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At the end of "The Bounds of Reason", the first story in the collection Sword of Destiny, the second of the first two Witcher short story collections, we see the following exchange between Yennefer and the dragon Villentretenmerth:

"Forgive me my frankness and forthrightness, Yennefer. It is written all over your faces, I don't even have to try to read your thoughts. You were made for each other, you and the Witcher. But nothing will come of it. Nothing. I'm sorry."

"I know," Yennefer blanched slightly. "I know, Villentretenmerth. But I would also like to believe there are not limits of possibility. Or at least I would like to believe that they are still very far away."

What exactly does he mean by "nothing will come of it"? Does it just mean that they will have no children together (due to Yennefer's barrenness), or that their relationship will not last (as it didn't last last time - indeed, they've only just got back together again)?

Is the meaning of this phrase more clear in the original Polish text?

  • ahem You better read the next story ;) – Gallifreyan Aug 6 '17 at 10:34
  • @Gallifreyan Note that my question isn't about what will happen in their relationship (which would probably be (a) spoilery and (b) trivially answerable by reading the rest of the books), but specifically about what Villentretenmerth's statement meant. – Rand al'Thor Aug 6 '17 at 10:39
  • It foreshadows what happened in their relationship later, when looked at in retrospect. The next story ("A Shard of Ice") is particularly insightful in that respect. – Gallifreyan Aug 6 '17 at 10:47
  • I can't speak for the original version, but in my translation Yennefer's words "limits of possibility" are actually the same as the story's title, for whatever that's worth. – Cahir Mawr Dyffryn æp Ceallach Aug 6 '17 at 14:44
  • @TimE.Lord I didn't find "A Shard of Ice" insightful in answering this specific question, but "Something More" was. – Rand al'Thor Oct 29 '17 at 0:08
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He means that they will never stay together permanently.

Or at least that's Yennefer's conclusion about how to interpret it. She explains as much to Geralt several stories later in "Something More", the final story in Sword of Destiny, after the two of them meet by chance one Beltane and make love together:

‘Do you remember when we met in the Owl Mountains? And that golden dragon… What was he called?’

‘Three Jackdaws. Yes, I do.’

‘He told us…’

‘I remember, Yen.’

She kissed him where the neck becomes the collarbone and then nuzzled her head in, tickling him with her hair.

‘We’re made for each other,’ she whispered. ‘Perhaps we’re destined for each other? But nothing will come of it. It’s a pity, but when dawn breaks, we shall part. It cannot be any other way. We have to part so as not to hurt one another. We two, destined for each other. Created for each other. Pity. The one or ones who created us for each other ought to have made more of an effort. Destiny alone is insufficient, it’s too little. Something more is needed. Forgive me. I had to tell you.’

‘I know.’

It could be that Villentretenmerth was being intentionally unclear and ambiguous (as prophets so often are), but this interpretation does seem to make sense. It wouldn't be as interesting if he was merely telling them that their relationship wouldn't produce children, since they both know they're sterile already.

Yennefer's words about the "limits of possibility" being "very far away" also fit with this interpretation. The limits are those which prevent them ever from staying together for long; the limits being very far away means they can still be together for a while at least. With the interpretation in terms of children, it wouldn't make sense for the limits to be "very far away" - either they can have children or they can't.

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  • After rereading "Something More" recently (and trying to remember other conversations between the two), I actually do think it's also to a large degree about (both) their inability to have children. Especially to Yenefer this seems to have always been a big problem (and maybe even related to her suicide attempt). As to the definitive assertion that they "can have children or they can't", it's notable how this dialogue happens right before Yenefer urges Geralt to go and get Ciri, who very much is practically his daughter, and to a large degree hers too. – Cahir Mawr Dyffryn æp Ceallach Jul 3 '19 at 23:47
  • @Cahir I'd be interested to see your thoughts expanded as an answer, especially if you can find quotes from those other conversations between the two to add as evidence. Since we're both reading translations, maybe my analysis of "very far away" misses the mark (could the same deduction be made from the German version?), or maybe in the original text it could alternatively be interpreted as meaning Ciri is very far away. – Rand al'Thor Jul 4 '19 at 6:21

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