This is an excerpt from a completed screenplay.

       "Dark Renaissance" - screenplay by Derek Paterson.

       FADE IN:


       A dozen gleaming bronze cannons, attended by SOLDIERS in
       black uniforms.  An OFFICER brings his sword down.  BOOOOM!
       Flames and smoke erupt from the cannons.

       EXT. TOWN - DAY

       The narrow streets are jammed with weary SOLDIERS in green
       uniforms.  The WHISTLE of incoming cannonballs make the
       Soldiers looks up in alarm.


       Dark, dirty, filled with wounded, moaning SOLDIERS waiting
       their turn under the knife.  EXPLOSIONS rock the building,
       dust falls from the ceiling, the Soldiers cough and choke.

       The blood-spattered SURGEON works on a gasping PATIENT who
       is held down by two strong ASSISTANTS.  Blood spurts.  The
       Patient shudders and lets out his final breath.

                 Take him away.  Bring the next

       The Assistants carry the dead Patient away.  The Surgeon
       signals to a YOUNG BOY who hurries forward with a wooden
       stool.  The Boy climbs onto the stool, undoes his flies,
       and pisses over the Surgeon's bloody hands.

       The Assistants return carrying an unconscious SOLDIER whose
       head is swathed in bloody bandages.

                 No, no no!  How often must I tell
                 you, no head wounds!  It's hopeless.
                 Put him with the others.  He's in
                 God's hands now.

       The Assistants carry Head-wound Soldier away.


       FIVE SOLDIERS lie on the floor, wounded, dying.  The
       Assistants carry Head-wound Soldier inside.

                             ASSISTANT #1
                 Poor buggers.  Left here to die.

       They dump Head-wound Soldier as if he's a sack of potatoes.
       Assistant #1 keeps watch at the door while Assistant #2
       goes through Head-wound Soldier's pockets.

                             ASSISTANT #2
                 Not much here.  Cheap bastard.

       They exit, closing the door.  Seconds pass.

       Head-wound Soldier pushes himself up onto his elbow and
       looks around, confused.  He stands up, sways, staggers to
       the window.  He throws the shutters open wide.  Sunlight
       dazzles him, he throws his arm over his eyes.

       The sunbeams touch two dying Soldiers.  Ghostly spirits
       rise out of their bodies and travel up the sunbeams.

       Seeing this, Head-wound Soldier crosses himself.

       A third dying Soldier SCREAMS and claws at the air as if
       he's being attacked.  He shudders and dies, his terrified
       expression etched into his face for eternity.

       Head-wound Soldier unravels his bloody head bandage, lets
       it fall to the floor.  He kneels, bows his head, clasps
       his hands, and prays.


       Light spills from windows, illuminating a uniformed GUARD
       carrying a spear, who patrols the gardens.

       Behind him, unseen, three MEN dressed all in black climb
       over the wall and drop silently into bushes.

       The Guard stops.  Listens.  Frowns.  A second later he's
       dead, a thrown KNIFE sticking out of his throat!

       The three Men run past his body, toward the villa.


       A distinguished-looking NOBLEMAN sits at his desk reading
       papers.  He looks up -- did he just hear something?

       The study door swings open.  The Nobleman GASPS and reaches
       into a desk drawer for a flintlock pistol.  A thrown KNIFE
       splits his heart!  He collapses over his desk, dead.


       Crimson sunset paints the sky.

       A COACH thunders along the road, its six horses frothing.


       A pretty girl with too much makeup, MANUELLA, wearing a
       purple and yellow striped dress, is approached by a TALL
       MAN wearing black cloak and hat that hides his features.

       His gloved hand opens, revealing coins.  Manuella's eyes
       widen with greed.  She checks no one is looking, snatches
       the coins, takes his hand and leads him into the alleyway.

       A secluded spot.  She unties her bodice, pulls it open.
       Her ripe young melons bounce in the blood-red sunset.  She
       smiles at her customer, offering herself to him.

       Her smile changes to terror in an instant.  She opens her
       mouth to scream -- his gloved hand covers her face, thrusts
       her back against the wall.  THUD!  A sickening impact.

       Manualla's eyes roll and she slides down the wall, leaving
       a smear of blood.

       The gloved hand reaches beneath the black cloak, and pulls
       out a surgeon's saw.


       Cobblestones and lemon trees.  A pouting mermaid statue
       perches atop a dry fountain in the middle of the square.

       On one side of the square, the MERMAID TAVERNA, a hotel.

       On the other side, behind a high iron fence, a cemetery.

       Three young gentlemen lurk among trees near the cemetery
       gate.  NICCOLO, serious, their leader.  POGGIO, cool and
       casual.  ALFONSO, anxious and sweating.

                 It's getting late.

       Poggio inspects his fingernails.

                 There's plenty of time till curfew.

                 We must begone before the City
                 Guard comes.

                 Have patience, Alfonso.

       Alfonso glances at the sea of tombstones behind them.

                 I've heard people say they've seen
                 ghosts moving about in there.
                 Lost souls, doomed to wander the


       Three SOLDIERS appear through an archway.  They stagger a
       little, laughing and slapping each other on the back.

                 They might report us to the City
                 Guard.  To Sergenté Figlio.

                 If you keep your trap shut, they
                 won't even know we're here.

       A Soldier sits down on the fountain wall, pulls off his
       boot, shakes it to get rid of a stone.

