“Your support is almost as valuable as your becoming one of us. But can’t we persuade you, old friend?”

“No, Ezio. Besides, I am leaving.”

“Leaving? Where are you going?”

“I shall return to Milan, and then I am going to Amboise.”

“To France?”

“They say it is a noble country. It is there I choose to end my days.”

Ezio spread his hands. “Then we must let you go, old friend.” He paused. “This, then, is a parting of the ways.”

“How so?” asked Leonardo.

“I am returning to Florence,” replied Machiavelli. “My work there is far from done.” He winked at Ezio. “And I still have that book to write.”

“What will you call it?”

Machiavelli looked levelly at Ezio. “The Prince,” he replied.

“Send Claudia back to me.”

“I will. She misses Rome, and you know she’ll support you as long as you continue your work as Mentor of the Brotherhood.”

Machiavelli glanced at the water clock.

“It is time.”

The three men rose as one and embraced each other solemnly.




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