A/N: so a bit of a heads up here, there is a scene in this chapter where fans of the Witcher who haven't read the books might see Geralt as acting out of character. The reason for this is because the games never really gave Dandelion the amount of time spent with Geralt he deserved. In the books, Dandelion is a confidant of Geralt's who will call him out on his actions, and I wanted to show that here. You'll know the scene when you get to it, since it's the only scene where Geralt and Dandelion talk one on one in the chapter. I don't own either the Witcher or RWBY. Unfortunately.
After a three day trip, Dandelion, Blake, and Geralt arrived in the Koviri capital city, walking into the Towering Footman, the inn where Dandelion and Priscilla were staying. Unlike the previous inn Blake had visited, the Footman was well kept and clearly reflected the type of clientele it wanted to attract. So when Blake and Geralt were stared at by the patrons and innkeeper, she suspected it had less to do with their catlike eyes and more to do with their mud covered, weather-worn clothing and disheveled appearance. Geralt in particular drew more than a few glares as he and Dandelion staked their claim on a table near the back of the inn, though the innkeeper wouldn't dare ask them to leave for fear of offending Dandelion, who's fiancé was slated to perform in just a few minutes.
After settling in, Dandelion ordered food and drink for his table as the group waited for Priscilla's performance to start. Several minutes of monotonous conversation later, and the trobairitz took the stage. After tinkering with her lute for a moment, a bright smile sprouted on her face upon seeing Dandelion in the back of the inn. Taking a moment to regain her composure, she began her show, her surprisingly low and almost gravelly voice mesmerizing the audience as she weaved a tale of two lovers name Freyja and Oldr.
The song, sung through the point of view of Freyja was introspective, and cleverly written to invite the same kind of introspection in the audience. It reminded Blake of the old trashy romance novels she hid from her teammates at Beacon. The kind of stories about great loves that shape the very world in impossible ways. Of course, most of her collection only used the story as an excuse to frame what Blake had to admit was smut, but she loved the books all the same. She loved the cheesy elaborate proclamations of love, the unrealistic devotion the main characters had to one another, but most of all, she loved the idea of someone who would always be there to help if something went wrong, from turning a bad day into a good one, to covering each other's blind spots on a battlefield. Blake had once believed herself to be a romantic at heart, but no longer, after one relationship turned abusive and another Blake was certain was killed in its infancy.
Some people are just meant to be alone.
The thought appeared the day after Beacon, and had not left her mind in all that time. She was destined to be alone. Even the friendship she had formed with Geralt was destined to end far too soon for her liking. She would return home, aid in the defeat of the White Fang, then disappear. It was better that way.
She was shaken from her introspection by Dandelion appearing on the stage. Apparently, she had missed the end of Priscilla's song, and now the engaged couple were to perform together for the rest of the night.
Several encores later and the small group entered Priscilla's room, shutting out the sounds of the still cheering crowd as Geralt closed the door behind him. Blake was slightly startled by the sound of Priscilla's palm meeting Dandelion's cheek.
"Three days with not a word, not even a note!" Priscilla shouted.
"I'm sorry." Dandelion said, true remorse showing on his face, with more than a little worry on his face. "I wasn't having cold feet, if that's what you were thinking."
"I knew that damnit! I just wanted some bloody warning! Instead I wake up to find you had just up and left me on my own when we had a show to play! I had to change the entire set list!" She shouted, still outraged before she took a deep breath, calming herself before she smiled serenely at Dandelion. "I must admit, it was a rather pleasant surprise to see you sitting in that crowd down there. And with guests no less. It's good to see you Geralt? Who's your friend?" She said as she turned her gaze to Blake, a warm smile appearing on her face. "You haven't poked your head out from underneath that hood the since you came in. Take a seat. Relax." She said, gesturing to the table near her balcony.
The four of them took their seats around the table. Blake pulled down her hood to see that all eyes were on her. "So" Priscilla said with a smile. "What's your story?"
"Amazing!" said Priscilla after Blake, with a little aid from Geralt, had finished retelling her story.
"That's what I thought too! With a little tinkering, this could become a fantastic ballad!" Dandelion added
"What do you mean 'tinkering', Dandelion?" Geralt asked knowingly.
