Altair, it seems my students do not fully understand what it is to wield a blade. Perhaps you can show them what you know. Perfect! The work of a Master! And that, my students, is how we all should fight! You must be busy. I understand. Don’t cross your weapons around so carelessly! You won’t often get a second chance to strike! Rafiq. Word has spread of your deeds, Altair. It seems you are sincere in your desire to redeem yourself. I do what I can. And sometimes you do it well. I assume it is work that reunites us? Yes. William of Montferrat is my target. What can you tell me of the man himself? William has been named Regent while the King conducts his war. The people see it as a strange choice given the history between Richard and William’s son, Conrad. But I think Richard rather clever for it. Clever how? Richard and Conrad do not see eye to eye on most matters. Though they are civil enough in public, there are whispers that each intends evil upon the other.
And then, there was that business with Acre’s captured Saracens. In its wake, Conrad has returned to tire, and Richard has compelled William to remain here as his guest. You mean his hostage. Whatever you wish to call it. William’s presence here should dissuade Conrad from acting up. I’ve never been one for politics. But surely you realize your every action shapes the course of this land’s future. You are a politician too… in your own way. As you wish. Now where would you suggest I begin my search? Richard’s citadel southwest of here or rather, the market in front of it. You’ll find the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in that direction as well. It’s a popular place and should be filled with talkative citizens. Finally, try the border to the west, where the chain and hospitalier districts meet.
That should start you on your way. Very well. I won’t disturb you further. It’s no trouble at all. Oh God, don’t kill me! Oh, it’s you Altair. You scared me. Richard’s men are after me, two of them to be exact. I was trying to strike a deal with them, but I realized that they were toying with me, so I ran away. You shall be the angel of death, and collect their heads before they collect mine. When it is done, I shall tell you of the deal. What a relief it is to know that I am safe! Thank you, Master. I… tried to make a deal with the citadel guards to leave the gates open, even when the alarm sounds. I failed you. So now your only escape from Richard’s citadel, will be to climb the fortress walls. Forgive me. Lend me your ear for a moment, Altair.
William of Montferrat has replaced many of the district’s honest merchants, with men loyal to his cause. He seeks to weaken faith in King Richard, by overcharging citizens for poorly crafted goods. These corrupt merchants must be removed. Find their stands, and destroy them. Thank you for the help, Altair. It may seem a small thing you’ve done today, but it’s important nonetheless. This bit of paper should prove useful when you finally face William. Safety and peace, brother. Although it seems I’ll be receiving neither. Serves me right, I suppose. Got a bit careless, and now William sent his bowmen after me. I’d deal with them myself but, to be honest, I lack the skill. Would you be willing to seek them out and kill them? I might have something useful for you, were you to accept. But be careful not to let them see you. Thank you, Altair. I can once more move freely through the city. In exchange for your aid take this map I prepared.
It shows where William has stationed his other archers. Most useful, should you find yourself inside his fortress. Back again, Altair? Always in need of a hand to do your dirty work. This time Al Mualim did not order anything, it is just for my own pleasure that I ask you to find some Masyaf flags I’ve hidden in Richard’s district. Since I am a loyal Assassin, unlike others, I will tell you what people are saying in Acre. It is important information. But this time, try to come back to me faster than the first time. Your hard work is changing my opinion of you. Here is what I know about William of Montferrat, he and Richard had a disagreement before the King left for Jaffa. Since then, William stays in his citadel, surrounded by his army.
Do you have what it takes to attack him in this protected environment? We’ll see, but I am still doubtful. William of Montferrat had a vision, saw a way to end our pain. It’s him we should follow; it’s him who’ll lead us to victory! Stand up, friends! Do not allow yourselves to be sent to slaughter based on whims and wishes of an uncertain King! We must rely on men, who are stronger in their convictions! Men like William of Montferrat! Stop! Enough, enough! What is it you want? Gold? I’ve a few pieces on me. Take them! Take them and go! It’s not gold I seek, but information. I know nothing! You know William. Tell me how to reach him. It’s impossible! He meets with the King! And when will the King be gone? Today. But it won’t help you. They’re sure to argue, and then William will retire to lecture the soldiers; so it always goes.
