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"Agh! Bother and befuddle! Stuck here! Stuck! My mother, my poooooooor mother. Unmoving. At rest, but toooooo still!" (Cicero)
"See? I told you!" (Jon)
"Wahaha! That guy is a total nutjob." (Jull)
In a bush nearby, both Jon and Alina as well as Jullanar were hiding together with Jon adding an extra layer of stealth by holding two branches.
"I am starting to get it. Something about Jesters being in distress is so appealing to you two." Alina said looking at the two beside her with cold eyes.
"It is fun." Jon said.
"No! This is a guy who got his wagon wheel broken while transporting his mother and the farmers nearby are not being neighborly." Alina protested.
"Wife, long story short, he is the bad guy!" Jon explained.
"A jester is a bad guy? You of all people shouldn't…" Alina said something then looked between Jon and Jullanar and became silent.
"Ouch! That hurts." Jullanar reacted to the way Alina thinks of them both now.
"What should we do about him then?" Alina asked.
"I wouldn't show him my face, not yet. Lust is not with me at the moment so I'm not dealing with him." Jon said, "I don't think you can tolerate him in a conversation either, wife."
"This leaves Psycho." Alina pointed to Jullanar.
"Alright, I'll do it." Jullanar casually agreed then disappeared quietly from their side.
Not too far ahead, she appeared on the road and charged her appearance a bit to resemble a traveler using her Disguise Technique. She then walked quietly and approached the Jester in distress.
"Ah! Mother! Poor poor mother! Cicero is helpless! Helpless!" The Jester, who was standing beside a wagon with a broken wheel, started making a tragic play as he lent over the large coffin he was transporting.
"Did that wheel break on you, Sera?" Jullanar approached the Jester and spoke.
"No! I deliberately broke it… OF COURSE IT GOT BROKEN! Damnedest wagon wheel… Poor Cicero can't transport his mother… his sweet sweet mother." Cicero replied in dramatic agony.
"She's quite dead though." Jullanar pointed out.
"Of course she is, she can't be anything but dead. It is just Cicero being good, being filial. Mother's old crypt is no longer suitable. Too dusty, too rusty and too cooooold to warm her bones. But we can't go anywhere until I fix this damnable wheel and that damnable farmer that refuses to help which is damnably driving me insane. Argh!" Cicero screamed from frustration then swiftly changed his mood and clasped his hands together looking at Jullanar, "Charitable soul, generous soul, can't you help me?"
Jullanar tilted her head.
"Me help you?"
"Cicero will give you coins! Gleamy shiny…"
"Nope! My husband said to never take money from strangers… or was it sweets?"
A bolt of lightning manifested in midday and landed on the mountain nearby causing all the wildlife to panic. This happened in sync with Alina snapping the two branches she was holding with just her thumb after hearing the word "husband".
Jon looked at her but she glared at him causing him to look away.
Back to the grinning Jullanar, she was enjoying both making Alina furious and messing with the Jester.
"If you don't want coins, then what do you want?" Cicero asked.
"Actually, I was trying to pick up that Jester trick when you guys make a stick stand on your nose then drop it on your chin then back to your forehead. Quite tricky… oh, and I also want to learn how to make things disappear without any magic. Actual magic I mean."
"Oh! Pretty easy. The first trick is a bit practical so it will take some time training but the second one is quite easy. If you don't want them to see anything, just poke their eyes."
"Oooh! That's right… why didn't I think of that… I mean I had that eye thing in the past. Bad times. Yeah, I'll help you now. What do you need?"
"Right! Go to the farm, the Loreius Farm…"
"Got it!" Jullanar said as she walked past Cicero.
"But I haven't told you what to…"
"Nah, I got you, bro. Totally!" She said and ran towards the farm.
Jullanar entered the Loreius Farm and returned with a farmer walking in front of her in a moment. The man was sweating profoundly and quite shaky as Jullanar walked by him with a broad smile.
He fixed the wheel and set it back in a few minutes and even helped tie the horse to the wagon while Cicero was showing Jullanar how to kill someone by putting an apple on their head and tossing a knife.
"Oh stranger! You have made Cicero so happy! So jubilant and ecstatic! But more! Even more! My mother thanks you!" The Jester said as he rode his wagon and departed.
