Now that the bulk of my work is done, I can finally focus on this. But now I'm being threatened with final examinations (hate the in-class ones the most). OH SCHOOL LIFE, Y U LIKE THIS?
I realize that the starter chapters were slow-paced, so hopefully this will help speed things up!
kookie-douwh: I'm glad you think so, and yeah, we're all lazy to some extent, eh? XD
Cavea Aurata: Lol, what is this stranger you speak of? And I'm very happy you like my story.
Disclaimer: I don't think I've said enough times that I don't own and never will own Assassin's Creed.
Claimer: I own this fanfic and my OCs?
UN-BETA'D – If you catch any spelling or grammar errors, feel free to let me know!
Al Mualim had spared my life. He had let me stay here to recover, no doubt taking pity on me. It was also probably because I explained to him that one of his men was the cause of my injury. I was given the option to either leave or work for him and his... organization after I recovered, and in the meantime, I was to get some rest and think it over.
Speaking of thinking...
Marissa, Simone, you there?
'Yeah, how are you doing?'
I'm okay, I guess. I have good news and bad news.
'Oh, let me guess, the good news is that he's going to let you live?' Simone interrupted.
Yes—wait, how did you know?
'Simone, you idiot,' came Isaac's voice.
I heard a barely audible sigh from Helen. 'We should probably tell her the rest then.'
The rest of what? About you guys?
'I agree,' Morgan's voice emerged. 'There's no point in hiding it any longer. She'll probably drown in anxiety and Lauren's going to have to flush it out.'
Just keep ignoring me...
'I disagree,' Isaac deadpanned. 'Why should we serve this information to her on a silver platter?'
'Um, maybe because the chick will go insane if we don't?' Janelle remarked sarcastically. 'Do you want to live in an constant haze of insanity?'
There was another pause, but it was filled with the sounds of muttering and shuffling of feet.
'Fine, do what you like,' Isaac grudgingly relented. 'Just leave me out of this.'
What's his problem?
'He's been having some problems with Vincent after you left,' Marissa replied, I detected a hint of exasperation.
I smirked, So he's jealous?
'So jealous that his head's going to explode,' Janelle snickered.
'Let's get back on topic, shall we?' Helen cut in. 'We're on a time limit and your incessant ramblings does not help.'
So what do you need to tell me?
'First things first, you need to go somewhere where we won't be interrupted. It would be bad if you were seen talking to yourself or staring off into space.'
Is that really such a bad thing? I mean, people daydream all the time.
'Maybe,' Janelle murmured. 'But since this is 1192, people might think differently. You know, just a little bit.'
I stiffled a laugh with my fist. A little bit. Right.
They quieted again. I raked a hand through my hair and felt just how greasy it was. Gross. Nothing I could do about it now. Speaking of which, how the hell did I develop split personalities? I really was the most stable person on the planet—well, mentally stable I mean.
And how many were there? Marissa, Simone, Isaac, Vincent... um. Helen, Janelle and... and... Lauren and Morgan? I think that's all of them. I'll be damned if I can remember what they "represent".
Even through the conversation inside my head I still caught the suspicious and scared glances and stares. I should be the one doing that. 1192 or not, I would never be able to get used to their clothes.
Luckily Al Mualim had told a servant to spread word of my stay here so that I wouldn't be harrassed. I'm not sure it would work, but for the time being no one was coming near me, so I guess that was all good. I wouldn't know what to say even if they did approach me. Oh, are you new? Why yes, I am. Your clothes are most strange, where did you come from? Canada! Where?
I wondered the grounds for a few minutes, oblivious to the landmarks I marked off in my head. I didn't want to go to the infirmary—as I like to call it since it wasn't big enough to be a hospital and didn't match a clinic. Khalid was there and call me crazy but I think we could be good friends if I play my cards right. I'm certainly not going to jeopardize it by talking to myself.
No good... everywhere I go there's guards. And I don't like the look in their eye. That obnoxious, accusing, and distrustful look.
Not that I blame them... I guess. I wouldn't exactly trust me if I were them.
"Hey you," a gruff voice called from behind me.
I silently prayed that whoever it was, they weren't talking to me. But as fate would have it, they were. There wasn't anyone else in the vicinity, so unless he also had voices inside his head telling him what to do, then I was being addressed.
Even though Khalid gave me an impromptu manners lesson, I couldn't remember them.
"Can I help you?" I asked politely. Well, Canadian polite anyway. Hopefully my native manners would be enough to not rise the suspicion of whether I was brought up in a dog house or not.
His eyes scanned me for a moment and I felt myself shrink a few feet. "You are the one that everyone is talking about, correct?"
What is this, a cross-examination?
I slammed my forehead into an imaginary desk inside my mind. Of course I was.
