City of Flowers

Season 1 Episode 4: The Medici's Gold
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Season 1 Episode 3: View from the Villa

January 3 1429, Tuesday.

Early morning, the crew picks up a coach arranged for them by Anatina Giaconi, and they travel towards Venice. They are given a carrier pigeon by Anatina to be used to give her any important messages, and the information of a friendly contact in Venice (a bakery near the gate from Padua). By nightfall, they arrive in Padua and find an Inn to stay in. Stella Fiori (very successfully) and Niccolo Russo (not as successfully) gather information and gossip at the Inn. They learn that Romina has apparently has frequent messengers coming to see her from Florence of late. They were also the ones to get directions to her apartment.

Luciano Giunnio and Hans Wulf, go to find Romina Albizzi whose apartment is humble. Luciano has the unenviable task of letting her know that not only was her husband murdered, but that the people who killed him-most likely her own family-are probably going to be after her as well. She is incredulous that her family would do such a thing. Luciano try to press her to reveal who might have been after her (as her letters to her husband indicated). Romina is evasive but mentions the Zanetti family obliquely. She seems frightened and presses Luciano back for information, for example, who is he and why is he alerting her. Luciano gives her his name, and while he doesn’t completely admit that he works for the de Medici’s he implies it. She asks if the de Medici’s could protect her from her enemies, and-not wanting to fully admit his connection-says it is doubtful. He does recommend however that she leave her apartment and hide somewhere, because if he, Luciano, could find her, then so could her husband’s killers. She asks if she might be able to come with Luciano whereever he might be going now…but he demurs. She says that she’ll hide out in a local Inn for the next few days before she can find somewhere else to stay. He promises to meet her at the Inn on his way back from doing…whatever it is he is doing next.

Luciano and Hans return to the Inn and relate the how the conversation with Romina went. Stella was not at all impressed with how much information Luciano let slip and thinks it isn’t all that wise to leave Romina unsupervised with all that information. She thinks perhaps it might be wiser to take her with them. Luciano goes back to Romina’s apartment, but she and her son are already gone…and there are signs that she didn’t leave willingly. Hans, using his position as watch commander, has the bright idea of informing the Padua city guard of the kidnapping, ensuring that Romina won’t be able to leave the city openly.

They have a fitful night of sleep with much to think about.

January 4 1429, Wednesday.

In the morning, the crew decides to head off towards Venice with dark thoughts of the fate of Romina. On the way out of the city, they learn that no one matching Romina’s description has left the city. Between Padua and Venice, they pull off the side of the road and Niccolo decides to make a ritual that would allow him to track the whereabouts of Romina. As he draws the energy and begins to warp reality to his ends, something goes terribly wrong and he quickly feels the threads of reality slipping out of his control. The moment before it all goes boom, time stops for everyone but Niccolo. A beautiful woman in a lovely shade of green, clad only in bark appears to him. She is the Lady of the Forest and she sees that he needs her help. She promises to help him out of this predicament, but also to give him power beyond his imaginations…if only he might promise to give himself to her…as she would give herself to him. He asks her how long he would be giving himself to her…and she responds: “Forever.” He doesn’t really ask too many questions about the technicalities of the agreement…he just agrees. And then in an instant, time begins again. The unraveling has stopped and the compass is now working. However, it still cannot find Romina…which means she is either dead, or well hidden.

They continue on to Venice. While there, they find Granina Bambo’s shop shut down. They speak to the maidservant there, and Stella does an expert job in charming her. She learns that Granina has retired to her villa in the Village of the Angels, a bit further down the coast. Further, she gets a bauble that identifies her as someone Granina should speak to. With this information, they head off to the seaside village.

When they arrive, they realize that this is the same village in the paintings they found in Fastello Tozzi’s apartment. However, they aren’t sure where to find the home of Granina Bambo, and the locals are not talkative…valuing privacy. Luciano, uses his lower class status and his charm to expert effect however. He is able to pass himself off as a messenger to the mistress of a local tavern and get not only the location of Granina’s villa, but also a hearty meal!

