After a long addiction to Skyrim and adoration for the dark brotherhood, I wanted to know what made Cicero who he is. He's such an interesting and deep character that I decided that I had to know what turned him from an assassin to a crazed jester. This is my take on what happened, enjoy!
It's cold here. Not quite foreign, but not quite home. Then again, I suppose it must be home now. The Cheydinhal Sanctuary is doing alright, but it's slowly failing. Just one less place, one less home, one less part of me to keep, but one more memory. That's all this place is now, a memory. I arrived here a mere month ago from the Bruma Sanctuary. Alisanne Dupre is the Listener, and she and the others welcomed me warmly. They have treated me well, and made this sanctuary feel like home. They try, anyways. Without the little comforts and quirks of my true home, this place can only feel like a home away from home. A permanent transition, it seems.
This sanctuary is pleasant enough. It's quite nice, in all honesty. They understand my pain, my suffering. I lost my old family, and am the lone survivor. I shake away those thoughts, returning to the present. I walk through the dark and comforting halls to my room, grabbing a contract on my way there. To most anyone else, these halls would be disturbing and dark, but not to an assassin. Not to a member of the Dark Brotherhood. To one of us, it is home, through and through. Sculpted from cave and part of old ruins, this place is spacious and reminiscent of a cult. It's beautiful, in a dark way. It has almost a spiritual atmosphere, with arches, vaulted ceilings, darkened, stained glass windows, and cold stone floors.
I glance at the contract. It's in a small nearby village, and is for an ex-bandit by the name of Ralond who lives alone. He is apparently trying to re-enter society as an honest laborer, though obviously someone has a problem with that. I don't particularly care why, though. Not my business to. I cannot help the smile that tugs at my lips, for the art of the kill is truly one worth savoring. The crimson blood that pours from their body, the way the light in their eyes slowly fades, it's an intimate act truly, more intimate than a kiss, more intimate than love. I shall leave for the contract tomorrow, no point in delaying such a thing.
I collapse onto my bed, feeling physically and mentally drained. Such a long day, traveling for hours as I returned to this place, my new home, on my horse. He's a powerful chestnut stallion named Thunder and was a gift from a old friend. My only tie to my past. He's a good horse though, strong and fast. He has served me well through many adventures. I gather my strength and rise, changing into more suitable sleeping attire. I sigh and crawl wearily into bed, closing my eyes and thinking about tomorrow. It seems so full of promise, and a smile touches my lips as I fall asleep.
I wake up at around nine or so. It's Morndas, the day of the kill. I get up and brush my teeth and hair, taking pride in my appearance. It is the last thing people see before they die, after all. I tie back my red hair, leaving it in a loose braid and don my Dark Brotherhood armour. It keep it clean, meticulously so, as appearance is important to me.
The children stood around me, poking and prodding, laughing. They laughed and laughed, making fun of me for looking strange. With a slight build, defined features, auburn hair, creamy skin and dark, amber eyes, I was odd. The others I grew up with all had dark skin, dark hair and dark eyes. Nothing like me, I was exotic, beautiful, but a misfit. I never belonged.
"His clothes are funny too! So strange! Look at him! He doesn't belong here! Go home to your mum! Oh wait, you don't have a mum! Orphan! Orphan! Orphan!" They catcalled and teased me daily. It was true though; I wore odd clothes, and had no mother to run to. I had been abandoned at a young age, and have no memories of my parents. I stayed at the orphanage, and they didn't bother to give me nice clothes. The clothes I wore were clean and dull, made for practical use. I hated them.
I broke free of the circle, running from the taunting and the teasing. They chased me, their long legs pulling them ever closer, and like snarling, ravenous dogs they descended upon me.
I sigh, and sit on the edge of my bed. I remember running until my lung burned, my muscles ached, until I was numb. I had bourn years of gradually worsening abuse from my peers for my appearance. For everything about me, really. After that particular day, though, I would never be the same. I remember it vividly.
"Run Cicero! Run like the coward you are!" Something snapped inside me. I felt my anger burn white hot. I turned on them, making those closest to me freeze. That was new; I had never confronted the mob before. My amber eyes burned with hate and rage as I stared them down. A few of them ran off, leaving about 7. I advanced, and 3 more backed away, fearing the rage they saw seething within me, lurking just beneath the surface. Those were the smart ones.
