Assassin's Creed © Ubisoft

(Dimly, watching from his silent bed of glass and smoke, Desmond already knows that this will not end well.)

For just a moment in time, Altair contemplated killing himself. Slicing his knife through his throat in one hard fast practised motion, a familiar move. Dying an assassin to the end, not living through this humiliation. The shame was crushing, unfamiliar, monstrous.

When he was nine, his mother took him to the souk in Damascus and told him to wait ever so quietly and still on a bench beside one of the spice stalls. Told him to close his eyes. He had been an obedient child, and he had done so, even putting his hands over his eyes, but he was young, and could not help just glancing through the mesh of his fingers at her retreating back. That was the final time that he saw her. Altair had never obeyed anyone since.

An assassin had found him there, a kind man who had been like an uncle to him. Altair had watched him die from a sickness of the lungs five years ago, and had sworn privately that he would never allow disease to take him. That he wouldn't die a miserable rotting mangled filthy death in a narrow bed, or lie lonely and forsaken and stained in a forgotten ditch.

He had felt an ache in his chest that morning, an uncomfortable tightening, and had held his knife to his throat for a moment.

(Tiptoeing softly, softly around the tangled staircase of the past, Desmond cannot help but feel like the invading army.)

The gates of Acre opened before him, and he stepped through, pausing only a moment to thank the scholars. All thoughts of suicide fled like leaves on the wind as he saw the city. Ruin and desecration, men with mud on their faces, children begging for something to fill the void within their stomachs. Bodies stained in blood. He pitied the foreign women who clustered around him with outstretched hands, or offered their breasts in miserable hunger.

This, an Arab city, and under the Crusaders it had become a hostel house for demons.

The fury that snatched away his breath was sudden and welcome, driving away the melancholy in a violent onslaught. Filth and decay everywhere, and Altair felt unclean just walking down the streets. This was Gehenna, and he was the sinner through the gates, watching the horror unfold. And he was helpless. He could do nothing but trust in Al Mualim, trust him when he said that they would reclaim the Holy Land. One corpse at a time. Sinner by sinner, and he was the worst of all.

Where was his God?

Altair sensed the alien presence in his mind once more, and snarled.

(In his prison of metal and ice, Desmond recoils from that sulphur- bitter fury.)