It was early winter when Eskel found Geralt nearly unconscious, laying in a clearing with gashes running over his side
"Geralt!" He cried and ran over. Geralt coughed weekly and dulled gold eyes met darker amber.
"Esk….bag… mirror…. Mousesack... portal... to Cintra." Geralt croaked before his eyes rolled back and he went limp.
"Fuck. Geralt! Hang on!" Eskel cried and ran and grabbed Geralt's bag. He looked inside and saw a mirror that immediately came to life as when he touched it.
"Um? Who are you? Where is Geralt!?" The man yelled from the other end.
"I'm Eskel of Kaer Morhen. Geralt's hurt, badly. I need a portal, Geralt said to Cintra. I'm trusting his word, even if I don't know why." Eskel said tiredly.
"Well, Eskel. You'll learn why in a minute. I'll open the portal straight to the healing room." Mousesack said before suddenly a portal opened up. Three men run out with a board. They immediately started rolling Geralt onto the board.
"Go get roach. The portal will stay until you and the horses are through." One of the men said before they ran off through the portal. Taking a breath, he ran over to where he left Scorpion with Roach and pulled both horses through the portal. The portal opened up into a courtyard. A stable hand came running over with a small smile.
"I'll take Roach and your horse, Scorpion according to His Highness, right? Prince Geralt is in the healing room. A guard can lead you." The stable hand said. Eskel, unsure of what to say, nods And walks into the castle. However, before he could find a guard, he heard little feet running towards him.
"Daddy!!!" A little girl cried. However, Eskel, thinking she was running past him, didn't turn around. He didn't expect the girl to tackle him.
"Hi Daddy! I missed you." She giggled over his shoulder.
"Kid, I think you have me confused with someone else." Eskel said quietly. The girl froze and jumped down before she stepped in front of him with wide eyes. She had long white hair and green eyes that sparkled with magic. The similarities between her and Geralt were startling.
"You're not my daddy." She said before tilting her head, much like Geralt does.
"No, I'm Eskel. I assume your dad is Geralt?" Eskel asks, making her smile and nod.
"I'm Princess Cirilla. You're one of my Uncles! Wait.. why are you here, where's daddy? I can't feel him but sometimes he blocks the bond when he's really busy." She said before looking up at him in worry. Eskel sighed and offered her his hand, to which she takes and he picks her up and settles her on his hip.
"I found your dad in a field. He was hurt pretty bad kiddo, but he'll be alright. A couple days of bed rest and he'll be good as new." He said as he continued to follow the scent trail to Geralt.
In the healing room, Geralt had his face buried in Calanthe's lap as Ava cleaned and stitched up the 4 claw wounds on his side. The makeshift den of the arm that she had draped over is head helped the instinct to snap at the hands helping him. He had his hands fisted in her dress and groaned as Ava tied off the last stitch on the first wound. She started on the next one when the door opened and Geralt smelled Eskel and Ciri.
"Daddy!" She cried and he heard her run up and clamber up and sit next to his head.
"I'm okay kiddo. Promise. The stitches always hurt more than the wound." Eskel hears Geralt mumble as he lifts his arm and let's Ciri climb underneath and snuggle against his chest. Eskel knelt down next to the bed so he could reach over and brush the hair out of Geralt's face then lean their foreheads together.
"Thanks for helping, Eskel." Geralt muttered.
"You would do the same."
"Hmm. Have Mousesack call Vesemir and Lambert. We can portal them over and they can winter here. They're probably worried that you haven't shown up." Geralt said quietly.
Calanthe watches the two witchers for a minute and smiles as Geralt gives a small rumble. However, the moment was broken when Geralt pulled back and whined in pain.
"I'm going to put you under, Geralt. So the pup doesn't have to see you in pain. You'll wake up when you're healed. I'll take care of the pup while you're asleep." Geralt nods and presses a kiss to Ciri's forehead and whispers that he loves her and he'll see her in a few days.
The other witcher presses his own forhead to Geralt's before doing something with his hand and presses his palm to Geralt's forehead.
"Sleep, until you're fully healed." He said and Geralt slumped over, unconscious, his body totally relaxing against them.
"Daddy?" Ciri cried in worry but Eskel ran a soothing hand through her hair.
"He's just sleeping. It'll help him heal faster." Eskel said before looking at Ava and Calanthe who was looking at him in shock and confusion.
