I slew them. That’s when the monster awakened. As I already said, my weapons and alchemy had little effect on it. Only when I broke the statue with Morvran’s soldiers’ help, it weakened. That’s when I was able to slay it. I cannot be certain it is truly dead, but at least its power over this world was dispelled. If it returns, it will be centuries from now. But until then, the people of Gemmera and free and cultists are powerless.

I think the other gods are the same. Melitele, Kreve, they’re all just old and powerful monsters sleeping beneath old places. The sooner we get rid of them, mankind – and other races as well – will be truly free to make its own fate.

Moloch did make some prophecies. Blood-chilling rhymes about seeing strange suns and stomping on “earth not of earth”. He said in the end I would try to put a crown fit for a man on my head, but the weight will crush my skull and drain my blood. Something about a murder of crows I hatched myself feasting on my dreams… I do not remember the exact rhymes. Some of them are coming true, which is really creepy. I suppose he did really see things.

Judging by some things Moloch said during our fight, he might be the same thing as Coram Agh Tera.

Drowner brains are becoming a rare commodity. Never thought I’d see the day.

30th of Linden 1277

I talked a bit with Barrack’s sphinx scribe. He really is a sphinx, androsphinx to be precise, though he doesn’t like killing. Other sphinxes hated him for being “weak”. Gynosphinxes did not attract him. Then he tried living with humans, but most tried to kill him. A witcher of manticore school was sent to kill him, but he escaped. Then he found Barrack who transformed him into a non-human. As in, he looks mostly human, but his face is still that of a sphinx – that is, pronounced feline traits on a human-like face.

Despite all he went through, he seems surprisingly idealistic. Despite being a complete cynic, I wish there were more people like him. This world needs people who believe in a better future. If no one does, it will surely never come.

After talking to Menner, that is Barrack’s sphinx scribe, we decided to visit the oni together. Perhaps another monster can convince him.

A bard on the streets thought Menner was a witcher too, because of the feline eyes. “But where’s your sword, master witcher?” he asked. Menner concocted a story about an ooze devouring it. I did not think there were ooze monsters in our world. “There aren’t any,” Menner responded to me after the bard left, “but bards do not need to know that.” He’s a clever one, that one.

We have reached some kind of agreement. The oni agreed to act only where authorities fail. I agreed to report his demise. Menner agreed to not tell Barrack anything about the conversation we had. Strangely enough, it seems like all three of us might be friends in the end. A witcher and two monsters. Strange are the turns of fate.

Also, some man in the street mistook Menner for “some exotic Ofieri whore” and me for “her pimp”. I cannot understand why some people’s minds are so constantly in the gutter.

29th of Linden 1277

After handing in my “trophy” and getting my reward, I went to Barrack to get some supplies. He actually suggested we restart his witcher experiments. That we get some young boys – I don’t know where, probably kidnapping – and then we try to mutate them, very possibly killing half of them. Then I would train them as the start of our own witcher school. I am not going to do that to anyone. Yes, I am more than I was, but I never asked for this. I told him to keep his inhumane ideas to himself. He said I would see my error one day. I doubt it.

The town guard tells me the witch hunter Oren was found strung up by his genitals above a busy street. With electric burns on his body. I think I need to pay a visit to my oni friend.

I tried telling the oni he can’t just go around, dispensing vigilante justice. He said I do it all the time. It’s different with me, though, I mostly do it when people attack me, or I’m asked to deal with troubles. I fear I’ll have to deal with him after all, but I loathe to defend witch hunters.

If I was making my own witcher school, IF, I’d make it School of the Crow.

On one of the worlds I visited they had particularly strange golems. Made of wood and metal, they approximated a human posture. Strangely enough, silver had no effect. Apparently no magic powered these things. They called them “robots”.

28th of Linden 1277

Kleinvingers sent people to watch the entrance to the crypts. Does he actually want innocent people to die? Considering I’m talking about the witch hunter leader, he probably does.

For once, I did not have to kill witch hunters. I talked to a man they call Oren. I managed to convince him I have to kill the monster. “But remember, mutant,” he finished the conversation, “we’ll be back for you when the spirit is put down.” I feel like I should have just turned around and stabbed him in the back for that, but let’s tackle the problems one at a time. So… that was an interesting experience.

I went down to the crypt and set up a fireplace and meditated, in order to summon the spirit. A few hours later, I felt immense heat and opened my eyes to see a flaming, armored skeleton next to me. “Do you like to play with fire?” it yelled out in a screeching, ear-piercing voice. Fireballs lit up in its hands. Let me specify one thing before you continue reading: corporeal undead are very, very rare. Skeletons are usually too brittle to be useful as magical minions. Corpses are just impractical. When someone is brought back by their anguish, they usually become a spirit. Not this time.

Somehow, Hierarch Vlambell’s bones were animated by his spirit, and set alight by his pyromancy and burning hatred. It seems Spectre Oil worked just fine, but getting up close with a sword was not very prudent. I had to depend on my signs and bombs. That is not a problem for me, but it took me off guard. Aard to blow out the fire from the skeleton every once in a while. Quen to shield myself from the flames when going melee. Ploughing thing kept cackling at me and taunting me with some random insults at my mutanthood. I am a very calm person, but it was simply irritating to hear that annoying, screeching voice.

