Jaskier had been on edge all day. Fidgeting more than usual and glancing at the sky. He hadn’t been any quieter, Jaskier’s never quiet, but he’d been rambling. Too distracted by whatever was bothering him to stay on any one topic for very long.
“Geralt, can we stop for the night?”
Of course the witcher would stop for him, even if he wasn’t worried about whatever was bothering Jaskier, the two of them were friends and if the bard needed to stop Geralt would gladly do so. Still, the request made him pause. It was still a couple of hours until sundown. The out of character request had only served to increase his worry.
Apparently Jaskier had misread his silence as denial as he tripped over himself backtracking. “I mean we don’t have to- It’s fine if we- That is to say-”
“Jaskier.” Geralt grunted. “It’s fine, let’s find a suitable clearing.”
Immediately some of the tension that had resided in the bard’s frame all day eased. “Thanks, it means a lot to me”
The witcher just grunted as he led Roach into a clearing he’d found. Despite the mystery surrounding their stop everything went as they normally did. Jaskier set up camp and got the fire started as Geralt went out hunting for some dinner. The only difference was that when they were all finished the sun was still a good hour or two from setting.
“So,” Jaskier sighed, “I guess you’re wondering about the early stop.”
“If you don’t want to you don’t have to tell me.’
“No, no. It’s fine.” The bard chuckled. “It’s a bit of a story though. So, you remember my curse?”
“You were stuck as a merman for a week, I doubt I’ll forget that.”
Jaskier grumbled. “Yes, thanks for reminding me of that embarrassing event. But, well, transforming at the touch of water isn’t the only thing the curse does. It gives us powers, like I can evaporate water-”
Geralt snorted. “What, so you can heat up water?”
“Yes Geralt.” Jaskier gave him an overly sweet smile. “I can heat up water.” The bard then picked up one of their water pouches and spilled some on Geralt’s hand.
“What was that-” Geralt cut himself off with a cry as Jaskier closed his fist causing Geralt’s hand to heat up. It felt like he was holding it over the fire. Suddenly the pain was gone as Jaskier opened up his hand again.
“I don’t actually need the water poured on before, the water in one’s skin is plenty enough for me to heat up, but it hurts less this way.” Despite himself Geralt was impressed, but he merely grunted as he stared at his still red palm. “Anywho, back to the story. So, along with the tail and water powers something… happens to us during the full moon.”
“No, nothing as graphic as that. It’s just, if we see the full moon we… lose our minds I guess would be the right term, until the moon eventually sets.”
“What do you mean by ‘lose your mind’?”
Jaskier shrugged. “It’s different every time, but I’ve never heard of one of us becoming especially violent, so there’s that at least.”
Geralt frowned, thinking of all the years they’d travelled together. “How’d I never notice before?”
“Well, before I’d always just stay back at an inn for an extra night, catching up to you after it ended. Unless of course one of your hunts lined up just right.”
Geralt hmm’d. “Is there anything you need me to do?”
“I have a blindfold that I wear on nights like this. Just, promise you won’t let me take it off, no matter what happens during the night.”
Jaskier looked… scared at the thought of his blindfold coming off. Geralt thought he could understand the fear. The thought of losing his mind, losing control of himself, even for a night, was enough to make him shiver. “I promise.”
With that they settled in for the night, Jaskier in his bedroll with the biggest and tickets blindfold Geralt had ever seen. He decided to forgo sleep for the night, choosing instead to meditate against a tree near where Jaskier was sleeping.
Within the hour the sun had set and with it the moon had started to rise. Luckily Jaskier had yet to stir. Geralt had been worried that the presence of the moon would rouse Jaskier and tempt him to look but the bard just slept on peacefully. He relaxed, looks like tonight was going to be a quiet night after all.
He should’ve known better than to tempt fate by thinking that.
An hour or two into his watch a noise off in the woods roused Geralt from his meditation. As his eyes snapped open the first thing he saw was the moon, now high in the sky, before scanning the woods where the noise had originated. Seeing nothing he was about to shrug off the noise as just another forest creature going about its business when a band of bandits burst forth from the treeline.
Geralt leapt to his feet, sword in hand, ready to face off against the five intruders. “Leave now and keep your lives.” He warned.
One of them, the leader Geralt assumed, snorted. “Fat chance. It’s five against one so I’m liking our odds.”
“Five humans against one witcher.” He reminded them. “In the dark.”
A few of the bandits began to look nervous, like they were rethinking their decision to rob this particular campsite. “Ignore him.” The leader snapped. “Just gut him and we can get on with robbing this campsite.”
With that the battle commenced. Normally the dark would give him a large advantage but the brightness of the full moon meant that the bandits could actually see pretty well tonight. The first bandit was sliding off of his sword and he was turning to fend off the second before Geralt heard Jaskier start to rouse. “Geralt?” The blindfolded man asked, sitting up. “What’s going on?”
