Dark Brotherhood: Ancient Blood 003
*Author's note: If you are wondering where chapter 2 is- you need to turn off your "mature content" filter under your account settings. Also, if you are not logged into a DeviantArt account, you will not be able to view mature content chapters either. Skipping mature content chapters will leave huge holes in the story and cause confusion. The filters are in place to abide by DA terms, but I keep the content itself relatively tame.
Jade shivered a little, as she opened her eyes. She squinted up at the clear morning sky. Little droplets of dew glistened on her skin. The crackle of the campfire blended with the sounds of the river flowing calmly nearby. Cicero's red tunic, now completely dry, wrapped around her like a blanket. Jade was laying on her side in the sand with her legs pulled up in a fetal position for warmth.
The sound of shifting wood caught her attention. She sat up slowly and turned her head to see Cicero, still obviously shirtless, standing next to the fire, using his boot to scrape sand onto the flames. Without looking back at her, he smiled.
"Good morning, Listener! It's a good clear day for travel!" He cheered.
Jade stretched her arms above her head and yawned, arching her back. Her bare chest became exposed from the tunic and she quickly dropped her arms and clasped it closed. Something about the bold daylight and the occurrence from the night before made her feel less secure about exposing herself. She cleared her throat and spit toward the dying fire.
"You kept the fire alive all night?" She asked in an impressed tone, "Did you sleep?"
"Cicero had to feed the fire since the wood was wet, " he replied in a melancholy tone, flipping the charred logs with his foot, "I can sleep when we get to Markarth. We can afford a room at an inn with some of the return on the treasures!" His voice shifted to gleeful optimism... which isn't anything strange Jade had noticed in the few months she has known him.
Cicero continued to snuff the flame with the dirt using the toe of his curled jester boot while holding a handful of what appeared to be wild berries still on the stem. He picked several off at a time with his other hand and popped them in his mouth. Jade assumed he knew a thing or two about botany if he was confidently eating a strange fruit he found in a region he was unfamiliar with... or he was going to be quite sick later. She decided not to ask. That was his problem.
Jade stood up and brushed the dirt from her knees. The leather armor that she had washed in the river was laid out flat on the rocks above the camp in the sun. She didn't remember spreading them out so cleanly to dry but hey. Awesome. Her eyes darted back over to Cicero who was picking his teeth with the stem from the berries, not looking at her. She moved over to the rock face and gathered up her leathers. The shadow from the large rock gave her just enough privacy to remove the tunic and begin equipping her armor.
When the wood stopped smoking, Cicero chucked the stem into the pile and yawned. He had stayed up all night to tend the fire and keep watch for any wandering forsworn. His head throbbed from lack of sleep, but this was nothing new. He was very used to going several days without rest, sometimes while keeping watch for his own safety. He had found many tricks to keep his mind aware while running on fumes. Humming and making up songs and rhymes. Constantly moving, sometimes resulting in dancing. Purposely eating vegetation that would make him feel ill. No one can fall asleep feeling like they are going to throw up or shit themselves. He never complained. Simple and silly tricks to stay alive. Because a sleepy adventurer is a dead adventurer.
Cicero sauntered over to the riverside, scratching the back of his head. He waded in a few feet, submerging his boots with no concern. The water seemed strangely warm. A lot warmer than it was last night... especially for this climate. He pulled down at the front of his pants and adjusted himself-
"Are you peeing!?" Jade shouted from camp. She stepped out from behind the rock and threw his tunic toward him making sure not to land it in the water.
"Quite so, Listener," Cicero replied, taking in the surroundings bathed in the crisp morning sun. He whistled a random tune, rocking back and forth on his heels. Jade scoffed in disgust. How dare he? Right in front of her first thing in the morning!
"Do women not also urinate from time to time?" He chuckled as he finished his business and flipped the front of his pants back up.
"Of course we do! But we have more modesty about it and-" Jade paused when she noticed him draw his blade from his belt. His back was to her so she couldn't see his expression, but could tell that he had noticed something across the river. She held still and reached over her shoulder to rest her hand on the handle of the sword strapped to her back. What did he see? Calling out to ask could prove to be too dangerous. She decided to wait until he made a move.
"What's that...?" He asked as he shifted forward into the water current. Jade slowly made her way toward the river and scanned the area he was walking to. Then she saw it. It looked like a pale body floating along the opposite shoreline near the steps to the ruins. She grunted and lowered her hand from the sword.
