Geralt watches Avallac’h across the fire, noting the deep frown on his face as he stares at the place he said the portal was to open hours ago.
“It seems that even elven sages can be wrong,” Geralt says, breaking the long silence, looking for something to alleviate the boredom of waiting.
Avallac’h’s pale eyes slide towards him, and he rises to the bait. “Lacking Elder Blood, after centuries of study, I can merely predict the appearance of naturally occurring portals and stabilize them. Even if I tried my entire life I will never be able to create portals the way Zireael does. Given that Zireael is not here, we must wait. It will appear.”
“That rankles you doesn’t it?”
Maybe it’s a trick of the dancing flames, but Avallac’h’s eyes seem to flash. “Is that not what your kind does, covet that which you don’t have then take it by force or destroy it so that if you cannot have it, then no one can?”
“You think so little of humans. You’re telling me you don’t want the Elder Blood?”
“You are correct. The less I think of dh'oine the better. Oh, I want it a great deal. But not for myself. I want to keep it safe.”
“Keeping it safe by bringing about the Conjunction of the Spheres and opening a portal between the worlds to leave Ciri straight to the White Frost?”
“That was unavoidable, Zireael’s destiny. And she survived.”
“No thanks to you.” Geralt scoffs. “We each create our own destiny. You forced her into it.”
“Zireael’s coming has been long foretold for centuries. Now she has saved us all and most will never know. However, there are still those out there who would use her power for their own. Until she has fully mastered her powers, she is vulnerable. Do not deny that you feel the same. It is why you sought my aid.”
Geralt ignores the accusation. He knows Ciri is strong and capable, has grown much, her control of her powers growing in leaps in bounds. He worries not because of a perceived weakness but because of his own. “This is personal to you,” Geralt says with dawning understanding. “For centuries you have obsessively documented the Elder Blood, experimented with it. Not even your failures could curb your passion. Why?”
“Who are you that I would share my secrets with you?”
“Someone that you can’t help but like despite how hard you try not to,” Geralt says with a smirk. “You’re welcome to pick another topic if this one doesn’t suit you.”
“You are not wrong.” Avallac’h replies with a small grin that quickly disappears as he stares into the fire. Long seconds ticking by between them before he finally says, “You might know that I was once engaged to marry Lara Dorren. I see a great deal of her in Ciri. What you don’t know is that I truly loved her.” He pauses again, searching for words. “Love, such a fanciful thing, it had no place in my world, yet I could not stop myself from falling. It was fairly obvious that my feelings were not returned, and when she bid me let her go, I could not deny her. I wanted her happiness. What I failed to consider was her protection. For years I have protected her line as best as I could, waiting for the one, for Zireael.”
“Instead of protecting her, you gave her to Eredin.”
“I did what was necessary to ensure her safety.”
“Clearly that went so well,” Geralt snaps.
“Neither am I all seeing nor all knowing.”
“Is she just a pawn to you? A connection to Lara Dorren?”
“At first, but she’s so like Lara, I couldn’t help but care for her. I did not wish for her to the face the White Frost any more than you, but I had no choice.”
“Would you have preferred I waited until the White Frost was devouring our worlds before explaining things to her? She is very much your daughter, strong-willed, not easily swayed, a true idealist. She made her choice, and she survived. Respect that.”
They both startle when the portal suddenly appears before quickly moving towards it.
Another barren world brings another night of sitting beside a fire waiting for a portal.
“Why are you here?”
“Have you received a blow to the head that I do not know about, Gwynbleidd? We are searching for Zireael, are we not?”
“No, I mean why are you here specifically, searching for Ciri with me. Don’t give me another bullshit line about protecting her.”
“Straight to the point as always. It was you who sought me out for this little excursion or has your memory started to fail you in your old age? What would you have me say? That I was bored and seeking adventure? That I intend to take her for my bride and beget a child of prophecy? Have no fear. Your ward has nothing to fear from me, and there will be no children in my future. The days of fathering children are far behind me.”
“You’re a father?” Geralt asks, not certain why the thought of that surprises him.
“Other than Caranthir, not to my knowledge. It would be unlikely.”
“Aen Elle do not spend wild days sewing their seed in their youth?”
“Oh, for a time I bedded a great many individuals. Most of them, however, lacked the proper equipment to become pregnant.”
Geralt’s eyebrow rises as he casts an appraising glance over Avallac’h seated form. “You prefer the company of men?”
“Not exclusively, but predominantly, yes. Does that shock you?”
“Should it?” Geralt shoots back.
“Dh'oine are not known for their tolerance for that which is different, but then you are not like any other dh'oine I’ve ever met. You continue to surprise me, and I find myself intrigued.”
