Why Cure Madness?
LDR: So yeah. I'm trying Skyrim stuff now. And since Cicero is my favorite character, I knew I had to do something involving him. So I did.
The title probably doesn't need to be explained but I feel like it. The main portion of this one-shot is centered around the quest The Cure For Madness, in which you are supposed to kill Cicero. Thus, the cure for his madness is his death. Well, spoiler alert, he doesn't die in this one-shot. Hence, the 'cure for madness' is never administered. Cause why cure madness when you can befriend it and have it as your loyal, if creepy, servant?
My OC, Shata, is pretty much like the player character in that she's the Dragonborn and the Listener. Except she's not too thrilled about being the Dragonborn. I might do a fic that features her story if enough people are interested. But not until I finish Unova's Downfall, because it really deserves an ending after being restarted three times and going on for...two? three? years now. Yikes.
So anyway, I don't own Skyrim or its characters or whatever. Don't steal Shata. She's mine.
On to the story!
Home. She was almost home. Another contract had been successfully completed, and the Listener of the Dark Brotherhood could return home, to her Family, her Brothers and Sisters, to Veezara.
To deal with that mad Jester that was constantly treading the line between annoying and amusing.
Shata sighed, turning her horse off the path, towards the door of the Sanctuary. Life in the Dark Brotherhood had been fine before the arrival of the Keeper. The Family had functioned well enough. Of course, she had been immensely pleased by the arrival of the Night Mother and the choosing of a Listener–though she'd never imagined it would have been her–but the Keeper... At the best of times, he was certainly amusing, to a degree. Often he was borderline annoying, and it had only gotten worse after she'd been named Listener. He'd taken to trailing after her around the Sanctuary like a puppy, jumping at the chance to perform any little task for her. Shata could sharpen her blades and repair her armor on her own just fine! He paid more attention to her than Veezara did, and she and Veezara were mates for Mother's sake!
The dark-scaled Argonian brought her horse to a halt in front of the door of the Sanctuary, dismounting and, without even a glance at the beast, drew her knife and slashed it across the horse's neck. Tying it up out here could give away the Sanctuary should it make enough noise and someone was in the area. And turning it loose would have been just as bad. Riderless horses raised questions and investigations. She could always buy a new one.
The tack was removed and hidden for later use, then the body of the horse was faced. A whisper rose from Shata. "Fus ro dah." Despite the low volume of her voice, the words thrummed with power, and the corpse was violently flung away, deeper into the forest where a pack of wolves or a bear might feed upon the carcass.
Satisfied, Shata turned to the door, activating it and entering the Sanctuary. Then she paused. Astrid wasn't at her usual spot, bent over a map spread out on a table in the first room. It was odd. Not necessarily alarming, but still odd. With a small shrug, she moved further into the Sanctuary, slipping into the next room and freezing as the scent of blood–Veezara's blood–hit her. There were her Brothers and Sisters, gathered in a loose circle, plenty of gaps there for Shata to catch glimpses of Veezara on the ground through. She pushed her way to her mate's side, dropping down beside him. "What happened? Are you alright?"
"I am fine, my love. It only hurts when I laugh," came the chuckled reply before the male Argonian winced.
"Shata, you're back. Good." The Listener glanced up at Astrid, but remained crouched by Veezara. "You'll want to hear this."
"Maro is dead, I know. But we've got bigger problems right now. The fool went absolutely berserk. He wounded Veezara, tried to kill me, and then fled. I knew that lunatic couldn't be trusted."
"Cicero?" Shata felt the corners of her mouth tug down into a frown. "Impossible. He may be mad, but he would never do anything to incur the wrath of Sithis."
"It's true I'm afraid," Festus cut in. "Cicero was a little whirlwind, slashing this way and that. Would have been funny, if he weren't trying to murder us all."
And now Nazir joined in. "Don't forget the ranting and raving. About how the Night Mother, how she was the true leader of the Dark Brotherhood and Astrid was just a pretender," the Redguard said.
"Look, we've got to deal with this situation." Shata forced her attention back to Astrid. "You've got to deal with this situation."
"I just got back from killing Maro," the Argonian responded, irritation present but not prominent in her voice. "And it's my mate that's been injured."
