- "Emperor Emhyr var Emreis... or, to those on more intimate terms with him: "the White Flame Dancing on the Graves of his Foes". "
Emhyr var Emreis, Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd (in the Elder Speech - the White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of his Enemies), was the Imperator of the Nilfgaardian Empire during the events of the novels, TV series, movie, both PnP RPGs and video games. He was publicly favourable to the Elder Race, in stark contrast to monarchs of the North.
His rule of Nilfgaard was highly aggressive, often pursuing expansionist policies similar to those of his predecessors. This led to the outbreak of two wars against the North, both of which are described in the novels. Emhyr var Emreis was an intelligent and brilliant ruler. He chose his people well and crushed all plots against him. He was ruthless toward traitors and moved towards his goals with great determination.
If you are averse to spoilers and have not read all the books, do not read further. For the alias of Emhyr var Emreis, click here.
Not much is disclosed on Emhyr's childhood until at the age of thirteen when his father, the emperor of Nilfgaard at the time was deposed from his title, imprisoned and tortured after a coup lead by an unnamed duke/usurper. A sorcerer, under the service of the usurper turned Emhyr into a hedgehog in humanoid form which lasted from dawn until the stroke of midnight, as the usurper killed Emhyr's father. In his escape Emhyr counted only on a few loyal acquaintances for help; an astrologer named Xarthisius led Emhyr to the North, 'beyond the Marnadal Steps', to look for a cure for his curse (later in his seat as emperor, Emhyr rewarded Xarthisius for his aforementioned services). 
The short storiesEdit
At Cintra, under the moniker "Urcheon of Erlenwald", he presented himself before Calanthe and her vassals during the feast of Pavetta's fifteenth birthday and the choosing from her would-be suitors. Urcheon declared that Pavetta was to be his as she is the object of the Law of Surprise Urcheon enacted when he rescued Calanthe's deceased husband, the former King Roegner, from woe fifteen years past. After a long and heated exchange, Urcheon was fooled by Calanthe into removing his helmet before midnight, exposing his monstrous form, yet Pavetta stated her approvement of Urcheon nonetheless. A brawl ensued between Urcheon, the queen's vassals, Pavetta's would-be suitors and the witcher Geralt until Pavetta suppressed it with an outburst of her power, causing pandemonium all around. After Geralt and Mousesack silenced Pavetta, Urcheon, now called Duny, Prince of Maecht and son of Akerspaark, regained human form as it had struck midnight. Gaining Calanthe's forgiveness and approval of being together with her daughter, Duny is lifted of his curse. Feeling in debt to the witcher for protecting him during the brawl, Duny asked Geralt for his reward and replied by being enacted with the Law of Surprise, with the object in question being Duny and Pavetta's would-be offspring.
Reclaiming his heritage and the First War against the NorthEdit
Around the time after Ciri's birth, the sorcerer Vilgefortz appeared before Duny at Cintra as an ally wanting to acquire wealth and power only the emperor of Nilfgaard can provide. When Vilgefortz disclosed with him the prophecy, Duny decided to return to Nilfgaard to reclaim his heritage with Ciri in tow. However, under the watchful eye of Calanthe, Duny and Vilgefortz thought of a ploy to disappear without a trace by faking his, Pavetta and Ciri's death on a sinking ship while Vilgefortz secretly prepared a way for them to survive. However Pavetta, aware of her husband's plans, smuggled Ciri out of the ship in time, leading to a scuffle between Pavetta and Duny as the former is pushed overboard and drowned at sea. Vilgefortz then teleported the ship from a raging maelstrom with Duny being the only survivor. Through distraught of inadvertently murdering his wife despite not holding genuine feelings towards her, Emhyr was successful in faking his death as 'Duny' and was able to return to his homeland and conquered its regime.
Years later, as the emperor of Nilfgaard, Emhyr commenced the First Nilfgaard-Nordling War with the aim of expanding his empire and began by holding a siege against Cintra, where his daughter was held. While Nilfgaard's forces invade Cintra, Ciri managed to escape and Emhyr soon sent his agents to locate and capture her.
After several succesful campaigns against the North, Emhyr's invasion was put to a halt after the utter defeat of his forces during the Second Battle of Sodden Hill, marking the end of the First Nilgaard-Nordling War. In response, Emhyr had the commanders that failed him on Sodden either executed or replaced by younger and more determined officials to lead his armies next time around while readying his forces for the next major war.
In his castle, Emhyr received a report from Field Marshall Menno Coehoorn that the rulers of the North - specifically Vizimir of Redania, Foltest of Temeria, Demavend of Aedirn, Henselt of Kaedwen and Meve of Lyria and Rivia - are having a secret council at a castle in Hagge. Emhyr tasked the field marshall to disperse this information among the mages and members of the Chapter. Receiving no further news regarding Rience, Emyhr asked Coehoorn on his thoughts about Cintra. Coehoorn described it as 'gloomy' to which Emhyr followed by stating that it was different once and will be different again, promising Coehoorn a 'beautiful, happy' Cintra then cuts off by saying that he will leave governorship to someone else and wanted Coehoorn stationed at Dol Angra after he had quashed the rebellion within the province. At Dol Angra, Emhyr tasked Coehoorn to now allow himself and his fellow officers to be provoked by Meve or Demavend and will only allow themselves to be provoked immediately when ordered to do so.
