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.
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!