       A CLATTER of hooves and wheels as the coach pulls into the
       square.  It stops in front of the Mermaid Taverna.  The
       DRIVER climbs down, opens the door.

                 Florenz!  Welcome to Florenz!

       A huge MAN flies out of the coach and lands face-down in
       the dust!  THE PASSENGER is very overweight and very drunk.

       The Soldiers gape and point.  The Passenger groans and
       tries to push himself up, but flops back down.

                 What's going on?

                 He fell out of the coach.  Looks
                 like somebody's been drinking.

       Soldier #1 tries to help the Passenger up.  The Passenger
       pushes him away.  Soldier #1 angrily kicks The Passenger,
       who moans.  The Driver tries to intervene but Soldier #1
       draws his sword.  The Driver backs off.

                 Virgin Mother, they're going to
                 kill him!

                 Not our problem.

       The other two Soldiers lift The Passenger up.  Soldier #1
       draws circles in the air with his sword.  The Driver tries
       to intervene again but Soldier #1 chases him away.

       Alfonso nervously looks around.  He takes a step closer to
       Niccolo and lifts his hand as if to touch his shoulder--

       Abruptly Alfonso turns and runs down an alleyway at full
       speed.  Niccolo is surprised, Poggio is disgusted.

                 We're better off without that
                 coward.  Why did you bring him

                 He hates Di Castellano as much as
                 we do.

                 I truly doubt that.

       Niccolo takes a step forward but Poggio grabs his arm.

                 This isn't why we're here.

                 They're going to cut him up.  You
                 ought to remember how that feels.

       Poggio touches a livid pink scar that runs down his face.

                 Yes I do, thank you.  You're a
                 good and brave man, Niccolo, which
                 is why I count myself lucky to be
                 numbered among your friends.  But
                 there are times when wisdom and
                 prudence must overrule the heart.

                 Damn you, Poggio--

       A handsome YOUNG MAN emerges from the coach.  We shall
       know him as PIETRO SFORZA.  He jumps down lightly, draws
       his sword and engages Soldier #1 whose sword spins into
       the fountain.

                 I should be obliged if you would
                 unhand my friend.  He is a little
                 worse for drink, I fear.

       The Soldiers drop The Passenger, draw their swords and
       attack Sforza.  He parries and stabs their arms.  They
       drop their swords and stagger back.

                 Pick up your toothpicks and go.

       The Soldiers snatch up their swords and run away.  Sforza
       pulls out a handkerchief, wipes his sword clean, slips it
       back into his scabbard.

                 Did you see that?  He could just
                 as easily have killed them.

                 He looks younger than I expected.

                 That's what clean living will do
                 for you.  You ought to try it

       They cross the Square.  Sforza kneels and tries to stir
       The Passenger but it's no good, he's out cold, SNORING.
       Sforza looks up as Niccolo and Poggio approach.

                 Signor, I am Niccolo De Aqua.
                 This is my friend, Poggio Di Medici.
                 Allow us to assist you, please.

                 I should be most grateful.

       Poggio nudges Niccolo.  Four CITY GUARDSMEN are about to
       enter the Square.

                 We should go inside.  The curfew
                 is strictly enforced.

       Between them they lift The Passenger and carry him into
       the Mermaid Taverna.


       Tables and chairs, a stone fireplace.  Stairs go up to
       guest rooms, a door leads into the kitchen.

       Niccolo and friends squeeze inside and sit The Passenger
       down in a chair.  The old innkeeper, VITO BARCA, greets
       Niccolo warmly.

                             VITO BARCA
                 Signor De Aqua, always a pleasure.

       He glances at Poggio and his pleasure turns sour.

                 My friends from out of town seek
                 lodging for the night, Vito.

                             VITO BARCA
                 For friends of Signor De Aqua,
                 only ten lire for each room.

                 I shall pay you now.

       Niccolo opens his purse.

                 I'm afraid I can't allow that.

                 I'm afraid I must insist.  I cannot
                 have you thinking that Florenz is
                 populated by uncouth savages.

       They smile.  Sforza bows.

                 I accept your most gracious

                 Vito, can you see that our friend
                 gets to his room?

       Barca claps his hands and shouts.  His THREE SONS come
       downstairs, all big strong teenage boys.

                             VITO BARCA
                 Take this man to the empty front
                 room.  Be careful!

       They heave The Passenger up and stagger toward the stairs.

                             VITO BARCA
                 They'll see to him, never worry.
                 Do you wish supper, Signor De Aqua?

                 Thank you, Vito.

       Money changes hands, Barca exits to the Kitchen.

                 Don't we need a room too?

                 I think if I ask very nicely, Signor
                 Barca will allow us to sleep down
                 here tonight.

                 Such luxury.

                 If you hadn't dueled with his nephew
                 last year--

                 It wasn't my fault.

                 You cut off his ear!

                 I apologized, what more do you
                 want?  Must we stay here?

                 You'd rather spend a night in the
                      (to Sforza)
                 Your arrival in Florenz was an
                 eventful one, Signor.  I compliment
                 you on your mastery of the blade.

                 It was a nothing.  These fools had
                 drunk too much wine.

                 You weren't to know that.  Which
                 makes your deed a brave one.

                 The coach was late tonight.

                 We were stopped outside the city.

       Barca brings a bottle and TWO glasses.  He exits.  Niccolo
       pours, offers a glass to Sforza.  They salute each other
       and drink.  Niccolo enjoys Poggio's envious look.


