Dandelion was fighting.
The alcohol he had drunk was still pulsating in his veins, dulling his senses. Throbbing pain reverberated deep inside his skull. His heavy breathing marked the rhythm of his torment.
The bard cursed under his breath. His nausea only agreed to relent once the vodka had been forcefully purged. Despite his best efforts, the sheets became victims of this cleansing. So he cursed once more whilst panting heavily until finally making a hesitant step from his bed. Then another despite his feet dancing strangely on the floor with questionable stability. The thirst grabbed him by the throat.
He scrambled for a jug of water whilst attempting to recall the previous evening.
The spring festival, an age-long tradition stolen from the elves, attracted many to the small city of Gulet. It was a pompous celebration with copious amounts of booze and food, yet, it lacked refined entertainment. Until the local mayor decided to pay a young poet for his renowned talents…
Not enough, thought Dandelion, licking the last droplets of water from the jug's edge.
Definitely not enough.
Geralt was fighting.
The potions he had drunk were still lingering in his veins, sharpening his senses. Last night the damp air clung to his lungs. His heavy breathing marking the rhythm of his strikes.
The witcher cursed vehemently as he struggled to strike the creature’s scale-covered flesh. Having finally hit the mark, the wounded creature retreated; diving swiftly underwater; somehow vanishing despite its large size. So he cursed once more whilst panting heavily, until finally taking a hesitant step forward. Then another despite the thick sludge clinging aggressively to his legs. Something slithery crawled into his boot, sending chills deep into his bones.
He barely managed to turn around as black water gushed out behind his back.
The giant vypper, surely as old as the surrounding swamp, had been hunting around Gulet for years. For years it had been killing, growing in size and hardening it’s now rigid scales. Until the local mayor decided to pay a witcher to end its rampage…
Not enough, Geralt thought, evading a stream of toxic venom.
Definitely not enough.
The mayor’s daughter flinched in disgust at the sight of the monstrous mess. Still, she entered further into the chamber in which her father housed their guest. She stopped after reaching the bed and cast a meaningful look at Dandelion.
He was accustomed to others looking down their nose at him after witnessing such a trifle. This, however, did not deter him from unleashing a rather charming smile. In fact, it would be hard to find a smile more disarming than Dandelions.
But the mayor's daughter sighed with resignation.
Furthermore, she surprised him with her frigidity as she cut straight to the matter of his performance at the spring festival. She proclaimed that there must be no shortage of poetry and singing - and that his young and, in her humble opinion, questionable talent would be no excuse for failing to provide.
Dandelion glanced at her rather disappointing bosom, about which he had already started composing a spiteful ballad.
He grinned once more.
The mayor flinched in disgust at the sight of the monstrous trophy. Still, he peeked curiously into the gaping jaw and tried to count the vypper's teeth. He gave up after thirty-something, casting a meaningful glance at Geralt.
The witcher shrugged. Officials such as the mayor often searched for excuses to skimp on payment. It was, however, hard to argue results after having had a vypper’s head slung directly onto your desk.
Thus the mayor of Gulet paid without any hesitation.
In fact, he even showed some unusual hospitality towards the witcher, painting a tempting picture of the local spring festival. The streets would flow with boundless alcohol and succulent meats within arms reach. Furthermore, the performance of a talented young poet was planned. So the mayor insisted; “Relax, enjoy our culture at its finest”.
Geralt took a long look at the bloodied head, which had already begun filling the office with a repugnant stench.
He shrugged once more.
After reaching the market square, Dandelion made his way directly to the stage prepared for the spectacle. In order to make up for his tardiness, he began stringing his lute commencing his concert unconventionally. He slid past a stocky tradeswoman, who despite his brilliance, didn’t even bother to give him a second look.
One could not say that about the restless crowd forming by the stage.
Excited whispering began as people stepped aside. Even a white-haired fellow, which the learned bard quickly identified as a witcher, respectfully made room for him. The inhabitants of Gulet seemed capable of recognizing a virtuoso, even before hearing him! Splendid! Dandelion took a deep bow, sweeping the cobblestones with the heron feather on his hat.
