Chapter SummaryAfter all the dust settles, and Cicero embarks on a new phase of his life, he decides it's time to restart his journal...
Chapter NotesThis is it, readers. The epilogue. OMG where has the time gone, it seems like only yesterday Cicero was standing by the road swearing at his broken down cart and then turning to see a dragon staring at him. Now look at him. I'm so proud.
Epilogue: Cicero's Journal, Volume Seven
25th Morning Star 4E 202
So seeing as the Listener found the old volumes, Cicero had best start his journal afresh, hmm? The others are hidden now, in a safer, better hiding place, far from prying Listeners and sisters and anyone else who might want to know what the Fool of Hearts is up to.
Where to begin? So much has happened! Cicero lost the Listener but got her back. Alduin is dead. The Dark Brotherhood killed an Emperor! We also killed Ulfric Stormcloak, ended the Skyrim Civil War and got dear Eola's father a kingdom. I've already told the story many times, Esbern in particular was most keen to have all the details. Apparently the Blades of old had only two people who knew all the secrets of the order, the Grand Master and the Chronicler. Apparently Esbern's now the Blades Chronicler and the Brotherhood's too. He seemed a bit too interested in the gory details, but Cicero understands. We'll make an assassin out of him yet.
Speaking of which, the Aretino child's training is coming along nicely too. He can sneak almost as well as me now. Worrying, frankly. Nearly as tall as me too. All the same, he's doing well. I'm rather proud of him.
Delphine named me her Keeper and a week after New Life Day, she kept her word and took me to Riften to be wed. Humble Cicero is married. I can barely believe it, but I have the ring still. It's there, heavy on my finger, a constant reminder that I'm someone's. I... I'm the Listener's husband. At some point, I may get used to this, but for now, not a day goes by when I don't thank the Night Mother for my good fortune. When I think of how my life has changed in only a few short months... I look back and sometimes I'm not even sure I'm the same man. Eola says I've not changed that much though, and Delphine just tells me we're all changing together. As long as it brings me nearer to her, not further away, Cicero is content.
We went back to Cyrodiil for our honeymoon. Odahviing flew us down to Cheydinhal, and I showed my Listener the Sanctuary there. It was very dusty and a little run-down, but liveable. Smaller and darker than I remember it. I showed her the torture room Andronica and I used to use. We didn't use it ourselves, it didn't feel right, but she thanked me for bringing her there.
She liked the library. She liked it very much indeed. So much old Brotherhood lore there! And Rasha's office with all sorts of interesting documents and contacts. Cicero never bothered with them, he could never leave Mother before, but the Listener found much of interest. We ended up taking half of it back with us, and I have a feeling that Aranea and her Butcher and her Thief may be paying the place a visit to fetch the rest. Delphine says that one day, when we have more people, she might re-open it. Cicero would like that. He does not think he will go back there, not to live. Too painful. But it is one of the oldest of our Sanctuaries and to have it in use again would be only fitting.
Cyrodiil is calmer now – Tullius took the Legion home, was welcomed as a saviour and has taken over as interim governor until the Elder Council can choose a new Emperor. Cicero thinks he can guess who that will be.
Skyrim is also at peace now – the Moot met, chose Elisif as Queen, and she's signed a treaty with Madanach as promised. There's been some grumbling but so far no real trouble. The announcement of her engagement caused rather more discontent, mostly from heartbroken men in taverns bewailing their misfortune at getting overlooked. Still, Delphine is keeping an ear to the ground for any plots against either of them. Can't have amateurs getting in on the assassination game, can we now?
The wedding is to be held in Second Seed. We're providing the security arrangements. Madanach said he wanted the experts co-ordinating it all. First time Cicero has ever been hired to prevent assassinations, but the money is good and we do after all know how to think like assassins.
Cicero is going to be a guest of honour! Delphine will be busy keeping out of sight and watching for trouble, and Eola has to be there in her role as daughter of the groom and she needs someone to have on her arm to ward off suitors. Apparently princesses are not allowed to stab unwanted admirers, certainly not at their father's wedding anyway, so she wants me there to scare them off. Heh. That is easy, all they have to do is get to know her, that will send most of them running.
Eola. Dear Eola. Dear Listener-borrowing Eola. So far she has yet to break the Listener's heart or even really upset her. I suppose this is probably a good thing. We have an arrangement – Morndas, Middas and Fredas are Eola's nights in her bed. Tirdas, Turdas and Loredas are mine. Sundas we both join her. We don't do anything terribly carnal beyond cuddle and kiss and talk when it's all three of us. Delphine just likes having us both around. We're good company apparently. It was a little awkward at first and Cicero is still not used to it. But Delphine emerges after her nights with Eola looking so happy and radiant that I know I made the right choice. Eola and I were a little uncertain about how to act around each other at first, but then she stole my hat and ran off with it and I called her names which I will not repeat here but which did incur the Listener's wrath, so all is back to normal.
Cicero does now have his own room, although he's not in it very much, only on Eola's Listener nights. It gets lonely. But that is why he has Lucien. Cicero's very fond of Lucien. Lucien's very patient with Cicero too. Not kind, no, Lucien Lachance does not do kindness. Lucien does brutality and fierceness. He lets poor Cicero cuddle him though. I told him it was good to be disciplined by someone who didn't love me. Delphine is strong and firm with me, but she also treasures me as her Keeper so it's rare that I'm ever in true fear of her. Lucien on the other hand is terrifying and Cicero loves it. I told him all this and he looked at me very strangely and asked if that was really how I wanted it to be. Well, yes, why wouldn't I? I could have sworn this made him a little bit sad, but Lucien doesn't do sadness, surely?