Richard berates William, William berates his men. He won’t see you. I already told you, I need to see William. I never said he needs to see me. Then our business is done. Not yet, I’m afraid. There’s one last thing I need from you. What is it? Your life. They let you come and go as you please? I thought the fortress was closed to all. Aye, but William wishes to have repairs completed as soon as possible. It’s been to our advantage. The perfect cover. It’s clever. Anyway, I’ve finished my report and should deliver it. For once it seems things might go our way, and not by accident. Well, the Bible does say, “God helps those who help themselves.” Nah, it doesn’t actually.
That’s from one of Aesop’s Fables. The Bible says quite the opposite, in fact. Many passages about being patient and faithful, and waiting for the Lord to decide if he wishes to assist. Well, I say we’ve waited long enough. You’ll hear no argument from me. Very well, I’m off then. Altair! What brings you back so soon? I’ve done as asked and armed myself with knowledge. Speak, and I will judge. William’s host is large and many men call him Master, but he’s not without enemies. He and King Richard do not see eye to eye. It’s true, they’ve never been close. This works to my advantage. Richard’s visit has upset him. Once the King has left, William will retreat into his fortress to brood. He’ll be distracted. That’s when I will strike. You’re sure of this? As sure as I can be. And if things change, I’ll adapt. Then I give you leave to go. End the life of Montferrat, that we may call this city free. I’ll return when the deed’s been done. *Fast-forwarding memory to a more recent one…* Three thousand souls, William.
I was told they would be held as prisoners, and used to barter for the release of our men. The Saracens would not have honored their end of the bargain. You know this to be true. I did you a favor. Haha… oh yes! A great favor indeed. Now our enemies will be that much stronger in their convictions. Fight that much harder! I know our enemy well. They will not be emboldened, but filled with fear. Tell me, how is it you know the intentions of our enemies so well? You, who forsake the field of battle to play politics? I did what was right! What was just!! You swore an oath to uphold the work of God, William.
But that is not what I see here, no. I see a man who’s trampled it. Your words are most unkind, my Liege. I would hope I might have earned your trust by now. You are Acre’s regent, William, set to rule in my stead. How much more trust is required? -Perhaps you’d like my crown? -You miss the point! But this is nothing new… Much as I’d like to waste my day trading words with you, I’ve a war to fight. We’ll have to continue this another time. Do not let me delay you then, your Grace. I fear there will be no place for men like him in the new world.
Send word that I wish to speak with the troops. We must ensure that everyone is doing their part. Warn them that any negligence will be severely punished. I’m in no mood to be trifled with today. Yes, my Lord. The rest of you, follow me. You’re not supposed to be here. Filthy Assassin! Die! Men! Gather round! Heed well what I have to say! I come from speaking with the King, and the news is grim. We stand accused of failing in our duties. He does not recognize the value of our contributions to the cause. -For shame! -He knows nothing! -He is wrong! Peace, peace! Hold your tongues! Aye, he speaks falsely, but his words are not without some merit.
To tour these grounds, it is easy to find fault, to see imperfection. I fear we have grown slack, and lazy! -Never! -We are committed! -Why do you say this? I see the way you train. You lack conviction and focus. You gossip and gamble. Tasks set to you are left unfulfilled, or poorly performed. This ends today! I will not suffer further degradation at his hands! For whether or not you see it, and you should, this is your fault! You’ve brought shame upon us all! Skill and dedication are what won us Acre, and they will be required to keep it! I have been too lenient it seems, but no more! You will train harder and more often! If this means missing meals, missing sleep, so be it! And should you fail in these tasks, you will learn the true meaning of discipline.
Bring them forward. If I must make examples of some of you to ensure obedience, so be it. The two of you stand accused of whoring and drinking while on duty. What say you to these charges? M-my lord, please, w-we meant no harm by it. We… we forgot ourselves. It will not happen again. No, it won’t. Disregard for duty is infectious. It shall be rooted out and destroyed. In this way, we may prevent its spread.