Then, he fulfilled the silent wish of the crowd.
He swiped his fingers nimbly across the strings of his lute. Both his steps and his melody were mesmerizing all in attendance. Yet it was clearly his majestic voice that finally won the hearts of his audience. By its conclusion, he saw that he managed to achieve the seemingly impossible.
There stood an unfeeling witcher with a tear in his eyes, clearly moved by his poetry.
After reaching the market square, Geralt did not immediately search for the stage. First, in order to ensure his merriment, he secured himself the necessities: a bottle of vodka and a ring of sausage. The stocky tradeswoman, who was selling the goods, did not bother to give him a second look.
Clearly an exception.
Whispers from the growing crowd started and people stepped promptly out of his way. Some glanced failing to hide their fear, others gawked openly at the white-haired witcher. Geralt ignored all of them, calmly sipping vodka and eating the greasy sausage.
The sounds of lute began diverting the crowd’s attention.
Music flowed from the direction of the nearby town hall and whoever was playing it, was clearly hungover, as both his steps and his melody were clearly not very rhythmical. However, once he began singing, his voice proved to be quite pleasant, and the song itself, entitled “The Ballad of The Two Tiny Tits”, while crude, was quite amusing. Nonetheless, with the performance concluded, Geralt judged the gastronomical feast as superior to the artistic one.
The sting of the last gulp of vodka brought tears to his eyes.
One had to admit that music stimulates the senses. The bard was good with rhymes, knew how to sing, and how to navigate feminine shapes – ergo, he must be the highly desirable type. Oh, how the wenches eagerly displayed their assets to him creating a heated atmosphere that even vodka couldn’t quench.
While Dandelion did not partake in the festivities, he stayed nearby, to accompany one of the more eager looking female inhabitants of Gulet. He soon felt pleasure. One that he longed for since the morning.
Suddenly he heard an angry roar sending all his prospects of pleasure straight back to hell.
The bard was lying under – both the stage and the wench – with his… 'sword' out. Fortunately, he managed to sheath the blade, before the armed assailants entered his hideout. And when they rushed at him, Dandelion did not fall back, successfully defending his lady. Nonetheless, he pretended to be a weakling, so the scoundrels would lower their guard, allowing him to strike at an opportune time. A familiar-looking witcher quickly joined clearly intent on rescuing his favorite performer. Two fearless heroes against some common no good thugs.
Dandelion liked those odds.
One had to admit that music soothes the savage beast. Those who had previously given Geralt hostile glares now joined in his merriment by drinking vodka and consuming sausages. This, coupled with lively music and dancing raised all their spirits – ergo, he must be a good guy.
Nonetheless, Geralt did not partake in most of the festivities, but he stayed there, to watch the carefree, twirling inhabitants of Gulet. He felt bliss. The kind of bliss that he had not felt for far too long.
Suddenly he heard a scream. And all his bliss went straight back to hell.
The witcher’s senses pinpointed the scuffle as occurring under the stage. He rushed in with a sword in hand, only to quickly sheath it at the sight before him. The assailants were unarmed. They grabbed their terrified victim – the young bard from earlier who seemed to have finally recovered from the previous night. They shook him violently with their bare hands preparing to strike. Behind them, a young half-naked wench was screaming her lungs out, unsuccessfully trying to get between the attackers and the terrified bard. It was a simple equation then. Four bruisers against one man cowering, clearly unable to put up even a meagre defence.
Geralt decided to even the odds.
Once the situation was under control, Dandelion kissed the rescued maiden goodbye and walked casually away into the celebrating crowd. He did not say farewell to the witcher, as men have no need for words in such situations. But after a while the bard noticed that he was being followed and turned nonchalantly, stretching out his hand to the man behind him.
