The Vatican was never quiet. It had always been one of the main things that annoyed Cesare about this place. He cared little that this was considered one of the most sacred places on earth. He didn't see anything worth appreciating in the ancient relics and the art on the walls. It was a lack of quiet that bothered him and as such, this was a place he held little love for.
Of course, it was not as if he minded having an entourage of loyal followers. After all, that was only befitting of a warlord like him. Yet simple facts like those did not mean that he didn't enjoy the moments of solitude in his private chambers, where he could conjure up plans and work out strategies in complete peace.
Still, complete peace was never possible in the Vatican. The amount of men who had dedicated their life to God, or the comfort of a high position in the church, was considerable. Many of them chose to dwell in here and, despite its vast spaces and deceiving silence, the son of the Pope couldn't help but always feel crowded. There wasn't a moment that he couldn't feel that a cardinal was following him, not a second he couldn't hear a hushed voice behind his back. The walls here had eyes and ears and the people within them possessed wagging tongues. Even if rumors never reached the world outside the house of God, nothing done within was ever a secret.
As such, Cesare preferred to spend as little time as possible here and he made it a point to be out on the battlefield as often as he could. Though he was no stranger to shady politics in backrooms, he would choose the life of a warrior over those practices any day. Fighting was a physical challenge, a far more direct way of reaching one's goal. It required a strong mind, quick thinking and true fearlessness to operate in such a manner. It was a method he liked and one he would use whenever he could. It was far more practical than resting amidst of riches, while risking the necks of others to serve as your shield. The method his father had used his entire life.
Honestly, it had taken the warlord a great strength of will to visit him in this godforsaken place. Rodrigo, or Pope Alexander the Sixth as most knew him, angered him at least as much as these wretched walls. The man was a coward, a malingerer. Nothing more than a foolish, lazy bureaucrat who managed to pull the right strings, sacrifice the right pawns and use the right amount of cantarella to deal with the opposition. He had always been a man too confident in his own abilities and connections, wrapped in his cocoon of power and ridiculous dreams. Now, that kind of idiocy had ruined him
Cesare had smirked when he heard of his father's humiliating defeat in the Vault under the Vatican by Ezio Auditore, the Assassin whose family he had killed. He had found it amusing to hear that the old man honestly believed he could best an Assassin, especially when he held his own Piece of Eden. That he was dense enough to think a simple stab to the abdomen would be sufficient to kill him. That he could win a fight with his bare hands against one much younger, nimbler and better trained. Yet most of all, he hadn't been able to stop laughing upon hearing how his father took the fact that he wasn't the Prophet, screaming and crying on the dirty floor like a small child and how Ezio hadn't even bothered with killing him anymore after seeing it.
All this had confirmed the one thing that Cesare had already known for most of his life and that was that Rodrigo was worthless. Stripped of his main supporters and the lies he told himself, he was nothing. Nothing but an old, insecure man who had only the pretense of being God's representative to keep him standing. A blemish on the reputation of the Borgia family. Truth be told, the warlord wasn't surprised that Rome had fallen into such disarray, yet the way things were now, he felt his father's weak state could be of great advantage to him
He kept on walking, moving fast and purposeful through the long hallways. The number of cardinals and servants grew in number as he neared his destination and his strides became larger knowing every step he made would bring him closer to his goal. So he continued his trek, his head up high, until he finally reached that one finely carved door at the end of the most decorated corridor of them all. The entrance to his father's private chambers.
Two servants were situated there and their protests to him entering quickly died in their throats as he looked them in the eyes. They were wise enough not to deny access to the son of the Pope. He smirked. Perhaps it would have been better if they had sent him away. For if they truly had their master's safety and wellbeing in mind, he was not a good person to let into these chambers.
Going through the loudly creaking door, Cesare looked around. Rodrigo's personal chambers had not changed since the last time he came here. Still lavish, still luxurious, still a perfect reflection of the pompous simpleton who resided here. He could already see his silhouette on the other side of the room, seated in a chair, hearing his old, raspy voice do nothing but spewing inane ramblings.
The Vault, the prophecy
all a lie
It didn't take long for the warlord to grow tired of the mumblings and he paced over, his shadow gliding over the Pope's hunched figure. The older man instantly noticed the lack of light and lifted his head, only for the mad look in his eyes to swiftly change into one of utter terror and for his already deflated form to start trembling.
Cesare was not bothered by his reaction. As far as he saw it, it only served his father right to feel this way upon seeing him. After all, like all his siblings, Rodrigo had seen another pawn in him, another human life to use in his eternal campaign of taking lives and making connections. It'd been one of the worst mistakes he had made. The warlord did not intend to be his sire's fool and by making himself loved among his father's forces, having them swear allegiance with him rather than the Pope, he had easily been able to avoid that fate. He was beyond the old man's control now and his disposition towards his father could either make or break him. Rodrigo was right to fear him.
