Chapter 9: Memory Block 4: Fourth Target: Abu'l Nuqoud
The game began to load itself as the team eagerly waits for what's going to happen next.
"Jaune, would you like a turn to play now?" Pyrrha asked as she offered the controller to her partner.
"Thanks, Pyr. I would like that." Jaune nodded in thanks as he took the controller from his partner just as the game now started.
'The following morning…'
The screen fades from black and shows Desmond sleeping on his bed. The sound of the automatic doors slid open, showing Vidic entering with a cup of coffee as he approaches Desmond.
"Rise and shine! We've got quite a day ahead of us!" Vidic happily says.
"He's in a happy mood." Nora raised a brow at Vidic's change of personality.
"Something must have happened." Ren guessed.
"You're in a good mood this morning." Desmond said as he slowly got up from his bed.
"Ms. Stillman has made some modifications to the Animus. You should be able to remain inside even longer now." Vidic explains as he maintains his happy expression.
"So that's why he's so happy." Pyrrha's eyes widen. "Now, there won't be any problems when Desmond uses the Animus."
"And help you with your treasure hunt."
"This is serious business, Mr. Miles." Vidic says know dropping his happy attitude. "I don't think you fully appreciate the work that Abstergo does."
"Maybe because he's being held captive?" Jaune deadpanned while his teammates agreed with him.
"Maybe because I don't actually know what you people do." Desmond sarcastically said.
"We change the world." Vidic continues. "Every day in a hundred different ways. Did you know that nearly every single breakthrough of the past millennia, be it medical, mechanical, or philosophical, has come from Abstergo or its predecessors?"
"What?" Jaune said in a disbelieving tone. "Is he saying that Abstergo created everything in the Modern Era?"
"That's a very bold claim he's making." Pyrrha comments. "But then again, they did build the Animus."
"You believe him?" Nora asked.
The Invincible Girl shook her head. "I'm not saying that, just pointing out the Animus."
"That's a bold claim, Doc." Desmond says as he stood up from his bed, not believing in what the Vidic says. "Think you might be exaggerating a bit?"
"Our thoughts exactly." Ren and the others agreed with Desmond's statement.
"Not in the slightest." Vidic answers without a second as he chuckles. "Oh, we certainly don't take the credit. That would arouse far too much suspicion. We choose our beneficiaries with great care."
"Why would they do that?" Nora asked, wondering why Abstergo wouldn't take all the credit.
"Why?" Desmond asks, slightly curious.
"Isn't it obvious? It means we're in control." Vidic cryptically said.
"I see…" Ren said. "That way, they wouldn't gather any suspicion in their work."
"But how is that all possible?" Jaune asked, wondering how Abstergo is capable of this.
"But how?" Desmond asks. "What makes you guys so special, so smart? That you happen to invent all these things while us mere mortals stumble around like idiots?"
Nora giggled. "A little insulting but funny."
"To be fair, we don't invent them. We find them."
"Find them?" Everyone echoed in confusion.
"What does he me–" Before Jaune could finish his question, a realization hit him. "The Treasure!"
What Jaune said made everyone widen their eyes in shock. "So that's why Vidic is so confident in Abstergo! They're using the Animus to find this treasure and use it to make what they have in the Modern Era!" Ren answered.
"That's deep." Nora comments.
"Yeah…" Pyrrha said. "But where did all these treasures Abstergo find even come from?"
"…Find them?" Desmond repeats in confusion.
"They're gifts, Mr. Miles, from 'Those who came before'." Vidic cryptically answers, confusing Desmond even more, but Vidic walked out of the room before asking what he meant. "We'll have to continue this discussion later. Time's wasting."
"Those who… came before…?" Jaune slowly said, feeling the need to taste the cryptic words in his mouth.
"What does… that mean?" Pyrrha wondering what Vidic meant who these 'Those' he's referring to.
"He must be talking about the ones who made the treasure." Ren said.
"But who are they?" Nora asked, confused by it all.
The notification appeared in their Scroll.
'That will be explained in another time.' Triscythe messaged them. 'For now, just continue with the game.'
Having no choice, Desmond followed him out of the room and was greeted by Lucy, who was working on the Animus.
"Morning, Desmond." Lucy greeted but was focused on the Animus.
"Yeah. Hi." Desmond replied but was still watching Vidic as the older adult walked up to the windows and looked towards the buildings outside.
