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Breaking point

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There was a Wraith in the East, in a non-important town except for the fact that it was a wealthy town; the Earl of those lands having his castle just a few miles from it;

 

and this spectre was threatening the castle’s comfortable way of living, enough that the knights were sent to other towns and counties, posting notices with the significant reward, never to be seen again after;

 

because the wraith would attack nobles, would attack soldiers, would attack villagers that tried to get into the woods to hunt game, in the daylight or the darkest hours;

 

but would shred to pieces any knight that dared to put a foot on the grass beyond the first row of thick trees;

 

and normally Geralt would laugh at the thought of the ‘elite’ being affected by a monster as much as peasants;

 

but the lack of enough game had driven the Earl to send his knights to steal meat from the village, on the form of ‘taxes’; and people were starving just so a fat nobleman and his knights could fill their guts;

 

so he put himself and Roach on course to the East.

 

When Geralt first heard about the vicious wraith holding a whole town hostage it was the middle of spring, so he didn’t think about the fact that the last rumours that he had hear about the ‘Witcher’s bard’ before the winter placed him in that direction,

he didn’t think about the fact that for a moon and a half he had not picked up any whispers of a colorful bard singing about white wolves,

had not overheard scandalized gossip of Ladies and Lords running a poet out of their lands for sleeping with their spouses.

 

He had not thought of that, because the Witcher had spent a whole winter licking his wounds (those inflicted upon him by a vicious djinn, and a lover he slighted so badly the scent of lilac and gooseberries would forever burn; and wounds he did to himself, the raw gaping hole on his center that refuses to close, that feels like he lost a limb, that feels like a heavy presence yet screams empy, empty, empty to all of his senses)


and his wounds had seemed more important in that moment, in all of those moments, because he was (will always be) a selfish creature at heart, had learned to be so; and at the most minimal sign that he could be injured he injured back,

so he didn’t pay attention, didn’t realize,

until it was too late to turn back,

to live in denial;


until it was just too late

 

too late to do anything but hunt, because that is all he had left, because when hunting he didn’t feel

 

shouldn’t feel,

 

feel his lungs compress smaller than under the weight of a troll, 

 

his troath close up in ways a thousand poisons can’t achieve

 

feel his shriveled up heart hurt.

 

 

The wife of the barkeep tells him the story in between tankards of ale (and she doesn’t even water it down now, seeing his pain) and nervous looks around the tavern; 

 

because Jaskier didn’t just die, no, see, he was killed,

 

brutalized in the most awful of ways, 

 

left in the woods behind the inn with his troath ripped open, his breaches and undergarments torn, his brilliant jade outfit coated in blood;

 

dumped among dirt and filth, left there to bleed out and perish , after his attacker had taken everything he had wanted from him;

 

all because the bard didn’t want to give him a ‘private concert’, wouldn’t respond to his insinuations, 

 

because the bard was tired, had been singing all afternoon through the night,

 

and that’s when the Count’s knight had walked into to the tavern, high on spirits from hunting game to last the castle all through winter;

 

and one of them had seen Jaskier and had wanted

 

wanted so badly he had not asked before pulling the artist on his lap, and his hands on his body;

 

but Jaskier had pushed him away, lighthearted at first, but then, when the man had followed his refusal with more unwanted touches and slurs had firmly told him no

 

and the whole tavern had heard, and the whole town would know by the next morning that a lowly lark had refused bedding one of the knights of the Count, and the knight couldn’t have that, could he;

 

so he followed the bard when he walked to the inn, 

 

dragged him behind the building,

 

and took , and broke and laughed while doing it,

 

walked away with blood on his teeth, loose breaches and a splintered lute on his hand, to hang besides the thropy heads on his state;

 

left the bard there so everyone would know not to mess with him.

