Chapter 3

A/N And again, third time today, I am on a roll! Alright guys, third chapter, The second one's been up a couple of hours or something by now, and I hope you've read it. Most of this was written in France, well, about up to the bit at the end of the tunnels (spoilers!). But after that, some of it is remembered from after I deleted the note with all this info on, this chapter will give you some background on Emiliana, and show you Silvino's true skills. I hope you enjoy it, this won't be as long as chapter 2, cause there isn't as much content to go into it, I think... But it'll still be good, once again, enjoy. And review if you find any mistakes or you want anything elaborated, or requests for content. I'm starting to feel like a youtuber, encouraging you to review and stuff, but review and hits are the reason I do this, and it's nice to know you're work is being appreciated by the many :).

P.S I'm not good at romance, so if the romancey bit is kinda cheesy, don't blame me, I've never tried writing it before... *shrugs

The morning sun shone bright on the floor of the Recruits' dormitory, and the sounds of the other Recruits getting dressed awoke Silvino. He lay in bed for a minute, feeling completely at ease. He got up, then stretched for a minute. He got dressed and buckled on his armour, and walked down to the reception with his hood up. He saw Emiliana and Rinaldo talking heatedly in the corner, and wondered what they could be arguing about for a second. Then he cursed his morning stupidity, and, seeing an opportunity to know more about what they thought of him, sidled over with his head down.

"Rinaldo, let me train him for today, I know what I want to teach him, and he has told me he wants to learn it."

"What does he want to learn then? I was going to teach him how to move on rooftops, something he can't cause more damage with, and perhaps how to approach a target without being seen."

"He wants to learn how to defend himself, so I was going to teach him the basic Martial Arts,and if he is good at it, more advanced moves. I can also teach him how to move discreetly in a crowd, since that'll compliment what you want to teach him. So how does that feel?"

"Alright! But don't go filling his head full of nonsense, make him aware that he is still not safe on the streets until he can move with immunity."

"Thank you Rinaldo, I relish having new students."

Silvino moved off, and stood by the stairs to the door, and turned to find both Assassins standing in front of him. Rinaldo spoke, "Emiliana will be teaching you today. Don't mess up again." He growled at the last sentence, and moved off. Emiliana smiled at Silvino, and gestured for him to follow her. Silvino followed, bemused, as Emiliana walked down several corridors and stairs. Why weren't they going out into Tiber Island.

She reached a small door set in a cul-de-sac of a corridor, and looked back at him, "This is the Guild's entrance to the tunnel system there are eighteen entrances, Rinaldo carried you all the way from the Barracks to here, he thought you showed promise.

I sometimes wonder if he enjoys being an Assassin, he's so grim all the time. You'll be training in the Barracks today." Silvino stayed quiet, and followed Emiliana as she opened the door and stepped into the darkness beyond.

The tunnel was dark, but not pitch black, since many vents gave it a small amount of light from the surface. Emiliana moved along the path, and Silvino followed, marvelling at how the builders of this tunnel had incorporated the tiny shafts of light that made it incredibly easy to move along. Torches would have been easier, but, he reflected, constantly putting new torches along this place would be expensive, hard to do in secret and rob travellers of their night vision. He noticed that Emiliana was shuddering slightly as they walked. Well, it is a little scary, he thought.

Rats scurried along them by their feet, and spiders' eyes glittered on the walls as they passed. Silvino was a little depressed by the gloominess, but realised that he wasn't scared, and he could move in this darkness easily. The creatures didn't bother him, and there was enough light to see well. This comfort with darkness surprised him, it was not unfamiliar, yet alien, as if he had experienced it before, but not to his knowledge.

Emiliana must be feeling different, he thought. Her shuddering had increased, and her steps became halting. "Are you okay?" She shook her head, Silvino marvelled at the change that had occurred. The strong, female Assassin was gone, and replaced by a shaking, frightened young woman. Silvino moved past her, deciding to take control, "Hey, let me lead, hold on to my hand, and tell me the directions. Okay?" She nodded, seemingly paralysed with fear.

As he moved off, she spoke in a tiny voice,"I'm sorry, I was always scared of this place, I thought I had got over it. Don't ever tell anyone in the Guild about this, or I'll never forgive you!" Silvino nodded, glad that the strong woman he knew was still there to make threats. They continued through the tunnels in silence, nearly. Emiliana shuddered every time she saw an animal, and moaned when she heard them.