“It’s fine.” Geralt grunted as he blocked another hit from the bandit behind him. “Just a couple bandits, I’ve got it covered.”
“C’mon really?” One of the bandits exclaimed. “We’re trying our best here.” Geralt hit the bandit on her head, knocking her unconscious. One down, four to go.
The bard was faced towards the violence but was not seeing anything with the blindfold covering his face. “Are you sure? It sounds very… violent.”
While Geralt was distracted by Jaskier calling out one of the bandits got in a hit, slashing his leg. He didn’t get a moment’s rest though as he then had to block two oncoming blows on his right. “Alright, I’ve had enough of this.” He muttered.
He cast aard, sending the two on his right flying. The one on his left was quick work after that. He was about to start looking around for the leader when he heard Jaskier call out from behind him. Geralt whipped around and found the leader holding a knife to Jaskier’s throat.
The bandit leader laughed. “I’ve got your precious bard, witcher. As much as I love our current arrangement,” he leaned in close, mouth next to Jaskier’s ear as his free hand stroked the bard’s face. Geralt suppressed a growl at the motion. “I want to see the terror in your eyes.”
“No don’t!” Jaskier screamed. Too late as the bandit had already undone the knot, letting the blindfold fall to their feet. Jaskier had his eye shut tight to prevent his seeing the moon.
“Nuh-uh little birdie. I said I wanted to see your eyes and no one says no to me!” He growled, pulling harshly on the bard’s hair.
Jaskier gasped, eyes popping open in surprise. Suddenly he froze, eyes locked on the moon overhead. It seemed a small detail but Geralt couldn’t help but notice how the moon was reflected in his eyes to an unnatural degree. Slowly, as if there wasn’t a knife pressed to his throat, Jaskier lowered his eyes. The merman giggled, shocking both the witcher and bandit. “Isn’t it pretty?” He asked, still giggling uncontrollably. “Don’t you think the moon is so pretty tonight?”
Geralt was concerned. Yes the merman had warned him that something like this would happen but seeing his bard losing control of himself because of something Geralt couldn’t control was terrifying. “Jaskier, are you okay?”
The question brought forth more giggles from the bard. “Never better Geralt! I feel like I could just… burst into song!” He gasped before shooting Geralt a drunken smile. “In fact I think that’s exactly what I’ll do!”
“Jaskier, I don’t think-”
“Shut! Up!” The bandit screamed. “Both of you just shut up!”
Jaskier pouted. “You’re a meanie. Meanies don’t get to tell me what to do.” Geralt didn’t know what to expect from the bard’s singing in his moondrunk state but it certainly wasn’t for his medallion to start vibrating and the bandit to drop his knife, a goofy grin spreading on his face. When the merman stopped singing the bandit began clapping, praising Jaskier.
“Did you like it?” Jaskier asked.
“It was amazing.” The bandit sighed. “You were amazing. I love you.”
Jaskier cooed. “Aww, aren’t you sweet. What about you Geralt, did you like my singing?”
Even without falling under the siren spell of Jaskier’s singing Geralt could tell that the bard sounded good. “I always like your singing Jaskier.” He didn’t add on that he preferred his normal ones better, with lyrics and sung under Jaskier’s own freewill. He worried about how the merman might act if angered right now.
Jaskier clapped. “Oh goody! We should put on a concert!”
“Yes, yes! Everyone should get to hear your wonderful singing!” The bandit praised.
“Aww thanks sweetie.” Jaskier chuckled.
Geralt grunted. “We can’t.”
“Can’t?” Jaskier narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean can’t?”
Shit, he didn’t want to provoke the merman. He’d never be able to forgive himself if he accidentally hurt his friend in a fight. Better to appease the bard for now and try to stall until morning. “I mean you can’t perform here, there isn’t a big enough audience for a singer such as you.” The witcher had no intentions of letting the moon crazy bard anywhere near civilization but he didn’t need to know that.
“Oh Geralt,” Jaskier sighed, “you are so sweet for thinking that. Of course as many people as possible should be able to hear the magic and majesty of my voice.”
“And I’ll be right there by your side.” The bandit piped up from where he sat.
The two friends looked at each other, the merman confused and the witcher panicked. “Geralt, why shouldn’t this perfectly lovely fellow come with us?” Jaskier asked in a carefully level tone, clearly not happy at the witcher’s outburst.
Geralt wracked his brain for an answer that Jaskier would accept in his moon-addled state. “He can’t come with us because… he needs to stay here to take care of his friends! Yes, that’s it. He has to stay here so that when his friends wake up they can come and see your concert too.”
“Very thoughtful of you Geralt.”
The bandit pouted, clearly unhappy about being left behind but didn’t argue with the merman. “Come on Jaskier, we better get going if you want to make it to your audience in time.”
