Just a little oneshot. :D


EAGLE'S TALON

He crouched on the rooftop, motionless save for the fluttering of his white robes in the dry wind. Sharp eyes observed the streets below, hidden beneath the peak of his white hood.

The sun burned down on the city, making all of Damascus hot and irritated. The merchants lining the street beneath the hooded observer shouted at the passerby, advertising their wares and scowling darkly when they were ignored.

"Come, come – my pots are beautiful works of art, crafted from the finest of clay! They are well worth the –"

"-is very cheap! Cheap price for excellent quality! Please, madam – you must take a look!"

"Sir, good sir! Look! Fresh figs! The best figs in all of Damascus! Surely you-"

The hooded man tuned out the merchants, having no interest in them or their sales pitch. It was the people milling past the merchant stalls that held his attention; among them, his target lurked – he was sure of it.

Altair Ibn La'Ahad was a very patient man. For over an hour, he had roosted, watching, waiting…knowing that the man he was waiting for was nearby, and knowing that it was only a matter of time before the target showed himself.

He ran a tongue over his dry, cracked lips, then flicked his gaze skyward. Pale blue. Empty. He lowered his keen gaze, swept it over the milling civilians once more.

A dark red turban caught his gaze, standing out from the rest merely because its wearer was larger than most. Altair found his breath hitch in his throat, and he leaned forward slightly. He watched as the red-turbaned man strode casually amongst the others, exchanging friendly greetings, his big belly shaking as he broke into loud laughter.

Altair tucked in his chin, further shadowing his face within his cowl. He exhaled slowly, muscles tensing as cool disgust filled him. What a farce. The man was a hypocrite, pretending to be a good man, a kind friend to all, when he truly was little more than filth. And a coward, for Altair's gaze did not miss the two armed guards trailing close behind.

They weren't included in his intel; however, it was not a problem. Altair wasn't a master assassin for nothing.

The big man stopped in front of the fig merchant, while his two guards took up vantage points on either side of the stall. Not one to waste the perfect setup, Altair smoothly rose.

Keeping the target in sight, he ran lightly along the rooftop, the tails of his white robe billowing out behind him. Seconds later, he came to a sudden halt, directly above the fig merchant's stall. Stepping up to the edge, he looked down.

The merchant was haggling over prices with the man in the red turban, insisting that his figs were of high quality, and that to lower the price would be a grave insult. The turbaned man merely broke out into deep chuckles, before dipping a hand into his fine robbing and pulling out a fat money purse.

Altair shifted. Time was running out. From here, the easiest approach would be to leap off the roof, land on top of the merchant stall, then lung forward to plunge his hidden blade into the target's throat. However –

Always be discreet.

-such a kill would be too flashy, and draw unneeded attention upon himself. That would not do. Aware that his window of opportunity was rapidly disappearing, Altair lifted his gaze and scanned his surroundings.

The rooftop on which he stood was fairly small, and about twenty feet to his left, it dropped down into a narrow, shadowed alley. An alley which undoubtedly led right into the market area. Altair didn't think twice, he spun on the ball of his left foot, sprinting towards the alley. He only slowed slightly before he reached the edge, leaping into the darkness without hesitation.

As he fell, he shot out both arms, grabbing onto the ledge of a windowsill that he knew was there to slow his fall. Then he let go, allowing gravity to claim him once more. He hit the ground hard, the impact jolting up into his knees. Yet, it barely registered in his mind, for he focused on only one thing.

Bowing his head, hunching his shoulders, he strode leisurely out of the alley, his hands clasped in front of him as he adopted the posture of a monk. After all, his white robes had been fashioned after that of the religious sect in a manner of camouflage.

No one paid him any heed as he entered the fray. The street was quite crowded, and despite his best efforts, he bumped shoulders with many. A few uttered apologies; the rest raised angry eyes to him, only to drop away in awkward silence. Altair kept his head bowed, his face shadowed. He kept his strides slow and relaxed, even as he saw the turbaned man leave the fig merchant's booth and start to move in his direction. The man's guards moved in behind.

Altair's lips twitched. Then he began to move diagonally, making sure that their paths would intersect. As they drew closer, he flexed the wrist of his right hand, feeling the heavy weight of his hidden blade. He focused on the turbaned man's throat briefly, before dropping down the man's chest. The throat would be immediately noticeable; it would only serve to raise the alarm. However, the man was grossly overweight, so there was no guarantee that the length of his blade would reach the heart.