                 By men wearing uniforms just like

       Sforza indicates the Guardsmen passing through the Square.

                 The City Guard stopped you?  Why?

                 Searching for contraband, they
                 said.  They also checked our travel

       THUMPS AND BANGS from above.

                 I told them my friend...

       He looks up at the ceiling as the BANGING gets louder.

                 ...was also from Vienna.  They
                 accepted this.  There was a third
                 passenger.  They took him away.

                 Was Giovanni there?

                 The soldiers were led by a hulking
                 brute with eyes like hot coals.

                 Sergenté Figlio.  The Conté's right-
                 hand man.

                 His prize bull, you mean.  He--

       A beautiful young woman, MADONNA MARIA, enters carrying a
       tray.  She wears a simple black dress and sandals.  Niccolo
       can't take her eyes off her.

       She sets the tray down and offloads three steaming bowls
       of stew and crusty bread.  As she heads back to the Kitchen
       she glances over her shoulder at Niccolo.

                 Who on earth is she?

       Poggio sits down and eats.

                 Nice of her to bring me some too.

                 How do you know it isn't poisoned?

                 It tastes too good.

       More BANGING and SHOUTING from upstairs.

                      (to Sforza)
                 Evidently your friend does not
                 like his room.

       Madonna Maria stands by the Kitchen door.  She speaks to
       Barca in the Kitchen but her gaze stays fixed on Niccolo.

                 She's making it a little obvious,
                 isn't she?  You're in there, my

                 I've never seen a star falling
                 from the heavens before.  I should
                 imagine that's what one looks like.

                 I suppose she is attractive, in a
                 peasant way.

       Poggio grins at Niccolo's scowl.

       Barca heads for the stairs, but stops as The Passenger
       comes charging downstairs.  The Passenger sees Sforza,
       stops on the stairway, points back upstairs--

       He loses his balance, CRASHING onto a table and flattening
       it.  TINKLING GLASS among the deafening noise.

       Sforza hurries and kneels beside him.  The Passenger GROANS
       once.  Barca's sons come downstairs, Barca listens to their
       babbled explanations, lots of gestures and shrugs.

                 Perhaps we should help?

                 I'm not carrying him back upstairs.

                 Signor Barca can't very well throw
                 him out, can he?  The curfew.

                 He could have him arrested for
                 wrecking the place.

       Barca approaches their table.

                             VITO BARCA
                 Signor De Aqua, what am I to do?
                 The man is an enraged bull in a

                 I will pay for any damages, Vito.

                 Try breaking a bottle over his

       Barca glares at Poggio, and snatches his spoon.

                             VITO BARCA
                 Signor De Aqua, I ask for your
                 assistance.  I have other guests
                 to think of.  I have no wish to
                 have the gentleman arrested.

       Niccolo becomes aware of Madonna Maria's attention.  He
       dabs his lips, rises and joins Sforza.

                 How is he?

                 Fetch a doctor.

       Niccolo hurries to the front door, wrenches it open.

                 Ho, the Guard!  To me!

       Footsteps echo.  The same Guardsmen who passed through the
       Square come running.  Led by CORPORALÉ MONTI.

                             CORPORALÉ MONTI
                 Who summons the Guard?

                 A man has been injured in a fall.
                 We need a doctor.

                             CORPORALÉ MONTI
                 Do we look like messengers?

                 What is your name?

                             CORPORALÉ MONTI
                 Corporalé Monti.

                 The injured man is an important
                 noble from Vienna.  If he dies
                 there may be political
                 repercussions.  If so, I shall
                 personally present your name to
                 the Conté.

                             CORPORALÉ MONTI
                      (to a Guardsman)
                 Go to Doctor Visconti's house.
                 Ask him to attend.  Quickly, now.

       The Guardsman runs off.  Niccolo closes the door on Monti
       and rejoins Sforza and Barca.

                 Doctor Visconti will be here soon.

                 It's too late for that.

       Sforza removes The Passenger's cloak and covers his face.

                 But I heard him moan.

                 I think that must have been his
                 spirit leaving his body.

       Sforza goes to the table, pours himself a glass of wine
       and throws it back.

                             VITO BARCA
                 This is terrible, simply terrible.

                 I am sorry, Vito.  No one had any
                 idea this would happen.

                             VITO BARCA
                 I accept this is not your fault,
                 Signor De Aqua.  There is no need
                 for you to apologize.

       Madonna Maria herds Barca's sons into the Kitchen.  Niccolo
       can't keep his eyes off her, and she knows it.  He speaks
       just a little too loudly, perhaps to impress her--

                 I said I would pay for damages.
                 If the gentleman lacks sufficient
                 coin to pay for a funeral, I'll
                 cover that also.

                             VITO BARCA
                 You are a good and kind man, Signor
                 De Aqua.

       Madonna Maria vanishes into the Kitchen.

                 I hope this unfortunate accident
                 will not upset your daughter.

                             VITO BARCA
                 My daughter?  Ah, Madonna Maria.
                 My wife's sister's child.

       He looks around cautiously, lowers his voice--

                             VITO BARCA
                 It takes more than a corpse to
                 upset Madonna Maria!  Did I tell
                 you my wife's family comes from
                 Corsica?  They are a rough lot.
                 There's been fighting going on
                 since the French invaded, which is
                 why Madonna Maria is staying with

                 Ah, she is a victim of the conflict,
                 poor thing.

