October, 1476. Firenze. Italia.
The people's shouts filled the air with a haunting resonance. He couldn't see what stood at the center of the frenzied mass, but he didn't need to see to know. His feet carried him closer to the podium and through the clumped mass before him. It was early October, the fall season in full swing upon the Italian city-state of Firenze. And today, three men stood upon the gallows awaiting the swift hand of fate to claim their lives as prize.
"Giovanni Auditore," A voice boomed out over the indecipherable shouts of the mob. The mention of his father's name stopped Ezio dead in his tracks. His heart beat quickened as he silently joined the crowd to watch the matter at hand.
"You and your accomplices stand accused of the crime of treason. Do you have any evidence to counter this charge?"
"Yes;" His father shouted in reply. "The documents that were delivered to you last night!" That was right. Ezio himself hadn't slept a wink after he'd delivered them himself to Uberto's door. A smirk creaked the other man's lips. The highest treason was about to be committed upon Uberto's own hand, openly, to a crowd of people who watched on in praise, condemning the men they'd once known as neighbor. The irony of it was almost as satisfying as the retribution he was about to extract for the sake of his family.
"I'm afraid I know nothing of these documents." He spouted, loud enough for all to hear.
"He's lying!" As the words left his lips Ezio realized his words would fall upon deaf ears. Vainly, he tried to move in closer to get a better look at his family's predicament. As he came to a clearing in the crowd he found himself at an impasse. Their faces captivated his senses as he took a momen to study them all. His youngest brother, Pettrucio, still only a boy who's blind fear exposed itself within his tear-filled eyes stood silently beside the other two. He'd been sickly child all his life, to think he'd even be capable of doing anything worthy of this damnation was ludicris. To the far left stood his elder brother, Frederico, who looked back to the youngest trying to shush his fears in the face of their brutal reality. Whatever the outcome of today, there was an unspoken understanding between all four of them that life would never be the same. In the middle stood his father, Giovanni Auditore da Firenze, as his son had never seen him before. Giovanni kept his ground firmly, like a valiant and wild mustang in the face of approaching wolves. A lethal force moved within him, a spiritual fluidity like he'd never seen even despite his father's stillness upon the ground. He remained silent, as if he accepted his fate but with a resilience that spoke to a different notion entirely.
"In the absence of any compelling evidence to the contrary, I am forced to pronounce you guilty. You and your collaborators are hereby sentenced," Uberto's voice rang out over the crowd, "to death." The executioners stepped forward to place a noose around each man's neck as his father's shrill and powerful cries withstood the noise of the rest.
"You are a traitor, Uberto, and one of them! You may take our lives this day but in return we shall have yours! We will," a breath caught in Ezio's throat as the planks dropped out from beneath them and the ropes went taut. It took a moment before Ezio was able to piece together what had just happened.
"Father!" Ezio cried as he pushed through the remaining crowd towards their posts, unable to stop himself. He barely even heard his family's murderer shout for his arrest through the chaos.
"Grab the boy! He's one of them." Two men stepped forward to capture Ezio as his wrath sprang out from limbs he couldn't control.
"I'll kill you for what you've done!" Ezio struggled against the men who seized his arms. He pulled free of them and drew the sword at his side as his devastation became rage. He gripped it's handle at steadied the point at his opponents. Only now did he realize how truly outnumbered he was, but he didn't care. If he were to join his family in the afterlife, so be it. The men before him would follow in his journey, he'd make sure of it.
"Gaurds, arrest him!" To Ezio's dismay, Alberti's orders were followed and more joined in the escapade to subdue him. One man emerged from the rest, a large brute he was indeed. Ezio was unsure if a man even lived beneath the armor, as he moved with heavy footsteps that were still lithe as a mountain lion.
"Have at him." Came Alberti's final remark. The brute before him raised his battle axe and swiftly flung the sword from Ezio's hand with a single blow. All noise around him stopped as Ezio's heart began racing faster than it had before. He countered the larger man's steps toward him by taking one back and realized that he would soon be cornered.
