Chapter 423: Reunion With Ciri
The door was opened, revealing a young witcher in a grey cloak and beautiful attire under the magical lamp. He was bowing at Ciri.
The girl stared at his face, but then she stopped walking, her surprise turning into confusion, and she sniffed the air. "Who are you?"
A resigned smile tugged at Roy's lips. "Ciri, it's only been a year, and already you can't recognize me? I'm Roy of the Viper School."
Ciri frowned. She stared closely at the young man standing before her. He looked familiar, and yet very different from the boy she had in mind. "No." She said seriously, "Roy's eyes are dark gold, and he's much thinner than you. And he doesn't have that viper medallion. You can't fool me."
Coria stood before the princess and spread her arms like a hen protecting her chick. "Don't come closer. Leave. Or…" She puckered her lips and puffed her chest. The girl almost cried, but she said, "Or I'm yelling. And then the soldiers will take you off for execution."
"Everyone grows and changes." Unfazed, Roy produced his medallion out of thin air and showed it to the girls. "You grew taller, Your Highness. And I remember telling you The Professional, a revised Rapunzel, The Ugly Duckling, and The Little Red Riding Hood. You two cried a few times."
He smiled. "We drew tortoises on Coria's face and adventured in Brokilon. You hid in a tree hole because a giant centipede was hunting you down. And Eithne witnessed us as we drank the Waters of Brokilon. I don't think you can call those experiences a lie." Roy suggested, "And you should look closer at me."
"Princess, I…" Coria suddenly turned around. Solemnly, she said, "I think he is Roy."
A sob escaped Ciri's lips. Like a cannon, she shot herself at Roy. Roy held her up and spun around, then he raised the girl high into the air. Amused, she finally smiled.
"I was busy, my friend. Pardon me for not coming, but I didn't lie. I am just a bit late."
"You liar!" Once Roy put her back down, she stopped smiling and bit his arm like an angry kitten, but she felt like she just bit into hard wood. The recoil from Quen made her teeth hurt. "You lied, and you're resisting me?"
Roy pulled Quen back and smirked at Ciri. She was wearing a beautiful princess dress, a pair of stockings, and a pair of pointy shoes. A gorgeous pink ribbon was tied in her hair. She looked just like a doll, not the tomboy Roy had in mind. It was amusing to him. Her Elder Blood was still in its early stages of awakening, and Ciri couldn't keep it under control just yet.
"Now try again."
Ciri put her hands on her hips and tensed up in her best attempt to look grown-up. Angrily, she said, "I won't fall for it twice. Now tell me what happened to you. I almost couldn't recognize you just now." She poked the witcher and raised her chin haughtily like she was angry at Roy, but she couldn't hide the smile that was curling her lips.
"Because I'm more powerful now." Roy explained it to her in terms she could understand. "The last time we met, I could kill two wolves at most. Now I can kill a pack of them. And lions, tigers, and grizzly bears."
Coria's jaw dropped. The news came as a shock to her. Not even the knights in the novels had that kind of power.
Surprise filled Ciri's eyes, and she gave his arm a pat of approval. She was only at Roy's chest, but the girl was acting like a general who was giving praise to her soldier. "Well done, my dragonslayer. You've worked hard over the past year. Now you shall take me and leave this palace. That is an order."
She commanded, "And we shall begin our next adventure, never to return."
"No, please!" Coria tugged at Ciri's sleeve, an unspoken plea filling her eyes. She then turned to Roy. "Witcher, you can't take her away, or the queen will have my head. Please, have mercy on me."
"Ahem, we're in no hurry to leave, Ciri. That time will come."
"Hmph!" Ciri shook her head in disdain. She grabbed Roy's hand and waved it around like a fan. "I know you're scared of Calanthe. Fine, but you're not leaving that easily this time. You're staying here. I'll talk with her and have you be my sword instructor."
She counted her fingers and listed the things she wanted to do. "And I wanna see Wilt. It's been a year. Did he grow a little? I will ride him as much as I want to this time. And you have to slay a dragon for me. A real dragon, not a wyvern."
Roy's smile froze, and he wiped the sweat off his forehead.
Ciri paused for a moment. She was reminded of the man with white hair. He reminded her of her late parents, and a surge of warmth filled her heart. "And you gotta take me to Geralt. Is he here?" She shook Roy's arm, staring at him nervously.
Roy patted her head. The Law of Surprise in action again. "Geralt has always msised you. He's right outside the palace, just waiting for your grandmother to summon him. You will see him soon, I promise."
"Yay, Geralt's here too!" A smile curled Ciri's lips, and she ran around the room like a happy pony. She stood on her tiptoes and held her dress up. "We can all play together, then."
Coria smiled. She too was happy to see the princess so delighted.
"But I can't wait anymore. I'm seeing Calanthe and will have her let Geralt into the palace."
"Your grandmother is seeing some important people. Don't disturb her." Roy shook his head. "And you need to keep our meeting a secret. Pretend you never saw me."
"Wait, did you…"
Excitement turned Ciri's face red. Now things just got a lot more exciting. This is like hide and seek. "I promise I won't tell her. And you too, Coria! Keep this a secret, or I'll cut your head off!"
Coria shivered and nodded as quickly as she could.
But then Ciri grinned, and a cunning look overtook her features. "But I must see Geralt by tonight, or all bets are off, and I'm telling Calanthe you snuck into the castle."
"As you wish, princess. I shall be leaving now."
"Come back soon."
Roy held the door's handle, but then he turned around. "Ciri, a question. Please answer honestly. Would you be willing to leave this palace and move to a witcher's base?"
"By all means, yes. I've had enough of this prison." Ciri's eyes shone. "But is your base a fun place?"
"A ton of kids your age live there. You can learn swordplay, horseback riding, archery, reading, writing, alchemy, and poetry. You can play with the kids, sing and dance, and you can even ride a griffin." Roy told her the truth.
"Oh my gods." The princess held her hands before her chest, her mouth forming a comical 'O'. "This is heaven! You must bring me there after tonight!"
Roy did not answer that request just yet. He asked another question. "Will you still come with me even if it means you will never return to Cintra?"
Roy posed the question calmly, but Ciri noticed the solemnity hiding under that question. She froze for a moment and twiddled her thumbs. Her face scrunched up, and she timidly asked, "Can't I stay for six months or a year and come back when I want to see my grandparents? I'd cry if I didn't see them for that long."
Roy fell silent for a moment and shook his head. "No, I don't think you can do that."
Ciri paled, and anxiety filled her heart.
"Take your time, Ciri. We're in no hurry for an answer."
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