Chapter 333: Development
'Matteo Sigula/Orloff Byrd killed. EXP +160. Level 7 Witcher (2200/4500).'
Light from the flames shone on the mad mage as he took his final breath. He fell to the floor as the last dregs of his life left him. There was not an inch of skin left on his body, but as the end of his life drew near, a smile curled his disfigured face. Finally, sweet release. I don't have to suffer this anymore.
As promised, Kiyan inflicted all the pain Matteo did to him so long ago.
Roy stood before the body and sighed as he flicked the blood of Aerondight. EXP was not the only reason he wanted to deal the last blow. Only by destroying the mage's soul could he never become a wraith and terrorize these lands.
Kiyan finally got his revenge. He stared at the mangled remains of his nemesis in grim satisfaction, but there was a hint of confusion in his eyes.
Steingard died to the drowners, and Matteo suffered before he took his last breath. His hatred that spanned thirty years came to an abrupt end, and he was robbed of his motivation. It felt like a void was forming in his life.
On the other side of the lab stood a few brooding witchers. The Vipers were staring at the burly man who was holding his daughter's lifeless body. They had conflicting emotions about the operation. The culprit was vanquished, but they didn't manage to revive the girl. This wasn't a good ending, and that was regrettable.
"Let's go, people. We killed the whoreson and got our revenge. Time to go home." Felix patted Kiyan's shoulder. "Stay in Novigrad from now on, Kiyan. Start a new life."
"How should I thank you, my friends?" Kiyan took a deep breath and looked at everyone gratefully. If it weren't for the Vipers, gods knew how long it would’ve taken him to find Matteo.
"Eh, it's alright." Serrit shook his head. "We'd have killed this bastard even if we hadn’t known what he did to you anyway."
"You're running the apothecary shop from now on, Kiyan. Get ready for it." Auckes laughed. "Once the shop is done with renovations, you're going to show us how you make potions. I hope your alchemy skills can still keep up."
Ah yes. I'm Gorthur Gvaed's employee from now on. I'll be their alchemist and repay my debt. Resolve once again shone in Kiyan's eyes, and he put his disguise back on.
The witchers and Todd came back to the surface. It was still raining, but there was a glimmer of light shining on them.
"My condolences, Todd." Roy walked with the bereaved man across the passage and toward the cave's exit. "Elsa was a kind soul. She'll be reunited with her family in Melitele's kingdom."
"Yes…" Todd nodded stiffly. He looked as pale as a ghost, and he was downcast. All that crying earlier took everything he had, and he looked like a walking dead.
"What next, Todd?"
"I'll bury Elsa with my family and buy a house near the cemetery. I'll stay with them until my time comes."
Roy wanted to say something consoling, but he couldn't do it. Todd was partly responsible for this tragedy, and he should atone for his sins. Time will tell the rest.
Novigrad was still working and running like a well-oiled machine as usual. A lost life meant nothing to it.
A month had passed since Matteo's death. Sunlight shone through the window and rained down on the young witcher sitting cross-legged on his bed.
A fat, white cat slid through the window and mewed. It tugged at the window's edge with its stubby legs and tensed its whole body up to store energy. And then it leapt across the air before falling straight into the witcher's lap.
Roy slowly exited meditation, and when he saw what was in his lap, his lips twitched. The young witcher played with Gryphon until it started purring before putting it into his hood.
Roy went into the yard and saw a pair of silhouettes standing under the sun.
Carl was swinging his practice sword at a lifelike dummy, thrusting, poking, and slashing it. His lips were pursed, his eyes were narrowed, and his face was tense. The boy was young, but his attacks were far fiercer than most adults’.
Another attack from Carl sent the dummy spinning. Once again, he hit the vitals spots, just like how Cat School swordplay should be.
Felix was beside him, also holding a practice sword. He looked at his apprentice sternly and started picking out all the faults with Carl's swordplay. "Put your back in it! That was weak! Where do you think you're putting your left foot? Do you want to get it sprained?"
"Even drowners get to sleep, mate. You can't train the boy from morning until night. You're going to kill him at this rate."
"This is for his own good. He doesn't have much time left." Felix smacked the boy's shoulder with his practice sword. The boy stiffened up a little and quickly relaxed his muscles to correct his posture. "The Trial starts in two months. If we drag it out any longer, he'll get older, and the risks get higher. He needs to spend every waking moment training and absorbing the preparatory potion to up his constitution and endurance, or that scrawny body of his won't last the Trial. He's just going to end up dead like his friends and family."
Carl blanched, and his form went awry. Felix smacked his rear with the practice sword, and the boy corrected his form.
Roy shook his head. Reminds me of the days I was training for the Trial. "You have an acorn, don't you? If he can't get through the trial, just feed him that."
"I don't want my apprentice to lose his memories and become a big baby. We'll see when the time comes."
"Sure. Good luck with practice, but the ballroom's opening is this afternoon. There's going to be a nice performance. Be sure to come."
"Yeah. Now go on your way."
Roy waved them goodbye. Two weeks ago, Coral came to Novigrad and negotiated with the Cats. They handed her the recipe, while she would help them with the Trial for free. In other words, Roy finally got his hands on the Cat School recipe. Nothing to worry about in that department.
The young witcher went through alleyways and the bridge before arriving at the bustling business district. A young, handsome lady with Mohican hairstyle was standing outside the apothecary shop. Her eyes lit up when she saw Roy, and she quickly approached the witcher just to grab his arm.