 

The barkeep and his wife tried to help him; took him to his room and called the local healer, got him bandaged and stitched and cleaned up 

 

and perhaps he would have survived;

 

perhaps he would have, if the knight had not also taken something more precious than his life, than his self,

 

because the bard had lost his voice; it had been ripped away, and a bird without wings can’t fly

 

and a bard without voice can’t sing, can’t really live

 

and so, when the healer told him this, he cried himself to sleep, with painful coughs and mourful whines,

 

and when he was left alone he ran, driven by the desire of revenge;

 

escaped far into the woods, where no one would find where he died and his corpse would remain untouched, 

 

and when he couldn’t breathe anymore, from the pain and the exhaustion; he kneeled under a three, among old roots and the last leaves of autumm, 

 

and teared at his stitches and his bandages, letting out a silent scream,

 

blooming red drops drenching the ground, mixing with the colors of the season,

 

and died.

 

 

(The barkeep’s wife didn’t tell him this last part, she couldn’t have; but Geralt can fill in the spaces in the story, can imagine it so vividly , hear the rustling of the trees, can smell the salt of Jaskier tears on the air, can see him clutching at his troath like so many years ago; when another foolish and cruel man attempted to steal his voice and kill him-)

 

 

When Geralt, from far away, sees the body of his friend, his companion, his bard; 

 

curled tight into a little ball at the trunk of a tree; 

 

he could trick himself into believing that the bard was just taking a nap;

 

because wraiths’ bodies aren’t touched by decay, rot or time;

 

and he looks the same

 

he looks exactly the same, dark hair, pale skin, little wrinkles at the border of his eyes;

 

he even fucking smells the same,

 

the only difference is the cloying scent of blood, and it’s everywhere, the smell of Jaskier’s blood, 

 

and Geralt feels his knees fail him, for the first time in a century, and he falls in front of his bard and weeps ;

 

because there’s blood on his bard’s lips, on his broken fingernails, on his neck and his shirt;

 

and he might be torturing himself but he thinks he still sees the track of tears across those pale perfect cheeks,

 

and he chokes back his apologies, his regrets, his useless words begging for forgiveness;

 

he is not worthy of uttering them in his presence,

 

not in front of this person who loved him with all his being and who he sent away with angry, cruel words,

 

and he wishes to grab his silver sword and impale himself on it, because silver is for monsters and presented with the handiwork his rash cruel actions caused he cannot think himself anything but the lowest kind of beast;

 

he longs for the only respite life could offer him now, to have his final resting place besides his bard (he would murmur apologies on his hair as the life left his body, would be selfish just one more time, would sully the bard’s grave with his own blood), to hug him in death like he didn’t do in life; curl around him in a parody of the protection he didn’t offer;

 

but people are still dying, still starving, and the only thing he has now, is the Path, the only thing he could ever  be (no more champion, no more friend, no more muse) now is a monstrous Witcher;

 

so he weeps as he stretches Jaskier body (whines at the still almost-warm temperature of him) on a patch of yellow wildflores,

 

weeps as he stakes him, 

 

as he cuts his head and places it between his legs,

 

as he lits the body on fire and hears the piercing cry of his friend’s spectre,

 

and doesn’t move; 

 

not when the smoke clogs his troath and the flames lick his knees,

 

not until there are only ashes left.  

 

 

He marches to the Earl’s castle only after learning the knights name, after sending a boy requesting that his reward be given by that knight on the castle gates;

 

and if any of the townspeople wondered why there were teartracks on the soot of his cheeks they didn’t ask;

 

because those eyes were pitch black and enraged,

 

and the Witcher barely stops to question the men waiting for him at the iron gates (on the chance that the wraith did manage to murder his killer) after dismounting;

 

but he is in luck, because the man answers a yes with a cocky smile,

 

and the Witcher revels in ripping it off when he sends him flying back with a kick, listening to the sounds of breaking ribs,

 

smiles when he chops off the knights’ hands with silver,

 

chuckles as the screams of the man are cut off at the same time as his tongue and become whimpers,

 

as he cuts off the man’s balls and cock,

 

and laughs when the knight vomits after Geralt shows them all his body parts in a little line to him,

 

considers leaving him there at the edge of the road; but decides that the most minimun chance of survival is too much mercy, so he spears him in the heart once he tires of the mans screams.



The Witcher mounted his mare and went on his way,

 

and if he cried until he had no more tears left no one saw it and it was no one’s problem,

 

because he felt no joy nor pain nor sadness, 

 

and he had no heart.

 

Not anymore.