Summary: Ezio realises that perhaps revenge is not enough for a person to live on but on the other hand maybe he has forgotten how to want anything else. Warning for graphic slash Ezio/Leonardo
Villa Auditore, Monteriggioni Anno 1476
Coarse gravel dug into his back, sharp pebbles forming pinpricks of pain all across his shoulder blades. The rest of his body ached from exhaustion, a dull throbbing inside his limbs and he didn't think he had ever been this tired before. He wanted to sleep for a week or a month and then wake up by someone telling him that this had all been a bad dream. That the turn his life had taken this last year had all been a fever induced hallucination. He closed his eyes briefly before opening them again and squinted up at the sky; glaring midday sun hurting his eyes and he knew that it was all still very real.
"Patience Ezio, it is the most important of all the things I have to teach you. You may think it is the sharpness of your blade or the strength in your arm which makes you an assassino." Here his uncle paused, sharp eyes fixating Ezio's sullen glare trying with sheer power of will to make his young relative listen, he shook his head, "Merde novizio, listen to me, this is not only the most important lesson but also the one you refuse, time upon time, to learn." The older man sank back down on his heels, the sharp edge of his blade still pointing at Ezio's throat; never wavering once.
"Patience! It is what will make you into a great assassin." Mario Auditore swept the arm not holding the sword in a wide arc, as if to encompass not only the Villa Auditore and its grounds but all and everything. His voice sank to almost a whisper as he continued, "Patience Ezio, it is what will keep you alive."
Venezia, Anno 1481
Ezio pressed his back against the rough stone, moulding his spine to the uneven surface, his white cape blending seamlessly with the whitewashed walls of the small palazzo. After the heat of the day the cold seeping into his flesh from the cool stone was a blessing. The heels of his feet were resting comfortably on a broad ornate windowsill halfway up the inner wall.
From his vantage point he could see the entire courtyard, roses and bushes so colourful during the day now grey, bathing in silvery moonlight. He looked carefully down as a guard made a slow circuit of the inner walls, unfastened chainmail tinkling with ever step.
"Stupido," he whispered quietly to himself. He made no attempt to move but let the guard walk his turn and disappear into the lit guard house, laughter escaping briefly before the door was closed behind him.
Ezio kept his position, the guard was not his target and if he could avoid it he rather let him be. The guards he had seen so far were relaxed, careless, they did not expect an attack and if they did it was from the outside, an open assault on the gates. The rich and powerful in Venice conspired amongst themselves as much as in any of the other city republics in Italy and armed conflicts was not unusual; although political disgrace was the customary weapon of choice. Ezio was something different, more expensive perhaps but also much more dangerous.
He noted the time of the guard's round with the position of the moon, same hour every night, he should be glad; it would make his work easier. He kept still in his shadowed corner and continued to wait.
His target, Severo Esposito, was a wealthy merchant who traded in silks and spices. He had risen from nothing to great power in the last couple of years and was known for his harsh methods of dealing with traders and captains under his pay. He was not a good man, using unscrupulous and ruthless tactics to become rich but on the other hand he was no worse than most of the other merchants in Venezia. Normally, he was not a man worthy of Ezio's time but somebody wanted him dead; dead enough to have paid a very hefty sum to Ezio, which meant they wanted him deader than most.
Ezio waited as a second guard walked a round of the courtyard; the watch walked fast and was clearly more interested in going back to his wine and the game of dice going on inside, he never looked up. This was the third night Ezio stalked the palazzo in hope of spotting his prey, he had paid a former maid of the household a large enough sum that she should have been speaking the truth that the signore of the house tended to sleep light and take nightly walks in his own courtyard. Other ways had proved fruitless as the man surrounded himself with a heavy guard outside his home and constantly travelled surrounded by them.
Ezio slowly flexed his fingers inside his gloves and then moved on to his wrists, making sure that when the waiting was over he would be ready. He loathed this part of the calling; he had never been built for waiting, no matter how much his uncle had tried to instil a sense of patience in him. The rest of the creed of the assassin's order he had taken to as a shark takes to water; but being still held little appeal to him. He wanted to kill the man and be done with this.
Becoming an assassino had never been how he had planned to spend his life, but as it had turned out life had other plans for him. He had tried running, he had tried hiding, he had even tried fighting it but in the end when Mario had asked he had said yes. Yes, and chosen a pat set forward by his father and his father's father before him; he had no idea how far back the creed went only that when it called the Auditore answered.
He shifted his weight and muttered an oat under his breath; he should not have taken this contract. Being an assassin might not have been his first choice in life but at the time it had been the only line of action he could see before him, the lust for vengeance had burned too strong in him, like flames in his blood and ash in his heart. In the years since he embarked on this path his road had been littered with corpses of friends as well as foes and over the years the flames inside him had died down to embers, still smouldering and never dying but burning slower and more controlled.
He shook his head, impatience flaring in him like an itch he couldn't scratch and at times like this his skin felt a size to small and filled with ants. All he wanted was to be done here and turn his back on this maledizione place and its master. There were other things he must do, other men that needed killing more than this one, but money he had discovered, was essential if you wanted anything done.
Suddenly a movement in the corner of his eyes caught his attention and frustration and anger was instantly blown away, replaced by intent concentration. Ezio leaned carefully out on the window sill, keeping his weight on his heels and one hand still connected to the stone wall, assassin blade ready to be drawn in his other. He saw a flare of expensive fabric among the back of the colonnades and he slid smoothly away from the wall, feet silently connecting with the mosaic floor beneath him.
