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18+ Cicero Fan Fiction

Discussion in 'Skyrim Fan Fiction' started by Holiday Feartree, Jun 29, 2017.

?

Do you want to read more of "The Chronicles of Madness?"

  1. I read a little, and I want to finish reading what has been written so far.

  2. I read a little, but it is not my cup of tea.

  3. I read everything on ArchiveOfOurOwn, and I want the author to write more of this.

  4. I read everything on ArchiveOfOurOwn, and I'd like the author to write side stories about Cicero.

  5. Cicero is awesome. Gimme it all and more.

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Holiday Feartree

    Holiday Feartree Holiday Feartree

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    The Chronicles of Madness - Volume 1.
    Chp. 16: Circuit 2 - How Doth the Little Crocodile

    The lift descended by one level, down to the 2nd circuit of the Institute. The sound of screams grew louder – it grew closer – but then it was muffled by a mysterious cacophony of strange whirring and whooshing noises just beyond the elevator's doors. As the doors opened, a blast of air swirled through the group, violently expelling Cat, Cicero, Deacon, and the rest of the team from the lift. Everyone scattered across the floor of a spacious research facility. The facility appeared long since abandoned. All throughout the lab were massive, cylindrical air ducts that had been torn from the ceilings and walls, whipping and blasting every which way. Their chaos created a makeshift wind tunnel that whistled and howled, hazardously blowing large debris all around the facility. The powerful blasts of air propelled one unfortunate Railroad agent into a hefty cabinet which, upon impact, fell on top of her, knocking her unconscious. Everyone else grabbed a nearby structure for stability.

    Cat could feel Cicero's arm around her waist, firmly securing her body to his. Positioned in front of the jester, she tried to grapple with anything that looked sturdy enough to hold the two of them. Cicero bent forward, his red hair whipping in the wind, and barked in Cat's ear, “Should Cicero, for one second, believe that the Wanderer might be whisked from his grip, then we are transporting out of here immediately!

    Cat was unable to twist her neck to look at him. The gusts of air created aggressive cyclones around her, making it nearly impossible to do much else but keep her nose pointed forward. And so, Cat screamed into the combative air, “Don't you dare!” However, the gale of wind drowned out her voice and Cicero heard none of it.

    Meanwhile, Deacon held fast to a hefty computer desk that had originally been drilled into the plaster of its adjacent wall. As he pulled himself along, desperate to escape this god forsaken room, he looked back to see the last three agents of his team scattered and struggling. Cat and Cicero pulled themselves forward as well, following Deacon's lead. With each grip and step, the trio moved farther and farther away from the swells and blasts of air. Deacon stepped into a narrow hallway that led to a set of doors at the far end. Pausing a moment to catch his breath, he glanced over his shoulder to see Cat and Cicero stepping into the hallway as well. One Railroad agent followed – the rest had no ability to catch up. By this point they were either pinned beneath something bone-crushing, or had been slammed too hard against the floors and walls.

    Deacon let out a few more heavy breaths and checked the safety on his sniper rifle – just to be sure. It was still engaged. Had the safety been compromised in those winds, then it'd have been a miracle that his firearm hadn't discharged, putting a bullet through any one of them. Deacon gestured to Cat and the remaining agent to check their firearms too. They did as instructed.

    Cicero tucked crimson strands of his tangled, wind-blown hair behind his ears and listened closely. “Do you hear that?” he asked.

    “What?” asked Cat.

    Cicero answered, “Those screams have died down.” His golden eyes stared hard at the set of doors at the end of the hallway. The princeling twirled his black dagger, stopped, then pointed it toward the doors. “Whomever they are, they know we're out here.”





    On the other side of the doors the group discovered what could only be described as a synth scrap yard. That was how it appeared, in any case. Limbs and body parts were strewn about, some stacked high in macabre piles, others flung to the walls, floor, and ceiling. Most of the bodies were only partially covered in flesh, as if something tore it off. Yellow, robotic eyes stared blankly from the skulls of dismembered synth corpses; jaws hung agape as if the mass-fabricated cadavers were on the verge of horrific exclamation. The room was chillingly silent.