"Well, better get started." Jaune said as he was about to guide Desmond to the Animus, but he received a message from their friend before he could.
'Before you do, please guide Desmond to Vidic.'
"What for?" Pyrrha asked.
'You'll see.' Jaune didn't question the request, so he did what he was asked to do.
Both people were distracted. Taking this chance, Desmond slowly walks up behind Vidic without him noticing him. Desmond then sees an ACCESS-KEY pen sticking out of Vidic's pocket.
'\PRESS ANY BUTTON TO INTERACT.'
"An ACCESS-KEY!" Nora shouted.
"Another file we can look up after finishing a Memory Block." Ren pointed.
"And since Vidic is in a happy mood, he doesn't seem to notice Desmond at all." Pyrrha comments.
"Don't mind if I do." Jaune smiled as he controlled Desmond to get the pen.
Desmond slowly reached for it, took the pen, and hid it inside his jacket's sleeves.
"Got it!" Jaune cheered then looked at his Scroll. "Anything else we need to do before I take Desmond to the Animus?"
'Nope. Your good to go.' And with that, Jaune guided Desmond to the Animus.
Having nothing else to do, he walks back to the Animus and prepares another Memory Block with Altaïr.
'\PRESS ANY BUTTON TO INTERACT.'
As usual, Desmond laid his back on the Animus and resumed his recent memories.
The game began to save while the screen turns white, the fading back showing Altaïr left the Bureau and headed back to Masyaf to report to Al Mualim in his study.
"Another report to the Mentor." Ren comments.
"Come in, Altaïr." Al Mualim said to Altaïr. "You've done well. Three of the nine lay dead, and for this, you have my thanks. But do not think to rest upon your laurels. Your work has just begun."
"Six more to go." Jaune comments. "I wonder what these next ones will be like?"
"With how the other previous ones are, I can only guess these new targets mind have a similar mindset as they had." Pyrrha frowns as she recalled the dead targets as they all claimed that their deeds are righteous despite the pain and suffering they cause.
"I am yours to command, Master." Altaïr answered.
"King Richard, emboldened by his victory at Acre, prepares to move south towards Jerusalem." The Mentor informs the student. "Salāḥ ad-Dīn is surely aware of this. And so he gathers his men before the broken citadel of Arsuf."
"War rages on." Ren frowns.
"Glad we aren't going through any of that." Nora said.
Meanwhile, in Triscythe's place…
"Oh, poor naïve hyperactive Nora." Triscythe sadly frowned and shook his head as he recalls Ozpin and Salem's Shadow War and what will happen in Atlas if Beacon falls. "You have no idea."
Back to JNPR playing the game…
"Would you have me kill them both then? End their war before it begins in earnest?" Altaïr asked.
"No. To do so would scatter their forces and subject the realm to the bloodlust of ten thousand aimless warriors." All Mualim continued. "It will be many days before they meet, and while they march, they do not fight. You must concern yourself with a more immediate threat - the men who pretend to govern in their absence."
"He has a point." Ren nodded. "If Altaïr did kill these two without proper planning, it would leave dire consequences."
"Give me names, and I'll give you blood." The young assassin requested.
"Bloodthirsty as usual." Pyrrha lightly frowned in disapproval.
"So I will." Al Mualim nodded in approval. "Abu'l Nuqoud, the wealthiest man in Damascus, Majd Addin, regent of Jerusalem, William of Montferrat, liege lord of Acre."
"A wealthy guy from the Rich District of Damascus, huh?" Jaune comments.
"What are their crimes?" The assassin asked as he listens carefully.
"Greed, arrogance, the slaughter of innocents." The Mentor spat. "Walk amongst the people of their cities. You'll learn the secrets of their sins. Do not doubt that these men are obstacles to the peace we seek."
"That's kinda a cliché, isn't it?" Nora tilted her head while the others nodded in agreement at the cliché.
"Then they will die."
"Another of your items is restored." The Mentor informs the disgraced assassin. "Take it. See that it is put to good use. Return to me as each man falls, that we may better understand their intentions."
"Oh, goody! Another upgrade." Jaune smiled.
"You almost sound like Ruby." Pyrrha slightly smirked, making her partner blush slightly.
Al Mualim then dispatched three carrier pigeons, one for each city. "And Altaïr, take care. Your recent work has likely attracted the attention of the city guard. They'll be more suspicious than they've been in the past."
