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Death From Above

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Jaskier’s cry rang across the field they had found themselves in. The wyvern Geralt had been contracted to kill ended up being much closer to the village than he had anticipated and had ambushed them from above. There was nowhere for the bard to take cover as the monster dived. Geralt didn’t have time to jump off Roach before the wyvern had pinned Jaskier to the ground.

He cast aard, sending the creature stumbling off Jaskier, allowing him to scramble to his feet. Before he got far, the wyvern whipped its tail around, slashing at Jaskier’s back. He cried out again, collapsing from the pain. Geralt knew immediately he had been poisoned by the stinger on the end of the wyvern’s tail.

He ran past Jaskier, needing to take care of the wyvern before he could help his friend who was now writhing on the floor and screaming from the intense pain. He cast igni this time, unafraid of accidentally burning Jaskier. The wyvern screeched, trying to leap back into the air. Before it got a chance, Geralt rushed up to it, ducking beneath its razor toothed beak and slashed at its neck.

It wasn’t a clean cut by any means, but black ichor spilt from the wound, slicking the beast's skin an oily black and forming a large pool on the grass below. He rolled out of the way of another attack as its jaws snapped shut on the space he had just been occupying. The tail came around for him then, but he severed the stinger with a single strike, rendering its most dangerous weapon inert. Its legs gave way beneath it as it continued to lose blood. Geralt swiftly put an end to its life, driving his silver sword through its skull.

The moment it stopped twitching, Geralt ran back to Jaskier. The bard was still writhing in pain on the ground, his screams having died down to desperate cries, his fists clenched tight enough to turn his knuckles white. There was a long gash across his back from his shoulder halfway down his back. Blood stained his formerly blue doublet a dark shade of crimson. The worst part was what Geralt knew he couldn’t see.

Wyverns could inject a powerful poison into their victims through the stinger in their tails. Even witchers weren’t immune, needing to take a Golden Oriole to counteract the toxins. If Geralt was lucky, he might have an hour or so before succumbing without aid. Even then, the pain was excruciating. Jaskier would only have a matter of minutes, some of that time having already passed while Geralt was still fighting.

Roach, he needed Roach. She was still carrying all of the potions, including the antidote Geralt had come up with several months ago specifically for Jaskier. Witcher potions would only do more harm to the human bard, but by carefully diluting and changing some of the ingredients, Geralt had managed to find a safe alternative to some of his potions, including Golden Oriole.

Quickly scanning the field, he saw his chestnut mare standing roughly a hundred meters away. He whistled to her, hoping she wasn’t too skittish to come over. Much to Geralt’s relief, she did, coming to a stop beside them in only a moment. Jaskier had grown quieter, still begging Geralt in broken sentences to make the pain go away. Geralt hated leaving his side but he would have to in order to get the lifesaving antidote.

He pulled open the pack containing his potions and began frantically rummaging through them. The ones he made for Jaskier were at the bottom since he had little need for them most of the time. He began pulling various bottles out, letting them fall to the ground to get them out of the way. Jaskier had stopped making noise all together at this point, making Geralt’s blood run cold. He would much rather he was still sobbing than silent. It would at least be proof he hadn’t died.

At last, he pulled the right potion out, double checking the label to make sure he wasn’t about to poison Jaskier and make things worse. He crashed to his knees at Jaskier’s side, pulling him into his lap and uncorking the bottle with his teeth. He poured the potion down his throat, careful not to choke him with it. Jaskier still seemed alive enough to swallow reflexively.

Now all Geralt could do was wait. He could hear Jaskier’s strained breathing, his heart beating sluggishly in his chest. He could feel the bard’s blood soaking into his trousers but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He really ought to tend to the wound but he could move for fear that if he did, it would somehow cause Jaskier to slip away. Roach nickered behind him, picking up on Geralt’s fear. She bumped her nose against Geralt’s shoulder but even then, he dared not move to pet her.

After an eternity, Jaskier finally drew in a sharp breath, his eyes opening a crack before screwing them closed again, no doubt feeling nauseous from the toxins still in his system. Geralt let out the breath he had been holding, feeling almost lightheaded with relief.