    “What did this to them?” asked Cat. Her question was met with speechlessness.

    In the center of the room was a large vat, roughly the size of the average concrete swimming pool – but the vat did not contain chlorinated water. Within its basin bubbled a thick, salmon-colored substance, lazily swirling with the consistency of egg yolk. It swirled as if a crocodile swam within – as if some kind of murky creature tossed and turned at the bottom. As the liquid churned, it pumped a musky aroma throughout the room.

    “This is where they make them?” Deacon asked under his breath, somewhat impressed ...and somewhat disgusted. “This is where they create synths?”

    “This lab,” observed Cat with a slight choke to her voice, “is destroyed, along with everyone in it.” Peering at the vat, she made no mistake about it – this was her birthplace. This sickening pool of organic matter, surrounded by a graveyard of unknown siblings.

    Suddenly, a terrible bubble gurgled up from the center of the vat. Cicero crouched with his dagger, readying himself as a gangly figure wrestled itself from the red slime. It was a synth, breathing heavily and growling like a feral animal. It had eyes like burning charcoal, darkened from lid to lid. Its nails had grown long, pointed, and black – diabolically situated at the end of spindly, white fingers. The synth scrambled from the vat, slippery like a horrific newborn, grunting and squealing like a wild, predatory boar. The creature stood and screamed an appalling sound.

    “Get back!” warned Cat, readying her gun.

    The afterbirth slid from the synth's translucent skin in slow, heavy drops, plopping to the floor like dollops of red gravy. The synth raised its shiny, viscous arms above its vein-covered head and screamed, “Erufi ohm daesohn! Vocu eshtik molkhun!” Then it darted forward, grabbing the neck of the last of the Railroad agents. The synth dug its sharp nails into the agent's face, shredding his skin from his jaw and cheekbones as the creature screamed with the vocal tenacity of a banshee's tongue. The struggling agent rounded off a few defensive shots which startled the synth, causing it to let go of him. Then the agent dropped to the floor, bleeding heavily from his face, unable to regain the wherewithal to rise to his feet.

    Before anyone else could take a shot, the synth swiftly bent its knees and reared back, planning to make an attack on Cat. Before she could unload a few rounds of Old Faithful into the synth's skull, Cicero pulled Cat from harm's way and pounced on the vile creature, stab, stab, stabbing the wretched thing through its neck and chest. With a final swipe, Cicero sliced its throat, and the black-eyed synth teetered backward, falling into the vat, bleeding and mixing its own crimson spew into the communal afterbirth from whence it came.

    “What the fluff!” yelled Deacon. Hurrying, he knelt down to assist the bleeding agent, pressing a stained handkerchief to the man's mangled face. “That was what we came to set free?” yelled Deacon. “That thing was nothing like the synths we've been helping! I dunno what the fluff that thing was!”

    “Its genetic development was obviously compromised,” said Cat.

    “No sh**,” said Deacon, frowning as he focused on assisting his fallen comrade. “And that sh** it yelled? I've heard it before. That's the crazy sh** Tom was babbling.”

    “It's Dunmer,” said Cicero, cleaning the blood from his blade.

    “What the hell is that?” asked Deacon, still kneeling beside the agent.

    “A language from Cicero's... eh... homeland,” the jester explained cryptically.

    Deacon pressed his lips together and exhaled through his nose. He stood. “Where the hell do you come from exactly?”

    “It's a long story,” interjected Cat. Her voice attempted to sound calm, but her hasty response betrayed the Wanderer's nervousness.

    Deacon glared at her, then glared at Cicero. “Something's not right,” he said with suspicion in his eyes. “Patriot disappeared off the radar. Tom attacked one of our own. You two show up out of nowhere. This place looks like ground zero. And now? Now gen 3 synths are turning into fluffing Nosferatu?” Deacon shook his head. Then he pointed to where the synth had fallen to its death. “Just what in the hell did those words mean?”

