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There was a moment of stillness within Geralt as he watched what was going on in front of him. It might be time to consider a small vacation toward the South - As the North was honestly more trouble than it was worth. The problem being the farther south you go, the more dangerous the contracts. Whereas the Witcher work in the North was relatively safe and easy, making a good amount of coin quickly for killing a Nekker. The same couldn’t be said in the South. Vampires especially were more likely the farther South you looked. 

Yet maybe that rule couldn’t be relied upon. After all, the threat in front of him right now was no small thing.

In fact, it was the most dangerous thing that Geralt had ever found himself faced with - and he had been part of the Wild Hunt. 

Gaunter O'Dimm was anything but an easy enemy. 

The smart thing to do here was just to let Olgierd meet his fate…

Yet Geralt would be lying if he claimed that he hadn’t started to like Olgierd. He was a fascinating man, and above all, he was a morose man. Regretful of the things in his life that went wrong, though even the dimness of the immortality that he had gained. Well educated, spoken, and he had a group of people that followed him faithfully. Yes, Geralt had come to like Olgierd von Everec.

“Wait.” Geralt heard himself say.

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that Geralt had shown obstinacy toward an extremely powerful being. 

"Do not interfere, Witcher. Remember what I did to the last fool who interrupted me?"

Geralt ran through all that he’d learned from the old professor. There was a way to beat him at his own game - Olgierd had tried. He thought limits to the power of the being in front of him and thus attempted to use clever phrasing. O’Dimm had found a way around that. It wouldn’t be smart to attempt it, knowing well that O’Dimm was quite good at conversing those particular waters. 

“I was thinking we could make this a little more interesting,” Geralt found himself starting, still with no idea where he was going, but not willing to test O’Dimm’s willingness to wait for some sort of response, “I propose a game. Higher stakes, more risk, more reward.” 

O’Dimm as a person wouldn’t be able to turn down at least hearing the offer. Geralt seemed to have read the man correctly, for he stopped moving toward Olgierd and looked at the Witcher. 

“And what did you have in mind,” O’Dimm asked, that now-familiar smile rising to his face. 

“I have now repaid my debt to you, which means that I should be in the clear to make another deal, right?” Geralt paused only long enough to get a nod from O’Dimm, “I propose thus; we bet on a game. If you win, you can have Olgierd’s soul and my service. The same service I have done for Olgierd, lasting until I die a Witcher’s death, at which time you can take my soul as well. However, if I win, we both get to walk free, and I get one wish, that wish is to be fulfilled with your greatest understanding of my intent.”

Geralt got the strange feeling that O’Dimm was pleased with that turn of events because he had never seen the being so happy.

“So, what do you purpose we play, Gwent?”

Somehow, Geralt found himself doubting that O’Dimm played much Gwent, so the ball would be in the Witcher’s court for that one, “I wouldn’t mind that.”

O’Dimm waved his hand dismissively, “No, no. That would be letting you off easily, wouldn’t it? You’d have far too high a chance of winning, and we can’t have that. No, if we are doing this, we are going to do it my way.” 

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Far from the first time that Geralt had felt the uncomfortable tug and head whirl of teleportation of some sort, the Witcher pushed himself up from the ground. A quick glance of his surroundings told Geralt all of nothing about where he currently was. 

“O’Dimm?” Geralt questioned. 

“You wished to play, so play we shall,” The voice came, ringing from everywhere around Geralt. The only other time he had experienced something similar was in the presence of a higher vampire, “I shall tell you a riddle, solve it, and you will win. Fail to solve it in the allotted amount of time I provide, and I win.”

There was really no purpose to ask, other than ideal curiosity that Geralt wanted to ask. The potential that maybe, maybe, he would get a more in-depth answer that might give him a better clue to just what O’Dimm was, “And what happens to our souls in the end, saying that I lose.” 

“Let’s just say that you would be in for a wild ride, shall we?” O’Dimm laughed out. 

Just about as much of an answer as the Witcher figured he’d get. Pushed off the ground completely now, Geralt walked over to a slab of rock, presenting somewhat like a bench. Sitting down, Geralt let his forearms rest against his lets and leaned forward. 

“The riddle, let me hear it.” 

“To all things and men I appertain, and yet by some am shunned and disdained. Fondle and ogle me, till you're insane, but no blow can harm me, cause me pain. Children delight in me, elders take fright, fair maids rejoice and spin. Cry, and I weep, yawn, and I sleep smile, and I too shall grin. What am I?”

Geralt tried his best to mentally absorb each word to memory. There was the obvious answer - The Master of Mirrors would, of course, make the answer mirror. Still, there was a part of the riddle that didn’t fit that explanation. Blows can harm a mirror, break it even. 

Ahhh…

Clever, Geralt allowed himself to think but used his mutation to keep from giving so much as a twitch to show that he might have figured it out.  It was an interesting redirect that left two options in Geralt’s mind, either a reflection or perhaps O’Dimm himself was the answer. Either way, he wasn’t going to figure it out by asking the being to repeat, the riddle was already committed to memory, and putting it off wouldn’t help anything either. 

