I, Paolo Sforza, killer of Ezio Auditore

Since many months I'm only seen as "the Assassin who killed the legend, Ezio Auditore". Even with my most trusted friends, all Assassins like me, things have become quite difficult. Secrecy is a vital matter in our life, but in this particular case, it's simply dividing us, and killing me. Most of the members of our order do not understand all the things that led to this terrible situation, what was at stake. I do. My name is Paolo Sforza, I'm an Assassin of twenty-nine from Roma. And I killed Ezio Auditore.

I want to leave behind me the truth about this matter, since I'll probably be an outcast and a traitor in the history of the Assassins' order. That's why I can't keep my mouth shut anymore, in spite of the oath I took, so I write this diary. Please, whoever you are and is currently reading me, read until the end. Then, only then, will you be able to judge me.

It was during the fall of 1524, when Niccoló Machiavelli asked to see me. I was a young Assassin, I still am, but I feel I aged twenty years in the last six months. Whatever, I was thrilled. Machiavelli, though not our Mentore, was a very important and influential member of our order, and a close friend of Ezio Auditore. Now that he's dead, only I know the truth about what he told me. So I went to his mansion in San Cascinio in Val di Pesa, he was waiting for me in his huge library, wearing black robes. And he said, looking quite glum but with a soft voice and a small smile:

_ Welcome, Paolo.

I only nodded, too intimidated to speak. And he said more seriously:

_ I know you're a very gifted and faithful member of our order. I also know why you're named Sforza.

That's when I froze even more and my guts filled with molten lead. Only my mother and I, or so I believed, knew about me being the duke Ludovico il Moro's illegitimate child. But he went on, unfazed by my sudden uneasiness:

_ You're a very special Assassin, your late master in Roma spoke very highly of you.

There I found my voice again. I stammered something like:

_ Thank you, sir.

_ But you're not here to receive such praises without a reason.

That I had somewhat foreseen. Machiavelli wasn't the praising type. He wanted something from me, and given my job, it was easy to deduct what he exactly wanted. I asked:

_ Do I have to kill someone, sir?

He sighed, his features contracting even more, and said very unhappily:

_ Yes.

He stopped for a few seconds, shooting a glance out of the window on the beautiful Tuscan landscape of Sant'Andrea in Percussina, probably weighing his words very carefully, as I knew he would. Oh, if I had known then what would be asked of me, I would've cut out my own tongue! But I asked again, wanting to help him reach the point:

_ Someone important?

_ Very important, he muttered. Too important to be killed, actually. But it is something that must be done.

He sighed and paused again, taking a swig from the cup of wine he had on a small table beside him, then, probably mustering his courage, he locked eyes with me and said quite firmly:

_ You will have to kill Ezio Auditore.

At first, I thought I had misunderstood him. But when I saw the tears filling his eyes he was trying hard to blink back, I knew then he was damn serious. All I could think to ask, flabbergasted as I was, was:

_ Why?

Ezio Auditore, our first Mentore. A living legend, even if he was very old – sixty-five. I couldn't believe this was real, this was happening. Machiavelli said, this time letting shamelessly the tears run on his cheeks:

_ To appease him. Give him a painless death.

I was too shocked to react, my brain was working sluggishly. After a few seconds that lasted an eternity, I managed to gather my wits:

_ Is he ill?

_ Yes, Machiavelli nodded, wiping the tears from his face. He doesn't realise the seriousness of his state, of course. But he's dying, very slowly. The last time we met, here, I asked a doctor to see him without him suspecting anything, passing as a guest. And he confirmed my fears: Ezio is dying, but it will be a slow and painful death, one that can take months to happen. He often coughs so violently it's a pity to hear. And in spite of our regular spats, he's my friend nevertheless. I cannot let him suffer a horrible death, after all he did to all of us, after all the pain he lived through.

He paused, drinking a little more, and added, anticipating my question:

_ I can't do it myself, sadly. I've been quite... manhandled a few years ago, and I have to finish the book the Pope has asked me to write.

Quite an understatement, I thought. Everybody knew Machiavelli had been badly tortured in 1513 by the Medici and still had sequelae, his limping and visible scars on his arms were sufficient proofs. And he added with a small voice:

_ And I can't do it. I just can't. God knows I tried. But I can't...

He sighed again, then emptied his cup of wine in a large mouthful. Then, slamming it quite forcefully on the small table which shook violently, he asked me:

_ Now, will you be able to do it?

_ Yes, I nodded. But wanting to do it...

He cut me sharply, not wanting to hear my qualms:

_ To hell with your doubts! You're an Assassin, you took a vow of obedience to our order. And what better mission than to ease the pain of our greatest member?

His bitter tears convinced me better than anything he had told me. Everybody in Italy knew Machiavelli's pride. If he had to ask me to do such an important thing, then it was a matter of vital importance, and it probably cost him dearly to have to ask another Assassin to do it instead of him.

_ All right, I'll do it, sir. When?

He exhaled slowly, certainly relieved that I gave in so easily. He said:

_ You can't do it when he's home. He's too wary, he would suspect some foul game. But I know he goes to Firenze from time to time, at the market. His wife...

_ His wife? I asked in alarm. He's married?

_ Yes, Machiavelli answered impatiently. And he's got two children. The order will take care of them. And namely me.

_ But...

_ Don't start again! he yelled in fury. Don't you think that I don't know what you're going to tell me? Don't you think that I've been torturing myself with this idea long before you could voice it? Don't you think I've been losing sleep and having nightmares about it since I realized I couldn't let my old friend die in excruciating agony in his bed? How about his wife and children then, having to watch him writhe and cough and suffocate in endless torment, until death finally takes pity on him and comes to him?