Witcher awkwardly returned the gesture, grabbing his sleeve instead of his palm. Dazed by his brilliance, he barely managed to speak comprehensibly yet it was clear that he wished to converse. It was only after a while that he regained his composure in order to introduce himself as Geralt of Rivia. And what he failed to say aloud, even though it was painfully obvious, was that he needed company. A witcher’s work had to be oh so lonely, with his horse likely his only stable companion. So Dandelion suggested moving to a quieter place - a well-renowned bordello with a great kitchen. For appearances, of course, he used some irrelevant excuse to go there. But in truth, it was just an act of benevolence.
So they set off together.
The bard and the witcher.
Once the assailants were lying on the ground and the wench covered herself, Geralt felt like something did not add up. The poet had vanished. Quite suspicious, thought the witcher. The so-called “noble propagator of culture” escaped a little bit too hastily. What if he had a guilty conscience? Maybe did something that would put the whole situation in a completely different, less savory light? Fortunately, he did not make it far. Geralt noticed the escapee still in the crowd near the stage. Taking a cue from the thugs, the witcher grabbed him by his colorful attire. The youngster was scared at first, but quickly managed to compose himself. Holding his hat with a heron feather, he bowed politely and introduced himself as Dandelion. He promised that this was just a simple misunderstanding and would gladly answer any questions in a more amicable locale. Actually, he knew a perfect place, a brothel of sorts, where he had conveniently left most of his belongings the previous night. With angry shouts already coming from the stage’s direction, it became pretty clear, he desperately needed help.
So they set off together.
The witcher and the bard
Upon reaching the door of “The Little Flower”, Dandelion came to the conclusion that his assailants must have been sent by some jealous competitor. He dug deep within his memory and recalled a man from Cidaris who had clearly envied his talent. That coward and talentless piece of shit! He would have to be such a wretched dickwad to send hired thugs to kill the more capable poet. Dandelion simply could not allow in good conscience such an affront to remain unanswered. He had the urge to immediately depart in order to seek justice.
However, revenge had to wait, since the bard had a Witcher to entertain.
Geralt, oblivious to his rudeness, seemed enthralled by the amply bosomed owner. Dandelion wondered when the mutant had last enjoyed... but decided to not follow that thread of thought any deeper. Determined to make the best of the situation, he ordered from a lovely serving maiden a few local delicacies this establishment was famous for. The bard spared no expense on his new friend by procuring a sizeable quantity of their finest vodka. In return, he only hoped that the witcher would open up and start talking more.
He did not.
With time, however, the bard had to admit that Geralt could be quite an amusing companion, especially after having knocked back a few shots. Dandelion even managed to get his real name out of him, which was Geralt Roger Eryk du Haute-Bellegarde.
It was no great surprise to Geralt that the burly madame who ran “The Little Flower” was already well informed about the situation. Rumors, along with other unsavory things, tended to quickly and easily spread in such establishments. She revealed to him that the wench recently deflowered by Dandelion was the youngest sister of four notoriously overprotective brothers. To make matters worse, she was betrothed to a wealthy albeit extremely unpleasant merchant. A union that their family desperately needed, she assured him. Case closed, thought Geralt. He could now part ways with a clear conscience.
Nonetheless Dandelion, cheerful and seemingly carefree, showed a profound lack of understanding regarding his predicament. The poet, having seemingly just snapped out of a daydream, ordered two portions of groats with onion and a bottle of lousy, yet strong moonshine. “Cheapest possible” the bard muttered under his breath as he tossed over the last coin from his purse. Thus Geralt appreciated the gesture of the meal and refreshment that much more. He only wished that Dandelion would cease talking so much - at least whilst eating supper.
He did not.
With time, however, the witcher had to admit that he was growing less annoyed with the ceaseless prattle, especially after having knocked back a few shots. The bard even taught him a song about maidens… from Vicavaro? Vicovoro?
Something like that.
Both were pulled by their hands, then pressed into the wall against their backs. It was quite pleasant, that is until the courtesans suddenly disappeared, leaving them alone in the dark.
Dandelion waited until the blackness thinned and the floor stopped tilting so strangely. Women really had no mercy. How could they just leave them like that? After all the cuddles and giggles? He would bet his own lute, the courtesans planned to charge them for services that did not actually take place... Well, at least they left some alcohol.
