The night was cold and the snow glistened in the light of a moon as pale as bone. It was silent in the court of Kaer Morhen, and the frozen white blanket let the location of the previous battle seem surprisingly innocent. Iorveth leant against the wall, next to him the white-haired witcher. They were both exhausted and still on an adrenaline rush, and while his old nemesis – the elf chuckled over this denomination – Vernon Roche had drunk too much and went a little nuts, the elf took a breath of fresh air with his old friend Geralt of Rivia. Inside the dismal and grey castle, Roche threw mugs against walls and tried to follow the Scoia´tael commander to “kill this pointed eared bastard with my bare hands”. Therefore, Iorveth preferred to stay outside until the drunk Temerian gave up or fell asleep – just in case.
“How the hell did you manage to insult the Wild Hunt, gwynbleidd?” asked the elf with steaming breath. The cold did not bother him, he even was thankful for the chill breeze to calm down.
The witcher turned his head and looked at the elf as if he wanted to make sure Iorveth hadn´t lost his sanity too. He had told the story countless times, or heard it countless times, told by Ciri, and Yen. He did not even remember how often… And it still sounded like a nightmare, every time.
But then the witcher noticed how the lips of the elf curled into a slight smirk – Iorveth just mocked him. Who else could mock someone about being hunted by the Storm Riders if not the Scoia´tael leader, the most wanted elf in the Northern Realms AND the Empire of Nilfgaard?
The witcher was just about to answer, when the door of the castle was opened with a creak. A head crowned by beautiful, maroon hair appeared and looked at the witcher and the elf.
“Iorveth, can I have you for a moment?” Triss asked with a gentle voice, “Alone, if you don´t mind.”
The witcher raised his eyebrow and eyed the elf. What was going on between this pointed eared bandit and the sorceress – a sorceress he used to share his bed with. A sorceress, who had become friends with said elf after the events in Loc Muinne.
“Sure, I will leave you alone” hummed the witcher hesitating. But then pushed his massive body away from the wall and went inside, not without sending both his friends a suspicious glare. The sorceress just rolled her eyes and went to greet the elf.
“What can I do for you, Triss?” Iorveth asked when Geralt was gone. The sorceress pulled her cloak around her shoulders and came closer, there was the hint of a smile in her eyes, but her expression was stern.
“I have a message for you, Iorveth” she begun, and insecure she brushed a strand of hair out of her face.
“A message? From whom?” Iorveth asked sceptically. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and squared his back, feeling he might already know what the woman would tell him.
Triss met his gaze.
“A while ago I talked to Francesca Findabair…” – “There is no message from this hag I ever wanted to hear!” Iorveth growled before Triss could finish her sentence.
“Iorveth, please” gently the sorceress laid her hands on his arms, now standing directly in front of him, “I know what she did. I was there, Iorveth, I know what she did to you. To your comrades, your warriors. But let me tell you what she said.”
The elf clenched his teeth – as if there wasn´t enough weight to carry, enough problems to worry about, now also Francesca had a message for him.
Radovid was still alive, Nilfgaard would cross the Pontar in spring, Isengrim and he prepared the Scoia´tael to get out of the way when the remaining soldiers of the Northern Realms would crash into the army of the Nilfgaardian Sun. And then there was Yrdenne… and he racked his brain about her every night.
“Keep it short” Iorveth decided. It would not hurt him to hear what Findabair had to say – he would ignore it anyway.
“She did not say much. Francesca only asked me to reach out for you, and to invite you to Dol Blathanna on her behalf. She needs to talk to you, personally. She said she has an offer to make.”
Surprised Iorveth raised his eyebrow. This was something he did not expect, at all.
“She invites me to Dol Blathanna? Is this a trap?” the elf asked suspiciously. Sending Triss to lure him into a trap – definitely something Francesca would do. But why?
“I don´t think so. She sounded worried… Emhyr var Emreis reaches out for the Northern Realms, and he will not spare Dol Blathanna. She might need you more than ever” Triss mused, her hands still lying on his arms.
“She should have thought about that before she sold the heads of her officers out…” he spat, his expression darkened and his eye was filled with disgust. “She abandoned us, signed our death warrant – and now she is the one who is lost.”
“Iorveth, I am just the messenger. I will not judge this situation, I am just saying it will not hurt you to listen what she has to offer” Triss stated.
“I am not sure if it is worth the risk – Dol Blathanna is surrounded by Nilfgaard. It´s suicide for me to go there” the elf decided and shook his head. “Enid an Gleanna had her chance. And she did not ask for forgiveness yet.“
Some days later, a certain elf was on his way through the Blue Mountains, on elven paths so he would not run into a Nilfgaardian unit – or worse. He was on his way to Dol Blathanna, and he still could not understand how he had gotten into this mess again.