"A body. Probably one of the forsworn from last night," She explained, "I'm sure he got caught in the current and pulled up this way. Let's go." Jade turned back around going to retrieve the backpack of treasures and Cicero's cap and gloves from the camp. "Markarth is about three hours southwest of the river. I'd really like to get this stuff sold."
Cicero wasn't so convinced as he approached the body. Something looked off about it. The warm waters seemed to have built up a small cloud of subtle steam around it. He used the side of his blade to lift the shoulder.
"Elven female," He noted, "She's... bleeding?"
"Yeah, that's what happens when you get your ass killed," Jade chuckled as she waded up behind him, the pack over her shoulder, "Forsworn never seem to learn."
"She's not forsworn."
"Eh, maybe a victim of the forsworn? Sabrecat attack? Troll attack? I don't care," Jade mumbled and slapped Cicero on the arm, "Let's move."
Cicero used his foot to flip the body over completely, her flesh was bluish white and covered in both scars and fresh cuts. She was clothed in a ragged burlap skirt and top which were barely stitched together. Ice crystals sparkled in her short curly white hair... ice crystals? The temperature of the river came into question again.
"Cicero has never seen a mer like this," He explained in a curious tone as he re-sheathed his dagger, "She's too pale to be Bosmer, face too round to be Dunmer, to small to be Altmer?"
"She's a deadmer!" Jade laughed, pleased with her joke. He didn't join the chucking. "Oh, come on. Your jokes aren't any better."
Cicero finally reached out and touched the elf's skin. It was ice cold which, in this climate, made perfect sense for a corpse in the water... but the water was very warm right now. All of this made him uncomfortable. The scars across the girl's body looked to have been inflicted by a weapon of sorts, but the fresh cuts, which were starting to bleed more rapidly into the water, appeared to be more from a fall or a natural series of injuries.
"What are you," Jade sighed, "'detective Cicero'? You gonna solve the murder of the elven whore?""Whore?" Cicero glanced up at her.
"Look how she's dressed. Street whore. Is that why you're so interested? She's your type?" Jade joked.
Cicero still wasn't laughing. He was distracted by all the contradicting and seemingly unnatural things happening here.
"She seems rather young," He replied, holding her head above the water to see her face better. Then he noticed the brass collar clamped around her throat.
"OH! You go for the young ones, then. I learn more an more about you every day," Jade mocked.
Cicero smirked and glanced up at Jade, "Oh, yes, Listener. Cicero prefers females his junior! Perhaps that's why he sees no interest in the Listener!"
Jade's cocky grin slammed into a grimace, "Listen here, you little shit! You are clearly older than I am! And you just made yourself sound like a pervert! Tho, I would have assumed you were into the older types! Little Cicero on the prowl for a MILF. A night MILF, perchance?"
"Don't be ridiculous! Cicero loves the Night Mother as his own mother!" His tone sounding quite offended, "To insinuate anything else is just vile!"
"Momma's boy," She huffed.
"Diseased courtesan!" Cicero shouted, releasing the elven's head from his hands and standing to face this disrespectful woman. Jade curled her lip and took a step toward him.
"40-year-old three-inch virgin!"
"Tramp! Floozy! You have ridden so many men that your purse is weaker than a horker's anus after eating fermented fish gut!"
Jade's frown curled back into a smile. She opened her mouth to retort, her jaw locking trying to keep from laughing. His face was so serious, but he was damn good at this game of insults.
"When you were born, your mother didn't know whether to nurse you or bury you in a compost pile!" She finally belted out, leaning forward intently, bracing herself in this delightful game of wit.
Cicero was still not smiling. It was almost as if he really was bothered by her insults. And he called himself a jester? This should be his wheelhouse! He twitched slightly, clenching his fists.
"Your alteration skill must be 100 with the ridiculous size of your chest-" He stopped mid-sentence as the body in the water beside him started to move. His attention was quickly diverted back to the girl, "She's alive..."
Jade, feeling disappointed with not being able to finish this invigorating spat, groaned and crossed her arms.
"What do you want me to do about it? I have a heavy pack of treasures I'd like to get to the city," She complained, "If you are so obsessed with this elf, then you are on your own."
Cicero lifted the girl's head from the water, resting it on his knee as she began to sputter slightly. He then noticed the same type of brass buckles around the elven's wrists, broken chains attached.
Cicero reached down and scooped the girl up in his arms. Her skin was like ice against his and her limbs felt stiff and unmoving. She was very small for an elf who clearly wasn't of bosmer blood, the smallest of the mer races. He carried her back to the shore and laid her on the sand in the sunlight to get a better look at her. Jade didn't follow.
