The Story of Viraxas, Prince & King of Kerack – GWENT Storytime [Witcher Lore]
Master Mirror introduced six brand new evolving cards displaying the life or part of the life of 6 characters from the Witcher universe. Some are familiar characters to anyone who’s played the games such as the dryad queen Eithné or the Grand Master of the Order of the Flaming Rose, Jacques de Aldersberg. Others are more obscure but their stories are just as interesting.
In today’s article, we will be taking a look at the fascinating lifestory of the prince and eventual king of Kerack, Viraxas. All of the information in this article originates from the Season of Storms book by Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski, a prequel story based on Geralt’s time in Kerack and the surrounding lands so if you’re interested in reading that story in full, let this be your one and only spoiler warning. Read it and then come back here, I’ll still be here. All good? Great, let’s dive in.
To understand Viraxas’ history, we first need to talk about the kingdom he eventually takes control of, Kerack. Kerack is a relatively young kingdom, founded by the self appointed first king, Osmyk. Osmyk lived in the seaside region and accumulated a considerable amount of wealth by lieu of maritime trading allowing him to seize control over the adjacent lands. Over the next decades, the wealth of Kerack only increased when the maritime trading business was expanded to boatbuilding, smuggling and a bit of buccaneering. When King Osmyk died, his son Belohun ascended the throne, as is custom. Osmyk had at least 4 sons but all of Belohun’s brothers rescinded their claim on the throne for unknown reasons. We can only guess what those reasons were but it’s safe to say that Belohun had some leverage over his brothers one way or another.
Belohun continued to rule over the kingdom of Kerack and its profitable businesses, reigning for twenty years and, following in his father’s footsteps, conceived of four legitimate sons, each with a different mother and numerous daughters and bastards. Belohun’s wives didn’t have a particularly long lifespan, all of them died under suspicious circumstances after which the good king quickly remarried to a new, young and beautiful wife. His four sons were named Viraxas, Elmer, Egmund and Xander. But no-one was allowed to speak the name of his oldest son anymore.
Belohun’s oldest son was Viraxas, a tall, strong and lively young lad, better than his father in every way. While other parents would be proud to have a son like Viraxas, Belohun was no such man. As Viraxas grew older, Belohun started becoming more and more envious and wary of his son’s ambition. Fearing a coup similar to what he did with his father and brothers, Belohun got into an argument with his eldest son and eventually banished him from Kerack, seemingly just out of spite since the people of Kerack were even prohibited by royal decree to never utter his name ever again.
The succession of the throne was never threatened however. Belohun swapped wives like a fisherman swaps trousers and fathered three more sons, a few daughters and countless bastard children. Elmer, his second son, was the complete opposite of his brother and quickly turned into a drunken failure of a man who was never going to become king. His next two sons, Egmund and Xander, showed more promise. Both were also very ambitious and to keep them in check, Belohun constantly changed his mind on who would succeed him as king of Kerack. This insecurity frustrated the two brothers to no end as they tried to vie for their father’s approval only to be disappointed time after time.
Belohun treated his wives as he did his sons, luring them in with the promise of wealth and power, only to be discarded once he was done with them. Which brings us to the wedding where everything changed. His latest wife was called Ildiko Breckl, a beautiful, young, blonde woman seemingly another victim in a line of discarded queens, more on her in a minute.
As Belohun once again feared the ambition of his youngest sons, he teased them with the fact that his newest wife would bare the next king of Kerack, his fifth son. But against all odds, this didn’t ignite any rebellion in Egmund and Xander. They still fostered hope to one day become the king of Kerack but they loved their father nonetheless. In preparation of the festivities, prince Xander even reached out to a certain white haired witcher to secretly protect his father during the wedding, blackmailing the witcher to force him to keep his word. Belohun had plans of his own though.
On the suggestion of his new wife, the king commissioned a mercenary ship, the Acherontia, for a very special job. See, Belohun got word of the hiring of Geralt, the witcher, and immediately assumed that his sons hired him as an assassin instead of an armed guard. Right before the wedding he confronted his sons and the witcher with this and without any possibility of defence had all of them arrested. They would be escorted out of Kerack on the Acherontia, while the mercenaries would also serve as extra protection during the wedding. A move that would turn out very badly for the king himself…
The soon-to-be queen had a little secret and a big plan of her own. Ildiko wasn’t just any woman, she had some magical abilities, but she was kicked out of Aretuza in her third year for petty theft, preventing her from becoming a full sorceress. That didn’t stop her ambition however since she just orchestrated the coup of the century. Her wedding gift to the king was a golden necklace with a medallion, adorned with a dolphin, the crest of Kerack. As the king was preparing for his wedding at the tailor, he put on the medallion as a sign of love for his new bride only to stumble down to the floor moments later, gasping for air. The necklace had contracted, cutting deep into his flesh, strangling the king who didn’t stand a chance against the magical artifact.
While the king lay dying, the mercenaries of the Acherontia disembarked with a handsome man at the front, marching to the upper city and the palace. He barged into the throne room and set himself down on his rightful seat, his crew proclaiming to everyone that the new king had arrived, Viraxas first of his name.
Viraxas would not only take his father’s throne but also his wife, something Ildiko clearly didn’t object to. In accordance to his father’s final wish, he would also banish his two brothers, Egmund and Xander, from the kingdom, eliminating his competition at the same time. The white haired witcher however had killed his guards and escaped, but Viraxas was sure that the witcher would not be seen in Kerack again. Since Belohun never officially appointed an heir, nobody could dispute Viraxas’ claim. He was Belohun’s eldest son after all which meant that the old king’s indecisiveness and paranoia eventually caused his own demise.
See, Viraxas and Ildiko were lovers long before the death of Belohun and they conceived off a plan to take back control of Kerack. While Viraxas vied for the support of the neighbouring kingdoms, who were all too happy to gain back some leverage over the young and wealthy kingdom, Ildiko infiltrated Kerack’s court and seduced Belohun to become his next wife. She enchanted the murderous medallion that would eventually kill the king and manipulated him into bringing the Acherontia to Kerack and with it Viraxas and a small private army. With the support of several kingdoms already in his pocket and the legitimate claim to the throne, Viraxas had everything he needed to overthrow his father in the ultimate revenge ploy. And the rest is history.
After the coronation, Viraxas immediately setup a bunch of rules that were detrimental to the kingdom, some clearly inspired by his vengeful bride. He doubled port and custom fees in the hopes of quickly increasing his own wealth. Instead he basically scared away the biggest income Kerack had in one fell swoop. He started a brutal crackdown on both non-humans and practitioners of magic, Ildiko’s envy towards sorceresses clearly had a hand in the latter. None were allowed to stay in the city, unless they were heavily regulated. Combined with a horrifically destructive storm that ravaged the port soon after the coronation, the new regulations caused the city and the kingdom to spiral towards their inevitable doom. Viraxas’ cunning was outmatched by his lack of leadership and the kingdoms that once supported him during the coup were all too eager to divy up the pieces when things went to hell. Viraxas managed to hold on to power for a bit but eventually, Kerack fell to ruin just as quickly as it was created and became just a footnote in history.
And that’s the story of Viraxas and Kerack, I hope you enjoyed this article. Let me know what you think. Check me out on Twitter @TroVNut if you want to talk. Any support is really appreciated. Thanks enormously for reading and I hope to see you guys in the next Gwent Storytime article. Goodbye!