~ Baby Roach Has Two Dads ~
"I am Daisy Pancreas," Baby Roach introduced herself.
"Daisy of Rivia," Geralt corrected her. He had no idea when she had even learned the word 'pancreas', or why she was trying to use it as her surname. "Pancreas is an internal organ, not your name."
"Daisy Pancreas," the child insisted, her voice gaining volume as she became more upset.
This brought Jaskier rushing back from where he'd wandered away from his family. He knelt down next to the child and draped a comforting arm around her shoulders as he said gently, "It's pronounced Pankratz, darling."
Baby Roach repeated her introduction, with the correct name this time.
It took Geralt a moment to recall that Pankratz was Jaskier's surname.
Baby Roach tended to stay in human form more often in Jaskier's presence, even when there were no other humans around. She soon discovered that her tiny little human legs got tired of walking much more quickly than horse legs did.
She was starting to lag behind the group, even though big Roach had noticed the baby kelpie getting tired and had slowed down so that Baby Roach could keep up.
Baby Roach stopped in the middle of the road and was about to change into her horse form. But before she had the chance to actually do it, Jaskier turned around and scooped her up.
Geralt and Roach had also stopped to wait for them, and once Jaskier caught up to them, Geralt reached out a hand. He was mildly surprised to be handed Jaskier's lute case instead of the child, but quickly adapted to the situation. The witcher strapped the lute case to Roach's saddle, as Jaskier adjusted his position so that he could carry the child piggy-back style.
As the group set off once more, Baby Roach hugged Jaskier around the neck and said, "When I'm a big horse, I'll carry you."
"And throw me in a river?"
"Oh, in a lake then?"
"Aiming big, then. Going to throw me in the ocean?"
"NO! No throwing, just carry!"
"Not going to throw me in any bodies of water? I guess I must be special then."
And then, using the communication skills that she had learned from Geralt, Baby Roach made an indecipherable hmm and did not speak to Jaskier again for several hours.
Geralt and Jaskier both snatched their hands away from the amphora at the exact same moment, in order to avoid having their fingers chomped as Baby Roach grabbed the vessel in her horse mouth. She promptly hopped into the lake and carried the amphora back down to the bottom, where she buried it in the mud.
Upon coming ashore, she changed into her human form in order to inform her clueless parents: "That's a bad thing to let out."
"Well, there went my last resort. Now what am supposed to do about getting some sleep?"
Baby Roach pointed at Jaskier and said, "Sing a lullaby."
Geralt, who had not considered this solution before, scoffed and said, "That's not going to work. Lullabies are for babies."
"Oh, yeah?" said Jaskier, taking that as a challenge. "Lie down right there-"
"On the ground? It's muddy."
"Then move to a dry part. Look, what about right over there? There's some nice grass, a comfy little spot."
Geralt curled up on his side in the indicated grassy spot, and Baby Roach immediately snuggled up next him.
After less than half a minute of Jaskier playing his lute, Geralt said, "It's not working."
"Shush and listen to the song! I haven't even gotten to the lyrics yet!"
By the time Jaskier had finished the song and looped back around the beginning of the melody, Geralt and Baby Roach were both fast asleep. Big Roach was also close to nodding off, so Jaskier continued playing until she had also fallen asleep. Then the bard carefully put his lute away in its case and settled down next to his family for a nap of his own.
"Don't swear in front of the baby!"
"Baby?" Jaskier echoed incredulously, as he looked at the large black horse who was now taller than Geralt's bay mare. "I don't know how kelpies age exactly, but she looks pretty grown up to me. She's been with you for two decades. In human years, she would be an adult already."
At this point, Baby Roach changed into her human form - which was still that of a small child, somewhere around four or five years old - and held up her hands toward Geralt, who immediately scooped her up and cradled her against his chest.
"I'm baby," she whined, snuggling close to Geralt, even though he was wearing his armor and that couldn't be comfortable.
"She could probably take an adult human form if she wanted to," the witcher explained. "Kelpies generally take two forms besides their natural form, to lure humans into following them to the water: a human or a black horse."
"Yeah, I already know the general description of kelpies, thanks, not really what I was getting at," Jaskier replied. "What I'm wondering is why our Baby Roach's human form hasn't grown up, even though she appears mature in her horse form."
"I'm baby," the child insisted, still clinging to Geralt.
"That seems to be an intentional choice on her part," Geralt said.
Jaskier still wondered why she chose to appear as a child if she had the option to do otherwise, but he dropped the subject since his questions seemed to be upsetting both Baby Roach and Geralt.
As they continued on their journey, the bard closely observed the witcher and the kelpie, and he began to wonder if the reason Baby Roach refused to appear in an adult human form was because she was afraid that being viewed as grown up would mean she'd have to leave Geralt and go off on her own to inhabit a body of water somewhere, which was what adult kelpies normally did.
And so, once Baby Roach had stopped sulking and deigned to interact with Jaskier again (she was definitely Geralt's daughter in that regard), the bard made a point to tell her, "You know, even if you're all grown up, you'll always be our baby."