"I'm going," She huffed, "You want to play hero, go ahead. She's just some random elven slave who's basically done for. You should just do us all a favor and send her to Sithis." Jade patted the Blade of Woe strapped to her hip.
Cicero shook his head, "Maybe this means something?" He mumbled, pulling at her eyelids, noticing that her left eye was a faded shade of blue while her right was a bright deep ruby red. "Can you hear me, young miss?" he asked, patting her cheek.
Jade threw her hands in the air, "FINE! You can adopt her! Name her and she's yours! But she had better be potty trained!" she shouted, not sounding entirely like she was joking.
The elven girl's purple-blue lips quivered as her jaw chattered. She seemed unable to open her eyes on her own. Cicero instinctively wrapped his arms around her and held her against his body to warm her. He glanced over at Jade.
"Cicero will help her," he stated in a warm tone, "It's going to be okay."
Jade raised her eyebrows, "You can carry her then. Markarth!" she snapped her fingers impatiently, not wanting to argue about this anymore, pointing to the west.
"She needs care. We should take her back to the sanctuary to recover."
"Nooooooo," Jade whined, "Markarth is just a few hours from here! Dawnstar is a two day's walk in the opposite direction!" she lifted her shoulder with the large backpack on it, "Treasure, remember?"
"She's quite clearly someone's slave. It wouldn't be safe to take her into such a populated area in her condition," Cicero tried to explain, "She can't defend herself and there's obviously something strange about her-"
"The only strange thing I see is a shirtless middle-aged man hugging an unconscious teenage-looking elf girl on a beach while begging to take her home, " Jade squinted at him.
Cicero released the girl and stood up to grab his tunic from the shore. He began tying it on as Jade waited patiently for his retort. He said nothing. Instead, Cicero returned to the girl and picked her back up with ease. The elf weakly held her arms around his shoulders while resting her head on his collarbone.
"We are going back to Dawnstar. There should be a carriage in Morthal we can take," he explained.
Jade waded through the water back to the shore to meet up with him. Her expression said everything.
"Morthal!?" She exclaimed.
"It's the same distance to Morthal to the east as it is to Markarth to the west! Do you ever cease the complaints?"
Jade fell silent. Mostly out of shock that he was actually talking back to her. Who is calling the shots here!? She can't let him start this shit again! She was the Dragonborn. She was the hero of this story, NOT the idiot jester who not so low-key wants his own pet slave girl to take home!
"NO! Uh-ah! You are not making the descis- where are you goi- don't walk away from me!" She snapped as Cicero carried the half-frozen girl up the banks to the east, heading for the dirt path. He ignored the Listener's bitching. Jade felt bewildered. Where'd the respect go? Her hand hesitated over the blade on her hip as she glared at him walking away. Why was he acting this way suddenly? Out of spite? Was it because of the exchange the night before?
Jade lowered her hand from the blade. Her jaw locked as she ground her teeth. Alright... fine. She could sell the goods in Whiterun after they stop off in Dawnstar. She hiked the bag further up her shoulder... it was not going to be fun carrying this. That was Cicero's job. She felt over-encumbered after the first few yards and slowed her pace never releasing him from her glare. She was the hero. Not him.
Jade quietly followed him at a distance up the path.
TES: Indigo Children 112
Chapter 112: “Cheese the Day” “Oh my gods, Jullien!” Eris whined as she snapped her neck forward, “How am I supposed to sleep with you lumbering like a drunken three-legged mule!?” She rubbed the back of her head and wiggled about in his arms trying to get comfortable though it seemed rather pointless. Poor Julie had been carrying her dead weight for several hours and his arms were beyond tired. At least before, he didn’t have to worry about how softly he stepped when she was unconscious from the poison… or after being stabbed by the guard… or when he had knocked her out with the tonal device- Okay, so Jullien still felt really bad about all of those situations which he was fully responsible for so of course, he wasn’t going to complain or protest. Not that he would anyway. Jullien carefully readjusted his grip and slowed his pace, trying to be mindful of every step to soften her ride, but not before awkwardly stumbling over a patch of ice. Eris groaned in defeat
The third chapter of my Dark Brotherhood fanfic "Ancient Blood". FINALLY, the first part of the main plot is starting... I'm so long-winded! I had to cut this chapter in half cuz it was starting to get long!
Anyway, the power struggle continues and begins to shift as Cicero pushes his boundaries and Jade is unsure of how to react at this point.
ANCIENT BLOOD ART
Anyway, the power struggle continues and begins to shift as Cicero pushes his boundaries and Jade is unsure of how to react at this point.
ANCIENT BLOOD ART
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