Silvino tried to start a conversation, thinking it might help her fear. "I don't know why, but I feel like I belong in this darkness. I'm not scared, and I know that I'm invisible, maybe that's the Assassin in me." She didn't answer, and Silvino put it down to the fear. They continued for several miles, and suddenly Silvino noticed that Emiliana's hand was no longer on his wrist, but intertwined with his , he had been so focussed on seeing where he was going and remembering the route they had taken that he didn't realise it. He didn't say anything, just continued walking.

Eventually, they reached a ladder which went up to a grate. "Emiliana had gradually regained her composure as they got closer to the Barracks, and now span Silvino to face her. "Thank you, I couldn't have made it here on my own. Now, it seems I owe you one?" And she smiled coyly at him and raised her eyebrows.

Silvino suddenly noticed that he was a little bit taller than her, and she was looking up at him. He stammered, "Um, I don't know, errr, you decide, I guess." She laughed, that lovely, sweet voice, and before he knew she had, she kissed him, on the lips. For several seconds, he was shocked, immobilised, then she pulled away, and his knees went shaky.

"Well, that was nice, although it can't go any further than here. And it doesn't change anything between us." Her words went through to his paralysed brain, and he numbly nodded. "Wow, thank you, errm, yeah." His stumbling words must have amused her, because she laughed, squeezed his hand and jumped onto the ladder. She was halfway up when she realised he had stayed still, and she called back, "You coming, my little Assassin?" Silvino unfroze, and scuttled up the ladder behind her.

Emiliana swung the grate out, and stepped into a patch of sunlight, and Silvino followed. Reaching the top of the ladder, the bright light startled him and he staggered forwards as his eyes got used to the midday sunlight. It seemed they had been in the tunnel for several hours, it was about, ten, judging by the sun. He looked around when he was finally able to see again, and realised exactly where he was. He was at the same Barracks where Rinaldo had taken him, and Dottore Cesare had drugged him.

He was in a position now to observe the actual layout of the Barracks, and he shrewdly memorised the layout. Four walls, two gates, and bastions on the corners, that was the basic layout, but like everything, people had improvised on top. Several buildings were tacked onto the wall, built into it with sloping, tiled roofs. A corner bastion had been converted into a Thieves Guild safehouse, judging by the signs and the thin young men loitering in the dust around it. Several other buildings appeared to be rather Spartan housing, and a set of stables, and even a forge, Silvino noticed. Two final details caught his eye, a small cart with a lean-to attached which looked like Dottore Cesare's place, and the eye-catching square building that dominated the Barracks.

A huge house, a solid, with no little garden in the middle or anything, three storeys high, made out of dressed stone and marble. Statues perched on the corners, a horse with a huge spike coming out of it's head, two ugly, grotesque, bat-like things and a roaring lion. Silvino was taken aback, the straght lines, neat arches and columns of the building made it look rather impressive. The wooden window had flowerpots hung on their sills, and an Ivy stem flowed up one corner in a twisted seam of green.

Silvino stood there for almost a minute, just taking in every detail of the place, but was pulled back to normality by Emiliana yelling at him, "Silvino, come on, we came here to train, not daydream, move." Silvino jogged over, realising two things yet again, one, the Emiliana he was going to train with was hard and demanding. Two, his robes felt as if they were made for running, they flew out behind him and looked cool, and didn't rub, anywhere!

Emiliana was standing by the main door to the house, underneath a cube carved out of the frame, which was held up by a marble pillar covered in carvings. She rapped heavily on the door, and heavy footsteps could be heard, then the door was wrenched open. "What is it, more fucking attacks! I'm sick of these french fuckers. Well? Who are you? Robes, eh, two of Ezio's lot?" Silvino stepped back in surprise. Standing in front of him was the largest man he had ever seen. Bloodshot, slightly mad eyes and a beaky nose peeked out of a face covered in a bushy black moustache and tightly cropped, jet black hair. The man was wearing a blue tunic, heavily padded, with ruffs at the upper arm and frills by the wrists. The expensive looking garment did not fit with the angry man, but the clothes suited him better when Silvino noticed the bloodstains and food stains down the front and legs.

Emiliana bowed, then fixed the man with a cold glare, "Bartolomeo, I'm here to train a Recruit, I need the use of several men, a training ground, and the rest of the day." Her voice was much harsher than Silvino had ever heard it, maybe she was trying to show she wasn't intimidated by this bear of a man, who stood three feet taller than her.

Bartolomeo frowned, scratched his forehead, then seemed to make up his mind, "Needy bitch, aren't you, well I've got more important matters, a French army breathing down my neck, traitors, and that cocksucker Cesare trying to have me assassinated. You can wait." And with that savage rebuff, Bartolomeo turned and walked back inside the house, muttering to himself.