Coehoorn returned later to report to Emhyr the success of suppressing the rebellion within Cintra - despite a few escapees - and the capture of its leader, Duke Windhalm of Attre. Pleased by the news, Emhyr ordered Windhalm's public and 'spectacular' execution as an example to frighten others and demanded Coehoorn's presence there as Governor of Cintra and proxy for the emperor. Furthermore, Emhyr - impatient for Rience's report - tasked Coehoorn to have his mages set up a telecommunication link to Redania and eventually Rience, commanding him to immediately dispose of the the witcher Geralt while leaving the sorceress Yennefer untouched. Afterwards, a count by the name of Cahir, appeared before the emperor and the field marshall. Emhyr reminder the count of his blunder for capturing Ciri two year prior and the consequences he will face if he repeats it as he is provided with a chance for redemption. Commanding the attention of both officers, Emhyr tasked them with an important mission.
When entering Flotsam, Vernon Roche gives his name as "Emhyr var Emreis", a spice merchant during the quest "A Rough Landing". This guard off-handedly dismisses this lie comically; saying: "A spice merchant? Not likely."
Later, the emperor is revealed as Letho's patron, having supported and funded the regicides as a precursor to his plans to destabilise then invade the Northern Kingdoms. As an incentive, he had promised Letho a land within his Empire where Witchers could be free to live without the hatred and prejudice they typically experience.
Emhyr var Emreis, as of recently called Ruler of the North and South, is main character during events of third installment. He decided that he would offer Ciri the throne as his successor. However, he required help to find her. Having captured Yennefer along the witchers of the Viper School previously, he made her an offer in exchange for her finding Ciri.
After Geralt chased down leads in Velen, Novigrad and Skellige, Emhyr sent his troops to retrieve him for a progress report. The witcher had brought with him Uma. Geralt explained to the emperor that he and Yennefer suspected that creature may be a transformed Ciri or maybe the key to find her.
Emhyr turned to Yennefer, asking if she can lift the curse on Uma. She stated that she believed she could, and Geralt added a phrase in Elder Speech that Ciri told Dandelion, would-be the key to accomplishing it. If Geralt chooses to seek help against Eredin, he can speak with Emhyr, explaining that he had found Ciri's location but, as soon as he gets to her, the Wild Hunt will attack, so he planned on bringing the battle to Kaer Morhen. Emhyr and Geralt ultimately disagree on who should command Nilfgaard's forces.
Should Geralt encourage Ciri to meet with him, he will cordially greet his daughter by addressing her by all her titles. He then offers Geralt his reward for fulfilling the deal. Geralt can refuse or accept, which would affect his relationship with Ciri. Emhyr would also provide a black Nilfgaardian horse to Geralt. He then asked to speak privately with Ciri, in which he tried offering her the throne of Nilfgaard. Ciri felt insulted at what seemed like bribery and left.
Depending on the choices Geralt made, Emhyr could be betrayed and assassinated by his subjects, due to his inability to defeat Redania and his other foes. However, should he defeat Redania, he will be able to focus on domestic threats and destroy those who plot against him.
Provided Geralt brought Ciri to Emhyr and he wins the war, he will name Ciri as his successor. Should Geralt choose not to bring Ciri before the emperor and she survives the White Frost, he will falsely inform the emperor that she had died. Emhyr then tells Geralt that he never wants to see him again.
Journal entry Edit
- Few names in the Continent's history arouse as much terror and respect as that of Emhyr var Emreis, Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd - the White Flame Dancing on the Graves of his Foes. Emperor of Nilfgaard, lord of Metinna, Ebbing and Gemmera, sovereign of Nazair and Vicovaro, he was ruler of half the civilized world and aspiring conqueror of the other half. He was a personage whose deeds and decisions shaped the fates of whole kingdoms and populations.
- What then could he possible want of a simple witcher?
- The emperor clearly and succinctly laid out what he wanted. His daughter and Geralt's ward, Cirilla, was in great danger, for the Wild Hunt was on her trail. Geralt, a superb tracker linked to Emhyr's daughter by the iron bonds of Destiny, stood a better chance of finding her than anyone else in the world.
Associated quests Edit
- Emhyr var Emreis: Emperor of Nilfgaard
- Emhyr var Emreis: His Imperial Majesty
- Emhyr var Emreis: Invader of the North
- Emhyr var Emreis: the White Flame
- Emhyr var Emreis: The Relentless
- Original model made by Arkadiusz Matyszewski resembled Charles Dance more, but was changed later.
- In the English version of The Witcher 3, Emhyr is voiced by famous British actor Charles Dance, who played Tywin Lannister on the HBO series Game of Thrones for example.