"It's called Axii. It's one of the 5 spells we can do. It's much like mind control but we only do it when we need to. It's used mostly to calm down both humans and Monsters and can actually make monsters fight by our side against worse monsters. Other times we use it to put our stubborn brothers to sleep so they can heal. There's not much that can keep him in bed when he's injured. And with a wound like that he needs to not move as much as possible. He also won't feel pain while he's under. He'll wake up on his own when he's ready" He says with a smile as he gathers Ciri up in his arms and rocked her softly. Calanthe nods and smiles at him as Ciri starts to hum quietly.
"Thank you. You're quite good with her." She observed. Eskel looked down at Ciri who was almost asleep against him and was fiddling with his medallion.
"I had a child surprise about 2 decades ago. I tried to raise her right. I loved her as my own, just like Geralt does with Ciri but for her it wasn't enough. She wanted blood, she wanted revenge on her birth father and the sorcerers who hurt her. I tried to redirect her, begged her to not go down that dark road….to not cross that line. She didn't appreciate that I wasn't helping her and took a dagger to my face. She turned into a monster of the human kind." He shudders before choking out one last sentence. "I had to kill my daughter before she could hurt anyone else." He whimpered before burying his face in Ciri's hair and inhaled deeply. Geralt's scent was so prominent on her as was the scent of lilac and roses. A scent of magic, strength and beauty. He felt himself quickly calm at the soothing scent and shuddered when he felt warm arms wrap around his shoulders.
"I understand. Losing a child is one of the worst things a parent could ever go through. When I first met Geralt, I was intrigued and curious because he didn't talk much and his views on the world were so unique. I truly thought that the rumors that witchers don't feel, was true. He didn't show a lot of emotion. And then he claimed the law of surprise and we found out Pavetta was pregnant. I hated him in that moment." calanthe said, making Eskel chuckle against her.
"I know. He came back to the keep that winter. I don't think I've ever seen him that drunk or that upset in the century I've known him. Geralt was hysterical and he swore he never intended to claim. Geralt was Vesemir's child surprise and the way Visenna abandoned him in the roads for Vesemir to find, hurt him deeply. He despises his birth mother. He didn't want that for your daughter." Eskel said quietly.
"I understand that now. To my understanding, it was the bard's nagging that finally brought him to our door when Pavetta was giving birth. I was just about to send him off but then he told us he didn't want to claim her but he still wanted to be in her life as a second father. After seeing how he was when he held her a few minutes after she was born, and hearing how he could sense her emotions and how he could tell that she could sense the bond between them and recognized him, Pavetta made the decision to allow him in her life. And these past 5 years, he's proven just how much he loves her. Pavetta , Duny formed a close sibling-like relationship with Geralt in that first year and I started to think of him like my son. I know you both are much older than I am but don't care. I'm his new mother and he's my son. That's why I named him prince. Cirilla is still my heir, and I don't hold him to much royal responsibility, so you wolves don't have to worry about that." Calanthe says softly with a chuckle. Eskel smiles against her, still enjoying being wrapped in her arms.
"I had forgotten what a mother's hug felt like." Eskel mutters after a few moments of silence. Calanthe looks down at him and smiles as she rakes her fingers through his hair. Eskel made a similar happy rumble to Geralt's purr but it was more of a deep groan.
"I would gladly adopt you as well, Eskel. Just say the word. I assume all you witchers need a mother's touch." She said quietly making him shudder and let out a pitiful whine and reached up with his free hand that wasn't cradling a sleeping child to him and gripped at the skirt material at her waist.
"Okay…. Mom" He croaked, smilingly tearfully at how good it felt to have someone to call mother. Calanthe leaned down and pressed a kiss to his hair and rested her forehead against his in a witcher sign of affection.
Just then a throat cleared from behind them and in a blink of an eye, Eskel was on his feet and had Calanthe behind him and his sword in his hand, growling at the newcomer. The two men looked shocked before they both chuckled and looked at Calanthe.
"You adopted another one didn't you? You have a lot of the same mannerisms and protectiveness that Geralt does. I assume you're his brother? Eskel I assume. Geralt speaks highly of you. I'm Eist. Calanthe's husband, this is Mousesack. We both want to say welcome to the family and thank you for saving Geralt and contacting us." Eist said with a smile. Mousesack smirks as Eskel stares Eist and him down, his nostrils flaring and his head tilted before he sheathed his sword and stood down. He had obviously been analyzing their scent and listening to their heartbeats for any irregularities that pointed to lies.
