Chapter 436: Mont Crane
The witchers stayed in the lab for two days. Lytta took a lot of blood samples from Letho, almost draining him dry. After rechecks and rechecks, Letho was confirmed to be fine. The mutation went perfectly.
Everyone heaved a sigh of relief. Lytta then deactivated the portal in the lake’s depths and rebuilt one that would lead to Novigrad. She was a clean freak, so the witchers had to clean the laboratory for her. They cleared the trash and redesigned the layout. Books, experiment tools, and necessities were separated, and the place looked brand new.
At this point, the secret chamber finally looked like something that belonged to the brotherhood, but the group didn't stay for long. They went on with their search for Jerome Moreau, and thus it led them to the second waypoint in Toussaint—Mont Crane.
Mont Crane. A place located between Basane and Fort Ussar. The sun had climbed to the zenith of the skies, shining on the beauclair oaks and a circle of ancient stone walls that reflected the light.
These walls were created by order of Roger the Reveler. They were supposed to stop the invasion of the barbarians. But there were no barbarians around Mont Crane, nay, the whole of Toussaint. In the end, Roger built a castle in the center of the walls and had as much fun as he wanted.
The history of these walls spanned a long stretch of time. Mont Crane had seen multiple rulers throughout its days, from nobles to bandits. In the end, it became nothing but a deserted place. Most of the buildings remained intact, however.
The group emerged from the portal and found themselves standing before the castle's gates. Silence surrounded them. The whispers of the autumn breeze and the rustles of rhododendrons, roses, and grape vines were present. Besides that, only the chirps of birds hung in the air.
"Sheesh, this looks bad. Even Kaer Morhen is better than this place." Eskel trekked down the sandy path and entered the fort. He looked around only to be greeted by disappointments of towers and turrets. Kaer Morhen's buildings were more impressive than this.
"You can't expect much. This isn't the lab. We don't have to take it over." Kiyan waved his hand and followed Roy into the castle. The young witcher went into the center tower and descended the stairs. "We just have to loot this place."
Roy descended the dusty stairs that led to a dark underground chamber. He found nothing on his way down. The bandits had taken everything of value. Eventually, he reached the basement and came face to face with a shut door. The switch was small, but Roy easily found it. He flicked it, and the underground chamber rumbled as a stone door slowly slid into the sides of the walls.
It had been a while since anyone opened this door. Dust and debris fell upon the group like rain. Lytta's makeup was ruined right away. She scrunched her nose up and snapped her fingers. A gust of wind blew the dust off her and Roy. Once again, they looked clean.
"Hey, you can't just help Roy, Lytta. Give me some wind too."
"Either you shut up, or I'm tossing a fireball." A smirk curled Lytta's lips and she held Roy's arm as they entered the dark passage.
"A word of advice. Don't get on her nerves." Eskel patted Auckes' shoulder like he had seen this many times. "Don't you get it? Lytta loves to show her love. It's her… hobby."
"As far as I know, couples who keep showing off their relationship always break up." The light of wisdom glinted within Kiyan's eyes. And then a quiet harrumph sent a chill down his spine.
"I see you don't need my treatment anymore."
Roy darted down the dark tunnel and found a crate of ancient books in the corner. They were all about witchers and golems. Roy glimpsed some titles and saw books like ‘Golems: Humans' Most Loyal Servants’, and ‘Witchers: Not As Evil As You Thought’.
Lytta happily tucked them away in her ring. And now I have more tools to recreate that gargoyle.
Aside from that, Roy also found a book titled ‘The Journal of Tomas Moreau’.
Coen huddled closer, worried that this book might contain news of Jerome's death.
'Year 1121, twelfth day of the ninth month. I am certain Jerome has taken the bait and is now in Fort Ussar…'
The entry spoke of Tomas' conspiracy. He posted a request that promised a bountiful reward as bait. He wanted his son to travel here. He posed it as a negotiation when it was in fact a trap to paralyze Jerome and lock him up in the prison. Jerome was then transported to the lab under the lake, and Tomas forced him to undergo the reversal experiment.
"That old fucker. He'd even trick his own son." Roy sighed.
Obviously, Jerome had no plans of returning to a normal life, but his father insisted. For Jerome's own good, he said.
Not long after they found the crate, they saw a crystal sleeping within a wreath. Roy activated it with Aard and summoned a portal that led to the place where Tomas first locked his son.
Lytta, Roy, Coen, and Letho went to investigate. No one else could take the nauseating feeling that came from portal traveling anymore. They were adamant about standing sentry.
The moment they landed, they received a warm welcome. A golem stood up in the corner and swung its thick arms down at the intruders' heads.
Winds howled as the golem clumsily swung its arms down. If the witchers didn't escape, then only death awaited them.
A grin curled Letho's lips, his eyes glinting icily. He covered himself in Quen and unsheathed his blade. To everyone's surprise, he didn't dodge. Instead, he charged at the golem head-on.
Metal and stone clashed, and sparks flew. The whole chamber rattled, and yet Letho remained firm and steadfast. He held his blades up in a cross, protecting him from the arms of the golem.
Coen cast Aard and shoved it at the golem's right flank. It was pushed to the side from the impact, even when it weighed tons. At the same time, Lytta's pendant started shining, and the patch of ground where the golem was standing was covered in a layer of grease.
It was the perfect strategy against big, clumsy enemies. The golem slipped and fell with a great thud. Clouds of dust stirred in the air, and the ground shook. And then magical lights illuminated the dark chamber.
