Gravity pulled harshly at his body as he launched himself upwards to grip a decorative border of the tower he was climbing. But he had long ago gotten used to the excitement of hanging off a tall building with nothing to break his fall, but his own climbing abilities. It had become routine, this familiar strain of his fingers clinging onto whatever they could grip, the wind whipping around him and the sound of the city fading away below him. He respected the height, yes, but that did not stop him from conquering it each and every day.
Finally, Ezio reached the wooden support the labourers had left at the side of the building, from the time they had used it to access the tower better. Now it sat abandoned, only used by the eagles.
He pulled himself up and crouched on the support for a moment to lessen the tension of his muscles and to survey the city below him. The wind played with his cloak and hood and it whistled quietly around him.
But over the whistling wind, there was another sound, a sound he'd never head before nearly at the top of a tower. It sounded a lot like chirping and he looked around, confused.
He gazed upwards to the wooden beam protruding out of the tower and discovered a huge nest, but the sound wasn't coming from there. Ezio turned around his own axis to find the source of the chirping and finally found it, just a few steps away from his feet.
A ball of white fluffy feathers, twitching miserably in the cold air that whipped around the tower.
For a moment, Ezio considered ignoring it and continuing with his ascent to the peak of the tower. After all, the mother of the bird was surely nearby and still fed its young, despite it having fallen out of the nest. But his keen hearing didn't pick up the sound of other chirping birds and he squinted to see if the nest above him was abandoned. It was.
Biting his lip in contemplation, he looked at the ball of feathers, then upward to the peak of the tower and back again. With a sigh, he crossed the few steps to the miserable creature and squatted down to take a closer look at it.
Up close, it wasn't exactly what he would call pretty. The white down feathers were limited to only a few patches on the small creature, while sleek brown feathers grew from the other areas. The head looked far too small for such a big animal, but Ezio guessed that the fluffy feathers made it look so oversized. The bird was laying on its stomach and from the way it was trying to push itself over the ground with its little claws, it was trying to get away from Ezio.
The Assassin marvelled at its will, considering its weakened state and he raised his brows in surprise when he actually saw shallow scratches on the wood where the eaglet's claws had dug inside.
The bird started to chirp quickly and in a high range, making Ezio's ears ring from the incessant onslaught of noise, while it started to paddle with its fluffy wings in a vain attempt to escape what it thought to be a predator.
While that wasn't far from the truth, Ezio had better things to do than slay poor helpless animals.
Ezio chuckled, when the bird screeched, sounding quite angry and annoyed at its inability to move from the spot.
He reached out and gently picked the creature up, "You're a little fighter, aren't you, aquila?"
The bird hacked its little beak into his glove in reply and despite the thick material, Ezio could feel the sharp edge poking his finger, making him yelp and almost drop the eaglet, "Sei pazzo? If I drop you, that's the last flight you will be taking!"
The eaglet squawked in reply and with a sniff, Ezio took off his cloak and wrapped the shaking bird inside, letting the head jut out. Stuffing the ball of feathers and leather into the front of his shirt, Ezio peered over the edge of the tower, seeing the haystack nearby.
If he jumped, he would risk loosing the eaglet on the way down, so he was left with no choice but to climb for once.
"You're troublesome," Ezio declared to the eaglet with a sigh and started his descent.
As night slowly began to fall over Venice, Leonardo was busy sketching a few organs he had pulled out of the body of a dead guard. The stench was awful, but Leonardo's curiosity won the internal debate of doing it or not. He just picked up his knife and was about to cut open another area of the body for muscle studies, when he heard the ring of a small bell coming from the upper floor.
After living in Venice for a while, Leonardo had gotten used to Ezio barging into his workshop unannounced. What he couldn't get used to was the predatory silence Ezio moved in. More often than not, Ezio had come down the steps of the workshop without making any noise and then greeted Leonardo loudly, making the artist jump in surprise; sometimes, it ruined his work.