    Cicero smiled wickedly. “Kill your brothers,” he said. “Spill more blood.

    Deacon was suddenly unsettled by Cicero's fiendish grin. It was as if the strange little man had been holding back a nasty smile all this time. The red head wasn't what he appeared to be. Deacon couldn't explain it, but something deep down – something buried in that place where his rawest of instincts told him exactly what the fluff was going on, he had a momentary conjecture that Cicero was not human. That explained his ability to teleport without any sort of Pipboy tech or Courser implants. And Cat? Deacon ascertained that Cat was not, by any means, troubled by Cicero's creepy bullsh**.

    “This,” said Deacon, staring at the floor, “this is where we part ways.”

    Confused, Cat twisted her face. “What?”

    “Just go on without me. I'm gonna tend to what's left of my team and search the previous room for any survivors.”

    Cat looked at Cicero – he seemed pleased. The princeling wasn't a fan of Deacon. Cicero stood there, arms crossed over his leather jacket, smirking at the unsettled Railroad agent who had lied and called himself Danny, among other such nuisances from the day they met. Good riddance was written all over the jester's beaming face.

    “How are you going to get back to the surface?” asked Cat. She was genuinely concerned. She liked Deacon. Cat didn't want to abandon him to this hellhole.

    “I have my ways,” Deacon answered with confidence. “I can hack terminals, no problem. Given enough time, I can track down the right tech to transport out.” He gestured to the rest of the room. “The Institute's a ghost town. It's not like I have to quickly sneak around.” Deacon sighed. “I need to gather what remains of my team and get the hell out of here.”

    Cat protested, “But–”

    “–This mission is over.” Deacon shook his head. He pointed to the next corridor across the room, indicating that Cat and Cicero best hurry up if they wish to catch up to the Courser from earlier.

    With no hesitation, Cicero marched across the room, heading toward the hallway which led to the next lift. Cat followed after him, but lagged behind, staring apologetically over her shoulder. She looked back at Deacon who briefly waved goodbye as the Wanderer disappeared into the darkness of the next corridor.

    [​IMG]music: Happy Child - Tweaker
     
  2. Holiday Feartree

    Holiday Feartree Holiday Feartree

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    The Chronicles of Madness - Volume 1.
    Chp. 17: Final Circuit - Earth Angel

    [​IMG]



    The elevator rumbled as it descended to the lowest level of the Institute. Cicero leaned against one side of the lift while Cat stood with her back turned. She quietly stared at a control panel of buttons, bathed in the light that flashed through the crack between the lift's doors.

    Looking at the back of his Wanderer, Cicero sulked. He knew full well that she was angry. “It is not Cicero's fault,” he crossed his arms and muttered.

    Still fixated on the button panel because she didn't want to look at the princeling, Cat replied, “We shouldn't have left him.”

    “It was what the Liar wanted,” Cicero huffed.

    “Stop calling him that!” snapped Cat.

    The jester narrowed his eyes. “What is all this really about?”

    Cat didn't answer. She continued staring at the panel. Her mismatched eyes began to sting and the realization dawned on her that she was about to start crying. God, not now. Cat fought the urge. Cicero asked what this was really about. Was it about Deacon? The Wanderer pulled up the sleeve of her duster, inspecting the tattoo of the nonsensical binary code etched across her arm. Maybe a little, but mostly not. It was about her. A tear escaped, trickling down Cat's cheek. She awkwardly tucked her head down so Cicero wouldn't see, but she knew that was pointless. He fluffing sees everything.

    Cicero reached out to Cat, gently gripping her shoulder. She wrenched away.

    “Cicero understands,” he soothed, dejectedly retracting his hand.

    Irritated, Cat whipped around. “Do you? How could you even begin to understand?”

    Insulted, the jester dropped his brow and pursed his lips. “I understand what it is like to hate your past. To feel haunted by it. To drown in it.” Cicero paused. “I understand what it is to feel like a slave to whom you once were.”

