Outline for Chapter 12
A/N: Hope you like it!
Disclaimer: I do not own Assassin's Creed
The fall was much shorter than I'd anticipated. I landed on my feet, but my right leg collapsed from the shock of the landing. I lurched forward, falling flat on my stomach; the cold the icy stone floor bled through my robes and made me shiver.
There was a glowing light coming from a room adjacent to the one I had landed in. I had barely noticed it when a shadow flew over my head and pulled the door on the roof closed, hastily fumbling with the locks. The person finished in a flash, and then leapt down and put a cool blade to my throat.
"Why are you – Allah! What happened to your leg?" the man asked in a hushed whisper, retracting the blade with a mechanical clicking noise.
I groaned, shuddering in pain. The cloaked man sighed and lifted me gently, carrying me into the light of the other room. He gasped in shock when the light revealed my feminine face.
"You are but a woman! Who did this to you?" he demanded. My vision blurred; the colors of the tapestries and candles spun around me. I wanted to explain, but the words would not reach my lips.
"Open up this door!" a guard shouted gruffly from above as he pounded ruthlessly on the roof. I whimpered softly, afraid of what would happen to me now.
"Shhh. I will be back in a moment," the cloaked man said comfortingly. He winked, brushing his cloak aside to reveal a silver sword at his belt. I blanched as I thought of the danger he was putting himself in for my sake.
"N-no!" I choked.
Ignoring my weak protests, he walked into the next room. I heard him unlock the exit and open it, stepping out onto the roof. A brief conversation followed, and near the end I heard the same sharp clicking noise from before.
A scream, then silence.
The hatch opened, causing me to curl up into a tiny ball. I was defenseless, a pathetic, weaponless wreck in the center of a candlelit room. Relief washed over me as I saw the cloaked man enter, carrying a limp body over his shoulders.
"This is where I store the bodies of those who attempt to invade my sanctuary," he chuckled. My eyes widened as I watched him press a switch, and another, louder clicking noise followed. He pushed against a part of the wall, causing one of the many bookcases in the room to whirl around. He tossed the body in, moved the wall back into place, and clicked the switch again.
"It was difficult to make, but it gave me something to do. You won't show anyone where it is, will you?" he asked lightheartedly.
"Ah, how rude of me. I haven't yet introduced myself. You may call me Jabr," he said.
"M-my leg," I groaned.
"Right, I was getting to that," Jabr said.
He walked over and straightened out my right leg, which was still curled against my chest. Jabr placed one hand on the shaft of the arrow, and the other against my leg. In one quick motion, he yanked the arrow out of my leg, tearing through my flesh once again.
I let out a feral snarl and thrashed about violently, and Jabr left my side for a moment to get a white cloth. Once he returned, he grasped my small, white hand in his large, calloused one to calm me. As soon as I stopped squirming in pain, he wrapped the cloth around my leg to stop the bleeding.
"You should sleep. But before you do, what is your name?" Jabr asked.
"S-Sana," I said, my eyes fluttering closed in fatigue. I felt him pick me up again, and carry me out of the room. Jabr gently placed me down on a pile of pillows and blankets, and stayed by my side until I drifted from consciousness.
The wolf cub's haunting golden eyes widened. The metallic scent of blood was thick in the frigid night air. A stag lay dead before it, the one it had been tracking for days. The child thought it would be overjoyed to have made its first kill.
But no one was there to share it.
Thus the happiness was bittersweet. The corpse disgusted the cub, as did the blood in the air. There was no one to remind the wolf-child that it had done what was right, and for a moment, it doubted its instinct. Killing provided the energy to live, but what sort of life was this? Living only to kill others? There had to be more.
Whispers on the wind told the lone cub that this was right. The old stag was sick anyway; better to kill the sick ones to ensure the stronger deer would thrive. By killing this scourge, the young wolf was protecting the strong and innocent from infectious diseases and weaknesses.
A knife to cut the sickness from the herd.
