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La Petite Mort

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Servitude has always been a part of the jester’s life. 

From a tender age, from when there was barely scruff on Cicero’s chin for razors to trim, he would sharpen his blade and step in the shadows to draw the blood of the unworthy, perfecting his art with every strike. From a tender age, every breath Cicero took was for the Family he held dear. From a tender age, Cicero killed in the name of the Dread Father and the Night Mother.

Almost a decade ago, he was appointed as Keeper of the Unholy Matron. For eight desolate years, Cicero tended to her alone after everyone has gone, his soul dying a little each day the silence passed. Cicero was desperate to hear his Mother’s voice, desperate for a Listener. Solitude drove him insane, the silence maddening, making him take up the mantle of the jester, who was his final contract before his duties as Keeper began. The Fool of Hearts was born from the ashes of Cicero, the man. 

Understandably, when the Mother had chosen her Listener, Cicero was ecstatic. He was close to drawing his dagger and slitting the throat of the slight Breton hiding within the Unholy Matron’s tomb, but when she said the words he had despondently waited for, frenzied merriment replaced his rage. The jester took the quiet girl in his arms and danced, oblivious to the bewildered curiosity pouring out of her ebony eyes. 

And though the pretender Astrid was dead, and his Mother and new mistress near, humble Cicero still lives to serve. The humble servant must always perform his duties; Cicero will forgo food, drink and sleep. The Night Mother’s well-being is above Cicero’s body’s needs. He must tend to the Night Mother’s body; make sure she’s anointed with the preserving oils, the candles around the tomb lit, the flowers he offers must be pretty and fresh, rodents and pests exterminated, ancient incantations recited- 

Oh, but he must tend to the lovely Listener’s needs too! Cicero must accompany her when she asks, he must make sure that she’s satiated, that she’s clean, that she’s warm and that she’s comfortable despite her insisting that she can take care of herself. Cicero must dote on the Mother’s chosen or who knows what might harm her… 

When shadows loom over poor Cicero, shouting how big of a fool he is and threatening to take away his Mother and his Listener, he must take his knife and drive them away. Stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab them to keep them from taking away Cicero’s Mother and Listener! Cicero will not be alone again! 

And he succeeds! Words cannot express how delighted he is when the Listener would run over and put her arms around sweet Cicero, speaking in comforting tones as the Redguard and the unchild would come to poor Cicero’s aid as well… 

Foolish Cicero did not deserve the Listener’s kindness. Her sweetness’ gentle touch is too much of a gift for foolish Cicero! Gently, she lays his body in her chambers, pressing her warm lips on Cicero’s cold forehead. Her humming was his lullaby, momentarily disconnecting his fragile psyche from the madness that consumed him long ago as his heavy eyelids finally closes. The jester finally drifts into unconsciousness, knowing that he performed his duties well.