The crew makes it up to the Villa. Hans plans to sneak into the rear of the Villa while Niccolo, Stella, and Luciano plan to distract her (and put a truth potion into her drink). Granina’s maid (this is the third one of hers the team has met, clearly Granina makes a LOT of money as a seamstress to the rich and famous) at first plans on turning the visitors away, but seeing the baubel invite them in. They are brought to Granina who looks absolutely terrible. She looks as if she’d been crying for days and also she looks freaked out. Stella, Niccolo, and Luciano slip the truth potion into her drink and question her. They learn that she was indeed having an affair with Fastello. They met during one of her trips to create dresses for Amina Albizzi and fell fast in love. He decided to run away with her and leave his other life (including his wife in Padua) behind. They wanted to be subtle about it, so she had been shipping his household goods bit by bit to her villa here in the Village of Angels. She got the last of them (including his boxes of books) this last trip. She, however, was also present when he was murdered. She wasn’t meeting with Amina, as she had told her maid…she was having her affair. She jumped out the window, leaving the three dresses she was altering, and split town immediately. They pressed to find out what she would do for money, but it became clear that she had quite a lot of money of her own…and that she was completely unaware of the gold…that was probably sitting in her basement.

Where Hans was sneaking around going through the boxes stored there. He had bad luck and generally got into every single box but the one with the gold.

The party explained that Fastello was killed for some ledgers that he had, and they are there to return the ledgers. She doesn’t want them and is fine with the group taking them away. She is concerned about what to do now, however. She’s concerned that people will think she has these ledgers and come after her. Stella tells her to continue to act as if nothing happened and no one will suspect her. Stella further says that they’ll retrieve the dresses from the apartment and deliver them to Amina Albizzi to allay any suspicion. Grateful, Granina says she’ll make a wonderful outfit for Stella as a form of thanks.

The crew goes to the basement and finds the crate…which is very heavy. Hans (who comes back in as “help”), Carlo the drover, and Luciano work to life the heavy crate out of the basement (Luciano has to use his strength charm to accomplish the feat). With the crate of gold in the carriage, Luciano releases the carrier pigeon with a message for Anatina telling them that they’ve gotten the gold and they are on their way back to Florence. In order to ensure that they can make it all the way back to Florence in one trip without having to stop in Padua, Stella casts a ritual on the horses speeding them up greatly. They tell Carlo that there is an old wives tale that says if you feed horses grass from the forest they ride faster. He thinks the whole thing is mysterious, but he’s getting paid not to ask too many questions.

They are speeding home…but…as they near Padua, Luciano says he has to go in to meet Romina as he promised he would. Stella is dead set against bringing the gold into Padua. The team debates what to do. In the end Luciano decides to go in alone, and the rest agree to wait for one hour. But if he doesn’t return in one hour, Stella promises they are leaving. So they wait as Luciano goes off to find Romina.

He arrives at the Broken Pitcher Inn, the place she promised to meet him. He knocks on the door of her room, and instead of her, he is confronted with two well dressed thugs who attack him! There is a big fight, and Luciano holds his own…until Romina shoots him in the leg with a crossbow! They clearly want to take Luciano alive…and he clearly doesn’t want to get taken. He is able to fell one foe, but in the end his wounds get the better of him, and he falls unconscious.

The hour passes, and Luciano doesn’t return. The rest of the crew debates what to do. Hans insists that you can’t leave a team member behind. Stella and Niccolo decide if he hasn’t come back, then their first priority it to return the gold. Hans decides to leave the rest of the group and try to rescue Luciano on his own. Stella and Niccolo ride off back towards Florence.

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Season 1 Episode 2: On the Trail

January 2 1429, Sunday.

Sunday morning finds the party off to church, with the rest of Florence. Stella Fiori and Niccolo Russo attend the same neighborhood church, while Luciano Giunnio attends church alone. The service lasts for hours and is completely in Latin. But the music is good, as is the people watching—and the people watching is telling.

Luciano notices that one particular member of the congregation is surreptitiously observing him. He recognizes the man, Rogério, as a the thug who burned his home to the ground oh so many years ago. After the service, Rogério exits the church first. He hides amongst the crowd with the hopes of following Luciano. But Luciano spots him. Rogério realizes he’s been spotted and tries to escape from Luciano. Luciano uses his Bird Talk Charm and calls forth a pigeon. He orders the pigeon to follow Rogério. Rogério, secure that he lost Luciano, travels back to the Albizzi palazzo. Luciano heads off to Anatina Giaconi’s salon to report back and talk to his compatriots.

