Title: The Blurring of the Lines
Series: Assassin's Creed
Characters: All OCs
Summary: These characters come from a short lived Assassin's Creed RP I was a part of called Lonely Souls. The story itself popped into my head after I finished reading Raymond Khoury's book The Templar Salvation.
This takes place in roughly 1258 in Constantinople as Alard l'Escu, loyal member of the Knights Templar, discovers that his Order isn't what he thought it was.
These men you call your brothers...not all of them are who you think they are. Do you truly think they are all seeking peace? And what of myself, Alard? I could have cut your throat the day we met and rid this world of another Templar. You, however, are not like them because you stepped in first to save me, even after seeing my blade. It may be something you deny, something you do not wish to hear, but you share more with we Assassins than your own brothers. And one day, I fear, you will see them for what they truly are...and they will destroy you, my friend.
The words of Zubayr ibn Sinan al-Katib's from months before repeated in his head, each hitting with the precise strike of a hammer blow. Alard l'Escu had known in his heart that they were true but when he and the other man last spoke he hadn't wanted to accept that. They were his brothers and Zubayr was, despite their awkward friendship, an Assassin. He hadn't wanted to believe that any of it was true.
He had been ever so willfully blind.
And Inigo de València - his commander, his brother, his friend - had shattered the illusion he had clung to so fervently with one sentence.
The world needs our guidance, Alard, in order to survive.
Guidance, not protection. Peace and protection was what he had believed the Order was about when he had joined fourteen years ago. That and a way for him to learn to protect himself so he would never again be a victim of anyone - most particularly his abusive father if the man ever returned seeking his son.
The Order was not supposed to be about controlling others. It was supposed to be about controlling oneself.
Movement brought Alard back to the present, to the the room that served as Inigo's in their Constantinople headquarters. He narrowed blue gray eyes on the other man as the knight began to pace and gesticulate as he spoke.
"Surely you have seen that this is what is needed," insisted Inigo. "All that we have seen ourselves and throughout history surely proves that someone needs to be in control."
"And you think that's the Order." The words were growled between teeth Alard couldn't remember clenching.
The older man stopped his pacing and turned to him, allowing the younger to see the madness brimming in gray eyes. It was a familiar sight as Alard had seen enemy, brother, and civilian look back at him with eyes like that but he had never imagined to face it in the knight that commanded him.
Inigo tilted his head slightly to the side and asked, "Have you begun to doubt, Alard?" The tone of his voice was slightly joking and rage burned through the younger man's veins because he saw nothing here to joke about.
"Only now," exploded Alard, his chest aching with the sheer force of the words. "I never doubted my place in the Order, not once, since I joined it. You know that. This though-" His mouth was suddenly dry as he continued, "Inigo, this is wrong. This...this isn't what I was taught to be."
What you taught me to be, went unspoken, the words choking in his throat as he thought of the decade he'd spent under this man's tutelage. He'd respected Inigo above all the rest of his brothers and now all that had been utterly destroyed. The man he'd thought he'd known was nothing more than a lie.
His brother Templars had taught him lies.
And an Assassin had spoken the truth.
Inigo scowled as he snapped, "Don't be a fool, boy. We have the power to change the world and you want to back away? It's too late to run." He then took a step closer that was full of menace and malicious intent, his eyes gleaming madly underneath a furrowed brow. "You swore your oaths to this Order. Would you really break them now?"
Alard's mouth opened almost automatically to respond No but he clipped his teeth together over the words. The menace exuding from his commander was so much like that he had witnessed coming from his father - and he was no longer a boy attempting to shield his younger sister from blows. He was a Knight Templar with years of combat training under his belt and he knew what was right. And this...this thing that Inigo was suggesting was wrong.
Just as every terrible thing he had watched his brothers do over the years and had said nothing about had been wrong.
Straightening to his full height, Alard lifted his chin and stared into the other man's wild eyes. And he spread his feet shoulder-width apart, arms tense, just in case Inigo attacked him.