    “You speak in the third person,” growled Cat, “then you speak in the first person! Do you even know who the fluff you are? Or who the fluff you were?

    Grinning, Cicero exhaled with a hmph! “I am! – Cicero is! – exactly who I must be in every, hidden moment!” The jester moved a little closer to Cat, relieved that this time she did not recoil. But how could she have done so in such a small enclosure? “If you choose to hate me, then Cicero cannot stop you. But I hope that is not the case.” He sighed. “I am not a hero, Wanderer. Cicero is not the good guy – never has been.” The princeling paused, feeling the sudden bite of his own tears. “B–but...” he stammered, “I love you.”

    Cat clenched her jaw and squeezed her dissimilar eyes shut. Droplets trickled across her duster.

    The princeling softly added, “Loving the Wanderer is the only good thing Cicero knows how to do.”

    The elevator reached the final floor and slowed to a quiet halt. Cat sighed. “Before we leave – when this is over – if we get out of this alive – I think we should...” she trailed off.

    Cicero's grin slowly disappeared as his eyes watered all the more. The tears welling beneath his golden irises magnified their yellow hue. “Don't say what I think you're about to–”

    “–We should go our separate ways.” Cat frowned and dropped her head, unable to look him in the eyes.

    Glaring, Cicero sniffed and his heavy tears rolled down. “Plucky timing of you, Wanderer!” he whimpered. “Cicero is your only way out of this place!”

    “Then leave me behind if you're that raw about it!” Cat cried.

    “Yes!” the jester shouted with indignation in his teary eyes. “Cicero is hurt!” He crossed his arms. “You are hurting me!”

    Cat forced herself to look up – to man up – and look him in the face. Taken aback, her jaw dropped. Something had changed about the princeling. Something was off. Cicero's cheekbones glistened from crying and his eyes were now puffy and red, but they no longer appeared the same. In the midst of their golden centers, Cicero's pupils had shifted from circles to vertical slits – just like his father's eyes. Daedric eyes. Furthermore, there was something different about the shape of his forehead, it appeared a little stronger, as if the bone structure had changed ever so slightly. The veins protruded from his temples a little more prominently. The brow line slanted a bit more sharply. And to top it off, as Cicero stood there, huffing deep breaths, glowering at his Wanderer, Cat could have sworn his teeth angled down to sharp, little points. Sheogorath's eyes, she thought. And the rest? He physically looks like a daedra. How? Why now?

    The elevator door beeped and slid open. Before Cat could call attention to this sudden, bizarre change, a pair of white gloves reached through the open doors, startling her. They hastily grabbed Cat by her throat and dragged her from where she stood. The Courser with the platinum hair and red goggles pulled her away, all the while pressing a combat knife to the Wanderer's throat. Blindsided, Cicero didn't react quickly enough. As the Courser hauled Cat away, she yelled, “Cicero! Just leave! Go! Get out of here!

    The Courser lugged Cat off into the dark distance, disappearing far from Cicero's view. Frozen where he stood, the jester contemplated her words, then defiantly shook his head. He couldn't leave her, even if she was trying to end things. If Cat was anyone else – oh yes! Cicero would have said to the Void with this! But not with his Wanderer. She will always be his.

    “New plan,” he muttered to himself, pulling both daggers from his jacket, then securing one in each hand. “Rescue the Wanderer, then fix this little problem of ours.” His volume rose. “Fix it, you insipid fool!”





    “Let go of me!” shouted Cat.

    The Courser still had the knife pressed to her neck, all the while he gripped what he could of Cat's hair, roughly yanking her across the floor. “Do not speak,” replied the Courser with a silky tone.

    Cat wondered why he hadn't killed her by now. Testing him, she reached for the holster on her hip, removing Old Faithful. The Courser dropped his combat knife, using that same hand to knock the gun from Cat's grip. Old Faithful hit the floor, discharged, and a deafening shot rang out. The scuffle freed Cat from the Courser's restraint. Huffing and puffing, she reached for the gun strapped to her back. Before she could fully cock and aim the weapon at her kidnapper, the Courser lifted his laser rifle and fired a warning shot at the ground. “Next time it will be your knees,” he cautioned.

