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What Is Elder Blood In The Witcher?

Among the many qualities that Netflix's "The Witcher" TV series has become known and loved for, a particularly important one is the density and allure of its inner mythology. Inherited from the equally dense eponymous series of novels and short stories by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, the world-building of "The Witcher" is teeming with texture, mystery, and intriguing detail. All of this can occasionally overwhelm casual fans unacquainted with the lore of Sapkowski's writing and the CD Projekt RED video game adaptations.

One bit of terminology that pops up again and again throughout the newly-released Season 2 of "The Witcher" is "Elder Blood." The revelation of this rare gift as the source of Ciri's (Freya Allan) powers, and the implications it carries for her path towards becoming a Witcher, animates much of the season and Ciri's arc in it. But with the show's present-tense stakes as high as they have ever been, some viewers might have found themselves lost in the shuffle and wondering just what exactly Elder Blood is.

Elder Blood is shorthand for the powerful genetic lineage of Lara Dorren

Elder Blood, known in Elvish as "Hen Ichaer," is an expression that refers not to blood per se, but to genetics. In the Glossary section of the Journal in "The Witcher" game, Elder Blood is defined as "a genetic program initiated by elven mages (known as sages) for the purpose of creating an extraordinarily gifted child whose power would exceed their own." In other words, Elder Blood is a rare source of immense power unlike anything else in the "Witcher" universe, with all the potential for Chaos that entails.

In the game's mythology, the lineage of Elder Blood was thought to be interrupted when elven sorceress Lara Dorren bonded and had children with a human, only for the years to reveal that Lara's descendants still carried her power. Thus, at the time in which the TV adaptation of "The Witcher" is set, "Elder Blood" refers specifically to those who descend from Lara, and may have therefore inherited her uniquely mighty powers.

As the novel "Baptism of Fire" reveals, the Lara gene manifests differently in each descendant, with some merely serving as carriers or "activators." On Netflix's "The Witcher," the gene was active in Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May)'s mother, skipped Calanthe herself, and was activated again in her daughter Pavetta (Gaia Mondadori). Then, it manifested with full force in Ciri, thus marking her down as a Source.