Am I understood?! -Yes, my lord! -Of course! -By your command! Good, good. Return to your posts, filled with new sense of purpose. Stay strong, stay focused, and we will triumph. Falter however, and you will join these men, be sure of it. Dismissed! Rest now. Your schemes are at an end. What do you know of my work? I know that you were going to murder Richard and claim Acre for your son, Conrad. Haha… for Conrad? My son is an arse, unfit to lead his host, let alone a kingdom! And Richard? The All-See-Know is no better… blinded as he is by faith in the insubstantial. Acre does not belong to either of them. Then who? The city belongs to its people.
How can you claim to speak for the citizens? You stole their food… disciplined them without mercy… forced them into service under you. Everything I did, I did to prepare them for the new world. Stole their food? No… I took possession so that when the lean times came, it might be rationed properly. Look around… my district is without crime, save those committed by you and your ilk! And as for the conscription, they were not being trained to fight. They were being taught the merits of order and discipline… these things are hardly evil.
No matter how noble you believe your intentions, these acts are cruel and cannot continue. Hehe… we’ll see how sweet they are, the fruits of your labors. You do not free the cities as you believe, but rather damn them… And in the end, you’ll have only yourself to blame… you, who speak of good intentions. Close the gate! What news? William of Montferrat is dead. And with him, his plans for betrayal. You’ve done well, keeping Acre from his hands. But why now? When the Crusaders require unity most? He could’ve waited. Waited for what? For Richard to return and discover his schemes? No, it was the perfect time for him to strike.
Strange… I was sure he meant to take Acre for Conrad, yet he claimed this was not his plan. You cannot trust the words of snake, which even in death, produces venom. I should discuss this with Al Mualim. Yes, my friend. Make haste for Masyaf. I am sure he is eager for news. *Fast-forwarding memory to a more recent one…* Come, Altair. I would have news of your progress. I’ve done as you’ve asked. Good, good. I sense your thoughts are elsewhere. Speak your mind. Each man I’m sent to kill speaks cryptic words to me. Each time I come to you and ask for answers. Each time you give only riddles in exchange. But no more.
Who are you to say “no more”? I’m the one who does the killing. If you want it to continue, you’ll speak straight with me for once. Tread carefully, boy. I do not like your tone. And I do not like your deception! I have offered you a chance to restore your lost honor. Not lost… taken, by you! And then you’ve sent me to fetch it again like some damn dog! It seems I’ll need to find another! A shame, you showed great potential. I think if you had another, you’d have sent him long ago. You said the answer to my question would arise when I no longer needed to ask it. So I will not ask. I DEMAND you tell me what binds these men! What you say is true.
These men are connected, by a blood oath not unlike our own. Who are they? Non nobis, domine, non nobis [“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us”] Templars. Now you see the true reach of Robert de Sable. All of these men… leaders of cities, commanders of armies… All pledge allegiance to his cause. Their works are not meant to be viewed on their own, are they? But as a whole… What do they desire? Conquest. They seek the Holy Land, not in the name of God, but for themselves. What of Richard and Saladin? Any who oppose the Templars will be destroyed. Be assured, they have the means to accomplish it. Then they must be stopped. That is why we do our work, Altair… to ensure a future free of such things. Why did you hide the truth from me? That you might pierce the veil yourself. Like any task, knowledge precedes action. Information learned is more valuable then information given.
Besides, your recent behavior had not inspired much confidence. I see. Altair, you mission has not changed, merely the context within which you perceive it. And armed with this knowledge, I might better understand those Templars that remain. Is there anything else you want to know? What about the treasure Malik retrieved from Solomon’s Temple? Robert seemed desperate to have it back. In time, Altair, all will become clear. Just as the role of the Templars has revealed itself to you, so too will the nature of their treasure. For now, take comfort in the fact that it is not in their hands, but ours.
If this is your desire… It is. You are restored another rank. Take back your weapon. Use it to bring honor to the Brotherhood. Altair, before you go… Yes? How did you know I wouldn’t kill you? Truth be told, Master… I didn’t. I took a leap of faith..