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Craig Adams

Action Fantasy Thriller


4  

Craig Adams

Action Fantasy Thriller


Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed

15 mins 235 15 mins 235

Initium 


The city lights were bright and vivid, burning with several lives of their own across the neighborhood, the flickering of a misused streetlight that flashed on and off repeatedly, the twinkling lights of the massive billboards that took up most of downtown's space, the taxi lights glowing red and gold as people raced to reach their destination.

They were exceedingly bright but muted to the man who stood in his flat and waited. The Alembic House apartment was one of the finest and most expensive in the entire city, but he care for it. He didn't really care for its stunningly opulent furniture, it's thick dark rugs and carpets. The panoramic view of Times Square, even lit up, as it was then, with all the glories of the city's nighttime lights, did little for him. From where he was standing, the wide picture window held two images: the city and a reflection of himself, standing in his living room, alone. He wasn't relaxed. He wasn't happy or sad - but he was calm. After all, he had done all that he could.


The logistics of arranging his not- inconsiderable personal fortune so that he have access to all of it instantly, without fear of interference from governments, tax departments or any other hindrances had been no simple matter. But he was not a simple man. In the fourteen years since he had set himself on this path, he had cut a swathe across the financial markets of the world, a trail of conquest no less devastating for its having been so quiet. But when 'they' came for him now, as he fully suspected they would, would that be the end of it? Would he have...atoned?


The man allowed himself a bitter smile. Of course not.


He had done it, the unthinkable. By betraying the Brotherhood, he'd unleashed a terror upon the world, a terror that could be slowed but never put down. He had also destroyed a family. For h there could be no redemption, no forgiveness. He could only do what he could, use what he was good at as best as he could, and never make another mistake, ever, ever again.


And he had made no more mistakes.


His life was empty, dry as sand, but he had made no more mistakes. He could take what comfort he could from that.


He gazed at the reflection in the window; the dim green of the glass-shaded lamps, the winged silhouettes of the leather chairs, and all the other expenses trappings, he gazed at them, and passed them, at the city beyond, until the ice cubeselted in his glass and finally, in one corner of the room behind him, a patch of shadow began to move by itself. He fixed his eyes on the reflection of that piece of darkness as it budged, swam and took form.


"At last," he said.


He gulped the remains of his drink; the fiery liquid slid down inside his as he put down his glass. Still smiling a bitter, grim smile, he now turned to his nightmare.


"For nearly fifteen years, I've steamed of you," he told the shadow. "Every the night the same dream. And every morning I've woken up knowing that I'm never, ever going to be free of you, and what I - we - did. So come on and get it over with. Because frankly, I've got nothing left to loose."


"No," said the shadow.


The man frowned at the demon uncertainly. This wasn't how the moment was supposed to go. 


"No...what?" He asked.


"No, Felix Middleton, your life is not mine to take," the shadow replied, "and no, you still have something to lose."


Felix looked at the shadow,; the face hooded and heavily shadowed from the dark leather of it's coat a coat that was stained with vivid crimson splatters. "What are you talking about?" He asked.


The shadow just waited.


"I've wronged the Brotherhood," said Felix, smiling bitterly. "Betrayed your master, his daughters, his house, his trust, and now you..." He trailed off suddenly and shuddered.


"Precisely." The shadow said. It paused.


"Felix," it asked slowly, "have you ever wondered about my master? About his power, his reach, his speed, his wrath? Have you ever asked yourself how he came to be?"


Felix paled. "No. Never. Why?"


"Felix," the shadow admonished. "He told me that you could never tell a proper lie."


There was silence between them for a moment. 


"Oh God," said Felix. "Oh, please, no. No."


"As I said when I arrived, your life is not mine to take."


"But...please," Felix cried. "Why can't you just-"


"Quiet."


And there was quiet.


Presenly the shadow, the cloaked man, stepped forth from the shadows, a flachette clenched between his fingers before it wasn't. It flew across the room so fast that it could have been mistaken for naught but a fly, before lodging itself into the meat of the man's neck.


Felix flinched, trying to lift a hand to attempt a removal of the projectile that was lodged in his flesh but found that he couldn't. His arm was numb, dead to the world and utterly useless, as was the rest of him because he was no longer on his feet but sprawled out on the hardwood floors instead, the lamps in the ceiling burning into his retinas.


The shadow loomed above him in a crouch, blocking out the light like the moon during an eclipse.


"Time to go home, Felix."


Built into the mountain itself, Nanda Parbat was beyond compare, a jewel in the dark. The long line of the Brotherhood had begun when evil thrived when it shouldn't have done so, and when death was found to be the only suitable answer to such a problem. It was an ideology that would continue to exist as long as the Brotherhood did.


He wanted to see it.


For many decades, he had focused solely on his reign, foolishly believing himself to be immortal. He hadn't looked ahead to the time when he would undoubtedly need a worthy heir to become the newest incarnation of himself when he should have, and he had no one to blame but himself. How foolish he had been. He had been content with his two weak, distracted daughters when he should have been striving for strong sons. How many opportunities had he been given to impregnate hundreds, if not thousands of wen, spreading his worthy seed but had rarely done so? Too many because he had worried about other things, but no more.


