A commission for itsatravesty over on Tumblr.

If you're interested in commissioning me http:/brokenballoons[.]tumblr[.]com/post[/]18043345545/help-out

By all standards Monteriggioni was one of the better places Horry had lived in his life. He wasn't about to knock Pisa or San Gimignano, but there was something… dirty about them that he just couldn't place, more like a feeling like he was constantly being watched. Monteriggioni wasn't like that, it was a blossoming flower and he'd heard nothing but good about the town that now living here he could only agree with. Monteriggioni had almost no crime and even the most basic merchants or tailors or doctors were exceptional, and frankly he was surprised that such a small city had such skill within it's walls. He wasn't complaining though.

He'd lived in Monteriggioni for four months before he saw… well the man honestly might have well have been a ghost. The times Horry saw him he thought he'd seen a ghost in all honesty, for they wore white and red clothing so that the patterns on his garb looked like war wounds. At first Horry had thought he was a ghost as he bounded over the top of the roofs in the city. With Monteriggioni's history he wouldn't have been surprised, they were often in the middle of fights between Florence and San Gimignano as they pushed against their preexisting borders against each other. As it was he heard that sites around the walled city were haunted.

Horry had just stared in more than a little awe, head craned back like a chicken caught in the rain, as the ghost-man darted across the rooftops like he had wings on his feet, easily sailing right over streets as he headed towards the villa at the top of the town. Then someone had knocked into him, it was his own fault for gawking in the middle of the market, and when he looked back the man was gone. He'd convinced himself it was just his eyes playing tricks on him.

The second time however… that he couldn't really ignore.

He'd been visiting his sweetheart, a lovely girl named Lucretia with the blackest hair he'd ever seen and so curly that when he gave her locks a gentle pull they bounced right back into place like a spring. They'd just had supper and Horry was reluctant to leave, but Lucretia was almost bashful about their affections and said he had to go, her brother would be home soon anyway. So he'd left and she'd just closed the door behind him as he strode away when from above a huge… bird! dropped down out of the sky in front of him.

He yelped, in a very unmanly way and stumbled back, almost falling if not for the brief hand around his wrist. "Excuse me," said a man and he was startled to realize that… the man was what he'd thought was a bird!

Before he could even form a reply though the man in the white and red robes had darted away and Horry watched, mouth gaping open, as he scrambled up the wall that contained the hill the villa sat upon.

"Horry?" he turned when Lucretia called him, a worried frown upon her face where she stood in the doorway.

"Did you see that‽" he cried and motioned towards the wall.

"See what?" she asked curiously, he looked back at the wall, but of course the man was gone. "Horry are you all right?"

Horry's mouth worked a moment as he blinked at where the man had been then at Lucretia helplessly. He realized then that he was scaring her. "Yes, I'm fine, must have just startled myself is all," he said. "I'll see you tomorrow," he added and to her second farewell he shuffled down the street, keeping his eyes cast up for more falling bird-men.

The third time was when he finally connected the fact that the man who'd almost fallen on him was also the ghostly figure he saw now and then. No one else seemed to see the ghost, or they were used to it. Horry truthfully was more apt to just ignore the men he saw on the rooftops, sometimes he saw the war torn one with the red slashes on his pale form, others were just white or muted shades of gray. He saw them unoften enough that he barely thought of them. But it never occurred to him till the third time that the ghosts were real and that his fallen bird was in fact one of them.

It occurred when he was in the market with Cappi. It was his son's first real outing with him, and Lucretia was home with baby Donna. Horry was arguing with one of the merchants over a wheel of cheese to the point of venom. This particular merchant didn't like him, since before Horry his son had tried and failed to court Lucretia. The only problem was that the man was one of the only dairy farmers in the city, and the only one who sold goat cheese. Getting anything from him though was a hassle.

Finally he made the man part with his wares, imparting far too many coins to get what he wanted. He called for his son, as he wasn't right by his side, but no boy stepped up next to him. He paled to white and called for Cappi again and quickly looked around the market stall, he was nowhere in sight. He called for Cappi, now moving onto another stall and deeper into the crowd, the thought of his young son being trampled by the people in the market making the hair on the back of his neck and all along his arms stand strait up on end.

He asked a few of the stall owners he knew well if they'd seen his son and only when he came to Esta, a woman who sold roses, did he find an answer and she pointed him out of the market. He practically ran.

When he came out of the market his eyes scoured the side street he'd come onto and very quickly his eyes locked on one of Monteriggioni's ghosts, sitting on a barrel, Cappi on his knee. Horry did his best not to gape, for not only was that one of the ghosts, it was the bird-man he'd seen all those years ago. The ghost-bird-man had something in his hand because Cappi was staring with great interest at the man's arm and hand.

"Cappi," he called and lurched forward.

"Papa!" Cappi yelped, all smiles.

He quickly came before the ghost-bird-man, and realized he was very much not a ghost and very much not a bird. His clothing was white with red markings like his war torn ghost and his hood beaked, robes spread out around him like feathered wings of a bird. He was about the same age as Horry with a few day's worth of growth along his jaw. He couldn't see his eyes but he gladly handed Cappi over to Horry and Horry hugged him tightly. "Thank you," he said in breathless relief.

"Of course my friend," said the not-ghost-bird-man as he stood and Horry felt small next to him, the man was tall and broad like an ox. "And you little man, do not wander away from your father." Cappi nodded, as enthusiastic as before, his lack of fear actually giving Horry comfort. The man gave him another smile, kind and then left them. Horry felt his mouth fall open (just a little) as instead of taking a turn at the end of the short lane he ran up the edge of the building, grabbed the lowest ledge and hauled himself up the side. Father and son watched him till he'd vanished over the top in silence.

"I forgot to ask his name," Horry said, almost reprimanding himself.

"He said his name was Ezio, papa," Cappi said and bounced in his arms.

"Ezio?" and now Horry felt his head spin, Ezio was the name of Mario's nephew. All the air rushed out of Horry's lungs. It seemed the lords of Monteriggioni were even stranger than he'd thought when he'd first moved here. He shook his head with a slight sigh, muttered something about eccentric lords, and then turned back to the market, Cappi safe in his arms.