Dark Brotherhood: Ancient Blood 001
"Fool's Gold" ***Author's note: This on-going story has a handful of chapters that have a "mature content" filter on them due to subject matter and adult situations. Everything is written in a tasteful and relatively non-graphic manner, but to abide by Deviantart's terms, the filters are there. To view these chapters- you MUST be logged into an account and your mature content blocker must be OFF. These chapters are typically very important to the plot's progression, so skipping them will cause holes in the story and result in confusion.
The crisp northern air smelled fresh and clean to Jade as she trudged down the cobblestone streets of Solitude. Such a nice change from the last few weeks being holed up in that dank, musty sanctuary in Dawnstar. As a Nord, she preferred the outdoors and was feeling refreshed to finally be out on a quest again. A quick stop in town to grab a few supplies before heading to the south to the hold of western of Skyrim. Word had it of some strange activity from the Forsworn around Karthspire. Jade was always ready for a good fight, especially if rare treasure was involved.
Her companion since the recent purging of the Falkreath Dark Brotherhood, Cicero, the Imperial Keeper and painfully mad former assassin, skipped gleefully behind her. He made quite sure not to step on a crack between the stones. He was also joyous to be out again. He spent nearly a decade in hiding and just being around other people and not having to fight for his life was invigorating.
"I just need to grab a pickaxe and some gloves," Jade muttered glancing back at the fool, "Please, don't draw attention to us..."
Cicero chirped and capered for a few more seconds before slowing to a walk.
Solitude was bustling with more Imperial soldiers than he has seen since his arrival in Skyrim months before. It felt strange. He would possibly never return to Cyrodiil, but this place felt very much like his home. Perhaps he had gotten too used to the barbaric nature of the Nords of this region; He had all but forgotten about the clean sophisticated nature of his race. Cicero was never one to follow the ideals of the Imperial Empire or the whole Talos debacle, oh no. If anything, he felt betrayed by his people. He felt abandoned and judged like an unwanted red-headed stepchild. Leave the war effort to the meatheads. Cicero lived to serve the Dark Brotherhood.
Jade stepped up to the door of the "Bits and Pieces" general store and turned to face the foolishly dressed man. Still distracted by the activity of the town, Cicero almost walked right into her before realizing she stopped. He took a step back and raised his eyebrows awaiting her command.
"Stay out here," Jade said in a quiet tone, "I've got some business to take care of really quick," she motioned to a thieves guild etching on the wall near the lower half of the door frame.
"Of course, my Listener!" Cicero nodded, "Cicero will keep watch from here!" His tone was a bit more enthusiastic than necessary. Jade sighed feeling as if his extreme personality and strangely out-dated garb would draw too much attention. She twisted her lips to the side and squinted her eyes in thought before reaching into her coin purse and pulling out 5 gold.
"Here, " she said as she placed it in his hand, "Go to the market over there and buy yourself a sweet roll or something. We won't be near another town until we reach Markarth in a few days."
Jade hoped that the little errand would keep him distracted long enough to buy her a few minutes to rob this place blind. Cicero clasped his hands together around the gold pieces and bit his lip into a smile.
"Thank you! Yes! Thank you, sweet Listener! You are too good to humble Cicero!" he gasped and bowed his head. With almost no hesitation, Cicero sprinted off into the small market around the left side of the building leaving the Dragonborn to her business. He scanned over the stands looking for the pastry of choice, yet only seeing fresh veggies and fruits. His excitement faded as he stepped over to the veggie stand and handed the merchant 2 gold in exchange for a carrot.
Turning to head back towards the general goods store, Cicero stumbled as he collided with something small. Agile from his years of assassin training, he caught his balance and stepped to the side quickly, glancing down and seeing a small child. She looked about 5 or 6, her face smeared with either dirt or chocolate. By her ripped blue dress, she appeared to be from a rather poor family. Her eyes were full of wonder as she stared up at him.
"...are you a real clown?" She asked in a tiny voice while twisting the bottom of her dress with both hands and swaying a little.
Cicero hesitated after being caught off guard by such a question by such a little person. Yet, almost like it came completely naturally, a smile spread across his face again and he threw his arms out to the sides and bowed.
