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Title: Among The Clouds

Author: Silver Symphony

Rated: K+

Summary: Altaïr has never been fond of the straight and narrow path.

Author's Notes: This story was written, although last minute, for the T/D July-August-September Challenge. The challenge was to model a one-shot story based off of the quote, "Straight ahead, one cannot go very far." I hope that you enjoy; reviews are always appreciated.

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He flies high above the clay buildings and cuts through the clouds. The wind directs him. He'd gladly keep the skies and obliterate the earth.

Below, the streets buzz with gossip.

Assassins.

Awful.

Murderers.

The wind pounds his ears so he cannot hear their malice. He is blind to to their movements by choice. They deliberately ignore the clouds and sun. All the lowly commoners keep their heads buried to the earth; they never raise their eyes to admire the sky.

He is disgusted by them. He does not see the point in sparing their lives, but the Creed— the damn Creed—

Do not harm the innocent.

"Innocent" is a gross misrepresentation of these people. Oh, Altaïr's thoughts would sting Al Mualim! He views them as lowly bottom-feeders. They are too content to let evil oppress the world; too satisfied with their meager existences to seek more. Blood stains his hands and these people have paid him poorly for it. Instead, it's—

Assassins.

Horrible.

Murderers.

Altaïr scales the buildings with such swiftness, but it is a swiftness cultivated from time and dedication. He's done this many time; it is almost his favorite element of the job. Almost. He is far from their prying eyes, but has yet to find what he seeks. The Jerusalem sun sharpens his eyes. He's spotted him!

And he's a white blur again against the clay and the dirt and the melancholy. He doesn't like to be this close to them. He smells their despair and can touch their poverty. It's beneath him.

Altair's eyes are focused on the back on a wandering beggar's head. He sluggishly roams the dusty streets, droopy eyes hoping to reel in someone's remorse.

Altaïr strolls in step with him. Waiting hurts his soul, but it is necessary that he maintain his inconspicuousness. Damn that Creed—

Be discrete in your work.

Altair shoves the bitter reminder to the recesses of his mind. Step, step, pause, look, step. It's all timed carefully with the beggar. The beggar has no success with his petitions. He slips between a gap in the buildings. Altaïr dives into the shadows after him.

Hands quickly engulf the man; one to his mouth and the other on his robes. He is pressed against the wall.

Altaïr's voice— sharp and silencing— cuts through his muffles. His eyes are wide and fearfuland fixed upon Altaïr's white cloak. He's not mumbling anymore.

Altaïr demands information from him. He knows no tact. He knows no ambiguity. He lays out his questions plainly to the man.

His answers are coherent enough, but panic punctuates his words. His hands are twisting the fabric of his robes. The whites of his knuckles stand out clearly through the dirt.

Altaïr has heard enough. The beggar sees a flash of silver; he is immediately on his feet and clutching Altaïr's robes.

The beggar smudges his robes. Altair is no longer white and light like the clouds. He is filthy and common in the shadows of the clay. He cannot stand this much longer.

The beggar loses the blade in Altaïr's hands— but feels it as it plunges into his chest. His eyes register the pain, but it is brief and the light vanishes from his eyes. The light never dims, but instead, dies out completely.

Al Mualim will have his head for what he's done. He's taken the life of an innocent, willfully and callously. Assassins shouldn't do this. They uphold the creed over all laws and human design, even over their own lives.

Do not compromise the Brotherhood.

But Altaïr has never been fond of the straight and narrow path. It's too restrictive, too predictable. It doesn't give him room to fly. He's never been like the other Assassins, and he came to that conclusion long ago. He's not willing to abide by their stringent path; they are too afraid to attempt his carefree and limitless methods.

And it is that cowardice that hinders them in the long run. Cowardice keeps them from being great; they will never be as great—no—they will never be greater Assassins than him.

So he flies among the clouds again, deaf to the screams of horror exploding from the shadows, deaf to the—

Assassins!

Heartless!

Murderers!

—and blind to his own actions. In the clouds, his true path lies.

How, after all, could anyone go far on the straight and narrow path?