“Alright then,” Geralt stated, standing up and shrugging his shoulders, freeing himself from any kinks in his joints, “I’m ready when you are.” 

“Oh, so confident Geralt, but I think you shall find it harder than you think. Now, you must find me before the time in the hourglass runs out.”

That in and of itself was another hint, so either it was simply a game of hide and seek, or the answer was a reflection, and O’Dimm was hiding in something reflective perhaps? Geralt slide his cat eyes across the area, seeing a clear path forward, but knowing damn well that there was no way such a place would actually be easy to navigate, it just wasn’t O’Dimm’s way. 

“Ready? Let’s begin.” 

The time was on. 

Geralt bolted forward, but at a normal, human speed. It allowed him more awareness as he searched his surroundings.  The medallion of his hadn’t so much as made a peep yet, which was weird. Now that was something that could be pondered after this whole episode was over. Geralt had been running along the main path, he didn’t think O’Dimm would put the solution off of it, didn’t seem quite his style. He wanted to tease Geralt with the answer, this much was within his personality. 

“Geralt, help me!” 

Shani, Shani's voice. 

There was no way that it was here, even the tone she was using was all wrong. She wouldn’t have said it that way, but Geralt still found himself walking in that direction, at the very least, it could be a hint. As he got up there, he felt his medallion actually give the first twitch he’d ever felt near O’Dimm. Whatever this was, it wasn’t the typical power the man used. It wasn’t the same energy as whatever he used to stop time, or had used to teleport the two of them here. This was clearly a more standard illusion, the type that a socoress was capable of doing. Still, he played along and went to reach for Shani. Not at all surprised when the woman’s image purposely let go of the cliff with a smirk and fell into the darkness below. 

“Ahahahahaha! I can’t believe you fell for that.” 

Good, that belief was something that would make the man underestimate him, and make this trial of wits all the easier. 

Eventually, Geralt found himself all the way to some sort of house. He had purposely moved toward a few of the illusions in his path but didn’t allow it to slow him down any. There were actually some true emotional hits in there - Geralt didn’t appreciate the one which referenced his mother and did find it very discombobulating to realize that O’Dimm knew anything of that. No one other than Geralt knew anything about the woman, or at least, that was what he had thought. 

Within the house that he found, there was a mirror, with no other option but to go forward, Geralt moved. 

The ground crumbled underneath him. 

“You didn’t think it would be that   easy, did you?” The voice taunted. 

O’Dimm would regret underestimating him in the end, so there was no need to let such petty jabs get to him. Instead, Geralt moved onward, never stopping his movement. There were many more mirrors that he came across until there was an idea. He stopped in his tracks and looked around him, ignoring the voice which hadn’t stopped it’s taunting. 

A fountain. 

Geralt paid mind to his senses, his cat eyes sharpening as he glared at the surroundings, the cracks on the wall, and Geralt could hear the running water behind it before his nose managed to pick up the damp smell it was giving off. 

So reflection was the answer. Geralt stood in front of the cracked wall and abruptly used Aard to break it down, the sign bursting forth and breaking the wall, water splashing out into the fountain. Weirdly, it settled fast, a small boon. Geralt searched the surface for his answer. There it was, O’Dimm, sitting on the water's surface

“Gotcha.” Geralt pointedly stated, his voice a drawl as he pulled the reflection of O’Dimm out of the water. 

The moment he burst forth, O’Dimm was sprouting a language that even Geralt didn’t recognize, and he was shown the absolute basics at least of all the languages known of. His face had turned demonic, Geralt noted that the man had yellow eyes, somewhat similar to a Witchers., ears similar to an elves, skin tone of a vampire with veins that looked like a Witchers before purging themselves of at least 5 potions. 

“Speak your words all you want, but you lost, and now you owe me.” Geralt spoke, careful to watch his words now, for fear that O’Dimm would try and cheapen him of the wish owed. 

He blinked, and they were back on the moon. 

O’Dimm was standing there, and his ever-present smile had faded. 

Quite clear that O’Dimm was not a good loser.

Olgierd was there, but his body frozen in time, much like O’Dimm had frozen others within the inn a scant few hours ago. Silence won over the moment before O’Dimm spoke once more. His tone was harsh, though his appearance was human again. No human voice could make such an inhuman, guttural sound, “Speak your wish, Witcher, you have won the game.”

Geralt had almost thought that it wouldn’t happen. Now, he had a wish from a being like this, one that he was assured and bound to a deal to actually fulfil the wish to what he knew to be Geralt’s intentions. It was a true wish, not like what a Djinn would try and pun off like one. 

