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The Wild Hunt: A Tale by Master Dandelion

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  • #16
    Chapter XXVII: Something Ends, Something Begins
    Every story, even the longest epic, must end, and so this one too now nears its conclusion. Geralt and his friends had acquired the Sunstone and secured the help of Fringilla Vigo. In other words, the long and dangerous process of preparing was over at last and everything was in place for the final battle against the Wild Hunt. All that remained was to summon the Naglfar to the shores of Undvik – and straight into their trap. The Nilfgaardians and warriors of Skellige would aid in the battle. Neither Emhyr nor Crach balked when the time came to stand and fight Eredin.

    Avallac'h played an active role in the war council preceding the luring of the Wild Hunt into their trap. During these discussions he and Ciri briefly got into a heated argument because Avallac'h firmly insisted she not engage directly in the coming conflict. But the plan was finalized. The mages would prevent the Naglfar from departing the world once it arrived, and the soldiers would attack the vessel from all sides, with Geralt fighting with one of the Nilfgaardian regiments at the center of the attack.

    Soon everyone was heading off to get in position for their task. However, Yennefer stayed behind to share a moment with Geralt. She told the witcher that after this was over, and Ciri was safe, she wanted to find a quiet spot in the world and spend time there with her lover of yore. Geralt had never heard such a promising proposal in all his long life, and instantly agreed to join her when the war was done. With that the lovers parted, hoping they would get the chance to see their dreams come true.

    With everything in place, Ciri activated the Sunstone, thus tricking Eredin into thinking that she had just used her powers to arrive on Undvik. It was not long until the Wild Hunt arrived in force, and met was met with a much larger force than they had anticipated. Every plan looks best on paper. It was no different this time – though every last detail had been seen to, our heroes were still in for many an unexpected danger and difficult moment. Their division of elite Nilfgaardian soldiers was frozen in ice before it could board the Naglfar. Ciri, who was supposed to stay out of the fighting, was forced into the fray to save Geralt.

    She sprinted through the battle, slaying every Wild Hunt warrior she could get within striking distance of. Those soldiers who survived the battle would swear that the ashen haired woman had been in many places at once, and this was not so far from the truth. Ciri was racing to find Caranthir, the mage who froze Geralt and the Nilfgaardian’s in ice. Soon she found the mage and the two lunged at one another teleporting all across the battlefield until Ciri destroyed the Aen Elle’s staff. However when she destroyed the staff a great magical explosion enveloped her. She was dazed and had to flee from the battle while she still could.

    Caranthir was wounded, but still breathing. However with his spell broken, the witcher broke free of his frozen shackles, and faced Avallac’h golden protégé in one on one combat. Caranthir used every magical trick he knew of. Teleporting, shooting magical projectiles and summoning creatures from the void. Yet even with his tricks and spells Caranthir still died during the final battle against the Wild Hunt, his body swallowed up by the cold waters of the ocean. You see, dear reader, in a last suicidal act the Aen Elle grabbed Geralt and teleported to the bottom of the sea beneath the waves of Undvik.

    Geralt was always a strong swimmer and could hold his breath better than most men. So it should be of no surprise that despite Caranthir’s efforts, the witcher soon surfaced in the waters of Skellige, and immediately rejoined the fighting. Meanwhile glory-seeking, fearless (or reckless, some might say) Skelligers rushed into the bay to fight the riders of the Hunt. They attacked Eredin’s flagship, with Crach and Craite leading the charge. Though Eredin killed Crach during this fight, the jarl's death did not break the islanders' spirit, instead becoming a model of how to die like a true hero.

    Geralt arrived on the Naglfar just in time to see his old friend perish. Filled with rage, and ready to slay this elf who wanted to kill his daughter the witcher began stalking in circle around the Aen Elle’s king. Eredin's last battle is worthy of a poem - nay, an epic - all to itself, yet this is neither the time nor the place to pen it. To be brief, on that fateful day the cruel King of the Hunt seemed unstoppable and tore asunder all who dared stand in his way - until, that is, his way led him smack into Geralt of Rivia. The two expert fighters faced off in a last skirmish on the ghastly deck of the Naglfar. The fight was long and difficult, but the witcher's blade struck true in the end, cutting down Eredin's dreams of power and conquest. So died Eredin Bréacc Glas, King of the Wild Hunt.

    It was too early to rejoice, however – right before his death Eredin revealed that Avallac'h had betrayed the witcher and had his own nefarious plans for Ciri. Eredin's last words sowed seeds of doubt in Geralt's heart, and Ciri and Avallac'h's sudden disappearance led them to spring into thorny shoots. Everything seemed to indicate that the Sage had been pursuing a hidden goal the whole time – to open the gates between worlds. Geralt did not know whether to trust his enemy's words – but circumstances did not allow for long and careful deliberation.

    When the gate between worlds was opened, all manner of creatures began spewing out across Undvik, and meteors began falling from the sky. This was Ragh nar Roog, the end of the world. Yennefer found Geralt and the two soon saw a blinding light emenating from Tor Gvalch'ca, a nearby ancient elven tower. They knew that this would be where Avallac’h had taken Ciri, and so they rode off in that direction without sparing the horses they found. As they approached the tower, the White Frost had begun freezing the Earth all around them. Yennefer cast a spell that protected them as they approached the tower. However when they arrived it was protected by a magical barrier. Yen used all her remaining strength to pierce the barrier just long enough that Geralt could squeeze through and race on to save their daughter.

    When the witcher arrived at Tor Gvalch’ca, he found Avallac’h and challenged the elf to fight him, believing the sage had betrayed Ciri. However, Ciri soon appeared and convinced Geralt that Avallac’h was no enemy. It turned out that, while Avallac'h had not been entirely honest with the witcher, he was no traitor. Ciri had slipped off with him during the battle of her volition in order to – and please pardon the grandiosity, dear reader – save the world. Eredin had perished - but the evil king's death only ever heralds the end in fairy tales. In our Story, this meant it was time for Ciri to face her destiny. Only she possessed the power to stop the White Frost - the near mythical force which threatened not just our world, but countless others as well. She was convinced Geralt would never allow her to embark on this mad endeavor, and so decided she had to operate behind his back.

    When Geralt learned of her intentions, to travel into the White Frost and stop it from ever reaching their world, he told her he didn’t have to sacrifice herself. All his promises and threats were for naught – there was no stopping Ciri once she'd made her mind up. She told Geralt that she had to try and stop this from happening, or one day all of the worlds in existence would become uninhabitable. Hearing her acceptance of her destiny, all Geralt could do was wish his daughter luck as he watch her pass through the veil to another world. The witcher could only watch as she stepped into the elven tower – and hope she would return safe and sound. After what seemed an endless time to the witcher, something happened. The chaos erupting all around Undvik ceased. It was clear that Ciri had saved the world from the White Frost itself. She had succeeded. But what had become of the witcher’s daughter?


    My story began in Temeria, near Vizima, with Geralt dreaming a dream of Yennefer, Ciri and the Wild Hunt. It returns in Temeria as well, with the witcher riding to Vizima to have one last conversation with the emperor - and tell him Ciri would not be coming back. The witcher informed the Emperor that Ciri was dead. He explained all that had happened, and that Ciri had stopped the White Frost and thus saved the world, but had perished in the process. The Emperor told Geralt he was free to go, but told the witcher he never wanted to see him again. Without another word, the witcher left the Royal Palace of Vizima and never looked back.

    After his meeting with Emhyr var Emreis, Geralt set off for White Orchard, where he had agreed to meet someone amidst the ruins of the old castle there. The former Nilfgaardian Garrison was now abandoned by the soldiers as they were departing the area. Temeria was once again free, though a vassal of the empire. With Radovid’s death, all the North was soon under the service of the sun of Nilfgaard. The witcher waited until his contact arrived. It was a master swordsmith whom the witcher had asked to craft a sword. The man brought his handiwork, a specially crafted sword named Zirreal – Swallow. Geralt thanked the man, and paid him in gemstones, as the currency of the land was understandably less than assured in it’s state of flux.

    In the dawning light, the witcher left the Garrison and rode back towards the tavern at White Orchard. As he did so, he came upon a dwarf. And this wasn’t just any dwarf, but one of the company that had stolen his boat from the isle of the mists. The dwarf, knowing they had in the not too distant past “borrowed” the witcher’s boat without permission fled and warned his brethren of who was approaching. The dwarfs hid, but the witcher could hear them all even as they cowered in fear. He called them out and they all obliged. The apologized for taking the boat, but said Geralt wouldn’t have fit with all of them anyways.

    Soon there was the sound of horse hoofs on the road and it became clear the dwarfs were in trouble with someone else too. The went back into hiding as some Nilfgaardian’s approached. It seemed the men were looking for the dwarfs as they had stolen a chalice from the new local Governor of the Region. I’m not certain why he did so, but the witcher covered for the dwarves and said he was searching for them too as they had stolen his boat, and that he was at least two days behind them. Soon the Nilfgaardian’s lost interest and the dwarves came back out thanking the witcher for not turning them over. Geralt asked what they had taken. It seemed they had agreed to abscond with a chalice and turned it over to a Master “Mirrory.” Geralt felt a chill as he thought of Gaunter O’Dimm. He then wished the dwarves well and continued on his way to the tavern.

    And who awaited Geralt in White Orchard? Ciri - packed and ready to set off on the Path. Where did the witcher and his ward venture, you ask, and what became of them? That, dear reader, is another story. Suffice it to say that for the next several years, the witcher taught Ciri everything he knew about monsters and the path. Once she had learned all Geralt had to teach the two parted, with each traveling down their own witcher’s path.

    Chapter XXVIII: Envoys, Wineboys
    When Geralt had taught Ciri everything he knew they parted ways. The witcher felt this made knowledge of Ciri’s being alive less likely to reach the ears of Emhyr far to the south. Ciri headed for Kovir while Geralt decided to return to Novigrad. As he approached the city from the west, he came upon a notice. You can tell an experienced witcher by the way he examines a notice board. To the novice eye, these weathered planks contain nothing but clumsily-scrawled messages touching on matters thoroughly mundane: trifling announcements, offers of sale or purchase, lewd rhymes, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam.

    A witcher with years under his belt, however, will search the dross carefully, knowing that it often hides a jewel – a witcher contract, for example, or, as in this particular case, information about a mysterious "runewright" from a far-off land... A small fortune was all it took for the Ofieri to get started. Geralt had money to spare and was hoping to enchant the sword Olgierd had gifted to him – Iris. Once the runewright received it, he got down to work and from then on Geralt could buy simple runes and glyphs from him and have him place basic words in his swords and armor.

    The Ofieri runewright got down to work, but announced at once that more advanced runes or glyphs would require special materials. Jade, it seems, is a necessary part of advanced runewrighting. Since Geralt was interested in enchanted goods of the better sort, he decided to look around for a hunk of this element. He made his way north of Novigrad where jade was known to rest. Finding large quantities of jade was not easy, but when the witcher set his mind to it, he could even find a dove in a blizzard. He eventually found some in a cave full of arachnomorphs.

    While there Geralt happened across the body of an unfortunate wretch who had stumbled into this death pit. In his pockets was a yellowed letter. The letter was from a thief informing his partner about where he had hidden their takings. To their great misfortune, the damp cave he had chosen was also home to monstrous spiders, who'd made the treasure's hiding spot the very heart of their lair… The letter told the truth – Geralt found the hidden treasure and kept a one hundred percent finder's fee for himself. After recovering the treasure, Geralt went back to the enchanter. Soon enough the Ofieri runewright had what he desired, and was more than happy to enchant the witcher’s sword.

    "Witcher" has become a synonym for "monster slayer" in many minds. While accurate as far as it goes, this does not encompass the whole truth, for witchers take on a broad variety of other tasks besides the slaying of monsters. For example, they sometimes use their superhuman senses to find missing persons. Such a lost individual was the subject of the notice hung by a certain Otto Bamber, an herbalist residing near Oxenfurt.

    Otto told Geralt his apprentice, Folkert, had not returned from an herb-gathering excursion to the Deadwight Wood. Though this was not at all on Geralt's way, he decided to help the desperate herbalist. Something tells me this was not merely on account of the reward on offer – though those knowing only Geralt's surface from ballads and rumors might find this hard to believe, deep down, he was really a softy.

    Geralt followed the path the halfling was supposed to take. Some miles away, Geralt came across the cart that must have belonged to Folkert … with blood. He followed the trail to a small village that seemed nearly abandoned. There Geralt found Folkert – carefully gutted and salted and hanging in a larder belonging to an elderly couple living near the woods. The couple swore they hadn't killed the young halfling and had been forced into cannibalism by famine. Though Geralt condemned their actions, he decided punishing cannibals was not his duty and walked away.

    Thereafter the witcher returned to Otto’s and told him that Folkert was killed by monsters. The witcher did not know if these monsters were human or canine … so he left out the details. The herbalist thanked the witcher for his work, and paid him his reward. Then Geralt set off south.

    Though Geralt had plenty of other worries, he had not forgotten about his trade – which is, let I remind you, slaying monsters. While striving to practice his profession he came across a contract offering an altogether attractive sum in return for tracking down a certain missing individual. No mention of monsters, true, but Geralt had seen enough incidents of its like to suspect one might turn up – and besides, when it comes down to it, coin is coin.

    It turned out the missing man’s name was Mikkel, and his brother was willing to pay top dollar to have him found. The missing man had travelled off with a group of women and hadn’t returned for some time. Velen's woods and bogs brim with monsters. This fact is well known, and thus when the war drove refugees into this hostile land, certain of their number thought to avoid the dangers of the lowlands by hiding in an abandoned mine. In my experience, mines either hold precious metals or (more frequently) deadly monsters. They were in for an unfortunate surprise. The shaft they chose for their sanctuary was inhabited by a poisonous arachas - a merciless and bloodthirsty monster.

    As he ventured inside he found but one survivor, a woman who claimed to have been with Mikkel. Geralt escorted her out of the mine and went back to slay the beast and find evidence of Mikkel’s fate. The witcher knew he was in for a tough fight. The arachas had dwelled in the mine for years and had grown large and particularly strong and resilient in that time. Like other members of its vile species, it would be dangerous both at close quarters and at a distance. What's more, it was almost certainly venomous - he would need to imbibe Swallow or Golden Oriole (or both) before attacking if he was to stand a chance of surviving. As a small consolation, the witcher knew the monster would be vulnerable to his Signs as well as to the Northern Wind bomb.

    The witcher arrived at the cave too late to save most of the refugees - but he could still avenge their fate. Geralt knew he had to annihilate the arachas for good - meaning he had to kill the female and destroy all the eggs she had lain. Arachasae are incredibly dangerous beasts, but a witcher is not just some run-of-the-mill adventure seeker. In a bloody battle whose echoes could be heard throughout all of Velen, Geralt killed the old arachas queen and put an end to her vile line. In the queen’s lair, the witcher found the dead brother’s blood soaked boots, and knew he was dead. He returned to the man whom had hired him, who stiffed the witcher on his full reward since the brother was dead … but did give the witcher some small amount of coin. Risking one’s life for less than bargained is just part of the job for a witcher.

    Geralt then rode through Velen searching for more work. It was a time when there seemed to be two Geralts. One was a celebrity, at least in certain circles, while the other remained a mercenary who did dirty work for coin. At any rate, both these Geralts happened on a contract of an unusual sort, not least because it marked the star of a new adventure. And this adventure I will gladly relate. It began in a manner most ordinary, with a notice posted on a board in Velen.

    “Geralt of Rivia,

    At the behest of our merciful sovereign, Her Illustrious Grace Anna Henrietta, we have journeyed to the Northem Realms to lay before you our mission. A terrible monster has appeared in the Duchy of Toussaint, a beast that has committed heinous crimes against her Grace's subjects. Only the Most Famous Among Witchers has the ability to destroy the Beast, thus we humbly beseech you to appear in the village of Holloway, where we shall await you in full hope that you will deign to hear of our woes and liberate our land from the clutches of fear.
    Your humble servants:

    Sirs Palmerin de Launfal and Milton de Peyrac-Peyran, Knights in the Service of Her Grace and the Duchy”
    Geralt was intrigued because he knew both of the knights who had posted this notice. They were Knights Errant from the southern duchy of Toussaint. Not all knights errant in Toussaint were embodiments of virtue, but if I had to choose one among them who did personify their chivalric creed, it would be Palmerin de Launfal. He is all the more admirable for the fact that, years ago, he was no stranger to the pleasures of eating, drinking and making merry in a variety of fashions. With time, however, he abandoned vice and drew closer to the knightly ideal. Geralt realized this when Palmerin came to him as an envoy from Anna Henrietta. The old-fashioned and somewhat naive knight immediately made a good impression on him, for while he did take formalities and courtesies a tad too seriously, he was anything but pompous or grandiose.

