Florence, Italy 1476
The clouds hung low, freezing all of Florence and its people. No way would it hold back Katherine Salviati di Firenze from the biggest fight of her life.
She held her head up and stood with her eldest brothers. She wasn't about to be degraded because she was a woman, no. She would fight and prevail.
“You sure about this Katherine?” Alexander asked.
“Si.” She answered confidently.
“Ehi, calm down Alexander, we are Salviatis. The same Salviatis who are descendants of fighters.” Stefan said punching Alexander in the arm.
“True enough, brother.”
From the darkness emerged Lorenzo Costello.
“Ah, the Salviati brothers and their little puttana of a sister.”
“Fottiti, Lorenzo. How about instead of the small talk you try to prove yourself worthy of beating a Salviati, that is if you are not a codardo.” She said.
Stepping out into Katherine's line of sight were at least twenty men. All of them were well built.
“Merda.” Stefan muttered.
“You're out numbered.” Lorenzo taunted.
“E chi se ne frega? Lorenzo, you lack talent.” Katherine shot back.
Alexander cracked a smile.
Leonardo's smile vanished. His face and his eyes bore into hers just searing with hate.
“You know little Salviati, avanti.”
Katherine smiled. “Va bene, we'll see who wins. You know Lorenzo, never underestimate your enemy.”
She was ready for anything. At least Lorenzo had one thing right, they were outnumbered.
A few of the really buff guys went straight to Katherine, but they weren't ready for the whirlwind she caused. As soon as they got to her a few of them were already on the ground withering in pain.
To make sure they stayed down she kicked them in their faces. Most of them were injured pretty bad and some even fled. But over all Katherine held her ground.
Reluctantly, she looked over at her brothers before another wave of men came.
They themselves were struggling to keep up with Katherine, but they held their ground with ease.
Soon enough we Lorenzo saw where this was leading.
“Ma cosa-? Cazzo! Fall back.” Lorenzo shouted as he ran.
“Victory!” Stefan threw his bloodied fists in the air.
“Katherine, I'm proud of you. You held your ground. Magnifico!”
That's when she got a good look at his face. There was a giant gash down the side of his face.
“Stefan! Take Alexander to a doctor, I have unfinished business.”
He nodded and looked at Alexander. He winced when he saw the cut.
“It's not that bad.” Alexander protested.
“Sure, but you don't have to look at it.” Stefan dragged Alexander away.
“I will meet you at home.” Katherine called after them.
Katherine turned and disappeared into the afternoon fog. She'd felt eyes on her since the fight and she planned on catching them, the best way she knew how.
Deceit was easy for her, she could play many roles and characters. Frankly she was good at it. Men marveled at her beauty, and women seemed easy to trust her. Katherine knew better thought, what they each wanted wasn't something she was willing to give. A true piece of Katherine Salviati, although some of the men wanted something a little more from her.
Shivers ran up her spine. Something wasn't right. Alexander always told her to trust her gut feeling, it seemed to be a lot smarter than her head or her heart.
Almost home, she thought. When I get there I will tell Alexander about this and he'll tell know what to do.
Turning the corner she ran into the house, the eyes slowly vanished and she realized her mistake. She had lead him straight to where she lives.
“Che idiota soma.” She muttered hitting her head against her palm.
“Katherine?” Alexander asked, coming up behind her.
His lip was still swollen but other than that it looked fine.
“Can I talk to you? Alone?” She jerked her thumb towards the stairs.
He followed her to her room and shut the door behind him.
“Whats wrong?” He asked.
Katherine gave him a look. “Alexander someone was watching us. Watching the fight.”
“How are you so sure?”
“I was followed.”
“Si, Alexander. I'm stupid I know, but I guess I figured the fog was thick enough for him – or her- not to see me.”
“Don't give me that, I have realized my mistakes.”
Alexander surprised her and hugged her. She was flustered until she realized she was close to tears.
“I was going to say that if anything does happen we will be prepared, Father has his plans of security.”
“Then don't worry, nothing will stop us Salviatis. We are fighters.”
Katherine smiled and rested her head on his shoulder. Alexander always made her feel better, he was always there for her. He was the only one who saw past the walls she built up to protect herself.
“Alexander!” Their father called.
“I have to go, errands.” He said.
She heard him call back with a faint 'Si, padre?' as he walked further away.
Katherine sighed and went to open the window, but quickly stopped herself. Not a good idea, it would allow entry to that stalker if it had found out where she lived.
Quickly she pulled the curtains closed.
Instead she changed out of the rags she was wearing and into a soft silk blue dress. It was embroidered with pastel coloured flowers and jewels. She brushed out her hair and put half of it up and draped chains on her head.
“You look like a girl.” Stefan said from outside her door.
“Shut up. Don't you ever knock?”
Stefan threw back his head and laughed. “I will when pigs fly.”
“If I throw you out of a window will that count?”
“It's not my fault you spend all your money on wine and women, Stefan.”
“Never did I say it was, little Katherine.”
“Stefan leave your sister be.” Someone intertwined.
“But mother-” He tried to protest.
Claudia Salviati stepped into Katherine's room.
“Stefan.” She put enough power into his name it even scared Katherine.
“Mi dispiace, mother.”
“Bene, now leave.”
It was obvious that she wasn't in a good mood if Stefan was getting in trouble for hanging around Katherine's door.
“Katherine, your father and I were discussing-”
“No mother, I have not found a suitor yet. I do not plan on one either.”
“Do you plan on becoming part of the church?”
“No. Everything happens on its own mother!”
“Katherine, so young, nothing happens on it's own. It is always sparked by something else. If it doesn't happen soon, your father and I will put the measures into our own hands.”