"Pleasure to meet you. Yes, I'm Eskel of Kaer Morhen."
"Nice to meet you, Prince Eskel." Eist said with a smile, making Eskel blush and nod.
"We came to let your mother know supper was ready. Please join us." Mousesack said with a smirk. They all start to make their way to the dining room but when they arrive, Eskel looks at calanthe with a hopeful smile.
"May I ask if my brother and father come here too and winter? They will be worried that I haven't showed up yet." Eskel asks curiously. Calanthe nods and turns to a servant to go have two more plates prepared.
"If you can lend your energy to help me get through the wards and open a portal to Kaer Morhen, you can ask them yourself." Mousesack said, making Eskel nod.
"Do you want me to take her?" Eist asked softly, gesturing to Ciri who was still sleeping against his shoulder.
"No, she's fine. My Deidre used to sleep like this. I miss it." Eskel said, smiling softly at the sight of her gripping his medallion. Mousesack puts his palm on Eskel's forehead and pushes his palm out and opens a portal. Eskel walks over and pushes his hand through then walks through.
Lambert and Vesemir were in the dining room and Lambert was pacing worriedly.
"Why the fuck isn't Eskel here? He said we would be here this fucking winter. And he was supposed to bring the supplies." He snarled. However, before Vesemir could respond a portal opened up a little ways from them.
"What the hell!?" Lambert yells and grabs his sword while Vesemir does the same. A hand pushed through the portal and suddenly a strong blast of aard blast them off their feet and Eskel stepped through the portal. Their eyes go wide at not only the portal but the white haired girl asleep on his chest.
"Eskel? Who?" Vesemir croaks as he steps forward and looks at the girl.
"Geralt's scent is all over her. And her hair is white. Is this-" He mutters, trailing off quietly.
"This is Princess Cirilla of Cintra. Geralt's child surprise. Now, come on. We were just starting dinner." Eskel explained softly. Vesemir and Lambert looked at each other before Vesemir motioned for Eskel to hand Ciri over. Once Ciri was shuffled into Vesemir's arms, he walked through the portal with Eskel and Lambert right behind him.
Calanthe, Eist and Mousesack look up to the portal to see Ciri now being carried by an older witcher and Eskel walking through behind them with his arm around another witcher's shoulders.
"Welcome to Cintra. I'm Queen Calanthe, this is my husband, Eist. And this is our mage, Mousesack. And I see you met my granddaughter, Cirilla." Calanthe says with a smile.
"I'm Vesemir. I'm these pup's adopted father."
"And I'm Lambert, the youngest and most awesome brother." Lambert snarked.
Calanthe chuckles and pats Lambert on the head.
"Yes, dear. Now, please sit. Let's get dinner started." Calanthe said before motioning for everyone to sit. Vesemir sat and rubbed Cirilla's back to wake her up.
"Wake up, pup. It's time to eat." Vesemir murmurs. Ciri stirs and leans back and stares at Vesemir blearily.
"You're not daddy." She scowls tiredly. Vesemir chuckles and shakes his head.
"No. I'm your grandfather, Vesemir. And beside me is your Uncle Lambert." Vesemir rumbles, making her nod tiredly and turn and grab a piece of meat off his plate and eat it, not bothering to get her own plate or sit up from where she's reclined against him.
Late that night Eskel was woken by his door opening. His eyes snapped open and his hand curled around the knife that was under his bed but to his relief and amusement, he saw a mop of white hair shuffle over to his bed. So with a quiet sigh, he closed his eyes and waited for her to crawl up onto the bed. He can't help but feel impressed by the quietness of her movements as she shuffles over and cuddles up to his side.
"Can't sleep?" He mutters as he adjusts her to fit comfortably against his side and runs his finger up and down her spine.
"I'm worried about daddy." She mutters against him.
"You're dad will be fine kiddo. I promise. He's been through much worse." Eskel said before rolling over and adjusting her against so she's pressed against his chest and his arms and legs cage her in. He hears her let out a soft happy whine and rubs her nose against his collar bone. Feeling the soft nuzzling, which he knew was a learned behavior from Geralt, Eskel couldn't help but smile and lean down to scent her as well.
"Good night, beautiful. Sleep well." He rumbles against her hair and closes his eyes again.
That night was the best sleep he had in decades.