"With Altaïr's recent actions, it wouldn't be strange for them to do so." Ren comments.
The scene fades to white, then returns to the assassin.
'DNA Synchronization Augmented.'
Altaïr flexes his hands and fingers as he tested his new bracers.
'Synchronization Rank 4 Memory
New Ability Gained –
Catch Ledge (Press button)
New Ability Gained –
You can practice in the courtyard.'
The game began to save.
"Like the new bracers." Jaune comments as he took a good look at them.
"Looks like we can make Altaïr catch ledges when he jumps building to building." Ren noted. "Though I'm more curious about this 'Grab Break' that was shown."
As the assassin walked out of the building, he was greeted by one of the instructors requesting to teach the novice how to fight. Taking this chance to test his new equipment Altaïr accepts.
"Training time!" Nora smiled.
The scene fades to white, then changes back, showing Altaïr in the training area with another Assassin. They began as they both raised their swords.
Press and hold (button) and press (button) when you see an enemy reach to grab you to break the grab and kick the enemy away.'
"Okay. Let's see how this goes." Jaune said as he prepares for the training.
Altaïr readies himself as he waits for his sparring partner to grab him. The moment that he did, he immediately used his free hand to strike down his foes' arm, forcing him to let go, then quickly backslapped the novice in the face causing him back and lose balance as he fell to the ground. While the instructor praises the disgraced assassin
The viewers cringed at seeing Altaïr's counter but were impressed by it.
"Impressive." Ren hummed. "Perhaps I should try doing that if I were to be in that position.
"Same." Jaune nodded as he grimaced at the memory when Cardin used to grab him like that.
The novice got back on his feet and grabbed Altaïr grabbed him by the collar. Still, the assassin quickly holds him with his left arm, twisted him hard, forcing the novice to turn around, giving Altaïr the chance to kick him away, making the novice stumble to the ground.
"That was also a good one." Pyrrha praised seeing the effectiveness of that counter.
"Really should have learned this a long time ago." Jaune sighed, still feeling down at the memory but quickly came over it.
The instructor praised Altaïr again after one more try against the novice. The training is complete.
The scene fades to white and changes back, showing Altaïr outside of the training ring.
"Okay! Training's over, time to head to Damascus." Nora cheered.
But before Jaune did anything, they received a notification from their Scrolls.
'Since because you guys made it to Damascus before you can use the menu to fast-track to the Bureau there without the needing to travel there.' Triscythe informed them.
"Cool. Like how every game should have." Jaune comments while also being relieved that they don't need to waste time traveling to such a distance while preparing the game menu.
The game menu shows on the screen showing 'Select your destination' showing Damascus, Acre, and Jerusalem. He chose Damascus and selecting Bureau.
Using the Fasttrack on the menu, Altaïr is now in Damascus as he enters the Bureau and is greeted by its Rafiq.
"Now, this saves a lot of time." Pyrrha smiled.
"Now for that mission." Ren said.
"Altaïr, my friend! Welcome, welcome!" The Rafiq happily greets as Altaïr walks up to him by his counter. "Whose life do you come to collect today?"
"Ugh! I forgot about this guy." Nora frowned, not liking his sarcasm at the beginning
"Right… he's the guy who was sarcastic at the beginning." Jaune remembered.
"He does seem a bit cheerier for some reason." Pyrrha points out.
"His name is Abu'l Nuqoud." Altaïr answers." What can you tell me about him?"
"Oh, the Merchant King of Damascus, richest man in the city. Quite exciting, quite dangerous." The joyful Rafiq happily answers. "I envy you, Altaïr. Well, not where you were beaten and stripped of your rank, but I envy everything else! Oh, except for the terrible things the other Assassins say about you! But yes, aside from the failure and the hatred, yes, aside from those things, I envy you very much!"
At first, they learned that the target is the Merchant King. They all thought this man must be wealthy to earn such a title. Secondly, their jaws dropped at the bluntly happy comment towards the disgraced assassin.
"I… I'm not sure if I should laugh or just get angry." Pyrrha admits not even know how to react to this.
"Neither do I." Nora slowly nodded in agreement, and this was the hyperactive pancake-loving who was saying that.
Ignoring the blunt or sarcastic talk, Altaïr continues. "I do not care what the others think or say. I'm here to do a job. So I ask again, what can you tell me about the Merchant King?"
