62 - The Sun's Gone Dim and the Sky's Turned Black

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July 11, 1486

Venezia, Italy

Catherine leaned against wall near the open window as they entered the lavish room—they being the motley group of herself, Ezio, Antonio, and the new Doge, Agostino Barbarigo. Thankfully the man had sworn his allegiance to the Assassins and not Templars; hence why they were having this conversation in the study in Antonio's palazzo in the first place. Or, well, the three men were going to talk. She was only allowed in the room because she had played a part, but couldn't speak. The reason?

She was a woman.

As such, Catherine was rightfully peeved by the notion. However, she was the one who had agreed to only remain on the sidelines while the men talked. It hadn't escaped her notice the Doge, while a friend, wasn't exactly up to par with the mindset that women could be just as equal to men. She had almost forgotten that in her time, being in her home, with Ezio, or among the Thieves; all people who were more equal and ahead in ideology in their time. It was a harsh reminder of reality, but she took it in stride despite the burn at her core; the flicker of anger at being demeaned and lessened. Ezio, too, had felt it—he'd even tried to reprimand the Doge, but she'd intervened with a quick touch on his arm. Antonio had shown distaste on his face, for which he was grateful, and he had supported her request to remain present. Ultimately, the Pope relented, and so here they were.

It was just pleasantries at first; talking of things to come and plans for "healing" the city. There was a good deal of thanking Ezio and the Assassins—her husband was kind enough to remind the Doge she had been paramount as well, and she did her best not to take the wave off from the Doge to heart—and also the Thieves for their part in "saving" the city. However, the merriment and good feelings had to make way for more somber talk.

"Down to the business then?" Ezio inquired, noting the mood, and Antonio nodded.

"We have located Silvio Barbarigo for you. He has fled into L'Arsenale."

The Doge laughed, "Fled? You mean occupied—and joined by two hundred mercenaries, no less!"

Catherine glanced to the back of the man's head, noting that was quite a lot of warriors. She was a bit surprised Silvio had that many. Sure, the Templar influence was strong, but two hundred? That was a lot of men to fight. A lot of man power to defeat. Would they surrender if Silvio was killed, though? That would make things easier, but could they count on that? Either way, she nor Ezio could handle that many men—not on their own. And that might be too many to contend against and sneak around as well.

"You're Doge now. Can't you command them to stand down?" Ezio inquired, but the man shook his head.

"The committee of forty-one has yet to confirm my ascension. And this little stunt of Silvio's has only made things worse. He has an entire army at his command!" he rasped, hand flying in the air.

"Sounds like we need our own then," Catherine mused, although more-so out of jest. Them? An army of Assassins? A fun wish, but a wish nonetheless. She raised a brow when the Doge looked back at her, as if surprised she were still there, but let it be.

Ezio leaned forward, gesturing to himself, "She's right—we need to raise our own army."

"I figured you two would say as much," Antonio replied, sitting forward. "Bartolomeo D'Alviano is the man you seek. He and his men have little love for Silvio. He resides within the military district—southwest of L'Arsenale."

"Good. We'll go and see him. Catherine?" the young man called, standing and extending his hand towards her, and then bending his arm. The redhead smiled at his politeness, finding it rather endearing, and so happily took his arm. She paused, though, to bow her head politely to the Doge and Antonio.

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