"Why, yes, little lady! Cicero is a merry-man! A jester of joy! A fool of hearts!" he cheered. The girl giggled and turned to wave at two other children hiding by a market stall nearby. When they saw her gesture, an older boy, perhaps age ten, and another girl around her age, ran over. The two looked to be less well off with tattered attire and scraped up hands from working in a field most likely.
"Do you know any tricks?" The older boy asked without skipping a beat. All this sudden attention made Cicero's heart race. Not just attention, but positive attention. He clapped his hands together and nodded.
"Have you ever been to a backward show?" He chanted as he placed the carrot into his coin purse and removed the remaining gold, "So many pay to see such amusement! Only kings benefit from the free!" He began to juggle the coins while skipping around his small audience. The children gasped as if never seeing such skill. The youngest girl giggled with glee.
"-but here today, you will see, a backward show, just watch me!" the jester sang and then through sleight of hand, the coins seemed to vanish when they hit his palms. "Where is the gold?"
The kids looked surprised and began looking him over. Cicero pretended to be confused and pulled out his pockets and spun around with his arms shrugged. The two youngest children ran closer to him and began pulling at his ratty outfit, searching for a hidden pocket.
"THERE!" Cicero gasped, pointing over dramatically at the older boy who had held his distance, "The gold had left my view! Disappeared, out of the blue!" he stepped over and touched the boy's chest with his fingertip, "But have you ever seen a show, a backward show, that in the end-" He flicked the boy's chin causing him to flinch back slightly to see that the jester suddenly had a gold coin between his index and middle fingers, "...would pay YOU?"
The children exploded with cheers and laughter. Cicero continued to hold the coin below boy's face, not moving. The boy was smiling as the girls clapped and gathered close. A few seconds passed as the boy stared at the coin. Cicero reached down and grabbed the kid's hand and placed the coin in it. The girls suddenly became even more excited as he turned and flipped his other hand open revealing the other missing coins.
"Share," Cicero said holding the coins out for the girls to take, "Share with all your friends and buy yourselves something sweet and unhealthy."
The girls timidly took one gold coin each and smiled up at the generous merry-man. Their eyes sparkled with joy and they both ran off giggling. The older boy nodded thanks to Cicero, seeming a bit more skeptical as he backed away, perhaps worried that this strange man would want the gold back. Cicero bowed and retrieved his carrot from his coin purse and snapped a bite into it as he headed back towards the general store.
"What was that about?" Jade asked, already waiting for him at the edge of the market. Her arms were crossed and it seemed as if she had seen the whole act.
"Happiness, " Cicero replied, crunching his snack, "Everyone deserves some joy."
"Joy? You're an assassin. You kill people for a living," she snorted, hiking a bag up over her shoulder, a pickaxe sticking out the top.
"Did you see their eyes?" he asked as if not even hearing her, "Such admiration and attention! They loved me!"
"They were street children. They love gold." Jade said in a snarky manner heading to the front gate. Cicero sighed. It's hard to be positive with Jade. She's quite a dark soul.
"I love to bring joy to others. It brings me joy. Cicero loves joy..." he muttered.
"That makes you some sort of hypocrite," Jade laughed walking a bit faster than him, "You can't tell me that you like to bring joy to others when you kill people. How do you know that those kids aren't orphans because of a contract on their parents?"
Cicero stopped walking, his arms stiff at his sides. He could tell that there was really no getting through to this woman.
"For someone called, the Listener, you sure don't listen very well, " He hissed.
Jade stopped dead in her tracks, "Excuse me, little man?"
"I don't think you understand anything. I don't kill because I wish harm upon others. The joy Cicero gets from killing is through Sithis-"
"Oh, give me a break," Jade rolled her eyes, "You like to kill because killing is fun. Don't try to tell me that you only do it for specific reasons. You're just not that deep, kiddo."
"You don't know me, Listener!" Cicero huffed, "The pain and sacrifice! Rejection! You don't know what it is like to need love! Everyone loves you! Everyone loves the Dragonborn. The Listener! The leader of the Thieves Guild! Just look at you!" he gestured to her in a dramatic fashion.
Jade put her hands on her hips and leaned her weight onto one leg. She'd never seen Cicero act out like this before. He had a tendency to be over-emotional at random moments, but this actually seemed like he was trying to start a fight... and she never loses a fight. She was ready to hear this little shithead's insults.