"Well, first off, we can't have a story featuring one of the greatest Koviri legends ever end with the King being killed by his own knight. I think a better ending would have him returning to the stone after he woke up. A burden of responsibility sort of thing. And Mierlayn's story will have to be changed. Maybe replace her with a human sorcerer. We'd need to rework the name a bit. Merlin maybe?" Dandelion looked around the table, inviting the other's opinions.
"Don't you think it should be a cautionary tale? If you tell the truth, maybe people will wise up, and see that hating anything different doesn't end well for anybody." Blake asked the bard, a small bit of hope creeping into her voice.
"I'd be inclined to agree with you, if I had any faith in the intelligence of those bound to hear it. I'm afraid that if we told the truth, it would just give people more excuses to distrust elves. It's for the best that we don't add any more fuel to that particular fire." Dandelion said, sympathy clear on his face.
"Probably for the best." Geralt interjected. "People always focus on the wrong aspects of Dandelion's stories. Just look at what he's written about me."
"Wait, Dandelion wrote stories about you?" Blake questioned.
"Yeah, and everyone seems to think they're love stories for some damn reason."
"People like romance, Geralt. You must admit, your ups and downs with Yennefer are the stuff of legend. It even has the perfect ending, if I ever wanted to end it, that is. The old man, and his old flame, settling down, living a life of peace."
"I still take contracts, and Yennefer's become Ciri's unofficial advisor. We've not exactly 'settled down'." Geralt said, gesturing to Blake as an example.
"And thank the gods for that! You're a far better source of ballads than the idiots who pay me write about them." He said before he grew more serious. "I don't know what I'd do without you around, old friend." Geralt smiled warmly and clapped Dandelion on the back.
"You'd be fine. You've got Priscilla to keep you out of trouble now."
"He doesn't need anyone to keep him out of trouble nowadays. Well, for the most part..." Priscilla muttered.
The four of them went on like that for the rest of the evening, before retiring for the night.
It's all your fault. Why'd you come to Beacon? Didn't you know you're meant to be alone?
Blake shot up from her bed, covered in sweat. After gaining her bearings, realizing she had been dreaming, she bolted out of her chair, opened the balcony, and hopped off the ledge to the streets below, not noticing Geralt's eyes following her as she did so.
It took Geralt barely any time to track Blake down. A bit of investigation on the balcony found that Blake had fallen down to the muddy, rain soaked street below. Exiting the inn, Geralt easily followed Blake's muddy footprints to a back alley where he found the girl sat down, leaning on the wall behind her, and staring intently at the yellow bracelet on her right wrist.
"Interesting trinket. I've seen you looking at it before. Where'd you get it?"
Blake made no show that she'd heard Geralt. She just kept staring at the bracelet.
"You alright? Blake?" Geralt asked, trying to project a soothing presence to the girl in front of him. Crouching down in front of her, he opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by Blake.
"Do… Do you think there are some people who are just… meant to be alone?"
After a taking a moment to ponder, Geralt replied. "I used too. Back when I started out of the path. Now though... Well, I'm married, raised a girl as my own daughter, and have more than a few friends I keep in touch with."
"But what if people around you only end up getting hurt because of you."
"I thought we'd been over this already. What happened wasn't your fault. What brought this on, anyway?"
"I had a nightmare. I saw my friends back home, all dead, because of me, and Adam, he was there, standing over them, their bodies. His shadow reached out, and became… some kind of monster."
"Remember how it started?"
"Yes, now that you mention it. That's odd. I thought people couldn't remember the start of dreams."
"In this world they can, under specific circumstances. Most of the time some form of magic's involved. I've had a few dreams like that too. I'm not trying to worry you, but, usually they're a warning something bad is going to happen."
"Do you think that Adam is going to kill my friends?"
Geralt looked away from Blake, looking to the clouds and the rain pouring down from them, before looking back to Blake.
"I don't know. But I do know that every time I've had one of those dreams, I managed to deal with whatever it was I saw. Just ask Dandelion, he was there for most of it."
"Was he dressed as a woman then too?" Blake asked, her tone of voice slightly lighter than before, and her body no longer had the look of a sad kitten that had just seen its mother crushed by a cart.
"Sometimes. Others it was me. And Eskel. And Lambert."
