“Have you thought about selling these to a millinery?” Jaskier asked. He plucked one of the griffin’s massive brown-and-amber wing feathers, waving it in the melodic shape of ‘Toss a Coin.’ What a spectacular hat accessory it would make. The flare! The vim! The height!
Geralt harrumphed, cutting at the griffin’s neck with his trophy knife. “No,” he said. “Parasites.”
“Like monster lice?” Jaskier asked, choosing that moment to enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains. Couldn’t do anything about the knife-y, squelchy sounds, but oh well. Such was the gore of traveling with a Witcher. “You didn’t tell me there were monster lice, Geralt! Wait. Are you giving monster lice to Roach right now, even as we speak? Does this feather have monster lice on it?”
Roach snorted and stomped as Geralt tied the smelly trophy to her. Geralt, meanwhile, sighed a deep Witcher sigh and came to stand next to him.
That was a ‘no’ on the monster lice, then.
“What would happen if griffin feathers became popular?” Geralt asked, as one would of a small child.
“Witchers would make a lot of money?” Jaskier suggested, rubbing his thumb along the feather’s soft surface. “Get paid by fashionable people to deliver more than a griffin’s head?”
“Hmm.” Geralt prodded Jaskier’s ankle with his boot. “These fashionable people would be content to wait for Witchers to deliver their product?”
Jaskier considered the fervor with which he had sought a specific Toussaintois thread for his doublets last year. “Ah,” he said. “People would try to hunt griffins themselves and the majority of those people would promptly be massacred, which wouldn’t matter at all to the wealthy people who hired them.”
“And even if you managed to arrange some kind of Witchers-only trading license in an effort to prevent people from dying for profit, then merchants would simply say that they assumed anyone selling these feathers was a Witcher, never mind that it’s ridiculously difficult to physically impersonate one of you. Moreover, some Witcher impersonators might not stop with selling griffin feathers—they might con a town out of their money and ride off into the night, making your entire profession look bad. Hmm, I see.” Jaskier rubbed at his chin. “Parasites indeed.”
“…Not what you were thinking,” Jaskier concluded, drawing on his deep well of Geraltian knowledge in order to interpret Geralt’s slightly-less-than-blank face.
“Griffin hunters—the ones that lived—would carry felavian pox and trichomaniasis into previously isolated populations,” Geralt said. “We’d end up with sick griffins who are more likely to leave their roosts in the wild in order to attack easy prey: sheep, cattle, people. Same thing happened half a century back—fad for warg pelts. People only stopped dying when the wargs started balding from how sick they were and demand for their coats disappeared.”
Jaskier recalled the carefully preserved collection of warg-fur coats in his family’s closet. Oh, gods. Great-grandpa Pankratz was responsible for even more deaths than he had thought!
He looked down at the feather in his hand and swallowed. “Perhaps a griffin feather hat wouldn’t be the best idea,” he admitted.
“Hmm,” Geralt said, somehow ironic. Anyone who thought Witchers didn’t have emotions need only listen to the oeuvre of Geralt’s interjections.
Jaskier clasped one hand over his heart. “Farewell, beautiful hat-that-wasn’t. It’s a crime against millinery that you will never leave the confines of my imagination, but when the alternative is a crime against humanity and ecology, then I have no choice but to choose the lesser evil.” He attempted to dramatically throw the feather back onto the headless griffin corpse, but, being a feather, it merely fluttered to the ground a few feet away.
Geralt snorted, and with a wave of his fingers, he set the griffin’s corpse and its attendant feathers alight. “Anything’s the lesser evil compared to that hat,” he muttered.
Jaskier immediately conceived of a hat that had an entire peacock feather tucked in the brim, perhaps taller than he was, just to see Geralt’s face when Jaskier unveiled his ethical masterpiece. He would need to look for somewhere with high ceilings.
“Yeeees,” Jaskier agreed. “That griffin hat was certainly the pinnacle of evil. Absolutely. Nothing could top it.”
Geralt narrowed his eyes.
Geralt had persuaded him against Pankratz-ing with precious words instead of with an Igni that crumbled the feather to ash in his hand; it seemed only fair that Jaskier meet his offering equally, trading a hypothetically fashionable headpiece for a grandiose in-joke. It would blow his hat budget for the rest of the season, but oh well. Such was the peril of traveling with someone you cared about. Every once in a while, you made little sacrifices to each other, offerings on an invisible altar.
Geralt was used to offering things up; he struggled with receiving them.
A peacock feather, Jaskier considered, was impossible for even Geralt to deny. And if Jaskier were lucky, then he’d get to hear the very specific “Hmm” that Geralt made when he was trying not to laugh.