"You are beautiful and powerful!" He said in a shaky tone, "Your age is ambiguous and your shape is one of many a man's desire! A voluptuous bosom and slender frame... broad childbearing hips and strong thighs that could tear a man in two-"
"Is there a point to this? Or are you trying to get me to sleep with you?" Jade scoffed.
"Everyone looks up to the Dragonborn! The Night Mother choose you to be the Listener! YOU! OVER ME! ...you have the Black-briars under your thumb... you play the empire like a fiddle and the Stormcloaks fear you! Dragons don't stand a chance! DRAGONS!" Cicero shouted. Jade flinched and motioned to him to keep it down as she moved closer to him.
"What are you getting at, already?" She whispered.
"I'm none of these things. Cicero is nothing."
"You're the Keeper."
"I'm the Keeper..." his shoulders slumped a little and his gaze drifted to the ground, "I grew up in the ghetto of Bruma alone. Even my parents didn't want to bother with me..."
"By Sithis," Jade grunted and turned to walk away, "Don't start."
Cicero looked up to see her heading to the gate again and sprinted after her.
"I never met my father and I barely remember my mother. But Cicero does remember the other children. The street children like me. They didn't like Cicero either. Strange red-headed boy with no one to play with... When I was old enough, I joined the Dark Brotherhood sanctuary in my town and they loved me! They embraced Cicero! They too were abandoned and rejected. The Night Mother became my mother and Sithis my father. I did everything... EVERYTHING I could to please the family," Cicero felt himself having to take wider and wider strides to keep up with Jade who appeared to be trying desperately to separate herself from the conversation. The irony was not lost on him.
"Cicero sacrificed. All I wanted was a family and friends. The Brotherhood gave me this, but I also had to sacrifice the norm," He lowered his tone once Jade paused at the gate. She tightened her grip on the backpack over her shoulder and smiled slightly at the guards. Cicero watched as they looked her over. He knew this too well. They knew she was a thief. They've seen her here before. But, just as expected, the guards waved her through with no issues. Cicero hesitated, watching as Jade passed through the gates and the guards tilted their heads to watch her go... to watch her ass. He pinched his lips together, glared and hurried up behind her.
"Eyes front, gentlemen!" He barked as they closed the gates behind them. Cicero jogged up beside Jade once again to finish his rant, but she continued to turn her head away from him as if avoiding his stare. They walked down the stone path as the sounds of the city faded behind them giving way to the calming sounds of the wilderness.
"Cicero had a love once," He continued, "Oh, yes. Cicero is capable of loving another just as much as anyone! And not the same love he has for Mother, no."
Jade rolled the bag of supplies off her shoulder and tossed it to Cicero like the pack mule he was. He caught it without losing his thought and continued.
"But I sacrificed it. She was a distraction. Cicero was very young and didn't want to disappoint the Brotherhood. They took me in and I owed them. I wasn't going to throw it all away for the chance to..." he hesitated, "for a woman. I hurt her. She's gone now. They all are. My entire family. Dead. Purified. Cicero is the only one left. Cicero is ALWAYS the only one left."
"What are you on about?" Jade finally chimed in, "The Dawnstar Sanctuary may have a small following at the moment, but it's growing-"
"Until when? When will it happen again? When will Cicero be alone again? I've been alone for most of my life... So let me have this. Let me feel loved and accepted for just this moment. Those children loved me, if only for a minute. And Cicero needs love too... I suppose that's hard for you to understand because everything is handed to Jade," Cicero's voice deepened, "Love comes easily to ones like you."
"I don't love anyone," she snapped.
"You love yourself," he replied in a strangely normal voice almost sounding like a different person altogether. Jade stopped walking but didn't turn to face him. She stared off at the treeline ahead.
"...and?" she mumbled.
Cicero finally threw the strap of the supply pack of his shoulder and came to a stop beside her staring off in the same direction.
"To be normal, though?" He said in that same strangely average tone.
"What's normal? I fight dragons. I assassinate emperors. I mingle with vampires. I don't think I want normal. Why would you?"
"Just to see what it's like," He sighed with a sense of longing, "To have a home... friends... a wife... an heir..."
Jade broke the moment with a burst of laughter practically spitting on herself, finally turning her head to look at him.
