The 5 months I spent recovering from the wounds I had got from falling from that building were the saddest, most painful, and specially, the most boring months of my life. I don't remember anything from the first two months, except seeing the doctor's long, white, beaked mask hovering over me like a ghostly bird, telling me things I couldn't hear. I spent most of that time unconscious. It wasn't until I woke up and felt the excruciating pain on my healing bones that I knew I was still alive, but the other three months made me wonder if it had been worth it to live after all.
Melina was the one who explained to me what had happened. The doctor said I had broken all the bones in my right arm by falling on top of it, and I had fractured my skull in three places. She said Gigi was so pale she thought he was going to faint, and that she had even seen his eyes water as if he was about to cry. She did cry, and so did Celia, and most of the other thieves I believe. I wanted to cry, too, but I couldn't. I was just too exhausted and sore to do it. During the months of my slow recovery it was hard for me to eat, since the slightest movement caused terrible nausea. I lost the few pounds I had earned with so much trouble and a couple more. The doctor explained it was a side effect of the skull fractures, but apparently I had been "lucky" and he considered it "awesome" that I was having "such a quick and easy recovery". If I had been able to, I would've punched him in the face so hard the beak of his mask would've turned inside out. When I was finally able to get back on my feet, I looked as malnourished as I did when I first put my feet in Rome and I couldn't use my right arm. It took a few weeks before I could walk normally, but I eventually was able to move again. Gigi taught me to use my left hand to write, to use the knife, and that made me feel better, but as soon as I discovered I couldn't even bear to stand on a chair after my accident without bursting into tears and wailing in fear made me feel even worse.
The sequels of my accident seemed to be unending and made me feel more and more miserable as I discovered them. Apart from my brand new phobia of heights, I found out that my arm started hurting when it rained or when the weather was cold; strong lights, especially the sunlight, gave me terrible headaches. I'd always had trouble concentrating on one thing for a long time, but that had become worse, and I forgot things easily. My eyesight didn't seem so good anymore either. Some of these problems are still persisting, to this day, actually. I couldn't use my hands or steal, and I couldn't climb rooftops. I could no longer be a thief.
And more important-I could never be an Assassin, now. The thought depressed me so much I lost a couple more pounds. Gigi and the others kept trying to make me feel better, but I felt so useless and pathetic I didn't even bother pretending they were helping. I couldn't stand the idea of staying with the Thieves another day if I couldn't be one of them. They had been the closest thing to family Ive had since I had left Saint-Malo.
A few months after I finished recovering, when I was sulking in a corner of our hideout, while the others were outside enjoying the sunny day, Gigi brought a woman dressed in red and introduced her to me as Madam Irene. She was a tall, redheaded woman, with smooth skin and intense eyes, and seeing the way she walked through the door made me forget my problems for a second. She seemed beautiful to me, and kind as a mother-that is, if I had actually known what the love of a mother was like. She explained she was the owner of a Brothel, Il Fiore del Male. At this point of the conversation I turned to Gigi, interrogating him with a look. He seemed as uncomfortable and sad as me at the moment. Until that moment, I had never once thought of... well, sex. I was still as much of a virgin in both mind and body as I was when I had left my homeland and didn't have intention or interest to change that. And all of a sudden I was in front of a woman who sold her body for money. If my mind hadn't been so dull because of the pain and the depression, I would've gotten scared or angry at both of them. But Irene's voice was soothing, and her words gentle.
She explained that if I wanted I could go live at the brothel. It turned out that, Irene, like Gigi, picked up young women on the streets to feed them and give them a job. In her case the job was a little different, but the principle was the same. She said I didn't even need to be a courtesan; that I could be a maid or a cook-but I didn't want to hear more. I told her I'd work for her immediately, without even flinching. I just couldn't stand it anymore, staying with the thieves and not being able to share with them all the things that used to make me so happy.
I said goodbye to my thief friends that night. Many of them cried, and I had to make an effort not to cry too, which was only symbolic, because as soon as Gigi came to me and gave me a beautiful, yet simple knife, promising that things would get better, I burst into tears. The knife was and still is my most treasured weapon, along with my father's sword.
