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“What’s this?” “You never get my tunic that clean.” “Is that a flower?”

The words and the laughter echoed about the hall and Ciri wanted to scream. She had felt so confident just moments ago. So sure of herself. She should have known it wouldn’t last with these damned pricks. No wonder there were so many jokes about Witcher’s stinking. They thought anything as exotic as soap was an over-the-top extravagance.

A clean shirt and a flower and suddenly she’s just a silly little princess who’s trying too hard. Pigs.

Ciri tuned to storm out, done with their taunts, when a shrill sarcastic voice sang out, “Ohhh a flower. Scandalous. And what’s in your hair Lambert I wonder?”

Everyone turned to look at Jaskier. The bard had arrived with Triss yesterday. Apparently, there were people looking for Ciri and they were trying to use Geralt’s former travel companion to get to her. Ciri hadn’t been sure what to make of the man so far. His bright clothes and cheery attitude a stark and confusing contrast to the Witcher’s she had been stuck alone with until now.

Lambert sneered in annoyance at the question. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” The bard drifted closer to the Witcher wafting his hand near the man’s head to draw out the smell and took a deep breath. Several Witcher’s laughed and Ciri felt her lips twitch, relieved at not being the centre of attention anymore.

Nothing he says. And yet, is that…yes, I think it is. You can barely tell beneath the ever-present stench of shit, but me thinks I detect a hint of Olallieberry, Night blooming ash flower, and Dessert sage. A unique combination. You know what that is Ciri?”

She shook her head confused. Lambert looked murderous.

“Madame de Brouglies miracle wonder concoction. A specialist hair oil guaranteed to add volume and shine. Very expensive. Very difficult to get a hold of. I’ve known ladies at court who would kill for this stuff. And you can see why.” He waved his hand at Lambert’s head again. “Look at those results. Luscious. Absolutely luscious.”

Lambert flushed as red as his luscious hair as everyone present laughed.

“Ohhh,” Merek snarked flicking his own hair back dramatically “Luscious. And he’s hoarding it all for himself. Weren’t you gona share Lamb?”

“Please share it With Geralt.” Jaskier pleaded. “I’ve been trying to get him to use anything other than Lye on his hair for years.”

“Fuck off.”

“Trust you to waste all your coin on fancy hair shit,” Everard scoffed.

“I don’t…I…it was payment on a contract…some noblewoman traveling on the road, it was all she had on her at the time…”

“Sure, right.”

Jaskier met Ciri’s eye and winked conspiratorially then turned to the other Witcher standing before them.

“And what else were you complaining about? Clean clothes, was it? Maybe you should follow Cirilla’s example Coen. Really should take better care of that armour of yours, lest it need replacing. There is after all, a six-month waiting list at the Royal Griffin leather masters house of West Novigrad isn’t there? And so hard to get on it. But well worth the wait of course…for this kind of detailing…” he brushed his fingers over the collar of the armour in question only grinning wider when his hand was slapped away.

Coen backed up a step defensively, ducking his head as the laughter turned on him.

“This is…they had a deal on.”

Ciri snorted and the two Witcher’s turned their attention back to her, now looking chagrined.

“You uh… you look nice.” Coen muttered, slapping Lambert on the arm prompting a grunt of agreement. They turned and ran off to find a seat for breakfast.

Jaskier grinned at Ciri, warm and friendly. “Nothing wrong with making an effort from time to time. Don’t let their bullshit fool you. I promise, everyone is a little bit vain.”

She grinned back.

“Except Geralt,” he corrected, turning to look at the man who had just entered. “He wouldn’t know fashionable if it rubbed camomile on his arse. I mean look at that...” He waved to encompass all of the man who stopped in his tracks looking confused. “I’d ask if you got dressed in the dark but you can see in the dark so that’s really no excuse, is it?”

Ciri snorted and shook her head then turned to re-join Triss at the table and finish her breakfast.

Geralt glanced down at his clothes with a frown, then at Jaskier “What did I do?”