A/N: I don't even know, guys. I'm not sure what this story is and I can't remember what I wanted to do with it, and. Yeah. What happens if we take out all the sci-fi elements in Assassin's Creed and didn't sidestep the whole issue of religion the way Ubisoft did? Well, certainly not this, because I am total fail as a writer. But I swear I tried.
Warnings: religion, more religion, Altair is a terrorist (no really)
Allah is the voice in the desert and the song between the stars.
Without Him the world is nothing; without Him the Creed is nothing: only words, only so many letters and sounds strung together without sense or meaning, a treacherous oath not even fit for infidels. This is the first lesson every Assassin learns. They sully their blades with blood, and it is Allah (most gracious, most merciful) who makes them clean again; they sully their souls with death, and it is Allah (most gracious, most merciful) who makes them clean again—
It is in His power, and no one else may do so. It is in His will and design.
Without Him, they would be nothing but common murderers, fit only for the noose. It is faith that transforms.
Nothing is true, save for Allah (most gracious, most merciful).
Everything is permitted.
"You call me cruel?" the Hospitalier snarls.
There is blood on his apron and madness in his eyes; Altair dances away from the first wild swing, and then the second. "You call me faithless? Who else would have taken them in? The poor, the sick—beggars and whores, thieves and cripples—they were my children—"
He dies, gasping, on the blood-soaked floor of the surgery.
His children mourn him with all the bedlam of a madhouse, and Altair burns away the memory of their desperate shrieking beneath the desert sun.
Allah is everywhere.
This is the second lesson every Assassin learns, and with it comes caution: Allah is everywhere, but humans are imperfect creatures, and the world is full of distraction. Gold and wine and women; verdant oasis cities; squabbles over land and power and pointless honors: it is easy, so easy, for a man to turn his gaze from Paradise; they must take great care not to falter. What use is an Assassin without his faith? Altair has recited the Creed without comprehension, and comprehended it without the recitation; the latter is far preferable.
He remembers the desert, vast and empty and scorching-hot beneath the midday sun.
The novices are sent there (when they are ready, and sometimes even when they are not) to wander in the desolation for three days and three nights until they understand: to free themselves of worldly distractions, to lose themselves in the silence until they come to grace. He remembers the night sky, the great vault of stars above and the rushing wind; he remembers the heat and thirst and weariness; he remembers the vision of the true desert behind the false. It is the most frightening thing in the world. It is the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.
Beneath the stars: Altair remembers the voice of God in the wilderness.
"You have come to kill me," says the Crusader lord.
He does not say this with anger, or hatred, or fear; he merely says it, as though it were a line in a book long since finished and put away, and this bright-garbed Crusader raises his sword (because he is not a coward, for all his heresies) and does not call for his guards (because he understands futility, for all his blindness) and they fight, then and there in the heart of the Crusader's own citadel.
Altair knocks the sword from his hand. The man kneels.
"This changes nothing," he says. "This will not be the end. More of us will come; this land is ours, by God and by the Pope, and we will not give it up."
"Your false kings will tremble when they see you dead," Altair tells him.
The Crusader only sneers. "Go on then, you bastard—"
His head rolls. By morning the his corpse is hanging from the city walls.
Altair murmurs a prayer for this infidel's soul before melting away into the frightened, milling crowd.
Prophets come from the desert: Ibrahim, Isa, Muhammad.
Madmen, they have been called; and dreamers; and fools. But Allah (most gracious, most merciful) has deemed them worthy of the Word: they are beacons for the faithful—like crystal lamps, like stars against the night—and the infidels cannot diminish this no matter what insults they fling.
Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth, his messengers the finest glass; He shines through them until they burn bright with His glory into every corner of the world.
Not all men are worthy. (Not all glass is clear.) Altair thinks that it must be the sun—these hours and days spent under the merciless sky, all human impurities burning away beneath its heat, until distraction and desire are gone and these men are fitting vessels for the voice of divinity.
This is the third lesson they learn: to remember, always, the purity of their purpose.
"You know nothing of schemes," scoffs the Knight Templar.
They circle, wary. The dust of the proving-ground stirs beneath their feet. "Your Master uses you," the Templar says. "I have heard of your kind, Assassin. I have heard of what you do. Do you think he cares, what happens to you?"
It is easy, so easy, for a man to turn his gaze from Paradise. Altair breathes in, slow and careful. There are more temptations in this world than pleasure; he holds close the memory of sunlight blazing down across the craggy desert rocks.
"He won't hesitate to throw you away when he has no more use for you," the Templar spits.
Their swords clash. They disengage.
"Are you too blind to see it?" The knight is shouting now, bleeding from a shallow cut to his arm and furious more with Altair's silence than with the injury; he doesn't understand, and never will. "Do you think him another prophet come to guide us? Are you such a fool?"
Their battle is short and brutal.
The Templar dies with curses on his lips, scant feet away from the English king and the breadth of his army.
At the edge of the cliff, he climbs a tower.
Men are shouting behind him, angry but insignificant. Heat rakes across his skin; an eagle soars overhead as he digs his fingers into the stone and levers himself up. He finds the nest at the top. The tower has long since been abandoned.
Wind rushes through the broken walls. The Creed rushes through his memory, recitation and comprehension all at once as he steps towards the edge: here is the false desert, and beyond it lies the true—
And beyond that: Paradise.
The sky spins to embrace him, vast and endless beneath the sun.
Featuring: Garnier de Naplouse, William of Montferrat. Robert de Sable.
Not featuring: pieces of Eden, aliens
Historically the Assassins were a splinter group that did creepy things like leaving dead rats in Saladin's tent, and killing people for political gain. They probably didn't have any nifty hidden blades, alas.