"Good. Al Mualim has summoned you."
I grew back to my normal height and frowned. "That's strange. I just finished speaking to him half an hour ago."
He shook his head. "It does not matter. The Master has summoned you so I suggest you follow me. Unless you are confident you can find your way back, of course."
I chuckled nervously. "No, I certainly can't. This place is like a maze... I'd appreciate it if you could lead me back."
And if you can spit that out without choking, you're good to go!
He motioned for me to follow him with his hands and I trailed a few feet behind him. Either he really didn't care how out of place I was, or he's really good at following orders. My bet is on the latter.
This time I should memorize more landmarks...
But so many things looked the same! I mean, how can that exact same shield and armour be standing there? So much deja vu... most parts of the building looked like it was copied and pasted in Photoshop. That, or the architects are damn fine.
When I arrived before Al Mualim again, he regarded me with something akin to the suspicion a cop would have for a parole. When I saw what he held in his hands, I fully understood the situation.
"That's not mine," I blurted out.
I could see his face contort into anger for a split second before putting itself back to its original indifferent look. "Is that so? All these items," he gestured to the switchblades, matches, syringes, lighters, and cigarettes spread out on his table, "were found in your sack. Tell me then child, if these are not yours, then who do they belong to?"
"My friends," I admitted reluctantly. "They're... uh, hooligans."
"Your friends? Hooligans? Explain yourself, or I am afraid I will have to use force to make you speak," he warned with a glint in his eyes. I swallowed the lump in my throat and readied myself for a long-ass explanation.
I've seen people with pure, unadulterated malice in their eyes, and he showed me that malice in the split second before he finished speaking.
A generally nice and understanding man that is also capable of exhibiting the cruelty that most cannot stand is in charge of my fate. I'm in a real pickle.
"Okay, long story short, I confiscated them."
"That is not a satisfactory explanation." The irritation clear in his voice, I could sense an imminent danger and swallowed again.
"Um, okay, then... the long story. My friends were previously drug addicts and got in trouble with the law a lot. Uh, they still do, but not as much and not as severe. I'm a sort of median...? Yeah, median for them and whenever I feel that they can't keep themselves out of trouble, I'll take away some of their items," I gestured towards the switchblades, "and hope that they won't be stupid enough to do something. The other items I've confiscated for minor problems. Say, if they try to start a fight with someone for a stupid reason, I'll take away their cigarette and lighters. As for the syringes," I picked one up with my index finger and thumb, "sometimes they go into relapses and are desperate for a dose so I help them dispose of... the evidence I guess."
A searing pain shot through my head and I squinted at the switchblades.
"Vidic, she's not doing well."
More voices in my head...? I thought I met them all... maybe I was developing more?
"Well don't just stand there, get her out of there!"
"I can't... she's... she doesn't want to come out?"
"What do you mean?"
"She's resisting it, and winning. Look, I don't know if you can hear me, but you have to get out! Stop resisting the commands. I'm only trying to help!"
"Can she really hear you; she looks comatose."
"She should be able to."
A hand waved in front of me and I tried to catch it with my own, but my right arm barely lifted itself. That's strange; I don't feel weak...
"What do we do?"
"I told you it was a bad idea. She doesn't have any ancestral genes. This was a mistake from the beginning!"
"Alright, I get it, but for now we have to get her out of there. Get the power cables! She should come back if there's nothing sustaining frequency."
"But this isn't a normal project. She's not synchronized so doesn't that also risk leaving her trapped there forever?"
"...blank. Take her to..."
A sickening clench squeezed my chest where my heart is. It felt like someone had a grip on the beating organ. The instant I regained control I also realized I was being half carried, half dragged.
"Don't worry, girl. Everything will be quiet soon," a voice echoed. I lifted my head and saw it was one of the guards. The head gear must have made the echoing noise.
"Where are you taking me?"
"Just a quiet place where you'll be housed and fed... don't worry, we're going away from the noise."
Then—oh. My mind clicked. Guards didn't act like this, and I'm sure it must be killing him to soothe my imaginary fears. So while I wasn't in control of my body I was probably raving about noise. And now I was being dragged underground. What's usually underground? Dungeons. Prison.
I'm being sent to prison... to die. I doubt they'll actually remember me once they leave me down there.
A stench of rotting flesh hit my nose as we rounded a corner and past some heavy double doors. Oh yeah, I was going to get it.
I was thrown into a small cage of some sort and the door to it clanged together before a chain with a padlock sealed my fate.
"See. It's quiet now. Food will be sent down three times a day, so don't worry, okay?"
"I'm not crazy," I deadpanned.
I couldn't see his face, but I imagined he to be rolling his eyes. "Sure you aren't."