Then, Silvino heard raised voices, and definitely heard Bartolomeo say a protest of some kind. The speaking finished, and Bartolomeo could be heard stamping off, a woman in her thirties came to the door and leant on the frame. She was pretty, in a homely way, and she wore a flared dress that hid her figure and chest. Silvino was privately disappointed. "I'm sorry about Bartolomeo, he's under a lot of stress right now, I hope you can forgive him, it's probably not a good idea to use his Mercenaries for your training, just enlist the help of some thieves. I'm sorry, again, but the French are pressuring us quite a lot right now. Have a nice day, Assassins, and give my regards to Ezio, Bartolomeo holds him in such high regard."

Emiliana, her face cold, thanked the woman and stalked off, and the woman smiled at Silvino and closed the door. Silvino smiled back, and then followed Emiliana to the Thieves Guild house. Emiliana stalked up to a group of four thieves, who were lounging around the corner of their building. "You lot, on that training ground, now, you're helping the Assassins today. Now!" The Thieves complied, rather than risk Emiliana's wrath. Silvino didn't know what to expect now, this new Emiliana had thrown all his perceptions out the window.

Emiliana faced Silvino on the dusty ground, and fixed him with what seemed her permanent glare, "Today, you're going to learn how to attack, and defend yourself, with skill and grace. You said you wanted to learn how to take a man down quickly and silently, this is how, attack me." She settled onto her haunches, her hands held out in front of her, looking right at his eyes.

Silvino stood awkwardly, his arms held loosely by his sides, "Um, how?" He asked, not really sure what Emiliana wanted, she glared, then spoke quickly.

"Alright, I'll attack you, we'll learn defending first, it seems." And with that, she sprang into the air to land a few feet in front of him, sprinted several steps, and attacked! Her foot swung into his kneecap, deadening it, then she palmed his chin with with enough force to lift him off his feet and fly several metres backwards. "Hmm, you didn't even try, well, we have work to do."

The next few hours were the most excruciating of Silvino's life, first she taught him several moves to defend himself with, using him and the Thieves as test dummies. Silvino was tossed, tripped, thrown and kicked down. Then he had to do the same thing to the Thieves, and if he showed hesitation Emiliana would punish him by demonstrating another move on him. Silvino quickly learnt to hide his emotions of guilt for hitting these Thieves that weren't allowed to fight back, and set to it with a will, not wanting to be hurt through any more hesitations.

Once he had learnt the specialist moves, Emiliana went on to the knock-out moves, a water barrel was procured, and the Assassin systematically showed Silvino pressure points to collapse a person, put them unconscious, and then revived them with the water. She taught Silvino how to immobilise a man by pressing his nerve clusters, and causing intolerable pain.

By lunchtime, the Thieves were casting murderous glances at the Assassins, but were slightly rectified when Emiliana recapped all the things she had taught Silvino, on him. Silvino was knocked out and revived consecutively sixteen times, and his entire body was a mess of bruises. He gratefully sat down for half an hour and ate ham and bread, washed down with cold water, which the Thieves turned down for beer. Emiliana didn't eat, but Silvino, after realising he hadn't eaten anything yesterday, nor had breakfast, ate ravenously.

After lunch, Emiliana began to show Silvino how to defend himself from an attack, how to deflect a punch, how to turn a kick on an attacker, and how to get out of a grapple. "But," she advised him after she had finished, "attack is the best form of defence, and what I am about to test you with will prove that, use everything you have learned"

Silvino was tired, numbed, and dirty, but when he straightened up the small crowd that had gathered noticed how he held himself. There was an air of experience about him that hadn't been there in the morning, he had gone past his pain barrier, he had defeated it, and he had learnt how to fight along the way. The watching Mercenaries recognised, they saw a fellow killer standing there, a dangerous man who knew he could take you down whenever he wanted to.

Emiliana called to the Thieves and the crown, "You see this boy, I've taught him a lot today, but now he's gotta test it, I want you to attack him, as many as you want at a time, but he has not passed until he defeats all of you, if you knock him unconscious, he has failed, and his beatings will continue," here she winked, "so take him, go, or are you all too afraid..."

The men all glared at her, they had been challenged, and their manly honour was impugned. Silvino faced eleven men, four lithe Thieves and seven, stocky, huge Mercenaries. The Mercenaries took off their armour and dropped their weapons, and three of them came towards him. They took up positions around him, then the leader called, and they rushed him.