A few hours later, after Dandelion and Priscilla had woken up and, after having eaten and purchased provisions, the four companions hired a wagon to take them across the Redanian border. As they sat waiting for the wagon to be loaded, and after a lengthy argument with the dwarven wagon driver about charging for Geralt's seat despite the fact he'd be riding Roach alongside the carriage, the four of them engaged in idle conversation, Priscilla pestering Blake with questions about her home, and Dandelion and Geralt arguing about an old adventure of theirs.
"It was me who had to pull both our asses out of the fire because you couldn't talk your way out of it!"
"I'd of handled it just fine if you hadn't of drawn your sword at the first sign of trouble."
"He was about to cut your head off with an axe!"
"I know how to duck, Geralt. I'd of been fine." Dandelion sounded almost like a petulant child.
"You? Knowing when it's a good idea to keep your head down? Not likely."
Dandelion chuckled at that, Geralt joining him.
"True" Dandelion said when their chuckling had died down. Casting a glance toward Blake and Priscilla, still conversing amongst themselves, he whispered. "Geralt?"
"I've been wondering about something"
"No, you may not move in to Corvo Bianco. Yen and I have scarred half the staff as it is."
"Tch. of course you have. It not that. It's just… why take the girl home with you? Why try to help her?"
"She needs to get home. Ciri's the only way I'm sure she'll make it in one piece."
"Are sure that's all this is about? It's an awful lot of trouble you're going through to help a girl you hardly know. Why help her at all?"
"You know why."
"Yes, I suppose I do. The last time you met someone like her you fell in love and followed her around like a stray dog begging for scraps." Dandelion then held up him hand, cutting of whatever retort Geralt had come up with.
"Not saying that's what happened here, but you do have a bit of a soft spot for anyone who is… shall we say not treated kindly by the common rabble. And on the subject of Yen, I wonder how she'll take the news that you're bringing home a stray."
"We still have to tell her about your wedding. I'm hoping she'll be too focused on that. Besides, like you said, she's a lot like Yen and I, so she'll understand."
"She's a lot like Yen was."
"Exactly. Before she became a sorceress, Yen was a hunchback. Never really got over the way people treated her. She'll sympathize, want to help her as much as I do."
"So that's what this is about."
"Geralt, you know she has to go home at some point. It wouldn't do to get too attached."
"I wouldn't be helping her get to Ciri if I didn't know that."
"You can't keep her here. I know Ciri and Emhyr are growing… close, but-"
"I've got no intention of keeping her here. And I know what you're getting at. I'm not looking to adopt her. Girl's got people back home. Won't lie though. Ciri's been… distant lately. Too focused on running the world to spend any time with me and Yen." Geralt grew quiet for a moment, before speaking in a voice as close to heartbreak as Dandelion had heard from the Witcher. "Wouldn't be so bad, but… she calls Emhyr 'Papa' now. Did you know that?"
"I'm sorry, Geralt."
"Can't do anything to help it, Dandelion. Now let's talk about something else. Anything else." Before Dandelion could speak, however, the carriage driver cut him off and called out to the group.
"Oi! You lot still wanna head south? Cause it looks to me like you might wannae just sit there with yer thumbs up your arses, let me leave yah behind! C'mon! Let's get going.
The cart set out a few moments later, interrupting the Priscilla and Blake's conversation, and Geralt and Dandelion's companionable silence. As they made their way out of town, the cart in the lead followed by Geralt on horseback, the three in the in the cart were slowly lulled to sleep by the wagon's subtle rocking.
Once the awoke, the cart driver announced they were near a small farming village he did business with, and told his passengers they'd be stopping there to trade once they arrived. Within the hour, the village was in sight.
As they neared the small town, its ramshackle huts became visible through the fog, showing a level of disrepair not commonly found, even in the most run down villages Geralt had come across. Just as they reached the center of the town, the cart shuddered and came to a halt, its wheels sinking deep into the mud. Getting off of the cart, the dwarf looked over his cart for a moment before kicking the wheel with all his might. "Shite! Well, we're up a creek now, aren't we?" he lamented before turning to Geralt.
"Oi, Witcher, I need ye to go the local tavern, pay a few strong lads to come out and help haul me cart out. Otherwise you'll all be trying to get to Novigrad on one horse, and I don't think y'all are that comfortable with each other."