A thrum of adrenaline began to buzz lightly through his veins. There only was one choice, now.

The turbaned man stepped into Altair's range. In the short moment before he drew abreast, Altair snapped his wrist. The blade slid smoothly out of its hidden sheathe, sliding out against his palm, poking out of the recess that his missing ring finger provided.

"Ah, sir monk –" The turbaned man began to call out in way of a friendly greeting. Altair lifted his glittering, predator's gaze; their eyes met. The target's eyes grew wide, suddenly aware –

The assassin lunged forward, throwing all his weight behind his blade as he plunged it deep into the man's throat. The cold steel slid easily into the fatty flesh, tearing through the jugular and scraping against bone before Altair savagely yanked it free. Hot blood erupted into a wide spray, splattering against his white clothing before he could evade.

There was a moment of stillness, a second of silence.

Then a nearby woman screamed, her shrill voice full of horror. People immediately reacted, breaking into panicked shouts and cries, while another man's voice rose above the sudden chaos.

"Assaaassin! It's an assassin!"

Altair jerked. He stepped back, eyes darting to the alley that he had come from. Somebody bumped into him from behind; he whirled, blood roaring as he instinctively drew his sword and swung it at –

-A terrified young woman, mouth opened in a soundless shriek.

Stay your blade from the innocent.

The blade froze, inches from cutting into her. Hissing in annoyance, the assassin lowered his weapon and shoved the woman aside as he broke into a run. Despite their attempt to flee, civilians still crowded the street, blocking off easy access to shadowed alley ways. Altair pushed and pulled them out of his way, ignoring their shocked cries of pain as they fell.

He had to get out of here.

"Stop him!" A gruff shout from behind warned him that his progress was too slow. The two bodyguards were hot on his tail, and unless he got rid of them, they would alert the entire city's military force to his presence. And that would be the worst case scenario.

Do not compromise the brotherhood.

Growling, Altair skidded to a stop and whirled, lifting his naked blade in an offensive stance. The guards were either very confident or very stupid, for they did not hesitate in charging in, their own swords ready.

Altair darted forward, meeting the closest weapon with a simple block. The guard pulled back, before dancing forward in a quick lunge. The assassin parried the weapon, shunting it to the side while he lifted a foot and slammed it into the guard's gut. The man was thrown back to the ground, his weapon clattering to the ground several feet away. Altair rushed in, stabbing the fallen man in the chest before he could get up.

Senses flaring, Altair leapt to the side, naked steel slicing the air millimeters from his ear. He twisted, bringing up his blade in time to catch another wild stroke. For a moment, he struggled against the guard, each trying to push the other back. The assassin's eyes flickered faintly in surprise; this opponent was quite skilled.

Then he twisted away, putting some distance between them. He eyed the guard warily, then risked a glance at his surroundings. The street was nearly empty now; the civilians had gone. However, it was only a matter of time before the city's guards arrived. He had to hurry.

Narrowing his eyes, the assassin let air escape from his lips in a low hiss. Then he surged forwards, a flurry of white clothing and flashing steel. His blade danced like a leaf in the wind, no longer testing, but deadly serious.

The guard was no pushover, for he managed to block or parry each swing. However, he was becoming uneasy, for he had no time to slip in any offensive strikes of his own. And at this rate, it was only a matter of time.

Altair saw the nervous fear flickering in the man's eyes. His own gaze glimmered golden. And the predator swooped in on the prey, showing no mercy, no hesitation, but only the savage satisfaction of a successful hunt.

He brought his blade in a sideways arc, aiming to cut into the man's torso. The guard saw it, caught it on his own blade. Altair immediately spun around, feinting at the other side before coming in low, dead center. The guard didn't have a chance.

The assassin's blade tore into the soft belly, piercing though in a fatal gut strike. The guard's eyes grew wide, jaw going slack in shock. Altair watched silently as the man's muscles gave out, first releasing his sword to let it clatter against the stone, then sagging to the ground in a twitching heap. Tightening his grip on his weapon, Altair jerked the blade free of the man's body.

The assassin turned away, sheathing his blade. His face was cold stone. He ran at the nearest building, fingers grasping ledges and jutting-out bricks. Moving quickly, he effortlessly scaled the side of the structure, lifting himself easily onto the rooftops.

Seconds later, the only thing in the area where three dead bodies. And a white eagle that circled slowly in the sky, as if observing the dark, eternal silence that its brother had wrought.

FIN