"Mr.Cicero?" she laughed in a mocking tone, "I can't see that. If you could even FIND a female desperate enough to marry you and foolish enough to bear your offspring, you'd be a horrible father! Look at you! You're a middle-aged man in a clown outfit who oils a corpse for a living! You're a walking joke!" She took a few steps back to get a better look at him.
His faded makeshift jester outfit barely stitched together, covered in dried blood and dirt and who knows what else. His stringy long red hair, unwashed for perhaps weeks, slicked back beneath a tattered donkey eared jester's cap. He was just a mess both physically and emotionally.
"Get your shit together, comrade. I'll have no more of this emotional madman banter if you are to accompany me on my quests anymore. Got it?" Jade commanded with half a smirk.
"...Yes, Listener," Cicero replied, his stoogish yet still depressive tone returning.
TES: Indigo Children 076
Please feel free to comment, but if this isn't your thing (you don't like Elder Scrolls, Cicero, fanfiction, headcanon, my OCs etc) please don't tell me. I don't need negativity and I don't need to know that you don't like my story. I don't need to hear how you don't like Cicero cuz I really don't care if you hate him. I have my own take on things, and I'd like this to be for people who also enjoy deeper concepts and headcanons around the Dark Brotherhood faction in the later 4th era. I'm just having some fun writing a silly story.
Edit: I'm so delighted that so many people have been enjoying my story! Thank you!! And if you are just getting started- WELCOME TO THE MADNESS!!
Ancient Blood ART
Skyrim, Dark Brotherhood, Cicero, etc. all owned by Bethesda
This is a fanfiction written merely for fun mostly for me.
Not gonna lie, I was very sad and heart broken when Jade was being mean to Cicero and saying that he'd never get married or have children. I adore him, he's one of my favorite followers!
Aww, yeah. Jade has some aggressive issues, but no worries. Cicero may be a damaged soul, but he's a smart man. He knows how to deal with the abuse and see past it. There's a lot more to Jade than the bitchy Listener who doesn't listen. :3
I'm so pleased that you are compelled to read more! Honestly, I feel the first 8 chapters are kinda bad cuz I didn't know how to write very well (I'm still learning at I'm on chapter 115!) So I do promise that if you make it through chapter 9... that you will enjoy it more. ^^
aa I finally started reading your story!!!! and I must say, for someone who hadn't wrote anything in over 15 years, I think your writing was good!
It was easy to read for me and you didn't use words to which I had to open google every 5 seconds to understand the meaning x'D it was super cute with how you wrote Cicero interacting with the little children,
and his rather sensitive reaction to Jade.
I barely know anything about Jade so far, but I love her characterization! She sounds like such an enigma and I dig it. 👀 Also you wrote Cicero really well! Every time he spoke I could hear his voice clearly like what you'd hear in the game. Towards the last section of the chapter is when it really started to draw me in; the bit of Cicero back-story you've given us, and Jade who is trying to evade the convo, and then how it ends. MY HEART
I feel for Cicero, and I speculate Jade has a reason for responding/acting the way she does, and honestly I'm excited to find out why. 👀👀👀👀
"For someone called, the Listener, you sure don't listen very well." - also my favourite line in the first chapter, it felt like kind of a burn LOL. Anyways, my first review! I'm not very good at these things, but these are my thoughts. c:
Also, Most of the art in later chapters have hidden clues, be it something in the drawing, the title of the drawing, the lyrics to the song linked in the description, etc. The story can be enjoyed as is, but there is a lot of hidden stuff for those who enjoy figuring things out on the side. I post the teaser art the week before the chapters are posted to see if people get excited or can speculate what's to come. I'm quite good at throwing people off of the trail because not everything is what it seems~ but some of my loyal readers have caught on to that so I'm constantly trying to find new ways to be creative! It's really fun and keeps my brain busy. ^^
I feel that chapter 9 is where things begin to happen but chapter 15 is where most people tend to get an idea of what this story is gonna be like. I hope you continue to enjoy it as my writing style gets gradually better throughout! XD Speaking of which! I'm editing chapter 100 right this moment!! Milestone! :3
'Meatheads' haha, good word for them indeed
*giggling more at his remark to Jade* Maybe she only listens to dead people
Pffft hahaha oh Sithis that's funny "Eyes front, gentlemen!", made up for Jade's dark cloudiness
Damn.. I think she squished my heart as well as his at the end o___o But I'll live
So far this is really good