At the service across town, Niccolo notices a burly man of too low a status sitting in the church he is attending. He then notices that the man is spying on Stella…though not on him. He tries to gesture to Stella, but she doesn’t get what he’s on about. However, when, after the service is over, she can’t find Niccolo, she goes to the tavern on the other side of the piazza and takes a seat. Niccolo watches the man follow Stella into the tavern. He also moves in and joins Stella as if an old friend. He whispers what is going on, and after a while, they decide to exit together and head to the Salon. They don’t particularly try to lose the tail and bring him right to their salon.

The team, with the exception of Hans Wulf who must prepare for the swearing in ceremony and parade the next day, meet and confer. They discuss what happened to them, and Anatina express her displeasure that Stella and Niccolo led the thug to her doorstep. Luciano draws a picture of the thug that followed him and hands it to Anatina to see what she can learn about him. Stella draws a picture of the man who was following him, but the drawing is not specific enough for anyone to recognize him.Speaking of drawings, Stella shows the copy of the drawing from the apartment to Niccolo. Niccolo doesn’t know the seaside town depicted, but can tell that it is: 1) amateur but with good use of perspective, 2) not in Rome or in the Tuscan style. The team thought that maybe Luciano should take the drawing to the monks at the monastery Santa Maria degli Angeli to see if anyone there might recognize the church depicted in the drawing. Before they turn in, Anatina takes the group through a secret door down to a basement chamber which serves as her ritual magical space. There she has Niccolo draw the magical symbols for the ritual, then crafts a protection charm for each of the team. With that the group retires. Well…almost all of them do. Luciano steals away in the middle of the night to Fastello Tozzi’s apartment. There he cuts a swatch of Tozzi’s bloody shirt, which he keeps for later. He bundles up Tozzi’s body in the dead of night, weighs it down with rocks, and then drops the body into the Arno River.

January 3 1429, Monday.

Today is the huge parade of all the new members of the Signoria. They travel through the city, go through a large public swearing in, followed by large public celebrations. Niccolo and Luciano attend the parties in order to survey the political landscape of the city. While, Niccolo surveys the political landscape, Luciano surveys Rinaldo degli Albizzi, his protection, his family and his allies…with revenge in his eyes. Amina Albizzi is present, however she is looking distinctly unhappy for an unknown reason. Niccolo notes, watching who gets sworn in, that the balance of power between the Medici and the Albizzi seems still up in the air.

Over at the Mercato Nuovo, Stella goes to the apartment where Granina Bambo’s stays when she’s in town. She finds the apartment empty save for Bambo’s maid. Stella, who it turns out is quite generous and understanding of the maid’s need for expensive heating oil (to the tune of $200), is able to get quite a bit of information from the maid. She learns that Granina Bambo travels with large stocks of clothing and that in Florence, she is the exclusive seamstress for Amina Albizzi. The maid, after informing Stella that Granina was here with 4 expensive outfits for Amina, notes that Granina and Amina generally spent a lot of time together…more than usual for fittings. This led the maid to believe that perhaps Granina was covering for Amina for something. However, she is concerned that something must have caused a rift between Amina and Granina because Granina ordered everything packed up on Saturday after coming back from a meeting with Amina somewhat disturbed. Granina left Sunday morning for Venice. Stella also learned that Granina was collecting books for someone and shipping them back to Venice. The last thing that Stella got from her brand new friend, was a letter of introduction to Granina Bambo.

The trio reconvenes at the Salon, determined to question Amina about the presumed affair she’s having with Tozzi. They figure the best way to get ahold of her is at the big Albizzi bash happening that evening…which is unfortunately very exclusive. Stella can’t get an invite, but Niccolo comes through and gets an invite from the parent of one of his pupils. They decide to have Niccolo and Stella go as a couple, while Luciano poses as Niccolo’s Valet. But before they do that, Niccolo decides to try some magic of his own. He casts a ritual on the swatch of shirt and one of the nails that Luciano took from the scene of the crime. The ritual allows the caster to see through the eyes of the object.

From the point of view of the shirt, he sees Tozzi stealing the gold bars from the bank and placing them in a crate. Later the shirt sees itself on a chair in the front room of Tozzi’s apartment. Then he sees Tozzi come into the room half dressed from the bedroom, put the shirt on, and then open the door. At the door are the two men who’d been following Stella and Luciano. They question him repeatedly, beat him up repeatedly, then a hard blow from the burly man sends Tozzi backwards…and then he moves no more. The men check the body then move out of vision. The next thing the shirt sees is another set of two men coming in looking and leaving…then the Luciano, Stella, and Hans Wulf coming and going. Then the original duo of Rogério and his accomplice coming back. Lastly, Luciano comes back and cuts into the shirt. The shirt, with that, is destroyed.