So now Leonardo had attached a small bell on a thread to the ceiling of every room, where Ezio usually entered. So when the windows were opened, the windows knocked the bell and Ezio couldn't surprise Leonardo any more.
Most of the time, at least.
The artist set his quill aside and dipped his hands in a bowl of water to wash them clean of the dried blood, while Ezio appeared in the work room, looking frazzled. There was a huge bulge in the front of his shirt, the corner of his cloak dangling out.
And it was chirping?
Wincing, Ezio nodded at Leonardo in greeting and pulled the ball out of his shirt, gently placing it down on a worktable. Curious, Leonardo came closer, "Ciao Ezio. What is this?"
The Assassin scratched at his chest with his glove, grimacing, "Uno stronzo poco."
Glancing at Ezio to see what he was scratching, Leonardo gave a shout of surprise when he saw the small scratches criss-crossing over the tanned skin, "Goodness, what happened to you? Shall I get you some salve?"
Ezio waved him off, "I'll be alright, it's nothing serious. I got this from this pezzo di merda." He jerked his chin at the pile that was his chirping cloak.
The older man was curious now. Carefully, he peeled the cloak apart, blinking when it moved and then slid off whatever Ezio had been hiding inside.
It was an eaglet.
"Che cosa...? Why are you carrying an eaglet around, Ezio? This poor thing needs to be in its nest," Leonardo exclaimed, making the eaglet squawk in reply to his raised voice.
"I found it on a tower. From the looks of it, it fell out of its nest and was lying around there for quite a long time," Ezio replied, taking off his glove to inspect his finger, "The stronzetto bit me!"
His artist friend shook his head in disbelief, "Of course it did! It most likely thought you'd eat it! You look like a giant bird of prey, I would fear you too if I didn't know you were such a child!"
"Ehý," Ezio called out, indigant, "I could have left the poor thing up on the tower to eventually fall off, you know!"
The eaglet made a sound that resembled tittering, making Ezio frown at it, "Stop laughing, stronzetto! You're the reason why I nearly broke my neck!"
Leonardo sighed tiredly, "And what shall we do with it now, Ezio? It needs food and has to be kept warm. It's going to mature soon, since its already loosing its down feather's. I guess it can already eat independently."
"Too bad, I would have loved to see you chew some food for it and have it eat out of your mouth," Ezio teased.
Leonardo swatted his friend with the back of his hand, "Basta, birbante!"
The Assassin laughed loudly, his bellows making the eaglet screech along, as if it was trying to compete with him.
An odd thought struck Leonardo. Seeing his Assassin friend next to the little eaglet, he couldn't help but compare the two. Ezio had been a novice Assassin once, forced to pick up the blade, despite being barely matured, just like the eaglet was forced to be independent, when it should still be sitting in its nest. From the small scratches on Ezio's chest, Leonardo could tell that the little animal had spirit, even in its weakened state. The similarity to the young Ezio was uncanny. It even was cocky enough to try and keep up with things much bigger than the bird could grasp at the moment.
Not to mention the similarity in their appearance.
Leonardo sighed, "So I guess you expect me to take care of it?"
The sheepish grin Ezio gave him was all he needed and he rolled his eyes, "Of course. Who else."
"Well, you love birds, so I first thought of you, when I picked it up," Ezio tried to explain, "I'm sure you'll be a wonderful mother for it."
The artist glared, "Eagle males feed their young as well, Ezio."
"Really? I'll catch something for it, then," Ezio replied and danced out of Leonardo's reach, when the artist tried to swat at him once more for his cheekiness.
The Assassin skipped up the first few steps to the next floor to exit the workshop again, "Keep our little bambino warm, mamma!"
With that, Ezio disappeared, but Leonardo knew he was still in the building and called after him, "Go and catch some rats, birbante! However you may want to achieve that, considering that rats are smarter than you!"
Huffing, Leonardo turned to look at the eaglet that was giving him a curious look, "When he comes back, you better peck him with that beak of yours until he bleeds or else I won't be feeding you."
The eaglet chirped.