Cauveat Actor Part Three.
Life in Rome got increasingly more lonely after Il Carnefice left. Much more than Ilario ever thought he would be. With his only true friend within Cesare's circle gone, he was now left to fend for himself, something that became increasingly harder.
The Assassin threat was causing unrest within the Borgia's ranks. The supposed death of the Executioner had spooked many of his fellow Templars and the successful infiltration into the Castel de Sant'Angelo by the Assassins to free Caterina Sforza was enough to set even the most fearless agents on edge. These direct attacks by the enemy gave rise to a great internal paranoia and former allies were now eyeing each other with suspicion, quick to turn on anyone who as much as joked about collaborating with the enemy.
Malfatto, on the other hand, tried to stay away from all the commotion. Still as desperate as ever to keep his own family out of the crossfire, he refused to engage in anything that might be linked to the web of conspiracy in his own ranks. He simply went about his business, acting out Cesare's orders and keeping out of trouble as much as he could. Little did he know, however, that it was the son of the Pope that would bring trouble to him
Malfatto didn't feel anything as he lay the prostitute's broken and bloodied body on the street stones. He had done it so many times before now. So many times where he killed a victim by overdose and then mutilated the body after they died. It was routine work now, just a twisted means to Cesare's ends of which he stopped caring that he was saddled with the dirty work.
It made sense that the Borgia wanted these women killed. Word had gotten out on the street that the Assassins had a hold on the Rosa In Fiore, Rome's most popular brothel, using its courtesans to gather information. A very logical step, seeing how many Templars and the family's closest allies spent much of their free time there. This leaking of information had to be stopped and Cesare best solution had been to see these women killed.
Personally, The Doctor thought that such actions were utterly useless. After all, times were tough and the Borgia had made the situation in Rome dire enough for many women to turn to prostitution, even if it meant working at a brothel targeted by a mad doctor. As far as he was concerned, Cesare was fighting a lost battle, but as long as it kept him and his family out of trouble, he certainly wouldn't bother to mention it.
He looked around him, being greeted by nothing but cold stone walls and empty streets. The poor district was eerily quiet now and the few foolish enough to venture through it were no concern of his. It was unlikely that any other courtesans would still be venturing outside at this hour. He might as well call it a night and head back home.
With that thought, his feet set themselves in motion and silent as a shadow, he made his way through the cold and lonely alleyways. Home
The thought of it was comforting to him. Even though he himself was arguably the most dangerous thing to come across within this place, the poor district always left him ill at ease. It looked desolate and hostile and had expanded greatly within the last few years. A none too subtle reminder of how the Borgia were wringing the life of out this place and, even worse, that people like him were enabling them to do this
Suddenly, a sound caught his attention and he looked up. He knew what it was. It sounded like the rustling of fabric and the light thump of bare feet on the cobblestone. And as a predator trained in preying upon inhabitants of the poor district, he knew only one sort of person could produce that noise.
A somewhat annoyed groan escaped his lips as he reached for another of his syringes. As much as he thought the woman in question could go to hell for all he cared, he knew it might bode ill for him if he'd let any courtesan affiliated with the Rosa In Fiore live. It seemed his work wasn't yet done for the night
He quietly peeked out of the alleyway he was in, trying to determine in which direction his victim could be found. Soon, he picked up on the noise again on his right and he set his feet in motion to go after his intended target. He clung to the shadows as much as he could, approaching ever so slightly.
He could determine several more things about his target as he moved along. Like he had suspected before, the woman was alone. She seemed to be of light build, with a graceful stride and, judging by how cautiously she treaded, she seemed very much afraid. She had good reason to be, honestly. He was already hot on her trail.
Bit by bit, he crept closer, careful to remain hidden as he closed in on his prey. Her silhouette was becoming ever more clear in the darkness, her nervousness ever more apparent. He could practically smell her fear and the further she ventured into the abandoned part of the district, the easier his kill would become
Finally, the right time was there. As the prostitute turned into a large, empty alley, the Doctor saw his chance. With the speed and precision he had employed for years, he rushed out of the shadows towards his prey.