    Milton de Peyrac-Peyran was a baron from Toussaint and a member of Anna Henrietta’s inner circle of knights. This good-humored nobleman never met an overloaded banquet table he failed to unload of its burdens, yet nor did he ever shirk a fight against heavily-armed bandits or any other enemies of the duchy. Geralt had met Milton years ago, under very peculiar circumstances that deserve to be recounted properly and at length. Their roads crossed again when Milton came to the witcher as the duchess’ envoy, to ask our hero to journey with him to Toussaint.

    The Witcher read the notice and set out see what else he could learn. In Holloway, the witcher came upon the two friends of years long past who had come to Velen as emissaries of their sovereign duchess. If you find yourself wondering why these knights errant seemed stuck in this slipshod backwater hamlet in Velen, I hasten to explain – they had decided to wage war on some local bandits. Palmerin, ever eager to resolve crises peacefully, intended to address the robbers, appeal to their sense of decency and thus direct them onto a path of virtue. Geralt expected Palmerin's rhetoric to fall on deaf ears. When the bandits arrived, Palmerin put in a valiant effort, yet ultimately the bandits insulted the knights’ duchess and a bloody fight broke out. The witcher assisted the knights from afar to deal with the local rabble. Though this could seem a somewhat unpatriotic act, there is no doubt Geralt's choice was thoroughly justified and that he had taken the moral high ground.

    Yet in telling a story, one should never get ahead of oneself. Suffice now to say the knights delivered their message from Duchess Anna Henrietta. If this world has ever known a ruler who enjoyed the absolute admiration of her subjects without the need for systematic repression or a particularly cruel hangman, it was, without a doubt, the sovereign of Toussaint. Called Anarietta by those who knew her well, she was the widow of the late lamented Duke Raymund and one-time lover of a very famous and talented artist who would prefer to remain anonymous. A few years prior, when the witcher and a band of friends were visiting Toussaint, Anna Henrietta had had the pleasure of meeting Geralt of Rivia. When a mysterious Beast began attacking her courtiers, the duchess thus knew exactly whom to summon. In her summons, the Duchess wrote:

    “Most Honorable Geralt, Slayer of Monsters and All Evils Nefarious which Prey on the Defenseless of this World! Whereas never have you been known to deny help to the innocent nor leave widows and orphans to fates undeserved, answer you now our present summons! Free us from the Beast which floods our streets with blood and sows panic in the hearts of rich and poor alike! Come to our aid, witcher – thus humbly beseeches you the star-crossed city's most gracious protectress, Her Illustrious Highness, Duchess Anna Henrietta.”

    Geralt asked his knight companions for information about this Beast. However, eyewitnesses to gruesome monster attacks always have a hard time describing the creature in question. The beasts move quickly and often attack at night, while the witnesses are terrified and primarily concerned with fleeing for their lives. As a result, witchers quite often have no inkling what creature they face until they find tracks or otherwise establish something for themselves. Such was the case with the Beast tormenting Beauclair. Geralt learned from the knights only it was deadly, elusive and fiendishly clever. Everything else he heard was clearly the product of imaginations fed by fear of a dangerous predator. However, Geralt thought a journey to the land of Toussaint to hunt his Beast might be profitable and interesting … so the witcher agreed to take on the contract. He then promptly set off for Toussaint in their company to face the Beast that tormented the duchy. And thus the adventure was underway.
    Last edited by Rawls; 30-11-17, 18:58.
    Read the Forum Regulations! This color means I am posting in my capacity as a moderator. Otherwise, feel free to ignore my random musings. Check out The Wild Hunt & The Forlorn Hope!


    • #17
      Chapter XXIX: The Beast of Toussaint
      No sooner had Geralt arrived in Toussaint than he got his first taste of the local color. As he was clip-clopping along the high road, chit-chatting with Milton and Palmerin, a most unusual sight unfolded before his eyes. Here was a knight, with all the expected accoutrements, charging headlong at a windmill! The situation became clear a moment later when a giant strode from behind the windmill and charged right back at the knight. According to legend, this giant named Golyat had once been a knight who violated his vows, for which he was punished by the Lady of the Lake. Transformed into a giant, he fled into the mountains and would only descend into the inhabited lowlands when hunger forced him to it. There’s no knowing how much truth lies in that legend, yet it is incontrovertible fact that this dangerous giant gobbled up shepherds and sheep alike, and was so widely feared, governesses used him to scare children into eating their vegetables.

      Before anyone could say "Only in Toussaint," the witcher and all three knights were swinging away at the brute, amidst the freshly crumbled ruins of the mill and a herd of panic-stricken sheep. Though he came across as a wild, unthinking beast, Golyat used simple tools and any item could turn into a deadly weapon in his powerful hands. When fighting Geralt, Golyat wielded a millstone, making his every blow truly crushing. Luckily, Geralt already had some experience slaying giants and made quick work of Golyat as well, with the much appreciated help of three knights - Milton de Peyrac Peyran, Palmerin de Launfal and Guillaume de Launfal. Guillaume de Launfal was the very model of a knight errant – the placard boy for Toussaint, if you will.

      At long last the giant lay defeated, and the men who had vanquished it could make their introductions, then engage in the kind of conversation that oft happens over a fresh monster corpse. The young giant slayer gave the three arrivals fresh tidings – the Beast had struck again. The body of its most recent victim now lay on a riverbank nearby. Geralt decided he needed to see it and explore the crime scene, while Milton thought it both wise and courteous to accompany the witcher.

      Geralt failed to find the victim's body on the riverbank. It seemed the Ducal Guard had removed it to the cool cellars of the Corvo Bianco Estate. Ever the ferreter, however, Geralt did spot something the soldiers had overlooked … a handkerchief with the initials d.l.c. on it. Based on the item, and with Milton's help, he established the identity of the Beast's most recent victim, Count Louis de la Croix.. Yet he failed to divine the species, genus, or family of the creature that had perpetrated the crime.

      Milton and Gralt deduced that the whomever had found the body was likely to be found in the nearby “Cockatrice Inn”, so they headed that direction. There was a time when the Cockatrice’s owner, Adam de Guy, loved to recount the tale of how the inn got its name. In his youth, his story went, he served as squire to a knight errant and together they defeated a bloodthirsty cockatrice. The beast’s head decorated the auberge’s entrance for many years until a certain traveler from Oxenfurt ascertained it was unfortunately but a rather amateurish hobbling together of pheasant, weasel and pig parts. His pride wounded, de Guy took down his trophy, but the inn kept its name.

      When they arrived at Cockatrice Inn, they did not find the body, but they did find the man who had found it. The man informed them that he had awoke that morning to see a blood red sky, and then went down to his nets to bring in the catch of the day. When he got there he saw a head and hand bobbing in the water. The man called the Ducal Guard, who arrived and had indeed taken the body to Corvo Bianco. The man also divulged that each of the murders had occurred on the day of celebration for one of Toussaint's patron saints. Geralt noticed a woman in a cloak eavesdropping on their conversation who left once the witcher noticed her. He asked the others about her, but they dismissed his suspicions.

      Geralt was developing some solid ideas about the nature of this killer, which seemed a sentient creature, but only an autopsy could help him determine exactly what he was dealing with. So Geralt set off for Corvo Bianco, where the body had been taken. Constructed on elven ruins, Corvo Bianco — known as Gwyn Cerbin in the Elder Speech is one of the oldest vineyards in the duchy and producer of startlingly unique wine, Sepremento. Sadly, the rakish lifestyle of one of its owners, the last member of the Bolius line, drove the possession into ruin. The next owner, Baron Rossell, tried to return the vineyard to its former glory, but to no avail. Corvo Bianco was then auctioned off and eventually passed under the control of the Ducal Treasury. He travelled alone this time as duties at court had called Milton to the Ducal Palace.

      Alas, something wicked had arrived at Corvo Bianco Vineyard before Geralt. As the witcher drew near the estate, yet was still at some distance, battle sounds reached his ears. On arriving, he saw the bodies of guardsmen, murdered just moments before by what could only be a bruxa. With the bodies was a cloak the witcher recognized. The woman who had been eavesdropping on them at the inn must have been this deadly beast. Fortunately for us all, bruxae are rare creatures. Most live far from population centers, for they care greatly for their own safety and make their lairs in places where they cannot be taken by surprise. Those who decide to live near men avoid crowds and normally emerge from their shelters only at night. When they do, one could almost mistake them for delayed travelers hurrying towards their night’s lodging, yet subtle details give them away: their close ties to birds, their piercing voices and the breathtaking speed of their movements. Bruxae are far swifter and stronger than men, but their greatest asset is their ability to turn invisible.

      Bruxae dart about with uncanny speed, and with their power of invisibility they can easily confuse opponents and attack unexpectedly or from behind. Thus when fighting these vampires the Moon Dust bomb is a great aid – while it cannot eliminate the vampire’s invisibility altogether, it can make it easier to track its motions. A generous smearing of vampire oil is also effective. Bruxae use their sharp claws to attack and can easily break through an opponent’s guard by buffeting him with a hail of blows from all directions. They will try to bite their prey and drink its blood once it is weakened, so every witcher who expects to encounter such a monster should swallow a Black Blood potion beforehand.

      It appeared she had descended into the cellar of Corvo Bianco, which also happened to be where the Beast’s last victim’s body was located. As he entered the cellar, sword drawn, the witcher open and drank a drought of black blood. In the distant past, mages working with witchers developed this potion specifically for use in fighting cemetery and crypt dwellers that drink the blood or eat the innards of their still living victims. Witchers use Black Blood rarely because the potion only works when a monster begins to feast on their body. Their transmuted blood proves to be a deadly drink.

      The bruxa Geralt encountered at Corvo Bianco differed from other creatures of this sort. Firstly, it was more intelligent, capable even of articulating words in human language without much difficulty. What’s more, this bruxa was tied to the Beast, the mysterious murderer prowling Beauclair at the time. Fighting it presented Geralt with quite the challenge. Sure enough the vampire disappeared and soon grabbed the witcher during their duel, trying to drink of his blood. She realized only too late that it was in fact poison. After this weakened her, the witcher promptly defeated the vampiress, who was not the Beast itself but was clearly in league with it. Yet Geralt could not guess at the link between them nor at the identity of the creature that had inspired the bruxa's rampage through the vineyard.

      De la Croix’s body offered some clues however. It had been quartered with extremely sharp and powerful claws. Also a bad of coins had been lodged in the nobles throat. Finally, there were three hands with the body, and the third was still warm despite having been separated from the body the night before. The witcher needed information on the Beast's previous victims. He supposed the duchess might have this and thus set off to find her.

      Anna Henrietta's time was precious. To get an audience with her was never an easy feat. Even more so in those days, as the duchess was overseeing a chivalric tourney playing out on tourney grounds outside the walls of Toussaint's capital. Geralt went to find the Duchess there, but first saw Palmerin de Launfal outside the festive arena speaking of their slaying Goylat to a group of children. As the witcher approached, Palmerin announced that he was a valiant witcher who had come to help hunt the Beast. The children ask the witcher if virtue always trumps villainy. Geralt responded to the children that virtue does not always win, but that all should strive to do good anyways because decent men attract other good folk, and rogues can often only find other rogues. Palmerin sent the children on their way, and told the witcher they would have to wait for the next match of the tournament to end before they could approach the Duchess.

      Gladiator fights in massive arenas are a popular form of entertainment in Nilfgaard. Usually the fighters are slaves specially trained for this purpose, yet at times the arena masters pit humans against monsters. On this day the monster was a shaelmaar that had been a present from the emperor to his relative, Duchess Anna Henrietta. It had been caught while young and prepared for its ultimate purpose by Nilfgaardian trainers. That does not mean it was tame, however – in fact, its wildness and inborn ferocity had not been dulled one whit. Like all creatures of its species, it was blind but could unerringly pinpoint its opponents’ location using echolocation. The shaelmaar had thick armor and near impenetrable skin. It could also roll into a ball and charge its opponents. Its underbelly, however, was relatively vulnerable and became exposed when its charge failed.

      Geralt thought the idea was reckless and dangerous, not to mention cruel to the shaelmaar, and asked who the fool was that would fight it. Palmerin told him it was the same young knight that had helped them fight the Giant that morning, Guillaume. Getting himself into trouble clearly counted among Guillaume’s favorite hobbies. The fight began and soon after it became clear that the knight was no match for the beast. This second time Geralt met Guillaume, he had to again rescue the knight, this time from the enraged shaelmaar trying its best to rip him to shreds in a packed arena. Geralt and Palmerin jumped into the area from the stands and drew their swords. Though the fight was long and difficult, Geralt defeated the shaelmaar and, when the duchess called from the stands for him to finish the beast off, he refused to kill the creature, not wanting to take a life merely to amuse a crowd.

      After the incident with the shaelmaar, Geralt faced the one who had summoned him. Duchess Henrietta asked the witcher to accompany her. As he spoke with Henrietta, Geralt met the man that had been leading the investigation of the Beast of Beauclaire, Captain Damien de la Tour, the captain of the Ducal Guard. He was absolutely and unconditionally (to say “unthinkingly” would be unfair, yet not entirely inaccurate) devoted to his position and worshiped the ground the duchess walked on. If you want my personal opinion, he was most definitely besotted with her. He came across as a typical soldier, i.e., a thickheaded lackey who, seeing Geralt, immediately decided he must prove who had the more massive unmentionables. Geralt treated this challenge with dispassionate superiority, yet accepted it nevertheless and in doing so earned himself another enemy.

      However, the Duchess, over the Captain’s objection, offered Geralt the contract to complete this investigation in person. Everyone who has even a passing acquaintance with Geralt of Rivia knows it was very rare for the witcher to be paid before completing a contract. Retainers or down payments, however, were another story. Those would often be given him by the best of employers, those who had no intention of backing out of their side of the bargain and who wanted the job done and done well above all else. In this regard, Anna Henrietta stood out as one of the best employers Geralt had ever had. Why is that, you ask, Dear Reader? Why, because in exchange for agreeing to kill the Beast of Beauclair, she gave Geralt... the deed to the Corvo Bianco vineyard (and promised further payment in gold as soon as Geralt completed the job). Say what you will about her, but no one can deny Anna Henrietta's generosity.

      The witcher agreed to take on the investigation into the Beast of Beauclair. To begin, Geralt asked the Captain and Duchess about each of the victims so far. The first victim, Count Crespi called himself a knight, but rarely displayed any chivalry. In later life he had earned many enemies as well as a reputation for dishonorable deeds. His death was strange in that he suddenly disappeared from feast, and was found an hour later deceased. His body was found on hands and knees, propped up against pillory. Corpse was already in a state of rigor mortis, which could indicate Crespi had undergone great physical exertion before death. More likely, the murderer waited for the postmortem stiffening to set in so the body would remain in the desired pose without the need for further support. Crespi died from wounds dealt by long claws. His own sword, in its sheathe, was hung around his neck. He was clothed in attire which, according to his servants, he usually donned for suppers.

      The second victim was Ramon du Lac. He had been at one time an adviser to Anne Henrietta’s father. After the former duke had perished, du Lac pursued some murky business dealings with the criminal world, but Damien de la Tour never gathered enough evidence against him, so he was not charged. The night of the Feast of Saint Nepomucen two patrons exiting the Clever Clogs Inn came across a corpse lying in the gutter. Both witnesses – Xavier and Bruno – are known to the Ducal Guard as they have previously been convicted of petty theft. Seeing the highly unusual circumstances of the deceased’s death, the witnesses informed the Ducal Guard and Guardsmen arrived on the scene in short order. Sir du Lac was dressed in a nightgown and nightcap, with a pillow placed under his head and a bedwarmer placed in his hand. His clothing and the pillow had been soaked through by the gutter’s contents. The victim perished as a result of being pierced through the heart by long claws. The blow was dealt with great precision. The cause of death seemed very strange, as the household members said shortly before du Lac had slept in the bedroom of his house. None of them heard or knew how the assassin got in, nor how he brought the noble's body to the street.