                             VITO BARCA
                 Hmm, yes, and no.  The French put
                 a price on her head after she
                 filletted one of their officers,
                 who dared lay his hands upon her
                 virgin chastity.

                 Filletted?  You mean she...?

       Barca draws a finger across his throat.

                             VITO BARCA
                 A terrible thing, but her honor
                 demanded satisfaction.  He got off
                 lightly, if Madonna Maria's brothers
                 had got their hands on him, he
                 would have suffered a thousand
                 agonies.  The Corsicans do not
                 take kindly to strangers molesting
                 their women.  Her family misses
                 her, of course, but we treat Madonna
                 Maria as if she were our own

       The front door opens and CAPITANO GIOVANNI enters.  As
       dangerous as he is handsome.  We wears a feathered hat and
       gold braid on his jacket sleeves.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Signor De Aqua.  What a pleasant

       But it's a lie.  Giovanni is their enemy, as is evident by
       the way they watch each other.  Giovanni walks over to The
       Passenger and lifts the cloak.

       Poggio grips his sword handle but Niccolo shakes his head,
       no!  They look at Sforza.  Sforza just sits there.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Perhaps someone would be kind enough
                 to tell me what happened?

                 He fell downstairs.  He was drunk.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Ah.  Then he is a guest?
                      (to Barca)
                 He has signed your book?

                             VITO BARCA
                 Not strictly speaking, Capitano.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 What does that mean?

                 The gentleman arrived on the Bologna
                 coach.  I asked Signor Barca to
                 arrange a room for the him.  He
                 was in no fit state to negotiate
                 for himself.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 How did he get upstairs?

                             VITO BARCA
                 My sons helped him to his room.

                 He came charging downstairs before
                 anyone could stop him.  Perhaps
                 there was something about the room
                 he did not like?

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Show me the room.

       Barca escorts Giovanni upstairs.  Niccolo and Poggio quickly
       sit down on either side of Sforza, who is puzzled.

                 Now you've seen the opposition.
                 If Giovanni goes down, the rest
                 will fall like wooden skittles.

                 We'll deal with the Conté Di
                 Castellano ourselves.  You don't
                 have to get involved if your Guild
                 wants you to avoid political

                 Ten thousand lire for one night's
                 work.  That's a fair price for
                 your skills, Signor Sforza, don't
                 you agree?

       Sforza throws his head back and LAUGHS.  Niccolo and Poggio
       are bewildered.

                 Gentlemen, suddenly everything
                 becomes clear.

       Sforza goes to The Passenger and pulls back the cloak.

                 My friends, allow me to present to
                 you, Signor Pietro Sforza of

       He lets the cloak fall.

                 Myself, I am Angelo Cavalcanti, an
                 exporter of rare silks from the
                 city of Venice.  I fear you have
                 us confused.  If I have done or
                 said anything to compound this
                 mistake then I apologize

       From this moment on, the man we have known as "Sforza"
       becomes "Cavalcanti" which is his real name.

                 That can't be Sforza.  You're lying.

                 I would that it were so, my friend,
                 because your need is clear to me
                 now.  But I assure you, I am who I
                 say I am.  And this, alas, is the
                 famous swordsman whose skills you
                 wished to hire.  I recognized his
                 name the moment he introduced
                 himself, when he boarded the coach
                 in Bologna.

                 But he's an old man.

                 He had an unceasing appetite for
                 wine, food and women.  He boasted
                 of such on our journey here.  He
                 also told me he was about to pick
                 up a contract that would allow him
                 to retire somewhere on the coast.

                 A ten thousand lire contract...

                 Just so.  Which, I now realize, is
                 why he did not wish to reveal
                 himself to the soldiers who stopped
                 the coach.

       Cavalcanti picks up his wine glass.

                 To Signor Sforza.  May his soul
                 find its way to Paradisio.

       He empties the glass.  Niccolo and Poggio suffer depression.
       The man they hired to vanquish their enemies lies dead on
       the floor of the Mermaid Taverna.

                 Tell me, was he still the bladesman
                 of legend?

                 Oh, yes.  The coach driver told me
                 that only last week, a Prussian
                 swordmaster came looking for Sforza.
                 Four members of the Bologna City
                 Guard tried to arrest the Prussian.
                 He slaughtered them like ducks.
                 But then he met Pietro Sforza!
                 The driver said Sforza took the
                 Prussian apart.  Removed his silver
                 coat buttons, one by one.  Cut off
                 his ears, his nose, his fingers.
                 Oh yes, Sforza was still the
                 bladesman of legend.  I dare say
                 he would have made your Capitano
                 Giovanni look like a child with a
                 wooden sword.  Alas, he is no more.
                 A great pity.  I liked him.

       A Guardsman opens the door and DOCTOR VISCONTI enters,
       black coat, a shock of white hair, a black leather bag.

                             DOCTOR VISCONTI
                 Who is unwell?

                 You may guess.

       Visconti kneels down and examines The Passenger.

                             DOCTOR VISCONTI
                 This man is dead!

                 That's what we thought.

                             DOCTOR VISCONTI
                 Capitano Giovanni must be informed.

                 He already knows.  He's upstairs.

                             DOCTOR VISCONTI
                 Ah, wonderful, wonderful.  Then I
                 can return to my pursuits.

