Werewolf Huēyi Tlahtoāni
- Mar 28, 2007
It had started to rain and the fight was evenly matched. The swords of the two friends clashed against those of the Milanese soldiers with din. Giovanni and Giulio had already managed to take down two of their enemies, but the remaining five were formidable opponents, they definitely were part of the elite guard of the ducal army. Meanwhile Cardinal Canciani tried to shelter behind his rescuers. As the minutes passed, the tide kept turning against the duo. Only their superb skills with the sword had saved them until now. But the fight kept going and they hadn’t been able too take down the remaining guards.
“We must aim for the entrance” shouted Giulio from the other side of the courtyard. “And quickly, we won’t be able to hold them for long.”
“I’m working on it” responded Giovanni parrying an attack by his opponent with his sword and counterattacking. “I told it was a good idea to bring Del Vecchio with us.”
“But he is not here, so keep fighting.”
Their attempt to escape was temporarily frustrated when the guards retreated towards the gate as well, presenting what they were planning to do. The situation grew more and more desperate as the raining intensified above their heads. There was only a way to get the Cardinal out of there and Giovanni had just realized. However, it would require a sacrifice from his part. Shouts and horses could be heard now. Reinforcements were arriving. He gave a quick glance towards the gate, where two guards were standing now, while the remaining three were heading towards them again.
“Listen, we must do this very quickly, so don’t ask questions. We must kill at least two of the soldiers coming towards us. Then I’ll try to draw the attention of those in the gate. You must use that brief period of time to run with the Cardinal away from here. Del Vecchio and Canitti can’t be far away. As soon as you reach them, ride and don’t stop until you reach the border with Venice. I’ll try to hold them here as long as possible.”
“I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me. This is a sacrifice I’ll make for Siena. I promise I’ll see you again. Now hurry and take the Cardinal with the Doge.”
Giulio wasn’t comfortable with the path things were taking, but they hadn’t another choice. He vowed to return for Giovanni as soon as the Cardinal was safe. Giovanni didn’t waste another second a rushed against their attackers. He picked a sword from the floor and in a quick maneuver that surprised but his opponents and Giulio; he sliced the guard’s head without trouble. The Bolognese quickly ran to help his friend with the other two enemies. With astounding skill and swiftness, both quickly fell dead to their feet. Now it was time for the escape. As Giovanni had promised, he ran again, this time against the guards in the gates, who were taken aback by such a quick reaction from their supposedly defeated enemies. That was the brief moment Giulio and the Cardinal used. “Run!” said Giulio to the Cardinal. Both passed through the hole the guards had left when Giovanni attacked them. When they reacted it was too late. Both Canciani and Giulio were gone.
Now it was in Giovanni’s hands to give them more time to escape. After the initial surprise, the two guards were now proving why they were there. It was attack after attack, defense, parrying, counterattacking. Giovanni managed to kill another one of his opponents. It was now one against one. “Just one more” thought Giovanni “this will be easier than I thought.” However, the Milanese soldier was proving to be more than a mere obstacle between Giovanni and the gates. Just as before, neither one of them could break the other one. It was the rain that gave the Sienese exile the advantage. The guard slipped and Giovanni used this to stab him in the chest. He left his opponent bleeding to death in the floor and ran towards the gate. But it was too late. The reinforcements had arrived and quickly surrounded Giovanni. He was ready to make his last stand. The circle around him grew closer. As the Milanese were about to attack and Giovanni was about to die, a strong voice shouted.
“Don’t kill him! He might be a useful source of information. He could tell us where the Cardinal went.” A figure mounted on a horse emerged from the shadows. It was Visconti’s spymaster Berni. “You two, take him to the dungeons. The rest go and search for the Cardinal. He can’t be far away. Let’s go!”
Giovanni was quickly disarmed and chained. As soon quickly as the reinforcements had arrived, they were leaving as well. From behind some bushes not far away, Giulio Franchini saw how his friend was being taken away. He would keep his promise, but he would need help. He mounted his horse and quickly disappeared between the shadows.
“We can’t let him there! They will kill him.”
“You know war requires sacrifices and you were as well of the risks that the mission implied, so don’t come here blaming me for what happened to your friend. We got more important things in mind right now. If you really want to save him you are on your own.”
Giulio, the Cardinal and the other two Sienese soldiers had arrived earlier that day and the first thing Giulio had done was asking for an audience with the Doge in order to request help for Giovanni, who was being held prisoner in Milan. However, time was short and Drique refused to move a finger for the Sienese captive. Giulio stormed out of the room after the Doge’s refusal to help him. He exited the building and sat in the stairs trying to think what he would do. The war with Milan was almost a fact and even if Visconti was defeated, Giovanni would probably be executed before. He could not storm the Ducal palace on his own but he couldn’t find help either. He could not break his promise.
“Well, well. Look who’s here. The famous Giulio Franchini. I never thought we would see you again after those campaigns in Naples.” It was a familiar voice, but he hadn’t heard it in years. He slowly raised his head and there they were. The very same Seven Bulls he had met so many years ago. From Giacomo Gusci to Sergio Leone Inchi. They were all there.
“What… what are you doing here? I thought you were somewhere far away, like Russia or Arabia.” Giulio was very surprised to see his old friends there.
“We actually were in Russia, fighting those damn Mongols” responded Nebaldi. “But it’s always nice to return to the homeland, specially with so many action going here right now.”
“We thought fighting against Visconti was fun, and the girls here in Venice are so beautiful” continued Nuglio.
“You happened changed at all” Giulio smiled “Just a few more scars. But you guys look just like when I met you.”
“Same for you, however, we are surprised to see you here, shouldn’t you be in Bologna?” Gusci asked.
“It’s a long story.”
“We got time, we are here to offer our services to the Doge, but we are not in a hurry, so you may tell us your story, you’ve always been a good storyteller.” Mazdi said.
Giulio proceeded to tell them all about his adventures since the start of the Italian Wars. From the moment he had reinforced the Sienese army as part of a regiment of the Bolognese army, passing through the defense of Siena and the escape from the burning city and the arrival to the Venice, ending with the rescue mission of Cardinal Canciani and the capture of Giovanni by the Milanese forces.
“So your friend is now prisoner of Visconti, after helping the Doge rescue Cardinal Canciani and now he won’t help you free him?” Ordini had been thoughtful during the whole story and now was trying to find a solution.
“That’s right; he will only help once the war is in progress, preferably over. When nothing important is put at risk.”
“He may have a point, but still, he could have given you a bunch of soldiers in order to help you.” Continued Ordini. “I guess we could do that job and help you, what do you think boss?”
“I’m good with it, should be more interesting than just fight in a conventional battle. What about the others?” Gusci said.
Without hesitating, everyone agreed and the preparations for the new rescue mission were started without delay.
“Here is your water.” said the guard before exiting and closing the door, leaving him in darkness.
Giovanni had been held captive for almost two days now and had withstood torture without uttering a single word. He would die before revealing something that could prevent the downfall of Visconti. There were some that insisted he didn’t know or wouldn’t say anything and he should be killed, but Berni refused, so he was kept alive. He was fed with some water and a piece of bread. He was weak, but his eyes had gotten used to the darkness of the room. He used the moments he had alone to think about his life and all the things he had done. He was currently thinking on the reasons that had made him join the army when the door opened again.
“Someone is here to see you” said the guard. “He is right here” he was talking to someone Giovanni could not see. “You have 10 minutes.”
A hooded figure entered the room. Giovanni couldn’t contain a gasp of surprise when the hood was removed. He was only able to mutter one word.