      The third victim, Louis de la Croix believed that the new times and customs required that knights change their attitude towards life and entrepreneurship, which he believed should become a sixth chivalric virtue. He alone resigned from being a knight and took up the grain trading business using a Mill that he inherited from his mother and which made him a sizable fortune. Palmerin de Launfal maliciously even nicknamed him "Sir de la Stingy". The evidence suggesting this was the Beast’s third victim were the wounds to the body’s rib cage, which were dealt by long claws and constituted the immediate cause of death. It is not known why the Beast dismembered the body. Perhaps this was a matter of staging to provoke certain connotations, as in the case of the two previous victims.

      As they related what each had learned about the Beast, thus pooling their knowledge and hypotheses, they deduced the likely identity of its next victim. Each of the victims had been killed on a holiday celebrating the chivalric virtues. Furthermore, it turned out that each had been a knight errant who seemed to in some way betray one of the chivalric virtues of Toussaint – valor, wisdom, honor, generosity and compassion. Finally these three victims had all once been connected in their youth as part of a knightly team that served Henrietta’s father. The forth and sole surviving member of that team was none other than one of the very knights who had brought Geralt to Toussaint, Milton de Peyrac-Peyran.

      They deduced two things from this pattern. First that Milton was likely to be the next target of the beast, and second that he would somehow have to represent either a lack of valor or compassion. Suddenly the Duchess turned pale. Ironically, that very night the gardens at the Palace of Beauclair were the venue for a game of Hunt the Hare. Milton had been assigned the title role. The knight, having donned a bunny rabbit costume, sat hiding in the gardens, waiting to be found by the game's participants based on clues they could win by completing various challenges. Hare’s being notorious for their lack of valor, would make tonight an excellent opportunity for the Beast’s next murder.

      While searching for the Beast, the duchess proved that, when the need arose, she was able to throw off the chains of convention and get her hands dirty with direct action alongside the witcher. Even if she had to do so in a state of relative dishabille. The duchess tore off a portion of her elegant dress (which would have made it impossible to ride a horse) and with the witcher following galloped to the palace gardens. Surprisingly enough, the duchess handled the rigors of the trail as adroitly as she did those of palace audiences. Geralt quickly saw how, even when stripped of her sumptuous gown and wrapped in a coarse cloak, Anna Henrietta remained the same confident and tenacious ruler as ever. Yet then again, this should not have come as a surprise, for the Toussaint court on a daily basis hosted battles of cutting remarks, malicious half-truths and bald-faced lies that were just as fierce as any fought with sword and cannon. The duchess was an unchallenged master of this courtly warfare, and the witcher had the chance to make use of this experience.

      Geralt and Anna Henrietta rushed like rabbits through the palace gardens. In order to find Milton, they would have to find three objects and use them to find the Hare. They needed a “unicorn” horn, and golden fish and an egg. Anna told the witcher to find the unicorn and fish while she searched for the egg. Yet the duchess and the witcher could spare no time for such nonsense and set out to win the clues by breaking the rules. Geralt saw the horse with the horn affixed to it’s face and joined several other hunters in trying to catch it. Rather than use the less effective methods of the other participants, Geralt used the Axii sign and the horse immediately approached him. On the unicorn’s horn was half of a riddle it seemed. He grabbed the horn and began to set off, but a group of men stopped him and started a quarrel. Delaying Geralt while trying to save a friend’s life has never proven a good idea. He quickly knocked the three men to the ground and continued down to the garden’s lake.

      When he arrived at the lake, their were dozens of participants using poles to catch the “fish” – which was really one of many porcelain fish that had been placed in the pond and could be hooked. Rather than grab a pole the witcher took a more direct approach and dove head first into the water. He went from fish to fish until he found one that looked golden, but just as he approached, a man and woman caught it with their pole and sailed back to shore to collect their prize. Geralt followed and, interrupting an cherished ceremony, grabbed the fish from the couple and broke it upon the ground. Inside it he found a key.

      The Duchess had also broken the games rules to collect the rules, greatly disappointing the items true discoverer. It contained the other half of the riddle. Putting them together, Geralt deduced that the answer to the riddle was “Greenhouse.” Having assembled the clues, Geralt and Anna Henrietta had concluded that Milton was hiding in a greenhouse. They had set off to find him post haste. Alas, they were too late.

      Amidst lush vegetation, they found Milton's rapidly cooling corpse. Milton made for good company. Was he also a good man? That I do not know. Geralt told me later some incidents from his past gnawed on his conscience. We shall never know precisely what moral burdens he carried, for Milton de Peyrac-Peyran perished in the palace gardens, the Beast’s fourth victim. May he rest in peace. However, the scene was different from the others in that the murderer still stood over his victim. As the witcher stepped towards him, the killer dashed off. Thus ended the first stage of Geralt's investigation. And thus began his mad pursuit of the murderer.

      When word of yet another murder reached the tourney participants, panic broke out among them. Geralt, affected by no such emotion, remained on the killer's tail as they rushed helter-skelter through the streets of Beauclair. Geralt chased Sir Milton’s murderer with mad intensity. Milton’s murderer was very swift. Even with years of witchering under his belt, Geralt could barely keep up with him. I do not know, nor do I know of, a single soul more experienced than Geralt in his profession. To surprise the witcher takes incredible guile, yet the murderer sowing terror throughout Toussaint managed just that. Soon, it became clear the killer was as clever as he was fast, by entering an old warehouse where he set a trap for Geralt.

      In this way Geralt had his first face to face encounter with the Beast of Beauclair – and discovered it was a higher vampire named Dettlaff. There was a brief exchange, then a fight most fierce ensued. A fight immediately ensued which might have ended very badly for the witcher, had he not been saved in the nick of time by an old friend, Regis, who put a stop to their battle. He threw himself between Geralt and the Beast just as the Beast was launching himself at the witcher. He spoke to the Beast as though they were friends, and asked him not to harm Geralt. After that, Dettlaff fled away in a puff of fog… Thus, Geralt's first confrontation with the Beast went unresolved.

      Only the witcher and Regis remained in the warehouse. Geralt was awe-struck at the sight of his old friend. Here I must explain that, years ago, Regis had joined Geralt’s band of fellow travelers (of which I was a proud part) and set off with us in search of Ciri. Together we lived through many fascinating adventures and Regis proved himself a loyal friend, the kind you can trust with your life. Sadly, the expedition ended tragically for Regis. He was killed by Vilgefortz, who reduced him to nothing more than a wet stain.

      Hence the witcher’s immense surprise at encountering his old friend – after all, he had seen Regis die with his own eyes. But the thing is, that was not Regis’ “final” death, nor even his first. As a young man, Regis had been a bit of a free spirit and overindulged in the drinking of blood. This lifestyle led to him being butchered by angry villagers. Regenerating from that took him fifty years – or nearly no time at all, for an immortal. When he was back in full health, he kicked the habit of blood drinking for good. For years, we’d all thought he was gone forever. Yet there he was, standing in front of Geralt in that dockside warehouse. Regis explained he had regenerated and come to Toussaint to find Dettlaff, a friend. This friend was apparently a higher vampire and the murderer Geralt was hired to slay.

      Such were the dramatic circumstances bringing Regis and Geralt together again in Beauclair. They did not have long to enjoy their reunion, however. They could hear others approaching and Regis, not wanting to risk an encounter with angry humans, agreed to meet back up with Geralt at the cemetery where he had made an altogether comfortable temporary home for himself. However, the witcher was exhausted from his fight, and first needed to get some rest … so he decided to head for his new estate at Corvo Bianco.

      Chapter XXX: La Cage au Fou
      After his eventful first day in Toussaint, Geralt needed to find rest. It was a warm summer evening... but the weather and time are of no import, what matters is that at this exact moment Geralt received a letter from Yennefer, who informed him about a most unusual discovery she had recently made. It said:


      I suspect weighty affairs, rather than merely the Wine Festival, have drawn you to Toussaint. Perhaps you'll find time to probe a certain matter in spite of this. I recently came across the mention of one Professor Moreau, a scholar in Beauclair who conducted research into witcher mutations. Though the details are rather murky, as is the location of the scholar's laboratory, his journal could contain more information. It lies buried with him in his tomb. I enclose a map I found in the tome I happened upon. Though less than completely legible, I trust it will prove useful nonetheless. I felt this matter could prove of some importance to you, thus I dispatched this letter without delay. Whatever you decide, please take exceedingly good care of yourself.

      Your Yen.
      Geralt, realizing the importance of this discovery. decided to find this laboratory. The first step would be to find the professor's journal which, according to Yen, had been buried with him. However, the witcher first decided to return to Corvo Bianco to rest after his harrowing day.

      A preliminary inspection of Geralt's new property uncovered that the vineyard would need quite a bit of fixing up before it could shine in all its glory. However it was all he could due when he rode onto the property to not fall of his horse. Geralt rested that night in the stables with Roach. When he awoke, Geralt was surprised to see there were people around the property working. Knowing he had not hired them, he was even more surprised to learn that while he was sleeping, these workers had cleaned up a great deal of the mess left by the witcher’s battle with the Bruxa the day before. The witcher noticed that one man seemed to be directing all the others, and so he approached the supervisor. Fixing his newly earned estate would be a monumental task requiring aesthetic sensibilities Geralt was not sure he possessed. Luckily, he did not have to take it on alone. Aiding him in it would be Barnabas-Basil, his majordomo, who, Geralt soon learned, was an expert not only in the running of households, but also in their remodeling.

      Barnabas-Basil Foulty was a gentleman’s gentlemen if there’s ever been one. His whole life he had served distinguished nobles - the Kniebihly family, for example, or Admiral Rompally, for another – for he would never tolerate an employer who detracted from his personal dignity. Since Barnabas-Basil remembered the times of Monsieur Bolius and Baron Rossell, he was a wellspring of anecdotes about the vineyard’s past. He knew every corner and every secret of Corvo Bianco.

      Corvo Bianco’s origins have been lost to the mists of time. We have only a bare legend about the vineyard being founded by the owner of the Pomerol estate’s son, who had been disinherited and exiled with only a Carvanere sapling to his name. The modern history of Corvo Bianco begins with Master Bolius, who settled in the vineyard in his elder years. As a young man, Bolius had headed a division of sappers which fought in the far north. For his service, he was made a noble and awarded a great deal of coin. He took to rebuilding Corvo Bianco with great zeal. He dedicated the most energy to planting a beautiful garden for his wife, thus starting the craze for the use of herbs which swept Toussaint at the time. After his wife, Bolius’ second love was the olive tree, which is why he planted a great many of them all over Corvo Bianco.When Bolius’ wife died, life lost its savor for him and he began to think constantly about death. He sold his estate to Count Crespi, and the very day he signed the last piece of paperwork, he died.

      An excellent administrator, B.B. (as Geralt would come to call him) offered a wealth of information about the property and good advice concerning the modernization and management of the estate. Geralt could not have hoped for better help. One could even say that, by entrusting Corvo Bianco to the hands of that marvelous majordomo, Anna Henrietta had given the witcher the most beautiful present he’d ever received, for a home without someone capable to care for it is no home at all. After speaking with B.B. for a time – and paying a not inconsiderable amount of coin for renovations – the rested witcher headed back to Beauclair to look for information on this lab of professor Moreau. After all, Regis was on the other side of this greatest city of Toussaint.

      As he passed through Beauclair, Geralt found a notice posted by an armorer. Since to the witcher a good suit is potentially a matter of life or death, and since he had always benefited from working relationships he had struck up with able plate bangers, our hero debated the issue only briefly before resolving to visit the artisan.

      Finding a grandmaster armorer borders on being a miracle. The world is full of rumors about elves and dwarves with a thorough mastery of the art of shaping leather and metal. The sad thing is most of these tales contend that all of them have long been dead. Yet as the Good Book sayeth, "Ask, and ye shall be answered. Seek, and ye shall find.” Imagine Geral's delight when he happened on an exceptionally talented armorer, and one eager to work! This man's name was Lafargue, and he had been an apprentice of an elven master of the craft. Lafargue possessed not only the required skills, but he also knew where our witcher might find some lost grandmaster diagrams hailing from five witcher schools.

      Geralt made a deal with Lafargue - he promised to find the diagrams, while the craftsman pledged to produce gear for the witcher based on them. For you ought to know that this armorer's greatest dream in life was to produce the most perfect set of witcher gear. Doing so would mean that Lafargue had fulfilled his guild's final requirement and he could thereafter term himself a grandmaster. All Geralt had to do was to find the lost diagrams.

      When he came to the other side of Beauclair, Geralt made for the cemetery Yen had mentioned in her letter. Geralt soon discovered not only he wished to find Professor Moreau's laboratory. When the witcher reached the cemetery, he found the professor's grave had been dug up and the journal was nowhere to be found. The only clue he did find was an inscription on a grave mentioning the legendary Dol Naev'de, the Valley of the nine, which had been flooded years before by the Sansretour River. Seeing no other way to find the professor's lab, Geralt decided to search for more information in those sunken ruins. But first he owed a visit to his old friend, Regis.

      Geralt paid Regis a visit at his cemetery hideout. Geralt found Mère-Lachaiselongue Cemetery and the crypt where Regis not only lived, but had also managed to set up a well-equipped alchemist's workshop. The began to confer. Regis explained he believed his friend had become implicated in some serious trouble. When they figured out they had overlapping goals, they decided to join forces and together seek out the vampire Dettlaff, better known in the duchy as the Beast of Beauclair. Geralt also learned how it was Regis had returned to the world of the living. He had been helped by none other than the very one they sought: Dettlaff. In light of this, Regis insisted they find a peaceful solution to the "Dettlaff problem."

      After a long debate, the two old friends concluded their first order of business was to find Dettlaff. Regis was to prepare a concoction to aid them in this endeavor. They decided that an aid was needed, a certain potion called Resonance. Said brew required an array of ingredients, many of them hard to find. To brew it, Regis needed some bodily tissue from the object of their pursuit. Luckily, Geralt had earlier found a dismembered hand belonging to the murderer. Another ingredient needed to brew Resonance was saliva (or salivary glands) from a spotted wight. There were other possible substitutes (such as Kobalt eyes), but none were likely to be found in Toussaint, and Spotted Wights were thought to have gone extinct a century before.

      Regis suggested they rely on the assistance of Ravens. It seemed that Regis was able to confer with the birds and thought hundreds of eyes were more likely to find one of the ingredients they needed than many. So the vampire sent out his winged friends to search while he and the witcher shared a bottle of distilled mandrake.

      The two agreed that they would keep no secrets between them, and Geralt was given the chance to ask the vampire several academic and personal questions about higher vampires. They first discussed blood addiction, which Regis had previously been a thrall to. As time went on their discussion meandered back towards their shared history. The witcher apologized for not staying with Regis after he believed he was killed. Regis told the witcher there was nothing to forgive, and asked if Geralt had found Cirilla. Geralt gladly recounted how he had found her, been separated, and then found her again … culminating in their years on the path together as a mentor and student.

      Regis then recounted had Detlaff had found and saved him. The Beast of Beaucalir lent Geralt’s friend his own blood continuously for some time. It took a year before Regis was even able to stand again after his “death” at Vilgfortz’s hand. Geralt asked Regis if he was in fact dead, and what that felt like. Regis said all he could remember was a dee vague sense of unsettling cold and unimaginable fear. And Detlaff saved him from what would seem an eternity in that state. Geralt asked about regeneration and how long it would take. It seemed that Regis would have eventually regenerated on his own, but that he may well have gone mad by the time he did. It seemed that only a higher vampire could kill another higher vampire permanently.

