40 - All the Small Things

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September 5, 1479

Monteriggioni, Italy

Catherine yawned as she read over reports in Mario's office, leaning forward so she was slouched on his desk. Various other papers were spread about along with books and maps, marked up and annotated here and there. The letter she held would soon join the rest—yet another summary of nothing of value happening as it had been since the Bernardo man had been killed. Oh, there had been some excitement: all the Pazzi in a flurry; rumor of another target on the move; Jacopo spotted here or there; increased patrols; some fights, and on and on. It was nothing substantial and nothing really honestly worth being written about, but Mario liked his reports no matter what, and the Thieves and Courtesans were paid for their work, so why not? At least their allies did do their duty for more than just monetary value—that was something, she supposed.

Still, it was boring, and the letter not of much use, so the redhead set it in the pile she had deemed "waste of parchment and ink" and returned to the map before her. It was the newest one drawn up for the city and the surrounding area, and a great deal of notes and scrawling were on it. That was to be expected, though, being that there were plans to cut down some surrounding woods to make way for yet more farmland and even a winery. The idea had been mentioned to Claudia some time ago, but it was only now finally coming about after all the farmlands had been improved along with the final renovations to the city including armaments for the walls. It was nothing fancy just yet, but there were to be better weapons, better armor, and more guards supplied. There was hope for cannons soon, too, although those were a bit more costly and they hadn't found the right architect for them yet.

Thus, a means of making more money and happier people came in the form of wine. There was a decided lack of good drink in the city when it came down to it, so the vineyard was a promising conquest. Claudia had managed to snag a group of growers that had been on the move, and once they got a look of the land and agreed, things could get going. If all went well, part of the northern woods would be cleared for acres to allow for the crops to grow, and then a proper establishment to make the wine would be built on the same land. It was definitely a smart venture, and it didn't get in the way of their other crops, which were flourishing throughout the year, although with fall in and winter not far behind, they would have to rely more on meat and their stores of produce. Monteriggioni was in good shape, though; in part for their work against the enemy, but mostly because of Claudia's proclivity for the art of running the city itself. Her father would have been proud.

Everyone else certainly appreciated it. Catherine knew she did. The people were happier than they'd ever been despite the Pazzi gaining power in San Gimignano, and there was quite a populace now, not including their allies. More men had joined the mercenaries, and La Volpe and Gita's people were growing in numbers and strength as well. Beyond that, the city itself was far grander with the Villa standing as a hallmark of that improvement. Its once dour state was all but a memory with its walls and gardens now well taken care of. New servants had been hired and was fully staffed. The armory was slowly being filled, and the halls above were now adorned with a good chunk of artworks—some provided by Leonardo, in fact. The library had seen a refurbishing and more books had been added. All of which was all thanks to the young Auditore, who was proving quite the lioness.

Catherine yawned again and glanced at the window. It was only a bit past sunrise now, but she had been up a good deal earlier. There was some work to do be done in the city, so she and Ezio had done their training before dawn, and then he headed off to help with some construction along with Mario. She lamented somewhat that they didn't train as much usual, but they did get plenty of exercise—the other mercenaries included—from doing physical labor, and they their missions. She would be out there with them if she could, but Claudia had asked for her help. She hadn't specified what, but it involved other mercenaries, so the redhead assumed it might have to do with the maps for the vineyard.

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