"Don't worry about me, Shata. Babette saw to my wound." Veezara brushed a hand along Shata's arm.
Shata hesitated. On one hand, she wanted to stay with Veezara. On the other, a little revenge could be nice. And she wasn't that tired. With a small nod, her pine green gaze flicked back to Astrid. "What do you want me to do?"
"I want you to find that miserable little fool and end his life!" came the prompt response. "But first... Find my husband. Make sure he's alright. After the attack, Arnbjorn flew into a rage. When Cicero left...Arnbjorn went after him. They disappeared into the wild. Search Cicero's room. Maybe there's something in there that can shed some light on where he might have gone. Let me know the minute you find something. I'll see to Veezara, and I have to calm everyone else down." The last sentence was spoken quietly, no doubt intended only for Shata to hear. Again, the Argonian gave a nod, murmuring thanks before turning away to head for Cicero's room.
She found it easily enough, despite having never been inside it herself. Her search turned up a handful of journals, and she took a seat on the edge of the bed to flip through them, scanning their contents. Interesting. Cicero had been sane once. Who would have thought? ... Actually, the story described in the journals was one that allowed even her normally cold heart to feel. Perhaps she even felt a tiny twinge of guilt for her treatment of the Jester. She hadn't bothered at all to hide the fact that she'd only been tolerating him because of his role as Keeper.
It was the last journal that bore metaphorical fruit for her. After scanning over the pages, she quickly shut the book and hurried back to Astrid.
The woman looked up from Veezara at Shata's swift approach. "Have you found something?"
"Yes. I believe he's headed for an old Sanctuary on the outskirts of Dawnstar."
"The Dawnstar Sanctuary? Whatever for? Never mind. It doesn't matter. You need to leave. Now." Astrid's voice brooked no argument. "Every moment counts, so I want you to take my horse, since I'm sure you've once again killed whatever beast you rode here. His name is Shadowmere. You'll find him outside, by the pool. Let's just say he's...one of us. Find Arnbjorn. Make sure my husband's all right. And then send that twisted little Jester's soul to the Void in as many pieces as possible."
"Of course." Shata glanced towards Veezara with a smile. "Don't strain yourself, my love. I'll be back as soon as I can." She took a few steps, then stopped and turned back to Astrid. "I wonder if I may borrow the Blade of Woe."
"Why?" the woman asked sharply, eyes narrowing.
"Well, it was you that the Jester was trying to kill. Would it not be fitting if it was by your dagger he was sent to the Dread Father?" Shata crossed her arms as Astrid remained unwilling, deciding to play her trump card. "You know the only Restoration spells I know are self-healing ones. If Arnbjorn is hurt, he can use your dagger on me while I heal myself to restore his own strength."
That seemed to decide it for her. "Fine." The enchanted weapon was drawn and tossed the Argonian's way. Shata caught it, then bolted out of the Sanctuary, halting by the dark, ominous pool that lay nearby. The water was bubbling, smoke rising from it. Something formed within the smoke. A horse, with a coat dark as the Void and eyes that glowed a bloody crimson. Shata grinned; Astrid had a fine taste in horses. Shadowmere was mounted, and turned to the north, then kicked into a run.
The ride to Dawnstar had been long and hard. And upon her arrival, what should Shata find but a dragon? She'd had to take extra time to go around the fight, thankful for the distraction the creature provided. At least she hadn't had to deal with guards. Arnbjorn had been found, bleeding but not in danger of dying. Shata had handed him the Blade of Woe and removed a gauntlet, allowing the werewolf a few slashes of her hand so as to heal himself enough to safely make the journey back to the Sanctuary outside of Falkreath. Then she'd entered the Dawnstar Sanctuary, taking the enchanted dagger back from him first of course. And now, finally, after fighting her way past numerous traps and ghostly Guardians, and even a damn troll, all while listening to the Jester's voice echo through the halls around her, she was staring down at Cicero, Blade of Woe in hand.
