When he was snatched from the streets of Florence, Nico knew he was in trouble. And despite always worrying when they might get caught for one thing or another, the experience shocked him greatly. If anyone was going to be arrested, surely they should have gone for Zoroaster? He was a much more conspicuous character, not to mention an actual grave-robber. Then again, it was apparently his shoes that had given him away.
He needed to stop wearing such distinctive shoes if he was going to allow himself to be coerced into aiding Zoroaster in the future.
But his captor didn't arrest him.
As he was dragged along, out of the city, Nico's mind whirred frantically. He may not have had the engineering brilliance of Maestro, but he was far from stupid. Whoever the guard worked for, it wasn't Lorenzo Medici, because Lorenzo Medici didn't cut deals with criminals. That was the only reasonable explanation to why he was being taken away, blindfolded, rather than to the holding cells.
When the bag was ripped from his head Nico was suitably terrified. He'd never been out to these ruins before, and he was completely surrounded.
The man standing before him was the nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, he knew that, but couldn't pull himself together enough to do much more than whimper and try not to allow his limbs to tremor too visibly. In doing so, the Count deemed to introduce himself anyway, just in case.
Count Riario's words washed over Nico; he listened, but didn't process. Inside he was lamenting having allowed himself to be captured. Leonardo would have managed to evade them, escape, done something to avoid such a confrontation. Such was his intelligence and sharp thinking. Constantly aware.
"I was interested to hear of your recent grave-robbing exploits," Riario tossed out, shocking Nico to attention. He stared up at the dark-haired man, hands trembling as he forced words passed his quivering lips.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't insult our intelligence, boy," one of Riario's retainers shot back at him.
Nico's breathing was rapid and shallow as he watched, morbidly transfixed on the scene, as the guard who had brought him all this way foolishly questioned Riario and was quickly, brutally, and efficiently beheaded. Riario didn't even bat an eyelash as blood sprayed everywhere. Nico was drenched in a fine mist of warm blood, and the tremors started again, more violently, as he breathed harshly through his nose, trying his best not to let the emotionless murder get under his skin. Even so, he could not contain the murmurs and whimpers that fell from his lips, or the sting in his eyes. Another guard held him steady, grasping a handful of his blond hair and yanking his head back, forcing him to stare up into the calm face of the Count.
"Now that we've established my propensity for directness, I hope our conversation shall proceed smoothly."
Smoothly? Smoothly?! Nico didn't have the slightest clue what Riario wanted from him, but it likely wouldn't matter what he said or did; he'd end up going the same way as the Florentine guard.
"I'm interested in why da Vinci required the Jew's body. And, so you don't attempt to feign more ignorance, I wanted to demonstrate a remarkable device I recently acquired in the Orient. It's called the Widow's Tear." As Riario spoke two men grabbed an odd box from where it sat behind the group. Nico couldn't tear his eyes away from it once he'd noticed it. There was no way it would be good news. Not only that, but Riario wanted information on Maestro. Taking a deep breath Nico attempted to calm his body, but when his right hand was grabbed and shoved into the box he lost any semblance of control he had managed to grasp.
"The source of the discomfort you're feeling," Riario lectured, as though debating the merits of some work of art, "Is an exquisitely tooled diamond needle. As I turn the handle," He reached over and did exactly as he said, grabbing the handle atop the box and slowly beginning to turn it in one complete revolution. Pain shot through Nico's hand and up his arm, burning his entire hand and making him bite his lip so hard it began to bleed. "It slowly incises a circle of skin from the back of the hand, one layer of epidermis at a time."
One thing Nico knew for sure, as pain racked his hand, was that it was a feeling he would never be able to forget for as long as he lived. And the way Riario maintained such a disinterested expression, something Nico glimpsed through tear-blurred eyes, would forever haunt him.
More questions rained down on him – there were short reprieves from the pain as Riario asked them – but Nico was past trying to identify the words; it was just noise now. He already knew, just from that original demand, that it was about Maestro, all of it, and if there was one thing Nico swore to himself he would never do, it was betray Leonardo da Vinci.
The handle of the Widow's Tear was being cranked continuously now; there were no more reprieves. Blood poured down the widow's face, a never-ending stream of metallic fluid that only grew stronger as the needle progressed deeper and deeper into his hand, rupturing veins and tearing nerves and muscles.
Nico might have screamed, he wasn't sure anymore. He couldn't hear anything over the rushing of blood in his ears, and the imagined sound of blood streaming from his hand. His teeth had bitten straight through his bottom lip and the rest of his body shook sporadically with violent spasms.
The guard standing behind him, suddenly fed up of his whimpers and twitching, snapped the wrist he had been holding behind Nico's back. With his body in such an extreme state of shock, Nico barely noticed.
Riario did. He nodded his approval.
Nico was made of tougher stuff than the Count had expected.
"Your loyalty will get you nowhere," Riario warned, his voice fading in and out past the haze of pain clouding Nico's mind.
Nowhere. That sounded like a good place to be.
Over the constant stream of curses, whimpers and pleas, a spine-chilling scratching sound emitted from the Widow's Tear. Had his nerves not already been torn to shreds in his right hand, Nico would have screamed his throat hoarse.
The needle had hit bone.
Even the stoic Riario flinched at the sound, and immediately ceased the handle's revolutions. It would be of no more use to them.
Carefully, slowly, as though he didn't truly want to see what had become of the tortured limb, Riario unlocked the Widow's Tear and allowed Nico to retrieve his hand. He did so slowly, eyes screwed shut, unwilling to look.
One guard threw up at the sight of the gruesome, partially skeletal hand. Nico merely sobbed and hugged his right arm tightly to his chest with his injured left, staring unseeingly down at the grass in front of him, which was coated liberally in blood, both his and that of the Florentine guard.
In his head, like a mantra against the pain, Nico chanted 'Maestro' over and over again, reaffirming that he was doing it for Leonardo, to protect his friend and mentor the only way he was capable of. By remaining silent.
An unexpected blow to the head rattled him, and he lay, dazed, on his side in the grass, eyes screwed shut as pain ricocheted around his skull. There were no thoughts left now. His entire body was one massive ache, and he knew without looking that his hand was a lost cause. He opened his eyes and found that he could no longer see. Perhaps it was for the best.
The blows came again, to his head, his back, his legs, his arms. His mouth opened in protest, screaming silently – or so he thought. In his mind there was no sound any longer. Everything was silent. For the life of him he couldn't tell what Riario was up to – whether he was indulging himself in personally beating Nico to a pulp, if he was sitting back and watching silently, or if he was still, even now, asking questions.
In the end, none of it mattered.
Slowly, and then faster and faster, the pain burned away to nothing. The blows reached him as though through a thick barrier, and he could feel nothing at all. Time was inconsequential – he had no idea how long it had been since he was abducted, or even how long it had been since his sight left him.
And then, there was nothing left at all, and his lungs ceased to inflate.
A/N: This is just a morbid thought I had after watching episode two, The Serpent. I've only seen two episodes, so you'll have to ignore any inconsistencies you feel I may have caused. Also, this is my first time writing something so, well, morbid.