From the point of view of the nail, it is in a bag for quite some time. Then it is taken out and falls on the floor. It sees Tozzi building a large crate, then fill it with heavy, heavy bags (perhaps full of gold?), then cover the contents with lots and lots of books from the apartment. That is all the nail sees. At the end of the ritual, the nail oxidizes and turns to rust.

The magical rituals complete, the trio heads off to the Albizzi party. Luciano stays in the kitchens and tries to memorize which valet is connected to which nobleman. The team is worries that they may run into Rogério, though he isn’t there. Stella slips some of Luciano’s truth powder into Amina’s drink and then proceed to tag team her with questioning. Presenting themselves as a couple, Stella does a good job of engaging Amina, who is thoroughly unpleasant. And when the truth powder kicks in, she doesn’t become any more pleasant. The team learns that she ordered four dresses from Granina Bambo, one she wore to the New Year’s Eve party, but sent three back for alterations. She is irritated with Bambo, because not only did Bambo not return the dresses, but wasn’t even in town for their final fitting on Sunday. Amina is not amused. They question her about if she’s having an affair with anyone…but she admits that she isn’t. She has to keep her reputation flawless, especially if she is to land a royal like she wants. The team decides that it wasn’t Amina, but Granina who was probably having the affair with Tozzi. Amina also tells Stella to stay away from the mysterious new Doctor in town, because she is interested in him. They also learn that Rinaldo degli Albizzi has some sort of plans to get the Medici’s, but she doesn’t know what they are, because she doesn’t particularly care. Finally, Amina lets slip that Stella’s mother was murdered, something that Stella didn’t know about. Out of spite, Stella steals 6 golden spoons from the Albizzi household, one of which she gives to Lucianno.

With that, the trio leaves to go home…late at night in the dark. They are set upon by three thieves with batons, an unfortunately common occurrence in nighttime Florence. Luciano activates two charms which increases his strength and dexterity. He dispatches one foe with a blow through the heart with his rapier. The second foe lands a powerful strike at Niccolo’s knee. Niccolo knows the blow was powerful enough to cripple his leg…but instead of the leg being crippled, the rose quarts amulet created for him by Anatina breaks instead. The third foe attacks Stella but misses. Stella tries to stab the man who attacks her, but she, too, misses. Niccolo stabs the man who attacked him in the heart. Luciano brains the last thief and sends him immediately into a coma. The thieves on the ground bleeding and dying, the trio decide to leave them and quickly make their way off back home.

They decide to travel off to Padua and Venice early next morning.

Next Episode: View from the Villa

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Season 1 Episode 1: Prelude and an Introduction...to Murder!
Happy New Year!

Prelude

December 31st 1428, Friday Evening

New Year’s Eve finds the city of Florence on the edge of change. There is excitement in the crisp winter air, and all of the city’s citizens anxiously await what may come. But not all of the citizen’s sit back and wait for change, some actively create it. Four such active citizens are Stella Fiore, Niccolo Russo, Hans Wulf, and Luciano Giunnio—all members of an elite organization: The Order of the Blue Rose, spies and assassins for the up and coming Cosimo de Medici. What are these dashing heroes up to on New Year’s Eve?

Stella Fiore, doctor’s daughter, has been invited to an exclusive New Year’s Eve party hosted by rich and irritating Duti DiBagio. Most of the partygoers are there to see and be seen, especially Albizzi socialite, Amina Albizzi,who is a bitch and mocks Stella and her father for being unimportant. Stella notices the distinctive style of dress worn by the young Albizzi. Stella, however, is there for more than deliciously overspiced food, she is attending the party to poison the host at the request of his wife, Casetta DiBagio. She expertly distracts Duti, who seems to have made his fortune with war profiteering, with flattery so that she is able to swap his wine goblet for one containing poison. When he begins to feel ill, a mysterious young doctor appears and instead of treating him, does things to increase his circulation, thereby ensuring the poison’s effectiveness. This same doctor very stealthily leaves a note in Stella’s wrap with a date and location: a tavern one week from now on a Sunday. Presumably he is aware of her actions. But who is he? Brief questions reveal only that he is new in town and no one really knows him.

