"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 dipped beak, filled to the brim with a putrid ochre liquid with a heavy odor. It made his hands burn uncomfortably from the presence of disease and germs crawling like invisible insects all over the tankard and up Auguste's hand. It stung his nose through the cloth in the beak of his mask. Ugh, it smelt like fermented death warmed over and there was no way in a cold, stony, frozen-over hell filled with poison and a river of cadaver to convince him to ever put something so unsanitary to his face. Or anywhere near him, for that matter. The fact he was in this shit hole of a tavern meant he was stuck on babysitting duty because Il Lupo was missing and Fiora was angry like a mother hen without her precious chick. All for the stupid dog, and here he was dramatically reducing his life expectancy by the second toxic germs seeped into his mask and through his nose and leeched into his skin like blood of a plague victim. Then splitting open with a popping noise and the cracking of frail bone before the blood splattered everywhere and clung while it reeked it of something akin to whatever was in the rotting wooden tankard.
And a dark crimson color swirled within the cup like a coiling snake, raising his suspicion and eyebrows as it continued to thicken into a powder-like substance of a strangely interesting shade of red. He was no doctor as much of the part he played never really helped. But it didn't seem sanitary or digestible to what was left of his slowly-frying brain and possible chance of a soul if he wasn't already a monster like Auguste would preach in his drunken ramblings. What the hell was this anyway: some concoction of blood and vomit?
Malfatto glared at the Templar silently with the intent of killing him enough to place him well beneath six feet in the cold ground of the wintertime where no one sane or stupid could dig him up. Placing his hand on the cup he pushed it away from his face in an almost shove that Auguste could easily block with the meat of his arms. Like he was going to drink the poison of alcohol and simply throw away any conscience he had left. And pretend he wasn't already damned if not from drinking poison and liquified plague germs mixed in shit. Much less a beverage that smelt and looked like aged and fermented remains of a rabid animal. It probably had some floating pieces of fur or hide mixed in with a coloring or the fact the think was completely cloudy and unable to see past the surface. Damn, Auguste was annoying; having to brink him to a God-forsaken bar for the sole purpose of annoying him to death if he couldn't make Malfatto drink himself into his grave. It wasn't like he'd ever have the chance to actually win in these types of situations.
Auguste laughed a loud, harsh sound that grated on his ears like fingernails on a window threatening to break from the ugly sound. That drunken fool.
"What's the matter, your beak too tight to yer face?" His greasy hands clamped onto Malfatto's mask and suddenly everything was too tight and too greasy with a foul-smelling odor rolling out in fresh waves from Auguste. And the doctor could easily feel the sweat sinking into his mask even if it wasn't because of how clammy Auguste's slimy and dirty hands were. But they clenched his face and nearly suffocated him in the attempt of pulling it off. Despite even the angry protests including insults and trying to slap him away, but to no avail. Instead, a snapping of leather stung the back of his head and he hissed, clearly far from irritated at this point. Auguste's face drooled with a drunken grin of his excess stupidity making a breakthrough.
Damn you, and damn your stupid drinking habits and your insistence on getting me drunk.
"Enough! you shouldn't be drinking anyway." Malfatto snapped with a hiss and told himself it wasn't worth touching Auguste's disgusting mug for the satisfaction of breaking the bone beneath the fat resting under the sweaty, pulled-tight skin. Taking back the mask with a quick reflex and a well-placed jab to the ribs, he shuddered at the thought of what germs Augute's hands probably carried. How many infections and countless ways to die and then decided with grim reality he was going to burn this mask later. And Auguste too. If he wasn't already risking being the pyre.
"It'll lower your sense of awareness, and enough of that would kill you." The blacksmith chuckled drunkenly once again with his profound fallacy of logic. His hand fell on his round belly that jiggled and gurgled with the abuse of the strange and mostly stomach-churning alcohol or poison. Noticing Malfatto's cross glare, he kept laughing like something was just so hilarious he had to compose himself while the beads of sweat started to roll from his stale skin. What was more disgusting was that they were disappearing into his beard where nothing would have a chance of returning. "What now? You some type o' doctor now, Malfa'o? I's only a disguise, jus' loosen up a bit!" He squinted through his beer-drowned vision, stroking his beard and then bursting into chuckles. His comrade didn't budge or change the cross death stare fully being received with the high chance of wilting his soul if he still had to add insult to the clearly unnoticed injury. Malfatto crossed his arms and sneered while clutching his soiled mask in hand. His eyes watered and he blinked as they fought the exposure to candlelight and the decaying smell of a bar and rotting wood.
