"What are you doing up there, boy? Where are your parents?" The Witcher, with his dark eyes and hair and a scraggly beard, demanded.
"My parents brought me here. They told me it wasn't safe anymore in our town. They said that a big man with two swords would take me to a safe place and then they left. Are you the man they were talking about? Do you have any food?" Troy put on his best five year old impression. He knew it wasn't perfect but he was counting on his actual five year old body and voice to do most of the work for him.
"Fuck me! Just my luck!" The witcher rolled his eyes and swore under his breath.
"What's your name, boy?"
'My name? Well, it sure as fuck isn't fucking DRAVIS! Seriously, what the shit were those people thinking?!'
Maintaining his scared five year old face, he responded, "Tr...Troy. My name's Troy."
"Well, you're in luck, Troy. Because, I am in fact the man who's going to take you away. Come here and give me your hand, Troy."
Troy intentionally hesitated for a couple of seconds, before slowly inching his way towards the witcher. After reaching out his hand, the witcher grabbed his arm, dragged him up into the saddle in front of him, and gave him a piece of bread.
"Now, hold on and keep quiet. We've got a long ride ahead of us." The witcher ordered, as he spurred his horse forward.
'Holy Shit! That's all I had to do?' Troy maintained his act throughout all of this but, the moment the witcher had placed him in the saddle, a completely different scene played out in his mind.
A conga line of minions were all dancing and singing, 🎵 Fuck Yeah! Fuck Yeah! We're going to Kaer Morhen! Fuck Yeah! Fuck Yeah! We're going to Kaer Morhen! 🎵
So, with a look of trepidation upon his face and the thrill of exhilaration in his heart, Troy began his journey towards Kaer Morhen, with the unknown witcher.
After less than an hour of travel, Troy had already decided to test the witcher's patience.
"Hey, Mister? Where are we going?"
"*Sigh* We're going to a place called Kaer Morhen. It's not the most comfortable place in the world but you'll have food, clothes, and a roof over your head."
Troy waited another minute or two before asking his next question. "Hey Mister? What's your name?"
"Dorden. Dorden the Swift, as some would call me."
Each time Troy would ask a question, he would always give the witcher a few minutes of silence, before resuming his inquiries. In this way he continued to glean more and more from the witcher during their travels toward Ard Carraigh.
As he and the witcher were settling in for the night in Ard Carraigh, Troy went over everything he had learned today in his head.
According to the witcher, this was the year 1180. Due to a lack of clarity concerning the dates of certain events in the witcher lore, he couldn't be certain whether this was before or after the massacre at Kaer Morhen but he could obviously guess.
Based on the fact that he didn't recognize this witcher and the fact that he even bothered to take him with him, it seemed very likely that Kaer Morhen was still training new witchers. Why else would the witcher bother with him?
The supposed beast that had been giving the nobles trouble was really just a disgraced but clever noble, whose house was in decline, trying to drag others down with him. He managed to effectively convince almost everyone that his own deeds were the work of some monster.
On top of all of this, there was apparently a contingency of Sorcerers currently living at Kaer Morhen. The witcher had suggested that this was to keep an eye on...well he never mentioned what exactly he just said "things" but, given Troy's knowledge of the world, it wasn't hard to guess.
He suspected that, after the massacre attack, the sorcerer community no longer felt as threatened by the witchers and so eventually left them to their own devices. The ones who assisted the witchers in their trials and guarded those secrets obviously having been wiped out during the massacre.
This was all good information but it wasn't anywhere close to being enough. He would still have to keep searching for answers whenever he got the opportunity. For now however, he was quite tired and so he slunk down quite readily into the Inn's straw bed and slept.
[===== Two Days Later =====]
It was late in the evening, when Dorden finally walked his horse through the gates of Kaer Morhen.
"Evening, Dorden. What's that you got there?" Vessemir greeted the witcher.
"Another lucky contestant! Here to try his luck at the witcher games. You got a place for him, Vessemir?"