Perhaps this was their way of respecting my request, but that night, they didn't appear.
"Get to your battle stations!"
The guards of the dungeon looked to each other, the silent question of should they leave their posts.
I had been down here for only day and spent my time making idle conversation with the other prisoners. Well, when they spoke normally anyway. My house guests still wouldn't talk to me. What did I do now?
"What's going on?"
"No time to explain, hurry up and follow me."
The guards gave me a brief glance before pushing through the doors and closing it behind him. Like most people in a hurry, he didn't close it properly.
Heh, my chance out. Thank you destiny!
Groans all around me made me stop. I hesitantly turned around to survey my surroundings. This dungeon was not necessarily the kind I had in mind. No one was in the best moods, obviously, but they didn't look like Holocaust survivors either.
"Sorry," I whispered and slipped out. I didn't know what I was apologizing for. For just leaving? For not even giving them food or water? I didn't have any on me... but that didn't mean I couldn't get any for them. Damn it, this isn't the time to be thinking about that.
I noticed when they threw me in here that the spaces above the bars allowed more than enough space for escape. I willed my legs to move, and within seconds I became the pilot of my body again. It took me a couple of minutes to climb up the vertical bars before reaching the top. Normally, I would have been out in under a minute, but my situation slowed me down considerably.
It was a good thing there was only one corridor leading in and out. In a few minutes I was on the surface again. But it was only refreshing for a second before someone crashed into me.
I didn't get a chance to look at the person who shoved me aside, and the boiling anger quickly washed away when screams escalated in volume and pitch.
The danger I felt... it wasn't from Al Mualim.
"Malik can't do it. Go get Altair!"
Malik? I turned my head to the source of the voice but they were already gone. Malik can't do it... can't do what? Why not?
Maybe he's injured.
I made a bee-line for the infirmary, all the while dodging people. When I got closer, I heard even more screams. The adrenalin began pumping through my veins and I propelled myself forward.
When I arrived what I saw both shocked and disgusted me. I steadied my nerves and walked briskly to Malik's side. His left arm was a mess. He didn't seem to be conscious—
Never mind. Make that very conscious.
"Danielle, I need you to stay back!" Khalid's voice boomed. I flinched at it but backed off nonetheless. This seemed to be serious and I didn't want to get in the way... but Khalid didn't have any help. Where are the other medics? Are they all outside or what?
I took a cursory sweep of the room with my eyes and the number of injured clearly could not be tended to by only one person. Whether I get in the way or not, I had to try. It was awfully cheesy, my reasoning, but really, it was all I could do.
Before I knew it, I was consoling grown men, cleaning wounds and bandaging limbs. Khalid objected to my interference at first, but I quickly proved myself useful. He stopped dwelling on it surprisingly quick and had to return to amputating Malik's arm.
I've sat through amputations before, but that was in the future with drugs and no screaming. I wasn't cut out for this kind of job.
"Danielle, come over here! I need you to hold him down!"
I stopped mid-bandaging of a man whose arm had been shot with an arrow. He nodded at me to go and I gave him an apologetic smile.
Malik screamed bloody murder the whole time. But who could blame him? It took all my willpower to not turn away while Khalid literally sawed off his arm. When we were done, Malik had passed out—from pain or blood loss, I don't know—and we were both covered in blood.
Two days passed since then.
I didn't know what happened as Malik still hadn't woke up from his fever, but not long after Khalid and I finished tending to the wounded, from both already in the infirmary to scouting outside, Altair had been brought in.
Apparently Al Mualim stabbed him in the stomach as punishment.
Wonder what he did to screw up that badly... I'll ask Malik once he wakes up.
I was allowed to stay at Masyaf—and not as prisoner mind you—but as a doctor. I had very limited knowledge of the human body, but apparently that was a lot considering my age and gender.
Most of what I knew I could barely apply here since the technology is so old.
"Danielle," Khalid called. "Wash these."
I caught the cloths he tossed to me with ease. Ever since yesterday afternoon, my wound had healed almost completely. This unnerved me greatly. Obviously with my exertion it should have reopened, not healed. And although I didn't know what in God's name was happening, I kind of enjoyed it—the fast healing part I mean.
Khalid didn't know about it. I just told him it hadn't reopened and then I changed the bandages to hide the lie. No one needed to know about this; it would only make me seem stranger than I was already perceived to be.
"Check on Altair, I must make sure Malik's fever has not risen," Khalid instructed. I didn't really mind looking after Altair, but I'd much rather stay with Malik...
Altair as I learned, was an extremely light sleeper. The last time I tried to clean his wound in his sleep, he woke up instantly and tried to impale me.
Two words: Not fun.
