Disclaimer: Do not own Assassin's Creed or its characters. Although I would like Altair bound and delivered to my front door... sigh.
Update: Book cover drawn by the awesome WendyDoodles on DA. Used with permission of course. :D
The vermilion sun is setting over the quiet, sand-tinted rooftops of Damascus. People are hurrying off the streets, mothers are beckoning for their mischievous children to come back home, and merchants are preparing to close shop. Within the central courtyard of the Souk, the bustling sounds of activity are scurrying to and fro. One set of voices stands out however, where one named Tamir is arguing with a merchant. His high status emanates from his richly embroidered clothing to his perfectly manicured fingers. His guards, emotionless and blank-faced, are stationed throughout the courtyard, and watch from afar as their employer ruthlessly deals out that which he is well known for: death.
"No! Stop!" A frantic voice begging for life. The lowly merchant clutches at his stomach wound and turns pleading eyes up to the dealer.
"Stop? I'm just getting started!"
The blade tears through flesh over and over again. Blood gushes out from his multiple stab wounds, and the merchant can only beg for mercy.
Civilians have long since left the place. There is no one to save him.
The unfortunate man slumps over into a trickling fountain, staining the water blood red. As his dying eyes lift upwards towards the sky, he catches a flash of white.
Is that an angel?
Convinced that the white-robed man crouching on the beams overhead is a divine messenger, the merchant sends out a last prayer to the silent watcher before he succumbs to death's embrace.
The bells of assassination have been ringing for quite some time now. The girl groans in frustration as she buries herself in the linen blankets. The peals of the bells have been going on since early evening, and it is already dark. She has been working hard since the break of dawn, and all she wants now is restful sleep.
If they can't find the killer by now, they might as well give up she scoffs darkly.
Finally giving up on rest, Jin storms her way across her makeshift bedroom to her usual spot by the stool. She steps onto the stool on tiptoe, and pushes open the wooden cover of her sole window to the night sky. Getting Mama Kalthum to install this crude window on the roof had been no easy task. At the price of a month's worth of extra chores and washing that detestable woman's feet every night. Jin grimaces at the memory.
However, as Jin basks in the silvery moonlight greeting her stars, she swears it is worth it. It is already bad enough she does not get her own room, but to live in the attic where there are no windows; that would just be too unbearable. Plus, the light from outside replaces the need for candles.
Minutes pass in silence as the slight girl enjoys her quiet moment with the crescent moon and stars. Jin realizes with a start that the bells have stopped. She was about to pull the string to shut the window, but on a capricious whim decides to leave it open. The night air is balmy and a nice change to the stale mustiness of the attic, and she quietly slinks back into her modest cot.
Before she even gets to close her eyes, frantic shouting from outside reach her ears. Bolting upright, Jin clutches her blanket as a shadow appears from the open window. Too shocked to even make a sound, the girl stares as a man leaps down into the room. One of his arms grasping his side, the robed figure collapses as soon as his foot touches the floor, and he lands with a thump.
Her eyes wide with fear, Jin could only sit there and stare at the unmoving pile of white robes. The smell of blood reaches her sensitive nose, and it freezes her to the spot.
"Where is he? Did you see where he went?"
Loud voices from the distance pierce through Jin's dazed senses, and she promptly springs into action. Leaping out of the bed, she dashes to the opening and quietly but swiftly shuts the wooden cover. Not a second later, heavy footsteps pound across the roof.
Her hands finally releasing the wood, Jin slumps down to the floor with her blood pounding through her chest. She forces herself to take deep breaths to calm down. She has no explanation for what she did. Just acted on instinct. Years and years of hiding, acting, of behaving with discretion taught her to avoid conflicts at all costs. Her way is to avoid the guards: rowdy, corrupted individuals who dare call themselves protectors when all they do is to pick at the weak like hungry vultures.
The rational part of her mind clicks back in, and gently reminds her of the unwanted consequences of officials at Kalthum's doorstep. While she detests living in a house of ill-repute, this is the closest she has come to having a home and she owes her life to that foul-tempered hostess. Furthermore, no matter what the situation, it will still look like she is harboring a criminal. Alone, in the dark with no other alibis, she shall be sent to the execution ground along with the unconscious man if those guards catch them together.
