Despite what Geralt might believe- they didn’t actually met for the first time in Posada.
No. They met several months before that. When his clothes were still far too rich for the road and his pockets far too obviously laden with coin.
Met the night bandits attacked him. Breaking his arm before he’d even had a chance to wake up.
That’s what he gets for not sleeping as a bear. It just made him smell funny and he’d just had a bath and-
That wasn’t important. What was important was now he was locked in a cage with a broken arm. He could get small enough to slip through the bars but. It would hurt. And he’d still have to get his lute back.
One problem at a time.
One problem at a time he assured himself as he shifted smaller and smaller until he could fit through the bars of the cage. A lark. That’d work.
A lark with a broken wing trying to carry a lute out of a bandit camp. He hopped over to it and tried to figure out what he could shift into that would give him a chance. Curled up on the soundboard- they’d set it down the wrong way- and tried to gather his strength.
Turns out he hadn’t need to. The bandits began screaming. Dying. Then silence. When he finally had the strength to open his eyes a massive- was pretty sure they weren’t massive just because he was currently a tiny bird- man with white hair was inspecting him.
He leaped- as much as this form could leap- back and chirped out in pain as his broken wing hit the strings.
“You’re hurt.” The giant stated like it wasn’t the most obvious thing in the world. Which he told them. Not that he understood. “Chatty little thing aren’t you? If you’ll hold still i’ll wrap it up for you.”
He pulled out a strip of cloth- probably ripped from a bandit- and those hands that were bigger than him and covered in blood splatter closed in. He bit into the lute string preparing to be crushed.
Gently he held him. Wrapped his wing stable.
“Alright. All done. Let’s go.”
He held as tightly to the lute as he could. He wasn’t going to leave her behind!
He chuckled. It was a very nice sound. “If i promise to bring the lute will you let go little lark?” He considered them with his beady little eyes.
After a moment he let go.
“There’s a good bird. Let me introduce you to Roach.” He said gently holding him in a single palm as he slung the lute over his shoulder.
Gently settled him into a nest of cloth in a saddlebag.
Gently fed him berries and seeds.
Gently spoke to him as the fire burned down.
Gently. Always Gently. Like this massive mass of muscle didn’t know how to be anything but Gentle.
(He did. He remembered the piles of bandit corpses. He definitely did know how to be not gentle)
And then his wing was better. And he didn’t want to go but he wanted to play. And you couldn’t just. Admit to being a shapeshifter. People didn’t like that.
He found a crown. It wasn’t much but -well it was all this form could carry- and left it on the bedroll next to Geralt. Payment maybe? A thank you? Probably. Shifted bigger until he could fly away with the lute in his claws.
Then he saw him in Posada. He wasn’t sure if he- Geralt of Rivia he finally realized now that he wasn’t a tiny bird- recognized the lute.
But he recognized the coin.
So he followed after.