"Yeah, there should be several beds available this time of year. We lost a few just yesterday and graduated one. Here, I'll take him inside, you go settle in. By the way, how'd the job go? Nothing too hard, I assume, given your early return." Vessemir asked, as he reached up to take the sleeping child.
"Thank you and no it wasn't difficult. Just another incompetent noble lord. Fallen house, vengeful pride, half assed cover ups, that sort of thing."
"Ahh, well that's easy money I suppose. You did get paid, right?"
"You bet I did. Of course, they tried to back out of it when they realized there was no real monster but I wasn't about to leave empty handed. It took a little… convincing but they paid up in the end."
"Haha, they always do. Especially, if they ever want to hire another witcher. I swear some of these people seem to think we can just make money appear out of thin air. A witcher's gotta eat too."
"It would certainly seem that way." Dorden said, after hitching his horse and grabbing his saddlebags. "Anyway, I'll see you tomorrow, Vessemir. I'm gonna go have a few drinks and hit the hay."
"Alright, sleep well."
[===== The Next Day =====]
Troy slid around in his bed, as the early morning sun beat down upon his face. After a few seconds of half sleep, his eyelids broke open ever so slightly. After taking in the first few sights, he immediately sat straight up. His head turned on a swivel as he took in his new environment.
'Dammit! I must've fallen asleep! I'd hoped I could've held out for the entire journey...Oh well, nothing to be done about it now. It looks like I'm finally in Kaer Morhen, though, which is...well it's step one isn't it? I wonder if they'll start me on The Choice today?'
As if to answer his thoughts, the door to the room filled with cots swung open and in walked another witcher he'd never seen before.
"Good, you're awake. Take a moment to remember what your life was like before today and cement today's events firmly in your mind, because tomorrow will be the end of your good days. Come, follow me and we'll get you some breakfast. After that, you're gonna have some hard decisions to make."
The witcher stood at the door, while holding it open, and gestured for Troy to get up and leave.
"Yes, Sir." Troy meekly responded, while walking towards the door.
After a quick breakfast, Troy was taken into a classroom looking area and spent the rest of the day learning about his options. Of course, learning about his choices really meant learning that he really only had one choice.
From a technical perspective, sure, he could refuse the witcher's offer and then be placed outside the castle to fend for himself, where he would surely die. That, however, wasn't really much of a choice, in Troy's mind.
Not to mention, that he was already dedicated to becoming a witcher, at least eventually. 'Fingers crossed, for that conduit moment. Damn! I wanna be a sorcerer so bad.'
"Are you listening to me, boy?"
Troy snapped out of his musings and immediately answered, "Yes, Sir!"
"Alright, well that was mostly it anyways. I'll admit I might've rambled a bit at the end there but anyways. Whaddya say? Are you going to make The Choice?"
"Yes, Sir! I wanna be a mighty witcher!" Troy said, with a slight smile on his face. He was getting noticeably better at his five year old routine. Of course, it didn't hurt that he was an actual five year old.
"Haha! That's the spirit lad! Now run along and enjoy the rest of your day because, starting from tomorrow, your life is gonna be hell."
Troy erased his smile and put on his most convincing frightened face. He then turned around and started running back to the room he had slept in, as he listened to the witcher's laughter echoing off the walls behind him.
'Having a laugh at my expense, Ehh? Well, just wait witcher man. I'm gonna be a sorcerer one day and maybe... even something more than that... Well, at least I hope so.
'For now, let's just focus on the task at hand. The fact that I couldn't stay awake through the entire trip here, clearly indicates that my mental fortitude is lacking. As such, I'll start with some running and then spend the rest of the day meditating.'
Once he was thoroughly exhausted from his running, he returned to the room filled with cots and meditated, until bedtime.
[===== One Month Later =====]
The Choice, as the witcher's called it, was by far the easiest of the three trials. It was, of course, the longest, as well. It was mostly composed of dietary alterations and a strict exercise routine over the course of several years.