Gradually, her attention is drawn back to the criminal lying by her feet on the floor. She kneels, lowers her head, and hears faint, labored breathing. She notes the various weapons adorning his entire body, from the metal gauntlets, the sheathed swords, and the throwing knives which fell out during his ungraceful landing littering the floor. He is obviously a murderer. As if the stench of death does not tell her enough.
What do I do? Her mind cries out in despair. He's still alive! I don't know if I can move this heavy body. But he's still alive! Should I turn him in?
Jin bites her lip contemplatively. Cannot go to the officials, but she cannot get rid of him either. Tentatively, she reaches out a hand to shake the man awake.
He does not stir and makes no sound. She shakes him harder.
Still no response.
"How badly are you injured?" Jin whispers but receives no answers. With effort, she pushes him on his back, and gasps at the abundance of blood. Deep red stains her hands from the barest contact and it was all she can do to not cry out.
Jin debates with herself. Truthfully, she does not want this man to die. At least, not in this room and not under her watch. But the fact remains he's still a killer…
A groan of pain interrupts her musings. His lips begin to move deliriously. Unwillingly curious, Jin leans in closer.
"I'll save you…. Adha."
The yearning in his deep voice elicits a clenching feeling in Jin's chest. She looks down at his face, surprisingly young considering his occupation, with a sympathetic frown.
Adha… a woman. His lover perhaps?
Jin begins to picture a woman, young and beautiful, pining away for her lost lover. Just like those in the stories the brothel girls tell each other. Her compassionate nature overrides her rational mind, and with the decision made, Jin begins to undress the passed out man and tears his inner clothes for bandages.
Altair knows when he's not in a familiar setting. Without opening his eyes, he can smell the stringent medicinal herbs nearby, hear the faint sound of voices coming from beneath him, and feel the softness of a bed.
He can also sense the other person in the room.
He kept his breathing steady and deep so as to not alert the other of his consciousness. The assassin strains his senses, trying to pick out any small details that will tell him more of this stranger.
Light footsteps and small strides suggest petite stature. The confidence emanating from the foot falls, as well as the assertive nature of movement indicates a man. So a young boy then. The slight wind as the youth pass him indicates a contained, closed room. A limited space. Perfect, no room for escape. By the warmness of air, it is daytime, probably early afternoon.
The assassin realizes his face is uncovered, and his weapons not on his person. His mind goes on full alert, and his muscles tensed unconsciously. As unknown hands descend upon the blanket and uncover his midriff, Altair reacts in the only way he knows how.
In a split second, he tackles the other to the ground with his right forearm pinning a small frame and his left hand at the jugular. Sharp pain erupts from his injured side, but his focus is unwavering.
"Make one move or sound and it'll be the end for you. Tell me, where is this place? And who sent you?" he snarls.
Frightened green eyes meet his, and he is surprised at the strands of hay colored hair peeking through the concealing turban.
"Please… you're hurting me…" the soft murmur reaches the assassin's trained ears and he has to stop himself from taking a double look.
It is true, for he slowly realizes the chest that his arm is pinning to the ground is too pliable to be that of a man's, and the face too delicate. Earlier, the clothes and the firm footfalls all suggested a masculine presence and had him fooled. He gets up, ignoring the aching pain in his side, and watches the girl carefully.
"Your equipment and such, they're over there in that corner. And you're in my room. I haven't told anyone of your presence, so I think you should be safe for now." Jin readjusts her head wraps to conceal her hair, and dusts herself off. She regards him warily, as if any minute he might pounce on her again.
"Who are you? Why did you tend to my wounds?" His voice, although more even and calm, still strikes an equally intimidating note. The girl seems to have recovered from the earlier fright, and does not avoid his scrutinizing gaze, challenging him with her eyes of emerald.
"I do not feel the need to give my name. Especially to one that is as ill-mannered as yourself. As for tending your wounds, you should want me to just stand there and do nothing? It was you who chose this particular rooftop to intrude upon. You whose form lay in front of me dying. Pray tell, what will you have me do?"
Her defiant gaze holds his. The assassin dwells on her words carefully and recalls the events of last night. If it was last night.