I still tend to the Night Mother, usually on Fredas while the Listener's busy with Eola. Possibly not for much longer though. Delphine thinks my time could be better spent serving Mother in other ways, and so she has Aranea and the Butcher researching. Apparently they both went on some adventure to Winterhold and came back with the Oghma Infinium in their heads, and what with the Keeping Tomes and the various books from Cheydinhal and the money from killing Ulfric, they think they can build Mother a new crypt. A new Shrouded Chapel, so I won't need to maintain her any more. I don't entirely know how to react. I've been Mother's Keeper for so long, the idea of not being is a little strange. But the Brotherhood has changed and so have I. If the Listener thinks this is a good idea, then so be it. She says there'll be a cage keeping the unworthy from handling Mother and only she and I will have keys. If I want, I can still tend the shrine, keep the candles lit and flowers seen to. I will, of course I will. I'll probably train the Aretino child to help though.
Talking of shrines, Madanach has clearly not forgotten his friends. He cannot exactly make our work legal, but when he and Nepos drafted the Reach's new legal code, they conveniently forgot to add in any laws making it illegal to belong to the Dark Brotherhood or to contact them. If any of us get caught killing someone, we'll still be arrested for murder, but we don't have to hide who we are. Better – we can advertise. Madanach had the Shrine to Talos removed from Markarth and replaced it with a Temple to the old gods. The Shrine's old room is now dedicated to Anu and an abandoned residence called Vlindrel Hall is now a Temple to Sithis. I am stunned, honoured and touched, and even Delphine forgave him for the Talos Shrine removal after hearing that. Nice Muiri from the Hag's Cure has moved in to act as a permanent Temple attendant and vendor of various alchemical delights, and Madanach's assigned the place a guard of its own to ensure no one causes any trouble. It's unlikely they would, but one never knows. He is called Argis the Bulwark and while he's a Nord, his father was a Reachman so he knows the old gods as well as the Eight. Eola and I take it in turns to visit twice a week each, partly to ensure the place is in good shape and partly to have informal chats with interested visitors. And if said interested visitors wish to enquire about how much it might cost to have us bring the good news about Sithis to certain of the uninitiated, or to make sizeable donations to the Temple as a way of ensuring Sithis takes care of the soul of someone recently departed, or indeed wishes to offer their services as a sworn servant of Sithis themselves, well, that is all to the good.
Delphine's placed me in charge of vetting new recruits. Me! Apparently if they're not put off by me, she thinks they'll fit right in. I'm not sure what she means by that, but it does mean that when someone asks about joining at the Temple, or the Night Mother whispers their name in Delphine's ear or they come to our notice some other way, I am to find them, assess their suitability and give them a test contract then bring them to the Sanctuary if they pass. Delphine says that seeing as I'm probably going to keep turning up with waifs and strays anyway, I may as well be the official recruiter. Heh. Cicero likes this idea.
Harlot Astrid of course still does her own recruiting, but she's been no problem. She was positively friendly when Cicero last saw her at his wedding. Cicero doesn't trust her, doesn't really like anyone at that Sanctuary other than the unchild. But still, we don't get to choose our Family.
Talking of family, Cicero has his own again. I can summon my blood mother from Sovngarde with a Shout. Of all the things to happen, save only marrying the Listener, I think that's the best thing to happen to me personally. I've missed her. Once a week, for one hour, sometimes a little more often if I'm feeling lonely, I call her to talk. It is so good to have her here, even if she and Delphine aren't so comfortable around each other. Mama thinks the Listener is more interested in my dragon blood than me, and I'm not sure Delphine likes having people around she can't give orders to, but they've managed not to argue. Cicero is pleased with this.
Cicero is less pleased with Lucien's shameful advances to his dear Mama. The man has no decorum.
Cicero has tried learning Shouts from his mother, but without success. He hears the words but can't feel them. So he visited Arngeir to ask, and learnt that Shouts can either be read or learnt from another, but only if that other can actually breathe. How very frustrating. Fortunately Arngeir is a kind man and told me that he and his brothers can hear where the Word Walls are. There's one in a place called Valthume not far from here, and another in Volunruud. If I can find those, Arngeir will point me in the direction of more. Cicero is very pleased to hear this, very pleased indeed. He had thought his adventuring days over, but it appears there are more to be had!
Cicero's life is not a bad one, all in all. He's happy. He's not been happy in a long time. Humble Cicero does not expect or want a lot out of life. He doesn't need wealth or fame or power. Just friends and family and things to stab. Odahviing thinks I should be a little more ambitious, but I'm already married to the Listener. What have I got to aim for, really? Not much more.
Tomorrow, Odahviing and I are taking a surprise trip to Cheydinhal. Need to get Delphine some flowers. Pretty, pretty flowers! She likes roses but Skyrim's too cold for them. So Cicero's going to Cyrodiil to find some for her. Sapphire suggested covering the bed in rose petals for her, so Cicero's going to try that. And if he's really lucky, Delphine might get creative with the thorns...
Cicero's a lucky fool. A very lucky fool indeed. I don't know what the future will bring, but this I do know – I have my Family back. I lost them once, I'm not losing them again. It is my sworn vow to do all in my power to ensure we stay together and stay strong. United, the Dark Brotherhood can do anything. Night Mother willing, we will.
Chapter End NotesA/N: THAT'S IT! Oh my god, I can't believe it's all over. This was a story that begged to be written the moment I read the prompt, and it took on a life of its own and took over my life until I finished it. Now it's done, and I will miss it. I hope you all enjoyed it - thank you all of you who left comments, they were a delight to read. I am thinking of sequels, so this is not necessarily the last we have seen of Cicero Dragonborn. Keep an eye on AO3, also the Cicero Fan Club on Deviant Art.