Dandelion raised a bottle, which seemed to fall into his hand completely by itself. Meanwhile, Geralt mumbled under his breath. First, something about shouting. Second, about paying for the wine that the bard just took. Maybe it was a professional habit of sorts – to look for problems even in the privy. Where were they right now...? It did not matter, really. For Dandelion, such idle talk seemed like nothing more than a waste of time. He was a poet of action, not only of words. So he told Geralt to do something useful already! Look for a way out of this goddamn place or at least drink some more. But the prude grumbled even more. Who would have thought that a witcher could have such moralizing impulses, not to mention a conscience?
Well, Dandelion didn't want to argue with him – he was definitely too sober for quarrels about the moral relativity of his actions. So he gave in and prepared a generous payment for the services provided by the "The Little Flower".
Two brothers burst through the front door, while the other two more subtly entered through the back. Only the cellar remained safe, so with the aid of the nearby courtesans, they quickly made themselves scarce leaving their pursuers none the wiser.
Geralt listened as four pairs of shoes shuffled on the floor above. The angry voices of the four brothers, searching the brothel, carried through to the cellar. The witcher didn't have the desire to fight once more, and Dandelion ... Dandelion had become mesmerized with thoroughly examining the wine rack.
Theft seemed a miserable way to show appreciation for aid rendered, which Geralt felt obliged to point out. Outraged, Dandelion mumbled with anger that he hadn’t robbed anyone, but simply made a purchase. It wasn't his fault that the current conditions made it impossible to pay! Nonetheless, he put the bottle down and pulled some writing instruments from his bag. Geralt watched in silence while the bard wrote a letter that was supposed to oblige the mayor of Gulet to settle their bill. The poet claimed that he had not yet received the final payment from his performance, and well, he shouldn’t be expected to go and get the coins at present now, could he? Best to spend it on the wine clearly laid out for them.
The witcher found it impossible to argue with such logic - mainly because he had difficulty focusing himself. Therefore, having agreed, he took another bottle out of the rack.
Ha! Dandelion shouted cheerfully, seeing a dim light in this arse of an... Wait, where were they? Doesn't really matter. The witcher was just raving about escaping, clearly overlooking something more important - their need for more wine.
Still, this light was an exit, right? Rather strange, though. High above, no stairs... Bars instead of doors? Bulltshit of a... Gods and their virgin mother, what was that?! The bard clutched his head. A sudden blow swept him off his feet and, even worse, sobered him up a little. Seconds later the floor changed places with the ceiling again. Someone ... Geralt? ... threw the poet like a sack of wheat. Ouch! - he groaned, landing on hard stones. It’s… He looked down. Yes! The one last bottle of wine was still under his doublet. He saved it! Oh, what beautiful act of heroism! And great ballad material, the poet did not doubt, because he intended to write it himself. Smearing that bastard from Cidaris in it! Ha!
He immediately shared the thought with Geralt. And the witcher laughed! Dandelion couldn't believe his ears. The matter was serious, even deadly serious, and this asshole was croaking, like a wench deflowered by… Wait a minute, it dawned on the bard. He began to hum the tune he sang on stage during the day. Under the stage…? Witcher, he asked loudly, sing with me! It may help us remember...
No fucking way, really?! Noooo…. fucking? How could you, Geralt? So disrespectful... And I shared my wine with you, I revealed my secrets to you. For fucks sake, I even love you like a brother!
Shhh, he murmured to Dandelion, trying to determine if those above... wait, who were they actually? Geralt couldn't remember. Hmm, never mind, he thought.
They have already gone, haven’t they? I guess so, but why risk it? There was a window in the basement that a man could easily squeeze and escape through. There were also bars, but nothing that a little Aard couldn't fix. Just be careful ... Quiet... Plague! What the fuck?! Geralt shook his head, deeply stunned. Meanwhile, Dandelion was just trying to rise from the shifting floor, stumbling over his own legs.
The window was gone, leaving a large hole in its place.
