Geralt rolled his eyes as Jaskier inanely carried on is insufferable talking. They had been walking since dawn, normally the bard would not have minded, but his friend had been abnormally broody of late. His latest run-in with Yennefer was fraught with betrayal and lust. Jaskier could tell that this latest drama was the worse, Ciri had decided to go off with Yennifer this time to explore the wider world. Yet, again the dark-haired mage had left him behind on her search for something, something more leaving Geralt behind, emptier the before. The singer shared the deepest pity for his friend, for the Witcher’s magic and ability; he was at the mercy of the small woman, submissive to her whims and fancies. Love really does make fools of us all, even Witcher’s. Jaskier pondered before his mind flickered to a wholly more important question. How could he possibly make that into his next hit ballad?
‘So, where are we going exactly?’ Jaskier asked for the 14th time in the last hour.
‘If I tell you will you finally shut up?’ Geralt growled his eyes, never leaving the horizon.
‘Yessssss’ the singer whined.
‘Brightwater….its a merchant town in the middle of nowhere. Rich- supplies every town from south to north.’ Geralt answered gruffly.
‘So, let me guess they have a terrible monster problem that has a big reward.’
‘So, the mighty hero and his handsome companion ride into the village, slay the beast and rescue the beautiful maidens who fall head of heels in love with the noble bard before whisking him away to their beds.’ Jaskier smiled closing his eyes picturing the wonderful scene but not before his wondering feet came into contact with the particularly nasty jagged rock that cruelly pulled him away from pleasant daydream with a tight pain that seared from the sole of his foot.
The shrill yelp of pain cause Geralt to turn on his saddle and smirk as he watched his personal songwriter hop on one foot clutching the other. ‘Jaskier, this is the part where you shut up.’ Geralt warned as he readjusted himself in the saddle
‘I think this will make a wonderful song,….’ The bard chocked out through the pain. ‘But this creature thing better not be another Striga… I have completely run out of rhyming words…plus I think my public is getting a little bored with them….I mean your public.’
‘Shut the fuck up.’
Lord of Brightwater, Fagen Brightwater looked at the man at the front of him with keen interest, he had expected someone more haggard, older and not as handsome. The man in front of him looked young, his face chiselled with golden eyes that pierced through a man’s very soul, the only blemishes that he could see that marred his face was a small scar in the corner of his left eye and another on his forehead. Which Fagen had no problem predicting would only encourage the women on the town to try and entice the handsome monster hunter. Horny housewives and jealous husbands were not something that he had time to deal with; his lands were in chaos, fear of the impending war and being stalk by some supernatural being. Hunting a Witcher with pitchforks was not something he wanted to add to the ever-growing list of problems. The fool he had with them look like an overdressed rent boy; simpering gibbering babbled out his mouth could pass for simple wit, if it had been funny. The pair was unlikely. Strange even. Perhaps they were lovers who would make life easier while they were here, but other than saving him a headache he did not care who or what the Witcher fucked.
‘As you can see, we have many conflicting reports.’ Fagen spoke, pushing a pile of papers toward the two men who stood in front of him. ‘It slashes, rips, tears and bites. Some parts eaten on one victim then left behind on others. No one has ever properly seen it and lived to tell the tale. Those who have survived its attack have some varying stories it's hard to know which ones to focus on.’
Geralt eyes lazily looked over the papers, Lord Brightwater was certainly a man of painstaking detail, the description seemed too wide and wavering, but three names piqued his interest, one of which a long lost acquittance from job in White Orchard, from what he remembers being a long search for pesky witches who cursed the poor daughter of a local Baron.
‘People have survived?’ Geralt eyed the Lord in surprise as he throws down the papers haphazardly on the nearly ordered desk, gaining a dark glared from Fagen.
‘A few. Those have been housed in the healer’s hut if you need to speak with them. Our mages have attempted located this beast, but to no avail, so they have done what they can to protect and save the remaining villagers.’
‘This would be Cersi of White Orchard and old friend and Tradi of Browdon? I don’t recall a mage of the name of Adva?'
