January 3, 1500
A veritable caravan of the wounded made their way to the monastery of San Gimignano. A few of the Monteriggioni villagers parted ways with them there, heading for the walled city nearby. Others had fled to Florence. Of Ezio, there had been no sign since rushing from the small, walled town. To where Claudia and her other had fled, the group reaching the sanctuary walls had no clue either.
Ignacio and Amir of all people had led the monks in preparing what they would need for the wounded, having gone ahead with a few of them. Luca had been lowered from his horse by Mihai and taken into the church with Fonso. The Rom Baro had taken a heavy blow from some falling masonry, breaking some of his ribs. Fonso sustained a nasty gash on his arm, wrapped in his shirt tight as he was able to make it.
Shaun groaned when he slid down from his mare's back, staggering. He had never ridden so far so fast and now all he could do was drop to his ass and shake, looking down at his hands. They were bloody and blistered. Reaching up, he felt along his head. His glasses were still intact, thankfully, though as smeared with dust and grime as the rest of him was. Somehow, he had taken a hit in the face; it was swollen on the one side.
It took him a moment to realize he was shaking, his breath coming and going in trembling pants, as if he couldn't catch it. What do they call this nowadays? Battle fatigue? he wondered, almost unsheathing his hidden blade when a pair of hands grabbed his arm.
"Is this arm still attached to you, Novice?" Badr asked, the blind man levering him to his feet. "Yallah, Novice, up. A newborn colt has more strength in his legs than you."
"Is that supposed to rouse me from this stupor?" the Brit whispered as the blind man looped them together, Shaun's arm at his neck, his own at the redhead's waist. "I don't think it's gonna work, mate. I'm worn out." Badr turned his head toward him then and gave him what would have been a glower.
"You're only allowed to be worn out when I say so, Novice. Your limbs are not broken from what I've felt. Now put one of your legs in front of the other, repeat, and march." Allowing the other man to take his weight, Shaun was led up the stairs into the monastery. It was then he realized what was missing--the clack of nails on stone. Where were the dogs?
The historian had no time to ask, however. The thunder of hooves had reached his ears. Turning, he saw a group of riders dismount. The taller ones supported a young man between them. Lex went by him without a word. He ran a hand over his sooty, bloody face, smearing it into an even more dirty appearance as he reached the area where the wounded were being settled and began tending to his work.
"Did anyone see you? Or how did this happen?" the Harrier heard Badr ask the Red Owl as the man was sat and made to bite on a stick as a piece of stone was taken from his upper arm, the wound cleansed and bound.
"No," he said in response, almost too quietly. "No, no one saw me. This was the cannon fire's work." His blue eyes scanned their surroundings, taking in the injured most of all. He had not had time to catch a glimpse of what the embattled Villa had looked like, but to judge from those lying moribund, their side had not won this day.
A bucket was passed around for those less severely wounded to clean themselves. Shaun rinsed his face and glasses before passing it on. Badr sat beside Jameel, both too quiet for the younger man's liking. Amir went by with a sigh, carrying fresh water to the wounded. The historian watched the Coal Tit go by, his gaze pausing briefly on the spot where the Rom Baro lay.
Luca was stripped to the waist, his chest being bandaged by Ignacio. The young monk's face was set into an almost stony, serious expression, though the man beneath his hands was giving him a weak smirk, a hand on the monk's arm.
"What do we do now?" This from the Eternal Novice as he took a seat beside them. He looked as lost as the rest of them; the tracks of tears were still on his face. "They killed Uncle. They killed Uncle." His lip began to quiver. Shaun reached over, drawing the boy to his chest as sobs left him. Uberto moved over to Jameel, kneeling and checking the wounds beneath the old bandages he still wore.
"Hmm?" Shaun looked at Jameel.
"Who could be pulling the strings on this attack? Besides the Metal Lion?"
For one incredulous instant, Shaun felt the need to explode on the man. While everyone else was injured, possibly dying, he was sitting here, twidding his thumbs, and Jameel was wondering about what amounted to cases of Unidentified Flying Objects. Following the instinct, he snapped, "Oh, I don't know, Jameel. Let's think about this, shall we? It could be the Pope, or his family, or some Mafioso style conspiracy ring, or the gods on Mount bloody Olympus for all we know! But maybe other things can be thought of instead, y'know, more appropriate things at this moment in time!"
The man grunted as a hand whacked him upside the back of his head, teeth smacking down painfully on his tongue. The blow had come from Badr.
"Perhaps you should take your own advice, boy, and do something instead of just sitting there and thinking about it." Glaring at the Desert Falcon, the Harrier stood and hissed, "Right. Getting on with that." Boots hitting the stone more heavily than they had any right to, it seemed, he made his way to help with the wounded.
Lex was cleaning off his hands in the bucket. He reached down and splashed some water on his face as well. His own wounds had been tended by someone else, it seemed; Shaun could see bandages poking from beneath the rip in the shoulder of his shirt. He scratched absently at a cut on his cheek where the blood had dried and begun to itch before turning back to his task.
