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„The Broken Lark’s illusionary singing”

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Jaskier’s siting in an old tavern at the end of its bar. It’s been almost two months (48 days, 6 hours and 23 minutes, but who's counting? ) since the Mountain Incident and everything is going to shit. Not only did his best friend and lo- muse tell him he's responsible for all his life's misfortunes, but the guilt of also lying to hi- the Witcher for nearly two decades burns through the last pieces of his heart. He, of course told some of his secrets, like how his real name is Julian and such other unimportant bits, but not the big ones. Not how he in reality is a viscount. How he’s pretty sure his father’s side of the family isn’t fully human, but really that's just gossip. He has no special bit in his body and he worked hard to achive his fame. How deep he had fallen for the White Wolf, and broke a little bit more every time he thrown him aside to be with that gods-awful witch. But who could blame him, she’s everything the bard’s not. And supposedly they are tied with a wish. A FUCKING WISH! How can one mortal beat that?

 

Of course he would tell me to go away. Who would want a deceitful fly as a companion. He probably thinks all our interactions were used for my songs. WHICH IS NOT TRUE! Oh, how stupid I was to think I could be more...
The gentle smiles he had shown me from time to time... They were just for me... Or so I though. Apparently my judge of character was oh so fucking wrong. Apparently I only shovel shit at the gorgeous, handsomely musc- NOPE! Not going in that direction thoughts! Not tonight and not again! Another sip of ale, yes, that’s what I need since I still have enough coin to buy it.

 

The bard has been fighting such intrusions in his mind ever since he descended from the last place he saw Geralt. But fate would not let him drown his sorrows in ale in peace. Cintra has fallen just barely 2 weeks ago. The gossip has already spread far and wide. Impressive feat since the Nilfgaardian army supposedly left no one alive in their wake. They say they are searching for something. And Jaskier already knows that it’s not something, but someONE. The princess Cirilla more specifically. He remembers her from when from pure curiosity 5 ( or was it 6?) years ago when he left south to play at her birthday celebration. From what he could remember she looked as if she really was Geralt’s child. Not of surprise but of blood. Her mannerisms reminded everybody who knew the Witcher personally of the White Wolf, but feared to tell since Calanthe was always listening. And the looks. The ashen hair, and eyes that also shined like gems. Emeralds instead of ambers and gold.

 

He knows he should rush back and search for her, but that may lead him back to Geralt, since the words on the wind whisper he’s the one she’s hiding with. Oh, gods he hopes it’s true. He hopes they ran away to the Witcher’s keep and are safe and sound. And a family. Oh how he wishes to be a part of it. To be at Geralt’s side as an equal and cherished husband raising Ciri and hiding from the world in their own little bubble... This is really getting too much for his poor heart.

 

I need another mug of ale... or wine. Melitele, why they don’t have wine?

 

- EY!!! BARKEEP!! Bring me another ale, good man!- shouts Jaskier, already putting the coins on the wooden surface of the bar in front of him.
- I hear ya, bardling. No need to shout.- responded the nervous and tired owner of the tavern, looking to the men in his peripheral vision.

 

From the corner of the Tavern a group of 3 soldiers with a sun emblem on their chests and backs sat in awe. They found a way to get not only promoted, but also to get the crazy witch they have been stuck with off their backs. The Witcher’s Bard. Who else can know where the mutant is hiding? Nobody. They just have to wait to ambush him when he’ll be leaving. Then the songbird will sing and tell them where to find the princess. They get up slowly and left to plan their ambush.