‘That’s because there isn’t one. Adva is a…. healer…herbalist… of a sort. You will have no need to meet her… she does not concern you in this matter; she is to be left alone.’
Geralt raised an eyebrow. ‘If you want this creature found and dispatched that killing your villages and grinding your trade to a halt, I will talk to whomever I need to talk too, and I recommend that you stay out of my way.’ Geralt growled standing at his full height. Jaskiar shrank back eyeing the glaring men holding his hand up in surrender.
The two men observed each other closely. Geralt was used to the arrogance of humanity and along with that was often stupidity, but from mere minutes in presence the Lord the Witcher knew the man possessed no stupidly, pride and superiority but then again show him a Lord who did not believe themselves to be superior to everyone else and he would show a man who was not a true Lord. If Fagen sent him and Jaskier away now he would be sentencing his people to death, pick off one by one and if the creature didn’t get them the gradual decrease in a trade from fear of the creature would turn Brightwater into an abandoned hovel.
Fagen was the first to break the glare ‘You are to receive 500 gold coins when you bring me the creatures head. I have arranged your stay at the local tavern; they will see that all your needs are taken care of. And make sure your needs are met within the walls of the establishment. I do not need to save you from angry husbands baying for your blood. The townsfolk are anxious enough that we have had to bring a Witcher in; I do not need people questioning my decisions. I will present you to the town tonight, but I want you gone before the week ends. But you will put as far a distance between you and Adva as far as possible. Now I am a very busy man; the kitchen is awaiting you with a meal.’ Fagen dismissed with a wave of his hand, grabbing a quill with the other.
Geralt stood in the middle of the square on a risen podium; it looked like the whole town had gathered to sneak a peek at their saviour. The one thing he hated more then the portals was the public, was being the centre of attention, he liked the dark, being a shadow, unseen. Sniffing the air there was a scent, underneath the filth, the odour of bodies and sour milk and spoilt meat, a pure smell. Spiced apple and the ocean. Warm and comforting but clean and crisp. Furrowing his brow eyes began to scan the crowd. For the briefest of seconds, he thought it was Yennifer, no other scent had ever sorted his interest, but this smell was different. Deeper. Not the sweet smell of gooseberries and lavender that clung to Yennifer calling him, this fragrance pulled him, grabbing his attention, almost violently. The smell was getting closer, teasing him as the smell grew stronger and stronger.
His eyes fell upon a familiar golden blonde adorned in rich purple. The Witcher could not help but let a scoff to puff out from his lips; Cersi could never look ordinary, she had to stick out in a crowd, her locks where pin into an attractive updo highlighting her swan-like neck that was laden with diamond. It would seem that life outside of court had not put a halt of the extravagance that Cersi indulgenced in. A toothy smile beamed up at the platform, reassuring if not a little bit cheeky. However, the smile was fleeting, as Cersi turned to greet a hooded figure with a tender smile. A cloaked figure pushed her way to stand side the elegant Mage. It was a worn and tattered grey thing pulled tight, concealing the figure beneath.
For the great Witcher time seemed to slow as the smell became almost overpowering, all other senses became dulled as a thudding of his heart was all he could hear. The women beside Cersi removed her hood to reveal dark brown curls that faded into lighter caramels ringlets around her shoulders, pale porcelain skin and full pink lips and vivid dark blue eyes twirling with liveliness darted around the crowd before resting upon his figure, smiling sweetly at him. Innocent and carefree. It took all his strength to hold himself in place, his muscles strained hard, clenching and unclenching gaining jeers from the ladies in the crowd. The scent she carried was potent and intoxicating, yearning for him, crying out for him, it was the only thing he could feel or see. He could feel the smell around him, clinging to his skin, suffocating him.
‘Geralt….Geralt… You okay buddy? Geralt’ Jaskier called, the sound distorted in the magical haze that surrounded him.
‘It cannot be….It's not possible.’ The Witcher uttered in disbelief.