Disclaimer: I own nothing. If I did, this wouldn't be fanfiction.
There is one thing that every person, citizen or soldier, knows to fear above all else: an angry Borgia Captain.
This was one thing that the soldiers had been trying to avoid running into, and most little groups handled it well. Occasionally a fight would break out or a couple mercenaries, thieves, or vigilantes would get in the way of whatever they were doing, and they could easily present whatever casualties that had occurred to their Captain without a problem.
That was the normal plan, but Rome has never been a normal place.
With the recent rebellions, many members of the Borgia had resigned themselves to the fact that fighting would grow more frequent. Archers became more vigilant and soldiers carried a larger variety of weapons. More recruits were needed to take the place of the fallen as a new threat began to emerge, though it lacked a face to many of the low-ranking men.
This is where our (rather sad, if you are Borgia) story begins.
Two of the guards stationed in Rome had noticed a frequent problem around them: archers posted on the rooftops were dying. They came upon several bodies in one short week; each of the bodies had been stripped of ammunition and valuables. The wounds that killed them were located in the back of the neck or skull. Occasionally there would be a knife, crossbow bolt, or even bullet embedded in their corpses.
These guards weren't nameless, of course. Everyone has a name. They were Arturo Rossi and Casca Marino. They weren't high-ranking, even though they were stationed close to the center of Rome.
After asking their Captain for more archers, and reporting the situation, archers were told to watch for anyone walking on a rooftop and that it is a crime in the area punishable by immediate death on site.
This took care of the worst of the problem for a while. A couple of archers even reported scaring off a man in white clothing climbing across the rooftops. One even received a promotion because he knocked a man off a building when he was headed toward areas with more Borgia influence.
Things didn't stay like that, though.
Casca was the first to notice the body. An archer's corpse lay sprawled out awkwardly on the side of the road. People walking by avoided the body with horrified faces and muttered prayers.
"Just look at that, another one." Casca said, studying the body.
Arturo was a little more horrified, "Turn him over, so we can see his head."
Casca did, but the only wound seemed to be the one the poor archer received when he hit the ground. "I'd only be surprised if it was the same modus operandi. This can't be the same thing."
"Then what could have happened?" The other asked, leaning on his spear.
Casca looked up, "Well, it did rain yesterday… Maybe he just slipped and fell."
He prodded the arm of the fallen soldier, "A sad way to go…"
So they reported it to the Captain, and he assigned someone else to the post, warning some archers to be careful in rainy weather.
"Casca, is that…?"
"…he's probably just…drunk."
Neither of them really wanted to, but their feet lead them over to the corpse anyway.
"Casca, he's not drunk." Arturo said.
Casca sighed, "Nope, he broke his neck."
Arturo winced, "On impact?"
"So it seems."
That was just the start. Every day, even several times a day, to the point that they needed to make a request to their Captain to help solve the problem. It was very messy business, as you can imagine. Not just when dealing with the bodies, but deciding who would present the request.
Casca presented the first option, Italian heritage and beautiful surroundings leading him to so eloquently say, "You can."
"No! I wouldn't if you begged!"
"Then I won't beg! Now go!"
"Why don't you?"
"Probably the same reason as you!"
"…what if we went together?"
"Then both of us would be reprimanded, and probably reassigned to the middle of nowhere."
Arturo thought about this for a moment, and then finalized, "Then neither of us would have to handle this anymore.
Now this idea appealed to both of them. They couldn't really be punished for something so stupid, but if the Captain was in a bad mood it really could lead to him transferring them to someone else in his frustration.
The process of getting to a Captain of the Borgia, an esteemed member of the political community, was filled with reports, requests, and failed attempts at begging and/or intimidation.
It was all very frustrating, really.
Eventually they got the Captain to look up from his paperwork (which couldn't be THAT interesting) and listen to them.
During the complicated process of reaching their Captain directly, the general fear of him had waned a bit, but came back when they looked into his eyes, which were quite terrifying, actually.
"What is it?"
Casca cleared his throat, "Well… you see, sir. We have a bit of a problem with the archers…"
Arturo nodded and filled in, "Yes, sir. We need more of them."
"Yes, preferably with good balance." They both smiled, hoping to look friendly rather than just strange. Sadly, some endeavors just don't turn out well.
The Captain was not amused at all by this, "Good balance? Just what could you possibly mean by that?"
"You never mentioned any deaths."
"Oh, uh, sorry sir: the archers keep dying." Arturo corrected himself, "It's not like before. These look to be, well, accidental."
"How can the deaths be accidental?" The Captain questioned, narrowing his eyes.
Casca answered this time, "They keep… falling."
"So you're telling me that my skilled, trained archers are falling off roves?"
The men answered in unison this time, "Yes, sir."
The Captain looked strangely frustrated, or possibly outraged. Yes, I think you could call that outrage. "And just what do you want me to do about it?"
Casca looked to Arturo, who looked like he was about to wet his pants. "We…" He tore his eyes away from his petrified friend to respond to the Captain, "We weren't sure."
The Captain, being a somewhat half-way reasonable man every once and a while, leaned back in his seat. "I'll see what I can do." He sighed, "Until something can be worked out, just…look up regularly."
The men were dismissed and walked toward the usual path they took when patrolling. It took a moment before either of them could think of something worth saying in their situation.
Casca finally started a conversation, or attempted to. "Well, that wasn't so bad…"
Arturo, finding his voice, answered, "You're lying."
"It's not like it hurt or anything."
"True, true." They sat on a bench to rest for a minute.
Casca fiddled with his dagger, "It really could be worse."
"Right again, my friend. The Captain will sort everything out. All we have to do is look up often." Arturo responded, smiling and pointing up.
A body fell to the ground with a crunch next to them.
The smile on his face fell, "Umm…Casca…"
He sighed and stood up, "You get to carry his feet this time."