I drew a small knife from my boot, the one I used to carve wood. I knew in that instant that those sorry creatures were going to die right then, by my hand. One more looked around nervously before bolting, leaving only 3. I charged them suddenly; nimbly dodging a clumsy punch aimed my way. There was a boy on either side of me, and one further to the left. I may not have been big, but I was quick and dexterous. I dove forward and turned to leap upon one's back, clinging to his shoulders. I locked my legs around his belly and dug my fingers into his shoulder, holding myself in place as I drug my knife along his throat. Scarlet blood burst from his severed neck, and I toppled with him. He broke my fall and I rolled forward off his back, stumbling a bit but quickly regaining my footing. The remaining two look at me, terrified, and I grinned. Revenge was so, very, sweet.
I shake my head, recalling the beginning of my career as an assassin. I had no form then, no tact, just malice and pent up anger. But it was a start, and a good one. After that I ran away, and the Bruma Sanctuary took me in, training me. I grab my ebony dagger, the others already tucked into various places in my armour. I fasten it to my belt and leave the Sanctuary, saying a quick goodbye to Rasha, a Khajit who was one of the first to welcome me, and the leader of this Sanctuary. He has been nothing but kind to me and I appreciate it, though he does seem to run hot and cold. The tone he uses when something upsets him is one that promises pain.
I mount Thunder and begin riding to the village and by the time I get there, it's mid afternoon. I dismount and quickly change into normal clothes, as my Dark Brotherhood armour would attract a lot of unwanted attention. I head to the inn, hoping to find some information about Ralond. If not, I'll just work a bit harder. I push the door open and nonchalantly scan the room as I enter. Just my luck, the man himself is within, sitting and drinking merrily. He is easily the largest man in the room, much taller than myself and built like an ox. He's around 6'4 or so, yet looks as though he wouldn't hurt a fly. He is all smiles and wearing casual farm clothes. I walk over to him, a plan rapidly formulating in my mind.
"Excuse me sir, I'm in a bit of a predicament and require some help. As you are by far the most suited for the job, I thought perhaps you could help me out?" He turns to me, never losing his smile. He is a very, very big man… He puts down the tankard of mead he was drinking and stands up, towering over me, as I stand at 5'8.
"And what is it that you need, stranger?" He bellows, his voice deep and thick. I can't help but notice all of his scars, as they seem to be endless. The rest of the patrons in the inn merely converse, paying us no heed. I bite back a chuckle at my good fortune; this is going perfectly. All that's left of this plan is the execution, literally.
"I'm afraid my wagon got stuck in some mud and I can't pull it loose on my own. Can you help me?" I ask smoothly, the lie coming easily. As I rode into town, I couldn't help but notice the mud, and mud is an easy asset. It tends to muck things up and get things stuck. The big man laughs merrily, oblivious to his approaching doom.
"I'll help you; just show me where this wagon of yours is!" He says boisterously. With a seemingly genuine smile, I lead him outside and down the path, seeming very focused and aware of my surroundings, when really I'm observing him. He doesn't look around, doesn't look wearily into the forest as most men do. No, this man is confident. He knows his skills and strengths, but what he doesn't know is mine.
I lead him to a small clearing shrouded by tall grass I found earlier. I motion towards it and he steps off the path. He walks into the clearing, searching. I pull my blade from its sheath silently, and feel the alertness and eagerness of the kill filling me up. With two steps I am upon him, one hand covering his mouth and the other hand driving my blade into his lungs. It's a stretch but I manage, feeling the warm crimson lifeblood flow onto my gloved hands.
His knees go weak and give out under him, and he falls to the ground. A clean kill and a very good one, I chuckle to myself, pleased. I wipe my blade on his shirt and whistle for my horse. Thunder comes galloping up and I leap astride him, feeling his powerful muscles ripple beneath his thick hide. The man isn't far out; the townsfolk will find him within the day. It's perfect, because they will know exactly what happened. I nudge Thunder in the right direction and whisper into his ear, urging him to run.
He bolts, his legs pumping beneath him and his mane flying free. I cling tightly, enjoying the sheer speed of the animal. Just before I reach the Sanctuary I pull Thunder back a bit, and he slows. I dismount and lead him to a small stream where I bathe and change into my armour. Image is everything. I walk into the Sanctuary, and Rasha drops a coin purse into my hands. Not that I need it. Alisanne smiles at me as I walk by.