      Regis then took an interest in Geralt’s somewhat similar darkness, his memory loss he experienced a few years prior. Geralt explained about the Wild Hunt and how Triss helped him get his memory back though magic. This led Regis to ask a question. If Geralt could be reborn, would he still want to be a witcher. Years on the path, lost friends and endless hunts were by this time history to Geralt of Rivia, who had already lived a life longer than a normal human would. However, when he looked back, Geralt confessed he would choose a different life, a simple one if the choice had been his to make. Regis thanked Geralt for his honestly, and the two continued to speak of tales old and new until one of the Ravens returned.

      It seemed one of the creatures had found a beast long thought extinct. A spotted Wight to the far east of the Toussaint Valley at the Trastamara Hunting Cottage. Amadis de Trastamara obtained this property from Duchess Caroberta in recognition for his service to Toussaint. The ruler’s gift came with an unexpected barb, however, for the house turned out to be haunted and, even worse, deep in tax arrears. Trastamara consulted the druids of Caed Myrkvid about his case and was given the following advice: if you cannot reach a deal with the specter, let it be and call it a day..

      Spotted wights were a subspecies of wight which the witchers drove to extinction. They were larger than their unspotted kin and owed their names to their numerous blotches and effusions. Spotted wights would most often dwell in derelict cemeteries and empty wildernesses, there they would indulge in their greatest passion: creating brews from their own emission. When not disturbed, spotted wights would not act aggressively. If threatened, however, they became very dangerous indeed. In the colder months or when faced with an unseasonable chill, they would slip into a state of lethargy, making them easy targets. Even during their active periods, it is said the witchers found a surefire way of besting them, based around careful casting of the Yrden Sign - or at least, so claims witcher lore... Having discovered that one such creature resided nearby, Regis sent the Witcher to hunt it down. The vampire would stay behind and work on crafting the other ingredients necessary to create the resonance.

      Geralt rode east along the bank of the land’s great lake until he came near the location where Professor’s Moreau’s lab was said to be by Yennefer’s map. As unlikely as it sounds, Geralt found the entrance to Professor Moreau's laboratory in the sunken elven ruins of Dol Naev'de. Things seemed to be getting more and more interesting, so the witcher did not hesitate to plunge onward... His path was riddled with traps and other such obstacles, but our brave hero had much experience in running even more difficult gauntlets. Tired in both mind and spirit from his efforts, in the end he made it to the professor's lab.

      Searching Professor Moreau's lab gave Geralt a somewhat expanded view of the professor's past and his research. It seemed Moreau's goal had not been to discover how to strengthen the witcher mutations, but just the opposite, how to reverse them, so he could "cure" his son Jerome of being a witcher. To Geralt's delight, the professor’s plan failed to achieve its desired result. This failure could be of use to the witcher, however, for by mixing the professor’s secret formula into his bloodstream he gained access to a whole range of new mutations. These promised to make him stronger, faster, more resilient – in short, better. Geralt looked forward to putting them to the test in combat.

      Proceeding on his way to Trastamara Hunting Cottage, Geralt encountered one in need, as he had many times before. I must emphasize that though ostensibly cool and aloof, the witcher, in fact, has a heart of gold. Thus none should wonder that he agreed to help the anxious vintner. For a modest fee, of course. Without a moment's hesitation Geralt plunged into the darkness of the Grey Grotto and cut to bits the monsters that had made their lair there... His employer thanked the witcher, payed him and promised him reduced prices at his vineyard.

      After a time winding through the scenic countryside of Toussaint, the witcher neared his destination but reach a place of immense interest to him. You see Geralt himself was of the School of the Wolf, so it's no surprise he was particularly interested in finding diagrams that would allow him to craft grandmaster level gear of this brotherhood. He began his search by visiting elven ruins a certain witcher had visited years before while protecting the members of an archeological expedition. Geralt's own exploration of the site ended in the cellars beneath the ruins. Our hero learned the scholars had reached a spot haunted by elven specters. Both the learned men and the witcher escorting them had perished at the wraiths' hands. Geralt proved a mite luckier. He not only emerged from the ruins alive, but he also found all the diagrams he gone there to seek. He kept the scrolls on his person, intending to bring them Lafargue.

      Geralt rode south until he reached Trastamara. Whenever on the one hand witchers swear they have driven a certain species of monster into extinction and one the other someone claims to have seen a member of that species walking around in apparent health, most likely we are dealing with a curse. This rule of thumb showed its worth with the spotted wight from the Trastamara estate. Geralt found the spotted wight at the old, abandoned estate. It turned out this creature was in fact a woman transformed into a monster by a curse many years prior, as punishment for refusing food and shelter to a wandering beggar. The wording of the curse was that “none shall sit and dine with you at your table, no spoon you have shall sate you, never again shall you wish to spy your reflection in the mirror.” The witcher had decided not to kill the wight, opting instead to hide in a wardrobe and await his chance, though how it would come, he could only guess. When the opportunity. When the wight appeared in the room, he came out of hiding and tried to speak with the cursed being. Geralt willingly sitting down at the table with the wight, and together, without using spoons, they ate the brew which it prepared. Once it drank the brew, the wight looked at the bottom of her bowl and saw it’s own reflection, which caused the curse to break. The cursed beast writhed in pain and fled the room, barreling though the house and then outside. Once the wight had come and gone, Geralt collected its saliva, which the monster had added to the brew it was making in a large cauldron.

      His sample collected, Geralt set off in pursuit of the fleeing wight. To the witcher's surprise, the creature proved to be a woman who had been cursed centuries ago. Geralt had lifted the curse that held her, and through his efforts the wight had transformed back into someone of yore named Marlene. The witcher then learned Marlene's story. She had suffered unimaginable pain while cursed, fated forever to hunger and waste away.

      Since she was young, Marlene loved to arrange parties, to which she invited all the people of the duchy. One day, during one such party, a certain individual claiming to be a beggar knocked on the door of her residence, with a bowl and spoon in hand, asking for food.
      According to an old Toussaint tradition, the owner of a house must offer food and wine to such a beggar but Marlene refused to feed him, saying she'd prefer to give the leftovers to the dogs. The beggar then cursed her. The curse grew gradually and eventually turned her into a spotted wight and her family, distraught over her transformation, left the cursed estate for Kovir, leaving her behind. Over the following hundred or so years, Marlene the wight tried many times to lift the curse by capturing people and forcing them to dine with her, but without any success. She also hoarded spoons, littering the estate with them, and spent most of her time preparing a wight's brew in a cauldron in the cottage basement.

      Geralt, big-hearted as he was, could not leave the woman to fend for herself. He invited her to stay at Corvo Bianco, the estate the duchess had granted him in recognition of his service. The estate's majordomo took Marlene under his wing. The witcher decided he would visit the cured woman several days later.

      After leaving Marlene at Corvo Bianco, Geralt returned to Regis. Once Regis received the penultimate ingredient required to brew Resonance, he said the time had come to tackle the most difficult challenge. For apart from all else, Resonance had to include the blood of a higher vampire. At first, Geralt saw this as no challenge at all, as standing before him was a representative of said species. Yet Regis revealed that the blood he needed had to have a specific chemical composition. His blood would change only under conditions of great suffering. Regis offered to endure this without hesitation.

      They thus would need to invoke maddening bloodlust in Regis, who had abstained from that vampiric vice for years. In order to accomplish this, Regis brought Geralt to Tesham Mutna. It is widely accepted that vampires came into our world during the Conjunction of the Spheres. They quickly spread across all the Continent, trying to adapt to their new situation. According to legend, one of them, Khagmar, settled in Toussaint. Grim tales are whispered about his deeds, but whether he truly even existed is hard to say. The tales do agree on one thing, however: Khagmar’s story is inextricably tied to the mysterious fortress known as Tesham Mutna. This grim place had been used by vampires ages ago to raise humans like cattle. Geralt later said even the air in that place smelled of pain and fear. The plan was to lock Regis in a type of cage that could hold a higher vampire, set bait to attract necrophages, and then kill them to release the irresistible scent of blood. Regis could not vouch for how he would handle the upcoming ordeal and had Geralt lock him in a hanging cage, from which he was to watch as Geralt butchered. Having placed bait to lure out monsters, Geralt began his slaughter. Blood flowed at Tesham Mutna once again, and Regis nearly went mad with desire. It proved quite the ordeal for Regis, a sacrifice one might say. But they obtained the last ingredient required for Resonance, and the vampire could prepare the concoction. The witcher and Regis then returned to the vampire’s lair to finish brewing the resonance.

      Geralt imbibed the Resonance potion Regis had prepared, allowing him to see a fragment of the day Dettlaff had committed his most recent murder. He saw Dettlaff, where he had recently been, what he had done. It seemed Dettlaff had met Louis de la Croix shortly before the Count’s death as a customer of a young Bootblack in Beauclair and the two became friends. Then the vision continued as Detlaff went with Louis to see an old mill. During the inspection of the building Dettlaff killed the Count by piercing his heart, then stuffed a bag of florens from different provinces of Nilfgaard down his throat before quartering his body and throwing the pieces into the river. Overcome by guilt for murdering a friend, Dettlaff then cut off the hand that pierced the Count's heart and threw it into the river. This was the hand the witcher later found. It was enough for Geralt to know he now needed to find a local bootblack. He hoped the boy would help him locate his foe.
      Last edited by Rawls; 18-10-17, 19:22.
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      • #18
        Chapter XXXI: The Warble of a Smitten Knight
        It proved quite the ordeal for Regis, but he had obtained resonance for Geralt and visions ensued that gave the witcher a lead. He saw Dettlaff meet and speak to a young bootblack.The witcher and the vampire would have to set off in search of the boy. However, Regis would have to recuperate and asked Geralt for a couple of days before they continued. Geralt agreed to meet him soon and thus returned to his estate, where he found that the renovations seemed to be coming along well. In addition, Marlene turned out to be an open and honest woman. She and Geralt had a friendly, candid conversation and decided she would remain at Corvo Bianco for the foreseeable future. She would tend to the kitchen there. Thus, in addition to Marlene's gratitude, Geralt gained an able cook (the majordomo was thought to have no culinary talents whatever, having burned several pots of water in his time). Marlene also told the witcher that a long time past her father had amassed for her a dowry that was likely to be lying undisturbed in the cellars of the Trastamara Estate.

        Geralt decided to return to Trastamara to find the hidden dowry. Sometimes traveling can be deadly dull - nothing but the slow crawl of the horizon, the sun beating down on your neck and the chirping of crickets. Other times, however, it can be surprisingly eventful, as a certain Gaston, a simple merchant from Toussaint, learned for himself when he happened across a mortally wounded man by the roadside. Though he provided aid as quickly as he could, the mysterious man soon bled to death. Right as he did, Geralt rode upon the scene.

        Though Geralt usually works alone, he made an exception in this case and agreed to let Gaston accompany him. Together they set off following the dead man's tracks towards a residence in which all seemed calm and quiet. Yet once they entered, they found overturned tables, cracked dishes and... more bodies. Luckily, the owner of the villa, Durand Faucher-Plamondon de Savarin, had survived the massacre and was able to tell them what had happened. It seemed Durand and his companions from the Society of Friends of the History of Toussaint had accidentally summoned the massacre. The group met at this estate every year to mark the anniversary of the Elven Homage. Dunard claimed that the festivities included staging a scene where Divethaf, the last elven ruler of Toussaint, surrendered and paid homage to the human lords of Toussaint. When they set the scene this year however, the society had been set upon by spirits. Geralt knew his duty was to draw the beast there again and exterminate it before it could shed more blood.

        To do so Geralt would have to try and summon whatever the spirit was by again reenacting the Elven Homage. He asked Dunard and Gaston to help him when he learned it would take at least three people to reenact the scene. They decided they would first need to clear the bodies, set the scene and wait for dusk. When dusk came they began the scene. As the came to it's in, they discovered the massacre had been committed by... elven statues. Durand had purchased these a few weeks prior. They were in truth golems, meant to be part of a trap set by the last elven ruler of Toussaint, Divethaf, to take out his vanquisher and tormentor, King Ludovic. Divethaf's trap was never sprung, so his golems slept through the centuries, undisturbed until Durand repeated a formula during an act of historic reconstruction and they awoke. Geralt drew his sword to protect his comrades, and put and end to the ancient elves. Dunard paid the witcher for his aid, and Geralt continued down the path.

        Later that evening Geralt arrived once again at the Trastamara Estate. He searched the cellar for the dowry Marlene had tol dhim about and soon found it in an emptied wine barrel. With his reward in hand the witcher returned to Corvo Boanco to get some rest.

        The next morning was to be the day of the tournament, and Geralt decided he would enjoy the annual festivities. In the charming fairytale duchy for which Toussaint commonly passes, love blooms and erupts into flames faster than in any other corner of the known world. I know what I say, for I too experienced my share of beautiful, passionate moments there, with the painfully lovely Duchess Anarietta, no less... But to return to Geralt's adventures, soon after he arrived at the Tournament, he was approached by Guillaume de Launfal, the injured knight he had assisted a few days before.

        The matter turned out, as it matters' wont in Toussaint, to be an affair of the heart. Guillaume was tormented by unrequited love for the duchess' lady-in-waiting, Vivienne de Tabris. was Anna Henrietta's lady-in-waiting. She was a tight-lipped, secretive, inaccessible person, but her beauty fascinated men. Geralt saw proof of this when he took the contract from Guillaume, who was in love with her. The youth, lacking experience in love's games, its ruses and deceits, was feverish and suspected the lofty and inaccessible object of his love’s frigidness and distance must be the result of some malicious curse. Geralt, a professional curse-breaker, naturally took the contract. To get a chance at an audience with Lady Vivienne, he had to take the wounded Guillaume's place in the knights' tourney, where Vivienne was acting as patroness. In observance of tradition, the witcher had to reveal a name to take part in the tourney. He chose the immensely original moniker "Geralt of Rivia." He then made a vow on the honor of his lady, Yennefer of Vengerberg.

        The first contest was a bow tournament. The witcher was allowed to use his crossbow and thus felt right at home. Before the game began, Palmerin de Launfal (who was Guillaume’s uncle) made Geralt and offer. If Geralt played him in Gwent and won, Palmerin would agree to switch spots with him in the lineup. Palmerin claimed this would be advantageous for the witcher, as the sun was likelt to be in his eyes as the schedule currently stood. Never one to turn down a game of Gwent the witcher agreed, and with the cards in his favor was able to secure a better time to shoot. When his turn came, he easily defeated the competition and received as his reward a new crossbow.

        The next contest (and final of the tourney’s first day) was to be a horse race that also included hitting targets and dummies with bow and sword. Geralt was no novice when it came to mounted combat, was able to finish the contest in an adequate time so as to proceed to the second day of the tournament and was invited to be an honored guest at the feast that night.

        After his successful first day, Geralt and Guillaume sat down to enjoy the feast and company. The spoke into the evening and toasted to the young knight’s love Vivenne. All was going well until they were approached by the young prince Ansèis of Lyria and Rivia. You see dear reader, the Prince’s mother, Meve had been the one to knight Geralt in the first place after the Battle of the Bridge, which he helped Queen Meve win. He soon thereafter left her service without leave, as he was on his own mission to find a young Ciri at the time. On seeing Geralt Anseis scorned the Witcher by calling him a deserter who ran away from his service. Anséis then threw down his iron gauntlet in front of Geralt demanding a satisfaction via chivalric duel. Geralt tried to decline, but was told he would forfeit his place in the tournament if he did so. This would ruin his contract with Guillaume so the witcher had no choice but to accept and humble the young prince. Afterwards, the wittcher explained to the prince that he had good reason to leave his mother’s service. Anséis accepted the witchers word as a man of honor as by agreeing to the duel Geralt had shown he was a true knight.

        After the duel, Vivenne arrived at the feast and honored the contestants. Shortly thereafter she retired bacl to her tent. Geralt did not dare neglect his witcherly duties and decided to seek the young lady out at her tent. He spied on Vivienne and followed her to a forest glade, where he discovered her secret. By following Vivienne and examining the evidence, Geralt discovered Guillaume was right. Vivienne had indeed been struck by a powerful curse before she was even born. This curse caused her to turn into a bird whenever she was touched by the moonlight. She told the witcher she was ready for death, assuming he had been hired to killer her. The witcher told her that was not his purpose there, and that he wanted to help her.