I didn't think of how kind Irene had actually been to take me in until I got to the brothel and was introduced to the other girls, who surrounded me with looks filled with curiosity and pity. When I saw myself in the mirror though, I couldn't blame them. I had lost so much weight. I had the same weak, ghostly appearance as Gigi; and that, combined to the fact the doctor almost had to literally shave my head completely to be able to repair my broken skull and my hair was still very short, gave me the appearance of a malnourished 14 year old boy. I had to do my best to keep myself from crying again at the sight. But Irene quickly comforted me.
"It'll be hard, but we'll make it" she assured me, smiling as she wiped my tears with her handkerchief. "You're a long-term project, but we have good prime matter: nice skin, a pretty face, and beautiful eyes." She seemed so positive I could only smile back, the first smile I had cracked in months. My life at the brothel would be hard, but I had been through so many things already it didn't seem so terrible. And Irene's presence definitely made it much better.
She put me in the same room as a young girl in training, Alina, who had been picked up from the street just a week ago. Alina was like a little mouse-sweet, easily scared, and quiet. We were about the same age, but she seemed younger because of her demeanor. We were different, but the things we went through together made us close, and our friendship hasn't weakened with the years.
It took Irene 3 months to give me back the pounds I had lost, and other three for my hair to grow back to its usual length. She gave Alina the task of taking good care of it, combing it and grooming it until it became a bright golden mane. In the hours we spent with other girls, talking and learning the secrets of our profession, I learned to smile again. My mind slowly started to heal from all I had been through and soon I started to be myself again. Irene was delighted-since my body wasn't as voluptuous as the other girls', my best asset would be my personality, and having a sociable, cheery character was essential for the business. She gave me a green and gold brocade dress, like the ones the other girls at the brothel wore. I felt pretty for the first time I had left Saint-Malo; the dress matched my hair and my eyes perfectly. The life of the brothel also gave me back my enthusiasm for music and party. My first months at the brothel were, actually, basically just that- a party - A happy prelude of the bittersweet years to come.
My first time happened 7 months after I got to the brothel. I was 19 at the time, and even though Irene had taught me everything and the other girls had given precious advice, I was still scared of what would happen. I had the fortune to have a good friend of the thieves guild as my first, but I still was so nervous I could barely eat anything in all day after Irene told me it was time that I lost my virginity and started working.
The guy's name was Tulio. He had been a good friend to me, and for months he'd been specially sweet, which had been a little confusing for me until Celia explained he had a crush on me (she also had to explain what "having a crush" meant). I was pretty relieved when Irene told me he'd been the one who had bought my virginity, because I was sure he wouldn't hurt me, and I was right. I had never been interested in being more than friends with him, and he understood that. Tulio was gentle and patient; we both laughed as we used to at my awkward first mistakes, and he did his best to make my first time as pleasing as possible. And when he left the next morning, he just kissed me on the cheek as he always did when I was another thief-an innocent kiss, like the one of a brother to a sister. I felt happy, because I had passed my baptism of fire successfully-but also slightly sad and nervous, because I had finally quit on the dreams I had left my homeland for. With that last trial I had turned my back to the life I had known and the one I had expected to have one day.
I would no longer be an Assassin. I was a courtesan, and probably would die being one.
At this point I feel the need to make a small pause to explain certain things. You might be asking yourself, "How on Earth did you manage to become an Assassin after all that?" I admit it's hard to imagine that my life could take another unexpected twist when I was working as a courtesan, which is a relatively simple life. You pretty much just lay down, open your legs and wait until it's over, then take your money and wait for it to happen again. Sure, courtesans arent' safe-no matter how expensive they are, a courtesan is exposed to all kinds of danger: illness, abuse, drugs, alcohol. But still, people assume that when a woman decides to sell her body she's lost all opportunity. Their families, if they have any, won't have them back; and she probably will die of illness before she gets enough money to retire.
I did find a way out though, in the most unexpected way. As you might've noticed, my luck has the habit of turning around completely when I least expect it, and it didn't disappoint me this time. Our tenet says that "Nothing is True, Everything is Permited" and I like to think it means that nothing is definitive and change is always possible, no matter how low you've fallen, because that's how things happened for me.