"You better run boy, and fast." The rugged man he'd met just yesterday spoke out as Ezio was just beginning to come to the same conclusion himself, and he didn't hesitate to follow that course of action. Turning on his heel, Ezio took off across the courtyard bounding over to a discarded cart. His feet took quickly over the boxes and propelled him forward onto a rafter sticking out from a nearby building. He could hear their voices crying out for his head as he continued to use any outlet he could to make his way up the building. Those who could follow, joined in the chase and those who could not began to use any means of harm they could to slow him down. Ezio hit the ground as a rock flew overheard, realizing they were much too close for his personal comfort. He swiftly got back to his feet and continued onward trying to avoid any more projectiles launched his way. He didn't really know where he should go, only that he couldn't stop running. He cleared the gap between to buildings, freeing a few tiles loose from their roofs.
Ezio found himself bounding across the rooftops, just as he'd done with Frederico many times before. But this time his brother wasn't there to accompany him and it struck him as he realized, that was a game they'd never share again. His breath choked at the thought. His chest burned and twisted inside him. Ezio ran like he didn't realize he could run, not slowing down until he heard their cries die off behind him. Yet he journeyed on. He knew he had to remain in shadow until as he made his way back to find Anetta and lead what was left of his family to safety before they found him. Whoever they were.
His feet carried him on, as if they had a whole life of their own, for he no longer consciously controlled his movements. His breath choked at his lungs. An ache seared him to the core and his stomach began to tie itself in knots. Ezio scorned the tears that shed themselves against his will as memories seared him of the man that had raised him. Who just yesterday had been giving him casual errands to run, and in one night things had been ripped from his life as his legs carried him further and further away from his home. Ezio's foot slipped on a loose portion of roofing and he slid upon the tiling grabbing for anything to catch himself. The drop was far too long for any mere man to resist but gravity got the drop on him and sent him crashing face first into the ground, three stories below. His neck gave a resonant snap as he sat upright in his own bed, tossing the sheets over in a flurry. His breathing more ragged than it had been in his dream, he gazed upon his surroundings, allowing himself to relax only when he felt her hand upon his spine.
"Ezio?" He heard her inquire. God, he wished he hadn't awoken her with his fit but he was more than glad that her voice brought him back down into himself. He inhaled as he felt her draw nearer, chestnut tresses caressing his skin. Ezio listened as her soft voice shushed him quieting his overdrawn breaths. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her breasts against his backside. Setting her head in the crook of his neck, he ran his fingertips up the length of her arms.
"It's alright. Te lo prometto." I promise you. She let go of one of her hands as she brushed a stray hair from his eyes. He'd hunched himself over his knees and was embarrassedly refusing to look her in the eye.
He didn't answer. But then, he didn't have to. She already knew of the events that haunted his sleep; she'd experienced most of it first hand, and what she hadn't he'd described to her many times in great detail. Not another word was spoken as they sat in silence, him allowing her to continue stroking her fingers over his skin, calming his flustered mind.
"Sometimes, I can't separate dreams of the past with the reality of the present." He took another deep breath as he felt her lift her head to look at him while he spoke.
"I don't know what's real. You right now, or..." he trailed off as an anxious sigh overtook his speech.
"I'm right here." A slight grin crooked his lips to match her own but refused to show its full face. She took his chin between her fingers and pulled it over to face her.
"Ezio, look at me. Your father would be proud of the man you've become. Just as I am." His polite smirk faded from sight at the mention of his father and the death that haunted his dream. Sometimes, she knew him entirely too well.
"They can't hurt you anymore, amore. Let them go, or you'll give them the power that you've fought so long to keep." He flicked his gaze up to meet a familiar pair of brown eyes. She reached across and pulled his lips into her own, consuming him.
"Ti amo, Ezio." I love you, Ezio. He breathed her in as she sat resting her forehead against his.
"Neanche un po' e v di quanto io amo te, Merona." Not nearly as much as I love you, Merona.