[Mock-Fiction] IV - Alea Iacta Est {Rogue's Story}

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Yup. Just the one perspective.

Cover by Secrets Unfold

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9. 6 – The Painter and the Assassin

The Matrix appeared before Rogue, her throat still throbbing from choking on the Pill.

Stupid Pill, she thought looking around, And stupid Darim.

Altair and Malik, seemingly unaware of Darim’s feat on the pier, were sitting on the white floors of the Matrix [if it can be called a ‘floor’] and Darim was standing some way off, his back to Rogue. She bared her teeth in his direction for a moment, but then saw letters forming in front of her:

 

Da Vinci’s Workshop, Florence.

 

Rogue looked back at the three Assassins, beginning to disappear, she said, “Don’t go anywhere,” she smiled.

“Very funny,” replied Malik.

Rogue felt her earlier fatigue and injuries from Jerusalem disintegrate. The weapons she had gathered from Ancient Masyaf equipped themselves onto her body; her clothes renewed themselves from their travel-worn state. The whiteness, brightening with every second, engulfed her…

 

 

…She found herself standing in the shade of a huge tree. Rogue looked around, breathing in the sight of fifteenth century Florence.  The bright sunshine threatened to blind her, the heat – though not as powerful as the deserts of Syria – making her perspire almost immediately. There were the scents of fruit – oranges and apples and grapes – wafting through the air, mingled with a slightly more vulgar stench of cheap wine and the fresher smell of greenery. The streets lined with squalid houses and shops and workshops were just a stretch from her, the people milling about in their Renaissance attire in the afternoon sunshine, and loaded carts were being pulled along lazily by able-bodied mules and horses.

Taking another deep breath of the fruity air, Rogue pulled up her hood and walked across the park or garden towards the street.

 

This place was so unrealistically real, she found herself marveling at every normal thing. The feather in a man’s hat, the lace on a woman’s dress [the woman misunderstood her wonder and shuffled away from Rogue’s gaze], and the dogs yapping as she passed by. No doubt, Rogue smelled of disinfectant again. But no matter, she could just visualize what she was looking for. She wondered, for a moment, if her targets looked the way she’d always imagined them to look. Not that it mattered… One of the Abbess’s old friends, the Dark Prince, had told her that the Abbess had been infatuated with Ezio Auditore as an adolescent. Would he look the way she’d always imagined? Rogue smiled, laughing to herself at the thought, and hoped that the Abbess’s mettle would hold.

Masyaf or no Masyaf, anarchy or no anarchy – monasteries had staunch punishments for monks or nuns that broke there vows. It was a one-way road.

 

Rogue heard the familiar cling-clang of hammer on anvil as she approached a blacksmith’s forge. The burly man looked up with mild curiosity as the hooded woman passed by, walking at a slow purposeless pace, albeit with long strides – as though not quite knowing where she was going, but not entirely lost either.

Scusi,” he said thickly, “Would you care to look at my wares?”

Rogue stiffened, her brain savoring the sound of Italian, and replied, “Mi dispaice, I had my weapons forged some time ago; I do not need them seen to.”

The blacksmith looked amused, “Weapons? You?”

Rogue gave a crooked smile, “I’m not your average hooded woman.”

“You certainly aren’t from here. What are you? An immigrant? A trader?” he snorted, “A mercenary?”

LOL, you have no idea, she thought.

 

“Just a wanderer, messer,” she paused, “And I was wondering… could you possibly give me directions to a certain workshop?”

“There are several here in all directions, I’m sure you can find one of your fancy – ‘wanderer’ as you are.”

“I am looking for a specific one – one owned by a certain Leonardo da Vinci.”

“The painter?”

“That’s him.”

“What could you possibly want with a painter?”

“You would be surprised, messer, by the things I want,” she laughed lightly, “But my business is my own. Do you know where his workshop is?”

The blacksmith hesitated, “Si. But there are better painters.”