Ezio carefully kept the moving form in focus, never letting it out of his sight while making sure to obscure the line of sight for his victim. His entire being was focused on the present, here and now, the earlier tendrils of regrets and impatience pushed far away. The time for patience was over and now he needed the intent of his mind, the sharpness of his eyes and the determination of his soul. He was always at his best when he was moving; then no dark thoughts could keep up with him. One step after the other he approached his target, moving silently among the pillars as he made sure the guard's room was still out of sight as he glided amidst the shadows.
He saw the signore, a fat middle aged man marked by wealth and power standing with his hands clutching a balustrade looking out over the patio.
"Dio era con me," Ezio whispered under his breath as he took the final leap, feet pushing forcefully of from the ground and blade brandished in mid air.
The merchant had no opportunity to shout or react and all he had time for was a brief flare of shock in his eyes as Ezio's strong hand folded over his mouth and his blade cleanly sliced his troat open from ear to ear. He felt more than saw the warm blood silenlty flow down the man's chest, a black river of death, slender tendril of steam rising carefully in the cool night air.
Afterwards, Ezio put him gently down on the white marble tiles and wiped his blade on the man's night gown before sliding it back. He looked down at him and wondered absently what he had done to deserve such enemies before he closed his eyelids and said the words the creed demanded, "Che la morte ti dia la pace che cercavi. Requiescat in Pace."
He was out over the walls before he could hear the alarm being raised behind him and long gone over the roofs of the sleeping city before anyone tought to look up.
It was an hour or two after midnight and Ezio was slowly but surely becoming drunk. Escaping from the palazzo had been easy and he was now in a different part of Venezia. He was occupying a table in the darkest corner he had been able to find in a taverna, although he did not think his face would be recognised in a place like this. He clutched a stained mug in his right hand and the scowl on his face made certain the other patrons thought twice before sitting down to share his table.
The taverna was dimly lit and the air full of smoke from the multitude of wax candles casting flickering shadows across the beams in the low ceiling. Ezio was on his fourth cup of wine, it was tart and watered but cheep and so he drank it none the less. The place, known for its sign of a resting dock worker, was not for the highborn of Venice but rather inhabited by the part of the city's population which only emerged after dark and preferred to pursue their living in hidden alleyways far away from the watchful gaze of the city guards.
At the other tables he could make out cutpurses and sell-swords mingling with poor young apprentices and whores too old to sell their goods in better lighting. A wrong word here would undoubtedly get you killed and not in an open fight but with a knife in your back when you went outside for a piss. In short, the place was as dark and despicable as Ezio's mood; it suited him right now.
The pleasure of success seemed nowhere to find tonight, usually after a killing he felt relieved that he was one step closer to avenging his family. Tonight, no such feeling would fill him and his mind was occupied with bitter thoughts of regret and things that could not be. Waiting had that effect on him and now he seemed unable to shake it off.
He should be heading back to his home in Monteriggioni but he was avoiding it and he knew it, which only soured his mood further. If it was something he did not like it was dealing with the fact that he might be a coward, he preferred his enemies to be visible and tangible. Shadows and memories could not be killed and stayed with you even if you wanted them gone and for Ezio they seemed like uninvited guest as they clung to the very stones of the Villa Auditore.
Tonight was not a good night he concluded and he did not want to tempt fate further by starting the return voyage to see the tattered remains of his family; of which he was very much a part. When he was in a mood like this he always loathed going back and so he avoided it as much as he could; taking up resident in empty building or among friends in the cities he visited. At home lay only his sisters accusing eyes for keeping her out in the countryside, away from her friends and potential lovers in Firenze. And then there was his mother.
He waved at the barmaid to bring him another mug of wine as he drank the remains of the one in his hand. He sighed, Claudia had adapted to her new life in her own way, keeping the books of the Villa gave her a purpose and he was sure that as soon as he turned his back she was spending all her time with the merchant daughters of the area. Laughing and residing over them as she held court in their small town.
Maria, on the other hand, his mother, was another story. Maria with her dead eyes and mouth which did not smiled and never spoke a word, only prayed silently. He almost downed the new mug of wine as soon as the maid put it down in front of him, the sour liquid making his eyes tear at the corners and his throat ache; everything to escape the image of his own mother so broken down by grief from the killings of his father and brothers that she was not fully part of this world anymore.
The overpowering sorrow which Ezio had transformed into a hard core of anger and hate Maria had not been able to bear. He had long since killed the guards who had come for his father and brothers and who would have taken him as well had he been at home that day, he had thought that killing them would somehow make his mother forget what they had done to her as she tried to protect her sons and husband. Make her forget their hands and leering mouths and the shame and pain. He scowled at himself, he had been so naive, so young, killing someone did not undo what they had done. Killing someone never turned back time, if there was anything he had learned over the last couple of years it was that murdering a man only lead you to two more that desperately needed killing.
His revenge would never end, never be done, for every dead man the shadows of more fell over his hands. He had made his peace with this, he had chosen his own path and now he had to walk it. Regret would get him nowhere and it was years ago he had stopped wondering if he could have helped his mother in those early months had he not been so consumed by vengeance.
"Brutta notte," he said almost conversationally to himself. It was a full moon tonight and he always thought of these nights, so much brighter than others, as bad nights. Darkness was his friend after all and too much light made his work hard and his enemies more alert. Bad thoughts for a bad night he reflected, a cruel smirk settling on his face. Tomorrow, he thought, tomorrow he would go home. Tonight on the other hand he would try to forget all these things.
He needed a distraction, a warm willing body taking his mind of things. He looked around but saw nothing in the scum around him, not here that was for sure. He suddenly smiled into his cup, swirling the red liquid before finishing it. He rose and threw a handful of coins on the rough wooden table as he gathered his things and exited. After all he knew exactly where to go.
No Leonardo yet I know, he is coming, I promise=) Feel free to leave comments or simple encouragements. It is always very much appreciated! More coming soon.