Everything happened swiftly. Within seconds, he had reached her and with lightning speed he pulled a syringe from his belt to stab into her neck. It would be quick. Swift, calculated and clean, like always
Still, it turned out he had no such luck. In what seemed to him like an impossible manner, the courtesan had caught onto his presence and whipped around to face him. Her face was pale and as her mouth opened for a terrified scream, he read the one emotion he had seen so often in his victim's eyes: fear.
The emotion, however, clearly didn't paralyze her. She reacted, and much faster than he had anticipated. Before the needle of syringe could even graze her skin, the woman sidestepped his attack. She quickly scrambled away, trying her best to run for cover.
Malfatto cursed under his breath. He hadn't expected the woman to actually evade his attack. Either he had just been really sloppy or this woman was faster and more alert than the average courtesan. It didn't matter much. He didn't plan to let his mistake go uncorrected.
The female already seemed to be at the point of fleeing, but he wouldn't even give her the chance. Swiftly recovering his balance, he spun towards her again, determined not to let her get away. His much greater speed and strength gave him the advantage and within moments, he was on her again.
Rapidly, he reached out towards his intended victim, his hands forming an iron grasp around her collar. Pinning her was easy and he quietly checked the syringe as he prepared to strike. He was unmoved her frantic struggles as she tried to free herself, terrified words spilling from her mouth as she wasted ever more energy trying to break free.
"Cesare! Please stop! I come from Cesare!"
The Doctor didn't hear the words coming out of her mouth. After working as Cesare's personal death dealer for so long, he had managed to turn off his hearing whenever he dealt with a target. He would simply flick a switch in his mind, one that made sure he wouldn't feel or hear anything, enabling him to take a life without second thought.
It was only then that he noticed it. In the hazy, robotic state that urged him to carry out his task, he still managed to see it. His intended victim had something in her hand. Something that looked like a scroll. A scroll with a Borgia seal
The moment this information got through to him, his mind froze. The haze lifted from his eyes. The compulsive need to do his job disappeared and he could think straight again. Finally, the woman's screams made sense to him. She was carrying a message for him.
Quietly, he took the message from her hand. A letter of absolution, like Cesare would sent him so often. A way to ensure that his work here would continue undisturbed. He then turned back to the woman who had held it, his eyes going wide behind the mask.
Only now did he recognize her. He had come across Fiora Cavazza many times in the past, usually seeing her from afar at meetings and banquets. She was a close servant of Cesare's, tasked with managing his underground network and the drafting of new recruits. Her guise tended to be that of a Courtesan, her former profession, and she often wore clothes with a vague resemblance to a working woman's attire.
Right now, however, she wasn't wearing her usual clothes. Instead, she wore an actual courtesan's dress, with the hair put up in dual buns, perfectly resembling any other prostitute that walked this city's streets. On a dark night like this, it would've been impossible to see it was her until he got close enough and by then, it would've already been too late.
By now, the tension had clearly become too much from her. Her heavily quivering form was slowly backing away from him, trying to make for a quick escape without turning around. Her fearful eyes were never once averted from his, as if she were afraid of a stab in the back the moment she turned away.
Malfatto couldn't do anything but just stare at her as she left. In any other case, he might have apologized for the misunderstanding or asked her what on earth she had been thinking to come here dressed as his prey, but right now, he couldn't. He was still too shocked at what a close call it had been.
The Courtesan finally disappeared from sight and it was only then that the cogs in his brain started to turn again. The process was a chaotic one, but he couldn't possibly ignore it. He had perhaps failed to get the information he needed from her, but the question he probably should've asked her was undeniable present.
Why would she come here dressed like a regular courtesan? After all, it was pretty much a given that he was in the poor district killing prostitutes and Fiora didn't seem foolish enough not to realize it. So why would she go here in an outfit that made her indistinguishable from his targets and risk her life? It didn't make sense to him. Unless
Only now did it occur to him that perhaps she hadn't worn the outfit out of her own choice. Perhaps, someone had put her up to it. Someone whom she had angered in one form or another and was out for her blood. Someone who had power over her to force her to do such a thing. Cesare perhaps?
It was the only person he could think of, but at the same time, it didn't make any sense. After all, Fiora seemed to be one of his most useful minions and even the Borgia weren't stupid enough to discard something fully functional. So why would he send her here disguised in a way that would endanger her so much?
