"You need to relax, Malfatto, drink something. You've been jumping in those robes of yours at every noise." Auguste shoved a tankard under the doctor's beak, filled to the brim with a putrid ochre liquid with a heavy odor. It stung his nose through the cloth in the beak of his mask. Ugh, it smelt like fermented death warmed over.

And a dark crimson color swirled within the cup, raising his suspicion. He was no doctor, but it didn't seem sanitary or digestible. What the hell was this anyway, some concoction of blood and vomit?

Malfatto glared at the Templar silently, placing his hand on the cup and pushing it away from his face. Like hell he was going to drink alcohol. Much less a beverage that smelt and looked like aged and fermented remains of a rabid animal. Damn Auguste was annoying, having to brink him to a godforsaken bar for the sole purpose of annoying him to death if Auguste couldn't make him drink himself into his grave.

Auguste laughed; a loud, harsh sound that grated on his ears like fingernails on a window. Damn that drunken fool.

"What's the matter, your beak too tight to yer face?" his greasy hands clamped onto his mask, pulling it off Malfatto's face despite the other's protests.

Damn you, damn your stupid drinking habits and your insistence on getting me drunk.

"Enough, you shouldn't be drinking anyway," Malfatto snapped, taking back his beloved mask away from the greasy mitts of the blacksmith. He shuddered at the thought of what germs Augute's hands probably carried. He was going to burn this mask later.

"It'll lower your sense of awareness, and enough of that would kill you." The blacksmith chuckled drunkenly once again with his hand falling on his round belly.

"What, are you some type o' doctor now, Malfatto? It's only a disguise, loosen up a bit!" He squinted through his beer-drowned vision, stroking his beard. Malfatto crossed his arms against his chest with the mask hanging down from one hand. He definitely did not whatever diseases it now contained.

"Come on, one try o' this and I'll leave ya be. Fair enough? Or can ya not hold yer liquor?" Auguste nudged him with his elbow, using enough force to knock the lighter man off balance. Malfatto hissed a colorful string of swears in response.

The fake doctor steadied himself, glaring at Auguste and pinching the bridge of his nose with a sigh. He was going to regret this for the rest of his life later. And his liver would curse him and somehow he knew this would all turn against him. But looking at Auguste's pitifully disgusting expression of begging made his stomach churn enough to give in.

"Fine. Give me the damn thing." He growled. Just looking at the foaming liquid made his head pound. Auguste's face lit up with a cheeky grin and Malfatto knew he just signed his death wish with an extra exclamation point.

"M'kay. Drink up!" Auguste agreed happily, shoving the tankard to Malfatto's mouth and in the process splashing the liquid onto his face.

The doctor's face contorted into absolute disgust if it was possible to look even more horrified. What the hell is this? Was Auguste actually attempting to poison him?

No, the buffoon was too simple-minded for that. He took the jug, staring into the murky substance.

"Don't worry 'bout it, drink!" Auguste's hand slammed into his back, nearly forcing him to double over. Malfatto's fingers itched for a syringe.

"Fine. Leave me alone." Malfatto snarled, holding the cup to his lips and feeling the alcohol's stench burn his nose and eyes before hastily gulping down a mouthful. A shudder ripped through his spine with a strange fire in his veins.

Waving his hands in the air, Malfatto sang off-key and loudly with the other tavern men, Auguste's hand on his back and his arm hooked with another man's as they swayed drunkenly. "Ay, ay! Yer mask looks like a bird!" A man shouted happily, giggling madly and pointing at the mask hanging from Malfatto's neck.

"I'm a bird!" The doctor's unknown best friend agreed, bursting into a fit of laughter and falling to the floor with an empty tankard. Malfatto's eyes widened as he held up the mask, a new idea forming in the drunken haze of his mind. If he was sober, this wouldn't be happening. Pah, who gave a shit? He's drunk off his ass and caring was for the boring-ass sober people like Baltasar.

"To the rooftop!" He declared drunkenly, a chorus of agreement echoed throughout the room.

The night air was bitterly cold, but Malfatto only waved it off as he stumbled up to the tavern's roof with a crowd watching below. The intoxicated man's face was painted with a goofy grin as he pulled the 'bird mask' over his head.

"Men!" He shouted, shushing the anxious crowd below. Murmurs of excitement—no, slurs of drunken bastards twittered quietly. "Look at me!" He started dancing in circles, flailing his arms around like an absolute moron, but it did look cool. Inhaling deeply, he choked on his saliva he hadn't exactly planned to be in his windpipe and swayed as he walked to the roof's edge. nnounced himself proudly to the rest of Roma and the entire fucking world because damn it, he was important right now.

"I'M A BIRD MOTHERFUCKER I'M A BIRD!" He announced himself proudly to the rest of Roma and the entire fucking world, (because damn it, he was important right now) cawing and making bird calls while flapping his "wings". The men cheered and laughed at the new discovery while raising cups to their lips to down the cheap-as-shit wine within them.

From not a far distance away, Baltasar sighed angrily, placing his reading book down and looking out from the many Templar hideouts by standing from his seat at the fireplace and walking towards the window. There was a tavern currently hosting a large party with enough alcohol to kill an elephant and soak it with far too many drunken idiots running around.

There, across the street on top of a tavern was Malfatto; flailing around and screaming drunkenly what vaguely sounded like, "I'M A BIRD MOTHERFUCKER, I'M A BIRD!" to a crowd of drunk Templars; mostly Borgia guards from what Baltasar could see.

Baltasar's eyebrows knit together while his eyes narrowed, confused and annoyed at the noise disturbance. Rolling his eyes at the strange behavior of the usually reserved doctor, he turned back to the fireplace and sat down once again and held up his book. He wasn't going to even try to reason with his thoughts. Best to let idiots be idiots.

A loud screech grated his ears and Baltasar whipped around to see Malfatto jump off the tavern's roof with flapping arms and fall ungracefully next to a hay pile. He sighed, shaking his head and turning back to read his book while ignoring the drunken cries of confusion and applause. How he worked with these people he didn't know. Nor did he know how the hell they worked for a bitter old bastard like he did.

Fucking idiots.

I have forgotten to mention, but the cover image was done by a lovely artist on this site. All credit goes to them along with my gratitude.