“Are you really Roy? Our son?” Moore tilted his head. He looked at the young witcher. His delight had been replaced by a slight suspicion. The lean, handsome young man was too far removed from the gaunt, sickly boy whom he called his son. Even counting the days when they were separated, his son should have been fifteen at most. However, this young man didn’t have that lively, happy look at all. He was more grown-up, like a guy who was about to hit his twenties.
Roy was looking at the alleyway the thugs got dragged into. There was no sympathy in his eyes. Only anger existed.
Moore only saw that kind of apathy in butchers who had run their business for decades or quiet adventurers who frequented inns. Most people would stay away from them, and Moore would too. But for some reason, he felt connected to the lad, like he was family.
“Are you blind? Of course he’s our son. I carried him for ten months! He’s our boy!” Susie pulled the baby closer and held Roy’s hands. “It’s been more than a year. He was a growing boy when we were separated. Of course he’s changed. Look at his face. Of course it’s Roy.” Susie looked at her son, happy that he changed for the better.
“You’re taller and stronger. Letho taught you well. You used to be a sickly little carrot, but now look at you. A tall, strong man. You’re all grown up now.” She looked at his eyes and noticed that his ears were a little pointier. Curiously, she asked, “What happened to your eyes and ears, my boy?”
“I passed the Trial of the Grasses and became a witcher, so my looks changed a little. I’ll spill the details when we get home.” Roy held his parents’ hands assuringly, but when he turned around, a frown furrowed his brows. There were conflicting emotions in his eyes.
It had been a year since he started this journey. Moore and Susie were getting older. Their hair was graying. Still, he could see that they were still concerned about him, but unlike his old self, he couldn’t get used to that. “I saw what they did to you, Dad. How are you feeling? Are you fine?”
“Ah, your old man’s tough. I’m fine.”
“Let me see your wounds.” Roy stubbornly checked up on Moore, and his heart sank. His lower torso, waist, back, and neck were riddled with complications from abuse. They affected his constitution. Those wounds might look like they had healed, but at this rate, they might get set off one day and severely wound him.
He cast Observe on Moore, and the man’s Constitution was only four points. He was weaker than a regular person. “You had it hard.” Roy clenched his teeth. He whipped out a marigold potion and had Moore drink it despite his protests.
Decoctions were lethal poison for regular humans, but the potions Roy made in Oxenfurt could be used on regular humans as well.
Moore felt something warm traveling into his belly, and the pain from his bruises subsided just a little. He held Roy’s hands, tears welling in his eyes.
“Look, Roy! The little one recognizes you!” Susie called out to Roy. The baby in her arms had calmed down. He was staring at the young witcher, his eyes shining like the stars in the skies.
Babies had sharp instincts. He held out his arms to Roy, as if he could feel that the young witcher was his brother. Moore and Susie were surprised. “Looks like Mino likes you. Well, you are brothers after all.”
“Mino, huh? Cute little thing.” Roy crouched down. He tickled the baby’s feet and pinched his chubby cheeks. He then dragged out Gryphon the sleeping dog from his hood and stretched its mouth open. The baby gurgled with delight. It melted Roy’s heart a little, seeing him laugh.
It was a surprise to find out he had a brother after a year of separation from his family, but it was good. At least his parents would have someone to stay with them when he inevitably left again.
“Do you wanna hold him?” Susie looked at the unusually docile dog, but Roy had tucked it back to the hood before she could take a closer look.
“In a minute. You three stay here.” Roy patted the baby’s head and stood up. “My friends will clean up the stand. I’ll deal with the scum.”
“Roy…” Moore said, “Don’t cross them too much, or they’ll make life impossible for us.”
“I know what I’m doing.” Roy turned around, and his smile faded. The crowd watched in horror as he went into the alleyway.
“Taught them a painful lesson. Emphasis on painful. They’re a lot more… agreeable now.” Auckes cracked his knuckles. He looked like he wanted more.
Vincent and his thugs collapsed in a heap in the corner. They were drenched in sweat. Roy saw no wounds on their bodies, but they were a mess of snot and drool. The thugs stared into the sky, muttering to themselves like maniacs. Their earlier arrogance was replaced by despair.
Witchers knew human anatomy well. They could easily torture someone until they broke without leaving a single wound.
“The local gang tried to stir up trouble at Moore’s stand when Serrit and I were still around. Tried to collect tribute. We taught them a lesson, and they stopped.” Auckes shook his head. He said coldly. “Never thought they’d blame everything on your parents right after we left. It’s my fault your family’s dragged into this. I should’ve destroyed all of them when I had the chance.”
“You’ve done enough,” Roy said gratefully. He turned his attention to the thugs and waved his hand in front of them.
He received no response. Roy smacked their faces three times. The thugs snapped out of it, covering their swollen cheeks, and then they backed up further into the corner. Their eyes were filled with horror, and their pants were drenched with urine.
“You demons! Witchers! You’re demons!” Vincent felt like slapping himself. He didn’t believe the mutants would show up and help Moore just like that. I just had to say it. More terrifyingly, this time there were four of them, not two.
“Shut it. I’m going to show you some undeserved mercy here. Answer my questions, and nobody gets hurt.” Roy kicked the mousey man who tormented Moore. “Vincent, is it? Who’s your boss?”
Vincent glared at the witcher, but he said nothing.
However, the muscleman in a tank top hissed, “Don’t get cocky, kid. The boss is gonna avenge us. He’ll destroy you and your freaky friends.”