"Hey, Altair," I whispered and approached him cautiously. He was awake, as expected, and glared at me from under his hood—which I found quite ridiculous to still be wearing.
"Why are you still here?"
I frowned. "You don't believe me."
"Not at all."
"Who do you think bandaged your stab wound?"
"I thought so."
Scoffing, he turned on his side and I heard a satisfying grunt. Serves him right.
"But really, I just want to help. Come on, sit up so I can change your bandages."
He didn't move at all. All the other men did as I said when I told them, with Khalid's back up, that I would be able to help.
"Don't be so stubborn..."
"Oh come on! My little brother is more mature."
He turned over a little this time. Ah... I know what kind of person he is now. I've seen his kind before and know exactly how to deal with it.
"That's right. Even he knows how to follow instructions. And look at you, do you not understand the concept of sitting up?"
I dodged his fist just in time and stumbled back a few steps. I couldn't see his eyes under his hood, but they were probably glaring daggers at me.
"Are you quite done, girl?"
"Not exactly. But hey," I gestured at him, "I got you to sit up."
He paused for a second before realizing I was right. When he lowered his arm, I quickly stepped forward and put a hand on his back to not only support him, but prevent him from laying down again. When I made contact, he jerked away and gave me an odd look. What, does this guy have a human phobia or something?
Nah... he just has something against girls.
"You have to sit up if I'm to change your bandages, can you manage that?" I asked with snark in my voice.
He growled at me and batted away my arm. I shrugged and held them up defensively, showing him I meant no harm. "You are lucky I have been given direct orders to not kill you. Otherwise—"
"I'd be in pieces at your feet? Yeah, I've heard it all before. Now come on, let's see how that wound is faring."
"Altair, listen to Danielle, she is more knowledgeable than you give her credit for," Khalid called from across the room.
I heard Altair growl under his breath again and mutter something.
But he still made no move to show me the wound.
How had I done it last time?
Oh yes, he had passed out from exhaustion.
"Don't make me knock you out just to change some bandages," I said teasingly. He... took it seriously it seemed.
His expression became feral and I unconsciously stepped back a bit. "Are you challenging me, girl?"
"Eheh," I shook my head, "of course not. I'm a medic, not a fighter, remember?"
He seemed satisfied at my retreat. Well, unlike someone, I don't have an eight foot cement wall of pride.
"So, can I?"
He still seemed extremely uncomfortable at my being here, but removed his shirt and began taking off the dirty bandages. I knew he could change the bandages himself, but he probably couldn't do much about the infection. The dagger Al Mualim used was clean, but it still didn't stop Altair from falling to a fever.
Perhaps that was why he resigned to letting me help him. With a raging fever and stomach wound, not even his eight foot wall could withstand my constant nagging.
I was surprised to find that his wound had not only healed a great amount, but his fever seemed to have gone down too.
Malik isn't so fortunate. His fever has risen since yesterday... if only I had some anaesthetic at the time.
I worked quickly and made sure to make little to no physical contact, obeying the keep your limbs to yourself rule. The only satisfying part of this job was hearing Altair hiss in pain when I rubbed the ancient antiseptic paste all over his wound.
Yeah, it was fun.
"There, all better," I wiped my hands on a cloth and looked at my handiwork. He was all cleaned up and looked less dead than before. Mission accomplished? I think so. "Now just get some rest."
He didn't need to be told twice and had already laid back down before I finished speaking. Killjoy.
"I'm done, Khalid." I walked over to Malik and with a tired heave, sat down beside him. Khalid walked over carrying another bowl of cold water. "How is he doing?"
"Has his temperature risen again?"
Khalid looked troubled. "It is hard to tell, but he is even less responsive than yesterday."
I looked at him confused. "What do you mean?"
He sighed dejectedly. Uh oh, I smell bad news. "Come here, I do not want our conversation to be overheard."
I nodded and followed him to a vacant corner. He looked even more troubled than before.
"Danielle, before I tell you, can you answer me one thing honestly?"
"Sure, I guess..." I replied uneasily.
"What is Malik to you?"
"Huh?" The question caught me off guard. Completely off guard. "To be honest, since I've only known him for like a day, nothing much... but he was the first one to show me any type of kindness, and I really appreciate it. And it may sound crazy, but I feel like we could be good friends."
"Then I'll be completely honest with you." He inhaled, something only a bearer of bad news would do. "Malik is very close to death."
I couldn't remember the last time I cried, but hearing this, I felt tears gathering in the corner of my eyes.
End of Chapter 5
Not too much interaction with Altair in this chapter, but plenty more in the next.
Thanks for waiting guys! I really appreciate the faves and reviews. You're awesome. Yes, you, behind the screen.
Anyone else have a long weekend? . 3.