"Did you finish your work today?"
"Got all the herbs before dawn even broke." Kantilla talked about work and went into the apothecary shop with Roy.
She took up menial jobs around the shop and started practicing her alchemy skills. Even after the witchers left for Kaer Morhen, she could still find work at the apothecary shop.
Auckes was standing in front of the counter, wearing an oversized blue robe. Still, that failed to cover up his muscles. Overwhelmed by boredom, he was playing with his hands.
Two gigantic racks stood behind him, and a few dozen dried herbs laid out within one of them, while the other displayed the potions they had on sale. All of them were contained in little glass tubes, and they were glimmering in different hues of colors.
These were the regular potions meant to treat coughs, flu, and indigestion. Each of them cost about ten crowns, which was slightly cheaper than most apothecary shops.
"Are you dozing off again? That is not a good attitude for work!" Roy waved his hand in Auckes' face. "Look alive, mate!"
"Ah, shut it. You were dozing off when you were handling the shop a few days ago."
"I was training my meditating skills. How's business going? How many potions did we sell?"
"The usual. About a hundred crowns a day." Auckes suddenly wiggled his eyebrows. "Medicine potions don't sell that much, but spirit potions take up half our sales numbers." A big, smug grin spread across his lips. "The richer the population, the more they need something like this. Told you so. If we had gone with a brothel instead of a ballroom, we'd be raking in crowns by now."
Roy shook his head, amused, and he quickly made some calculations in his mind. A hundred crowns per day, huh? Thirty percent of that goes to cost and taxes, which leaves us with seventy crowns. Twenty-one hundred per month in total. Even after giving Felix his cut, we're still left with about sixteen hundred crowns per month. It's like doing a dozen requests, only this is not dangerous or risky at all. This is just one small shop, but we're raking in the coins.
Roy was now sure opening up a shop was the right thing to do.
"Where did Letho and Serrit go?"
"Where else? The dopp… Orloff invited them to train his men at his manor. That's a lot more exciting than just handling the shop. Don't worry. It's a big day today, so they'll be back by noon."
Roy nodded. The doppler was now great allies with the witchers, since they had dirt on each other. Gawain had enough of his old life. Now that he was one of the biggest rulers in Novigrad, there was no way he would give that up and go back to being a nobody. He knew he owed all this to the witchers, and he made a pact with them.
The witchers would cover for him and deal with Eternal Fire's inspections, while he would support the witchers and give them whatever they needed. To deepen the connection between him and the witchers, Gawain spent big money to hire the Vipers and Cats to train his men every week at the manor. The training was mostly about swordplay and combat.
After he took Orloff's place, the doppler was slowly enacting a series of changes. The people on his turf used to discriminate against non-humans, but now they were tolerant and accepting. He ordered his men to not isolate or bully non-humans like dwarves and part-elves. From what Roy knew, Corinne took this chance and moved to Orloff's turf.
The biggest benefit that could come from this alliance was their combined power. Now that the witchers and Orloff were allied, their power was second to Eternal Fire. Not even Cleaver or Bedlam could match them in terms of strength. Now they were starting to have a firmer grip on Novigrad. And the guy is going to open up an orphanage after a while.
Kantilla took over, and Auckes went to get some fresh air. Roy pushed the blue curtains back and went into the inner room.
A magical lamp was shining on the room, and Kiyan was working swiftly around the alchemical tools. He was wearing a jacket and blue apron.
Alcohol burner, test tubes, pestle, mortar, and crucible. Kiyan moved through them swiftly like a magician, weighing, crushing, heating, and filtering the herbs…
Every movement was precise and perfect. He was like an artist dancing to the perfect tune, creating a magnificent performance.
Most of the potions sold in the shop came from Kiyan. The potions he made were second to Letho. Not even Felix, Auckes, and Serrit could compare. Naturally, Roy was even further behind in terms of skill.
It was thanks to him that the Vipers could have time to settle other matters. Roy kept staring at Kiyan. Compared to how he was a month ago, the scars on his face were slowly fading. They were still horrifying, of course, but there was some improvement, and it was all thanks to Lytta.
She checked his wounds back when they were talking about Carl's Trial, and as expected, there was no way to heal Kiyan, but she could lessen the scars slightly. She left a bottle of salve that could lighten scars as well as its recipe. Kiyan would have to rub the salve on his face every day for a few years, and his scars might lighten up a bit. At most, he would look like someone who got disfigured in a fire.
He could then put on a thick layer of makeup and say goodbye to his disguise. At least nobody would think he was some sort of drowner anymore.
"What brings you here, Roy?"
"Getting used to this life, mate?" Roy shook his hand.
"It's alright. It's all thanks to you guys that I get another chance at life." Kiyan grinned toothily. He still looked grotesque, but the smile was warm.
Ever since he had his revenge, Kiyan lost that air of violence and found some kind of peace. "These hands used to kill, but now they're making potions, and good potions too. I've always dreamt of this life." And then he lowered his voice a little. "It'd be perfect if I had a wife and kids."
"It's alright, mate. Keep on working and you'll get your wish someday. Not every woman cares about looks."
"About the remaining diagrams…"
"We're not in a hurry. We'll talk about it after we return from Kaer Morhen. Just keep up the good work." Roy patted his shoulder. "And remember to come for the show in the afternoon. It's right next door."
Roy then went to the ballroom. It was renovated and looked resplendent.
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