"This Order is obviously not what I thought it was," he intoned quietly. "The oath I swore to uphold what it represented was already broken before I even joined."
Inigo snarled and his whole body tensed, causing the younger man to throw himself back a step. Then his commander - or perhaps former commander - laughed and shook his head as he asked, "Can you guess what happens now, Alard?"
"You try to kill me. I'm going to assume that's the real reason we lost Hugh, Felix, and Nasir. They didn't want to play your game so they're gone and we got Niccolo, Bernard, and Duncan while you worked on Thomas, Friderich, and me." As the older man merely smiled - a slow, sly smile that made Alard's stomach twist into knots - he breathed, "Thomas and Friderich are going along with this?"
"They want to rise in rank and power. Unlike you, who seem so content to remain in the background despite you telling me...what was it? That you wished to have control of your life. Or do you really want to be nothing more than a puppet dancing along to the pull of your strings?"
Alard flinched then snarled words that had come from a young woman Zubayr had introduced him to - an artist using her brother's name to survive so she could raise her son - when he had told her about his personal philosophy. "Control of one part of life leaves another open to attack. I controlled one part of my life...and now you're attacking it." Eyes narrowed as his blood quickened in anticipation of an oncoming fight, he hissed, "You had better make sure I'm dead, Inigo, because I won't just disappear. I'll make it my mission in life to see that I slow you down."
"Slow us?" repeated Inigo as the door to the room opened, admitting the largest of his squad brothers: Friderich and Duncan. Alard wasn't a small man himself given that his favored weapon was sword and shield but they were fortresses to his wall.
"I'm not fool enough to think one man can stop an army," explain Alard as he looked at his brothers and saw nothing reflected back at him. Then again, it wasn't all that surprising; he had been closest to Nasir of all of them thanks to their shared Muslim heritage. And Nasir was dead. "One man can slow an army though. One man can make a difference."
"Only if he survives," said the older man with a cruel smile. He then waved a hand at Friderich and Duncan, snapping, "Kill him. The Order has no use for sympathetic fools."
They stepped forward and Alard sprang forward, slamming his shoulder into Friderich's chest as he lashed his right arm out at Duncan. The heel of his hand caught the shorter man in the nose and blood spattered the front of Alard's surcoat as the larger of the pair, Friderich, grabbed the back of it and lifted him off his feet. Alard twisted, his teeth bared in a snarl, and snapped one leg backwards in hopes of catching the other man in a vulnerable spot. He was rewarded with a howl of pain as his heel of his boot slammed into something soft with a dull crunch and then his feet slammed into the stone floor.
His eyes met Inigo's and before the man had started shouting, Alard was sprinting out of the room.
Too much of his flight was a blur - though he did recall running to his own quarters to retrieve his sword and shield as well as the small journal he'd kept for years to record various observations in. One man did try to stop him but the edge of his shield slamming ruthlessly into an unarmored skull stopped that attempt in its tracks. After that, he didn't stop running through the city until he was well into one of the more unsavory parts of town and that was only to catch his breath as well as practically tear off his surcoat.
Alard stared down at the cross emblazoned upon the cloth for a long moment, his heart torn in two directions. The Order had given him a purpose, brothers, a home...yet all of that had been a lie. Snarling, he threw the surcoat onto the ground then angrily drew his sword as someone stepped into sight from an alleyway to his left. For a moment he didn't recognize the man then he slumped, utterly spent, against the wall as Zubayr looked sadly at him.
"You were right," he said through lips that didn't want to move properly over the words. The hand clutching at the scabbard of his sheathed sword shook then and Alard felt tears in his eyes at what he had just lost. "I was a fool."
"No," corrected the Assassin, his unlikeliest friend, "you are simply human. We seek to belong." He then extended a hand - the left, the one that held the deadly hidden blade - and said, "Come, my friend."
Alard looked at the offered hand for a moment then straightened to grasp it with his own.
He had seen his brothers for what they truly were and had escaped his own destruction by a hairsbreadth. Now, perhaps, he would see if Zubayr was right in thinking him more Assassin than Templar.