    “Why don't you just shoot me dead?” Cat barked, dropping the gun and raising her hands.

    “All in due time,” replied the Courser. “First, someone wants to meet you. Now get moving.”





    Cicero felt warm in his leather jacket and hastily pulled it off. Tossing it to the floor, he abandoned the sweaty thing behind him as he crept forward through the dark passageway. Determined, the princeling followed the direction the Courser had taken Cat. But on the way, Cicero's temperature had spiked. Sweat beaded across his face and neck. “What is this nonsense?” he muttered to himself.

    Cicero.” A voice rasped from the dark, metal ceiling tiles above. Or so it seemed. The very sound of it hissed through his skull.

    The jester paused, glancing up. He saw nothing. No one.

    Come, sweet Cicero. Follow the way. Find me. Come to me.”

    He knew that voice. He didn't want to know it, but he did. No amount of time away from ...her... could ever make him forget that infernal voice! Oh! The irony! All he wished was to forget the sound of such a voice. But for how long did he pine to be the Listener? Nausea rose in the jester's guts. As Cicero felt his body changing into something unrelenting, something that burned hot and raged within, he stumbled against a wall, dropping both of his blades. As they clanged to the floor, the princeling could have sworn that somewhere, just above, a song began to play. The crackle of radio static popped and buzzed as the alien melody serenaded the jester down the dark corridor.

    Earth angel, earth angel,

    Will you be mine?

    My darling dear,

    Love you all the time.

    Cicero's knees buckled. Vomit rose in his throat and he dropped to the floor, spewing black liquid. It felt relieving. It felt good. Something grabbed a hold of him from the inside, something that had always been there – it was time to come out and play. As Cicero's hands stretched out before him, he growled and howled, noticing his nails growing longer from the flesh of his fingertips. Pointed and as clear as glass, the jester now appeared to have claws. The song continued above.

    I'm just a Fool...

    A Fool...

    ...in love with you.

    The song played endlessly on a loop. The same strange tune again and again. Exasperated and overheated, Cicero removed his shirt, now dripping with perspiration. The bones of his chest and neck protruded more unnaturally than ever. Regardless of this transformation, he stood and continued onward, spying a door just ahead. The song looped one last time.

    Earth angel, earth angel,

    the one I adore.

    Love you forever,

    and ever more.

    Cicero moved closer, panting and huffing like a rabid creature. He reached for the handle and let himself in.

    I'm just a Fool,

    A Fool...

    ...in love with you.

    [​IMG]music: Earth Angel - The Penguins
     
  3. Holiday Feartree

    Holiday Feartree Holiday Feartree

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    The Chronicles of Madness - Volume 1.
    Chp. 18: Ring of Fire

    [​IMG]

    Cicero entered the room, spying monitor screens covering every wall. An array of computer equipment had been arranged around the perimeter of the room. The office wasn't too large, but it wasn't too small either. Standing in its center was a nude female figure, stripped of her flesh. She had long, raven hair cascading down the red, sinewy exterior of her breasts. Skinless, sharp ears pointed out from beneath her thick hair. The horrific creature glared at Cicero with eyes as black as night.

    “Lady Julia,” said the Courser, pointing his weapon at Cat while she knelt on the floor. The Wanderer had positioned her hands behind her head, eyeing Cicero as he approached the three of them. The Courser pressed his weapon hard into the side of Cat's head. “What do you want me to do with the woman now that your attendant has arrived?”

    Cicero grit his sharp teeth as his yellow, cat-like eyes narrowed on the Courser. “Worm! I will kill you where you stand!” The princeling growled in a deep, otherworldly voice that reverberated harmoniously against his daedric vocal cords.

    “Let her go, X1-81,” said Lady Julia.

    X1-81 withdrew his weapon, keeping his sights locked on Cicero. “I thought you planned to eliminate her, my lady.”