"Come on, one try o' this and I'll leave ya be. Fair enough? Or can ya not hold yer liquor?" Auguste pushed even further, shoving Malfatto with ease considering his disgustingly large size and meaty body which knocked the doctor back. Stumbling over his feet and almost ramming into someone regrettably drunk who whistled as Malfatto straightened himself, he tried not to flinch at the prospect of how many germs were now all over him. And then wondered what the penalty was for killing an idiot. Or, an entire bar of them. The fake doctor steadied himself, glaring at Auguste and pinching the bridge of his nose with a sigh filled with regret for the rest of his life later if he lived another month. Or a day with his rotten luck and horrid distaste for germs and humans. And his liver would curse him to the fiery depths of Hell and somehow he knew this would all turn against him. When the time came of throwing up his internal organs and bleeding internally he wouldn't know until the final seizing breaths that would have him remarking at the cruel irony of it all. But looking at Auguste's pitifully disgusting expression of begging made his stomach churn enough to give in. Why, he wouldn't tell himself that. Maybe just to ignore where he was and why he was here again.
"Fine. Give me the damn thing." he growled in exasperation and lips pulled back to clean teeth, unlike Auguste's yellowed ones filled with plaque. He reached out, stealing the mug and jerking his arm away at the spill of strange liquid. Somehow it hissed and steamed when it hit the wooden floor, seeping into the floorboards and with its putrid smell lurking below instead of only underneath his nose. Just looking at the foaming liquid made his head pound angrily and demand where his logic and reasoning had gone. All the while his hands tinged with the sensation of pins and needles because of the germs invading his skin. Then it would be climbing up his arms and creeping in his eyes and mouth. With every open wound on him that chance would increase like it would somehow kill him sooner than the drink itself. If it could be called that.
Auguste's face lit up and possibly split with a cheeky grin and a stench so powerful Malfatto's eyes were watering. He quickly looked away, failing to not gasp for air which only filled his lungs with more stagnant atmosphere of the drunks all around. And Malfatto knew he just signed his death wish with an extra note along the lines referring to damning himself. Probably even more with all the souls he'd taken. Something about what goes around comes back around, he'd heard before.
"Drink up!" Auguste slobbered drunkenly as an inebriated buffoon would. Whether or not this was a discreet poisoning attempt Malfatto began to wonder. His hands trembled from his tightly-grasped fingers on the handle of the tankard. Holding his breath and he tried not to feel the burning sensation of the odors of death peeling the skin of his face off. No, the buffoon was too simple-minded for anything but bludgeoning people to death. Staring into the jug wasn't intentional, but the way his eyes slipped he cringed at just how murky and horrifying it looked. Wondered if Fiora really hated him that much. That dirty bitch.
"Don't worry 'bout it, drink!" Auguste's hand slammed into his back, nearly forcing him to double over with the sheer force he somehow had as a drunk. Malfatto's fingers itched for a syringe and he questioned darkly if Auguste was actually sober. Like the Christian God he didn't believe him was somehow punishing him for the sins he'd committed in his lifetime. Which was disappointing, considering most of his "comrades" (if he could really call them that, those bastards) hated him or tried to kill him anyway. Especially that mutt who probably was in on this too and the one who poisoned the melted flesh of a plague rat in a termite-infested cup.
"Fine. Leave me alone." Malfatto's voice cracked like a whip and his fingers itched painfully when he looked down, holding the cup to his lips and sending one last hateful death glare. He hoped it would someday reach Auguste's shriveled black heart and finally give him the stroke he needed and turn over in his fleshy grave to just die already. Feeling the alcohol's stench burn his nose and eyes, he blinked away the moisture. And the feeling of an oncoming nosebleed from the popping sounds of blood vessels breaking from the monstrosity promised slow death. That was all before hastily gulping down a mouthful. A shudder ripped through his spine with a strange fire in his veins and his lips burned like he'd just drank acid. Auguste's drunk hiccups that were supposed to be laughs bellowed from that bulging stomach of his and to the harsh ringing that pounded Malfatto's eardrums.