“Oh yes! Let’s get going then, we wouldn’t want to deny the public the gift of my voice.”
Geralt rolled his eyes and sighed, it was going to be a very long night. At least he knew that by morning he’d have his friend back and things would be back to normal. He repeated that thought as a mantra as he packed up camp. The moon-addled merman offered no help with pacing up the camp, merely singing as he drunkenly brushed Roach’s mane, his movements uncoordinated and clunky.
The witcher led them into the woods, claiming to know a shortcut. In reality he was leading Jaskier as far away as he could from any traces of society, keeping a close eye on the merman to ensure that he didn’t wander off and try to enchant any townsfolk.
Unfortunately he’d been paying so much attention to Jaskier that he’d missed the signs of the approaching town until it was too late. Geralt had had no clue that this village, and he was being generous with that word, existed since it wasn’t on any map. Geralt felt like hitting himself, how could he have missed this!
Jaskier on the other hand was ecstatic at the sight of civilization. “Oh Geralt! Thank you so much for this! I couldn’t have asked for a better friend.” With that the merman bounced over to the witcher and planted a kiss on his cheek. Normally Geralt would revel in this kind of attention from his bard but he couldn’t, not right now when the man wasn’t in control of his actions.
The witcher glanced at the sky, sighing with relief as he saw the moon nearing the horizon. “How about we get ourselves a room Jaskier. It’ll give your voice a chance to rest before giving your big performance.”
The merman giggled. “Nonsense. I’m in tip top shape Geralt!”
“Please,” he sighed, “can we get a room first? For me Jaskier.”
“Oh fine.” The merman pouted.
Geralt breathed a sigh of relief, that was one less problem that he has to deal with tonight. The witcher quickly booked a room for them both, not even pausing at the high mark up the innkeep gave him.
“Come on Jaskier,” he sighed as he went to pull the merman away from an adoring crowd that had seemed to gather before him.
“But my fans Geralt! They love me!” His protest was met with many frenzied agreements from the crowd.
“If they really love you that much then I’m sure they can wait a few hours.” The crowd all groaned as the pair made their way upstairs.
Geralt shut the door and slumped against it in relief. He smiled at the lightening sky outside the window to their room. “Just another hour or two.” He muttered to himself.
He’d just finished unpacking and was making the two of them as comfortable as possible on the mattress the inn provided. At first the merman was fidgeting, pacing up and down the room, but slowly he calmed down, taking a seat on the bed. Geralt could see the sky continuing to lighten outside and assumed that this was just the bard coming down from his moon sickness.
“Geralt,” Jaskier piped up from the bed, “how about I go grab us some breakfast.”
The sky was bright blue at this point so Geralt didn’t see any problem with this. “Sure, go ahead.”
“Thanks Geralt!” The merman giggled. “See you in a bit.”
After a few minutes when Jaskier still hadn’t returned Geralt decided to go check on the merman. When he walked out of the room Geralt could hear some faint singing and felt his medallion begin to vibrate. “Oh no.” He raced to the tavern downstairs. When he got there he saw Jaskier surrounded by a massive crowd, the entire town must’ve gathered to hear the merman sing his siren song. In the middle of it all was Jaskier singing the same lyricless tune as he did back in the woods.
Geralt felt like slapping himself. He should’ve checked that the moon had actually set before he let Jaskier go out on his own. “Come on Jaskier, we’re leaving.”
“No!” One of the townspeople slammed into Geralt. “You’re not taking him all for yourself!”
“Wait! I-” His protests were all for naught as he was tackled by more townspeople. He knew he could probably take them all even though he was unarmed, but he didn’t want to hurt any of them when they were under a spell.
Suddenly Jaskier’s singing cut off, the crowd snapping out of their frenzy. “Uh,” the bard looked lost, “thank you for listening my good people but I shall have to say adieu now and head off to my room. You were a wonderful crowd, goodnight! Er… morning.” With that Jaskier quickly made his way to where Geralt was picking himself off of the ground. “What in Melitele’s name happened last night?” he hissed.
“Let's get back to our room first.”
Once they were behind closed doors Geralt explained what happened. The bandits, Jaskier getting moonstruck, the village. “I’m sorry.” He said after he was all done. “I promised to protect you and I failed.”
“Oh you didn’t fail Geralt, no one could have predicted that the bandits would show up.”
Jaskier pushed a finger to his lips, silencing him. “Nope, no buts. You made sure that I didn’t hurt myself or others and I couldn’t have asked for more. Now I think it’s time for me to take advantage of this room you rented and sleep the day away. I’m exhausted.”
“It’s almost like you spent all night running around the woods.”
Jaskier laughed. “Yeah, I guess I did. And so did you so get over here.” He patted the bed next to him. “There’s plenty of room for the both of us.”
That’s how the day passed, with the two of them cuddled up on the bed sleeping the day away.