    “I plan to kill many people,” hissed Lady Julia. Her lipless mouth hauntingly enunciated her words between a set of naked, bone-white teeth. She pointed to Cat. “Release my mother.”

    Appalled, Cat stood to her feet and yelled, “Mother?!”

    Lady Julia nodded, gesturing to herself. “It is your blood that pumps through this lab-grown body.”

    Cat approached Cicero. She raised a hand, delicately touching his demonic face. “What happened?” she asked.

    “Something... awoke,” replied Cicero, his supernatural voice unchanged. He could feel it. His father's endowment. Sheogorath must have willed it to be so. The Mad God's legacy was to have a half mortal son who could transform into a monstrosity. Why had he not explained this to Cicero? The jester believed this to be a result of the Mad God's lust for chaos – the unseen. The unpredictable.

    “You are a daedric prince after all,” observed Lady Julia. “This is splendid timing, my dear, sweet Cicero. My humble servant.”

    Enraged, Cicero shouted, “I am no servant of yours!” The veins of his upper torso pulsed with exhilaration as blood rushed throughout his body. His muscles tensed and flexed along his bestial bone structure. The jester's breaths were heavy and deep; their resonance much like the deep hum of an idling engine.

    “Ah, but you are,” laughed Lady Julia. “X1-81 and I plan to return to Tamriel tonight. We have taken over this prison and stolen the technology to do so. I cannot travel by my own abilities – my corporeal form hasn't quite the strength!” Julia hissed. “Come with us. Join me, sweet Cicero. Serve me yet again – and help restore the Black Hand to its former glory!”

    “You'll have to kill us both!” shouted Cat, stepping in front of Cicero. The jester panted heavily behind her like a wild beast teetering on the brink of a rampage.

    “Kill my Keeper...” said Julia, “...and kill my mother?” The slick, white tendons framing the musculature of her mouth shifted to create a frown. “That is not what I want.”

    Cat's eyes narrowed. “That's all you're gonna get, bitch.”

    Cicero's chest pushed into the Wanderer's back as he pressed his left cheek against Cat's right temple. Panting with an unhinged desire, struggling to contain his wild and wicked rage, the princeling growled at Julia, “This was all a trap. You lured me here. I will not suffer you again, Matron. I will not resume my enslavement.”

    “Enslavement?” asked Julia, her gravelly voice riddled with insult. “You once served a greater call.” The Matron closed her black eyes and lifted her chin as if she channeled something unseen. “I can hear them, Cicero. I have heard them all this time.”

    “Hear them?” asked Cat.

    “The prayers,” replied Julia. With her eyes still closed and her ever-bleeding face still pointed to the ceiling, the Matron recited, “Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear!” Lady Julia raised her hands to her head, pressing her palms against her eyes and cried, “I hear them! All of them! The unanswered prayers of thousands! I have been far outside of my sphere. They call to me!” She lowered her hands, blinking open her black, rodent-like eyes. “But this time,” she hissed, “I don't need a Listener. I don't need a Speaker. I am the Listener! I am the Speaker! I am all that is the Dark Brotherhood – I am the Night Mother! I am Mephala in the flesh and bone!

    Unimpressed, Cicero's jaw hung as drool seeped across the shoulder of Cat's duster. His red, sweaty hair clung to The Wanderer's neck as he nearly lunged forward, but caught himself in a moment's haste, trying to control his sudden hunger for Julia's meat. “Then,” he growled, “why, in all of Oblivion, do you need me?

    Cicero,” she cooed in an ugly voice. “My sweet, beautiful Cicero.” Julia laughed, unwilling to answer his question. Julia moved closer to Cat. Without warning, the Matron raised her hand and struck the Wanderer across the face, knocking her to the ground. With a sudden jolt, Cicero lost all ability to control himself and charged after the Night Mother. Before he could taste her sweet, bleeding flesh between his sharp teeth, X1-81 dove in between them, attempting to wrestle the princeling to the ground. Cicero gripped the Courser's face with a clawed hand, trying to rip X1-81's head clean from his neck. The Courser powerfully kicked the princeling off of him and stood.