Alisanne is a vision. She is everything a leader should be, with a toned physique, a charming personality, a strong voice, eyes that speak of intelligence, and a sure-footed walk. She is only visiting though, and has a private home in Bravil. She and Rasha have been discussing re-opening a training center in Black Marsh, but neither seemed very serious about the possibility. We lack the resources to really pull it off.
I sigh and collapse into my bed as I had done before. I've been busy as of late, killing a baroness and her handmaiden, a Grand Champion and not to mention my most recent kill. I sigh, content with my performance as of late. Many years of training have gotten me to this point. It's mid afternoon, and I don't even bother to change out of my gear, I just sleep.
My eyes open abruptly, severing my ties to the wicked, awful dream. My family, I watched them die. All of them! Like once wasn't enough, I now have to carry that weight around. The fact that while my entire family died, I lived. What's so special about me? Why did I live when everyone else died? I sit up and run my fingers through my hair, frustrated. Why me?
I didn't look as they did, but I dressed and walked and talked as they did. I didn't move as they did, for I was better adjusted to shadows and outskirts than even they. We were a family, though. They were my brothers and my sisters, they were my family. Another family that I lost.
I get up and prepare for the day, not wanting the others to see my distress. After all, image is everything. I walk into the dining hall and am met by solemn faces. I sit next to Rasha and an Imperial woman named Kallie. She's a sarcastic girl with a mean streak a mile long. She rarely holds her tongue, and she even more rarely fails to amuse me.
"Wayrest is lost, and the Sanctuary has been destroyed. We just got word today. There were no survivors." A short bark of laughter sounds from Kallie following Rasha's words, and her bitterness is evident.
"We're the hunters, though we are the ones being hunted. We're losing our footing all throughout Tamriel! Soon we'll be naught but a ghost story old fish wives tell children to scare them into obedience." Kallie's words are sharp, and I flinch at her accusing tone. Around the table I hear a soft murmur as my brothers and sisters converse quietly amongst themselves. Night Mother watch over us all, for I believe Kallie is right.
"I wasn't finished, Kallie. I suggest you hold your tongue for once before I cut it out of your mouth!" The sharp hissing tone the Khajit used was filled with venom, and the promise was not an empty one. Kallie instantly falls silent, heeding the words of our leader as keenly as any of us. Rasha continues slowly.
"The Black Hand has come to an agreement, the Corinthe Sanctuary is to be closed, and they will join our ranks. You will welcome them all warmly or by Sithis I will send you to the Void!" He says angrily. I flinch back from his snarling tone and he curls his lip in disgust at the feebleness of it all. With the Corinthe Sanctuary closed, there will be only two left in all of Tamriel. This one, and a small, discreet Sanctuary in the forests of Skyrim. Rumor has it they are no better off than us. The Brotherhood is slowly dying, and we cling to our old ways. Sithis preserve us.
We eat silently, each of us deep in thought at Rasha's words. The Corinthe Sanctuary is at least alive and well. I finish my food quickly and quietly, standing up and leaving the table edgily, not wanting to anger Rasha further. I am no wimp, but the Khajit is unpredictable at times, and I do not want to be so close when he is in one of his rages.
When our Brothers from Corinthe get here I will welcome them warmly, much as I was welcomed. They deserve no less, as they are forced to give up their home to come here. It seems that precious little is going right at the moment, and I can only hope that things pick up. I have no desire to be forced to leave again. This is my home now; I shall defend it like I did the one in Bruma before it fell.
Two weeks drag by uneventfully, without any contracts for me to fulfill. Boredom is setting in, though there are plenty of new people to talk to. The Brotherhood in Corinthe was not huge, but nor was it small. Alisanne returned to her home in Bravil, where a situation there is threatening everything and everyone. The whole city is in an uproar, and there is violence and blood everywhere. Alisanne actually had to hire mercenaries to protect her home.
Apparently the war is between the two largest Cyrodiil skooma traffickers, both of which want dominance. It's a control war, and those tend to be very nasty. A few days ago, the Lucky Old Lady statue was destroyed, marking the full onslaught of the war. How ironic. Perhaps the remains of the statue should be renamed to the Unlucky Old Lady. I am concerned for Alisanne's safety though, for she treated me very well and is a friend to me.