“I seek not the painter. I seek the man.”

“The man who goes after other men,” said the blacksmith, bitterly.

“It may not be your cup of tea nor mine, but I had no need in knowing that. His name is renowned by his skill, not his personal preferences.”

“He’s a sinner.”

“Why, aren’t we all?”

 

The man looked her hard in the face, his expression lacking emotion, and said: “Da Vinci’s workshop is across the street towards the left. A few buildings away from the bordello.”

Grazie.”

 

Rogue walked off in the direction the blacksmith had instructed her. She thought on what the blacksmith had said as she walked along. She didn’t feel any anger at what he’d said, nor did she feel upset. Just, perhaps, a mild irritation because he’d wasted her time.

Maybe she really was dead inside.

 

She remembered that Leonardo da Vinci was a man she’d admired in her teenage years and well into her twenties – among many other men, because of their greatness in mind and their flawlessness in skill – but then too many things happened all at once, and all those historical figures of respect and integrity? They just died in her mind as they’d died in the world. What use were they after all, in the present day, besides their known words and contributions? What use was that old admiration?

 

She had other things to occupy her mind: A target, a goal, a means of survival – she had no time to just admire. She no longer had time to indulge all her time in the works of old and she was glad she’d read some of these afore, in her youth. The books that stood on her shelves now were ones she’d already read and only referred to every once in a blue moon. It was sad, since she loved those books so dearly.

 

Rogue stood in front of the workshop – a low, stooping building with the height and girth of a bungalow – and regarded the open doors at first.

Do I just walk in…?

She decided to knock. Two skinny servants, who had been sifting through all the clutter spread onto the floors, snapped there heads up.

Rogue hesitated, “Er… buongiorno,” she said, “Is the artist present?”

One servant looked to the other then looked back at Rogue and nodded.

“Is he available? May I see him?”

Mi dispaice, he is busy, currently,” said one of the servants.

“With what business?”

The servant hesitated, “The master… he does not disclose his business –”

 

A howl echoed from one of the back rooms.

 

Why? Why would you do that!” said one voice angrily.

“I was just checking how dedicated you were!” yelped a second voice.

Rogue looked from one servant to the other, “Messer Da Vinci!” she called.

There was silence. The servants stiffened, knowing that they could not reveal the ‘business’ of their master.

 The man in question stepped out of the room, as stiff as his servants; he gulped and said, “How may I help you, madonna?”

 

He was young man, not particularly tall but not short either. He had long golden hair that complimented his kindly face, and a light brown well-kept beard. He wore a beige jerkin over a white doublet – ruffled at the collar and cuffs – and beige puffed hose ending at the knee, whilst his thin calves were wrapping in white stockings. For a well-to-do artist, his apparel certainly lacked flamboyance. He was gaining in weight however, which was within Rogue’s range of expectation, though not so much of a potbelly had formed.

 

“I’m looking for an Auditore, Ezio Auditore,” she replied, with nonchalance.

Leonardo became on-guard, “Why do you assume he is here?” he asked hurriedly, “What is your business with him? Are you from the Florentine authorities? If you are, I assure you will not find him here! No, ma’am, not here! No so much as a hair of an Auditore has crossed my path! Never! Not once! Not in the next –”

“Suppose I am not from the authorities?”

Leonardo blinked, “Um… well… I cannot suppose that.”

“And why not?”

Leonardo gulped, “Because… erm…”

“Only the authorities would ask for him?”

The artist twiddled his thumbs nervously, “That might be… correct.”

 

Rogue smiled, “Then today’s your lucky day, messer.”

“I’m not handing him over.”

“I’m from the future.”

“No really, I wasn’t being sarcastic: I’m not handing Ezio Auditore over.”

“No really: I’m from the future.”

“Don’t play games with me, madonna.”

“I’m not.”

 

Leonardo stared at Rogue, dumbfounded, and said slowly, “You’re from the future?”