        Though Geralt would later tell me that Vivenne was a true beauty in her own way, even as a cursed monster, she was miserable, lonely and always fearful because of her condition. She had been cursed by a nymph when her mother and father frequented the same glade which the forest spirit considered it’s domain at the time. Geralt listened to the story of the curse, then offered to try to lift it. He warned her that this would not be a simple matter. The curse could be transferred to another, but Vivienne did not want to agree to that. It could also be removed entirely, but then it was possible Vivienne would only have a few years left to live. Vivenne seemed to prefer the second route as she did not wish to pass the curse on to another, though Geralt had grave reservations about it and thought the curse would have lesser effect on an adult human. Either way, Vivenne told the witcher she would make her decision after the tournament concluded. In the meantime, she asked the witcher to keep her secret.

        Geralt made no such assurances, but head back to the tourney grounds where Guillaume awaited. He reported back to Guillaume on what he had learned. Guillaume rose to the occasion and offered to take the curse upon himself in order to free Vivienne from it. Geralt explained there might be negative consequences, but the knight insisted that he wanted to assist the object of his affections in any way. Geralt was glad to have option to present Vivenne, but first had a tournament to finish.

        There were to be two rounds of combat competitions on the day. The first was a melee competition between two groups of the five knights. Geralt was on a team with Anséis, Donimir, Tailles and Rainfarn. Anseis tried to take command of the team. He told Geralt that witchers had no knowledge of knightly combat and asked him to stay out of their way while fighting against Palmerin de Launfal and his men. Before Geralt could tell the Prince exactly what he thought about the horns blew and the combat began. The witcher stayed clear of the others in his group, and was able to strike down one of his opponents quickly. However, the other knights at his side had fared much worse, and soon it was the witcher alone fighting three enemies, including Palmerin. However, these three proved no match for the witcher in the end. Palmerin was the last to fall to Geralt’s quick swordplay, but fall he did, and the witcher was the only contestant who remained.

        Having won the prior contests, the witcher had earned the right to face the prior year tournament’s champion, Gergoire de Gorgon. The knight was a mountain of a man. De Gorgon weilded a two-handed greatsword with immense reach that could likely cut a man in two. However, his fighting style also made him slow and thus vulnerable to fast attacks. Soon the witcher was able to put his skills to the test, and like all who came before him, Gorgon became a mountain that fell. Geralt had one, and became that year’s champion of Toussaint.

        After the tournament, Guillaume convinced Vivienne to undergo a ritual which would transfer her curse to him. According to Geralt, once transferred the curse's effects would be weakened, but he was not able to make any guarantees concerning the young knight's fate. That night at midnight, the three of them met in the same glade where the curse had been cast to see if they could lift it. Aided by Guillaume, Geralt performed a ritual that was to lift the curse from Vivienne and transfer it to another. As soon as they had performed the ritual, Vivienne felt the curse had been lifted. Though the witcher doubted it could be effective, the rite worked and the curse passed to the young knight who had valiantly agreed to shoulder its burden. It brings a tear to the eye to think how a seemingly superficial fascination for a woman's beauty can take a turn even more beautiful. Passed to Guillaume, the curse seemed much weakened, its symptoms far less powerful than those that had troubled Vivienne. When Geralt happened upon the couple some time later in Toussaint, they looked happy and in love. This only serves to confirm my observation regarding the unusual aura that seems to hover over the duchy. It almost inspires one to exclaim, "They lived happily ever after!"

        The next morning, the witcher set off to meet with Regis to continue their investigation as they had agreed. They had to find this young bootblack. The young bootblack whose name Geralt never learned was an extremely charming scamp, in that cheeky, lovable rascal, street urchin sort of way. He also demonstrated striking entrepreneurial flair, so much so, in fact, that it got him into trouble at times. Geralt saved him from one such scrape by fending off a group of men intent on giving him a thorough tanning. The bootblack had done his share to deserve this, having spilled his wastewater in front of their shop every day in an attempt to muddy more boots and drive more customers his way.

        The bootblack proved both pugnacious and resolute. Geralt and Regis were desperate to learn anything they could about Dettlaff. The boy sensed this and decided to take advantage. It was clear he would one day go far, such was the knack he demonstrated for business. Geralt took such a liking to this enterprising little shoeshine boy he decided to invest some coin in his business. He did not have to wait long to see the effects of this investment. The bootblack used these funds to improve his stall and purchase additional equipment. Business was booming!

        As regarded the search for Dettlaff, Geralt and Regis learned he had brought his boots to be cleaned on a number of occasions. Each time, he had asked the boy to return them to an old, abandoned shop, where he was to leave them at the door. The witcher and the vampire set off to explore the site. Geralt and Regis then searched Dettlaff's hideout. Ironically, the "Beast" had made his lair in a storeroom above an abandoned toy shop.

        Sadly our heroes did not find Dettlaff at home. They did not leave empty handed, however. After searching the shop, Geralt found a letter which revealed Dettlaff was being blackmailed. He had committed the murders in Toussaint at the behest of mysterious individuals who were holding his beloved hostage. The blackmailers had kidnapped his lover, Rhenawedd, and threatened to torture her if he did not do as they said. Thus Dettlaff had killed the targets they designated. After a short consultation, our intrepid duo resolved to split up. Regis would remain at the toy shop and hope Dettlaff would return. He preferred to speak with Dettlaff alone, without the witcher there to disrupt their tête-à-tête. Geralt would go to Anna Henrietta and report on the investigation's progress.

        Chapter XXXII: The Man from Cintra
        Following what can only be described as a surprising turn of events, the witcher had no choice but to report to the duchess. He needed to inform her that the hunt for the Beast would be no ordinary monster hunt. Fully aware of the fiery temperament of Anarietta, Toussaint's gracious ruler, Geralt was justified in thinking the meeting would not be among the most pleasant he had ever had.

        On his way to the palace the witcher stopped by the master armorer Lafargue’s shop. At long last, after numerous trials and tribulations, Geralt managed to assemble all the diagrams from the witchers' wolf school, diagrams that would allow the armorer to produce a complete set of gear at grandmaster level. Lafargue was consumed by joy. At last he could get to work and fulfill his dream. For he had no doubt he would succeed in creating a wondrous suit of witcher armor worthy of his deceased master.

        Geralt continued towards the palace, but noticed a crowd that unknowingly would lead him into a very interesting contract. The crowd had gathered to see a certain famous local statue, but was being shoed away by the exhibit’s art curator. After the crowd dispersed, Geralt learned the man was looking for a discrete professional to investigate a mystery concerning Reginald d’Aubry's statue. It seemed someone had stolen the nude statue’s testicles.

        Geralt tracked down the thief, one Hughes de Saberre, and confronted him, only to catch the man in a wholly different type of act with a married woman named Rosalinda. It turned out the thief was motivated by the claim that the genitals grant unparalleled virility to whomever strokes them. With the stones in hand, Hughes went home and thrice made love to his married mistress. As they spoke, Rosalinda’s husband arrived suspecting the relationship. When he found his wife with not one man, but two, the knight became enraged. Geralt did not have time for this dramatic affair, and so bewitched the knight using the Axii sign and told him to return home.

        Hughes was most grateful for the witcher’s intervention and gave Geralt a most atypical offer. The man wanted to borrow "Beauclair's most valuable jewels" for a few more days so he could... finish some things. However, the witcher was paid to fulfill a contract, and he was determined to do so. Thus Geralt was able to retrieve "Beauclair's most valuable jewels" and Reginald d'Aubry's statue was once again made whole. Thanks to this, both the curator and a great number of local matrons were highly satisfied, people in general were more relaxed and merry, a bumper crop of children was on its way and tourism to Beauclair reached new heights. All thanks to a humble witcher.

        The witcher continued to the Palace of Toussaint to meet with her Grace. He informed Henrietta that the Beast was a higher vampire, and that he was being blackmailed. The witcher also gave her grace his opinion that it would be easier to stop the killings by hunting the blackmailers than stopping the beast himself. Geralt managed to sway the duchess' conviction – she agreed that he would, for now, forgo tracking the vampire and focus instead on locating whoever held the vampire in thrall. He had some leads already, most notably some notes from the blackmailers to the Beast that had a very rare wine spilled on them. These prompted him to go to the ducal vineyard of Castel Ravello. For it was the source of the famed Sangreal, a wine only ever served at the Ducal Palace to the noblest guests to come to court, including – not to boast – the undersigned. And I will be candid – I've had better. Connoisseurs claim the best wines of Metinna or Alba do not hold a candle to even the most mediocre labels from the Sansretour Valley. Among the countless larger and smaller local vineyards found here, Castel Ravello is the most renowned – and for good reason.

        It seemed at the time that whoever was blackmailing the vampire had acquired a taste for Sangreal specifically. Thus the witcher and the duchess set out to inspect the vineyard in the hope of finding another lead. The witcher's suspicions had proved true – Sangreal seemed indeed to be the key to finding the blackmailer. The steward of Castel Ravello admitted he had sold a barrel of the wine to a Cintrian nobleman. He had also prepared a second barrel that was to be delivered to an old ruin that very night. The witcher and a unit of ducal guardsmen decided to wait in ambush for the steward’s corrupting connoisseur.

        Alas, the Cintrian proved a notch too clever. When Geralt attempted to deliver the second barrel of wine, the nobleman was nowhere in sight. Some hired thugs found themselves caught in the ambush, and the witcher thrashed them heroically with the aid of his escort of guardsmen. The single captured rogue, when questioned, confirmed the bandits' leader was indeed the mysterious Cintrian, who was said to be hiding somewhere in Toussaint. The Duchess ordered Damien de la Tour to use his ducal forces to find out any information they could about the Cintrian, and they all agreed to meet in the Beauclair port later that evening.

        When he left Castle Ravello he passed near Lac Celavy. Upon a notice board in Toussaint, Geralt had previously found a call to all who wished to submit to a Test of Virtue. The notice's mysterious author summoned any who dared to the isle upon Lac Célavy, where they would have a chance to prove their worthiness of character. He who successfully completed the test would receive a reward. Though Geralt had never thought of himself as particularly virtuous, he found the summons intriguing and, since it was on his way, decided to go to the appointed spot to learn what the trials entailed.

        On the lakeshore Geralt encountered a hermit who promised the witcher a wondrous blade. To receive it, Geralt had to prove he lived by the five chivalric virtues. These virtues, as previously mentioned dear reader include valor, honor, generosity, wisdom and compassion. Many consider themselves courageous, yet when confronting true danger prove consummate cowards. Naturally, this applies in no way to Geralt, who faced mortal danger and vanquished it post haste, thus successfully passing the Trial of Valor. Paradoxically, it is sometimes easier to demonstrate valor or honor than it is to show generosity. For the fact is many are courageous and honorable simply to advance their own cause. Generosity is a hard virtue to demonstrate for the simple reason that it generally requires to demonstrator to bear a cost. Many show themselves capable of being valiant or honorable when it benefits them, yet when circumstances call on them to dig deep into their coin pouches, the purse strings turn out to be knotted tight. Geralt, like all witchers, worked for coin, but always knew well when a situation required him to show generosity. No surprise, then, that he successfully passed the trial meant to test this virtue. Not a soul expects witchers to show compassion for the simple reason that their profession offers few opportunities where they even might demonstrate mercy, let alone should. Geralt nonetheless managed to demonstrate that he could show compassion when warranted, and thus also was in possession of this virtue. Among the virtues, wisdom is arguably hardest to prove, for many consider themselves wise, yet the world is full of fools. Geralt never thought of himself as excessively wise, and perhaps this is why he managed to prove this virtue was no stranger to him.

        Thus Geralt proved that he lived by the Five Chivalric Virtues. However the Hermit informed the witcher that any man who seeks to receive the sword must prove he is worthy in battle.
        In a duel that played out upon the lake's surface, Geralt found himself in a fierce bout with the mysterious hermit. This final trial hardly proved easy, but Geralt emerged from it victorious, defeating quite an extraordinary foe. He thus proved he was no stranger to the chivalric virtues. To his great surprise, the hermit then proved to be no man, revealing himself to have been the Lady of the Lake in disguise.

        Geralt had met the Lady some time past along his Path. Geralt had first encountered the Lady of the Lake when his search for what had been stolen from Kaer Morhen took him to the village known as Murky Waters. There a mysterious female being dwelled in the murky depths of the village’s namesake waters and watched over the residents living on the shores. Such was their esteem for their underwater guardian, they erected a monument in her honor. The Lady of the Lake once had many knights in her service, but they had all died, as valiant knights tend to, during campaigns in far-off lands. She now lived in near solitude, so was glad to accept Geralt’s company, the witcher being someone she liked and respected. Once the witcher had believed the Lady of the Lake was some kind of local goddess, but their reunion at Lac Célavy made him realize she did not dwell only in Murky Waters. Instead, the Lady of the Lake calls home any place where virtue and chivalry are honored. The Lady of the Lake bestowed upon him the legendary blade called Aerondight.

        Evening approached as the witcher rode into Beauclair port, his new sword on his back. There he met with the Duchess and Damien. It seemed the head of Anna’s guard had discovered this was a larger conspiracy than they had originally known. The Cintrian was not working alone. He stood at the head of a well-organized group of brigands. It was still not clear that the nobleman himself was Dettlaff's blackmailer. Yet even were he to prove merely an intermediary in the scheme, it was likely he would know where to find those directly responsible.

        It seemed as if matters had come to a head and the witcher would finally face he who had for some time succeeded in slinking from Geralt's grip like a snake. The Cintrian was to appear at a soirée hosted by "Mandragora" – an exclusive club that brought together all manner of artists who thought very highly of themselves. As I see it, they were a host of individuals whom nature had denied any significant talent. Thus, they opted not to produce more and better work, but instead to whimper into the ears of wealthy patrons – a practice for which I have always had the utmost contempt. But back to the Cintrian – Geralt and Anna Henrietta decided they would attend the soirée and nab this scoundrel dog.

        In their pursuit of the blackmailers, Geralt and Anna Henrietta found themselves at a private residence used for meetings of the Mandragora - an exclusive club for the boheme of Toussaint. The residence's owner turned out to be a woman named Orianna. Together, the duchess and the witcher searched for the Cintrian. He had reportedly arrived for the evening with the famed singer Cecilia Bellante on his arm. They learned from a man at the door to the soiree that the famous troubadour was wearing a koviri orchid in her hair and set off looking for her.

        The witcher was largely unaccustomed to battles in which lies, flattery and the occasional petty insult served as the combatants' chief arms. Yet with the aid of Anarietta (much better acquainted with this type of combat – mean retorts being her weapon of choice), he managed to blend into the members of Beauclair's boheme who had assembled and mingle largely unnoticed.

        In the midst of all the spectacles of the evening, they came upon a woman with a blue orchid in her hair as she was having her portrait done in the nude. The painter was none other than Dorian Vilesse, apparently known to Anna by the style of his painting. Not wanting to reveal her own identity, Anna told Dorian that she heard the Duchess herself say she wished to be a model for him. Vilesse responded that he would love to do so, but that the Duchess’ chamberlain had told him he could not paint the Henrietta in a state of undress, which was required by the artist. Henrietta coyly smiled and stated the artist may yet get a chance to paint the duchess.

        They then turned their attention to the subject of the painting. It turned out this beautiful woman was not Cecilia, but had been gifted the flower at the end of the musician’s performance. The model then told them she saw the artiste leave for the refreshment area holding a heart shaped box with a Cintrian. Anna and Geralt knew they were right in the heals of the man they wished to find.

        When they went to the refreshment area, they did not find the singer, but did find a heart shaped box she was recently seen with. It had a faint smell of perfume about it, enough for Geralt to follow the scent. They followed the perfume’s subtle floral notes to a locked room with a guard standing over it. The man recognized the Duchess’ voice, and let them into the room. Alas, poor Cecilia had not known the evening would end in tragedy for her. Geralt found her, her throat cut just moments before, and set off in pursuit of her murderer.

        Geralt followed a blood trail outside to the balcony and then up to the room above, which apparently belonged to the event’s hostess, Orianna. It quickly became clear that the Cintrian had appeared that evening to steal the Heart of Toussaint, a ducal jewel in the possession of Orianna. It looked like the man had tried to rob Orianna of this very specific piece of jewelry while ignoring all other valuable items in the room, and then been attacked and pushed out of a window. However first the man had pulled out an ornate hunting knife and managed to do nothing but drop it somehow. The witcher could not interrogate the thief, as he had died tragically while attempting to make off with his loot.