"Cicero." A voice hisses from behind me. I turn to see Rasha, knowing it was him merely because only Khajit speak in such a hissing manor. His face is grave, and I expect the worst automatically. It seems that wherever I go, trouble seems to follow.
"Alisanne was forced to leave her home to protect the Night Mother's crypt. You know the importance of protecting the crypt, don't you Cicero? Yes, the Night Mother is our unholy matron, and she must be protected." He seems to be rambling, reassuring himself of something.
"Rasha let me go and help her! I understand the importance, let me be of assistance! The Night Mother must be protected at all costs, and Alisanne cannot do this alone." I have to help her. If something were to happen to the Night Mother, there would be no Dark Brotherhood. Without the Dark Brotherhood, I am nothing. Just a wandering soul doomed to die without a friend or family to speak of.
"I am sending Garnag and Andronica to help Alisanne. Do not worry Cicero, they understand just as well as you and I what's at stake. We need you here though, to defend the Sanctuary. We are at our weakest right now, and cannot afford to be unprotected. Surely Cicero understands this?" I feel like screaming. I have done nothing here! But Rasha is our leader and I must respect his decision. His hissing voice is grating on my already frayed nerves, making me edgy. I nod my consent, making sure my eyes do not betray my anguish at being kept here.
"Of course Rasha, I shall stay and defend Sanctuary." Rasha looks relieved, not noting the frosty undertone in my voice. My expression and eyes remain neutral, though. After all, image is everything. He hands me a contract and I feel my heart sink. While I will enjoy it, I'm not sure how well I'll be able to focus. I accept it and Rasha stalks off, leaving me alone.
The contract is for a silk merchant in a larger city. It's too late to think about starting the contract today so I merely retire to my room, feeling weary despite my lack of contracts and activity. I fall asleep almost instantly, my dreams once again filled with the screams of my brethren. Will I never escape them?
I wake at dawn, my sleep having been light and unpleasant, troubled as has become normal. It seems that I may never get any peace, but I guess that's just the way of things when you're an assassin. I yawn and get up, still tired. I do my usual morning routine and prepare for to set out.
I enter the dining hall and grab some vegetables and a bit of horker meat and head out, eating as I go. I finish eating and mount Thunder, setting out to kill the silk merchant. I almost wonder what it is she did, but that's none of my business. I only have to kill her, not wonder what she did to anger someone. I ride for the better part of the day, finally reaching the city during the mid afternoon. I enter the city, automatically searching for escape routes in case my plan goes awry.
I make a mental map of it and keep to the shadows, heading towards the home of the silk merchant. It's a nice house; if I were a thief I might be much more interested. As it is, I'm only interested in a single thing that lies within, the merchant herself. I climb up the side of the house, easily finding handholds in the bricks. I scale the walls, using mostly upper body strength and using my feet when I can. Soon I am at her window. I peer into the room; it's empty, perfect. I push open the window and leap in, landing soundlessly.
I walk to the door, opening it a crack and peering out. The house is well decorated, very tasteful and smartly coordinated. It's very neat and consists of mostly darker colors. I rather like it, and I can't help but wonder what Alisanne's house looks like. Is it dark and thickly decorated? Or is it lighter and more open?
I banish those thoughts and focus on the kill. I creep silently down the hall, and hear a voice. The seamstress is singing it seems, but it is time for the songbird to die. I follow the sound to the end of the hall, I press my ear to the door and hear the singing clearly. It's a song my mother used to sing to me, one of the few memories I have of her is her singing that song. It's a simple and sweet song, and I hate the seamstress for it. How dare she sing mother's song? I open the door and see a pretty woman with long, wavy brown hair and alabaster skin. She isn't facing me, so I draw my dagger and come up behind her.
"The Dark Brotherhood says hello." I whisper in her ear before drawing my blade across her throat. She wails pitifully as she dies, and it turns into a gurgle as she sinks to the ground. I run to the window and look out. I'm fortunate; this window looks out just over the wall at the forest beyond. I pull it open, smirking at her foolishness for leaving the windows unlocked.
I step out onto the ledge right as the door opens. A young woman walks in, takes one look at the body and screams. I swear under my breath for not checking to see if the seamstress was alone before killing her. I leap back inside, drawing my blade. She lets out a strangled cry and stumbles back away from me. I pursue her, running towards her to silence her screams. She knows, and one of the unspoken rules is that there must be NO witnesses unless they are supposed to see.