-

Niccolo Russo, teacher to the important and also a scribe, spends the evening working in the government offices of the Palazzo della Signoria, copying official deeds and paperwork for some extra money. While there, he notices a few odd things in some property documents. He discovers that there are four families, (Sena, Zanetti, DiLivio, Perfitelli) who all have the same sort of anomaly in their paperwork. In the recent past they all have had their property passed down to somewhat distant relatives who recently arrived in Florence. In all these documents, the new relative who is inheriting the property has a peculiar style of penmanship. It is antiquated, as if all these new heirs were the pupils of the same teacher, and the teacher’s style was current well more than 50 years ago. More research reveals that this same style of writing appears in the documents of these families for at least 100 years, before which the signatures have been deliberately obfuscated.

-

Luciano Giunnio and Konrad “The Fox” (also known as Hans Wulf) have been tasked with obtaining a certain ring, currently in the possesion of a wealthy Mr. Fosco Gobetti. The Gobetti family, and most of the well-to-do families of the neighborhood in which he lives are out celebrating the new year.

Luciano acts as lookout while Hans climbs to the roof of a building adjacent to the Gobetti estate. He leaps across the ally and lands on the roof. Avoiding the guard, Konrad sneaks into the home and begins searching the library.

Meanwhile, outside the Gobetti family is returning. Luciano throws a rock, loudly striking the side of the Gobetti home – the pre-arranged signal for Hans to escape. Luciano then attempts to delay the Gobettis by pretending to be a drunken new year’s reveler wishing the family well. He is immediately suspected of being up to something, and is about to get into serious trouble when he activates an alchemical charm of charisma. This helps him smooth things over. Instead of killing him, the Gobettis and their young son are really taken by him. He is offered a job teaching fencing to the young boy.

These delays give Hans plenty of time to find the ring in a clever false-botton box, and obtain some jewels in the bedroom for himself. Konrad has a very ill feeling when touching the ring. Made of bone, with a cross, it is oddly cold to the touch. But Konrad pockets the ring and makes his way out of the villa. Luciano and Konrad escape without alerting the Gobettis.

-

Introduction…to Murder

January 1st 1429, Saturday

Stella, Hans, Luciano and Niccolo are called to a meeting with their Order of the Blue Rose handler, Anatina Giaconi. She has the agents report in on their various missions from the previous night.

Next she informs them all that 5 million florins worth of gold has gone missing from the Medici bank. The prime suspect is Fastello Tozzi. Fastello was found dead by some agents of the Medicis when they went to question him at his apartment. The agents are tasked with recovering the missing gold before the upcoming tax assessment in approximately one week.

After some discussion, the members of the team decide what to do. Niccolo will go search for any records pertaining to Tozzi, while Luciano, Hans and Stella head to the apartment. Niccolo discovers that Tozzi has worked for Medici here in Florence for 2 years. He is married to an Albizzi, Romina Albizzi. The couple was exiled from Florence to Padua by an ally of the Albizzis. The exile was rescinded on Festa, but not his wife.

Niccolo also engages in some searching on the Zanetti family. They were one of the families with the strange handwriting and property transfers. The recently deceased Deo Zanetti was the crooked Podesta involved in the murder of Luciano’s family eleven years ago. The Zonetti property has been transferred to a Giancarlo Zanetti.

At the apartment, the other members of the crew find that Fastello Tozzi was tortured before being killed, there were many bruises and small burns. There was a lot of blood from minor head wounds and a broken nose, but he was killed by a broken neck. The apartment was tossed. Some strange things were discovered with a thorough search of the place:

-the rear window was open

-the bedroom contained several outfits of fancy women’s clothing, of the same style Stella noticed at her party the night before.

-There was a broken-off heal of this style stuck in the mud outside the open window in the alley.

-The apartment appeared to lack many things – it seemed like the inhabitant was either very spartan or spent much time elsewhere.

-Letters from Tozzi’s wife in Padua revealed that she loved and missed him. She became afraid for her life and suggested that enough money could put her family in power to rescind the exile so that she might be safe with the husband.

-Nails and scrapes on the floor indicate that a heavy crate (possibly with lots of gold) had been in the room.

-Several reccent mediocre paintings of cityscapes signed ‘G’.

Stella was able to bring some of the fancy clothes to a fine seamstress, Prada Tucci, and was able (with some fantastic acting) to identify the maker: A Venitian named Granina Bambo. She is employed in Florence Exlusively by Amina Albizzi – the one Stella saw at the party. She discovered that Bambo is currently in Florence in a hotel off of the Piazza of the Mercato Nuovo.

Next Episode: On the Trail!

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