Meanwhile, Jullanar waited in her place and the farmer was shivering not far from her.
"L- Lady, I…"
The farmer ran away back to his farm while Jon and Alina appeared near Jullanar.
"Sigh! My mother told me once that we had relatives in Cyrodiil." Jullanar said with a sigh.
"I'm sure none of them are Jesters." Jon said as he removed a droplet of blood from Jullanar's face with a finger, "Chicken blood?"
"That was fun for a moment there but don't scare the common people again." Alina scolded Jullanar.
"Sister, you are the wife they love, I am the wife they fear." Jullanar said, teasing Alina even more.
"You little skank!"
Alina tried to punch Jullanar before the latter could run away but catching Jullanar is simply too difficult with her current ability.
"It was fun, but I will head to Riften now." Jullanar's voice echoed as her presence completely faded.
Alina held her head in frustration and turned to Jon.
"So, a Jester going crazy, what is the big deal about him?" She asked.
"Him? Aside from being a member of the Brotherhood, there is nothing special about him." Jon replied.
"Wait… the Brotherhood? The Dark Brotherhood?" She asked.
"Yes. I told you I have plans for them."
"Yes, but… Why didn't you tell Jull?"
"Well, she impatiently went on her own. Also, I wasn't really trying to get her into that Brotherhood project."
"My main purpose was to tag the guy with magic. He is traveling on a wagon and I know his destination quite well but I need to keep an eye on him."
"You just said he is not that special."
"What he is transporting is."
"What… that's his mother's body. Gross!" Alina made a disgusted face.
"Oh yes, yes indeed." Jon started to imitate Cicero, "But the mother is not just any mother. She was the mother of many children who she actually gave birth to and… killed."
Jon's last remark made Alina's eyes widen.
"Don't tell me…"
"Yes, that's the expression. It is the Dark Matron herself…" Jon said and started to contemplate, "Just to make it clear, by saying a Dark Matron, I don't mean Boethiah or Namira… or Nocturnal or Mephala or Vaermina or… Damn! This Dark Matron title needs someone to claim it once and for all."
"Jon, focus." Alina snapped her fingers at his face.
"Oh, right. It's the Night Mother." He said simply too casually.
Alina felt conflicted all of a sudden. On one hand, she could just go and pursue Cicero and his wagon to destroy the night mother or…
"Are you letting that abomination leave?" She asked.
"What can you do about it? Destroy it? Then you would be making an enemy of an immortal woman who communicates with the world through the Void itself. And you will also be involving Sithis who is quite a bitch when involved in anything."
Alina remained silent after Jon's reply.
"I know you can argue with the Daedric Princes being forces of nature but the Night Mother is just evil, husband." Alina said with concern.
"I know." He nodded, "That's why I won't involve anyone other than myself with the matters regarding the Dark Brotherhood."
It was one of Jon's most important decisions. The Dark Brotherhood is not the Thieves Guild where he got all sorts of connections, it is the bloodiest cult in the entire world and their quest itself is a major death trap thus Jon needed to prepare many things first.
He returned with Alina to Winterhold and checked on his journal to see how Wulfur, Alina and Jullanar advanced in their missions.
Wulfur, of course, was assigned to the Companions; Alina in the College and Jullanar in the Guild. The Companions storyline has slowly started to kick in with Wulfur going every weekend with the Companions doing a job or two. The College's situation was by far the most advanced as the Eye was still under investigation and Alina just started lately to look for any books regarding the Eye. The situation in the Thieves Guild was by far the slowest since the only thing Jullanar has managed to do is to sabotage the Golden Glow estate.
Aside from the Factions, the Dragons seem to have calmed down a bit compared to before. Jon doesn't like the calm before the storm but he had to make the most of it. This day, the main expedition team headed out of Saarthal under the lead of Mjoll the Lioness to search for the lost city of Blackreach under Winterhold itself. Truth be told, Blackreach may extend further all the way to Hjaalmarch across the Pale making it almost twice the size of any northern hold or almost as large as Whiterun itself all underground.