       Visconti looks at them suspiciously, as if he's said too
       much.  He heads for the door, but stops and looks back
       over his shoulder.  He grins wickedly.

                             DOCTOR VISCONTI
                 I would suggest that whoever shot
                 him gets rid of the weapon
                 immediately.  Otherwise the Capitano
                 is likely to lock you up and throw
                 away the key!  Haaaahaha!

       Visconti exits.  Niccolo, Poggio and Cavalcanti exchange
       puzzled looks.

       Niccolo moves to the stairs.  He stands where The Passenger
       stood before he fell.  He hurries over to the window.
       Glass fragments CRUNCH underfoot.  He looks up.  There's a
       hole in the glass near the top of the window.

       HIS POV - the window looks across the Square at the sea of
       cemetery stones.  And the tall Cathedral beyond.

       Niccolo joins the dots -- the bullet hole, The Passenger.

       Poggio pulls him away from the window.

                 What are you doing?

                 Let's not tempt Fate.  Whoever's
                 out there might not be finished

       Giovanni comes downstairs.  Barca follows, looking worried.

                 Doctor Visconti paid us a visit
                 while you were upstairs, Capitano.

       Giovanni studies the body... then he moves to the window.
       Inspects the hole, the broken glass, looks at The Passenger.

                 Visconti said he was shot.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Of course he was shot!  How could
                 I not have noticed?  The question
                 is, who aimed the weapon and pulled
                 the trigger?

                 Perhaps if you ordered your men to
                 search the cemetery, you might
                 discover the answer to these

       Giovanni gives Poggio a dark look before he exits, slamming
       the door.  Outside, Giovanni issues orders to his Guardsmen.
       They head for the cemetery, their lanterns bobbing.

                 Virgin Mother, will someone please
                 tell me what is going on here?

       The Guardsmen climb over the locked gates and spread out
       between the tombstones, weaving like fireflies.

                 Whoever shot Sforza must have been
                 waiting in the cemetery.  He
                 couldn't get a clear shot in the
                 Square because of us.

                 Giovanni's men could search all
                 night, but they will not find him.
                 Because he is one of them.

                 This is beyond belief.

                 Welcome to Florenz, my friend.

       Niccolo hurries upstairs leaving Poggio and Cavalcanti


       Niccolo nudges a door open with his foot.


       A curtain moves, disturbed by a breeze.  Niccolo finds a
       hole in the window glass.

       He examines the wall opposite the window.  He digs something
       out with his fingernails, and holds it up.  A lead ball.

       He looks out the window.  Sforza's room overlooks the
       cemetery.  Lanterns flit between the tombstones.


       Niccolo comes downstairs.

                 Find anything interesting?

       Niccolo shows them the bullet he dug out the wall.

                 The marksman took a shot at Sforza
                 in his room.  That's why he came
                 charging down.  He was trying to
                 warn us.

       Cavalcanti marches toward the door.  Poggio only just
       manages to stop him.

                 What are you trying to do, get
                 yourself killed?

                 Let go of me.

                 Listen to him, my friend.  The
                 reason we sought Sforza's services
                 must be obvious to you.  Giovanni
                 is a devil in human form.  As good
                 as you are, you're no match for
                 his sword.  He'll kill you.

       Cavalcanti's anger leaves him, sanity returns.

                 It is easy to see who has good on
                 their side, and who serves a darker

                 It's not just Giovanni.  It's the
                 Conté Di Castellano too.

                 I do not know this man.

                 The Conté took power from the City
                 Council last year.  Things have
                 gotten steadily worse.

                 First it was this trumped-up war
                 with Milano, and the rise in taxes
                 to pay for it.

                 Now it's the curfew.  No one may
                 walk the streets after ten o'clock.
                 He's turning Florenz into a prison.

                 It would seem that yours is a just

                 We like to think so, but you mustn't
                 let our personal taste in enemies
                 influence you.

                 In spite of the blow Signor Sforza's
                 death has dealt your plans, you
                 make light of matters.  You have
                 my admiration.

                 You need not worry on our account,
                 my friend.  We shall think of
                 another way to bring Di Castellano
                 to his knees, never fear.

       But when Niccolo and Poggio look at each other it's clear
       they have no alternative plan.

       Giovanni throws the door open.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Signor De Aqua.  You and your
                 friends will come with me, please.


       Niccolo, Poggio and Cavalcanti follow Giovanni across the
       Square to the cemetery gates.

       FATHER DOMENICO arrives, an elderly priest carrying a
       lantern.  He unlocks the gate and pulls it open.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 I'll need a copy of that key,
                 Father.  Tomorrow will be soon

       He marches past Father Domenico and into the cemetery.

                 Good evening to you, Father.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 There's nothing good about it.


       Guardsmen surround a tombstone.  They open their ranks as
       Giovanni approaches.  A DEAD MAN sits with his back against
       the tombstone, his head bowed.  Domenico crosses himself.

       Giovanni picks up a musket lying beside the body.  He cocks
       the hammer, aims at the sky and pulls the trigger.  CLICK.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 It has already been fired.  Here
                 is the musketeer who killed your

       He throws the musket to Poggio.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 As you can see, Signor Di Medici,
                 my men did not waste any time.
                 Justice has been done.
                      (to Domenico)
                 They're all yours now, Father.

                 Capitano, can your men take the
                 bodies to the Cathedral?