I was awakened by the shafts of sunlight piercing the wooden beams above me. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and sat up, the movement causing a wave of pain to course through my leg. I choked on the breath in my throat, and doubled over onto the pillows. I became used to the ache in my leg after a few moments, and successfully propped myself up on my elbows.
I took in the room; everything from the smooth stonework to the exquisite tapestries adorning the walls. I lay amongst ornamental pillows, their intricate patterns dancing over the silky fabric. My eyes shot upward to the entrance, which remained closed in case anyone of ill-intent was lurking about. I looked down at the green plants which hung like witch's tresses from a fountain, greedily suckling every drop of moisture from the stone. A thin stream of the crystalline water cascaded from a small metal spout into a miniature pool covered by a metal grate, and just above that –
I had to do a double take to make sure me eyes were not deceiving me. The symbol of the assassin Brotherhood was etched on the wall just above the water spout. I had landed by mistake among the enemy that had alluded me for years. I could see the walls around me painted in blood.
"Sana, it is good to see you awake!" Jabr exclaimed from the other room, snapping me out of my reverie.
Now that I knew where I was, it was easy to see through his cheerful pretenses. I forced myself to stand up by trying to put most of my weight on my left leg, and limped into the other room.
Now, in the pale morning sunlight, I could better distinguish Jabr's features. He had plain dark brown eyes and short black hair. Traces of light whiskers shaded the skin just under his angular nose. His red lips accented his russet skin, which looked leathery from days spent out in the sun long ago, replaced by hours toiling away mindlessly in the Bureau.
He stood behind a counter littered with documents, books, and old, useless quills. I hobbled over to him and leaned against the counter before speaking.
"Thank you, Jabr. How long was I asleep?" I asked, mimicking his bright attitude. Before answering me, he leapt over the counter and ran over to one of the tables in the room and fetched me a chair. I must have looked slightly taken aback by his sudden outburst of energy, for he held the back of the chair and grinned mischievously.
"Do sit, please. You shouldn't be walking just yet," Jabr said, evading my question for the moment. He tried to help me sit, but I pushed him away gently and sat shakily on my own. He shrugged, and continued. "I've prepared an ointment for you to put on the injury to prevent infection. I already cleaned it and put a little on while you were sleeping, but it is time to change your bandages and have more medicine," Jabr explained, as he began to unwrap my bandages. "And as to how long you've been asleep, its been about twelve hours since you fell from the sky."
"You are very kind. Do you live here alone?" I asked, hoping to somehow cause him to slip up and mention the brotherhood. As it was now, I was protected by the first tenet of the Creed.
"Yes, but from time to time I get visits from my… friends," Jabr said carefully.
"And that symbol in the fountain –"
"Why did the guards attack you?" Jabr cut me off, his voice slightly tense. I held in my exasperated sigh, and decided to humor him with an honest answer.
"I attacked a man who tried to rape me," I said, looking to the ground in mock shame. "I was searching for a place where I could learn more about how my family died, and he promised to help me."
"Your family died as well?" Jabr asked mournfully, his traitor eyes filled with emotion. I looked up in surprise, and then faced the ground again.
"Yes. What happened to yours?" I asked, hoping I could somehow get inside his secrets by forming a link of empathy with the man. He was clearly broken, which would make him spout secrets more readily than he would otherwise.
"The Templar knights attacked my village, and my wife and daughters were among those killed," Jabr muttered.
I was dumbstruck. Robert had already led an assault on the assassins without contacting any of us? Had he forgotten our mission? Were we insignificant to him now?
"Why would they attack you? I thought Templars wanted peace," I said, hoping to sound more at ease than I felt.
"That is what they claim. But their actions do not coincide with their words," Jabr said bitterly.
"But what did you do to anger them so much that they would take an entire village?" I asked.
"They fight us because we do not believe as they do. But they did not claim the village. A man named Altair stopped the invasion," Jabr said, his mind elsewhere.
"He must be a great hero," I said, hoping to get a passionate reaction out of him.
"Ha!" Jabr snorted. "He was the one who led the Templars to our home in the first place!"
I could feel my body tense in apprehension at his outburst, and Jabr sensed it too. He looked up at me inquisitively.
