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I've just finished reading "The Lesser Evil" story, but I didn't understand the ending.

At the end, when the thugs are preparing to perform the massacre, when Geralt talks to them, it's they who attack him first by shooting him with a crossbow, and the fight ensues. When all thugs are defeated, Renfri approaches Geralt, admits that the wizard said he doesn't care if she's going to kill people, and she attacks him with a sword. When the fight is over, the villagers start throwing rocks at Geralt and the mayor asks him to leave and never come back.

I get the author's intent - the prophecy had to be fulfilled, the hero had to become tormented by his actions and he had to get the "Butcher of Blaviken" title for doing nothing wrong.

Maybe we readers are cursed with this single point of view, but how was it perceived by the villagers, really? A guy, who is in favor with the mayor is getting attacked by suspicious-looking, armed men, kills them in self defense, and later is attacked by a woman skillfully wielding a sword. They didn't have to hear their conversation, but at least they could see he is reluctant to fight her?

Mob is mob, I get it, but the mayor, knowing the situation, could try to reason with the villagers. Why did he condemn Geralt himself, when he at least had the context and knew what could happen? He said earlier he's happy with his convenient life and he doesn't want any trouble, but at the end he acts like he believes that what Geralt did was wrong, not like he wants to please the villagers.

I'm not buying answers like "people are selfish, dumb and conformist", I'd like to get an interpretation of how people could have seen the situation and what could have been the consequences for the mayor if he defended Geralt at the end.

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  • Related: Was Renfri really cursed or not?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Feb 9 '21 at 20:52
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    You didn't got the details, for starters, she was protected by local ruler. More importantly, as the mage didn't care, there probably wouldn't be any massacre. Even if they would attack people, it's not like you can kill people for threats.
    – Mithoron
    Feb 9 '21 at 21:28
  • Your question seems to be based on assumption that somehow things are "fair" in the Witcher - verse. If you read all of the Witcher stories and books, you will understand that the author, time and again, demonstrates very thoroughly that the world and politics in the Witcher-verse is most certainly not fair. Narratively, Geralt is used as the catalyst for evoking those situations, time and again. (I suspect this is an author commentary on real life). Also, manipulating mobs is what politicians, and charlatans like Stregebor, do - both in fiction and in real life. Feb 10 '21 at 21:23
  • I've noticed the author aims at showing cruel, unfair world. What bothers me is not that it was unfair, I believe I didn't write it out of pitty for the protagonist. It's just that at the final page I was like "ssaaay whaaaaaat?". It's not that it seemed unfair. It seemed irrational. I couldn't grasp the casual connection. Feb 11 '21 at 9:35
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There are quite a few reasons why Geralt was vilified for his actions:

  1. Renfri had a letter from the local ruler that made her untouchable (at least for her past crimes) by the law. By attacking her, Geralt has committed a serious crime.
  2. Neither Renfri nor her helpers ever committed a crime within Blaviken. Yes, they were looking tough and scary, but they weren't starting any fights and never did anything that would make them unwanted within the town.
  3. The "Geralt is acting in self-defence" case is quite weak: yes, they've shot at Geralt, but he was armed and walking in their direction with a sword in hand. If they'd survived, they could claim that they were defending themselves from someone who was going to attack them.
  4. The threat to start killing people in the town was known only to Renfri's henchmen, Stregobor and Geralt. None of the villagers knew that they were in danger.
  5. Last but not least, Geralt is a mutant and often treated as something less than a human. And here you have such "monstrosity" killing quickly "honest men."

So in summary, the average viewer could see a massacre committed without any reason by a stranger and non-human against people working for the king. That last part is probably the main reason why the mayor is also condemning the witcher - as a local authority, the mayor will be held responsible for this mess and might lose his position, especially since he has been seen fraternising with the killer.

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  • The letter argument was not enough for me, as on showing them their conversation suggested that if she would cause any trouble, it no longer holds. But you're right - the sole fact that he approached them armed could have been enough to render him as a provocateur. The weirdest thing to me was the sudden shift in the mayor's attitude, but looking at the final conversation (something like: - are you seriously wounded? - no. - then get out.) makes me hope that the mayor expelled Geralt to protect him from a lynchment. Feb 10 '21 at 13:30
  • @EwaFengler yes, you're right: I've meant "untouchable for her past crimes", not the potential future ones. If she'd go ahead with the massacre, she would be a criminal again. I'll update the answer to make it clear.
    – Yasskier
    Feb 10 '21 at 19:42

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