                 I regret, my Guardsmen have other
                 duties to perform.

                 Then may we be permitted to stay
                 and assist Father Domenico?

       Giovanni thinks about it... and nods.  He exits, Monti and
       the other Guardsmen follow him back to the Square.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 How sad that Capitano Giovanni is
                 not lying here dead instead of
                 this man.

                 A curious thing for a priest to

       Domenico gestures to Poggio who passes the musket to him.
       Domenico handles the musket with familiarity.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 Before you knew me, Niccolo, and
                 before I became a priest, I was a
                 soldier.  I fought in the wars
                 between Milano, Genoa and Florenz.
                 During these cruel times I met
                 many heartless men.  None were
                 ever as cold and as heartless as
                 Capitano Giovanni.

                 Do you have a cart, Father?

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 Yes, my son.  The gravediggers
                 were working over there today.

       He points across the cemetery.  Poggio exits that way.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 Watch where you go.  Some of the
                 new plots are lying open.

                 I'm afraid there's more work for
                 you in the Taverna, Father.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 I know.  Pietro Sforza.  How sad.

                 Forgive my manners.  Father, this
                 is Signor Angelo Cavalcanti, from

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 Signor Cavalcanti.  What do you
                 think of Florenz?  Ah, don't answer.
                 You are here less than an hour and
                 already you have seen two men
                      (to Niccolo)
                 These are dangerous times, Niccolo.
                 I should be very disappointed indeed
                 if anything were to happen to you.
                 With whom would I play chess on a
                 Friday evening?

                 You'd find someone, I'm sure.

                 I know this man.

       Niccolo and Domenico realize that he means the dead man.

                 He traveled with us on the Bologna
                 coach.  He said his name was
                 Zambelli.  They arrested him when
                 they stopped the coach.

                 On what charge?

                 I don't know.  He protested his
                 innocence but they took him away.
                 And now he is here.

       Domenico aims the musket at the Mermaid Taverna.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 How far would you say the Taverna
                 is from here?

                 Two hundred paces?  More?

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 You'd be lucky to hit anything at
                 twenty paces with a Giuseppe, never
                 mind two hundred.

                 What are you saying?

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 This is not the weapon that killed
                 Pietro Sforza.

       CREAKING noises.  Poggio pushes a cart with a squeaky wheel.

                 Keep your voices down.  Giovanni
                 left a man in the Square.

       A Guardsman stands by the fountain, his back to the

                 Father, about those new graves...

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 Yes, my son?

                 One of them isn't empty.  I didn't
                 have a lantern...

       Domenico puts the musket down and leaves with Poggio, taking
       the lantern.

                      (to Niccolo)
                 I'll stay here and watch over this
                 poor fellow.

       Niccolo nods thanks and exits after Domenico and Poggio.


       They make their way through the sea of tombstones.

                 How did you know Sforza had died?

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 I spoke with his spirit.

       Niccolo and Poggio exchange looks.

                 How is it, Father, that you can
                 speak with the dead?

       Domenico stops, and bows his head toward Niccolo.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 Put your fingers here.

       Niccolo feels Domenico's skull.

                 There's a lump... and a scar?

       Domenico starts walking again, they follow him.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 Shrapnel from a cannon ball.  The
                 surgeon could do nothing for me,
                 the injury was beyond his skill.
                 They put me into a dark, airless
                 room along with the other mortally
                 wounded.  I should have died, as
                 they expected me to.  But something
                 happened.  A great heat came and
                 mended my broken head.  I stumbled
                 to the window and threw open the
                 shutters.  Sunlight flooded the
                 room, blinding me, yet I could
                 still see.  The spirits of two
                 soldiers left their bodies
                 immediately and flew upward on
                 beams of golden light.  A third
                 soldier screamed in terror, for he
                 had murdered a child.  He tried to
                 confess his sin, but it was too
                 late.  His spirit tumbled into a
                 black place I did not study too
                 closely for fear of going mad.

       Poggio crosses himself.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 I put my hands upon the others who
                 lay in that terrible room.  I
                 stopped their bleeding and made
                 their broken bones whole again.
                 Oh, what a day that was!  I should
                 have been dead, but there I was,
                 walking around as if nothing had
                 happened.  The surgeons crossed
                 themselves and did not dare come
                 near me.

                 They were afraid of you?  But surely
                 it was a good thing.  Wasn't it?

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 They summoned a priest.  He tried
                 to exorcize the demon he imagined
                 must possess me, but I saw into
                 his soul more easily than he could
                 see into mine.  His crimes were
                 even worse than those committed by
                 the murderer who'd descended into
                 Purgatorio.  I made the priest
                 look in upon himself and reflect
                 upon the brother priests he'd
                 poisoned to attain his present
                 rank.  He screamed and fled from
                 the place.  They told me, later,
                 that he threw himself from a high

       They stop before a line of open graves.

                 Over there, Father.  That one.

                 What happened then?

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 A Cardinal came from Roma to see
                 me.  His name was Rizzo.  A good
                 man.  He knew at once what had
                 happened, that God had chosen to
                 anoint me in a way few could ever
                 understand.  But he also knew it
                 would be my doom unless I
                 relinquished my vanity.  I'd already
                 saved hundreds by then.  Tough
                 soldiers who would never kneel to
                 any man threw themselves at the
                 ground to kiss my footprints.
                 Rizzo showed me how my acceptance
                 of this praise was an insult to
                 God, who had bestowed His sacred
                 gift upon me.  He was right, of
                 course.  He brought me secretly to
                 Florenz and placed me in the service
                 of my predecessor, Father Franco,
                 another good man who guided and
                 protected me.