And then Auckes sent him rolling with a kick. “Someone hasn’t learnt his lesson. Why don’t I… tear your arse apart?” Auckes beamed at the man.
“No, please, stop! Don’t tear my arse apart! I’ll talk!” The man gulped nervously. He stammered, “I-It’s Alonso. A-Alonso Wiley. He’s our boss. H-He rules Novigrad’s biggest gang.”
“Work with us and you won’t get hurt.” Roy smacked Vincent’s chin. He rummaged through his memory for this place.
When Geralt was moving around in Novigrad, he too ran into members of the Big Four, though that wouldn’t happen until ten years in the future. It was when King Radovid of Redania endorsed the Eternal Fire’s crusade. Those cultists sent witch hunters to cull any non-human creatures and sorcerers in the city.
The four gangs seized the chance of that chaotic time to build their power in secret, slowly becoming the infamous Big Four. They were powerful, and obscenely so. Even the king of Nilfgaard and Redania had to negotiate with the Big Four before they took over the city.
However, the war hadn’t started yet, and things weren’t that bad. The four gangs obviously had less power now, but they were still more powerful than the people could imagine. “Who are the other leaders? Aside from Wiley.”
“Don’t hurt me! I’ll talk!” The thug answered, “There are three of them. Cleaver, Francis Bedlam, or also known as the King of Beggars, and Orloff Byrd, the Collector.”
Roy’s frown faded. He had heard of the first two names, but not the last. I don’t remember any guy with that name in the Big Four. It should be Sigismund, no? No, the guy’s a spy. He’s probably working behind the scenes, so it’s not his time yet. Roy thought that was more or less the right guess, and he asked, “And what do the gangs deal with in Novigrad? Specifically, the businesses they run.”
“Why do you ask, witcher? What’s that matter to you?”
“Answer my question. One more irrelevant word and I’ll feed your tongue to the dogs.”
Roy shot Vincent a look, and he curled up. He answered, “The King of Beggars controls the thieves and beggars of Novigrad. He’s in control of the thieving and begging business. Cleaver is in charge of all the money lending and most of the racketeering business. He’s gonna take over the marketplace soon. The Collector runs all bathhouses and most inns. Anyone who wants to hold any banquet or event in Novigrad is gonna need his services.”
“What about Wiley?”
“Our boss?” Vincent fell into silence. “He runs casinos, brothels, and the ring.”
“Does he have a son called Cyprian Wiley?”
The thug looked shocked. “Y-You know the boss’ son?”
Alright, that answers my question. So Alonso is Whoreson Senior. His son is gonna grow up to be more infamous than his old man. Whoreson Junior, huh? That name alone tells me how much he’s hated. Whoreson Junior was a twisted man who loved to inflict torture on his victims. He wanted to harm Ciri.
But from the looks of it, Whoreson Junior hasn’t grown up to be a patricidal maniac.
Roy asked them about the Eternal Fire and the top brass of Novigrad, but these thugs didn’t know much. They were just regular members of their gang.
“Alright, that’s all for business. Now it’s personal. Last question. Why do you keep extorting and threatening Moore? Are you doing it because you want to, or is it an order from your boss? An order from Alonso?”
“Um…” Vincent looked at the towering witchers fearfully. A lump formed in his throat. He clenched his teeth and said, “Witchers, Moore is just a peasant. He doesn’t have any connections or any money. Is it really worth it to cross us because of them?”
Roy snarled at the thugs, and he made a green inverted triangle in the air.
Vincent’s eyes glossed over. His face stiffened up, and he answered, “It’s Wiley’s orders.”
Roy’s face fell. “Why does the boss of a gang want to torment a guy like Moore?”
“Six months ago, the witchers humiliated the boss by helping Moore, and he’s holding a grudge against that,” Vincent mumbled, fear flashing in his eyes. “The boss… The boss enjoys watching the peasants and nobodies squirm and quake in terror. He says it’s poetic, so he told us to take our time with him. He wants… He wants to get back at them.”
Roy took a deep breath. “He’s a psychopathic bastard, and you’re his accomplices. You will also pay the price.”
He unsheathed Gwyhyr. The blade glinted under the sun, and the thugs blanched.
“Calm down, kid. We’ve got a lot of eyes on us.” Serrit looked at the terrified thugs icily. “It’s gonna be a hassle to clean up the mess if you kill them now. You at least have to make sure you leave no mess behind.”
Roy tilted his head for a moment. He took a deep breath to calm himself down. “You’re right. Killing some small fries won’t solve the problem. I’ll have to cut off the roots. But still, they have to be punished for what they did to Moore in our absence.”
He was reminded again of what the thugs said to Moore. A hint of fury welled in his eyes. I got into a bet with the Master of Mirrors himself to keep them safe, and these cowardly bastards tried to destroy their lives in my absence? How dare they?
The young witcher circled the thugs and swung his sword a few times. Patches of crimson flowers bloomed as three arms flew into the sky. The thugs held the bloody stumps where their arms used to be, and they rolled around, howling and squirming like some sort of oversized maggot.
“I know the rules. Might makes right. This is the appetizer. Serve it up to Whoreson on a plate, and tell him the main course is coming tomorrow, courtesy of me.”
“Correction, kid.” Letho, Auckes, and Serrit stood beside him. “Courtesy of us. We’re going to serve up a feast for those sons of bitches.”