Djinn huh… 

Geralt had been wondering for so long. He wanted to know, in the back of his mind, whether or not Yennifer and himself would gravitate toward one another without the pull of the Djinn’s magic. Would they still love one another? Was it the spell that was keeping them together? Geralt knew that Yen had wondered the same often enough - They had fought about the very thing before. Yet here was a way to safely get rid of the binding, he could know for sure what his feelings were in regards to her finally. If they loved one another then it could be true, and if they didn’t, then they could go on about their lives and finally let one another go. 

“Decades ago a Djinn’s magic was placed on me binding me to someone, I want the Djinn’s magic removed from my person.” 

The finality of it ringing. 

“So it is done.” The guttural voice spoke, O’Dimm wasn’t even opening his vessels mouth anymore to speak. It was unsettling, even for a Witcher, “Do not think that you have won this, Gerwyin de Hy’von, we will face off against one another again.” 

With those words, O’Dimm was gone, as if he was never there in the first place. 

Geralt was startled out of a contemplative silence by Olgierd stirring next to him, frantically looking around, “Geralt, what  happened.”

“I’ll explain over a pint later.” 

“Luckily enough for you, I always plan for such an occasion,” Olgierd stated, pulling a gourd seemingly out of nowhere. Far be it for Geralt to complain, because he needed a drink, especially if he was going to explain what had happened. 

Geralt held out a hand, grateful that his new friend ignored the way it trembled as he placed the gourd into the Witcher’s grasp. Pulling the cork out, Geralt took a large swig of the drink, letting it settle into his stomach. Olgierd did not share Geralt’s choice wine, but it wasn’t bad, just stronger, a pure flavour without hints of anything else, just red wine, that was it. Probably cheap, if not for the strength of it. 

"This plonk could revive a corpse. An exquisitely rank vintage."

“We do not share taste in wine, I’ve got to admit.” Geralt shrugged, but placed the gourd back to his lips and took another swig before passing the bottle back to Olgierd. 

“No reason to buy something which tastes good, when I lacked the taste buds for it. All wine was the same to me, but I must admit gaining back that sense of taste, this wouldn’t be my choice wine either. But since I have shared my strong, if not revolting drink, I hope that you are in a better mood to share what the blazing fuck just happened. I’ve no idea what to think, considering the mark on your face. The brand seems to have healed over but the scar remains. I thought it would have gone away...” 

The redhead trailed off inquisitively, looking toward Geralt for an explanation, “At least it’s not an open wound anymore. Thank O’Dimm for small miracles. If I had to guess, I’d say that he felt it there because he is a sore loser. I won our little game, a riddle at that. He then froze time, got my wish, and disappeared after grinding out a promise of vengeance.” 

“Suitably terrifyingI’m sure.” 

“Well, maybe he was talking out of his ass, his mouth wasn’t moving when he said it.” Geralt deadpanned, but Olgierd didn’t have the context to understand the joke and just cast a look over toward the Witcher. 

“Somehow I doubt that.”

“Yeah.” Geralt confirmed, both of them looking out toward the sun. 

“I’ve got no idea what to do with myself now,” Olgierd admitted aloud, looking toward the horizon, his expression twisted with grief from all that he had lost. His dealings with O’Dimm had cost him a lot. 

Geralt wondered if he knew how much he gained in the process though, “You’ve got yourself a group that cares about you, a little rough around the edges but….” 

Olgierd scoffed but his expression softened despite it, “They are a loyal lot, a bit deprived because of their upbringing and trying a bit too hard to actually experience life now that they are free but loyal. They deserve me to go back to them, I put them into their situation, talked them into it… What about you Geralt? What will you do now?” 

“Hmm,” Geralt hummed, thinking, “South.” 

“South?” Olgierd inquired, startled a bit, “I wouldn’t have expected that.” 

“Mmmm… It’s been a while, and O’Dimm strummed up some nostalgia. He knew my birth name, things that no one other than me should remember - “

Geralt cut himself off, he wasn’t sure that he wanted to think about it. He wasn’t Lambert, he didn’t hate what he had become, in fact, the land that he had come from was beautiful, and Geralt would love to see it again. What he didn’t want to think about was his mother. The woman knew what she was doing she - 

Wasn’t worth thinking about.

O’Dimm had clearly thrown Geralt off more than he was expecting. The Witcher shifted in his seat, bending forward onto his knees more. Still, a trip South would do him some good, he needed time to think. His mother, Yennifer, Ciri, yes, Geralt without a doubt needed some time on the Path to think about everything that had happened, and putting it off was making his feet practically itch. Still, he sat in the sunlight with his friend, letting the warmth of the beams and the wine sink into him, enjoying the company whilst he could. 

“Geralt, if you ever need anything, and I mean anything, don’t hesitate to call on me. I owe you more than you know.” Olgierd spoke. 

Geralt glanced at the man, his golden eyes taking in his profile before he scoffed, “I will, but don’t forget that I got something out of it, there was no selfless motivation there..” 

“Somehow I don’t believe that.” 

Then, they sat in silence.