                 From the Inquisition?

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 From the Guild of Surgeons.  There
                 is still an open bounty on my head.
                 It's understandable.  What use is
                 a surgeon when a healer can make
                 the sick whole again?

       They peer into the grave, trying to see what's there.

                 What did Sforza's spirit want?

                 He wished to know whether he would
                 spend an eternity in the fires of
                 Purgatorio.  I told him that a man
                 is not necessarily judged upon his
                 past deeds, but upon who and what
                 he has become at the time of his
                 death.  If there is any good in
                 his heart then a place awaits him
                 in Paradisio.

                 Thank goodness for that.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 It's been a while since you attended
                 Confession, my son.  I'll expect
                 to see you first thing in the
                 morning.  Don't be late.

                 Yes, Father.

       Domenico climbs down into the open grave.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 Virgin Mother!  Help me out of

       Niccolo and Poggio pull him up out of the grave.

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 You were right.  There is something
                 down there.

                 What is it?

                             FATHER DOMENICO
                 Your friend, Alfonso.  He has been


       A sumptuous villa surrounded by a high wall.  A cannon
       sits in the courtyard, pointed at the iron gates.


       Capitano Giovanni throws the doors open and enters.  Two
       GUARDSMEN snap to attention.  Giovanni ignores them and
       marches to the stairs.


       Giovanni marches along the hallway, grim and determined.


       ISABELLA, a breathtaking beauty, exits the study and comes
       face to face with Giovanni.  He removes his hat, and bows.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Good evening, Signorina.

                 Capitano Giovanni.  You are flushed.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 A brisk stroll helps me sleep...

                 How I envy you.  I spend my nights
                 locked in my room, obliged to read
                 the most boring books.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 The importance of a good education--

                 My father calls them classics,
                 which means they were written by
                 stuffy monks centuries ago.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Is your father--?

                 Just like me, they had no idea
                 what existed outside their tiny
                      (a huge sigh)
                 But that will all change tomorrow.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Indeed, the wedding...

                 I shall miss my room, and this
                 house.  And I shall miss you,

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Me, Signorina?

                 Has your strong right arm not
                 defended us against rogues who
                 wish my family ill?

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 When you put it that way...

                 Tomorrow I am to be married.  I
                 shall depart Florenz for Genoa,
                 together with my new husband.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 May I offer... my congratulations,

                 What do you think of the Granduc?

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 He is the Granduc of Genoa, who
                 commands sixty galleons and ten
                 thousand soldiers.  I would not
                 presume to guess his wealth.

                 Is that all there is to a man,
                 wealth and possessions?  What of
                 his heart?

                             CONTÉ (O.S.)
                 Isabella, what delays you?

       Footsteps, and a clicking noise.  The door opens and the
       CONTÉ DI CASTELLANO, a silver fox, looks at them.  He leans
       heavily on his walking-stick.

                 So, I did hear voices.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 I was giving the Signorina my most
                 sincere good wishes, Conté.

                 Come in, Salvatore, come in.
                 Isabella, a big day tomorrow.  To
                 bed with you.  No reading tonight.
                 Straight to sleep, do you hear me?

                 With all that is going on, Papa, I
                 doubt whether I will be able to
                 sleep at all.

       She stands on her toes and kisses the Conté's cheek.

                 Goodnight, Papa.  Goodnight,
                 Capitano Giovanni.

       Just for a moment it seems she will kiss Giovanni too.
       She passes him by, leaving Giovanni to catch his breath.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Goodnight, Signorina...


       The Conté limps to his desk and collapses into his chair,
       sighing with relief.  He gestures to an empty chair but
       Giovanni remains standing.

                 Would you like some wine?

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 I've just returned from the

                 How morbid.  But I suppose it is
                 peaceful, too.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 I had the dubious pleasure of
                 conversing with Niccolo De Aqua
                 and his friends while pretending I
                 didn't know why dead bodies are
                 turning up everywhere.

       The Conté pours himself a glass of wine.

                 Are you sure?  From my family's
                 own vineyard.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 I don't like being made a fool of,
                 Conté.  I find it difficult to
                 believe you permitted the Moskovian
                 to begin his killing spree without
                 informing me first.

                 You cannot deny that Sforza was
                 dangerous and had to be dealt with
                 immediately.  Look at what he did
                 to that fool of a Prussian... whom
                 you recommended to me, as I recall.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 But shooting Sforza...

                 I should have been considerably
                 out of pocket had the Prussian
                 demanded his entire fee up front.
                 Come now, they might have spirited
                 Sforza away and concealed him.
                 Immediate action was required.
                      (he chuckles)
                 Poor Niccolo.  I'm afraid I've
                 upset his plans somewhat.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 What if my men had discovered the

                 Major Dragunov can take care of

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 I still fail to see why you engaged
                 his services.  You only have to
                 say the word and De Aqua and his
                 coven of conspirators will vanish.