He ducked and rolled, catching them off guard, he came up past one, and jabbed his side, hard. It was not a blow that did anything special apart from wind the man, and he fell to his knees, groaning. Silvino could sense the other two behind him, his adrenaline was pumping and time seemed to have slowed, he was more aware of the world than he ever had been. He jumped and tried a spinning kick, his boot's heel caught another Mercenary in the cheek, and the force knocked the man sideways. Silvino landed, then crouched as the final Mercenary's fist flew above him, he grappled the man, clenching his middle in a bear hug and taking him down. He brought his elbow up, and slammed it into the man's shoulder, dislocating it and taking him out of the fight.

The Mercenary screamed, and Silvino rolled off him as his good arm clawed the got to his feet, turned and thrust his arm to block a punch from the second Mercenary, who was sporting a rapidly swelling bruise on his cheek. Silvino grabbed the man's wrist in a lightning fast manoeuvre, threw it to the side and hit the man's ribs with his hardest, fastest punch. The Mercenary stumbled backwards, and Silvino finished that fight by reaching past the man's clumsy defence, gripping the back of his neck and squeezing. The Mercenary collapsed, completely knocked out.

Silvino turned and threw a cocky grin at Emiliana, who shrugged and gestured at two Thieves behind Silvino. Then she called, "No fatalities boys, remember!" The Thieves bundled Silvino, bringing him down, one pinned his legs while another grabbed his shirt. His eyes were manic, and Silvino saw a weakness in the man's extra-long nose. He threw his head forward, and his vision was suddenly clouded by a mist of blood.

Silvino pushed the dazed Thief off him with his left hand, and twisted the other's kneecap with his right. The young man howled and hopped away. Silvino got to his feet, his face was covered in blood, but he could not wipe it since his hands were covered in sweat and grit. He looked a mess, but he was not going to stop.

He jumped back instinctively, pushed his hood up a little and bought his foot up. The Thief was close enough, and Silvino's leg muscles bunched, then stretched. The sole of his boot caught the Thief in the thigh, incapacitating him with an almost girlish scream. He crawled away, and Silvino turned, snarling, to his next opponent. The Thieves bundling him from behind had pissed him off, and he was prepared to fight savagely. It seemed the other two Thieves were next, looking rather cautious as they approached him one by one.

Silvino growled, pulled his head down to expose his wild face, and jumped on the first thief, he jabbed two fingers into the man's side savagely, then gripped his opposite elbow. The man was knocked out, and Silvino rolled his body over and stood to meet the last Thief. The man, unwilling to learn tried to use one of the things practised on him earlier and aimed a kick at Silvino's knee. The boy saw, twisted so it went past him, and did two things. He moved like a snake and gripped the man's upper thigh, then he flipped it backward, throwing the man's body onto the ground. He brought his right arm up in the air, and brought it down savagely on the man's stomach, the man puked as he fell unconscious, which revived him and he fell into a state of coughing onto the dirt beside him.

Silvino felt better than he ever had before, he was so fast! Another Mercenary came, a big man who normally wielded an axe, Silvino let him reach for his neck in preparation for a headbutt, Silvino let it come, but leant back so it missed. Then as the slow man tried to reorientate himself, Silvino reached between the man's legs with his hand, and twisted... The big man staggered, screaming shrilly, and Silvino wiped his hand on his leg in distaste.

He turned, three Mercenaries left, he couldn't be bothered with fancy stuff for this, and adopted a brawling style. One came to spar with him, and Silvino blocked the first one, then hammered his opponent's chest through an opening and forced him back. The man was on his back foot, struggling for balance, so Silvino hit him squarely in the groin with his foot, and pushed him down into the dirt. Only two enemies left, and Silvino, his cunning mind still working, through the fight, wanted to impress Emiliana with his finale. The final two would try and beat him into submission from the front, so an idea formed in Silvino's head. He blocked a punch, dislocating the wrist with a simple twist, then threw his arm up to counter another one. The force of the blow almost took him down, but he recovered, and it had hurt the other guy more, since his leather vambrace absorbed most of the impact. The one on the left had his dislocated hand hung limply by his side, but he was preparing his other one for an uppercut.

Time seemed to slow down completely for Silvino, he watched the punch move through thin air, twisted to avoid it, then reached out with his left hand to grab the back of the man's neck. Then he reached across with his right hand, touched a nerve cluster in the shoulder bone to incapacitate the other man, who was still rubbing his injured hand after the vambrace impact. He grabbed the man's neck, and then slowed so Emiliana could see what he was doing. He brought the men's foreheads together spectacularly, with a sickening crunch, and they both dropped to the floor, unconscious.