    “Now!” shouted Lady Julia. “Hurry!”

    X1-81 scrambled to the Matron's side as she conjured a flame spell, setting the carpet and walls ablaze. Through the flames, Cicero spied the pair de-materializing into thin air as they transported away. As the flames grew higher, smoke choked the jester's breathing. As the room roared with swiftly rising fire, Cicero felt his body quiver and writhe as it settled back into its original form. He was no longer a daedric monster, but his old self. Cicero – the fool.

    By this point, Cat had lifted herself from the floor and dashed for the exit. She held open the door, shouting for Cicero to run. The princeling whipped around and grabbed his Wanderer by the hand and yelled, “Brace yourself!” as he hugged her close. With the Wanderer in his arms, the jester closed his eyes and teleported far away from the Institute, from the Commonwealth, from the earth itself. He sailed through the cold, quiet calm of the Void, following his familiar path back to Nirn.

    Cicero had enough of his Wanderer's world.

    [​IMG]music: Ring Of Fire - Johnny Cash
     
  4. Holiday Feartree

    Holiday Feartree Holiday Feartree

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    The Chronicles of Madness - Volume 1.
    Chp. 19: A Jester's Work Is Never Done.
    Final Chapter.

    [​IMG]



    Cat and Cicero materialized along a walkway, lined with gray stones. She felt the bitter nip of Skyrim's cold wind as it breezed across her naked scalp. Cicero had delivered her just outside of Solitude. The jester was clothed in only his jeans and boots from the Commonwealth. He had long since lost his jacket and daggers somewhere in the depths of the Institute. The princeling shivered from the whisk of chilly air. Without a word, Cat removed her duster and draped it across his naked back.

    The two held one another close in silence as they wearily made their way through the entrance to Solitude. Arms draped over one another, they marched in sync along the complex entryway to the city. Within minutes, Cat and Cicero reached Solitude's main strip. Nords and Imperials bustled up and down the strip, some entering and emerging from the Winking Skeever, others excitedly window-shopping along the local boutiques. The pair lingered in the street; by the looks of them, both stood out like sore thumbs. Some residents' eyes spied the two, staring hard, then quickly glancing away. The Wanderer and the jester decided to duck into the local inn, if only to seek warmth.

    Cicero spotted a quiet table at the back of the Winking Skeever. He took Cat by the hand and led her to it without a word. Neither had spoken to one another since their arrival. So much had transpired since the Institute that both Wanderer and fool were still caught up in trying to process what they'd just experienced. With a tired exhale, Cicero lowered himself to a chair and leaned across the table. There was no grin to be found on his typically manic face.

    Cat sat beside the jester, still clutching his hand. She finally decided to break the silence. “Why did you save me?” she asked.

    Cicero continued to lean, staring down at the table top as if in a trance. “Cicero could not leave you behind,” he answered in a solemn voice.

    Cat took a deep breath, then cleared her throat. “I'm sorry,” she whispered. “I'm sorry for what I said.”

    “You are forgiven, Wanderer,” Cicero whispered back. He squeezed her hand.

    Skeptical, she asked, “How can you so easily forgive me?”

    Cicero glanced up, looking forward. He locked eyes with an Imperial staring at the two of them from the bar. The Imperial's face flashed with embarrassment and he quickly chugged his ale and turned away. “Because,” answered Cicero, “I believe you when you say you are sorry.” He looked at Cat. Her face had cuts and scrapes from their escapades in the Commonwealth. Her black mohawk flopped to one side of her shaved head – the hair was so tangled and disheveled. The Wanderer's flawless green eye stared at Cicero like a sparkling emerald peeking out from an alabaster face, complete with a set of full, pink lips. She looked wild. Wild and beautiful. The jester lifted a hand to her face and leaned forward to steal a kiss. Cat closed her eyes as he pressed his soft mouth against hers, gently rolling his tongue along the very entrance to her lips. Cicero leaned back. “The Wanderer is the most honest person Cicero has ever known,” he smiled.