                 No doubt.  But that would only
                 arouse suspicion.  I rule this
                 city by force of arms, yes, but
                 that rule is made easier by the
                 grace of the Council.  Their
                 continued support allows everything
                 to run smoothly.  Were I to upset
                 them by murdering the son of the
                 Council's most revered former
                 member, things might become
                 difficult.  I don't like difficult,

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 What difference does it make whether
                 I kill De Aqua, or Dragunov puts a
                 bullet through his thick head?
                 People will still be suspicious.

                 Raymondo De Aqua once gave me a
                 sage piece of advice.  He said
                 there was a time and a place for
                 everything.  A time and a place.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Meaning what?

                 When Niccolo dies, you and I will
                 be elsewhere, with a great many
                 witnesses able to attest to our

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Do you intend to share your secret
                 with me, or am I again to be the
                 subject of an hilarious joke?

                 You imagine a slight where none is
                 intended.  Tomorrow my daughter is
                 to be married.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 I am aware of this.

                 I know you do not approve of my
                 choice of husband.  You've made
                 that quite obvious from the
                 beginning.  You scowled so much at
                 the Granduc's suggested troop
                 dispositions that I expected the
                 maps to burst into flame.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 If you expect me to apologize--

                 I expect you to listen to me,
                 Salvatore.  You see, it has come
                 to your attention that political
                 dissidents opposed to our alliance
                 with Genoa may attempt to
                 assassinate the Granduc.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 You want me to be at Isabella's
                 wedding.  With my men.

                 The City Council and every noble
                 in Florenz will bear witness.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 And De Aqua?

                 He refused our wedding invitation.
                 In doing so, he unwittingly signed
                 his own death warrant.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 What about Di Medici?  He's in
                 this just as deep as De Aqua.

                 There will be an investigation.
                 You'll search the city, including
                 Poggio Di Medici's house.  There
                 you will find the very pistol that
                 shot and killed our young friend.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI

                 Ah.  A fitting end to a noisy and
                 irritating nuisance, I think?

       A KNOCK at the door.


       SERGENTÉ FIGLIO fills the doorway.  Possibly the largest
       man we have ever seen.  Angular face, overhanging forehead.
       His uniform strains to contain his powerful muscles.

                 Ah, Sergenté, come in, come in.
                 You have news for us, perhaps?

       Figlio speaks slowly but clearly, his voice a deep rumble.

                             SERGENTÉ FIGLIO
                 I found the three men from the
                 Square, as you ordered, Conté.

                 Splendid, splendid.  And what did
                 they have to say for themselves?

                             SERGENTÉ FIGLIO
                 Two were wounded.  The swordsman
                 could easily have killed them all.

                 See, Salvatore?  I told you Sforza
                 was dangerous.

                             SERGENTÉ FIGLIO
                 Not Sforza.  The other man from
                 the coach.  The prisoner said his
                 name was Cavalcanti.

                 Cavalcanti.  Is he a threat to us?

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 I believe he was with Niccolo de
                 Aqua in the Mermaid Taverna.  His
                 relationship with the conspirators
                 is unknown.
                      (to Figlio)
                 And the man you call a prisoner
                 was not a prisoner.

       Figlio glares at Giovanni -- no love lost between them.

                 I leave Cavalcanti up to you,
                 Salvatore.  If you perceive him as
                 a threat, deal with him.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 All I need do is arrest him.  Once
                 he's in prison, Sergenté Figlio
                 will beat him to death.  Won't
                 you, Sergenté?

                 What are you saying?

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 First the coach passenger, then my
                 informant.  Why not make it three
                 in the one night, hmm?

                 Is this true, Sergenté?

                             SERGENTÉ FIGLIO
                 The prisoner tried to escape.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 He was not a prisoner!
                      (to the Conté)
                 The man Zambelli was taken from
                 the coach so I could question him
                 about Sforza.  He should have been
                 released without charge.  But the
                 Sergenté had other ideas.

                 His death is most unfortunate.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 That's all you have to say?

                 What would you have me say?  It
                 was an accident.  These things

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 They always seem to happen when
                 Sergenté Figlio is on duty.  I
                 have yet to receive any kind of
                 explanation for the murder of my
                 informant, Alfonso Brunetti.

                             SERGENTÉ FIGLIO
                 He broke curfew.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 You are supposed to arrest curfew
                 breakers, not execute them!  You
                 knew he was working for me!

                             SERGENTÉ FIGLIO
                 I did not know.

       Giovanni's fit to explode -- it's a blatant lie.

                 Come now, Salvatore, there is no
                 need for all this.  The curfew is
                 in place for a reason.  We all
                 know what that reason is!  While
                 you stand there making complaints
                 against Sergenté Figlio, who is
                 only doing his duty, this murderer,
                 this Shadow whom you have failed
                 to apprehend, is no doubt making
                 ready to strike again.

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 Should you wish my resignation,
                 Conté, you only need ask.

                 Since you entered my service you
                 have never performed below the
                 highest standards of excellence.
                 I do not wish your resignation,
                 Salvatore.  What I do wish is your
                 wholehearted support.  We have two
                 distinct problems that require our
                 immediate attention.  Well, I've
                 taken care of Niccolo de Aqua.
                 That leaves you free to pursue the

                             CAPITANO GIOVANNI
                 My men will be out patrolling the
                 streets again tonight.  Two sentries
                 will stand guard outside Signorina
                 Isabella's room, and another
                      (to Figlio)
                 I leave the Conté's safety in your
                 bloody but capable hands, Sergenté.

       Giovanni claps his hat on his head and marches out.


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