Ah, hello! Does wet passing fill your dreams? Are weak, meek openings your waking reveries? Do you pleasure yourselves at the thought of your 3-3 glorious draws? So you must think you know all there is to know about the cards. When to open with a “BANG!” When to bluff and lose. When to lead your foe on. But you do not know what lies beyond. So I am here to tell you. To tell you what lies… BEYOND THE FRAME. This time we examine folk not seen before. By whom? – you ask. By those wretches who have partaken little or naught of the world inhabited by witchers. Today we discuss three powerful men. Tautology or oxymoron? I ask you. They all hail from a time before the Wild Hunt’s descent and thus can be read of in manuscripts most ancient. The first – Leo Bonhart, a mercenary most vicious. Coin his king, Mammon his god. One who took pleasure in inflicting brutality, suffering and pain. He wore three medallions – a cat, a wolf and a griffin – all trophies, all earned, for he killed their previous owners. He had a run-in with the famed Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon. How this ended I will not betray in hopes of encouraging you to read the relevant tale. The second – Vilgefortz of Roggeveen, a member of the Council of Mages, described by the sorceress Yennefer as “young,” meaning just under a century old. Common knowledge paints him as exceptionally talented, tall, handsome, well-built and possessing of a lovely voice. So an all-around knob. As Bonhart, so Vilgefortz proved a fan of resolutions most cruel. Witness this scene from the tales of The Witcher. Can you guess the victim? I’ll tell you this much – it wasn’t Regis-ide… And lastly – Nivellen, an unfortunate, cursed soul. He dwelled in a solitary manor, in Redania, in the woods near Murivel. The local folk scared their children with tales of his monstrous exploits, calling him names like Fanger and Degen. Idiotic… But as man-beasts go, this was a wealthy one. So local merchants, in exchange for a portion of his wealth, would lend him their daughters for a year at a time. Cruel – but not on Nivellen’s part, who believed that one of these lasses would prove his true love and break the curse that held him in beastly form. Pimply, scabbed, horned, with a piggish snout, and a maw worthy of a gravier, he perhaps came closest with a lass named Fenne, who thought him mad and played along. She would disrobe and pounce upon his back, and they would rush out and scare whoever they encountered. A tale most joyous… and tragic. I encourage you to seek it out. So lay down your cards and run your eyes across some words, for change. There you have them, Gwenters one and all: three thoroughbred males – make of them what you will. And join me next time for who knows what.