25th of Linden 1277

Zhenor told me today about a guardsman’s horse that was found cut up with surgical precision. I’m checking the horse out right now. It is indeed very finely cut. And all the best meat-bearing parts were taken. It was taken by something strong, sentient and with a taste for horse flesh. Must be the oni.

The horse’s owner asked me why do I keep writing while examining the body. It helps me concentrate. It’s better than talking to yourself.

It looks like the oni wasn’t even trying to mask the scent of the horse meat. Getting sloppy, old chap?

So… I followed the scent of horse meat and was led into a shop in the destroyed portion of the city. With the meat hanging from hooks. I was jumped by a group of ruffians who were absolutely convinced I was “the monster who killed their friends”. Witch hunters. They decided to take revenge on the oni… by luring it to themselves. Idiots. I got rid of them. Too bad I can’t stand back and let the monsters kill each other.

Hmm… I think there’s someone here. Footsteps. Quiet, like a human’s, but put pressure like something much heavier.

I just had the most interesting conversation with the monster I’m hunting. The oni was trying to convince me it’s just trying to live in peace. He was caught by some strange priests in his homeland and brought here to serve Barrack like a slave. He refused and escaped, and was just trying to survive. He says his first humanoid form in Novigrad looked like an Emishi – a nationality where he’s from. The men in the warehouse apparently thought the perfectly human ethnicity was some kind of non-human hybrid and attacked. So he claims it was self-defense. The witch hunters detected he was a monster with a stolen witcher medallion and attacked him as well. He claims he didn’t kill anyone else here and asked me to let him live. Even told me where to find him if I doubt his version of events.

After some consideration, I decided to let him live… for now. He even cut off a horn so I can use it as a proof of his demise. I won’t tell Barrack or Zhenor I found him just yet. I need to wait some time to verify if he doesn’t kill anyone else.

I did learn the Novigradian witch hunters are led by a man called Donald. Possibly the famous patrician who executed failed apprentices. If they came down to the level of accepting leadership from these types, they have really fallen far. If I recall correctly, and I always do, that Donald person used to work for Whoreson Junior. I should ask him about the patrician.

24th of Linden 1277

I decided not to tell the town guard Barrack Jabeir brought the oni to town. I’m going with Zhenor and some guardsmen to see him now.

So Ilian Zhenor and Barrack Jabeir have a history together, and they do not like each other. Barrack pulled the “I’m a personal friend of the Emperor” card on Zhenor and got scott-free on bringing very dangerous monsters to Novigrad.

Corruption never changes. Northern Realms, Nilfgaard, Ofir, it will be there always and at all times. There will always be men who abuse power for their own good, and they will always be in power. That is simply the nature of power. The only people who seek out power are the ones who want it for themselves. And the ones who win it are the best liars and cheaters.

I decided to look for things the oni could eat. They prefer raw meat, preferably from fresh kills. Usually cows, goats, horses… people. It won’t find many cows or goats in Novigrad. I should look for horses or people recently found eaten in the city.

The town guard does not know about any people getting eaten recently. Either it hid its victims well… or I found an oni with conscience.

Talked to a man herding pigs in Novigrad. He moved to the city after former Redanian soldiers pillaged his village. His pigs went missing yesterday. I suspected the oni so I followed the trail – pigs are easy to find in a big city. Unfortunately for me, it turned out to be just a dog fighting ring who kidnapped the pigs and fed them to their dogs. I decided not to report them to the authorities. It’s not my problem, especially given that they paid the swineherd back.

23rd of Linden 1277

I’m looking at Barrack’s henchmen. Two Zerrikanian women as bodyguards. Ofieri soldiers. Pygmies. That strange sphinx-faced scribe. It’s like he’s collecting a menagerie of people and creatures from all over the world.

Speaking of sphinxes, I fought one during my training days. One got herself a lair near Croesion in Etolia. Unfortunately, she chose some rare beetle from Southern Zerrikania as her riddle’s subject and I couldn’t solve it. Silver sword and hybrid oil still made short work of her.

Barrack told me not to worry about the oni for now. I guess I’ll go talk to the town guard about their problem now. Even so, I’m wondering about the creature. If it didn’t kill those innocent dock workers, I’d consider letting it go. I’d love to be able to talk to it before I pull out the silver.

The group of witch hunters that was supposed to meet in this ruined temple did not show. I should look for them.

I spent some time trying to find traces of these witch hunters. Eventually, I found something. I was led to an old house with a view of Temple Isle ruins. It must have survived the fire. Filled with holy icons and amulets. They probably thought it wouldn’t let evil, that is witches and non-humans, in. Considering I found them dead they were wrong. Smashed with great force or burnt by lightning. Same as the men in the warehouse. It was Barrack’s oni. Looks like my two cases are linked after all. I guess I can catch two birds with one stone. Is that the Northling saying?

When you have sleep cycle as… irregular as mine you sometimes forget other people sleep. I tried to go to the town guard after dusk. I’ll talk to them tomorrow. I’m still not sure how much I want to tell them. They might see Barrack as responsible for the oni.

22nd of Linden 1277

When I was with the town guard, learning their intelligence on the witch hunters, one of Barrack’s pygmies appeared. The Zerrikanian wanted to see me right then. I had to explain to him town guard business takes precedence over individual matters. Then he told me the ogroid struck at a warehouse near the docks and killed a few people. I guess I’m investigating it right now.

There are no signs of forced entry. How did this thing fit through the door? It’s supposed to be twice the height of man. The door was kicked open with the force fitting an ogre, or a similar ogroid, but one would not fit in the door frame.

Some of the men inside were smashed or cleaved by a giant club. That fits what I learned about oni. But some bear significant burns. I don’t see burns like that often. Usually from a lightning strike. I read oni possess powerful magical ability, but could they summon lightning like a mage or a druid?

