"Eternal Flame" (Polish: Wieczny ogień) is a short story in the Miecz przeznaczenia (The Sword of Destiny) collection by Andrzej Sapkowski. The story is set in and around Novigrad and tells the story of the creation of one of Dandelion's better known ballads.
The story begins with Geralt hearing an angry loud scream and something slamming down to the street. He quickly makes his way to the source of the noises and witnesses a plump woman standing on a balcony, screaming and throwing flowerpots on a man at the street. They are arguing with each other and the man is jumping like a scalded cat in order to dodge a flower pots crashing down the ground. Geralt finds out that the woman's name is Vespula and the man is none other than Dandelion himself after listening to their argument. Dandelion sees Geralt as well and makes his way over to him, leaving the angry woman. They had a short conversation, and it turns out that Vespula was Dandelion's fiancé and he suggests that they should go to a tavern to calm his nerves after the fight.
On the way to the tavern, Geralt mentions that he and Yennefer are not a thing anymore and that he is in Novigrad to just do some simple tasks, at the same time is Dandelion working on his new ballad called "Winter".
At the mostly, folk empty tavern they met the merchant Dainty Biberveldt who is a halfling, a merchant and apparently a friend of Dandelion. Geralt and the poet sat down with the merchant who was cooking a soup at the time. He had a wooden spoon in his left hand with onion rings hanging, swinging like a pendulum from the spoon and in his right an earthenware bowl. After a few minutes of conversation, suddenly the chamber door got smashed open and in came a second Dainty! From top to toe identical to the merchant.
The second Dainty leaped and screamed against the other Dainty starting a fight. Geralt acts quickly and instinctively joins the fight. The second Dainty goes down on all four and moves like spider, runs away, colliding with a wench lass which causes her to make an ear-splitting scream. By the collision, Geralt managed to keep up with the second Dainty and knocked it to the ground. The creature deforms more and more and is begging for mercy. The innkeeper orders the screaming wench girl to get the guard but Dandelion is quick to stop her. The real Dainty explain that this is a private matter and he will pay for all the damage.
After some arguing with the innkeeper about calling the guard, they finally started communicating with the creature which they now knew was a doppler and named Tellico Lunngrevink Letorte or Dudu as his friends call him. Dainty described his look as a fermenting dough.
Fast into the conversation, Dainty asks where his horses are and claims that Dudu has robbed him and abandoned him in the forest as a copy of himself. This comes out to be true and Dainty wants to kill the thing but Geralt finds mercy for the doppler stating that he does not kill intelligent races. Instead, they make the doppler talk to see what he has done in the past days in Dainty Biberveldt's body. Interrupting the conversation, the innkeeper says that he should change form as a disguise since humans tend to kill dopplers. So the doppler changes into Dainty again, creating an exact copy of him, Dandelion and Geralt is astonished. Geralt then mentions that dopplers do not only copy the body, but the mind, the thoughts and the soul.
It then turns out that the doppler had sold the horses for an incredibly high price and reinvested all the money in a ton of stuff including cod liver oil, rose oil, mimosa bark, cochineal, earthenware bowls and beeswax. Dainty is devastated knowing that all this stuff are completely useless. Suddenly, the chamber door opened again and in came a man in a purple toga and a weird shaped hat asking for a merchant named Biberveldt. This triggered the doppler Dainty to fiercely run out of the tavern, Geralt follows. The purple man calls for help as the doppler forces his way through. The guard grabs Geralt, thinking that he is the bad guy and the doppler gets away.
Dainty then explains to the purple dressed man, who's name apparently was Schwann, that the doppler was his cousin Nutcase-Biberverldt and had an injury from his childhood that caused him to get infuriated by the color purple. Schwann believes the lie and then explains that Dainty has a tax debt of fifteen hundred gold, something that he'd never be able to pay. Dainty is yet again devastated.
