As you can imagine, the transmedial storytelling around Wiedźmin [The Witcher] combines many of my interests. Therefore, one of my resolutions for 2020 is to contribute to this phenomenon by means of a new translation (from Polish to English). Every month, I translate one of the short stories from the collection Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish) by Andrzej Sapkowski. This was my work from February. Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions.
Velerad, the castellan of Wyzim, scratched his chin and pondered. He was neither superstitious nor timid, but he was not happy to remain alone with
the white-haired man. Finally he made a decision.”Get out,” he ordered the guards, “and you: sit down. No, not here. Over there, if you will.” The stranger sat down. He had sword nor black coat anymore.
“I will listen to you,” said Velerad, playing with the heavy mace lying on the table. “I am Velerad, the castellan of Wyzim. What do you have to say to me, dear Lord Highwayman, before you go to the dungeon? Three dead, an attempt to cast a spell, not bad, not bad. For such things you get impaled here in Wyzim. But I’m a righteous man, I will hear you aforetime. Speak.”
The Rivian unbuttoned his jacket, drew a wad of white goatskin from under it.
“At the crossroads, on the tavern walls, you’re nailing those around,” he said quietly. “Is it true what is written?”
“Ah,” Velerad murmured, looking at the runes etched on the goat skin parchment. “It’s quite the case. Why didn’t I think of that? Yup, it’s true, the truest. It’s signed: Foltest, king, lord of Temeria, Pontar and Mahakam. This means: it’s legitimate. But the message is the message and the law is the law. And here in Vizima, I keep the law and order! I won’t let people be murdered! Do you understand?”
Riv nodded signing that he understood. Velerad exhaled angrily.
“Do you have a witcher token?”
The stranger reached into the pocket of the caftan, to dig up the round medallion on the silver chain. A wolf’s head with grinned fangs was depicted on the medallion.
“Got a name? Any name, I don’t care, don’t ask it out of curiosity, just to make conversation.”
“My name is Geralt.”
“Let it be Geralt. From Rivia, I presume from the way you talk?”
-“Yes. Do you know what, Geralt? This thing” – Velerad patted the message with an open hand – “just let it go. This is a serious matter. Many have already tried. This, brother, is not as easy as slaughtering a few scumbags.”
“I know. This is my job, castellan. It is written here: a reward of three thousand orens.”
“Three thousand,” Velerad pursed his lips. And the princess for a wife, as people say, although this the gracious Foltest did not mention.
“I’m not interested in the princess,” Geralt stated calmly. He sat still, his hands on his knees. “It says: three thousand.”
“What times, what lousy times!”, the castellan sighed. Twenty years ago, who would have thought, even drunk, that such professions would exist? Witchers! Roaming basilisk killers! Hawker dragon and drowners slayers! Geralt? Do you drink beer in your guild?”
Velerad clapped his hands.
“Beer!” he called out. “And you, Geralt, sit closer. Who cares.”
The beer was cold and foamy.
“Lousy times have come,” Velerad ranted, sipping from his mug. “All around, all the filth has multiplied. In Mahakama, in the mountains, it is full of Werebbubbs. Before, in the woods, it were just the wolves who howled, and now you’d wish for them! Ghosts, some kind of Borowiki’s, wherever you spit , a werewolf or other plague. Rusałki and Płaczki’s are kidnapping children in the villages, it is already happening in hundreds of cases. Diseases no one had ever heard of before, the hairs standing up in your neck. And add that to the collection!” He pushed the parchment over the tabletop. “No wonder, Geralt, that there is such a demand for your services.”
“This is a royal writ, castellan.”, Geralt raised his head. “You know the details?” Velerad leaned back in his chair, his hands folded on his belly.
“Details, you say? I know them. Not first-hand, but from good sources.”
“That’s what I mean.”
“You are stubborn. As you wish. Listen” – Velerad drank his beer, then lowered his voice. “Our gracious Foltest, still as a prince, during the reign of old Medell, his father, showed us what he could do and he could do a lot. We hoped that this would change when he aged.
Meanwhile, however, shortly after his coronation, right after the death of the old king, Foltest went in over his head so hard, that all our jaws dropped.
In short, he produced a child to his own sister Adda. Adda was younger than him, they always kept together, but no one suspected anything, well, maybe the queen …
Look : we see Adda with such a belly, and Foltest starts talking about the wedding. With his sister, do you hear that, Geralt? The situation became tense as hell, because right then Vizimir from Novigrad wanted Foltest to marry his Dalka. So, Vizimir sent a message, and there you had to hold the king by the hands and feet, because he wanted to run towards the messengers to insult them. And it worked out in the end, because offended, Vizimir would have gutted us all. After that, not without the help of Adda, who influenced her brother, we managed to persuade the rushing fool away from a quick wedding.
Well, and then Adda gave birth, at the expected time, and in what a way. Now listen, because here it begins. Not many people saw what was born, but one midwife jumped out of the tower window and killed herself, and another got mixed up in her senses and to this day she is twisted. So I think this hell of a bastard was not very handsome. It was a girl.”
The first story can be read here.