From now on, all of his attention would be set on securing the dynastic succession of the Brotherhood. He needed a male heir, just as all rulers needed sons. He had ignored the foundation of security in the Brotherhood; a worthy male heir who would inherit the mantle of power that belonged to the First Blade and no other.

Even now, when he was submerged, he could feel the affects of the Pit weaken ever so gradually, more so with each submergence. At this rate, he would only have a few years left until it ceased to work on him at all, and then he could easily be killed. The only solace to that was that his enemies would no longer survive for much longer then, as well.


"My liege," he felt the priestess kneel before the pit. "Al Sah-him has returned from his journey and he brings urgent tidings."


His eyes opened slowly. "Bring him in with haste."


He exited the Pit and several of the servant girls dressed him. He felt the ring on his finger more than ever before, its presence a reassurance in these dark times. He was now acutely aware that Al Sah-him hadn't returned alone and that he had been seen dragging precious cargo along with him by the archers that were stationed along the battlements of the impenetrable fortress that was Nanda Parbat. It seemed that Al Sah-him has been successful once more, the thought pleased him immensely.


"Leave us," he suddenly called out and the girls scurried out as respectfully as possible. He slowly turned to see Al Sah-him's kneeling form and beside him another who's identity was most assured to him even though his face was covered. "I see your mission was successful."


"My liege," Al Sah-him kept his head to the ground as he spoke. "It was."


"Lift your head, Al Sah-him," he stared at the gruesome blood that was splattered across his impassive face in thick droplets, caking the high cheekbones and strong jawline, dripping off of the thick eyebrows in buckets and leaking down the chin like a faucet, the worst of the blood was staining the dark leathers of his chest and arms, leaving the uniform that he wore with pride a complete and utter mess "And this was the result of your doing?"


"It was, my liege, the blood belongs to his men, of which there were plenty. They were dealt with accordingly."


His eyes sharpened. "And Middleton?"


"Not mine to claim." Al Sah-him rose to his feet and slowly stepped behind the prisoner. One swift tug and the bag concealing his identity was removed, revealing a disoriented but very much alive Felix Middleton.


"Very good," he murmured as he stepped closer to the kneeling man before him, barely concealing his rage with every step that he took to stare the man down. "Felix." 


"Altair." The man's voice cracked and trembled, he was visibly shaking as he bathed in his fear.

"Do you know why you're here?" He wondered.


"I do," Felix declared shakily, his breathing elevated with every glance at the man that stood before him. The man that he had wronged, who he had loved and betrayed. His lips trembled at the sight of him. "I do."


"Good."


He stepped back, shaking his head slightly as he regarded the scum before him. The man really was pitiful; sweating profusely, lips trembling, his eyes wide and full of fear. An absolute waste of everything, the gifts, the knowledge, the wealth, that was bestowed upon him. A pity and a she that someone of his stature has turned out to be so pitifully weak.


He sighed deeply in regret before lashing out, as quick as a cobra in his movements, ejecting the hidden Blade that was attached to the inside of his wrist with slight pressure, only to imbed it squarely beneath the jaw of the pathetic seine before him. The blade pierced through the flesh and skin, cutting deeply and quickly as it sliced through the muscle and made a home in the mouth of it's victim, severing his speaking appendage smoothly.


And just as quick as it was extended, the blade was retracted and tucked away once more.

Felix's eyes widened in excruciating pain, his body locking up in its kneeling position as he begun to gurgle on the thick blood that began to puddle in his mouth. He choked on it, desperately gasping for air that he wouldn't get, before a boot implanted itself in the centre of his chest, just below his sternum, driving whatever hope he had for breath put of his lungs in a bloody geyser.


Al Sah-him stood in silence, the gruesome death seemingly nothing but natural to him as he respectfully lowered his gaze once more. He seemed to be quite content at the moment, but Altair knew better, the tightening of the muscles in his shoulders, neck, and chest, however slight, wss more than enough to inform him that something was amiss with his young pupil.


"You have done me a great service today, Al Sah-him," Altair began, walking away from the corpse to stand before a pedestal with a metallic bowl. He began methodically removing the now blood soaked rings adorning his left hand, placing them carefully on a cloth before rolling up his sleeve and divesting himself of his wrist blade. The buckle popped off with a slight hiss, releasing the mechanism that held the deadly weapon on his wrist. It was placed to the side as well in favour of cleansing himself of the filth that stained him. "What troubles you?"


"Nothing but ghosts."


Altair smiled wryly at that. "Ghosts." He knew all too well about what he was being told, knew of the memories that haunted the young man, of the pain that he once harboured within, of the dreams that plagued him. He'd been there when they all thought that the past was burned out of him and replaced with something newer, something far superior, but the life that was once lived was proving to be more stubborn than any of them had anticipated. Altair himself was guilty of thinking the same.

"You're referring to the ghosts of your sister, of your mother and father."