        As he searched the room for clues, the Duchess soon arrived with Orianna, who told Geralt she had found the man in her room and attacked him. Geralt told Orianna she was reckless to attack the man, but she informed the witcher she could handle herself. There was something about the soirée's host and valued patroness to many local artists that made most who met her feel somehow ill at ease. She could not break the witcher’s iron-hard self-composure, of course, but she did give him the impression she was no normal aristocrat – and his impressions were usually spot-on. Geralt told her he thought the man was after a specific piece of jewelry, and showed it to Orianna. Anna Henrietta immediately recognized this as the Heart of Toussaint, an heirloom of her family for generations. Finally Geralt showed them the knife the Cintrian had drawn. Both the women recognized it as having the emblem of Dun Tynne on it.

        As they finished their discussion, Orianna’s guardsman asked to speak with her a moment, While she was gone, the witcher told Henrietta he was worried this might be a plot on her life since the blackmailers seemed to be both interested in wine and jewelry connected to the royal line. However, the Duchess thought it might be something else … it might be that her sister Sylvia Anna was amongst the schemers.

        Sylvia Anna… A lovely name, don’t you think? This beauty should come as no surprise, given it’s the name of the daughter of a duke and the sister of a duchess. Yet the fate Syanna (as her intimates called her) met was not as beautiful as might have been suspected for one so well-born – though, as it turns out, she had in truth been born rather inopportunely. She came into this world during an eclipse and thus fell victim to the panic surrounding the Curse of the Black Sun, which was said to affect young girls from ruling families birthed in similar circumstances. Though Geralt had serious doubts whether this curse truly existed, many claimed it caused horrible mutations which filled its victims with cruelty and a desire to kill.

        Syanna’s parents certainly seemed to be among the believers in the curse, for they deemed her too dangerous to be allowed to remain at court and forced her into exile. Syanna then fled to Nazair and soon, for all intents and purposes, dropped off the face of the planet. Anna Henrietta, full of sisterly love and compassion, spent years mourning the absence of Syanna, who had officially been declared missing and presumed dead. If she was now back and plotting against Anna Henrietta, the connection to Sangrael and the Heart of Toussaint would make sense … especially the latter object as it had once been gifted to Syanna. Henrietta told Geralt he must go to Dun Tynne and find her, making sure no harm comes to her.

        Just then Orianna returned with two very surprising guests. When Geralt went to Orianna’s residence with the duchess, he was certain Dettlaff was somewhere far away, safe in Regis’ care. He was wrong, as he found out while watching both vampires stroll into the room, his surprise quickly turning to irritation. The evening ended in a philosophically complex scene featuring the duchess of Toussaint, several ancient higher vampires and a grumpy witcher sharing a table. In the conversation that ensued, Geralt gathered Regis and Orianna were old friends. The entire conversation had a rather surreal nature, seeing as how the duchess had no idea she was speaking to the murderer she so wished to have slain. In fact, the Beast of Beauclair even came off as… charming. The conversation proved both lively and varied, spanning matters ranging from the intricacies of combating monsters to the propriety of wearing deep-cut formal dresses. Detlaff even gave a cryptic apology to the witcher, saying some monsters have no choices when loved ones are at stake. Geralt retorted that everyone has a choice, but he made it clear that he would rather help than kill some monsters.

        Geralt pulled Regis aside and they conferred briefly. The conversation with Henrietta’s key outcome was the conclusion that the blackmailers were holding Dettlaff's lover at a place known as Dun Tynne. Geralt was firmly against revealing this information to Dettlaff. To his thinking, this could lead to serious trouble. I must say, I agree with the witcher's reasoning. When a higher vampire loses his self-control, trouble always ensues. Bloody trouble.

        Soon, the witcher and Duchess took there leave, while Orianna, Detlaff and Regis remained behind. Ducal guardsmen commanded by Captain Damien de la Tourwere to aid Geralt in storming Dun Tynne – this was the duchess' wish and command. The briefing before the assault would be held at the mill where Dettlaff had recently dispatched Count de la Croix in cold blood. That night they were to attack at midnight. The Duchess’ forces awaited for the right moment, and then struck without warning.

        Within Dun Tynne's walls, the witcher came upon Roderick. The old knight had erred many times in his life, yet never as gravely as he had when opening his castle to a group of bandits, a vandaguild. He had been persuaded to do so by none other than Syanna, Duchess Anny Henrietta's sister. The young woman had clearly captured the lord of Dun Tynne's affections, or perhaps merely aroused his passions. This achieved, she had quickly wrapped him round her finger. Interestingly, Roderick seemed to know Syanna well, yet he had heard nothing of her abduction. Having questioned the wounded knight as much as he wished, Geralt gave the knight a wrapping for his wound and set off for the castle's keep, in a room of which he expected to find Anna Henrietta's dear sibling.

        While storming Dun Tynne, Geralt was surprised to find he had two allies – Regis and Dettlaff. The vampires kept tabs on Geralt's progress through the use of avian allies and thus were the instant he found himself in dire straits. They reacted at once. Soon, Dun Tynne was drenched in blood. Naturally, the witcher assisted by two higher vampires plowed through the castle's defenders about like the Nilfgaardian conflagration had plowed through Cintra. Believing he was battling the men responsible for his beloved’s kidnapping, Dettlaff killed with unseen passion. He only stopped when there was not a being left on the battlefield giving out the least sign of life.

        At long last they reached the room where Geralt expected to find Syanna… And he was not disappointed. Yet it turned out Syanna was not just the young lady banished from court those many years ago. No, she was also Rhena, the missing, presumed-to-be-kidnapped young woman who was Dettlaff's beloved. The witcher and company learned she had controlled the Cintrian, bidding him to steal Sangreal wine as well as the ducal jewel. She had also sent Dettlaff the names of the intended victims. The vampire needed all his strength to quell his desire to tear her to shreds then and there. Upon learning the woman he loved was using him for her own ends, Dettlaff lost all will to keep on living. The only thing left to him was a longing for vengeance – blind, unrestrained vengeance. He seemed a shard of ice as he issued a clear ultimatum: Syanna was to meet with him alone and explain everything. If she failed to do that, Beauclair would be awash with blood. No one had any doubts Dettlaff meant exactly what he said.

        The witcher found himself between a rock and a hard place. One the one hand, a vampire consumed by fury demanded he deliver Syanna to him in three days' time. On the other hand, Anna Henrietta awaited. If Geralt thought the tales of Her Illustrious Grace's implacable wrath were exaggerated, he quickly was shown how greatly he was mistaken. As soon as Anna Henrietta learned the vampire had not only escaped, but had also threatened the life of her sister, she flew into a rage that precluded all discussion. She presented matters very clearly: Geralt was to complete his contract and bring her Dettlaff's head on a silver platter.
        Last edited by Rawls; 18-10-17, 18:43.
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        • #19
          Chapter XXXIII: The Night of Long Fangs
          After three days of searching, Geralt and Regis went back to Anna Henrietta. It was painfully clear the audience with the duchess would not be a pleasant one. For Geralt and Regis had failed to establish Dettlaff's whereabouts, though not for lack of trying. The duchess chastised the witcher for his inability to fulfill his end of the contract. However, before the audience ended, matters quickly took an even more tragic turn. When Geralt failed to deliver Syanna to the lover betrayed, he fulfilled his threat and sent down upon Beauclair and its environs a plague of horrid beasts. A Bruxa attacked the audience in the Palace, killing several guards before the witcher was able to help slay her. Henrietta was rushed away to safety, and the witcher immediately resumed his efforts to find and confront Dettlaff.

          Before he ran off, Regis stopped Geralt for a moment to consider their options. The witcher could either appease Detlaff by bringing him Syanna – against the duchess’ orders – or find another route. Geralt remembered that Regis had once mentioned a way to summon a higher vampire that he would rather not pursue. When Geralt pressed Regis to tell him of this other way, his friend relented and told him of the ruler of all vampires in Toussaint, the Unseen Elder. Geralt was as intrigued as I was, and as I imagine you shall be, to learn higher vampire society is organized in a strict hierarchy based on age: the older a vampire, the greater his say in their matters and the stricter the punishment for going against his will. One extremely elder vampire lived in Beauclair, in the cave where he had been deposited during the Conjunction of the Spheres. The only problem was that the more ancient members of the vampiric race were not very… how to put this… amenable to company. This particular elder so deeply disliked visitors Regis trembled at the very thought of having to disturb his peace. Geralt had a difficult decision to make: should he risk a visit to the Elder’s domain, or try to find Syanna?

          Geralt decided to not cast aside any option yet. He would need to speak with Damien – who was mounting a defense against the vampires in Beauclair - to see if he could discover Syanna’s location. When he asked Regis how he might find the Unseen Elder, Regis suggested Great visit Orianna at her estate – confirming the witcher’s suspicions that she too was a vampire. Regis said he would remain in the city to help defend the people there from the onslaught, and told the witcher to speak to a raven if the witcher wanted to summon the vampire.

          Looking for both Damien and Orianna, Geralt dove head long into the massacre that was being perpetrated on the citizens of Beauclair. Garakins, Alps and Bruxas were all over the city, killing without mercy. Geralt tried to save as many people as he could and slay the beasts as he searched for his two possible sources of information. Soon he began to find the bodies of ducal guardsmen and knew Damien must be near. He followed the trail of blood, bodies and vampires until he found the Captain of the Guard’s unit besieged by vampires in the main city square. Geralt entered the fray and helped kill the attacking vampires.

          After he bloodied himself side by side with the witcher, Damien decided the White Wolf was actually an altogether decent fellow who wished only to help. One could even say they shook hands and made up. In their hearts, at least. If he was going to use Syanna to appease Detlaff, Geralt needed to establish where the troublemaker was being held. The witcher suspected he could extract this information from Damien, and so he asked. Though the Captain was reluctant to betray the Duchess’ confidence, he could see that the slaughter around him had to be stopped. He told the witcher the last he had seen Syanna, Henrietta was escorting her to an old playroom in the Palace grounds. Geralt thanked the Captain for his assistance, and headed off to find Orianna … for the lead he had on Syanna seemed tenuous at best.

          Geralt once again waded through the city's vampire-infested streets to reach Orianna's estate. He entered her grounds only to find that she was leaving. The witcher stopped her and informed her that he knew what she was. Orianna seemed amused that the witcher thought this would be a revelation to her. The vampires was hardly eager to help the witcher find the Unseen Elder. She was on her way out, about to leave Beauclair for the orphanage she maintained outside the city walls. Anxious about what she might find there, she had neither the time nor the desire nor the patience to listen to the wticher's arguments. Geralt had no choice but to accompany Orianna, hoping to convince her along the way.

          Orianna's concerns had been completely justified. One of the vampires Dettlaff had summoned had perpetrated a bloody massacre on her orphanage. It seemed the establishment’s head abandoned location when danger appeared, instructing the children that they would be safe if they remained quiet. This was of course a lie, as the only surviving orphan could attest. All of the other children, including his sister, had been slaughtered. Geralt calmed the boy using Axii and learned as much as he needed to know. Enraged by what she found, Orianna pledged to help the witcher find the Unseen Elder - on one condition. Geralt had first to bring her the head of her wards' murderer. If I know Geralt, however, he would have hunted the bastard down without the promise of any reward.

          When a vampire gives a witcher a contract to kill another vampire, you can be certain neither of the two is entirely normal. The contract seemed simple enough, though Geralt knew his target was a vampire. Yet one must bear in mind vampires are a very diverse group and their various species differ from one another greatly. The witcher established the individual he sought had long, hooked claws with which it could tear apart a body with ease, leaving behind venom which hindered the clotting of blood. What's more, it could use these claws to scale even the sheer outer wall of a building, giving others the impression it possessed mind-boggling powers. Geralt also realized his opponent was an experienced predator able to set ambushes for its prey and attack it unexpectedly.

          The monster he was tracking turned out to be a powerful type of garkain, a pack leader or alpha. As the witcher expected, in addition to its ability to emit waves of mental energy, this alpha garkain also had powerful venom at its disposal. The monster killed for pleasure, not just to satisfy its hunger. It must be admitted that Geralt also gained a measure of satisfaction from eradicating this beast, for he could still remember the massacre in the orphanage for which this garkain was responsible.

          Geralt had slain the garkain, but when he rejoined Orianna, he learned Regis' charismatic fellow vampire was nowhere near as civilized and humanitarian as he. When returned to Orianna, he found her feeding on the sole surviving orphan. It turned out the orphanage outside the city was, to the witcher’s horror, a sort of blood cellar. Orianna visited it whenever the urge struck her to drink some blood straight from an orphan’s neck.Though his hand itched to grab the hilt of his silver sword once more and tend to Orianna as he had tended to the garkain, the young orphan pleaded with him to stop, as Ms. Orianna was always so kind to him. It seemed the orphan submitted to being fed upon, and that Orinna never killed her wards. The witcher was disgusted, but he was well aware saving the city's inhabitants was far more important at the time. In any event, Orinna told the witcher of a cave where he would be able to find the entrance to the Unseen Elder’s lair and the witcher left with a warning that he would one day find her.

          Having gotten as much information as he could, Geralt now had to make his decision. He found a raven and told it to find Regis. The witcher said he would meet his old friend at a pier near the Palace of Toussaint. Shortly after he arrived, Regis also appeared. As the witcher met once more with Regis, two possible paths lay before him. He now had to choose between meeting with the Unseen Elder or finding Syanna. Regis was of the opinion that finding Syanna was the best option, warning that there was no guarantee that the Unseen Elder would not kill them at first glance. Geralt heeded Regis' advice and would seek to resolve the crisis through peaceful means. To do so, he would need to fulfill the vampire blackmailer's demand and free Syanna.

          Just as Damien had advised, Regis and Geralt went to the playroom at the Ducal Palace. It seemed a strange choice for a prison, but Anna Henrietta was known to have oft unusual ideas. The witcher and the vampire searched the room but found no sign of Syanna. They deduced she had to be concealed inside an illusion. It appeared the mage Artorius Vigo had created it years earlier, for the ducal daughters when they were but children. It was a fairytale land called the Land of a Thousand Fables one could enter through the room. Knowing what he had to do, the witcher wasted no time, opened the book, and was transported into the illusion itself.

          The Land of a Thousand Fables was an extraordinary place. Now, it was also extraordinarily dangerous. For Artorius Vigo's spell, cast many years earlier, had begun to degenerate, change and grow wild. This was the result of something called magical entropy. The world's fairytale characters had grown unpredictable and aggressive - something the witcher got a taste of soon into his adventure there.

          When Geralt first arrived in the illusionary fairytale, he found himself in an enchanted forest with mushrooms taller than he was. He travelled through the woods and through a Grigg village until he came upon something unlike anything he had seen before. Though evil witches are often considered creatures born of the overactive imaginations of fabulists and mythologists, cartoonish characters only a child would ever be frightened of, there are accounts of men who claim to have happened across one of these improbable beings. All these accounts agree that the witch not only did in fact eat men, but had mastered the cooking of humans to a fine art. They are said to be particularly fond of children’s liver fried in butter and served in a saffron sauce, balsamic vinegar-marinated fingers roasted to a golden crisp and, yes, even freshly-squeezed corpse juice. It should be noted here that all the above-mentioned witnesses who swore they saw such a witch were patients of the Ellander Institute for the Mentally Ill, thus the veracity of their testimony is highly debatable. However, standing before Geralt appeared to be the epitome of a wicked witch and it was arguing with Syanna. As Geralt approached the hag noticed him, grabbed her broom and instantly began to attack. She swooped at him from all directions until Geralt landed a well placed shot, knocking her off her broom. Once she was within reach of his sword, the witcher made quick work of the illusionary witch.

          Once the wicked which was no longer moving, Syanna ran over to what appeared to be a large oven and released a small boy she called Jack. It seemed this was the young man from the tale “Jack and the Bean Stalk.” According to him, a boy named Joss would know where to find some magic beans that Syanna was very interested in.