“Only intrigued?” Geralt asks. Avallac’h shifts closer to Geralt on the log they’re sitting on until their legs and arms are pressed together. Turning his head, Geralt’s eyes drop to Avallac’h’s lips so close to his own, feels his breath as he speaks again.
“I find myself wanting in a way I have not in centuries. I—”
Taking the invitation, Geralt cups Avallac’h’s jaw, tilts his head, and slants his mouth over his, interrupting the flow of words.
Avallac’h makes a surprised sound, his eyes falling shut, but he doesn’t push Geralt away. Instead he eagerly opens to him, fisting his hands in Geralt’s hair as he deepens the kiss. Minutes later when they finally pull apart, they’re both out of breath.
The sight of Avallac’h reddened lips, the flush of his fair skin from the burn of Geralt’s beard, ramps the heat already pooling in Geralt’s gut several degrees high as a possessive thrill shots through him. Leaning forward again, their lips barely touch when Geralt hears the portal open behind him. “Fuck,” he groans against Avallac’h’s lips, pulling back as they rise to their feet together.
The smile that Avallac’h gives him is strangely soft. “Another time perhaps.”
It feels like days before they finally stop again, twenty world’s later, some alone and some together. Running and fighting until they finally come to a world that’s not intent on killing them as soon as they step out of the portal. Avallac’h sleeps first, and Geralt marvels at the strangeness of this world of metal skeletons of buildings that rise hundreds of feet above them.
It’s only after they both sleep that Geralt voices his question. “What is this place?”
“We call it Nnar'tinco. Whatever it might have once been called has long since been lost to the sands of time. Whoever it was that once lived here were long gone before the Aen Elle arrived on this world. Portals here are rare, few and far between, and those that send people here seem to be even rarer. That has limited our knowledge of this world. Those who have explored here have never found the edge of these ruins.”
Geralt tries and fails to wrap his mind around a city the size that Avallac’h is describing. “Were they giants?”
Shaking his head, Avallac’h says. “No remains have ever been found, but all evidence suggests that the beings who called this world home were of similar size to us.”
“As fascinating as this all is,” Geralt says as he closes the distance between them, his fingers falling to the fastenings of Avallac’h’s belt, “I believe we have some unfinished business.”
“Do we now?” Avallac’h drawls as he lets his robes slide off his shoulders and pool in a heap on the sandy ground behind him, revealing his thin tattooed form.
Tracing his hands up Avallac’h sides, Geralt grins when he shivers. Pressing kissing along his jaw, Geralt says, “I want your cock in my ass.”
“That’s not a no,” Geralt says with a smirk, fingers tugging at the ties of Avallac’h’s pants. They both groan when Avallac’h’s cock presses hard and heavy into Geralt’s palm.
Avallac’h says a harsh word as he shoves Geralt back.
When his suddenly naked butt collides with the ground, Geralt yelps. “You better be able to summon those b—”
It’s Avallac’h turn to silence him with a kiss, groaning into each other’s mouths as their cocks press and slide together.
“Tell me you like it rough,” Avallac’h says, panting against Geralt’s mouth, his teeth nipping at his swollen lip.
“Do your worst,” Geralt dares with a feral smile.
Another muttered spell, and Avallac’h sinks his suddenly slick cock balls deep into Geralt’s hole.
Geralt shouts at the sudden sharp pain, the burn of muscles not ready for such a quick intrusion, but Avallac’h takes Geralt for his word and doesn’t let up, setting a punishing pace.
With one of Avallac’h’s hands curled around Geralt’s cock, the other fisted tightly in the length of his hair, forcing his neck to arch, exposing it to Avallac’h’s tongue and teeth, his cock sliding over that spot inside of him that made Geralt see stars, there is little he can do except hold on for the ride as Avallac’h practically folds him in half as he fucks him.
“Harder,” Geralt commands not realizing just how much he’s needed this, how long it’s been since he’d trusted someone enough to fuck him. Geralt isn’t foolish enough to believe that Avallac’h’s motives for accompanying him are in anyway altruistic, but at least he doesn’t have to worry about waking up with a blade in his back or his purse strings cut.
Avallac’h does as he’s told, the slap of their bodies coming together echoing around them. “I’ve dreamed of this, you spread open on my cock,” Avallac’h says, each word forced out between his clenched teeth. “No dream can compare to the reality.”
When Avallac’h’s teeth close around his nipple, Geralt comes with a shout at the unexpected stimulation, body clenching around Avallac’h’s length as he spills across his fist.
