He has heard a million pleas, some for life and others for death. He smelled the blood and shit. He laughed at the whimpers and mentions of children, spouses, and other dependents. He listened to them spew whatever lies they thought he wanted to hear. He watched them shake and jerk against the restraints before the last remaining bits of strength fled their bodies and their souls followed soon after, leaving nothing but irreparably damaged shells.
He knew torture. Knew the sights, the smells, the sounds. But he did not know how it felt.
Until the French King and his blond general came. Then Alfonso learned a whole new side of torture.
Glory was the reason. Not only Heavenly glory, not if he was being honest with himself. Imagine having your name written in the history books as the man who sent the False Pope back to hell. The man who ended the reign of the Spanish Bastard and his disgusting ilk. The house of Borgia would crumble without its patriarch and his sinful bastards would die in the street, just as they deserved. History would thank him.
Earthly adoration couldn't compare to the welcome he would find in Heaven of course (such a thought would be blasphemy and he didn't blaspheme) but it would feel good. After a lifetime of taunts and neglect and abuse, the idea of being universally loved felt good. Cardinal Della Rovere had told him he would live forever in the hearts of men.
The good Cardinal had neglected to tell him how much dying would hurt.
She held her son to her breast and thanked the good Lord above for his return. True, he was missing a few fingers, smelled like a beast come in from the wet, and clutched her tightly in a way she interpreted as a sign of his mistreatment at the hands of the Borgias, but he was back. For now that was enough.
Soon, when his small hands reluctantly peeled away from her and she trusted him to the care of the family doctor and his old nurse for a bath, food, and bed, it wasn't enough. She didn't think anything would be enough to temper the hatred burning in the back of her throat. She would end the Borgias; send them to hell and make sure they went screaming in agony.
Watching the man die hurt. He knew everyone who threw stones. He was related to some of them. He was friends with a very few.
And if they knew about him, him and the scowling redhead whose name he whispered in the dark of the graveyard, those stones would turn on him.
Beside him, Violetta turned her head and threw up. She was a gentle woman, years of taunts and childhood cruelty had made her so. Watching a man suffer was not something she found sport in. That was enough to make him like her.
"Are you alright?" he asked. "Do you want to leave?"
She nodded. "Yes, to both." Lowering her voice so he could barely hear her over the screams and taunts she said, "I think it's awful."
He nodded back. "As do I."