"You caught me. I surrender." The Imperial let out a weak laugh. Shata remained silent, causing him to glance up at her from his position curled up on the floor. "Oh, you prefer to listen? Of course, of course! The Listener listens! A joke! A funny joke! I get it. Then listen to this: don't kill me. Let poor Cicero live. I attacked that strumpet Astrid, I did! And I'd do it again. Anything for our mother. Return to the pretender. Tell her I'm dead. Tell her you strangled me with my own intestines! Ha ha! But lie! Yes, lie! Lie and let me live." Still silent, Shata strode closer. A trace of panic flickered over the Jester's features as he realized his plea hadn't worked. He laid back against the floor again, seeming to accept that he was going to die there. "Do what you will. Cicero has no fight left. In the end, Sithis will judge us both."
Shata crouched over him...then tugged off a gauntlet and shoved lightly at Cicero's uninjured side. "Let me see your wound."
"You...You're not going to kill poor Cicero?"
"Don't be ridiculous," Shata snapped. "I respect the Old Ways. To kill Mother's Keeper... I would never. Besides, while I greatly disagree with your methods, your intentions were true. Astrid should not be trying to usurp the Night Mother's power as the true leader of the Brotherhood. Now show me your wound."
Another pained chuckle escaped the Jester as he rolled over. "The Listener is as wise as she is mighty. Humble Cicero thanks you."
"Don't thank me yet," the Argonian warned, setting the dagger down to move Cicero's hands away from the gaping wound in his side. He didn't have long to ponder the meaning of her words, because she suddenly jabbed the wound with the fingers of her bare hand.
Cicero howled, trying to squirm away. "Why? Why does the Listener hurt poor Cicero?"
"You hurt Veezara." She roughly poked the injury again.
"I said that I did feel bad about it! Cicero only meant to harm the pretender!"
"You also called him a stupid lizard."
"Cicero apologizes! I didn't mean it!"
"Hmph." Shata hit him in the side one more time, earning another howl of pain, before picking up the Blade of Woe. "But, like I said, I'm not going to kill you. I came to help you. Here." She forced the dagger into his hand, guiding the blade to her her bare forearm. "This dagger has a Drain Life enchantment on it. You keep slicing me with it, while I heal myself. Enough should close your wound so that you don't bleed out. But it's probably going to scar."
"Stupid mutt," Cicero grumbled at the mention of the wound he received from Arnbjorn, free hand hand going to his side again as he tightened his grip on the dagger. "Oh, but is it okay for Cicero to harm the Listener? Perhaps it would be better to simply let Cicero die."
"Don't be a fool," Shata hissed, thrusting her bare hand towards him. Her other hand glowed golden with Restoration magic. "It's okay because I'm letting you do it. Just don't get out of hand with it, alright? This is the only way I can think of to heal you. I only know self-healing spells and I don't carry any Potions of Healing with me because of my magic." She didn't even wince as the Blade of Woe bit into her scaly skin. The dagger rippled with red energy, while golden light danced around the cut, closing it quickly. Shata allowed this to continue until Cicero's ugly wound had become no more than a scratch, at which point she snatched the dagger away from him.
"Like you said, I'll lie to Astrid. I'll tell her you're dead. But that means you can't come back to the Sanctuary," she said as she dug in a pocket for a filled Common Soul Gem, using it to recharge the enchantment on Astrid's dagger.
Cicero carefully picked himself up from the floor, looking quite unhappy. "Oh, but then who will tend to Mother? Cicero did not think of that when he begged for the Listener to spare his life. And what of poor Cicero! What do I do now?"
Shata sighed, turning away to walk towards the door. "I'll make sure that Mother's corpse is taken care of. As for you... I don't know. I'm sorry, Cicero. But at least it's better than being dead." She didn't wait for a reply, but hurried out with her head bowed slightly. She had to return to the Falkreath Sanctuary. So she could lie to Astrid. To her Family. To Veezara. The thought made her waver. But only slightly.
Perhaps she could explain it to her mate later, in private. They had undergone Shadowscale training together; he had been taught the same as her. Surely he would understand that she could not kill the Keeper. With a shake of her head, Shata wound her way back through the Dawnstar Sanctuary and out the door, to where Shadowmere stood waiting.