She didn't understand why they were so eager to marry her off. Stefan and Alexander were older. Alexander was nineteen and Stefan was twenty-three, but Katherine was seventeen. She was surprised the weren't even forcing little David who was fourteen.
Katherine sighed. She knew as long as she lived under her parent's roof, she was a subject to their scrutiny.
Walking out into the halls she found her father in his study, he was discussing business. Katherine hid behind the wall so she could hear and not be seen. She caught some words that didn't seem appropriate for a banker in Florence.
“What do you mean he knows about the Brotherhood? The Brotherhood is too careful to let this happen.”
“I am aware Vieri, which of your sons do you plan on letting in?”
Her father sighed. In her head she could see him shaking his head and looking down. “I do not know yet, the cards still have to play themselves out.”
“Vieri, you must have some idea of who when the Brotherhood asks.”
“Si, I was thinking about Stefan or Alexander, but they do not have as much skill as Katherine.”
“The brotherhood will be shocked, that you'd choose your daughter over your three sons.”
“I know, but she is a true fighter, a true Salviati, a true-” He was cut short.
“Father, I am done my errand.”
“Ah, Alexander, will you go fetch your sister for me?”
Katherine turned back into her room and shortly after a knock emerged on her door.
She opened it and smoothed out her silk dress.
“Father wants you. Hes in his study.”
He bowed his head and followed behind her careful not to step on her dress.
“Father?” She asked, stepping into the room.
“Ah, Katherine, this is Dante Polizzi.”
Katherine courtesied and quickly smoothed out some of the stitched flowers on her dress.
“This is your daughter?” Dante asked as if there was something wrong with her.
She raised her eyebrows. “Don't speak of me as if I'm some disease.”
“No, no, you are just not what I expected.”
“Katherine, be nice.”
“Mi dispiace, padre.”
“On to other business.” Dante said.
That's when something was whipped at her.
“Ehi!” She shouted and caught the knife in her hand. She quickly whipped back and soon regretted her decision.
“What was that?” Katherine nearly shrieked.
Her father stood and examined the broken window as well as the knife that served as a new addition to their family portrait.
Katherine looked down at her hand. It was bleeding and it stung with an aching pain, but she didn't bring any attention to it.
“Alexander can you escort your sister to a doctor? Be discreet.”
Alexander bowed and wrapped an arm around her.
“Are you in pain?” Alexander asked.
“No, it's manageable, I just feel terrible for whipping it back.”
“Alex, I fear that, that wasn't meant for me, but for father, maybe even Messer Dante.”
“I agree, I think we should take precaution.”
Katherine nodded and her attention was drawn to a fight breaking out in the street.
“More discreet.” Alexander whispered, so close to a doctor.
“I know.” Katherine said stepping up to the doctor. He wore a black robe and a beak mask.
“What can I help you with today?” He asked.
Katherine held out her hand and he took it in. He rubbed weird looking liquids on it before stitching it up.
“Okay, that should be good, any more cuts and scrapes and you know where to find me.”
“Grazie.” Alexander said handing him a pouch of money.
Katherine quickly lead Alexander out of the streets and back home.
They seemed to avoid Lorenzo's men easily, seeming as few of them were from the fight. And few who were in the fight didn't seem in any kind of shape to even recognize Katherine or her brother. The only real scars they had gotten out of it was the long scratch down the side of Alexander's face, nothing major. It was nothing compared to what they had done to them.
When they reached the front door everything seemed at peace. It wasn't until they walked in that they saw the real tragedy.
Alexander tried to hold Katherine back from the blood smeared walls, but it was useless. She tried to keep calm, and refused to let any emotion show.
Instinct took over immediately; look for survivors. And she did so.
She started with her own room, nothing.
“Alexander have you found anything?” She asked.
“No.” He sighed.
“Check mother's room, then David's. I'll check father's study and Stefan's room.”
Katherine went to Stefan's room first where she found her brother dead. His dark curls were tangled in his long lashes.
“Alexander, I found Stefan.” She said, her mouth dry.
He came up behind her and over to Stefan's body.
“Requiescat in pace.” He said, shutting his eyes.
“Did you find anything in mother's room?”
“Nothing but her corpse.”
Katherine bowed her head. “What the hell happened? And how were we so lucky to survive?”
“I don't know, let's keep looking.”
She nodded and set off into her father's study.
When she got in all she heard were the softest wheezes.
“Kather-” He coughed.
“What happened here?” She asked, tears so close to spilling from her eyes.
“No time to explain, you'll have to figure it out on your own, there's a letter on my desk. Take it and leave. Go see Messer Dante, do not give him the letter but tell him what has happened here and do not return here.”
At that moment everything drained out of his face and he went limp.
“Requiescat in pace, padre.” She said quietly.
“Alexander.” Katherine went straight to the desk retrieved the letter.
Her brother was behind her and she rushed to explain what her father's dying words were along the way.
Many people seemed to stare and say things as they ran past. Katherine was too occupied with other things to bother to care.
They reached Dante's door quickly and out of breath.
“Katherine, Alexander what is wrong?” He asked, his pudgy face filled with worry.
“Dante, our father, our family has been murdered.” Alexander explained.
Dante didn't say anything he just rushed them inside.
“Listen this is going to sound very, very odd, but you must leave Florence.” He said. “Do not question me, just listen. I will supply two horses, but you must find a man named Altaïr Giuseppe, he will explain everything.”
“Where?” Alexander asked.
“Venice, you must go to Venice.”
“Where will we find him?”
“You have to figure that out.” Dante handed them both silvery robes with a black symbol stitched into them. “Now, go. The horses are stabled outside of the city gates. Tell the stable keeper I sent you and you will be set. Bouna Fortuna.”
“Grazie, Messer Dante.”
Dante nodded and quietly let them out into the fogged streets of Florence.