At the moment, his exercises consisted mostly of cardio performed on the Witcher's Trail, since it seemed that even in this world grueling muscular stress could stunt a child's growth. Even though there were specially concocted drinks that would assist in their growth, it was clear the witchers had several stages of exercises that gradually increased in intensity and variety over the years.
Although Troy had managed to adjust fairly well to his new life in Kaer Morhen, he was also a bit distracted. He couldn't help but keep thinking about the fact that he was living in Kaer Morhen, pre-massacre!
This basically meant that the massacre could happen at any minute and he'd be caught in the middle of the damn thing. He really needed to find some way to prevent that from being as disastrous as it was in his previous life.
What could possibly be done about such a thing? He was only five and, even if he were older, how could he possibly influence such an event by himself.
It was clear to him that this wasn't something he could do on his own. Somehow, some way, he would have to convince the witchers to shore up their defenses and take precautions against the sorcerers.
If thousands of regular folk came to Kaer Morhen right now, they would most likely get slaughtered thus leading the witchers to ruin via retaliation from other powers. If, however, those peasants were assisted by mages, as suggested in the lore he was familiar with, then the witchers would surely begin their slow decline into obscurity.
Thus, the only way he could think of to ensure the witcher's and his survival was to make sure that they were well prepared for such an eventuality.
It was with these thoughts in mind that he had stayed awake and was standing outside the trainee's lodgings. Before too long, a witcher came into view, presumably here to make sure they were all sleeping.
"Troy, what are you doing out of bed?"
'Here it is, the moment I've been waiting for. I'll have to make this good. Time to drop all the pretense and force them to take me seriously.' Troy thought, as he considered his next words.
Trying his best to eliminate any trace of the innocent five year old persona he'd worked so hard to cultivate, he looked the witcher dead in the eye and addressed him thusly, "Good evening, Lorkin. I need to speak with you about a matter of great importance. It's imperative that my words not only be heard but they also must be taken very seriously. The gravity of this particular situation is far too great to mince words over and I would greatly appreciate your forbearance in this matter. Is there somewhere we can go?"
Lorkin, despite his years of experience as a witcher, simply stood there with his mouth open, as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing and hearing. Indeed, he initially thought it was strange the way the boy had looked at him but the more the boy spoke the more lost he became.
It was simply a matter of the events happening around oneself pulling further and further away from the framework of common sense one employs on a daily basis to make sense of the world. Once he realized the boy's behavior laid well outside that framework, his mind wandered out into the unknown grasping desperately for answers.
It took him a second or two to realize the boy had stopped speaking and another second to recover from his state of confusion.
"...Errr...sure just...uhh...follow me." Lorkin stuttered out, before heading towards a small room just down the hall, while occasionally looking anxiously back at the boy following behind him.
'Damn! What the hell is up with this kid. What kind of five year old walk with posture like that and with his hands clasped behind his back. Geeze and that look in his eyes! What hell man?! Did this kid suddenly mutate into some never before seen monster?'
Lorkin continued to entertain a variety of wild explanations about his current predicament but nothing seemed to satisfy. As he reached their destination and they both took their seats, he was calmer than he had been at the outset but still quite anxious about the boy's unusual behavior.
'Goddamn mutagens! Fat lot of good they did! Just look at me! A grown man and a witcher, no less! Completely on edge over some five year old's quirky behavior! Dammit, man! Get it together, Lorkin! He's just a kid! Pull yourself together and just hear him out then you can go to sleep and try to pretend this never happened.'
"Well, here we are. What exactly did you have on your mind?" Lorkin asked, a bit his usual calm returning to his voice.
"Let's see, where to start? Well, I suppose the most disturbing and pertinent information should take that spot.
"Kear Morehn and its residents are in danger. A giant mob of fanatics, thousands strong, assisted by an unknown organization of sorcerers will, without a doubt, attack Kaer Morhen within the next few years.
"When this attack happens, all of the witchers and sorcerers capable of performing the trials will be killed and the witchers will slowly begin to decline and eventually disappear from this world.
"If we wish to stop this catastrophe from occurring, we need to take several drastic courses of action."
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