Weeks later, Shata stood in front of the door of the Dawnstar Sanctuary, ready to emerge from the cold stone tunnel. After the failed assassination attempt of the emperor, she'd ended up galloping back to the Falkreath Sanctuary on Shadowmere, arriving to find it in flames. She'd gotten there just in time to save Veezara's life, and Nazir's as well. Babette, too, had managed to survive. But everyone else had perished, including Astrid. Astrid who had been the one to betray Shata! Astrid, who Shata now wished had been killed by Cicero!
In the end, things had worked out all right, she supposed. A second attempt had seen the emperor truly dead, and the remaining members of the Dark Brotherhood had moved into the old Dawnstar Sanctuary. Realizing she needed to let the others have a little time to themselves, to cope with recent events, Shata had decided she ought to go meet with someone to see about fixing up the Sanctuary and making it livable. Nazir had suggested Delvin Mallory, and so now she found herself departing for Riften.
With a glance at her money pouch–oh she just knew her gold was going to be sorely depleted by this venture–the Argonian opened the door and stepped into the snow and harsh sunlight. As she stopped to let her eyes adjust to the sudden brightness, an unexpected and familiar voice called out to her.
Rubbing at her eyes, she turned to see a short male dressed up in motley running towards her.
"Cicero? It is good to see you again." And not just because the Dark Brotherhood could use its Keeper back. Much as she hated to admit it, Shata had grown more annoyed at the absence of the insane Jester than she had ever been at his presence.
"Oh yes, it is Cicero. You were a fool to spare me." His hands moved to his hips, one dangerously close to the hilt of his dagger. "What, did you think I would be grateful? Cicero should be Listener! Not you! Now you will die!"
Shata froze, stunned. That was...unexpected. Cicero had always seemed quite content as Keeper. Just as she reached for her own daggers, he doubled over, cackling madly. "Gotcha! Ooh, Listener, you should see the look on your face!" And then he was laughing so hysterically he could no longer speak.
When he finally calmed down, he moved closer, still grinning from ear to ear. "Oh, Cicero has returned. Not to kill the kind Listener, but to serve, until one of us dies horribly in service to our Mother! Best friends forever!"
Best friends forever? Shata wasn't so sure if she liked how that sounded, but...oh, she would let Cicero have this happy moment. If he wanted to claim that they were now 'best friends forever' then she would not argue.
"In the meantime, I'll make myself at home in the Sanctuary. I'm sure Mother needs tending."
He moved as if to pass her, and open the door, but she reached out to stop him. "Hold on, Cicero. Veezara, Nazir, and Babette are in there. Two of them don't know you're alive, and all three surely won't be pleased to see you. Even if Astrid did turn out to be a traitor."
"Ooh, yes. Cicero heard about that. I was right about that pretender!"
"They need time to adjust. And then I'll let them know you're here."
"But what is Cicero to do until then?"
"Accompany me." Shata was sure she would regret those words. So very sure. Why was she sure? Because Cicero looked absolutely ecstatic.
"The Listener wants Cicero to stay with her? Of course, of course! If that is what my dear Listener wishes! Loyal Cicero lives to serve."
"Just shut up and get on." She gestured to Shadowmere, before mounting the horse herself. "I'm headed for Riften, and until I can find a horse for you that'll keep up with Shadowmere, we'll have to ride double."
Cackling with delight, he leapt up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and causing her to stiffen. "Fret not, sweet Listener. Cicero only wishes to avoid falling off!"
The Argonian had to hold back a groan as she kicked Shadowmere into a steady canter, hearing the Jester behind her begin to hum and mumble something about feeding the corpse of a cat to his pet rat.
It was going to be a long ride.
LDR: So yeah. I made some slight canon changes. I was upset when Veezara died in the game. He's my second favorite Dark Brotherhood character, after Cicero. So I let him survive here. And gave him a mate cause Veezara deserves some love!
I really debated whether or not this should be a Cicero x Listener romance, but ultimately decided against it. I might try a fluffy one-shot sometime in the future though.
Also, guys, I'm sorry about any mistakes. I tried to avoid them but I wrote this while I was tired tired, so there's probably some I missed. I'll see about coming back and editing this sometime.
So yeah. Drop a review. Please? Pretty please? Us authors feed on reviews. We thrive off of them!