"You are my father," came the immediate interjection, filled with such vehemence that it left no room for any arguments.


Altair's smile became brilliant at hearing this. Turning on his heel, he strode towards his student, his son, testing his hands upon the broad shoulders before him. "That I am," he coaxed his head upwards, needing to reaffirm their reality with both words and sight in equal manner. "Just as you are my son." He smiled at the somewhat ashamed gleam in the young man's eyes, pride filling him as the shame seemed to permit his entire being. It was an unnecessary shame, a nuisance that needed to be snuffed before it grew into something more. "And I know your demon's as only a father could know his kin. There is nothing to be ashamed of, my son," he consoled him, adding just a bit more force into hold to get the boy's undivided attention. It amused him to no end that someone so young could be do heavily burdened by a past that no longer belonged to him, a past that had been burned away several years ago, as was done to every other member of the Brotherhood.


But he understood that this was not just any other member of his creed standing before him.


"Ibn Sirin once wrote that there are three types of dreams;" Altair released his student and strode over to the corpse that was littering the floor before them. He curled his lip in disgust as he recalled the pleading in the miserable man's eyes before he was ended. He knew what his fate would be the moment he committed his treason and yet, he still dated to plead for mercy. Unworthy. "There are the dreams that regard the truth; ones that have been deeply hidden by our subconscious as a form of self-preservation because if these truths were ever to see the light of day, we would be ostracized by our fellow men for them, treated cruelly and without respect by our peers because of them." He moved on from the corpse, not wishing to waste any more of his time on thoughts on of a traitorous snake that was crushed under his boot. Gathering his rings, he spoke once more. "There are dreams of desire, that of the flesh that we live in. Dark and depraved that if ever give the opportunity to see the light of day, would cause people to consider us as naught but mindless brutes." 

Finally, he turned to face his son once more, regarding his silent form that had not once moved since he revealed the cattle that he herded to the slaughter, ever faithful and obedient, waiting patiently for the lesson that was being bestowed upon him. It filled Altair with a sense of pride that he'd never known with his daughters. Yes, they were dutiful, carrying out his orders as soon as they were uttered but nothing could compare to the pride of having a faithful son, even one that was not of his flesh. And finally, there are dreams of temptation, things that would test our resolve, be it greed, our pride, pleasures of the flesh, the very feeling of what it is to be a man. Everyone and everything can be tempted if the weapon is wielded correctly."


"I don't know which category my dreams align with," came the honest response.


"I believe that they hold a piece of each."


Altair smiled at the troubled look on the boy's face, grateful that he seemed to be taking this lesson to heart. He has taught I to many a troubled soul before, but not all of his pupils have always received the deeper message hidden within. Al Sah-him was forged from a different sort of metal, he was not like those that came before him. "Go, now. Rest. Sleep. Your journey was long and full of obstacles. We shall break our fast together at dawn, where you can regale me with the specifics of your journey."

He recieved a now in return and a hastened kneeling in departure before he was left alone once more. Just him and the cold corpse at his feet, his son's retreating shadow their only companion.


Felix, you damned fool. Altair sighed softly, ordering the body to be searched with a flick of his wrist. It was thoroughly checked, every nook and cranny where things could be hidden brought to the attention of the priestess until something was finally produced. He felt nothing but remorse for the man, for he was once upon a time an ally, a friend, a member of their creed. A brother. 


Now he was nothing but a sack of decaying flesh.


His attention was pulled from his thoughts towards the object that was presented to him. He frowned, taking the offering before indicating for the body to be carted out without a second thought for it. He was too interested in the objects in his hands to care about the body of a traitor. 


A thickly bound leather journal, obviously worn and old by the look of it, yet still held intact. He rubbed his fingertips over the cover once, feeling the buttery soft material mild to his touch. Good and expensive leather by the feel of it, so it was strange that it looked to be in the condition that it was in. 

But what was even stranger was the object that came along with the book. 


A clear box, a glass cube. Smooth to the touch, able to fit in the palm of your hand, and deceptively fragile, but harder than one would think when you first held it. And held within this strange cube? Blood. No more than a few simple drops of it but more than enough was gathered in this cube for it to form a perfect little orb of crimson that was no bigger than his thumbnail.


His fist tightened around the cube, his hand trembling with unrestrained anger at the sight of the object in his hand. It seems that the enemy has finally revealed their hand, and what a devastating one it was.


He changed a glance at the corpse that was seeing carted out of the room, the disgust that he once felt for the man increased tenfold at the fact that he wouldn't get the opportunity to kill the man again. 

The traitor might be gone but there was still those that provided him with the means to destroy them. Felix Middleton was only the first in a long line of threats that needed to be eliminated and from what he was holding in the palm of his hand told him, it wouldn't be as simple as this first step. But they would perish. They all would. It was only a matter of time. They would sooner or later realise that this swine was dead and then they would send others to try and retrieve the cube for their own needs.


This was only the beginning, but instead of regaining what they have lost, they would all be following in Felix's footsteps.


And at the end of it all, he would be the only one left standing.



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