She stumbles and falls, huddling pitifully against the wall and begging for mercy. She has red hair and bright green eyes. A light dusting of freckles cover her nose and upper cheeks, making her pale skin a bit dusky in places. Her eyes are wide with terror as she watches my silent approach. She's sobbing, and I almost pity the poor girl. She can't be a day over twenty and was not meant to die. I pin her hands with one of mine, holding them tight and leaning in to look her in the eye. She looks like me, and if that means anything I'm probably doing her a favour. I lean in and kiss her, reveling in the taste of her mouth as my knife slips between her ribs. I capture her final breath in my mouth, and I can almost taste her innocence. I push the thought from my mind and leave her there to die. It does not do to dwell on those that I have killed; I learned that the hard way.
I leap back onto the window ledge and take a deep breath. I push off, leaping towards the wall, arms outstretched. I land in a crouch, barely managing to keep my balance. I climb down the city wall, and jog to the stables. I whistle when I'm pretty close, and Thunder gallops towards me. Sometimes it seems like his energy is limitless. I mount him and begin the ride back, knowing I'm going to have to spend the night somewhere tonight.
I pass through a small town and decide to stop at the inn there. It's called the Strutting Sabercat. An odd name, but many inns have strange names it seems. Though this one seems rather familiar... I give Thunder to the stable hand and enter the inn. I pull out ten coins and buy a room for the night. I sit down for a hot meal and am immediately ambushed by a short, slender woman with curly black hair and big brown eyes.
"Cicero!" She screeches animatedly. She grins, her full lips painted a dark red that contrasts her tan skin. Luciana rushes over to me and hugs me tightly, showing her straight white teeth.
"Why, I thought you'd never return!" I remember why this place sounds familiar now. I came here about a year ago. I stayed for nearly three weeks, recovering from a particularly nasty fight with a troll. Luciana helped nurse me back to health, and she enjoyed my company quite a bit, as travelers were rare in small towns like this one. It's off the main road, and you only really find it if you're looking for it, or you happen to stumble upon it when you're lost and delirious. She was particularly fond of me and insisted I visit. I promised I would with no real intention to and smiled; they don't call me the Fool of Hearts for nothing.
"Ah Luciana, it's been some time. You are looking well and haven't aged a day. How do you fare?" I ask politely, trying to calm her down. She babbles on about some boring things like farming and livestock while I pretend to listen. She sits down across from me and continues to blather on about random things, until she says something that catches my attention.
"My sister lives in Skyrim now, in the city of Dawnstar. She said that the Dark Brotherhood killed some old woman there, and that she hadn't even heard of them until then. Have you heard of the Dark Brotherhood, Cicero?" She asks innocently, eyes wide. I cock my head to the side, irritated by the question.
"Of course, the Dark Brotherhood is a powerful assassin's guild. Not so long ago, they were one of the most feared guilds in all of Tamriel. The Dark Brotherhood has toppled entire governments, and killed Kings and Emperors alike. Mothers used to tell stories of the legendary assassins to scare children into obedience, saying that they would kill bad little children. That's not true though, they only come to those who perform the Black Sacrament, which is some sort of taboo ritual." I explain, careful not to reveal more as not to draw suspicion. Her eyes are wide as saucers, and for a moment I'm half worried that they'll just fall out of her head. That would be rather comical, and not unenjoyable.
"I'm in need of rest, so if you'll excuse me." I stand up and walk to my room. I change into night clothes and lay down, my eyes drifting shut. For once my dreams are not torturous and filled with death. They are happy, and of better times. I sleep well for once, and at dawn I gather my things and leave, not bothering to say goodbye.
I finally make it back to the Sanctuary around noon, and the second I open the door, I know that something's wrong. I look around and feel my blood turn to ice. A great stone coffin rests in the middle of the sanctuary, but the only one who returned is Garnag.
Alisanne and Andronica, they are dead. We gather around Garnag while he tells the gruesome tale that has even me wishing I had not heard. Alisanne is dead, killed by mages fire. And Andronica was cut to pieces. I wince at the retelling, and can already see their ghosts in his eyes.
Night Mother protect us, I pray that we're not next.
Hello my lovelies! I love writing this story because I get to really explore Cicero's sanity and what caused him to lose it. Fascinating, no? Anyways, I hope you all enjoy it.