Avallac’h’s thrusts don’t falter, and if anything get harder, punching groans from Geralt’s oversensitive body as he chases his own orgasm. Geralt pulls Avallac’h down for a kiss, but he’s too far gone to do more than slide his mouth wetly against Geralt’s own. When Avallac’h’s release hits, his body goes rigid in Geralt’s hold, and Geralt can’t help but mouth along the tendon that stands out starkly from Avallac’h’s neck as he shudders through his orgasm.
When Avallac’h collapses boneless against him, Geralt pushes his hair back from his face. “That all you got, old man?”
Pushing himself up, there’s something feral in Avallac’h’s eyes as he shows Geralt what an “old man” he really is.
Hour later they’re both sore and sated, and Avallac’h lays against Geralt’s chest where Geralt traces his fingers over the lines of Avallac’h’s tattoos.
Looking up at the unfamiliar stars shining above them, Geralt asks, “Which one do you think she’s on?”
A strange sound the likes of which neither has ever heard before causes them both to tense, rising to their feet. A quick word from Avallac’h sees them both dressed. (At some point later Geralt might complain about how dirty he is, and how much of a pain it’s going to be to clean his gear.) They both cry out, falling to their knees, hands pressed against their ears as the buzzing turns to ringing, then to terrible, head-splitting shrieking.
When Geralt looks up, the stars are gone, obscured by a shadow so immense that it blocks out their light. Geralt’s brain can’t comprehend what he’s seeing, a strange writhing mass, larger than a mountain, rushing towards them. Ever shifting, Geralt swears he see screaming faces, hands reaching out as though they’re attempting to escape, black eyes larger than a barn that pierce right through him. Geralt is no stranger to fear, no stranger to evil, but finds himself unable to move, unable to look away, frozen in place, by sheer terror, by the utter wrongness of the sight before him.
Geralt has never been more happy to hear the sound of a portal opening in his life. The feel of arms wrapping around his shoulders is unexpected, but he struggles to his feet at their urging and all but falls through the portal.
He grunts when Avallac’h lands on top of him, and blinks owlishly up at Ciri who stands above him. He can see her lips moving, but can hear nothing past the ringing in his ears. Struggling against Avallac’h’s weight, he frowns when he notices that he’s unconscious, blood dripping from his eyes, ears, and nose. Blinking past a red haze, Geralt wipes at his own face, startled by the blood. The last thing he sees as the darkness closes in on him is Ciri’s worried eyes.
When Geralt awakes he wishes he hadn’t, his head pounding like his brain is an anvil a blacksmith is beating on. Groaning, he struggles to sit up, noting the still unconscious form of Avallac’h lying on the pallet at his side. The building they’re in has clearly been long abandoned, the walls and roof full of holes.
When Ciri walks through the doorway, Geralt can’t help but smile at the sight of her.
Ciri’s smile is relieved as she starts talking.
Watching her mouth move, but hearing nothing, Geralt frown, shaking his head as he says, “Can’t hear you.”
It’s Ciri’s turn to frown as she turns towards her bag and pulls out paper and a strange quill. “What was that thing?”
Geralt reads at her side as she writes. Little Horse called it the Abelanas, the Eater of Sorrows.
“It’s a world eater?”
Not in the same sense as The White Frost. Little Horse says it feeds on life. Not planets. The people of that world ran out of resources. So they sought alternative means. They used their own people. Experimented on them. What they made. Well you saw it. The unicorns keep a watch on that world to ensure that it never escapes.
“How is that possible?”
Ciri shrugs and writes, Does it matter?
“I suppose not,” Geralt says as he tries to recall what he’d seen, but his brain shies away from it, giving him only shadows of an incomprehensible order.
“Thought I was protecting you, and it turns out I was the one needing rescue.” Groaning at the sudden pain that cuts through his already pounding head, Geralt curls over himself, pressing his fists to his temples.
Fighting against the hands that try to push him down, Geralt goes limp when a cool, damp cloth is draped over his face. When darkness calls, he eagerly accepts its embrace.
When he awakes again, the pain in his head is less, and he can hear the popping of the fire. Cracking open his eyes, he finds Ciri and Avallac’h conversing.
They both pause when Geralt groans, and he notes that Avallac’h still looks a little grey around the edges. He drinks the vial pressed into his hand and immediately regrets it. Falling to his hands and knees, he vomits violently until his stomach is empty. His ears rings and there is silence behind him as his eyes focus on the writhing black fluid that he’d just expelled from his body. The form consolidates, taking shape, reaching out—
Geralt casts Igni without thinking, until the shrieking stops and the building burns around him as Ciri and Avallac’h pull him out. This time when Geralt heaves, only bile rises from his throat. “Wh—what the hell was that?” Geralt pants.
Neither Ciri nor Avallac’h have an answer to his question.
“Let’s get out of here.”
“Yes, let’s,” Ciri says as she teleports them away.