          Syanna asked Geralt why he was there. Geralt told her he wanted to help her escape, if she agreed to meet with Detlaff to end the violence that had overtaken the city. After hearing that Beauclair’s populace was being slaughtered, Syanna agreed … saying innocent deaths were not part of her plan. Only those whom had wronged her were to die. Geralt asked Syanna why she ordered the specific men Detlaff killed to be slain. It seemed the four knights were the ones who escorted her from the realm when she was banished. The Duke banished her because of the curse of the black sun. What’s more, they were cruel to her when they did so. Geralt understood her anger at these four after hearing her side of the story, but still wasn’t sure it warranted murder.

          Regardless, the witcher and the duchess' sister now shared a goal - both trapped in this magical land, they needed to find the way out. They joined forces. Syanna knew the exit from the Land of a Thousand Fables lay hidden among the clouds overhead. Their first task was to find magic beans that would help them ascend. Soon enough they found Joss - who obsessively cried "Wolf!" and was known by all to be a pathological liar. He proved hard to pin down, for his convoluted clues were the exact opposite of the truth. By Joss' reckoning the red bean "had not been swallowed," though the one who had not swallowed it was the "most humany human in all the land." The blue bean, on the other hand, "Lay out in the open" watched over by "nobody" times three. The yellow bean, in turn, could be found "deep underground," a "bald farm-hand" its guard and keeper.

          The last bean was easy enough to figure out. A giant tower in the center of the land housed Longlocks … who awaited prince charming to come rescue her. That had to be where the yellow bean was. Everyone knows love stories can have tragic endings, but few would think this also apples to princesses from fairy tales created to relieve a set happy ending over and over again. Longlocks had the misfortune of becoming just such an unlikely tragic heroine. After the duke's daughters grew up and the Land of a Thousand Fables went feral, Longlocks, whose prince never came and who suffered greatly from her loneliness, decided to hang herself by her own braid. After she died, her ghost stayed to haunt the castle in which she had awaited her suitor. Geralt put the spirit to rest, and found the yellow bean.

          There was a nearby village Geralt and Syanna visited next. The villaged seemed deserted other than a cat with boots on and a girl by the name of Little Flint. Flint apparently used to act as a sort of innocent little merchant at one point, but the years of magical entropy had turned her into a drug dealer. When they began to speak with her, Syanna noticed a ribbon that had once been hers and demanded it back. Flint refused, but Geralt decided to challenge her for it in a game a Gwent. Like so many challengers in the real world, Little Flint soon found herself surrendering her prize to the witcher after trying to best him in Gwent. Syanna asked Geralt what he wanted in return, and seemed genuinely shocked when the witcher replied that he wanted nothing.

          As they travelled from the village, Geralt and Syanna soon came upon the homes of the three little pigs. They thought perhaps they could be the “three nobodies” Joss mentioned in one of his lies. The three little pigs are perfect examples of a rather unfortunate phenomenon. Leave even a kind-hearted, warm, naively benign creature to fend for itself, and it won't remain so benign for long. The three little pigs from the Land of a Thousand Fables were left for years without Artorius Vigo's supervision. During this time they went completely feral, transforming into three wild boars which attacked anyone who dared approach their ruined home. More importantly however, they did indeed have the third magic bean, which Geralt collected shortly after showing them why they ought to fear wolves.

          The witcher and Syanna continued down the path towards the home of Red Riding Hood. When they got their the girl was gone, but her fairytale nemesis was asleep in the yard. The Big Bad Wolf who lived in the Land of a Thousand Fables was, like the other denizens of that strange sphere, created by Artorius Vigo based on a figure from folk tales. Once he served as a playmate to the duke’s daughters, acting out scenes with a certain red-hooded girl and her grandmother, but as the fable land slowly degenerated, so did he. Geralt and Syanna met the Big Bad Wolf while he was nursing a nasty hangover and was not eager to cooperate. Yet since our heroes needed a bean which the wolf had, they forced him to act out his tale. That tale ended as it always had: the Big Bad Wolf attacked the Hunter (played by Geralt), biting and clawing him fiercely while his own wounds healed almost instantaneously. Inevitably, however, the Big Bad Wolf was killed and his stomach cut open. This time, out came not a grandma and her granddaughter, but a magic bean.

          Geralt’s journey to the Land of a Thousand Fables bore more fruit than he had expected. His conversations with Syanna shed light on a few matters: she made no secret of the fact that her elaborate murder plot was about getting revenge on the people who had forced her into exile. Vengeance is one of the oldest motives in the world and has brought many doom and few relief. It was to bring Syanna face to face with a higher vampire who was simultaneously a serial killer, her slighted beau and, it seemed, a being still deeply in love with her.

          The witcher and Syanna found all the beans at last. They planted them and climbed the stalk that sprouted into the clouds. High in the sky they spied a castle, then the giant who called it home. The Cloud Giant was most likely meant to be a pleasant-natured strongman who would carry the duke's young daughters on his shoulders and never grow tired. When he became degenerated and overgrown, however, he turned into a dangerous monster. After Jack stole his goose that laid golden eggs, the Cloud Giant decided in the future anyone who climbed onto his cloud would be tossed off, without a word of warning. "A giant," you might say, then tremble in your boots. But the witcher and his companion defeated it post haste. Syanna seemed to want to celebrate with the witcher in a relatively intimate way … but the witcher had no such intentions with the lives of so many hanging in the balance.

          Geralt and Syanna finally left the Land of a Thousand Fables. Meanwhile in the city, the massacre had raged unchecked. Yet Syanna had returned, so hope burned anew. If Dettlaff and his former lover could be made to meet, the vampires' rampage in the city could come to an end. When Geralt brought Syanna to the meeting with Dettlaff, he never expected this story would end with such a finale. Higher vampires bear an uncanny resemblance to humans. Yet the similarities are only skin deep. We mere mortals have a dastardly time trying to understand their emotional makeup and morals. So Geralt could never have foreseen what happened - that Dettlaff would try to take Syanna's life. Though several days had passed since their last meeting, Dettlaff had not managed to rein in the wrath he felt toward Syanna.

          As Regis had feared, his friend proved incapable of restraining his rage and tried to kill his one-time love. Luckily, Syanna had her protective amulet. Right before his blow struck, Syanna disappeared, whisked away to a safe place by the magic ribbon she had taken from the Land of a Thousand Fables. Crafted long before by Artorius Vigo, it did exactly what it was created to do. At the crucial moment, the duchess' sister disappeared, transported to a spot both safe and secure. Syanna thus escaped Dettlaff’s claws and landed straight in the palace dungeons. Dettlaff flew into a rage.

          Dettlaff then vented his fury on Geralt and Regis. He lunged at the witcher, intent on tearing him to shreds. I think it greatly surprised Detlaff when Regis joined the fray on Geralt’s behalf. Before the witcher could even react, the two vampires where locked in a duel so quick mere mortals would barely be able to see the movements. When Geralt joined the fight it seemed for a moment that Dettlaff was defeated when Regis subdued him. However, when Regis paused before landing a killing blow, Dettlaff took the opportunity to knock his supposed friend unconscious. This would come down to the vampire and the witcher. He was faster than any foe the witcher had faced before, and stronger too. He would attack on the ground and from the sky. They danced across the battlefield in the deadliest waltz until Geralt managed to defeat Dettlaff by cutting him in twain. But a higher vampire can only be truly killed by one of his brethren. This was perhaps the most difficult decision Regis had ever faced in his life. He killed his friend, having decided Dettlaff's failure to adapt to this world was a burden his friend could no longer bear. And with that, it was done. The Beast of Beauclair was slain by a friend he had once saved. Toussaint was safe once again.

          Chapter XXXIV: Pomp and Strange Circumstance
          The witcher had, at last, defeated the Beast of Beauclair. Two weeks later, her Enlightened Highness Duchess Anna Henrietta invited him to a ceremony where she would award him the Vitis Vinifera medal, Toussaint's highest honor. Geralt, famous for being one of the world's leading scruffs, possessed no outfit that would not violate protocol or be remotely suitable for such an occasion. In her generosity, the duchess agreed to fund a new robe. Regis, having nothing better to do, accompanied the witcher to the tailor's for his fitting. There, the vampire revealed the thought that was tormenting him. Namely, he believed Syanna had planned five murders from the start. He wished to know the identity of the fifth intended victim. He suggested to Geralt that they investigate the matter to the end.

          Though the investigation had already revealed almost all the key details of the mysterious murders – Geralt now knew their means, method and perpetrator and had even prevented their continuation – he still did not fully understand why this whole plot had been hatched in the first place. The last virtue that had not been represented by the killings was compassion, and Regis wished to look into who the final target would have been. Yet he did not have to try hard to learn this last bit of information. Syanna did not hide it had been a simple matter of getting revenge on those who had forced her into exile. Vengeance is one of the oldest motives in the world, one which has brought many doom and few relief. As for Syanna, it brought her to a cell in the ducal palace.

          When the witcher and Regis put their mind’s to something there isn’t much they can’t uncover. Regis suggested they seek out the bootblack, whom Regis had learned was involved with the messages being sent to Dettlaff about whom the now slain vampire was to murder. Geralt was done with his fitting, and had time before the ceremony … so he saw no reason to not indulge his friend’s curiosity. Together they headed off to meet the bootblack once again.

          They approached the bootblack, for whom business appeared to be booming. The lad was able to tell Geralt and Regis how the letters with the Beast’s victims’ names on them had been delivered to Dettlaff. Beggars had brought the letters to him. Four times a letter was brought to him. It can be truly amazing how much useful information one simple child laborer can possess. The boy directed them to a poorhouse, as that was where most of the beggars stayed at night. The boy reasoned the witcher was sure to come across at least one of the messengers there. He gave them directions to the house for the poor. Regis tipped the bootblack, and then out pair of investigators strode off to see what they could find.

          When they arrived at the poorhouse, some men appeared to be bothering the beggars. After chasing them off, the shelter’s head welcomed Geralt and Regis into his establishment. Inside was a collection of poor folk in need of rest and a hot meal. The witcher asked the man if he knew whether any of his wards were acquainted with the bookblack. The man did not know, but invited them to stay for the next meal when they men would be present themselves.

          Sure enough the beggars soon began to arrive one by one. When they were all there, the shelter’s head told them the witcher had a few questions. Geralt asked about the letters, and soon enough some of the men began to admit they had made deliveries. Indeed Geralt was shocked to learn, one of the men even still had a letter. This must have been the fifth name. It was there they learned Syanna had indeed planned five murders. All to wreak vengeance upon those who had caused her to be banished from the court and the Ducal Palace. The final victim was to have been her very own sister, Duchess Anna Henrietta. Geralt considered confronting Syanna. The greatest obstacle would be that she was under lock and key in the Ducal Palace. Regis wished the witcher well, he had no interest in being caught after the Night of Long Fangs. Regis told the witcher he would be waiting for him after the ceremony at his home in Mère-Lachaiselongue Cemetery.

          Though Syanna had shown she could be merciless with those she considered enemies, the witcher felt sorry for her, in a way. Perhaps because he had also been considered a freak his entire life, or perhaps because, though he never admitted it, he simply had a good heart. Whatever the cause, he decided to visit Syanna in her cell, where she revealed to him that her plan had one last, culminated step: the murder of Anna Henrietta. Syanna applauded Geralt’s deduction that she planned the murders because Henrietta had forgotten her, banished her from memory. Geralt spoke frankly with the Duchess’ prisoner and told her she ought to forgive her sister. Luckily, Geralt was able to get her to listen to reason and she decided to await her sentence patiently. She knew her sister well and could be confident Anarietta would not let any harm come to her. After speaking to her, he made his way to the ceremony, during which he was to receive his distinction.

          Damien found the witcher first. The Captain of the guard’s injuries were healing well, though Geralt doubted the scars would ever heal. He passed along the information he had about Syanna to the captain. The last thing he wanted to do was have the duchess be harmed. Damien said he would double the guard for the duchess whenever Syanna was nearby. Then the captain brought the witcher to the duchess for the ceremony.

          On her own behalf and that of her subjects, Anna Henrietta thanked Geralt for slaying the Beast of Beauclair and awarded him the Vitis Vinifera Medal. She also gave the witcher a generous financial reward, as well as a dozen barrels of Sangrael, the wine normally reserved for the ducal table. Geralt told Anna that he was honored to receive these gifts, showing once again that the witcher could at times surprise those who thought monster slayers incapable of courtly etiquette. Thankfully, the ceremony was brief, so the witcher lacked time to demonstrate his ignorance of protocol and thus violate the majesty of the court.

          After the ceremony, Her Grace asked Geralt to stay for the audience where Sylvia Anna was to face her accusers. The duchess began the audience by stating that Syanna had committed grievous crimes, but that she could not be unbiased in this matter. Shocking everyone present, not the least of which Geralt, she asked the witcher to advise her on what to do. Geralt always tried to remain neutral when he could, but when called upon by Henrietta, what could he do but speak the truth. He told the duchess he could understand Syanna’s actions based on the wrongs done to her in the past, but that they did not justify murder.

          When Geralt had spoken to Syanna earlier, he had broached some sensitive issues. These now came to the fore, and a heated argument erupted between the sisters. Syanna accused Henrietta of causing part of the disturbance that led to Syanna’s banishment, and then remaining silent as the punishment was handed out. She had been abandoned by her own sister. Syanna claimed that she expected to be judged by the ministers of Toussaint and her parents, but never her Anarietta. Those valuing convention and decorum undoubtedly considered it an unsavory public airing of matters private. Yet my own heart inclines me to think it a fortunate turn of events. For we cannot know what might have happened had there been no release of resentments that had accumulated over decades. In the end, Henrietta showed more grace than even one bestowed with that title could be expected to have. Her love of her sister outweighed all else. Henrietta acknowledged her wrongs begged her sisters forgiveness, and embraced her. For a moment the witcher grew concerned knowing Syanna had very recently been plotting to kill her sister … but his worry faded when the embrace was returned. The sisters, parted for so many years, were only now reunited, in perhaps the most unlikely of circumstances.

          The ducal palace became the sight of a celebration that night, but Geralt of Rivia was not present. No the witcher preferred a quiet drink with a very old and very dear friend. Upon quitting the palace Geralt rejoined Regis at his crypt. The indulged in some well-deserved respite while sipping Regis' exquisite (as they both assured me) mandrake hooch. Geralt would tell me the vampire was so proud of this batch, that he insisted they go search for more mandrake roots in order to obtain supplies for more.

          The witcher relented, and the pair searched through the cemetery looking for the mandrake roots that grew there. After Geralt had found a few roots, he went back to meet with Regis, but found his friend being attacked by Bruxae. The witcher sprang to his friend’s defense, and the would-be assassins were soon dispatched. Geralt then realized Regis had become ostracized from his people by killing Dettlaff. He had chosen the lives of innocents, knowing it would mean isolation and risk to his very life. Geralt thought to himself that his friend the vampire was perhaps the most compassionate being he had ever met.

          Regis acknowledged that he would have to leave Toussaint. His plan was to travel south to Nilfgaard. The empire’s attitude towards all things supernatural meant that few citizens in the south even believed vampires existed … this would have definite advantages for Regis, who of course wanted to remain incognito as much as possible. However, Regis said he would leave in the morning, for he wanted to share one more night of conversation with his old friend.

          He told Geralt that while the witcher was at the ceremony, he had left him a small alchemical gift at Corvo Bianco, in recognition of their continued friendship. Speaking of Geralt’s estate, Regis asked the witcher what he would do now that he was a proper land owner. Geralt confided in his friend that he was tired. Years of constant searching, fighting and monster hunts had worn on the witcher. Ciri was safe. Yennefer was safe. For so long he had struggled to protect the ones he loved. What he longed for most now was to perhaps settle down and be able to sleep in the same bed every night. The path had led him here … his school was all but finished. He had no intention of subjecting any more children to the witcher’s mutations. Given all of this, why not take the opportunity to find somewhere to call his own?