Geralt stood looking at the man and held out his hand, as though expecting something. After a minute, the dwarf caved. "Oh all right. Here's some coin to pay the locals. Dunnae know why I hoped a witcher could show a bit altruism, help a fella out." He grumbled as he passed Geralt a coin purse, before going back to studying the cart, trying to figure out a way to get it out of the mud.
Geralt and Blake led the group, followed closely by Dandelion and Priscilla, walking hand in hand and talking to each other about the details of the story of Bolesaw. As Geralt entered the tavern, he paused to study the condition of its occupants, who were covered in mud, and extremely malnourished.
Approaching a table full of the closest the tavern had to muscular men, he dropped the coin pouch on the table in front of them. "Got work for anyone willing to dig a cart out the mud."
The men sitting round the table looked to each other, almost as if they were conversing, but using nods and knowing smiles instead of words. After a moment, they got up from the table, the oldest among them speaking to Geralt as he did so.
"Aye, we'll do it, Master Witcher, but… well, we're not in the best of shape, sir. An extra hand, especially a witcher's, well, it wouldn't go amiss."
Geralt sighed, nodding. "Alright. Blake, come give me a hand. Dandelion, stay here, get a drink. Priscilla, make sure Dandelion doesn't get himself into trouble."
"Hey! I resent that!"
Geralt and Blake left the tavern sharing a look of amusement as Dandelion's aggravated shouting followed them out.
Geralt and Blake led the group to the cart and began their work, each person giving working as hard as they could, though both Geralt and Blake noticed that some were working their hardest to keep the cart in the mud, rather than dig it up. Alarm bells sounded in their heads as they heard sounds of a scuffle in the direction Dandelion and Priscilla were in. Immediately they dropped what they were doing and rushed back into the tavern. Geralt damn near tore the door off of its hinges when he slammed into it with his shoulder, only to find an empty room, save the barkeep, polishing a mug as though nothing was amiss.
Striding towards the counter, Geralt slammed his fist into the countertop, catching the barkeeper's attention.
"Bards that were here. What happened to them?"
The man looked round the room, trying to avoid Geralt's eyes. "The fella in the purple clothes and his lady friend followed you out the door."
"Take me for a fool? I'm a witcher. I heard something like a scuffle in here. So I'll ask again. What happened to them?"
"I told youse, they left. Though… said you were a witcher. Wouldn't happen to be looking for work, would ye? Cause we've not coin to pay ye with, but were you to help us out with our problem, we'd be eternally grateful, and well, ye knows the saying: 'What goes around comes around'. Who knows? Yer friends might just be here when ye get back."
"You want to hear another saying? 'Witchers are dangerous and liable to kill without a second thought.' I'd be wary about holding my friends hostage if I were you. There are easier ways to get my help. Must have some money stowed away, we could have negotiated damnit! You didn't have to resort to kidnapping." Geralt said, barely able to restrain himself from punching the man.
"I told ye, we've nothing to pay you with! Our village is starving. Baba Yasha only lets outsiders into her woods. Any of us venture there and they're never seen again. When we saws you approachin' Master Witcher, we thought 'Here's our chance, to get rid of that blasted witch!'" The barkeep replied, dropping the wide eyed innocent act.
"You honestly expected a witcher to muster up enough sympathy to care? Didn't expect me to just start killing till you told me where they were?" Geralt asked. He hated reinforcing the stereotype of witchers as monsters, but he felt he had little choice here.
"Well, you see, ever since Nilfgaard took over, they've been burning that book Monstrum, bout you lot, saying the Empress don't like lies. If you ain't the monsters everyone used to say you were, well… we thought you'd want your friends back safe n' sound. I mean, you can't be as bad as that book said, if you've got a couple of friends like them."
"And what's stopping me from just tracking them down and freeing them? Would save me a lot of trouble."
"True, ye could just track 'em down, but my boys and more'n a few lassies even volunteered to guard 'em with e'rything they got, even their lives if need be. You'd have to kill a lot of people just to free your friends."
Geralt signed, before looking to Blake. "You up for this?" He asked. Blake nodded her assent.
"Alright. We'll take the job."
Well there's the latest chapter. Feedback is much appreciated!