The room they appear in is familiar, and it takes Geralt a moment to realize its Avallac’h’s wrecked laboratory.
Decades spent relying on and patching himself up makes Geralt far from the best of patients, and he protests the need for Avallac’h to examine him.
Finally having enough, Ciri says, “Sit down and shut up, Geralt. We don’t know what that was, or if you’re still infected. Let Avallac’h look you over.”
Geralt snorts, but does as he’s told, “Taking lessons from Yennefer, I see.”
“She’s an excellent teacher.” Ciri’s smile is sharp as she eyes the fading bite marks that cover Geralt’s neck and torso, her eyes flashing to Avallac’h. “Seems like you two have settled your differences.”
“Now is not the time, Zireael,” Avallac’h says, hands hovering over Geralt’s prone form.
Geralt shivers as Avallac’h magic seeps into his bones, both sharper and cooler than Yennefer’s. He watches Avallac’h’s face as he searches, watches the frown that slowly forms.
“What is—” Geralt breaks off with a scream.
“Zireael, we must return.”
“What, no, it’s too dangerous,” Ciri protests.
“If we do not, he will not survive.”
Geralt hears the words from far away, and once through the portal falls to his knees panting. He can feel it, the Abelanas, and he shivers.
“You must let it go, Geralt, let it go, or it will consume you.”
The shadows rise around him, hands reaching out, into him, through him. Geralt closes his eyes to block out the sight of it and screams, silently as the whisper grow in volume, scratching against his brain, choking him.
“Open your eyes and face it!”
Latching onto that voice, Geralt steels himself and does just that. He doesn’t flinch as he’s engulfed, as the familiar stench of death invades his senses. He can feel its hunger, it’s endless desire to consume. “You want me that badly? You can have me.” Geralt shoves, not with his body or with his mind, but with the very essence of his being.
The explosion of light blinds him, and the shadows fall back.
When Ciri ushers him through the portal, Geralt doesn’t hesitate, more than ready to never set foot on this world again.
Stepping through the portal, Geralt says, “Have I mentioned how much I hate portals?” before he crashes to the floor, out cold.
Waking disoriented, Geralt struggles to consciousness. Finding Ciri and Avallac’h sleeping, Geralt grabs his swords and heads outside, the world beginning to lighten with the dawn. Swords slicing through the air, Geralt let the long practiced movements calm and center him. When Ciri joined him sometime later, Geralt accepted her challenge, the crash of steel against steel startling a nearby flock of birds, and pulling Avallac’h out to watch.
By the time Geralt calls an end to it, he is covered in sweat, his muscles burn, and his stomach demands food. He gladly accepts the bread and water skin that Avallac’h offers, quickly downing both.
When Geralt glanced at Cir, she rolls her eyes as she walks back inside. “Go have your fun.”
“Join me?” Geralt asks Avallac’h as he walks towards the cool stream that he knows isn’t far from their location.
Stripping out of his trousers, Geralt wades into the knee deep water before sitting down and leaning back to submerge himself completely.
“It’s gone then?” Geralt ask when he resurfaces.
“So it would seem,” Avallac’h says as he begins to pull off his own robe. “May I join you?”
“By all means, please do,” Geralt says as he scoops up a handful of the water, drinking the blessedly cool liquid.
When a body settles behind him and lips press against his neck, Geralt tilts his head to the side, giving Avallac’h easier access.
“Any idea, what exactly happened back there?”
“No,” Avallac’h denies.
“That doesn’t bother?”
Geralt snorts then shivers, the water suddenly chilly instead of refreshing. “Ciri said the unicorns call it Abelanas. Have you ever heard of such a thing?”
Avallac’h shakes his head, arms encircling Geralt. “No, the name is unfamiliar to me. A scholar I may be, but if I have discovered anything in my long centuries of life it is there are some things better left unknown. I’ve seen much darkness in my time, but the Abelanas is not something I ever wish to face again. The unicorns are right to keep their vigil, and it is best to forget it.”
“Never met an Aen Saevherne who didn’t want to know all the secrets this universe has to offer. Not that I’ve met many.”
Avallac’h chucks against Geralt’s neck. “I am not most Aen Saevherne.”
“So I’ve discovered. Why were you not infected?”
“I cannot say. Perhaps it’s due to your Witcher nature?”
Knowing that is as likely a possibility as anything, Geralt still resolves to keep a close eye out on Avallac’h and Ciri just in case. “Help me forget?” Geralt begs, desperately needing a distraction, wanting to forget and move on.
“As you bid,” Avallac’h says, glowing hand sinking below the surface to encircle Geralt’s soft cock.
Geralt shouts, back arching, and thinks of very little except Avallac’h’s skilled hands for several hours.