That’s what I said.”

“You’re sure.”

“I should think so.”

“You’re sure you’re not crazy or possessed or fooling me into handing you the Auditore?”

 

“For goodness’ sake! My family name is not an item!”

 

Another man stepped out of the backroom, red-faced as though very angry, and said: “What is this nonsense about being from the future, woman?”

He wore long white robes, and a red doublet underneath, frilled as was the fashion, and knee-high boots made of soft leather. He had no beard. He had a Hidden Blade strapped his left arm, which he held crooked as if it had experienced some trauma of its own.

 

“Something you should know about all too well,” Rogue replied.

“If you’re here to get me hanged, then be my guest! But, I must warn you, I will not come along quietly!”

“For the Love of –! I’m not here to take you to a judge and get you hanged! That is the very last time I’m saying it!”

“It’s the first time you said it,” Leonardo pointed out.

“It was implied throughout!”

Leonardo made a face of mock intrigue, “Implied or,” he raised his eyebrows dramatically, “emplied?”

Rogue ignored the comment [which she noted made no sense] and said, “This is about the Apple of Eden. I was sent here from the future to bring you back there and sort out a universal crisis that will happen very soon if you don’t come!”

 

Ezio furrowed a brow, “The Apple of Eden.”

“Yes.”

“Sent you here.”

“Yup.”

“To get me back to your time.”

“You and the painter.”

“To save you from a world crisis.”

“You got it.”

“Do you actually expect me to believe you?”

“Nope.”

“O…kay?”

“But it’s the truth – as crazy as it sounds.”

“I’m not a fool.”

“Gotcha.”

 

“Can we stop this non-sense?” Leonardo looked flustered and addressed Rogue, “If you really are from the ‘future’ as you say – and not some Templar trying to get Ezio arrested –”

“I’m not –”

“Then prove it to us. Show us something from your future.”

Rogue was quiet for a moment. It was a valid exchange, but she wondered if it was allowed time-travelling-wise. She shrugged and decided that it would be the lesser of the two evils – so Rogue pulled out her cell-phone.

She turned it on.

 

The painter and the assassin gasped.

 

“It’s…” said Leonardo, “It’s a magic rectangle of changing image!”

“In our world, we call it a cell-phone. We use it to call people from long distances. There’s no connection here, but,” she tapped the screen, “there is Temple Run.”

The two watched the human figure on the screen, running, and then – as the character was unmanned – hit a tree.

Ezio cleared his throat, “And this ‘Temple Run’… This is the advancement of our future generations? Has it actually helped in anyway?”

“It helps to keep the kids quiet,” Rogue paused, “And the older people too, now that I think about it.”

“Can you be serious for just one second?”

“No. Temple Run isn’t the most advanced, um, development of our time, but it’s what I had on spot,” she paused again, “Now will you come with me?”

“We still don’t know if you’re a Templar or no.”

“Would a Templar have this?” Rogue unslung the drawstring bag from her back, and brought out the Hidden Blade mechanism she taken from the Altair’s Masyaf Armory.

Leonardo hovered over the mechanism, “This is the exact…! Ezio, that’s your blade.”

“From Altair’s time. From his fortress at Masyaf. From his armory,” said Rogue.

 

“You’ve been to that Masyaf?” asked Ezio, “You’re an… Assassin?”

“In a word.”

“Do you belong to that Masyaf?”

“No. I belong to a future Masyaf – which needs your help, like, right now.”

Leonardo straightened, “How exactly would just two people help you?”

“We need more sense and skill, than bulk and fury. There is plenty of corruption and ignorance to pass around in our Masyaf. Please, I’ve been talking so much gibberish for so long with the two of you that I’m getting sick of it. Please come and help us.”

“Um…”

 

A disturbance could be heard outside the shop.

 

“Is this about you, Messer Auditore?” asked Rogue.

“That is a very… likely possibility,” he said.

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