"Sorry, it's the pain," I bluffed, wincing convincingly. "What will you do about Altair?" I asked, my jaw still clenched.
"There is nothing for me to do. He has been stripped of his rank and dignity for causing such trouble for us."
"I am sorry for everything that has happened," I muttered, not knowing what else to say and not wanting to push my luck too far.
Though I truly did feel sorry for this man. His mind had clearly been so mangled by prolonged loneliness and the death of his family that he didn't care what happened to himself as a result of giving too much information. There were so many other things he could have done to me to protect his order, but instead he smiled and silently finished mending my leg.
It would be his downfall.
"Jabr, would you mind it if I climbed onto the roof?" I asked. I searched his face for an answer, and found nothing but disapproval. "I'd like to stretch my leg and walk in the sunshine for a bit," I added. He suddenly smiled and walked over to pick me up.
"I admire your courage, Sana. Though, I must insist on joining you; I can't have the guards harming you any more," Jabr said, his voice back to its impossibly kind tone.
He carried me over to the fountain, opened up the hatch, and helped me up onto the roof. Jabr helped me stand, despite my quiet protests.
"Please, let me stand on my own. It will help me regain my strength more quickly," I said firmly. Jabr nodded and let me go. I wobbled a bit a first, and the pain in my right leg was nearly unmanageable. I gritted my teeth and limped around.
"The ointment appears to be helping," I gasped after a while of walking. Jabr chuckled and stretched his muscles as well.
"I think I might go to the market to get some breakfast. You must be hungry," Jabr said. I limped over to him and reached into the folds of my gown, retrieving a small handful of golden coins.
"Use my money. You have already given me your time and space, and I cannot accept any more from you," I offered, pressing the gold into his palm.
"Thank you, Sana," he forged a smile on his dry lips.
Without allowing any more words to pass between us, Jabr descended a ladder from the roof and joined the throng of afternoon pedestrians.
As soon as he was out of sight, I hurried over to the beams and searched the green leaves for my dagger and the map. They were fairly easy to find; it was fortunate that I didn't have to leave them there for long. The dagger I hid in my sleeve, and the map I tucked into my chemise.
Once that was finished, I sat cross-legged on the stony section of the roof over the sign of the assassins, patiently awaiting Jabr's return. It didn't take him long to return with a basket of fruits and cheeses. He swung easily into the Bureau, and then came back to help me down.
"You know, Sana," Jabr crunched through his crisp apple, "you've got some unusual eyes there."
I smiled grimly, reminded of how the children back at home used to make fun of me for them.
"I am not certain if you mean that in a kind way," I replied, my tone implying chastity.
"I'm not either," Jabr replied. His expression changed in a 'did-I-really-just-say-that' sort of way. I laughed, assuming he was attempting to be humorous.
"Well, I really should be getting home. The day is still young, and my friends must be wondering what became of me," I said. Jabr's face grew grim.
"I'm afraid that is impossible, Sana," Jabr said.
"Wh-why not?" I asked, my voice beginning to tremble. I wasn't sure if I was just acting or not.
"I am a greedy man, Sana," Jabr began, his voice solemn. "You wanted to know what the sign above the fountain meant, yes?"
I nodded, hoping he would continue.
"It is the symbol of the Hashashin. You have, no doubt, heard murmurs of our work," Jabr said, his face growing expressionless.
"You could say that," I said, my voice equally toneless. I slouched in my chair, so I could grasp the handle of my bloodstained dagger underneath the table.
"As a man of the Assassin's Creed, I am often denied the pleasures of women," Jabr said, his lips curling menacingly. I gripped the handle of the dagger more tightly. "But when I joined, I was already married and my wife was carrying our child. Our leader, Al Mualim, punished me by sending me to serve in Jerusalem. I never even got to see my daughter," Jabr explained, his eyes cloudy with hunger.
"Do not fear, I remain faithful to my deceased wife and only desired your company. But you have learned too much. I have taken your time, and now I must take your –"
I shoved the blade into his chest.