~ Baby Roach Gets a Tummy Ache ~
"Apple?" Baby Roach asked, reaching vaguely in the direction of the pouch hanging from Geralt's belt, which contained said apple.
"Apple!" the child insisted.
"Apple, apple, apple!"
She struggled desperately to reach the desired fruit, flailing her little limbs, but Geralt held tight to the wriggling child.
"No, this is our last apple and it's for big Roach. I'll get you something else to eat."
"...what else do you eat?"
"Baby Roach ran away!"
"Where'd she go?"
"I'm not sure."
"Well why did she run away? Did she get scared by a monster?"
"She ran away because I wouldn't give her the last apple." Geralt paused before reluctantly admitting: "And I... yelled at her..."
Big Roach headbutted Geralt's shoulder.
"Yes, Roach, I know you would have let the baby have the last apple even though I was saving it for you, and I shouldn't have yelled at her, but that isn't helping us find her."
The last place either of them would have expected to find their wayward daughter was in the middle of a cluster of sorceresses, including the Rectoress of Aretuza, but that was indeed where Baby Roach turned out to be.
Matters were further complicated by the fact that the sorceresses were aware that the child was a kelpie, and were understandably reluctant to hand her over to a Witcher. (Even one who was accompanied by an adorable and famous bard.)
Tissaia and Sabrina moved to stand protectively in front of Yennefer, who was holding the child. Triss, who was the only sorceress present who had actually met Geralt before, stood awkwardly off the side.
Geralt clenched his fist at his side. While he logically knew that this situation would best be solved with methods other than violence, his hand ached to wrap around the hilt of his sword so that he might dispatch the foes who stood between him and his child. Baby Roach seemed not to have even noticed he was there, as she continued to cling to the violet-eyed sorceress. He could tell from the sound of the child's continuous low whine that she was in pain.
Jaskier's attempts to talk the sorceresses into handing over the baby were met with only glares from the ladies, until Baby Roach managed to stop crying long enough to point in her parents' direction and tell Yennefer, "That's Papa."
It was only then that the sorceresses finally relaxed their guard. Yennefer stepped forward to hand the child over to her father.
Seeing that Geralt was wearing his armor, Baby Roach reached out her arms toward Jaskier - whose doublet was made of velvet, which would be much more comfortable to snuggle against than silver-studded Witcher armor.
Geralt frowned slightly as the baby picked the bard over him to comfort her.
Safely nestled against Jaskier's shoulder, the baby kelpie whined, "Tummy hurts."
"What did you eat?"
A long, tense silence followed this pronouncement - during which Jaskier was quietly horrified that his darling baby had given in to her monstrous nature and devoured a human being, and the sorceresses were glancing at each other in a way that caused Geralt to suspect they were communicating telepathically amongst themselves.
Tissaia was the one to break the silence, as she put forth: "Well, I think we can all agree that Stregobor hardly qualified as a person."
Snickers broke out among the younger sorceresses at that.
Jaskier recovered from his shock and began to quietly sing a lullaby to Baby Roach.
Geralt, unsure what to do in this situation, stood silently at the bard's side, a big useless outwardly-expressionless lump.
In a pause between verses, Jaskier hissed to the Witcher, "Geralt take your armor off so you can hold the baby." He then continued singing without missing a beat.
Once Geralt had stripped down to his undershirt, Jaskier handed Baby Roach to him. Geralt fully expected the child to resist going to him, but she wrapped her little arms around his neck and snuffled into his hair.
As Jaskier took his lute from its case to continue the lullaby with proper instrumental accompaniment and the sorceresses were discussing their best options for indigestion remedies for small horse-monster children, Geralt cuddled his baby and whispered to her, so quietly that no one else would hear, "I'm sorry."
Baby Roach responded to this with a small "hm" that was so reminiscent of her father's communication skills that he nearly laughed.
"What's an uncle that's a lady?"
Geralt, thinking this must be some kind of a joke or riddle, thought for a moment before hesitantly putting forth, "... Lambert?"
Baby Roach just scowled at him.
"Aunt," said Triss. "The word you're looking for is 'aunt'."
"Aunt Yenna," Baby Roach said, pointing at Yennefer. Then she pointed at Triss. "Aunt Triss." But when her attention turned to the third sorceress, Baby Roach frowned for a moment before pronouncing, "You're old. Granny Tissaia."
Yennefer broke out laughing. Triss made a valiant attempt to stifle her own giggles but she was not entirely successful. Tissaia was clearly not amused.
"So, how did a witcher end up adopting a baby kelpie?"
"I was hired to kill a kelpie that was terrorizing a village. They knew she was there, and that she lured people to the lake who would never be seen again. The amount of deaths had gone up drastically, and the men of the village weren't able to kill her themselves, so they hired me. When I got to the lake, she was already dead, having succumbed to previous wounds. I didn't even notice she had a baby until after I turned to leave, and the foal got up and started following me. It couldn't have been more than a day or two since she'd been born. And that foal... is my Baby Roach, and has been with me ever since."