I finally defeated the monster and proceeded to salt the bones and then rebury them in the sarcophagus. Unless something else happens, that should get rid of our venerable hierarch once and for all. I can’t take a bone without keeping the spirit active, so I took his holy medallion as a proof of dealing with him.

Hierarch Osric Vlambell, pyromaniac who wanted to burn the entire city for its sins and got stabbed in the back by his own Temple Guard. Rest in peace. Not because I like you, but because the alternative would hurt innocent people.

27th of Linden 1277

The town guard says they’ll look into Donald Kleinvingers and his Hierarch. Meanwhile, they have a new contract for me. Nilfgaard has been building houses on Temple Isle ruins since they took over – and now some people turned up dead. Burned to a crisp, even though their surroundings were untouched. Town guard suspects some kind of monster is responsible. I’m on my way there now.

I visited the houses of the victims. Just like the town guard said, they died of serious burns, the corpses are charred. Except, if they got set on fire, or even hit by the oni’s lightning, the surroundings would catch fire too. Even the internal organs are charred. I see the fire’s trails inside their bodies… going outward. The fire came from inside. Multiple victims of strange burns in short span, all in houses built on ruins of a temple destroyed by the Fire. This is the work of one seriously pissed off specter.

I need to check the area, see what exactly stood here before. Perhaps find out who the specter was in life. And ask around what the victims were doing just before their deaths. Find out what triggers the attacks so I can destroy the culprit.

Still investigating, but I thought about Ithlinne’s prophecy again. “The world will die amidst frost and be reborn with the new sun. It will be reborn of Elder Blood, of Hen Ichaer, of the seed that has been sown. A seed which will not sprout but burst into flame.” What if the “new sun” is Nilfgaard? What if Cirilla “burst into flame” to beat the White Frost and now her return to Emhyr is the rebirth “with the new sun”? I don’t think the world perished amidst the ice in any possible interpretation, though. Still have to figure that one out.

Some of these folks believe in spontaneous combustions. People do not just burst into flame for no reason. It must have been a spirit. One old lady believes her husband was punished by the Eternal Fire for daring to live in a house built on hallowed ground. Your whole “Eternal Fire” was extinguished, after it consumed half the city. When will they stop this nonsense?

Though her superstition does give me idea. Eternal Fire, hallowed ground, victims dying of immolation. What if this spirit believes it’s punishing people? Being dead does not mean you are free of stupidity.

There is something under this floor. I hope the owners don’t mind a little… redecoration. They don’t, because they’re dead. I’m not very good at humor.

I’m coming back up, but I think I can summon the specter to destroy it. The exact spot they built the houses on wasn’t just hallowed ground. It was a crypt. An ancient crypt dating back to the founding of the Eternal Fire. And in it, disturbed grave of Hierarch Vlambell. Yes, the legendary Mad Hierarch who dabbled in magic. The one who used fire magic to burn his enemies until his own priests considered him too radical and killed him. The Great Fire must have disturbed his grave, and the houses were a final nail in the not-so-proverbial coffin.

26th of Linden 1277

I talked to Wily about this Donald fellow. I’m told he always felt religious – that is, he was governed by his hatred. Some people in Wily’s employ who felt disappointed with his change of heart joined up with Donald and some self-proclaimed Hierarch. After Hemmelfart died in the Great Fire and the Eternal Fire was extinguished, there has been no official patriarch. So I guess the Eternal Fire people now do what they do best – kill everything that looks cross-wise at them.

Wily is very cooperative. He gave me his own files on Donald Kleinvinger to help nail him. Hmm, I wonder if the oni would help with that.

Kleinvingers has many connections in the city. Luckily, Zhenor does not care too much about it. Says he will get to the bottom of it. I’m going to see the oni under the address he gave me. See how he’s doing now. If he killed any innocents yet.

When I entered my monster “friend’s” new house, it was… rancid. There was a lot of fresh, raw meat around and the whole place smelled like death. Last time I smelled something like that was a nekker nest. But no, he got himself a job as a butcher. It seems he’s keeping himself straight. He showed me a trophy he took from one of the witch hunters. A book keeping track of witch hunter actions recently in Novigrad, including the plan to lure him out. Donald Kleinvingers keeps coming up there. They mostly refer to him by the very imaginative codename of “Donald”. There is also a slogan he’s using to gather recruits – “make Novigrad great again”. He’s blaming sorcerers and dopplers for the Fire. Never mind it was Bedlam and Cleaver who blew up the Temple Isle and the fleet. He doesn’t care much for these things called “facts”.

Strangely, the book refers to their Hierarch as a she. I don’t think the Eternal Fire ever had a woman patriarch. Or priests at all. Perhaps Zhenor will know what woman would be able to have that kind of authority among them.

Barrack keeps asking I stay at his place. I would rather avoid nightmares about him staring down at me squirming in my bed after the Trial. I’m getting the impression he thinks of me like a son. I think of him more like an abusive drill sergeant.