6

In the TV series, when Geralt was confronted with the ultimatum of whether to kill

Renfri or Stregabor

he ultimately chose the former, but I don't quite grasp his motivation.

On the one hand, he would have to kill Renfri and her seven   ̶d̶w̶a̶r̶v̶e̶s̶   bandits. On the other hand, he would have to kill one creepy sorcerer. I'm guessing that mutation and being on the wrong side of the law weren't too important to Geralt (what with him being a mutant who's on the wrong side of the law and all) and the fact that she might have worshipped a demon goddess bent on bringing about the end times didn't seem factor into things (given that he seemed willing to let Renfri go off to find said goddess). So it seems like he has to choose between killing eight people including someone he's in love with, or one nasty old sorcerer.

Geralt chose what was the lesser evil from his perspective, I assume, based on the context and the dialogue. But how did he make this decision?

7

It was bit better explained in the book: Renfri and her cronies were planning to murder the whole village to get Stregobor out:

[Refnri]: “Who knows, witcher, who knows. There are arguments which cannot be opposed or resisted, there are also offers which cannot be reject. Among these there’s for instance the Tridamian ultimatum. I will offer him Tridamian ultimatum.

[Geralt]:“What is such an ultimatum?”

“My sweet secret.”

“Let it be. Yet I doubt if it’s going to be effective. Stregobor’s teeth chatter, when talking about you. An ultimatum, which would convince him to surrender of his own accord into your beautiful hands would have to be a mighty one, indeed. Let us then proceed to the other person who can prevent carnage in Blaviken. I shall try to guess who this person is.”

Later we find what the "Tridamian ultimatum" is:

[...] “In Tridam. You haven’t heard? It was common gossip about three... Well, yes, must have been three years ago, for Marilka was two then. The Baron of Tridam kept some thugs in his dungeon. Their companions, they say that that cur, Civril, was also among them, they captured a river ferry teeming with pilgrims, it was at the time of Nis Festivity. They sent to the baron demanded liberation of those. The Baron, as was to be expected, refused, and then they started murdering the pilgrims, one by one, one after another. Before the Baron yielded and released those from the dungeon, they let more than ten go down with the current. Exile, or even the block loomed over the Baron, some were vexed by the fact that he yielded only when so many had been killed; others were agitated, claiming that he had done a great evil: that it was a pre... precedent or what, and that those should have been shot down with crossbows together with the hostages, or be suddenly assaulted from boats, and he should not have go even an inch their way. At the court, the Baron maintained that he chose the lesser evil, for there were over a quarter of a hundred people on the ferry: women, brats...”

“The Tridam ultimatum.” witcher whispered. “Renfri...”

In the movie, it is a bit more vague:

[Geralt]Where's Renfri?

[Renfri's goon]:She's at the tower with your little friend, Marilka. She gave us a message to pass on to you. You have to choose the lesser evil. It's an ultimatum.[...]

[Renfri]: I will kill her. I will kill everyone here until Stregobor comes down.

Now, if you're asking why did he choose to kill Renfri rather than Stregobor - well.... the thing is, Geralt wasn't really planning to kill Renfri - he wanted just to stop her. He didn't want to be a murderer but also wasn't going to stand idle and watch the whole village to be slaughtered in the name of vengeance. Since Renfri didn't stand down and chose to fight, he had no choice but to kill her.

Leave Blaviken.It's not too late. If we cross swords - I won't be able to stop.

Again, in the book it is bit more clear:

“You have made a choice,” she declared. “You sure it is the right one?”
“There will be not another Tridam here,” said Geralt with effort.
“There wouldn’t be one. Stregobor jeered at me. He said I could slaughter all of Blaviken and add a few nearby villages, and yet, he shall not leave the tower. And he shall let nobody - you included - in. Why are you staring like that? Yes, I have cheated you. I have cheated throughout my life, if there was a need, why should I have made an exception for you?”
“Go away from here, Renfri.”
She laughed.
“No, Geralt,” she unsheathed her sword quickly and smoothly
“Renfri.”
“No, Geralt. You have made your choice. Now, it is my turn.”

  • Interesting. At that point, though, why didn't he just tell the hechman that he would go help kill Stregabor, thus avoiding the deaths of the townspeople and Renfri and company? – Adamant Jan 12 '20 at 20:37
  • @Adamant he didn't want to be a murderer in the first place, which was something that Renfri probably has sensed - those goons told him either leave or fight. Also Stregobor would have to be an idiot to let him inside (please read the updated answer) – Yasskier Jan 12 '20 at 20:39
  • @Adamant It is also quite funny how most of the goons and bandits in the story take their chances against a witcher all the time. This deed is one of which Geralt isn't proud of, but learns to live with it - or so the author wants us to believe since he is called "Butcher of Blaviken" throughout the story, even though he killed other men on other occasions. – RigaCrypto Jan 15 '20 at 7:41
  • @RigaCrypto - Geralt appears to be in the upper percentile for witchers. In the books, they talk about him being unusually tough and subjected to various experiments that the other witchers didn't go through. Remember how the striga killed the other witcher fairly fast? It wouldn't be unreasonable that a group of seven people (some wielding ranged weapons) might think they could take out a witcher without too much trouble. – Adamant Jan 15 '20 at 7:49
  • As to why he's more known as the Butcher of Blaviken than as e.g. the Butcher of Cintra (where he probably killed some people during the fight with Urcheon), it's pretty clear at least in the TV show that it's mainly Stregabor's doing. He's the one who accused Geralt of taking the law into his own hands to stir up the townsfolk despite having asked him to do it in the first place, and presumably continued to promote the rumor thereafter out of dislike for him. – Adamant Jan 15 '20 at 7:52
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Geralt didn't want to kill either, as he insisted he only kills monsters and neither had shown themself to him to be a monster.

However when Renfri decided to hold the village hostage and kill a villager one by one until the wizard showed himself Geralt at that point had to act to save the village from what he saw in that moment as a monster. Renfri.

The Villagers, unaware of how close they had come to death, saw Geralt as the monster and so kicked him out.

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