          As conversation between old friends is want to do, it soon turned towards old memories the two men shared. They spoke of old times from their first adventure through Toussaint. They camping in a cave during a blizzard in the mountains. The fairytale of Toussaint itself, with it’s wine and women so alluring. Then conversation turned back to their original task and it’s end at castle Styrgga. Regis asked Geralt what had become of Vilgefortz, the mage who had all but killed the vampire. Geralt assured his friend that Vilgefortz had breathed precious few breaths after attacking Regis. Between he and Yennefer, they managed to cut the mage down and save Ciri. In the silence that followed Geralt pondered all that had happened before that moment and sense. Regis seemed to be able to sense the witcher’s thoughts, and said that they had witnessed - and in fact on several occasions incited many great and weighty events over the years. After all that toil, Regis estimated they had both earned a bit of rest. “That we do” agreed the witcher, and looked off into Toussaint’s clear night sky.

          Last edited by Rawls; 18-10-17, 18:25.
          Read the Forum Regulations! This color means I am posting in my capacity as a moderator. Otherwise, feel free to ignore my random musings. Check out The Wild Hunt & The Forlorn Hope!


          • #20
            Epilogue: Be it Ever so Humble ...
            The next morning, the witcher and Regis parted as friends, and Geralt was left wondering what he would do now that his contract was fulfilled. He had always wanted the chance to settle down, but only really knew life on the path. For the next month, the witcher ended having both worlds, where he would look for witcher’s work in Toussaint while he slept at Corvo Bianco every night and learned more from B.B. about running a vineyard.

            It began with the witcher learning that the ducal clerk needed assistance. He was to find a new owner and steward for the Belgaard Vineyard, which at the time remained the property of the duchy. The owners of two other vineyards were competing for control of Belgaard. They were Matilda Vermentino and Liam de Coronata. Belgaard had been the jewel of Toussaint's crown of vineyards. Yet since the death of its owner, Count Crespi, it had fallen on hard times. The ducal clerk had been tasked with finding a new steward, but only one who stood to restore Belgaard's reputation and fame.

            Wine is important - this we all know. Yet in Toussaint wine is sacred. Soon Geralt found himself embroiled in a dispute between two great winemaking families, represented by Matilda Vermentino and Liam de Coronata, and he knew he was treading on shaky ground. However, the witcher say thought was a huge opportunity. He could learn more about vineyard management while also working his trade. You see dear reader, Count de la Croix’s death at the claws of the Beast of Beauclair had led to his vineyard being up for sale … and that deepened an already vicious rivalry between Matilda and Liam. Geralt agreed to help each for a substantial sum … but each claimed the other vintner was responsible for the woes at their vineyard. From the start, both Matilda and Liam insisted the problems at their vineyards had not appeared out of thin air. Naturally, they accused one another of foul play. Geralt suspected there was more to the matter, and yet again his intuition proved true.

            While trying to address the maladies affecting Vermentino Vineyard a short distance from Castel Ravello, Geralt happened on a notice posted by Jacob, a lumberjack. The logger was in search of someone who had no fear of spells and could thus face a witch. This was the very description of the witcher, no two ways about it, so it was no surprise that our hero took an interest in the notice and decided to visit Jacob.

            Jacob proved a true expert on tales. The lumberjack readily explained to Geralt that the woman enchanted in the tree was Daphne, transformed out of great longing due to her deep love for the knight Gareth, whose return she awaited. Gareth had gone off to scale Lynx Crag, atop which he was to find the witch who dwelled there. He was to force her to lift the drought that plagued the land. Alas, the knight had not returned, and the tale from which the logger drew his knowledge said nothing about what had befallen the knight. If there was any answer to the mystery, it could only be found on Lynx Crag.

            Geralt found the witch of Lynx Crag and did precisely what the knight from Herrera's tale was said to have done. He bowed before her and asked her for help. Though fussy, the witch seemed appeased and betrayed the manner in which the woman imprisoned in the tree could be freed … but only after the witcher gave her a strand of his hair, which she claimed would make the witch invisible to Geralt in the future. The success was bitter-sweet, however, as neither the witch nor the witcher could restore to the woman the life she had lost. Shortly after being freed, her spirit left this world, though it did so at peace with its fate.

            While working on ridding the Coronata Estate of archespores, Geralt did not neglect his vocation and the true core of his existence, namely, pursuing and slaying monsters. Having found a notice on a notice board, posted by a merchant guild beset by some beast, the witcher decided to go to the appointed spot to learn about the details of the matter.

            At his destination, Geralt found a ransacked camp. It looked as if it had been destroyed recently. He also happened on the bodies of two merchants. Their wounds had clearly been caused by a monster of ample size. While combing the surrounding area, the witcher happened on Count Borhis di Salvaress, who claimed the monster Geralt was tracking was a silver basilisk - the last surviving specimen of the subspecies which also happened to be the Count's wildlife roaming pet, a pet the nobleman desperately wished the witcher would spare. Geralt searched the bodies of the merchant and discovered that those who had posted the notice had indeed known there was danger in sending their now deceased merchants along this route, but they seemed to care more about profits than employees.

            Geralt followed the silver basilisk’s trail until he came upon some truly unfortunate news. To make matters worse, it turned out the basilisk was also the quarry of a small company of Crinfrid Reavers. Count Borhis di Salvaress approached all five of the men and offered to pay them a sum equal to that of the contract if they left the basilisk alone. It seemed this “pet” was actually the last known kind of it’s sub-species and also part of the di Salvaress family history and crest. The witcher did not feel overly sympathetic to the merchant’s guild since they knew of the dangers in coming to this land … and the Count had amptly warned others far and wide to stay off of his family’s property. Thus, he suggested that the Reaver’s take the Count up on his offer. They agreed, and all were paid without spilling an ounce of blood of either beast or man.

            When Geralt first agreed to look into problems at some of the vineyards in Toussaint, he had not expected these matters to occupy him for long. But while solving the problems at each of the vineyards of Liam and Matilda, he had happened on some notes. These suggested someone had intentionally planted archespores amidst the vines at both estates. The witcher had also found a key to the shelter where saplings of the beastly plants had been stored. This changed the circumstances as quickly as a wildfire might dash through a vineyard in a drought. Geralt soon discovered that a third party was behind the problems at Coronata and Vermentino. Count Crespi had provoked the quarrel between the vineyard owners, and thus an end to the mess was finally in sight. He shared this news with the vineyards' owners. Prodded by the ducal clerk, they accepted their continuing feud made little sense and agreed to form a consortium. The ducal clerk was clearly pleased to see Liam de Coronata and Matilda Vermentino join forces. And he agreed to transfer Belgaard to them jointly on one condition - they would first need to resolve the troubles at their home estates. As soon as these matters were done, the clerk put his seal to the paperwork, and Geralt’s employers were each immensely generous with their rewards.

            Geralt accompanied the new partners to their recently purchased estate for a proper inspection of the property. The inspection yielded only one conclusion - Liam de Coronata's and Matilda Vermentino's newly formed consortium faced quite the challenge. And the witcher once again had much to do... Not monsters, not bandits - Geralt feared nothing! He quickly tended to the problems at Coronata and Vermentino, then set off to see the co-owners of the newly formed consortium to collect the reward they had promised him. Thanks to the witcher, the Belgaard Vineyard could shine once more. Relations between Liam and Matilda were also improving, the two young co-owners now clearly fond of one another. After paying the witcher a generous reward, they asked him to look in on them in a while, promising a surprise...

            Geralt went home after several weeks of work not only a well paid man, but one who knew a great deal more about the running of a vineyard. The next day, Geralt happened upon an unusual contract notice. Someone was seeking the aid not of some unnamed witcher, but specifically of the witcher named Geralt of Rivia. The notice listed no other details, so Geralt, admittedly intrigued resolved to see what was the issue. The individual so intent on employing the White Wolf and no other was a certain Count Beledal, a nobleman from Kovir. The aristocrat wished to embark on a nature trek with the legendary witcher, and my dearest friend, as his guide. As the count was offering an exceptionally generous fee, and the job seemed simple enough in its nature, Geralt did not take long to accept the job.

            The task took them to a place called Chuchote Cave. To listen to the old folks’ jabber, this place was once home to Whispess – a woodland witch eager to help any in need. When Whispess peered into a certain knight’s heart, she saw that it was black and refused him aid. The knight reacted with wrath and burned the witch alive in her cave. Soon afterward, the knight went mad and killed himself – claiming he was tortured by a strange voice whispering in his ear that no one else could hear. The excursion with the Koviri noble proved rather refreshing, though not nearly as safe and certainly not as boring as Geralt had initially assumed it would be. During its course, the witcher was forced to fight giant centipedes, to tame a number of panthers, and to attempt to control a flock of peacocks. In a word, he had a grand old time, while at the excursion's end his coin pouch grew markedly heavier.

            Pleased with the excursion and with Geralt for proving a consummate professional, Count Beledal invited the witcher to attend a picnic he was to host the very next day.
            To refuse the invitation of a luminary such as Count Beledal would have been tactless. Thus Geralt appeared at the nobleman's temporary residence at the appointed time. There he had an opportunity to view the paintings his host had produced based on the illusions he had captured during their excursions using the parestisomach. Grateful for the excellent job the witcher had done as his guide, the count decided to additionally reward him, granting Geralt one of his works.

            After two more days passed, he returned to Belgaard Vineyard. This tale had begun with wine and vineyards, and it was with wine in a vineyard that it came to an end. The wine in question had been made with Geralt in mind and was to be named “White Wolf.” To this day it has become a tradition for some in Toussaint that they remember the night of long fangs by raising a glass of White Wolf in remembrance. It was final proof of Matilda Vermentino's and Liam de Coronata's gratitude. For the witcher had not only helped them grow their enterprise, he had also caused them to realize they had feelings for one another - feelings that now sprouted and bloomed. Quite the matchmaker Geralt proved to be. Who could've known?

            In the weeks that followed, Geralt rode across his newly adopted homeland in search of re-learning the land. On most days, little more than a lovely ride and some wine tasting took place. However, on one such day Geralt had an experience unlike any he had in all his years on the path. I have oft heard Geralt boast that in terms of monsters, he firmly believes he has seen it all. Yet what he encountered on this occasion demanded that he revise that view. While travelling through Toussaint, he happened on a female hermit named Pinastri who claimed she an invisible specter was tormenting her and would be her end. The witcher was skeptical, not least because he could not imagine how he might defeat something invisible. The woman's suffering seemed so intense, however, that he resolved to try to help her.

            To be able to track the hermit-haunting wraith, Geralt imbibed a dose of a brew the woman prepared. The concoction had a highly surprising side effect – for Geralt began to understand the speech of his trusty steed, Roach.A horse is more to a witcher than merely a means of locomotion - just ask any bandit who has taken a well-aimed hoof to the head during combat. Additionally, many a witcher has talked over the nuts and bolts of his current contract with his horse while staring at the stars shining above the lonely road, though few would ever admit to this.

            Geralt named his every mount Roach, though no one really knows why or what Geralt had in mind with this name. When asked, Geralt would dodge the question or give an evasive answer. Perhaps this had just been the first word that came to his head? Roach, for her part, seemed to accept the name with no reservations. Geralt would grow annoyed and curse whenever Roach panicked and tossed him in the middle of a battle, as well as when she would suddenly turn a different direction that he wanted while he was riding at full gallop towards some urgent destination. In truth, though, he was very attached to her and would never trade her for any other horse. Not even one which, when summoned, would never stand helpless in front of a seemingly easily surmountable obstacle, such as a low fence or stray piece of timber. Nor even one which would sometimes, in some incomprehensible fashion, wind up dancing on some peasant's roof. "Well," Geralt would say with a shrug. "A witcher's horse isn't a normal animal. Constant contact with magic beverages and Signs must have left a mark."

            However, even with all they had been through together, it wasn’t until completing this contract in Toussaint that Geralt had the chance to find out exactly how serious Roach took her role and how well-versed in the arcana of the witcher's trade she was. He also discovered she was an entirely pleasant conversation partner. Together, the witcher and his mount tracked down the nightmarish ghost. It proved to be the spirit of a knight, Pinastri's former lover, who had committed a terrible crime when in anger he had attacked his own horse and beat it to death.

            You see Pindestri grew up in a poor village with Marcello Clerici, who was in love with her. Seeing her always feeling down, Marcello concluded that it must be because they were always poor, so he decided to move to Beauclair, taking her with him in hopes that would make her happy. She had a falling out with Marcello after he entered a tournament in hopes of winning to prove his love for Pinastri. However, his horse Blaze bucked him off and in his rage over losing, Marcello flogged Blaze to death, causing Pinastri to hate him. She soon left them to become a herbalist and made a solitary home for herself in Toussaint's countryside. Marcello later died, and he remained restless in the afterlife for the hermit had refused to forgive him for the deed. Yet the story ended happily thanks to Roach – namely, the mare decided to forgive the ghost on behalf of the horse he had murdered.

            The witcher was becoming quiet accustomed the charming land of Toussaint. One day Geralt got an unusual proposition that continued to help in this enchantment. A portrait artist, inspired and delighted by the witcher's singular appearance, asked if he would pose for a painting. Largely open to the varied experiences life offers, the witcher agreed to model for the painter. Though he later claimed he was driven primarily by a desire to support the arts (an impulse laudable in and of itself!), I suspect plain old vanity might also have come into play. The witcher and the artist set off together for the countryside, where the beautiful landscape was to serve as the backdrop for the portrait.

            Once they arrived at their destination, it turned out that some picnickers had occupied the vista the artist had chosen. To make matters worse, the artist's painting tools had disappeared, and the witcher had to find them. In the end he could finally get down to posing and was pained to learn that a portrait takes much longer to produce than he had supposed. He did not manage to grow thoroughly bored, however, thanks to a griffin that swooped in unannounced. Geralt had to defeat the beast to save both the painter and his emerging work. He received payment for posing and learned he would be able to view the finished portrait the next day in the main town square.

            Geralt finally saw the work that generated quite a lot of interest from the inhabitants of Beauclair. As it turned out, in the portrait the painter had rendered the witcher in the nude. Though explicit, the representation was flattering. To this day I remember the sheepish grin on Geralt's face as he related the tale to yours truly!

            All of these tales however pale in comparison to the act that solidified Geralt’s residence in the Duchy of Toussaint. After another day’s long adventure roaming the roads and fields of the Sansretour vally, Geralt decided to go home to Corvo Bianco. At his new abode, an unexpected guest awaited... yet it was someone Geralt was more than glad to see. Yennefer awaited him inside and greet the witcher with an embrace he is unlikely to forget. She had come to Geralt seeking a home. It had been years, but the witcher and sorceress were reunited for good.

            And so ends the epic tale of the witcher Geralt dear reader. The world continued to move, but Geralt settle down with his beloved and vineyard. While monarchs moved boarders and populations, Geralt and Yennefer live a calm, quiet life far from all things political. The breakfasted well after noon, more often than not in bed and passed the days on lazy strolls and long conversations. Boring you say? Perhaps. But both had sought this more than anything else. They would have visitors from near and far at times, even at times a certain witcheress who preferred to avoid the eyes of the Nilfgaardian authorities. However, Geralt confided in me that he was at his most content when alone with Yennefer, and with no plans. I do not begrudge the witcher this life, for no man has done more to deserve it than my friend, Geralt of Rivia.

            THE END

            Last edited by Rawls; 18-10-17, 18:07.
            Read the Forum Regulations! This color means I am posting in my capacity as a moderator. Otherwise, feel free to ignore my random musings. Check out The Wild Hunt & The Forlorn Hope!


            • #21
              Nobody's gonna read that drivel, Dandelion...

              Seriously though, nice work


              • #22
                Congratulations on finishing this gigantic project!

                Was a great read (although I had to skip one part because I've yet to play it myself), too.

                Can you see this? Yes?! But it was supposed to be invisible ink...
                Oh well, since you're reading this now I might as well show you a
                cool link.

                I was formerly known as RidiculousName, in case you're wondering.


                • #23
                  Really great work - it was great to read


                  • #24
                    Thanks for the kind words. It was a lot of fun to do actually.

                    Also, I updated the text so that there is at least one video in each "chapter" now. If anyone catches a video in the future where the link has died for whatever reason, let me know and I'll try and update it.
                    Read the Forum Regulations! This color means I am posting in my capacity as a moderator. Otherwise, feel free to ignore my random musings. Check out The Wild Hunt & The Forlorn Hope!