It was a dark and stormy evening - a crimson dusk rapidly falling into the dark depths of a dismal night.
The heavy gusts of the sudden storm whiplashed across the little island, and thunder clapped overhead with a frightening resounding irregularity. The foaming waves of the churning sea shrieked and crashed on the rocky beach with baleful intent. The dreadful rain fell like an endless curtain - wet, cold, dismal and enveloping everything into its creeping darkness.
Geralt the Witcher caressed the silken mane of his fidgeting horse Roach. As Geralt squinted across the open sea, he just could see the hazy silhouette of a lighthouse on the far shore. To his weather-beaten and tired mind, it looked like a phallic joke - a crude vulgar symbol of pompous wealth and splendor, in an era of war, strife, poverty and misery. But it was surely the Novigrad lighthouse. He had travelled by boat from Velen, enroute to Novigrad, so it must be the city's lighthouse and none other. Here he was now, on this small island on a probably failed quest to rid it of a ghostly presence - neither did he find any supernatural creature, nor did any thing find him here. But this forsaken place was spooky and lonely all the same, and the weird unnatural weather was started to get on his nerves. Roach was probably just absorbing and mimicking his own nervous tension.
Geralt had to admit he was tense. The heirarch of the free city of Novigrad, Cyrus Engelkind Hemmelfart, was expecting him on the morrow. The appointment with the reclusive and recalcitrant ruler had been tough to secure, but Geralt needed to further improve his relations with the various authorities of Regania (who mistrusted Novigrad's growing influence and control), and though he wasn't prone to flattery, he had realised that he would need to meet the heirarch, to seek more work in this region.
But the local fishermen had reported some strange sightings on this island, and his own curiosity and sense of adventure had brought him here to this little island, on what was to have been a quick scouting and witching expedition. He had suspected it could be a nightwraith, so now he was waiting for the dusk to fade into the night. He didn't fear any wraiths - in his experience, these anguished lost souls tended to be more hurt than hurtful, unless they were a victim of brutal violence turning them into vengeful specters of evil rage & mindless ferocity.
But he was worried more about the storm and the sea. His little boat was bobbing quite heavily at the beach, though he had secured it safely. He knew his way on land and water, and his witching senses were thankfully not dulled yet with time and age. He had not counted on the storm however, which had arrived suddenly with an almost unnatural vehemence to its darkness and behavior. If it was somehow an evil phenomenon, it was nothing he had ever encountered before, so he needed to be utmost alert and ready. This trip could turn out to be a deadly mistake.
Preying on his mind was also how quickly he could get to Novigrad. He could perhaps brave the storm, and stow his boat's sails, and somehow it row out to the lighthouse. But the lighthouse that looked like a flickering beacon of hope in this storm, was actually a strong warning. It likely meant that there were submerged rocks near the bay, and he had no intention of crashing on any reefs without undue cause. Yet any prolonged delay here on the island, would mean a night spent cold and wet for him and his faithful steed, and probably a missed appointment with the heirarch. And that fiasco would be not easy to explain or rectify.
He seemed to be making a habit of letting down royalty. The emperor Emhyr var Emreis had tasked him to find his daughter Ciri, who was also Geralt's adopted ward. Geralt had been trying to track her down for a long time now, and he was very worried about her. He would be the last person to admit - but he missed her. Missed her mirthful laughter and her kiddish pranks to test his patience and training. She would almost be a grown woman now, and she was alone out in the cruel world. But she too was a survivor. Those arduous years of training must have served her well. She was not making it easy to be found. But as he had sniffed down the people, dead monsters and incidents left in her wake, he had realised she was no frail damsel in distress. Nay, she was a good combatant and a budding witch in her own right. And perhaps she knew he would be seeking her, but she did not tarry anywhere. A beautiful, ambitious woman-child with magical powers, travelling alone across a land torn asunder with strife, mayhem and bloodshed. She was a powerful magnet for trouble. And trouble would find her, and try her. Here there be monsters. Monsters of both kinds - deadly creatures with magical powers, and powerful men with deadly intent and deadlier influence. Her meandering trail had brought him towards Novigrad. There were people he needed to question, and questions that needed answers, and answers that needed more actions. Sometimes he felt his whole life was one long, lonely, endless hunt.
Roach gently nudged Geralt, and brought him out of his gloomy thoughts. Roach was a good friend, a rare breed of courage, kindness, loyalty and friendship indeed. Mutants and outcasts, both of them. Roach had probably sensed his downcast mood, and despite the storm, Roach stood here steadfast with him - against all that nature and life threw their way. And fight back they two would - they always did - survivors, to their last breath.
What Geralt needed now was something he could take to the heirarch as a rightful tribute. Something the insecure heirarch could proudly show off in his royal court, to awe his ministers and minions, and hopefully thanking Geralt for services rendered to the region (and most likely, cunningly & greedily trying to influence and control the witcher).
What Geralt the wretched Witcher needed now, was a wretched little monster.
SOURCE: Screenshot (enhanced) from the PC game The Witcher 3, © CD Projekt RED.