Lytta tossed icicles at the golem, slowing it down. Coen kept the golem on the ground with a barrage of Aards, while Roy numbed it with his lightning bolts and kept sending crossbow bolts at it.
Letho was in the vanguard, performing a dance of destruction. He spun his blades, carving off the golem's stone skin. No matter how much the golem tried, it could not reach Letho.
And then the golem fell.
'Golem killed. EXP +50.'
Roy pouted. Yeah, soulless enemies are worthless.
Lytta waved her hand, tucking all the loot into her bag. Once she extracted everything she could from the golem's core and elemental shards, the brotherhood would have themselves a gargoyle and a golem.
The group ascended a flight of stairs and entered a room far more dilapidated than the one they found in the chamber under the lake.
Aside from a few rotten crates and racks, there were no accessories or alchemical tools anywhere. The only rest spot was a brown, rotten mattress topper.
The carcasses of critters like mice and lizards were piled in the corner. Anyone who was imprisoned here would either die of starvation or madness.
The group exchanged a look and scoured the whole place. Eventually, they found the diagrams for the Griffin armor, pants, and silver sword. They were different from the diagrams Geralt and Kiyan collected in Velen, however.
"This is top-tier stuff." Letho's eyes glinted with surprise. "An upgraded version of the diagrams we found. More complex designs. If someone could make a whole set, we'd be looking at something better than anything we're wearing. Vesemir will go crazy for this."
"This isn't just a diagram." Roy turned the diagram around, revealing written text behind it.
'The paralyzing spell is gone. I have undergone the terrifying reversal experiment, and yet the portal remains closed. The old git set me up. Most of my gear is still in Fort Ussar. Without my gear, I can never escape this place. This will be the spot where I meet my end.
You took my weapons and my lingering love for you. I don't even have proper paper to write this letter on. Before I die, here's a message…'
The writing was wobbly, and it almost pierced the diagram. Roy could imagine how furious the writer must have been.
'You are an obsessed madman who never listens to what anyone has to say. You are a cold-blooded killer who has brought harm upon countless innocents. I feel nothing for you. Nothing but hatred. I hope one day you'll pay for the crimes you have committed.'
And the letter came to an end. The witchers and Lytta fell into a pensive silence.
"Even his son despises him." Letho shook his head. "Kiyan's right. This man is arrogant, and I don't mean it lightly."
"He claims these experiments were done in order to revert Jerome back to normal, but the truth is, it's just his obsession. An obsession he wishes to unravel." Roy nodded.
"Okay, so where is Jerome?" Coen looked around in unease. He didn't see Jerome's body in the lab, and there were no signs of him in this dingy room either. Not even his medallion was around. "Tomas said he returned to someone called Lydia. That's probably his wife, but there's no word about his son. And all Jerome left was this letter."
"We obviously came through a one-way passage. The portal can only be opened from the outside." Lytta rubbed her chin, her eyes glinting. "Any regular human would never escape this place once they were locked inside."
"You forgot something," Roy said. "Most Griffins are born Sources. They're different from most witchers. And Jerome's father is a mage, making it possible that he's a born Source as well. Perhaps he knows how to cast a portal, and that's probably how he escaped."
"If Jerome does have that kind of power, then why did he write this suicide note? And he didn't take the diagrams with him either," Letho said. And then they found themselves at another dead end.
Nobody could answer that question.
It was then Roy remembered his meeting with Grimm back in Cintra. He mentioned something bizarre back then.
"I encountered something off in a place called Mont Crane Castle. I was on my way to clear the place of bandits. A man in tattered clothes darted out of the castle's basement. He had wild amber eyes and a griffin medallion. The man ran as fast as a stallion, but he seemed crazed. Gone into the wilderness before I could even stop him. I scoured the whole castle, but the guy was gone. Like he disappeared into thin air.""
Could that madman be Jerome? The one who escaped this chamber? Another Griffin?
"We need to find Jerome if we want more answers." Roy circled the room and said, "If we want to find out where he is, first we must make an assumption. If we were Jerome, what would we do after we broke out of this prison? The first thing we'd do. The one thing we want to do most."
"Seek Tomas out and take his life," Letho said.
"No. Jerome's letter said he wishes for Jerome to pay the price for his crimes," Lytta said softly but firmly, and she drew circles on Roy's arm. "Instead of vengeance, I say he would leave Toussaint and stay far, far away from his demon of a father. Destiny will punish him, like you always say."
"And aside from the Bears and Cats, the people all witchers care about are their mentors, not their families. They'd want to return to their fortress. I say he'd have gone to Kaer Seren to see Erland," Coen whispered, and a frown furrowed his brows. "But Keldar never mentioned his name. Didn't see his name on any of the gravestones either."
Roy and Letho were equally silent. If they were locked up and managed to escape, the first thing they would do was to return home and see their friends and mentors, but Coen's story removed that possibility.
"Kaer Seren is in ruins now. We can't do anything about it." Roy paused for a moment. "We can only assume Jerome did return to Toussaint and seek his father out. So our next step would be to seek out Tomas. He's in Beauclair of Toussaint."
"You know where he is?" Coen asked, and then he smacked his face.
Roy smiled. "Time to go." He knew where Tomas' final resting place was, just like how he knew where Valley of the Nine and the underground prison of Mont Crane Castle were.
Join our discord to chat about the series and get notified when a new chapter gets released!