Geralt glanced back to the demolished wall of the “The Little Flower” from his new vantage outside; stooped in a dark street. How did I get here…? - the witcher asked himself. It's probably Dandelion's doing. This fool does everything in... Oh, he took wine with him. Wonderful man.
Geralt accepted the bottle and, taking a sip, listened to the poet's constant jabbering. What the fuck is he blabbering about? What troubadour from Cidaris? Oh, dumbass, Dandelion. He has to be denser than a rock. This is no other bard's plot, only the unpleasant consequences of a frivolous ride.
Time passed over the witcher's head for a third time. Where were they actually ...? Geralt was unable to concentrate due the bard's insistent bellowing. Hey poet! Give our ears a rest! And wine! More wine!
Okay, okay, Geralt waved a hand. Don't fret, I respect you. Duh! I too fucking love you like a brother!
To his surprise, Dandelion woke up not only in his bed but also with a beautiful girl at his side. This circumstance would typically have been a pleasant turn of events if only his head did not ache as severely as it had the previous morning. The events of the nightly escapade with his newfound witcher compatriot remained foggy at best. To his dismay - his lute was nowhere to be found from among his belongings scattered on the ground. While he was searching frantically for it, the girl's big green eyes glared at him in a disturbingly piercing manner: as if she was enjoying something... too much.
Dandelion frowned, suddenly remembering the more critical part of the conversation with Geralt. The witcher had rather crudely explained to him why the band of thugs was chasing them. From these observations, it became clear that they certainly should do their best to leave the city as soon as possible. Yet instead of being far behind the gates of Gulet, he found himself in the chamber of the mayor's house, in the company of the green-eyed maiden, who at the second glance seemed strangely familiar... The answer to this quandary, he pondered, was likely hidden behind her stare, which had now grown into a disconcerting smile that sent shivers crawling down his spine.
Seeing no other solution, Dandelion finally decided to ask her about his lute and inquired into the reason she smiled at him so.
To his surprise, Geralt woke up in the muck of the stables firmly under Roach's watchful gaze. This circumstance would be considered as the norm for him if he hadn't felt so miserable, as if he had lost his natural resistance to toxins. The night's events were a faint blur requiring considerable effort to recall. But what's most unexpected - he had Dandelion's lute under his arm. When the witcher looked at it closer, Roach's blind expression became so strangely human and full of reproach: as if the horse blamed him for a late return, drunkenness, and...
Geralt winced, suddenly remembering the nightly conquests with Dandelion, especially one idiotic part of their conversation. The bard had moved quite smoothly from the uncomfortable topic of four angry brothers to the issue of brotherly love. Despite this, somewhere between patting themselves on the back and loudly placing male friendship over fleeting affairs, they agreed to leave the city together. However, something different happened. Something unfortunate. Damn... Along with the memories, the witcher became overflown by the strong urge to depart Gulet. Roach was now not only staring at him but also snorting accusingly.
Sighing heavily, Geralt finally stood up, hid the instrument in the horse's saddlebags, and went back to find the manchild musician, poetic liar, an all-around unfortunate idiot.
There shall be a wedding, about which the groom, namely Dandelion, had just learned from his future wife. He also finally discovered her name, Kora. At least that much he ought to know before they get married...
Kora, the poet repeated in his thoughts. Quite pretty, he deemed while trying to comfort himself, feeling the noose of happy-ever-after marriage tightening its grip around his neck. The wedding, to make it even more terrifying, was to take place today, in conjunction with the second day of the festival, which, as it turns out, was just one big wedding party. During it, Kora was to be married to the other guy. But a merchant, even a wealthy one, was not comparable to an aristocrat, sighed Julian Alfred Pankratz, Viscount de Lettenhove, better known as Dandelion. He could not recall when he had divulged his title. The noble poet could not even recollect having proposed, though he had a strong impression he never really had. Kora’s previous fiancé had to be a nasty older man, stinking of fish or whatever goods he was known to trade. And he certainly wasn’t very generous, having chosen a group wedding over a more pristine private ceremony. No wonder the poor girl was so quick to seek a more worthy and appropriate partner. Aristocrat, instead of a greedy and decrepit man, how her parents will be pleased. The brothers will finally be calm, and the new would-be spouse will politely and quietly get out of the way.