He groaned, shaking his head. Too much thinking and useless questions. What Cesare's twisted mind cooked up wasn't really his business anyway and it was a common fact that he didn't care too much about his own allies. In truth, Malfatto didn't really want to know what about the things his master brewed up either.
With that thought, he looked back at the letter. He might as well read it now. It was late already and he wanted nothing more than to just get home to his family and let his bargain with the Borgia rest for a while. He might as well just get it over with now.
Carefully, he unrolled the letter and read it. However, the moment he did, his recently calmed demeanor was quickly shattered again. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, the chilling message revealed that this was anything but a letter of absolution. If anything, it was a letter of damnation
"Kill Fiora Cavazza, the woman who brought you this letter. Il Lupo is in Ferrera. You should not encounter any problems.
It's been years now, but Malfatto still remembers how his stomach turned when the words on the paper got through to him. How his palms were sweaty and fingers tingling as they clutches around the parchment. How after so long of killing people for Cesare, the thought of having to kill an ally could still sicken him so much.
It wasn't as if he liked Fiora. Like so many of Cesare's lackeys, she wasn't as concerned with Templars ideals as she was with power and wealth and he didn't doubt for one moment she happily would've killed him if it'd serve her purpose. She was as much of a vulture as the rest of them and if anyone would be crying over her grave, it certainly wouldn't have been him.
The only person whom he knew would do such a thing would apparently not be of any trouble to him. Il Lupo, the Borgia's feared and violent man-dog who was also the Courtesan's lover, was apparently out of town and with that, one of the most prominent reasons for failing the mission was efficiently removed.
Yet his dislike of Fiora didn't mean that he wasn't still a man of principles and as much as they had slowly withered away over the years, some things didn't sit well with him. The idea of killing someone who was on his side, without being given any explanation why he should perform the act, made him uneasy. It reeked of foul play if anything.
He remembers that he wasn't able to sleep that night. With Dolce sound asleep beside him, he had wondered if he should go through with it. If he should actually go as far as killing another servant of his master.
Perhaps, he had reasoned, he didn't have to. He didn't have to go through with it and kill her. He knew where Fiora lived. Perhaps he could go over there at night time, try to explain that Cesare was after her head and ask why. Then he could perhaps convince her to get out of town, make her disappear and everyone could get out of it without him having any blood on his hands.
Or could he?
Could he really risk it? The Doctor wasn't so sure. He had fooled Cesare in the past true enough, but this was an entirely different situation. Fiora Cavazza was not Il Carnefice and it was probably not as easy to fake someone's death if that person was supposed to be killed by him.
Also, unlike his old friend the Executioner, the Courtesan wasn't exactly a loner in society. Aside from her lover Il Lupo, she had many other connections as well, scattered all across Rome and beyond. This meant that there were a lot of people she might be getting in contact with and also, a lot of people who would ask questions and look for her if she went missing as well.
That fact alone would spell out trouble. If anyone went to find her
If anyone found out the truth
If that truth fell into the wrong hands
There was just too much risk of the Borgia finding out and honestly, he didn't want to imagine what they would do when they did.
Cesare had held the fate of his family over his head before. It was the very reason that he was now in this damn position. And if there was one thing he had learned about the Papal family, and in particular Cesare, it was that they were capable of anything. If they had threatened to murder his wife and children eight years ago, they probably wouldn't have forgotten about it and if they found reason for it, they'd certainly go through with it now
That terrifying knowledge was enough. Enough to make a decision, enough to wipe his entire mental debate from the table. It was clear to him what he had to do now and he had every intention to do it.
He would kill Fiora Cavazza. That he was certain of. He would go to her house and do what he nearly did back in the alleys of the poor district. He'd just sneak in as she slept and deal her a quick death by poison, so meticulously executed that it would seem like an accident. He wouldn't leave as much as a trace, colellect his reward from his masters and then walk away like nothing had happened.
It was the right thing to do. The only thing. As much as it pained him, there was much more at stake than whatever morals he still had left. This was a matter of life and death and if he had to choose between sacrificing the lives of his family and that of Fiora Cavazza, he much preferred it to be hers