“I need to speak to Yennefer. Now.” The sorceress on the other side of the megascope arched a perfect eyebrow. Geralt wondered, irrelevantly, if there was a specific class on eyebrow raising that all sorceresses took; every single one of them he’d ever met had it down to an art form.
“Perhaps you do, witcher, but I have no reason to believe that she wishes to speak to you. In fact, I am certain she does not. Pray go -”
Geralt really did not have time for this: “Yeah, yeah, I know. Tell her it’s not about me. It’s about Ciri. You know, Cirilla? Yennefer’s foster daughter? Also the daughter of the emperor you’ve sworn fealty to, in case you’d happened to forget.”
The sorceress’ eyebrow drew down to join its fellow in a frown. Before she could do more than draw breath to speak, Geralt went on:
“Listen. Do you really think I would be contacting her unless this was really important? Trust me, if she doesn’t listen to me, she’ll regret it. Which means that unless you talk to her, now, she’ll make you regret it. Cirilla needs her. Tell her that. Please.”
“Very well,” the sorceress sniffed. “I shall inform her. You may wait by the scope.”
Of course, Yen couldn’t show up directly. No, she had to take a little time, to make herself pretty, to make him stew, to show him that he was most definitely not of any importance to her, that she wouldn’t hurry to do his bidding… Ordinarily it would only have been a small annoyance to him, that she cared so much about showing how little she cared. This time it just wore him down: that she should play games while Cirilla’s life was at stake reminded him of the worst times in their relationship, before their shared affection for their foster daughter had become the basis of the fragile peace between them.
Long before Emhyr had shattered them.
Geralt took a deep breath, calming himself. That didn’t matter, now: not their history, not her feelings for him nor his ones for her, if he had even been able to tell what they were.
Finally, he saw a flash of motion through the scope as Yennefer swept into the room.
“Well, Geralt,” she said in a voice that could have given him chilblains. “How have you managed to hurt, lose or otherwise harm her this time?”
It had been nearly two years since they last spoke, and he knew very well that she was the least to blame for what had happened. Getting furious at her for still being angry, still knowing exactly where his weak spots were and how to poke them, would be counter-productive: he really couldn’t afford to alienate her further now. He made sure that his voice was reasonably calm as he answered:
“She’s an adult now, Yen; she’s really very capable of getting into trouble without me.”
“Very well; what kind of trouble has she gotten into that requires my intervention? And stop calling me that!”
“We need you to come here, to Kaedwen. There’s an artefact, it was found in -”
She interrupted him, in her coldly furious voice: the one that would have made him duck for cover if they'd been in the same room instead of speaking through the megascope.
“An artefact? You want me to come look at some paltry toy you’ve found in the rubble after one of your conquests? I can’t believe the gall…” Her voice got rapidly louder, to the point where his ears began to hurt: witcher senses had their downsides, as he’d learned in previous quarrels with her.
“Doesn’t Emhyr have mages that could look at the thing?” she went on, acidly. “I can’t imagine he wants me there - or has he grown tired of you and is hoping I’ll take you off his hands? If so - “
Geralt interrupted before she could get launched properly.
“Yen - Yennefer - please. There is nobody who knows more about portals than you: the court mages here have other specialties, and they’re centuries behind you in any case. If you won’t help, fine I’ll find someone else - Triss, maybe, but… If you need me to beg, I’ll do it, anything, just help me get her back!”
Yennefer’s glare turned down a notch: apparently she was either worried enough about Ciri, flattered enough, or she had tired of the verbal fencing. Knowing her, probably the first two, he thought sourly.
“Very well. Tell me what happened.”
They had been in Kaedwen, some ways north of Ban Glean. The skirmish was a small and unexpected one: Ciri and her personal guard had run into some mix of Redanian soldiers who refused to yield, and bandits and robbers who had gotten enough of a taste for murder that Emhyr’s offer of amnesty wasn't even on the cards for them. They really weren’t ready for what came crashing down on them: few casualties on the Nilfgaard side, and Ciri barely got her sword wet.
Emhyr and Geralt had been back at the camp, about an hour’s ride from the battlefield: there was still work for a witcher to do, sorting out the remnants of the necrophages Radovid had done his best to spread. Most of it was dealt with: soldiers could be trained to beat them by a combination of the right equipment and sheer numbers, now that the war was basically won, and they had trained dogs to search for unburied bodies.
Ciri had come back, tired but smiling, happy to join them for a meal in the evening. She’d also brought some loot back: the bandits had had some sort of magic on their side, not enough to even remotely affect the outcome, but she knew the dangers of leaving any of the paraphernalia lying around - at best, someone would hurt themselves, at worst, they’d hurt a lot of bystanders. She’d had the servants bring in some statuette, a pretty one, and she and Emhyr had bent over it to take a look…
The flash was so bright that it took him a few seconds to get his sight back, and by then they were gone. The imperial guards had come running, and they had summoned the sorcerers that had been travelling with the army, but none of them were of any use whatsoever. They agreed that neither Ciri nor Emhyr had been killed, at least not immediately, but they also couldn't say where they were - or how to get them back.
“I take it they tried the usual locating spells? Locks of hair, that kind of thing?” Yennefer said, most of her anger put aside for the present, replaced by a sharp focus on the problem at hand.
“Yes. None of them worked. They gave us nothing,” Geralt replied. He had managed to keep his cool until now, but his voice cracked a little on the last syllable. Yennefer turned her head away, and rose.
“All right,” she said. “I’ll come. Where do you want me to teleport to?”
“I'm in Ban Glean now - it's about five hour’s ride to the camp, but it was the closest megascope. You can come here and ride back with me, or we can meet there, if you prefer to teleport directly. You’ll know the spot, we stopped there a couple of times on the way north from Vengerberg - that meadow at the brook, a few miles before the road splits in two, towards Ban Ard and Ard Carraigh.”
“I’ll meet you at the camp,” she said. “There are some things I will need to pack, and you can get back there faster if you don’t have to wait for me.” With a softer voice, she continued: “We’ll find her, Geralt. We'll get her back.”
During the entire ride back, Geralt kept repeating those words to himself. He hadn't actually been certain Yennefer would help: he knew she loved Ciri, the closest thing to a daughter she would ever have, but she had a highly developed talent for keeping grudges, and he hadn't been sure that it wouldn't have extended to Ciri as well. It was only two years since she'd left them: not nearly enough time for her to forgive him, if she was ever going to. If he even wanted her to.
The important thing was, she was going to help - and regardless of their tangled and messy past, he knew that once she was committed to a course of action, there would be very little that could stop her from seeing it through. And when it came to Ciri, he knew he could trust her to the ends of the earth, and beyond.