The perfect wedding.
There shall be a funeral, Geralt was convinced of it, especially considering the joyful news he had heard from the market. Someone had already spread rumors of a misalliance between a certain young miss named Kora and a Viscount of Lettenhove...
Was it the same lady who, as if by chance, came across them in the middle of the night? Yelling at Dandelion for the disgrace she had suffered? The bard, of course, quickly resorted to sweet lies, promising that he would repay her for any harm done. When she refused to calm down, he flaunted a noble title, which was likely yet another lie. Nonetheless, young Kora immediately cheered up, promptly ending her accusations and threats to not only call upon her brothers but the city guards as well. A poor threat, but they were particularly drunk and dim-witted at the time. So Dandelion went with her, leaving the witcher his lute for safekeeping and assuring him that he would return once the maiden had fallen asleep. Now Geralt had a strong inkling that it was Kora who had slipped out of bed to chat with peddlers, and gods only know with who else. Her family was likely already adjusting plans of the previously planned celebration, unaware that an impoverished artist was replacing a wealthy merchant. Geralt felt confident that the truth regarding the groom would inevitably be revealed. Her brothers will heat tar, and the would-be spouse will meet the executioner.
Just a quick funeral.
Dandelion hoped the news of the engagement had not yet spread, making it easy to call the whole thing off. Upon opening the door to leave the chamber, the mayor of Gulet appeared and showered the young couple with congratulations, swiftly burying the bard's short-lived aspirations. Passing servants could hardly conceal their crooked smiles while busily helping prepare them for their departure. However, waiting outside, to his dismay, stood a welcoming committee composed of Kora's four brothers demonstratively massaging their knuckles. They graciously agreed not to coat the viscount in tar and sawdust, not unlike a pork chop in egg and flour, so long as he kept his word and joined their family. They graciously offered to help protect the new family castle, which as a viscount, they were expecting him to own. Dandelion swallowed hard. Where the hell was he supposed to conjure a castle from? In truth, it mattered not what these damn half-wits' expected. He had no intention of sticking around long enough for things to get that far. The real problem was: where the hell had his lute gone!?
The mayor proudly presented tables overflowing with food, surrounded by mercilessly fiddling second rate musicians. At the far end stood a wedding gate built of flowers and ivy where oaths would soon be exchanged. Beyond, the main market square was being prepared for all the celebratory dancing to come.
Dandelion straightened up, suddenly keenly interested in the official's words.
The ceremony was almost upon them.
Geralt hoped that the funeral would not take place if he helped the bard escape. The witcher did not hold the slightest doubt concerning the eventuality of Dandelion's escape attempt from his upcoming nuptials. So he went to the mayor's house, where he hoped to find the equally hungover poet along with his blushing bride to be. At the gates of the estate, however, he saw familiar faces: a real wedding party led by the mayor himself. It seemed that the young bride had even appeased her brothers. Geralt preferred not to guess what she had promised them - preferring to remain as detached as possible. One evening of drunken bonding did not oblige him to rescue the poet, the witcher reminded himself. Declarations made in such a state were not binding, he repeated while making a first step back towards the stables. But then Geralt remembered the lute hidden within his saddlebags. Sighing heavily, he turned back.
The witcher wasn't going to risk arrest by starting a fight to free Dandelion, but surely there was no harm in waiting around for some opportunity to aid him, was there?
Unfortunately, both the bride and her brothers did not leave Dandelion even for a moment. Meanwhile, the mayor played the role of a gracious host, showing his guests around the festival and explaining local rituals, utterly unaware of the tense situation.
Geralt followed them at a distance, eavesdropping until it became clear when the bard would make his move.