Several crates of raw meat, mostly beef, are missing. Also, one of the men was stripped post mortem.

It somehow fit through a door frame smaller than itself and stole human clothes. It must possess shapeshifting abilities. The Zerrikanian bestiary did not mention that. I should expect a shapeshifter that strikes lightning and has the strength of a giant. Ard Feainn, this is going to be… fun.

No ogroid tracks outside the warehouse. It turned into a human and just left, probably in the stolen clothes. I can faintly smell burnt linen. Perhaps I can follow that to find the creature.

This thing is clever. It grabbed someone’s clothes off a drying line and set them on fire to throw me off. I think I can still follow the scent, though.

I lost the scent. I’ll need to pick the trail up tomorrow. See what else can I learn about this oni and use it to find a hunting ground. I hope the town guard understands that getting this thing is just as important for the people of Novigrad.

Barrack insisted I talk to him about what I found out. He had no idea about the shapeshifting either. “That would actually explain his escape,” he said. “He did not break the locks. The cage was open and the goblin guarding it was dead.” He should have told me about that before. I would have checked out the scene. Barrack still refuses to tell me why he needed that oni in the first place.

21st of Linden 1277

Novigrad is not what I imagined. At least not anymore. Practically the entire Temple Isle is in ruins. I asked the ship captain what happened there. “Did you live under a rock?” he replied first. “Something of the sort,” I said. He told me that after Sigi Reuven and Whoreson Junior stopped opposing Nilfgaard and Radovid was dead, Emhyr invaded Novigrad. Reuven apparently died after a spat with some old acquaintance turned violent. Whoreson Jr “saw the light of the Eternal Fire”. Bedlam and Cleaver, the remaining two crime lords of Novigrad, executed a plan that blew up the Great Temple and burned the city fleet. No one has recovered the old city treasury since then. Many try to look for it and never return.

And it turns out the Zerrikanian I’m going to visit is quite a big fish – he’s one of the key figures in the city now.

There are rumors Bedlam, known as King of Beggars, is still alive and in hiding. I doubt anyone could survive a fire like that. Cleaver though, I’m told his head and upper chest were fished out of the bay two days later. He was right in the heart of the explosion. One badly burned corpse was identified as Bedlam, but no one can be certain. Anyway, I’m looking for the Zerrikanian now.

I’m waiting for the Zerrikanian to see me. He has not just monsters working for him, foreign people as well. There are three dark-skinned, flat-nosed halflings they’re calling pygmies. Apparently those live in Genera, beyond Ofir.

I could not believe it. The foreign merchant I came to do contract for? The same Zerrikanian alchemist who turned me into a witcher. Barrack Jabeir. I was tempted to kill him where he stood. But we agreed to put our past behind us, for the time being. The most interesting part of this meeting? The monster that escaped him was one we never had over here, in Nilfgaard or the north. It’s an ogroid from beyond the Korath Desert, from an island realm of Nihoku. They’re called “oni”. He gave me a Zerrikanian book on monsters from Nihoku. These oni are apparently sentient, but really hate humans. The ogroid should’ve killed that bastard. That would be a deserved end for bringing in exotic monsters for his own amusement. Anyway. I have a new book to check to prepare for this contract.

In Nihoku, there are friendly sentient relicts that look like halfling-sized raccoons… with giant testicles.

This oni does not look like it should be much more difficult to kill than a giant. Which is to say, very difficult. I bet the alchemist kept it with that giant club as well.

I should visit Novigrad town guard tomorrow. See about their witch hunter problem. I do not suppose the ogroid is in any rush.

I’m staying at an establishment called Rosemary and Thyme. It used to be owned by the famous Dandellion, a friend of Geralt of Rivia. Now it’s in the hands of the former crime lord, Cyprian Wiley, better known as Whoreson Jr. Strange man. He doesn’t seem at all like a crime boss. I know he supposedly saw the light of faith, but that hardly makes people more pleasant. And that strange scar… I would suspect a doppler if I could investigate more. No reason to do it.

20th of Linden 1277

The town guard gave me a bit of coin for my work here. It’s not exactly a fortune but it will do for now. Actually, I think I could buy a boat ride to Novigrad, considering I could get that foreign merchant’s pet monster while in there.

No ships with passenger spots going to Novigrad until tomorrow early morning. Perhaps I can get there on horseback by then.

One of the ships has just thrown out a vagabond named Odrin. Perhaps there will be a spot for me after all.

And this paper says Metinna. I knew I wasn’t mistaken. It is a valid spelling. Perhaps I have woken up in an alternate reality where the spelling is different for some bizarre reason. I’m not serious.

I got on the ship. By tomorrow morning I should be in Novigrad. I wonder if anyone will try to rob me and be disappointed I don’t sleep.

19th of Linden 1277

I just found out the town guard hired a known doppler to work for them. Why do they need me then?

I know. I’m bait. Bait that can fight back better than the “fisherman”.

The witch hunter extermination project is being handled by a man named Zhenor. A noble from Metinna. Arrogant prick who assumes he knows everything better than everyone and calls me a loose ballista. Typical Mentinnan nobility. Little more than thugs in fancy clothes.

Perhaps he knows me. Realizes he should turn me in. But before he does, he wants to use my talents. We’ll see how his plan goes.

I should take some time to describe some of the worlds I visited in my absence.

Zhenor may be an arrogant prick, but I may have misjudged his intentions. He told me about a foreign merchant with an issue in Novigrad. A witcher kind of issue. Apparently he likes to use monsters for labor, and one of them escaped.

I think I’ll be making my way to Novigrad. More witch hunters to find there, possible contract from the merchant.

It’s Mettina, not Metinna. Perfect memory doesn’t protect me from perfectly remembering a wrong spelling.