Silvino fixed Emiliana with a tired glare, "Did I pass?"

Instead of replying, the Assassin clapped, slowly and sarcastically, she wore an expression of deep thinking, and she studied Silvino up and down, "I have never seen such an instinctive fighter, you always knew where they were, what they were doing, what you were doing. I think you were born to this, Silvino. Oh, you passed, I expected you to take several down, and then be overwhelmed, but even if they had all rushed you, you would have found a way out of it."

The fallen men were crawling away, or just lying there, since Silvino had knocked them out, Emiliana stepped over a prostate Mercenary, towards Silvino. She stopped in front of him, and searched his face, Silvino stood there, his adrenaline rush had gone, but he still stood tall and confident, the fighting had definitely changed him. "Nobody is that good after one day of training. Nobody is that fast, not without years of practise. You, are not possible. I... the only thing I can think of... basically, you're an amazing fighter, with so much potential. We will keep training together, I don't know how often, but yours is a talent I want to develop."

She sounded awed, impressed, Silvino's heart swelled with pride, Emiliana respected him, she was impressed by him, he had impressed her. He smiled, letting all the tension accumulated over the day fall away from him. He was suddenly more exhausted than he had ever been, and he fell backwards to land in the dust. He breathed out deeply, feeling all his bruises and aches all over again.

He laid back, looked up at the sky, and felt fulfilled, he had discovered a new him today, a fast, ruthless, but gentle him. He felt changed, he felt like he had been occupied by some other, higher presence, he knew he was a better person now. But he couldn't figure out how. It was similar to the feeling in the tunnels, he was familiar with being this fast and deadly, like he had done it before, and was good at it, but didn't know how to do it yet.

It was late afternoon, and Silvino was so tired he would have slept in the dust, but for the next hour he sat by Dottore Cesare's home,stripped to the waist and covered in damp cloths to bring out the bruising. The wounded Thieves and Mercenaries were getting the same treatment, but Silvino sat apart from them, knowing they would resent how easily he had defeated them.

He instead focussed on the house, taking in it's contours, the simple touches in the stonework that made the Architect. He sighed, he was still exhausted. Then, someone tapped him on the shoulder, he turned round, confused, Emiliana was sending a carrier pigeon to the Guild to tell them about Silvino. A Mercenary was standing there, the big one who Silvino had humiliated by twisting his crotch. "Assassin, you are the fastest, most instinctive fighter I have ever seen, you took us all and still stood, that's skill, and guts, you didn't even flinch at the prospect. We just wanted to say, I mean, no hard feelings, from all of us. And visit any time, I would love to spar with you, see how long you last." he held out a weathered, calloused hand, and Silvino took it silently. He had expected the men to hate him, but they recognised a fellow warrior, and saw how he had hesitated when told to attack. They respected him as one of their own, a brother in their fight against the Borgia. Silvino saw all this in the men's expressions, and he smiled tiredly. He thanked all of them, and received a round of handshakes and back-slapping, before Emiliana came and told him they were going back to the Guild.

He said goodbye to all the men, then strolled happily after Emiliana as she led him out of the gates of the Barracks, "So where two, Maestro, over the hills and... back to the city?" She nodded, she must not want to go back through the tunnels. The journey back to the Guild was uneventful, and once Silvino settled into a walking rhythm he became complacent, almost walking asleep. He barely noticed as they moved from the countryside to the slum districts, or as they crossed the Ponte Emilio onto Tiber Island, or the admiring looks he got as they walked into the Guild, the news about his skills had spread. Emiliana dismissed him for the day, congratulating him, got a vague thank you for her troubles and watched as he set off for the kitchens.

Silvino was tired, but he was also in a good mood, and he was smiling as he asked for some bread at the kitchens, then, as he leaned against the wall, he yawned and nearly slept there. The cook, a kind old woman, got out a loaf, put it on a plate with a bowl of soup, and ushered him kindly out of the kitchen. She smiled as he shuffled off, yawning.

Silvino made it up to the Recruits' dormitory, and ate his small dinner on the windowsill at the end of the room. He finished it, made a mental note to return the plate, then shrugged off his robes and armour and got into bed. He almost fell asleep immediately, but spent several minutes staring out the window as the last light faded from the sky. He thought how much he had changed and achieved in one day, and knew that coming to the Guild was the best decision he had ever made.

He slept contentedly, not knowing how the other recruits stared at him when they came to bed, wondering how this boy had impressed Maestro Emiliana that she had defended him from Machiavelli's comments, and pleaded Ezio to let him stay at the Guild, boasting about his abilities.