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Geralt is 100 percent done with fate and destiny and the whole world. He’s currently siting under a tree near the Brokilon forest. He’s just found Ciri, who’s laying next to him and they have been avoiding Nilfgaard ever since. They’re low on supplies and still need to get two very important people before they try to trek to Kaer Morthen. Yennefer to help with Ciri’s magic that’s simmering just under her skin. And Geralt’s heart: his songbird Jaskier that he hurt and needs to make sure is safe during the war. It's been nearly 2 months since then but he still is in pain for that encounter. He needs Jaskier with him in the keep, preferably, but first he needs to apologise. He knows what he did and said was wrong, but strong emotions are so hard for him to comprehend. Not to mention actually reacting to them in a healthy manner. He's a witcher for Gods' sake! He souldn't have emotions. He didn’t want to lose Jaskier too early because of his life on The Path, and certainly doesn’t want him to lose his life in a war now! It’s no place for a bard. Especially his bard. But he needs to rest first. He hears Jaskier voice telling him so: “You need to rest first Geralt, or you won’t be able to save anybody, darling” in a voice barely hiding the emotions underneath. He doesn’t know if Jaskier loves him, but nobody cared for him like that since... ever. He even doesn’t treat himself that way. And how he misses it.

 

It’s going to be hard to find him now. The sorceress is easy. They are bound by his misplaced wish so they can feel where the other is when they focus. But the bard? He has no way to locate him on his own. He needs to first find Yen and beg her to locate the person she seemingly hates. And it’s going to be a difficult conversation since he also joined that list a few weeks back. On that fucking mountain. He now fucking hates dragons and mountains that are not the ones where the Wolf's keep is.

 

His internal brooding almost nudges Ciri out of sleep, so he stops thinking in the future and focuses on now. They need supplies. Not only food, but also clothing and a place to heal enough to reach Keer Morthen. From starvation and running he’s lost some of his mass and his fighting attempts reflect this. He can’t be weak. If not for himself then for his child sleeping next to his lap. Shit, he doesn’t even know when he started thinking of her as his daughter. Something he was designed NOT to be able to have.
Fuck...

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Jaskier’s stumbling out of the tavern and spills out into the street. It’s a small village, barely big enough for a tavern in the shadows of a bigger city, but he was able to find a farmer that allowed to sleep in his barn after an exchange of a few coins. They are the last things he has really. He left his lute and some other belonging when he hastily left the top of the Cursed Mountain and hadn’t noticed until it was too late to go back. Ehh... damn these things anyway. He doesn’t need reminders of his former muse. He has enough coin from his emergency stash that he can survive and travel further north. He can even earn money without his beautiful lute. HA! Take that fucking Valdo fucking Marx!

 

Barely holding himself up he doesn’t notice the 3 soldiers surrounding him until it’s too late.
- Gentlemen! What can I hep yu this evenninnnng.. ? – he asks them, sluring few words
- We know who you are, bardling. Your that mutant’s bitch that follows him everywhere. And now you’re going to come with us and tell where he’s hiding- sneers the one in front of him.
- I have no idea who aer yu talking abut. Am juss a simple bart as yu sait. Evenn if I WASS traveilin with him he leffft me. So takee thhat, even he didnn want mee... – Replies Jaskier, almost crying, but holding it in. No need to show him how weak he really is.
- Oh, but I think you can tell us where he’ll be hiding. After all you travelled with him for what? 20 years? You must know where the mutant hides to lick his wound like the dog he is!- Says the one on his left. Chuckling at his own joke. Jaskier’s anger flares up within him. HOW DARE THEY!
But before he even manages to connect his fist the third soldier grabs him from behind and muffles his screams with his hand. They drag him behind a corner into darkness where they use one of their sheathed swords to connect it with the bard’s temple. He goes out like a light.

 

They take him under the cover of night to their camp made inside the ruins of an old bastion near Maribor where their witch is waiting for scouts to return with information about the Witcher’s whereabouts. When they get there and tell her who they brough along her wicked smile is the creepiest thing they ever seen. Yes, the mage Antira, under Fringilla Vigo's command will have a lot of work on her hands in the dungeons in the next few days and will bring herself higher in the order of mages of Nilfhgaard. She’ll be the one who tells her superior where the mutant is heading with the princess. Even if she has to curse and kill for it.