Majid's face was a horror story all its own, the acid having splattered on his nose and eyes and throat. The two men could see the empty hole beneath the cartilidge. His breaths were ragged, shallow, and long in coming, his lips and throat puckered. His face was white as plaster where it poked out beneath the blankets he'd been wrapped in.
"Dadash..." The word was barely audible, a mere rattle in the young man's throat. "Dadash..." The Sparrow sat beside him silently, breathing hard enough for both of them, one hand grasping Majid's. The other man shuddered, gripping back weakly in return. It felt like an eternity before the next rattled breath and, "Man mitarsam..."
For a moment, Shaun wondered if the poor boy had fallen asleep. His eyes had slid shut, his body shifting ever so slightly. Then he realized that his chest had stopped moving. A strange silence seemed to fill the area, broken only by the almost breathless muttering of the kneeling teen beside him, who held the dead one's hand up near his lips and was whispering to it almost fervently, eyes squeezed shut.
Finally, Lex lowered the other's hand down to his side and stood. Shaun lifted his head, watching as the Sparrow readied his equipment, the meager amount that remained to him after the battle.
"What on earth are you up to?" The other time traveler paused, looking at him. Without a word being spoken, Shaun had his answer. "Oh, no. No, Lex." He stood. "You're staying right f*cking here, understand? You're staying with us!" Amir turned halfway from where he'd curled into Badr, looking toward them as the Brit raised his voice, the echo ringing within the ceiling arches.
Jameel shook his head, leaning forward as well as he was able, steadied by Badr's shoulder.
"I know exactly what you are trying to do, Skandar," he said, falling naturally into his mother tongue, "and I will not allow it." The Red Owl watched as the small Journeyman glared at him, a desperate, angry little look. "You will only get killed if you insist on pursing this insane endeavor." I do not want you to become that shade from my nightmares, you fool! When the Sparrow made to turn toward the door, Jameel almost rose, pain shrieking through the bones of his legs as he shouted, "God damn you to hell for your willfulness! Sit down!"
It was then that he saw what made the younger man turn. Scars staggered forward almost drunkenly, one hand pressed tight to his middle where a blossom of blood had flowered. Lex caught him before he could hit the ground, pressing his hand over his own with a cry of "sh*t! Shaun, get over here, now!"
Shaun lifted Scars' legs as they carried him over to a clean blanket on the floor and set him down. Ordering some monks and a few of the Romani women to bring him a few items that seemed to have no place around an injured man, he set to work. The wound was from a bullet, that much was clear, though he had to feel and make sure whether it had been a through-and-through shot or whether the ball had lodged within the Owlet. "Shaun, hold him down. Somebody, grab a stick!" Uberto offered one up, wedging it between the red-clad man's already clenched teeth.
He took the pair of pliers offered up by one of the women, sticking them into the flame of the candle one of the monks had placed nearby, heating them to a white point. "Hold him down." Ignacio and Uberto obliged. He cut away the man's robes with the point of his dagger. "Readÿ?" Scars gave him a weary look and managed a single nod. He pressed the hot metal into the wound until it touched the bullet, carefully so as not to damage any blood vessels or organs nearby.
Removing the object was done with even more care before he took up a slim piece of metal, heating it as he had the pliers. Rinsing the wound, he pressed the piece into it, sealing the damage inside. Cleaning the surrounding area on the man's skin, his patient's hand clamped on his neck like a vice, he slipped an offered needle into the Owlet's flesh, sewing him shut. Slathering a bandage with disinfectants, he tied it over his stomach, looping it once and binding it with a hard knot.
Sweat soaked the Sparrow's robes down to his back, neck, and chest, his bangs down in his eyes as he leaned back. Every muscle released the tension of moments before with violent tremors. Shaun eased the stick out of Scars' mouth as the man was given some water. He able to get a sip of water down before he passed out. Moving to where the other Assassins sat, the Harrier dropped beside Badr and Amir. He was glad for their warmth.
When the last of those waiting for treatment had been tended to, the time traveler saw that the night had advanced rapidly. The dead had been moved outside. Torches had been lit, the monks moving off into the chapel to pray, everyone else curling up in bunches and clusters to sleep. The Assassins had retired to their rooms; he saw then that the Valez family was reunited in one of them. Making a final round of those lying on the floor, he was stopped, a hand grasping his leg. Kneeling, he looked at Scars. The man gazed back at him silently for some moments, the hand now gripping his robes.
"My brother is gone, isn't he?" The fist tightened, threatening to choke him. "My brother is dead?"
"I'm sorry." He shook, head bowed, tears falling to the stones beneath his hands and knees. "I'm sorry." A sob wrenched its way out of his throat as he curled up, transforming at the end into a whine. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry." He was drawn roughly down to his stomach, forced to look up or eat flagstone. Snot and tears meshed on the youth's reddened face, his chin quivering, sweat beading his brow.
The swordsman had tears standing in his eyes as well, a few slipping down his cheeks. With what seemed like all the strength he had in him, he stated, "It is not your fault."