His tongue felt like lead, tankard slipping from his fingers and splattering to the floor with a crack and the darned thing broke. Like the pop of a plague body it was splattering everywhere. The blood sizzled and hissed on the floor in its repulsive color of old blood from a corpse spreading through the cut to let cadaver drain the gas inside. His eyes were blurring and his entire body was on fire the way it shook and burned like poison spreading quick through his veins and straight to his heart where surely he'd seen the end. His brain was melting as his hands trembled violently with the same fire beneath his skin, covered in splashes of poison. Seeped in the way blood would never come off no matter how much he scrubbed his skin raw.
Beside him, Auguste laughed with a harsh chuckle in the blissful ignorance of having already drunk away his liver and any remaining conscience.
Murderers didn't need a conscience, anyway.
Waving his hands in the air to some unknown and forgotten dance, Malfatto loudly sang off-key as he practically screamed. His voice joined with the other tavern pigs that at one point were men some long time ago forgotten to the night. Auguste's hand was on his back with his meaty vice grip that soaked his already soiled robes like a well-oiled shield. Somehow it decorated his back like a war trophy. And it kept him up when his knees had failed him long ago before he cared to remember The other thick arm hooked with another man's as they swayed drunkenly.
"Ay, ay! Yer mask looks like a bird!" A voice hoarsely shrieked over the near-deafening screaming of a song about fountains of beer and pretty women. Malfatto's bellowing came to a sudden halt to look down and realize that there was something tied around his throat. No wonder what was digging in his sternum as he tried to dance. And with more alcohol coming his way he needed to keep dancing. As it already came from an agreeable barkeep for all of his new drinking friends sweaty and hot with plenty of drinks for the way to a blissful night.
"I'm a bird!" Malfatto's eyes widened as he held up the mask and his fingers burned and shook underneath the black gloves he'd been wearing for some reason. The man collapsed to the floor as his trembling arm tried to pull his drink to his mouth. His hands shook from extra spirit and alcohol to steady himself and instead he spilled the drink all over himself. In easy tandem he fell back onto the floor and giggled madly when his head collided with the ground. As Malfatto stared closer, a new idea forming in the drunken haze of his mind. Soon his eyes began to widen when he realized that this was what he was waiting for. This, the mask in the shape of a bird was the reason for his being, the meaning behind it all. Here it was, the purpose to existing and what was his purpose! His new-found epiphany, the meaning to his existence!
Everything made sense.
"To the rooftop!" He declared drunkenly after he turned to address the crowd and stood upon the bar counter to raise himself above as the leader of his people. A chorus of agreement echoed throughout the room as all eyes turned to him. All at different stages of bloodshot whites focused on the bird-mask king of them, cheering and shoving down another swig as a toast. Right before they all packed out under the stumbling lead of the bird-leader Malfatto.
The night air was bitterly cold and chilled beneath his dark robes, but Malfatto only waved it off with an uncontrolled shake of his head. He stumbled up to the tavern's roof somehow without assistance. Destiny was the purpose in mind as he pulled himself up the shabby walls with the crowd of his drunken men watching below. Watching him they swayed and cheered Malfatto on in vigor. The intoxicated Malfatto, dazed with his epiphany of his destiny painted his face with a goofy grin. As he pulled the bird mask over his head and fastened it, his fingers scorched and twitched like the rest of his body's tremors. Finally with much struggling he turned back to the crowd, prepared to fulfill the role of his lifetime. Auguste and the others cheered him on below, raising their voices in a chant without words but more drunken lisps of heavy lead-filled tongues and burning throats.
"Men!" Malfatto shouted his address and waved his arms. While raising the lower part of his mask so his swollen lips were exposed to the screeching cold breeze he shushed the anxious crowd below. Murmurs of excitement—no, slurs of drunken bastards twittered as quietly as they could for being inebriated past the point of returning. "Look at me!" He started dancing in circles, flailing his arms around like an absolute moron, but it did look cool. He had become one with the image of the bird in his mind, prompting the men below to follow and flap their arms. This led to successfully slapping each other with their limbs twitching and bodies seizing to imitate the leader above.