"At least he's mature to ignore it." Ren comments.
"Only that he must be a very bad man if Al Mualim has sent you to see him." The Rafiq answers as he works on painting his pots. "He keeps to his own kind, wrapped in the finery of the city's Rich District. A busy man, always up to something. I'm sure if you spend some time amongst his type, you'll learn all you need to know about him."
"And where would you have me begin my search?"
"If I were you, I'd start with the Umayyad Mosque and Souk Sarouja, both of which are west of here. Further to the northwest is Salāḥ ad-Dīn's citadel. It's a popular meeting spot and has proved a reliable source of loose tongues in the past. Yes, these three places should serve your needs."
"Same old investigating." Jaune says but was a bit excited now that it was his turn to play.
Altaïr nodded as he prepares to head to the Rich District of Damascus. "My thanks for your guidance, Rafiq. I'll return when I've gathered the necessary information."
"Yeah… thanks." Nora dryly said, still skeptical about the Rafiq's personality.
Altaïr leaves the Bureau and heads to the Rich District and heads to the nearest location to gather information.
As he rushes through the buildings and passing through countless people, he reaches his destination. He notices two people conversing with each other.
Sit on a nearby bench and lock on the target to begin eavesdropping.'
"Okay. Eavesdropping away." Jaune said as he prepares the assassin to do his job.
Altaïr sat on a nearby bench and listened in to the conversation between a civilian and Abu'l Nuqoud's guard.
"The last of it has been delivered." The guard said to the civilian.
"Good." The civilian nodded. "Make sure he also knows it wasn't easy arranging a shipment like this."
"I wonder what they shipped." Pyrrha wondered.
"It's only wine." The guard said. "Some can be fickle in their faith."
"Wine?" Jaune echoed. "So the Merchant King is planning a party?"
"What does faith have to do with wine?" Ren asked.
'Wine is considered a religion from where I came from.' Triscythe explains in their Scrolls, which had Ren interested in the religion.
"Your Holy Book says something on the subject, I believe." The civilian answered as he recited from the Holy Book. "Leave them, that they may eat and enjoy themselves, and that hope may beguile them, for they will soon know. And never did we destroy a town that had a term made known."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Nora said as she titled her head in confusion.
"I think he meant as they enjoy their meal, they are not aware of what's happening around them." Jaune tried to describe even though he is confused himself.
"Now that sounds ominous." Pyrrha said.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Never mind it." The civilian waved it off. "Be about your business."
"As you wish."
"Well, that was something." Jaune said.
"We at least learn that Abu'l is planning to start a party." Ren comments.
And with that, Altaïr finished learning from the guard and civilian.
The game saved itself.
'Memory Block 4
Investigation Complete –
The Merchant King is preparing for a feast.'
"Okay, time for the next one." Jaune said as he takes Altaïr to the next location.
Altaïr then heads to his next destination. After a short travel, he finds a herald making his speech in the citadel. He approached the herald and listened to his speech.
"Another herald to listen and beat up!" Nora cheered.
"Yay…" Ren sarcastically cheered.
"Praise be Abu'l Nuqoud, who saved our city from certain destruction! He spent his own coin to see us bed and cloth! His men tend to the fires that we might be warm. His kindness knows no bounds! Everything we now have, we have because of him! There is no one more generous than Abu'l Nuqoud! Every week he opens his doors to the people of Damascus, that they may lay down their burdens and know joy! Our days may be dark, but thanks to him, our evenings are now filled with light! The Merchant King provides for one and all! He asks for nothing in return! Let his generosity serve as an example to us all! Everyone should strive to be as he!"
"So the Merchant King provides aid to the people out of the kindness from his heart." Jaune said. "But why?"
"We'll soon find out." Pyrrha said, knowing what will happen next.
After the speech was finished, the herald walked away. Altaïr followed him to a secluded area and began to beat him into submission.
"Beating time!" Nora eagerly cheered as she watches her team leader control Altaïr.
After the short fight, the herald got down on his knees and began to beg for his life.
"I'll talk, I'll talk! I've no interest in dying for him. His coin's not worth my life." The herald begs.
"Pft! Weak." Nora snorted.
"It's a novice against an assassin, Nora." Ren points out.
"A wise decision." Altaïr said as he glared down at the herald.