Later that day, Dainty, Dandelion and Geralt gathered around a fountain. Dainty wanted to find that doppler but it didn't take long until they noticed they were surrounded. Men armed with lamias walk towards them. A man approach them, he had a white kaftan and a golden chain. Dandelion noticed that it was Chappelle. Chappelle starts talking about the doppler or the vexling as he calls it, in the tavern. He claims that anyone who says that they saw a vexling is blasphemous and a heretic who should be sent into the dungeon because the eternal fire is protecting Novigrad from monsters. The innkeeper was imprisoned because he claimed that.
A bit later he wants to talk a few private words with Geralt. Chappelle asks Geralt what the cost would be if there would be a vexling in the city. Geralt answered, "That question is impossible to answer". After a while of conversation, Chappelle finally decides to leave. He and his armed men walks away in an organized column.
Dandelion is relived but Dainty got his sight on Muskrat, a merchant he knew. Muskrat approached him. He is astonished but also angry, he tells him about the profit he made on the cochineal since there was a huge demand on it in the coup in Poviss. Dainty is shocked, he hastily makes his way to the bank in order to understand what is happening, Dandelion and Geralt followed too. Dainty met his bank companion Vimme Vivaldi and they got invited to his office. At the bank, the halfling finds out that the doppler had been here several times and that he had a wealthy amount of money on the bank by the cochineal profit. The tax was paid as well.
They then discuss some business and the Chappelle thing. Vimme Vivaldi said that Chappelle is following them because of his success in business lately since Chappelle usually is the one who is on top of business. Dainty then finds out that the doppler is at the west market. He asks for a stout robust stick and makes his way to the market hastily, leaving Vimme Vivalde without a doubt.
At the western market, the three companions split up in order to find the doppler. Geralt is desperately searching for the doppler but his attention got caught by Dandelion's voice, singing. Geralt finally finds him singing like a beggar on the street, a big crowd had gathered around him. Geralt walks up to him and asks what he is doing, but it did not take long until Vespula showed up, angry as usual. Dandelion jumped but it did not take long until Dainty came rushing in, bumping into Vespula and screaming. The halfling says he'd seen him.
After a bit of guiding from Dainty, he finally gets his eye on the doppler and they both ran after him. The Doppler at last ran into a butcher tent but Geralt, with the help of the Aard sign was able to trap him inside the tent. The Witcher did not want to kill him or turn him to the authority, instead he offered him to leave the town but the doppler did not approve of that. Instead, he started forming into the Witcher himself. They started fighting and both did exactly the same moves. The doppler said constantly that he can not defeat him, because they are exact copies. But Geralt knew better. He knew that the doppler did not have the courage to defeat him. That he did not have the courage to understand the bad in people, only the good, and that Geralt knew because he could have easily just killed and buried the merchant he decided to rob, and all his problems would have gone away, but he did not have the courage to do so. The doppler knew this, since he had the Witcher's thoughts and he understood. He now started to form into Dandelion instead and then explained that all he wanted was to be able to live in Novigrad, just like dwarves, halflings, gnomes and elves. Geralt put his sword back in the scabbard and watched him make his way on the street. The Doppler looked back and thanked him, played to chords on his lute and sang the last bit of Dandelion's ballad "Winter", but suddenly Vespula showed up.
She knocked him with a pan and he started deforming. A crowd was forming and Geralt tried to oust the attention. Suddenly, Chappelle shows up without any bodyguards at all. He approached the doppler and at the same time, Dainty showed up from another butcher tent, sweaty. Chappelle then tries to communicate with the deforming doppler assuming its name is Dudu. Geralt is watching Chappelle with narrow eyes, looking very suspicious. Finally the doppler had changed to Dainty again, or Dainty's cousin as they say. The real Dainty is no longer angry on the doppler since his way of doing business is incredible and has granted him a lot of fame in his name. Chappelle pretty much revealed himself as a doppler himself and explains that he had killed the real Chappelle two months ago. Dudu then explains why he bought all those random stuff. It was revealed that you need all of those ingredients in order to make the eternal fire altars which they are going to start building soon in Novigrad.
After that they all went together to the Passiflora and so the story ends.