Chapter 2

“Could he be the devil?”

That was the last thought on the Hun soldier’s mind as blood poured from his wound. Very soon, he would experience a blurring of vision, and his labored breathing would grind to a halt.

He had not expected death. Not today. Not when he was tasked by his commander with the simple mission of combing a small village for anything worth looting. Not when the Huns were now the superior fighting unit in Europe, having replaced the Goths as the most fearsome warriors in Europe. It really was a piece of cake, considering all the battles that he had braved.

But in the turbulent world of today, things happened in a flash. And not always for a reason.

For one, he did not think he would meet the fierce resistance of an old woman, who refused to part with her belongings.

And he certainly did not anticipate that a tall, skinny young man with blonde hair, and dabbed in dirty garments, would come to her aid either. His was a baby-looking face, handsome with distinctive features, but not one to be associated with an accomplished fighter.

On hindsight, maybe there was something about the man that should have pricked his wariness.

A certain serenity and calmness in the way he carried himself.

Not exactly what you would expect from a person facing impending doom.
“Hey, if you are looking for death, let me grant you your wish,” shouted the Hun, as he raised his weapon.

The blonde man either did not hear the remark, or chose to ignore him. At the last moment, when the Hun’s sword was about to reach him, he moved his body deftly away with a quick shuffle of feet, such that the blade pierced only thin air. Then he withdrew his own sword, and slashed it upwards towards the Hun’s face, making a sharp and crisp incision right across the center of the enemy’s head.

No, he was not the devil.

His name was Renzo Francesco.

It was his father who gave him his name. But it was his Celtic mother whom he was more attached to. He could not remember exactly how she looked like, other than that she was very beautiful, for she had passed away when he was a mere boy of seven years old. Nevertheless, he had very good memories of her. He recalled that she had always loved him and cared for him. Of whatever little food that they had, she would always give it to him, even when she was starving. Eventually, when she failed to wake up after a dreadfully cold night, he had cried for days on end, refusing to leave her dead body.  

His mother had affectionately called him Ren. But for three years after her death, no one else ever called him by name. No one else knew his name. If he was spotted by anyone scavenging for whatever was edible, he would be shooed away with shouts of ‘kid’ or ‘boy’. He was just a nobody, a lost soul in the wilderness.

That was until he met a man. An elderly senior with wrinkles and graying hair, but with penetrating eyes that appeared to tell of a thousand emotions. Ren could never fully work out his thoughts, even after seven years under his tutelage. But over time, he had taken a strong liking for the older man. He was almost like a father to him. The father that he had always wanted. But whom he never had.
Sadly, this person was no longer around. Death had claimed him. He was a splendid exponent of true talent and pure artistry. But he did not pass on naturally. He had met his end tragically and unjustifiably. And after his untimely demise, his remains were torn apart by hungry wolves.

That was years ago. That was the last time Ren heard his name being called.

Nevertheless, all of these were history.

From now onwards, Ren would take on a new identity.
Of what, he would only know a fortnight later, when he became known by the Romans as The Assassino.

Did he like the name? No.

But he could not care less.

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Read Chapter 3