    Before Cat could respond with an obligatory I love you, she jumped, startled that Cicero suddenly wore his regal jester clothing from the Shivering Isles. The princeling was also startled, and very much perplexed as he glanced down to see the fine dark leather, and reached up to feel the red and black velvet hat atop his head. Cat's duster magically made its way back onto her body.

    “Aren't you happy?” asked an eager voice. “I didn't change a thing about your clothing this time! No red dresses, I promise!”

    The two looked up. Standing next to their table, leaning on his ornate walking stick, was Sheogorath, grinning proudly. “It's been awhile since I've been to Solitude,” he remarked. “I may have to pay an old friend a visit at the palace.” The Mad God erupted with laughter. His joke was lost on Cat and Cicero. “But before I go, son, I want you to know that your task is not over.”

    Cicero grimaced. “Task? What task!”

    “It seems,” explained Sheogorath, “that the old crone has returned, but this time she has new blood. A lot of it.” He paused, smiling at Cat. “And I'm not referring to your blood, young lady.”

    Irritated, Cat flipped him off.

    The Mad God paid her no mind and continued with his update. “The word around Tamriel is that the Dark Brotherhood has been recruiting new initiates like mad!”Sheogorath stopped and turned, stealing a tankard of mead from a Nord woman's hand.

    “Hey!” yelled the woman, her face wrenched with anger.

    Sheogorath lifted the cup to his lips and knocked back the entire drink. He set the tankard down on the woman's table and gave her an insipid nod and wink.

    Bastard...” she mumbled.

    “What exactly is my task this time?” Cicero asked, his tone littered with exasperation rather than curiosity.

    “Simple. I want that creature exterminated. No good can come of her being in Tamriel, especially with that... blond haired, mechanical bodyguard of hers!”

    “Do enlighten me, father,” said Cicero with a critical glare in his eyes, “but why in the name of Sithis can't you exterminate her yourself?

    “Because why steal a learning opportunity from my son?” he grinned.

    Cicero bolted to his feet, scowling at his father with indignation. “You didn't tell me that I would turn into a... a monster! What did I learn from that?”

    “You will learn, dear beautiful boy, that such a feat is something you can do at will.” Sheogorath rummaged through his velvety pockets, withdrawing a single key. He tossed it to Cicero who fumbled, nearly dropped it, then caught it in mid-air. “A house key,” explained Sheogorath. “You can find your new abode not far from the Blue Palace. It's called Proudspire Manor.” The Mad God lowered his brow and looked at Cat, then back at Cicero. “Please don't make a mess, you two. I do vacation there!” Sheogorath smiled, lifted his hand, and snapped his finger. The Mad God disappeared into thin air, without warning.

    Cat sighed. “I don't know if I have the energy for anymore of his bullsh**.”

    Cicero sat back down in his seat. He reached for her hand, dangling the Proudspire key in front of his eyes. “Cicero always has the energy, unfortunately. And father knows it.” The jester paused, lowering the key and placing it in his pocket. “Will you come with me?” he asked Cat. “Or have you chosen to leave?”

    Cat took a deep breath and shook her head as if she disagreed with what she was about to say. “I'll come with you.”

    Cicero gleefully clapped his gloved hands.

    “But I'm still pissed off about Deacon.”

    Cicero smirked and rolled his eyes.

    “Nevertheless,” continued Cat, “I can't leave you to fight a Courser on your own. I don't care how big of a demon-monster-thing you can morph into. You don't fluff with Coursers on your own.”

    Cicero smiled. “That's the honesty Cicero adores.” He stood, reaching a hand to Cat. She took it and stood alongside him. “Well,” said Cicero, “let us be off, Wanderer. This fool has much planning to do.”

    The End.
    The adventure continues in The Chronicles of Madness - Volume 2.

    [​IMG]music: The Jester - Martin Short
     
  5. Holiday Feartree

    Holiday Feartree Holiday Feartree

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