Normally I try to avoid writing characters I feel that I don't know enough of. Even after playing the first game 4 times, I just can't say I know either Malik or Alty good enough to write them. However, this started off as a conversation on deviantart about which then turned into me being charged to 'write that fic' on AIM.
As always, I own nothing except a very, very active (and rather silly) imagination.
There was a…very odd feeling inside of the Masyaf fortress that morning. While there would usually be casual conversations between the novices and the noisy clatter of sword on sword from the training ring, everything seemed hushed. The novices and recruits still huddled in their little groups but their words were muttered and hushed; occasionally they would glance upwards to the vast window in the library where the Master had his chair as if they were being watched. Even the training ring seemed muted, every strike followed by an apologetic silence, as if the heavens would rain fire for disturbing the peace.
The guards shifted uncomfortably, almost nervously, when Malik entered the gate and walked past on his way towards the main door. And then the feeling hit him like a wave and he stopped in his tracks. Frowning in confusion and disliking the feeling of many pairs of eyes upon him, he considered asking a sentry for a moment but then decided that the novices would be a far safer bet when it came to getting the truth.
Taking his time to pick out the most nervous group, he wandered over almost casually and his hand on the shoulder of a recruit who was desperately trying to pretend that there wasn't anyone walking up behind him. The young man seemed to jump a mile at the touch and the sudden movement triggered the others to flinch and almost cower before the Dai. Only very rarely had Malik seen novices act in such ways, and it was usually after their mentor had caught them doing something and had ended up shouting various insults their way - and instantly, the Dai had a vague idea what had happened.
"Tell me, what cloud hangs over Masyaf on this bright morning?" It was not a question that the novices could wiggle out of easily and came out almost as a demand. Malik had only been gone a few days and yet he had returned to find the place cowering under a shadow.
The novices glanced at each other nervously, some biting their lips behind their masks or dropping their heads so their eyes were not visible under their hoods. Eventually, a young recruit - barely into his teenage years - was pushed forward by an older lad who hissed something Malik didn't hear.
"The…the m-master is very a-angry," he stuttered, his eyes darting everywhere apart from directly at the Dai. "There was an …a-accident."
Malik had heard enough and, with a nod and a word of thanks, he turned on his heel and marched in through the large front door. Inside, the hush was even more noticeable; normally under the low murmur of conversation and discussion the sound of footsteps went unheard. Today they practically made the hall ring.
As his foot touched to make his way up the stairs, a hand grabbed his arm and pulled him over gently. He was greeted by a familiar face though he could not place a name to it instantly, it was a young assassin who had called in to his Bureau in Jerusalem a few times when he had been caught by guards throwing beggars into hay carts. He too looked nervous but he caught Malik's gaze and held it as if his life depended upon it.
"Please prepare yourself. The Master has been breathing fire on all who go near him." Fear laced his voice and he looked visibly shaken. Obviously, he had been in the firing line as well. Malik never replied, he merely showed he understood silently and pulled away to carry on up.
Painfully away of watchful eyes upon him, all curious as to how this meeting would go, Malik followed the steps around and finally caught sight of the Grand Master ahead.
His pace slowed slightly as he frowned at the sight before him; it was most puzzling.
After the death of Al Mualim, Altaïr had refused to wear the black robes traditional to the Grand Master because of what his predecessor had done. Though logic spoke that it was a fallacy and that he should seek to become better than the old man, the young Master stubbornly refused to take up the robes and continued to wear his usual white attire. Often he would state that the Grand Master shouldn't appear different to any other assassin and while Malik could see the faint wisdom in this (even though he would never speak it to his friend), some times tradition had to be maintained.
And yet, despite all this, there he stood.
Altaïr in black robes.
Had he finally seen sense and decided to drop his stubborn attempt to remain indifferent to his title? Malik doubted it, some things required a miracle and no miracle could be performed on Altair in a few days. No, there was something else behind the Grand Master wearing his correct attire. Something that Malik would have to figure out before Altaïr noticed him appr-
"Are you going to stand there all day, Malik?"
Malik almost jumped but caught himself in time. The feeling in the fortress was contagious and he hadn't even noticed. But the students were right to be nervous, there was definitely an undercurrent of rage hidden in that cold, demanding bark that came from the Grand Master. And Malik really did hate it when he did that. The man had his back turned, his hood up and he appeared deep in thought; even with the hushed atmosphere he was hardly making much noise and yet he was still detected as if he had been walking along banging a drum.
"I was just wondering who the man in black was, standing by the desk of the Grand Master." With a smirk, Malik strode forward and put his hand on the wooden top, leaning on it casually and letting his gaze rest on the still and silent Apple that sat in an empty bowl next to Altaïr's scribbled journal. There was no comeback from his friend, no sarcastic bite or growled response. His mood must be as dark as his robes, thought Malik.
"So why are you wearing them?" he asked, casually, as Altaïr turned away from glaring at the distance and instead chose to glare at the Dai. Again, no true response, only a clenched jaw and a vague wave of his hand towards a pile of rags on a chair near a bookcase.
Or at least Malik thought they were rags at first. Questioningly, he frowned at his friend and wandered over to the…strangely coloured pile. Arching a single 'brow, he picked up the hem of one of the cloth and pulled it out, tilting his head to look at the shape of what it formed.
Slowly, very slowly, like a brick through treacle, the penny dropped.
The nerve twitched under his right eye. His right cheek seemed to dance before the edges of his lips began to curl. His eyes began to water and his body began to tremble as he forced himself to resist the urge that was growing deep in the pit of his stomach. Every muscle of his being went in to forcing himself not to do what he so badly wanted to do.
Altaïr, an expert at reading the body language of his closest friend, tensed as well - only for an entirely different reason. His mood darkened even further and he kept a steady, murderous glare directed at the back of the Dai's head.
Malik took a deep breath in through his nostrils and held it, trying to compose himself as he held the cloth up to the light.
"Ohh…" his voice wavered, trembling under the effort of self control. "I see."
"I have been sabotaged and if it wasn't for the fact you weren't here then I would be blaming you." It was a quiet roar, a deep and meaningful growl that made people stand to attention - or wet themselves. Altair's rage was so different to Al Mualim's. The old man raged like a sandstorm, shouting so loud the whole fortress rang - Altaïr was a different kind. He merely made you shake in your boots in genuine terror.
Or at least, if you weren't Malik.
"I'm sure you would be my friend," as calm as ever, having repressed the violent urge to laugh in his friend's face to a suitable level, he turned and carried the robe over to where the man in black stood, smouldering like an ember on the carpet, "but I am sure that this was nothing more than an accident. It happens." He shrugged and placed the distinctly not-white robe on the desk.
"It serves you right. I do try to remind you to separate your sash from your robes and still you ignore me. This is what happens when I am not here and I leave you alone." Malik scolded, a mean smirk on his face simply because he could see that in those blazing golden eyes of the Grand Master there was the recognition of the truth.
"Always a novice, Altaïr. I shall send word out to the seamstress, you shall have some new robes in a few days." He sighed, throwing the clearly pink robes back onto the chair where they originally were heaped before turning to leave. Pausing at the top step, he turned back and grinned "though I would consider keeping the black robes. They suit you."
And then he left, though not, Altaïr noticed, without bursting into hysterics just outside the main door.
I think the moral of this story is not to let Alty do his own laundry. Please excuse me now, I need to run away from a very angry assassin -flees-