Assassin's Creed: Renaissance Page 39

‘Oho,’ said the second guard, turning to his friend. ‘Looks like we might have caught a very big fish here, Terzago!’

Ezio’s brain raced. He couldn’t let go of Lorenzo, who was still losing blood. But if he didn’t, he couldn’t use his weapon. He raised his left foot quickly and gave the guard a shove in the arse. He fell, sprawling. In seconds, his mate came for them, falchion raised. As the blade came down, Ezio parried, and, using his wrist-guard, deflected the blow. As he did so, he swung his left arm, forcing the sword away, cutting at the man with the double-bladed dagger attached to the wrist-guard, though he could not get enough purchase to kill the man with it. And now the second guard was on his feet again, coming to the aid of his comrade, who in turn had staggered back, surprised that he had not cut Ezio’s forearm off.

Ezio stopped the second blade in the same way, but this time he managed to run the wrist-guard down the cutting edge of the sword until it hit the hilt, bringing his hand in range of the man’s wrist. He seized and twisted it so rapidly and hard that the man let go of his weapon with a sharp cry of pain. Stooping quickly, Ezio grabbed the falchion almost before it had hit the ground. It was hard, working with his left hand and encumbered by Lorenzo’s weight, but he slashed it round and cut halfway through the guard’s neck before he could recover. The second guard was coming at him again now, bellowing with anger. Ezio parried with his falchion and he and the guard cut and thrust at each other several times. But the guard, unaware still of the concealed metal bracer on Ezio’s left arm, aimed blow after useless blow at it. Ezio’s arm ached and he could barely keep on his feet, but at last he saw an opportunity. The man’s helmet had worked loose, but the man was unaware of this and was looking down at Ezio’s forearm, preparing to aim another blow at it. Swiftly, Ezio flicked his own blade up, feinting as though he had missed, but actually he succeeded in knocking the helmet off the man’s head. Then, before he could react, Ezio slammed the heavy falchion down on the man’s skull and split it in two. The falchion stuck there and Ezio was unable to work it loose. The man stood stock still for a moment, his eyes still wide with surprise, before crumpling to the dust. Looking quickly around, Ezio hauled Lorenzo up the street.

‘Not much farther, Altezza.’

They reached the church without further annoyance, but the doors were firmly shut against them. Ezio, looking back, saw at the end of the street that the bodies of the guards he’d killed had been discovered by a group of their comrades, who were now looking in their direction. He hammered on the doors, and a spyhole opened in it, revealing an eye and part of a suspicious face.

‘Lorenzo’s been wounded,’ Ezio gasped. ‘They’re coming for us! Open the door!’

‘I need the password,’ said the man within; Ezio was at a loss, but Lorenzo had heard the sound of the man’s voice and, recognizing it, he rallied.

‘Angelo!’ he said loudly. ‘It’s Lorenzo! Open the fucking door!’

‘By the Thrice Greatest,’ said the man within. ‘We thought you must be dead!’ He turned and yelled at someone unseen. ‘Get this thing unbolted! And fast!’

The spyhole closed and there was a sound of bolts quickly being drawn. Meanwhile, the Pazzi guardsmen, making their way up the street, had broken into a run. Just in time, one of the heavy doors swung open to admit Ezio and Lorenzo, and as quickly slammed shut behind them, the bolts shot back into place by the keepers in charge of them. There was a terrible noise of battle outside. Ezio found himself looking into the calm green eyes of a refined man of perhaps twenty-four.

‘Angelo Poliziano,’ the man introduced himself. ‘I sent some of our men round the back way to intercept those Pazzi rats. They shouldn’t give us any more trouble.’

‘Ezio Auditore.’

‘Ah – Lorenzo has spoken of you.’ He interrupted himself. ‘But we can talk later. Let me help you get him to a bench. We can take a look at his wounds there.’

‘He’s safe now,’ said Ezio, handing Lorenzo over to two attendants who gently guided him to a bench set against the north wall of the church.

‘We’ll patch him up, staunch the blood, and as soon as he’s recovered enough, we’ll get him back to his palazzo. Don’t worry, Ezio, he is indeed safe now, and we will not forget what you have done.’

But Ezio was already thinking of Francesco de’ Pazzi. The man had had more than enough time to make good his escape. ‘I must take my leave,’ he said.

‘Wait!’ Lorenzo called. Nodding to Poliziano, Ezio went over to him, and knelt by his side.

‘I am in your debt, signore,’ Lorenzo said. ‘And I do not know why you helped me, or how you could have known what was afoot, when even my own spies could not.’ He paused, his eyes wrinkling in pain as one of the attendants cleaned his shoulder wound. ‘Who are you?’ he continued when he had recovered a little.

‘He’s Ezio Auditore,’ said Poliziano, coming up and placing a hand on Ezio’s shoulder.

‘Ezio!’ Lorenzo gazed at him, deeply moved. ‘Your father was a great man and a good friend. He was one of my strongest allies. He understood honour, loyalty, and never put his own interests before those of Florence. But…’ he paused again and smiled faintly, ‘I was there when Alberti died. Was it you?’


‘You took a fitting and swift revenge. As you see, I have not been so successful. But now, through their overweening ambition, the Pazzi have at last cut their own throats. I pray that…’

One of the men from the Medici patrol that had been sent out to deal with Ezio’s Pazzi pursuers came hurrying up, his face streaked with blood and sweat.

‘What is it?’ asked Poliziano.

‘Bad news, sir. The Pazzi have rallied and they are storming the Palazzo Vecchio. We can’t hold them off much longer.’

Poliziano grew pale. ‘This is bad news indeed. If they gain control of it, they’ll kill all the supporters we have that they can lay their hands on, and if they seize power -‘

‘If they seize power,’ Lorenzo said, ‘my survival will mean nothing. We will all be dead men.’ He tried to get up, but fell back, groaning in pain. ‘Angelo! You must take what troops we have here and -‘

‘No! My place is with you. We must get you to the Palazzo Medici as soon as possible. From there we may be able to reorganize and hit back.’

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