The assassination did not go as smoothly as he thought. With his recent demotion and loss of his usual weapons, the process was much… problematic. After killing the target, the guards were too cumbersome to deal with, and he tried various ways to escape. He did manage to lose them somewhere near the poor district, but he got careless on his way back to the bureau. Guards snuck up on him, and before he could pull out the sword to block, they dealt out a serious wound. It wouldn't have been a problem, except for the running and leaping from rooftops that took place afterwards that eventually took its toll. No longer coherent due to the massive loss of blood, he managed to find the first opening that happened to be in front of him, and dove in.
And now he awakes to this. His side was neatly bandaged, and from the strong herb smell, expertly dressed to prevent infection. His outer clothes, although still stained with red, lies neatly with all of his equipment at the corner. His salvar and boots are still intact, but apparently his kameez was used for bandaging since it was nowhere in sight.
The girl (he refuses to believe this person is female) stands there looking at him. She's dressed in traditional men's clothing: loose trousers and a baggy, long-sleeve kameez. Her face is partially hidden by the scarf that winds around her neck, and her hair is hidden by a white keffiyeh. Anyone casually passing by would not spare her a second glance, and dismiss her as a frail-looking child.
The assassin stops his examination of his mysterious benefactor, and turns his attention to their surroundings. The room is small, not bigger than two wagons' width and height. Shelves with an assortment of bottles and containers cover the walls. There is hardly room for the modest bed that sits on the side next to the door. A stool sits in the warmth of daylight streaming from an opening in the ceiling.
"How many days have passed?" He asks as he starts to briskly don his robe.
"Two day and two nights. I thought you weren't going to make it… you really shouldn't push yourself. You injuries might reopen-," she trails off at the look he shoots at her.
"And risk discovery? I think I'll take my chances." With a final snap of the buckle, the man jumps and pulls himself through the open window. Gone in an instant.
Jin stares open-mouth at the man's hasty departure. One minute he was there, on top of her and threatening her life, and the next… gone! Hours of worrying, sneaking around, and neglecting her work to take care of this ungrateful inmate erupts in rare fury across her features. She storms out of the opening and onto the rooftop, intending to give him a piece of her mind. Her gaze scours the surrounding buildings, but the man is nowhere in sight.
She growls deep in her throat, and forgetting that there might be passersby below her, yells out, "Damn you! Next time I see you I'll make sure to call out to the guards and-"
A hand suddenly clamps down on her mouth.
"Quiet!" he hisses into her ear, so close that she feel his breath tickling her half exposed face. She struggles against his grip, but he holds firm and she glares at him with her furious green eyes; now even more incensed because she didn't hear his approach.
A quiet chuckle comes from inside the hood.
"I have never in my life heard a female swear so profoundly."
His rich voice trickles down her neck, making the hairs on her nape rise with apprehension. She is forgetting he is a murderer. One that is capable of taking her life in an instant. Why can she not be grateful that he was about to take his leave without a fuss?
"Forgive me for my rudeness. You have done me a great service. I owe you my life."
His hand releases its hold over her, delves into a leather pouch attached to his hip, and withdraws a single feather. During the entire exchange, Jin was very aware of how close the assassin is. She can feel his even breathing, the heat of his body, and more disturbing, the hardness of a sheathed knife at her back.
"Take this, it is a symbol of my gratitude. Use it with discretion."
In silence, he gently takes one of her hands and encloses her fingers over the token. A slight shiver passes through Jin's body as a breeze blow by. The girl looks down at the object in her hand. A beautiful eagle feather, mostly white but with a speckle of gray on the top.
"But how-" Jin turns around to face the man, but finds only empty air, "… do I use it?"
Notes: WTF? I don't update my other fics but instead start a whole new one? I'll try not to get to plotty or involved with this one. Just read it like a collection of drabbles I guess. Don't expect regular updates. But I would love your feedback and suggestions.
I played the game recently and LOVED IT. The rich scenery, the way Altair just leaps, and the swordplay...sigh. The first scene is obviously describing Altair's first kill in Damascus. First kill should always be somewhat significant I think.
Jin is an OC. She's on the border of Mary Sue according to my beta reader. Damn.