Inhaling deeply, Malfatto choked on his saliva he hadn't exactly planned to be in his windpipe. Coughing harshly he cleared his throat and swayed as he walked to the roof's edge. Displayed himself proudly to the rest of Roma and the entire fucking world. Because damn it, he was important right now if anything to go by with the sounds of his men cheering below with their flapping arm-wings. Beneath they danced in circles and made crow noises while slapping each other with their limbs.
"I'M A BIRD MOTHERFUCKER I'M A BIRD!" he was screaming proudly to the rest of Roma and the entire fucking world. (Because damn it, he was important) Cawing and making bird calls he flapped his "wings" in an oddly song-like fashion. He danced from one foot to another and wobbled on the unstable and really small edge that creaked with each step. At one point the wood faltered beneath him but he continued on, bravely like the hero he was meant to be. The men screamed with applause and laughter at the new discovery. Cups raised to lips to down the cheap-as-shit wine within them as another toast. All to signify the commencement of a nameless celebration.
From not a far distance away, Baltasar sighed in exasperation at being disturbed yet again for the night. He was waiting for Fiora's return with the missing Il Lupo. Placing his reading book down he looked out from the many Templar hideouts and stood from his seat. Leaving the warmth of the fireplace he walked towards the window with the intent of sating his desire to murder. Any idiot that so much as made a noise with all the screaming and yelling was considerable for a target. The noise stirred a headache to the front of his mind and hung like the lack of sleep. He'd had no choice in deciding as Fiora was decisive, and her word was the word of God, even more when it came to Il Lupo. And the fact he had disappeared made her restless, and the worst foul-tempered, angry and resentful bitch she could possibly represent for being a whore. But outside the window he remembered in the distant firelight casting shadows onto the streets there was a tavern currently hosting a large party. With enough alcohol to kill an elephant and soak its corpse far too many drunken idiots were running around. Most likely the cause of the screaming which would lead to his premature deafness if he didn't start killing the idiots.
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. Vaguely he questioned why Malfatto was on top of a tavern or screaming inane ideas at three hours past midnight. Rolling his eyes at the strange behavior of the usually reserved doctor and somehow finding a way to blame Auguste for this. That fat, pigheaded drunk was always the cause of amassing drunks. They were supposed to be model guards for King of Hell's Cesare Borgia.
He turned back to the fireplace and sat down once again and held up his book to read again. Rubbing his temples he tried to tempt the headache into leaving with the assuage of his fingers with no luck. Fiora better get back soon with that moron or he wouldn't be killing just those drunks. Annoyance counted as a reason for murder, right? Ideas were tantalizing, made of knives embedded in guts with throats splitting, or guts leaking out. Blood would spray and paint over the stench of stupid he hated. Briefly considered the knife set sitting on his cushion armrest. It was more than tempting.
He wasn't going to even try to reason with his thoughts. Best to let idiots be idiots when only birds have wings.
A loud screech grated his ears and Baltasar whipped around in his chair. Nearly coming to his feet with a hardened look permeating his expression he saw Malfatto jump off the tavern's roof. Flapping arms and all as he fell ungracefully next to a hay pile. He sighed, shaking his head and turning back to read his book. Completely ignored the drunken cries of confusion and applause that roared in backlash. Those idiots were probably unaware that there was probably another to add the the body count morning tomorrow. If, at least, those idiots didn't all drink themselves to death and how they hadn't he wasn't sure if he wanted to know. Or just stab their livers for them.
How he worked with these people he didn't know either. Nor did he know how the hell they worked for a bitter old bastard like he did.
Edit: Remastered! Hooray, I've always been meaning to get to my really old fics like this (Happy third birthday, Birds Have Wings!) and goodness, my writing's changed. I hope you enjoy, and thank you for reading my works as it is always a pleasure to hear when people enjoy them.
Can you catch the references of mysophobia?
Cover art done by: sparksofinsanity48 on DeviantArt. Thank you so much for making my day whenever I see your lovely artwork.