He danced with all his vigor. Following Gulet traditions, the groom was tasked with rescuing his blushing bride trapped within a densely dancing crowd. Only then could the wedding ceremony begin in earnest. The bard, rightfully so, saw this as his last opportunity to escape his predicament. Unfortunately, his soon-to-be brothers-in-law shared the same viewpoint. They had preemptively blocked his likely escape route and were in the process of forcibly leading him towards their sister, Kora.
Dandelion would not be so easily deterred. Participants all around were busily dancing and laughing as they carelessly bumped into one another. Fortunately, this was preventing him from reaching his bride. Lively music filled his ears as the world began spinning around him. Nevertheless, the bard found a rhythm to this madness and proceeded to dance his way out.
He passed by the first of the brothers with a few well-timed sharp turns. He smirked, stomping on the second one, who just happened to trip clumsily. The third he took by hand, twisting it in a pirouette only to let it go at the just the right moment for his opponent to lose his balance. The fourth proved to be the most difficult. Dandelion jumped right, jumped left, made a turn, yet the muscle head reacted to his movements like a mirror image. The poet, feeling desperate, decided to attempt a simple trick by taking a step back. The oaf also backed up, so Dandelion continued until finally he just turned around and fled. As he disappeared behind the nearest stall, he heard Kora's desperate cry but did not dare risk looking back.
Now was his chance to be free, yet first, the poet had to find his precious lute. Thus he began wandering the alleys of Gulet in search of the witcher, feeling resentful and abandoned. In a move of desperation, he made his way to the stables hoping that Geralt had not yet departed this foul city. He groaned miserably upon seeing the horse's absence, then knelt, and bowed his head. The witcher, his steed, and the bard's lute were surely long gone. Dandelion was once again all alone, stripped of his belongings, and unfairly punished by fate.
In the height of his despair, a shadow rose behind him. A shadow with a lute in one hand and reins in the other. A shadow with a voice hoarse from vodka, asking the bard to stand the fuck up.
Dandelion turned, overjoyed at this newfound luck.
He could sense that this was just the beginning of their journey together.
Geralt did not dance.
At least he avoided it as much as possible, since navigating the rabble before him required either timely jumps or forceful shoving. The witcher again was looking for Dandelion, who was swallowed by the crowd as soon as the the idiotic tradition began. Instead he spotted a wealthy yet old looking merchant seeming at a loss regarding the actions of his distant fiance. Devils only knew if she ever told the poor fool of her new intentions.
Geralt pushed forward. Some of the dancing townsfolk tried to stop him, although without much effect. The music bellowed ever louder, making any conversation impossible. Despite this madness, the witcher finally managed to find within the crowd a distinct hat decorated with the feather of a heron. Its owner, to no surprise of the witcher, was obscured by four familiar looking thugs.
Not wishing to waste a moment longer, Geralt shoved the first of the brothers with all his weight deep into the crowd, away from Dandelion. He then smashed the second one, sending him to the ground, where he fell right under the poet’s feet. He found himself holding the wrist of the third one while the bard performed some idiotic and pointless pirouettes. The witcher ended this spectacle by kicking the ruffian's legs out, sending him hurling onto his back. The fourth took seemingly forever to deal with, mainly due to Dandelion. The poet acted like a jester, trying to mislead his opponent before finally fleeing away. The thug, one moment intent on taking the chase, suddenly turned towards the sound of now screaming Kora. Her original suitor had embraced the poor girl possessively with misery marking her lovely face as she scanned the crowd for one poetic savior. Who, of course, was nowhere to be seen at this point. Meanwhile the witcher, having had his fill of getting involved in the affairs of others, turned and made his way back to the stables.
He smiled to himself as he entered to the sight of the bard on the ground. Dandelion was kneeling dramatically, clearly unaware that if he glanced to the left, he would have seen his lute sticking out of Roach's saddlebags. So Geralt smiled, took out the music instrument and told the clumsy fool to compose himself, ending this miserable show.
Some time later, once on his saddle and well underway to the gates leaving Gulet, he glanced back at the bard who now followed him. It seemed like Dandelion meant to journey with the witcher, even to the edge of the world.