He paused to take a shaky breath, and I raised my hand in surrender, shaking slightly. I understood only too well. My mother had died the same way, and my memories of her long agony and my uselessness to ease her pain were too vivid in my mind. In no way would I let our old Mentore suffer like her if I could prevent it.

_ I understand, sir. I'll go to Firenze and wait for him. But I can't...

_ No, he said more calmly. You can't use your hidden blade. His death must look like a natural one. A painless death. Painless.

He insisted so much on this point that I guessed he had seen his old friend suffering more than once. But he said:

_ I've got some poison a... friend... gave me. I intended to use it on me when my time would come but...

Without another word he reached inside his black robes and took out a tiny vial. I took a step forward to take it. Inside the vial, a small amount of black liquid, no more than a few drops. I asked him:

_ How...?

_ On your blade, he answered, as if reading my thoughts. You have the capacity of poisoning it, haven't you?

_ Yes, but... I use a special poison. What is this one?

_ Some rare one. I only have this sample, so don't miss your target.

_ What will it do to Ezio?

_ It will stop his heart, Machiavelli murmured gently, his eyes riveted into mine. But he won't feel it. He will feel tired, have an urge to sleep. And he will sleep. An endless and peaceful one.

I nodded. I had all I needed. I pocketed the vial and bowed to Machiavelli. As I was about to exit the library he asked:

_ Will you be able to go through it?

I turned on the spot to face him and asked in return:

_ How do you know about my father?

He nodded, a gleam of his old mischievous look in his eyes, and said softly:

_ Your mother, Lucia Maffei, was a good and kind woman.

_ How...? I stammered. How did you know her?

_ I met her in Roma, he recalled, a dreamy look on his face. But this story will have to wait. When you come back from Firenze, I'll tell you about it.

_ You swear?

_ Yes, I swear, he said. Do you have so little trust in me, Paolo?

_ No... No, sir, it's not that.

I stopped, awfully awkward. But he only smiled:

_ Don't worry, I understand. I won't disappear. You'll find me here when your job is done.

I nodded another time, then left, the echo of my footsteps following me like the ghosts of my lost family.

I rode my mare to Firenze, trying to avoid the armed bands that raided the country, but thankfully not meeting any. And when I finally saw the Duomo overlooking the Tuscan city, my heart squeezed a little in my chest. There I would kill my hero, for his own sake. There, I would later realize, I would lose my youth and my faith.

I settled in a comfortable inn near Santa Maria dei Fiore, walking every day around the city, feeling oppressed by the tall buildings and the narrowness of the streets. Firenze was a beautiful city, but I felt claustrophobic within the high walls, and nostalgic of my city of birth. Roma was for me the best city in the world, and I liked the old Roman ruins better than the new statues that dotted Firenze.

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the market would settle in the Mercato Vecchio, and a large mob of merchants would invade the place, bringing all possible goods and shouting at the top of their voices to boast about the great quality of said goods. During these days, I sat on a rooftop nearby, scanning the crowd and gathering my courage.

And at last, after three weeks waiting, I saw him. Ezio Auditore. Il Mentore. Older and weaker than I ever saw him, but with a regal and intimidating look on his battered face. For half a second, I thought that I couldn't fulfill my mission. He was much too real, too alive. Then he nearly stumbled as a violent cough took him and had him double up, and I heard the wheezing breath, I saw the withered hand coming up his chest on his heart and the alarmed look on his wife's face, the sadness on his children's. No, I thought. Machiavelli was right. The great Ezio Auditore didn't deserve such a promised fate.

I watched as he sat on a bench, urged by his wife, and got down on the ground. I blended in the crowd and came nearer. Ezio looked appeased, if not at ease. I sat on the bench beside him and grumbled, to divert his attention from my goal but mostly from myself. We had met twice, and I knew he had a sharp memory.

_ Al diavolo! I hate this damn city. Wish I was in Roma...

I went on for a few seconds, then spat on the ground saying "Firenze!", with as much contempt as I could muster. Ezio looked appalled, but unsuspicious, and that was what mattered.

_ I don't think Firenze is your problem, he told me softly.

The kindness in his voice broke my heart. All I could say was:

_ Prego? (I beg your bardon?)

He wanted to say something but doubled up again, shivering and panting, obviously in pain. I only wanted his pain to end. I said, gripping his wrist and discreetly using my poisoned blade on it:

_ Coraggio, vecchio.

He locked eyes with me, through his intense pain, and somehow, hating me but knowing I was doing the right thing, I smiled at him. He looked surprised at first, his pain receding, then smiled a little too. Death would come quick to him. I said, rising to my feet, my hand on his shoulder as a last tribute to the huge respect I felt for him:

_ Get some rest, huh?

Then I left as calmly as I could, my heart melting in a puddle of lead. A few meters away I turned round. Ezio Auditore was watching his wife and children, purchasing some vegetables a few feet away from him, and I saw peace on his face. A true rest, as he exhaled his last breath, a smile still etched on his lips. Soon his wife and children came running to him, reality dawning on them, but I knew I did the right thing. So why was I so crushed?

I left Firenze that very day, heading for Roma. Machiavelli would be busy with Ezio's funeral and his family for a few weeks at least, and I was too tormented to talk to him yet. My family history, as much eager as I was to learn about it at last, could wait a little longer. My conscience needed healing first.

A/N: Well, this is it! I watched Assassin's creed embers and it left me quite unsatisfied by Ezio's death, so I wanted to write things as I see them. Hope you enjoyed this story, and please let me know what you think about it!