Jon accompanied the team during the first day but they met a lot of obstacles blocking the road around the ruins of Alftand. This caused Jon to go idle around somewhere else only to end up in his Domain in the island far in the sea.
There, he found Nurina and Alfe Fye as well as Beth.
"Master!" Beth came to see Jon who was outside the town most of the time lately.
"Here you are! How is our little protege?" Jon asked as he rubbed the head of the bald girl.
"I've been studying hard lately. I have memorized the Theory of the Unity of Schools and the other schools of thought."
"Oh! Arcane Philosophy? My favorite of all time." Jon said as he went forward to greet Nurina and Alfe.
"Look who's here. If it is not the self-important newest Arch Wizard." Alfe mocked Jon.
"Shut up, Alfe." Nurina said, "Jon, you finally came. It is time to start the Initiation Ceremony."
"Oh!" Jon rubbed his hands in anticipation as he ran to sit beside Nurina, "I wouldn't miss this for the world."
They were all in a forest clearing inside his Domain sitting on a large lying tree trunk while in front of them stood Beth.
"Let's make this official." Nurina said, "Back when it was Jon's initiation ceremony, it was only me and him. Little Beth has more luck as not only her Master is here but also her Grandmaster and her Great Grandmaster. This makes her a Fifth Generation in the Magic School of Grandmaster Divayth Fyr."
Alfe nodded in approval as she witnessed the magic skill of Beth just the other day and praised her dedication to the craft.
Seeing Beth come such a long way, Jon felt immensely proud. A girl whom luck was so dire to get killed and be revived because of the scheme of some Daedra then get abandoned by Boethiah once her mission is done, it all left a bad taste after his last labour. Now that he adopted her as an apprentice, she has shown a great promise so far. Even though still unable to grow hair with magic due to her unique bloodline, she is now a long shot from the person she was before making her not only the youngest but one of the most dedicated people Jon has behind him.
"As the Eldest, I give permission for the ceremony to begin." Alfe said and turned to Jon, "Youngster, have you prepared the thing?"
"I did… hehehe!" He replied followed by an evil laugh as he took out a large mace made of wood and had multiple steel teeth lined on it.
Jon simply handed it to Beth.
"What should I do with that, Master?"
"By long tradition, this cudgel will be the tool of your initiation ceremony exam." He said.
"And your exam will be…" Nurina raised her staff and started making a dark magic cloud with it before casting a summon, "Make that thing cry."
The summon was complete and what walked out was a Dremora, not just any Dremora.
The ultimate test is to make a Daedric creature cry. They can't submit, they can be defeated, they can even be cowardly but they can never cry. It is not Daedra pride or anything…
"But Daedra doesn't possess tear glands." Beth said.
"I can't imagine how painful it is not to be able to moisten their eyes but that's the test, baldie. Now, be creative." Jon said as he watched Beth trying to figure this one out.
*Swoosh* *Swoosh* *Bang*
Without hesitating anymore, Beth started trying the cudgel on the Dremora's face. The creature was infuriated and tried to retaliate but he was quite disadvantaged against the nimble Beth. She tackled him down and started to flatten him using the cudgel which caused a lot of blood to splash left and right.
"It is said that by using this method, the Daedra are quickly to lose their rank in the Daedra Society they come from." Alfe said.
"True. Jon here was very brutal with the Daedra that I summoned for him back in the day. He said that if the Dremora doesn't have tears, they can use blood to cry with." Nurina added.
"Yes, but what about that thing about Daedra losing rank?" Jon asked.
"Daedra are mostly indifferent to being summoned by Humans. Those who get summoned are already disgraced but those who are summoned and beaten down to tears are forever shamed." Nurina explained.
"Nurina, you were quite good at your ceremony as well. I still remember that Daedra you tortured. It was quite the spectacle ordering him to grow tear glands." Alfe said in nostalgia.
"Yes, I remember him… what was his name again? Xik… something? Ah! Old times." Nurina seemed to be agreeing with Alfe.
Meanwhile, Jon heard the name and preferred to stay silent. Now that he thinks of it, he never mentioned to Nurina that the Daedric Titan he summons is called Xikil… then again, that guy has quite the low self-esteem. It can be some similar name though. What are the chances anyway?
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