"Buon giorno, padre
He didn't even bother to mask the sarcasm in that greeting. After all, it was already clear who was the more powerful man in this room and as the Pope acknowledged that, there was no reason for pleasantries. He wanted to get what he came for the way he fought in battle; quickly and efficiently.
"I have heard of what happened here while I was on the battlefield, padre. It is an outrage. That an Assassin, nothing but a disgraced noble, had the audacity to invade the house of God Himself and humiliate a man of your position
He paused meaningfully, quickly glancing at him. There was indeed little left of the arrogant nobleman who thought so much of himself. All that remained was a shadow of a once powerful figure, appearing less like a human and more like a dog with its tail between its legs. It suited him just fine. Even a dog knew not to disobey its master.
He could already tell his father didn't buy the scornful flattering. It mattered little to him. All that concerned him was if the man was frightened enough by his presence to consent to the proposal he had in mind. Seeing how that was obviously the case now, he continued.
"It is truly an outrage. A single, dishonored man who thinks he can wage war against the likes of us. He has spat our family in the face and is probably hauled up in his fortress right now, laughing at us as we speak. Our failure to stop him is unacceptable
A true disgrace to our family
He could feel how Rodrigo winced under the emphasis on the word and he almost found it comical. His sire had never been good at acknowledging his mistakes and even now, he was unable to handle being confronted with them. He didn't want to be reminded that he had not succeeded in his goals, that he had failed. That, despite attaining such a grand position in life, he was ultimately the black mark on an otherwise flawless record. His head hung, the shaking increasing, and Cesare knew that now was his chance to strike.
"Allow me to correct this mistake, padre. Let me take your men and ride to Monteriggioni. Let me lay siege to the town and burn it to the ground! Let us show those wretched Assassin that it was foolish to try and cross the Borgia
Let me do this for you, padre
Never, not for a moment, did the warlord doubt that the Pope saw through this lie. How could he not? He knew his son long enough by now to detect such things. It was almost funny, he realized, just how much he and his father were alike at times. They were both stubborn, proud, arrogant
and neither of them minded to deceive and manipulate, nor going over the dead bodies of others for their own gain.
"All I need is Papal support. As you will probably know, people will frown upon it if I, the son of the Pope, will go and attack a town without apparent reason. I will need your approval, in writing, and your seal to realize this campaign. After all
how many people will dare to contend with the will of God?"
His mouth transformed into a vicious grin as the mocking statement rolled off his tongue and he stretched up to his full height, towering over the Pope's fearful sitting figure. Both he and his father knew that there was no such thing as God and that the reason he asked for this was solely for selfish reasons rather than the older man's benefit. Within this petty floating world that were the Pope's chambers, Cesare was God and Rodrigo was nothing more than a puppet of which he controlled every single motion.
It was almost entertaining to the warlord how swiftly the old man jumped up from his seat and rushed over to his desk, almost as if to escape him. He didn't even bother to move as he saw him grab for a parchment and quickly scribble down some words, before dripping the red wax of a candle onto it and imprinting it with his seal. Only when it appeared the hot substance had dried, Cesare decided to come over to the desk as well. He noted with glee how his father held up the letter to him, almost as a peace offering to save his own life.
He calmly took it from him, not even bothering with the pretense of gratitude as he skimmed across the words. Everything he needed was in this parchment and his sire was forced to support him. He had what he wanted and now it was time to start on his grand scheme. He turned around without even looking at the old man, simply going towards the door and calmly uttering a final snide remark as a greeting.
"This will do. Do not worry, padre
You will be proud of me
With those words, he slipped through them into the hallways again, leaving the scared man alone at last. He walked away, the parchment clutched firmly into his hand and a triumphant smile on his face. His plan had succeeded and now, he would be able to go back to what he loved to do the most.
He would go to Monteriggioni. He would descend upon it with all his forces, make sure that no stone of it was left standing by the time he was done with it. He would find Ezio Auditore, take away his Piece of Eden and end those that the Assassin loved the most. He would come into the man's life as the enemy Rodrigo never was. His invitation would be written in blood and he would challenge him to a truly epic battle on his home turf of Rome and see if the Assassin was truly as good at playing games as the stories said he was.
He smiled. The Ezio Auditore he had heard of wasn't a man to hide behind others. He was a brave man, a warrior, a fighter. If he lived up to that, he was a worthy challenge for the warlord and one he sincerely looked forward to. He wanted to be able to take pride in his victories and if he could be the one to take down this man, who had dealt his family such a crippling blow, he would prove his superiority over his failure of a father once and for all.
Cesare let out a small sigh of relief as he left the hated Vatican again and stepped into the busy streets of Rome. Breathing in the fresh air, he spun on the balls of his feet to the military district, where his men were waiting. He was ready to do what he did best
and he wanted to begin the preparations for the greatest battle of this life this very night.
"Be aware of me, Ezio Auditore, for the time of retribution is at hand