"Are they gone?" Ezio breathlessly whispered.

Slowly, Federico peeked around the corner, a large pitchfork still in his hand, as he nodded in confirmation and stepped out of the cover of shadows. "Si—they're gone." He tossed the weapon to the floor. "Aye, the entire lot of those bastardi."

"Thank God."

Ushering his younger brother to go on ahead, in case a random idiota started a grope-fest, the oldest Auditore quickly scanned his surroundings before he hopped onto the nearby roof of the barn in an efficient manner, already spotting a familiar silhouette amongst a backdrop of the rising sun. He jogged over to the sitting male and plopped down beside him, not before playfully punching the other on the shoulder, while he settled his arm on his knee. Through the haze of the morning mist, he could spot the outline of their current location, a small farm he had purchased from a farmer as a getaway, and perhaps it was the wet chill that coerced Ezio to shake his head.

"I cannot believe they found us. I thought that we were safe."

The older of the two raked his hand through his hair. "No. Though I am a bit frustrated at the fact that they managed to find us, I am not surprised in the least; especially at the Duca di Milano's visit." A haphazard throw of rubble into the pond below. "We are just lucky that Rosa and her amici decided to drop by Romagna. Else …"

Both of them shivered, the exasperated noble laughing at the anarchy of it all, to be joined by Federico, as they chuckled and impishly pushed at each other. Crying out when he nearly fell, Ezio tackled Federico into a massive crate of hay with fake indignation, hitching his legs around Federico's sans mercy, the boys rolling in the mass to the sound of an insistent rooster and the chime of a church bell. It was solely when the youth straddled his counterpart's stomach that he was able to speak, narrowing his eyes in an expectant manner.

"I thought you were protecting me, fratello."

"Oh, I do." He reached up and brought an amused face close to his own, snagging his fingers into thick hair. "From them: Not from me."

"Aye, aye." Lazily, the tired noble got up from his position and clambered over to the side of the wooden box, resting his back on the gnarled surface. "I do not know whether I should be more scared of you or the horde."

A devious smile. "You might want to pay more attention to me. I deserve it."

"Incriminating yourself?"


Federico slid over to his brother's side and huffed exaggeratedly. "Well, that was quite a day." Pause. "Or should I say, night."

The second eldest Auditore rubbed his temples before he carelessly tied his hair once more, lightly kicking said being on the calf, as he dropped his head to the back of his hands and scrunched his locks. They were both weary, but the endless battle of warding off the incredible offenders were taking much more of a toll on him, since he had never been pursued in such an intimidating fashion, much less know how to handle a congregation of rulers who pounced at the opportunity. Such wordplays were beginning to blend into reality, as he lolled his head over to the older man's shoulder and butted him on the chin.

"You know, I am sorry."

An arched brow. "About what?"

"This … this … this entire ordeal; I know that your agenda with the Medici bank was full, but I have to say: If you were not willing to provide aid, I would have … "

The latter part was obvious.

"Che." A smirk. "How do you know I was not doing it for a raise? With all of these Milanese ladies visiting, it would be apparent that I would appeal to padre for some extra florins."

"Because. What type of cretino sneaks in that surplus into his younger brother's savings, hm?"

A sly gaze studied the curve of Ezio's lips, soon sliding upwards to welcome the approaching down. "That reminds me: Let us use this facility while it lasts."

Ezio cocked his head in question.

"I think I see something approaching in the distance."

The complexity of a muted groan.

"Here we go again."