"What is it you want?"
"I've business with the Merchant King."
"Let's hear what this king truly is." Pyrrha says as she and everyone paid attention.
"Hah! Good luck with that. He rarely leaves his chambers." The herald scoffed.
"He doesn't leave his home." Ren raised a brow at that information.
"Why? Is he afraid?" The Assassin questions the herald.
"Not fear. Hate." The herald corrects. "He hates himself as much as he hates the people he pretends to serve. Locks himself away in his personal quarters, out of shame."
"He… hates himself?" Jaune slowly says in confusion.
"Why would he hate himself?" Nora asked while everyone just shrugged.
"He can't stay hidden forever."
"No. Those celebrations of his. He comes out to speak, to look down upon the people. A sense of belonging, I suppose. However brief."
"So he only appears in important events?" Pyrrha said.
"What's wrong with him that he would hide like this?"
The herald chuckled under his breath. "You'll see. Now let me go."
"Oh boy… here it comes." Jaune sighed, knowing what's going to happen next.
"Let you go?" Now it was Altaïr's turn to scoff. "So you can tell him of my plan?"
"I won't say a thing!" The herald began to panic as he stood up.
"No, you won't." Altaïr then stabbed the herald in the stomach with his Hidden Blade, killing him.
"Another dead herald." Ren comments.
"It was fun when it lasted." Nora jokingly said.
"At least we now know that Abu'l will make an official appearance in the party." Pyrrha comments.
The game was saved.
'Memory Block 4
Investigate Complete –
The Merchant King will come out and speak to his people during his feast.'
"Okay! Time for the final one." Jaune said as he guides Altaïr to the final location for information.
After his integration, the assassin searches the area for additional clues until he found two individuals, a civilian and a noble-looking man, speaking with each other. Taking this opportunity, he stood a distance away from them and began to listen in their conversation.
"Let's see what they have to say." Ren said.
"It was good of you to come." The noble said.
"It is an honor to serve." The civilian bowed his head. "What do you require?"
"The letter I've given you must be brought to Salāḥ ad-Dīn's camp. Seek out the one they call Hisham. He will be able to help. Tell no one else of this." The noble whispered to the civilian as he handed the letter to him.
"An important message for someone called Hisham." Jaune comments.
"None will know my mission." The civilian nodded.
"We do!" Nora chimed while the others chuckled.
"Then our business is concluded." The noble nodded in approval.
Initializing Memory Imprint…'
"Too bad that message won't be going anywhere." Jaune chuckled as begins lead Altaïr to follow him.
As soon as they both took their separate ways, Altaïr tailed the carrier, and the moment he was close, he stole the letter from him.
The team chuckled, seeing the funny reaction from the civilian after realizing the message is gone.
The game was saved.
'Memory Block 4
Investigate Complete –
Acquired letter stating the Merchant King is holding a festival within his palace.'
"Let's see what this message is." Jaune said as he paused the game and opened the menu to read the message.
Altaïr began to read the letter he stole.
'Peace Be Upon You, Hisham:
I have done my best to balance the ledgers, but the counts show something strange: payments to Jerusalem's regent and William of Montferrat in Acre.
I had thought this might be connected to the ransom demanded by the Crusaders for our captive brethren, but given the way that ended (peace be upon those poor souls), this seems unlikely. It also does not account for the deliveries to Jerusalem. But if the money was not meant for ransom, then what is its purpose?
You should also know that there have been extravagant parties as of late. All held within The Merchant King's palace. This is absurd! The citizens of Damascus starve themselves to help Salah Al'din's war efforts, but instead, their money is being spent on feasts! They deeply despise the Merchant King and are powerless to stop him. Which is why I write to you now.
Please, say nothing to The Merchant King for now. Should he become suspicious, he'll attempt to hide his misdeeds. I'll contact you when I've learned more.
"Scum." Jaune spat as he narrowed his eyes after finished reading the letter. "He gathered so much wealth, and all he does is spent it all parties."
"Indeed." Pyrrha frowned in disapproval.
"Agreed." Ren agreed with a disapproved look. "Countless people are suffering, and he chose to waste it all just for himself."
"I can't imagine anyone in Remnant with that kind of greed." Nora growled.
Meanwhile, with Team RWBY…
The girls are in the middle of playing their game until Weiss stood straight and narrowed her eyes while she lightly growled. This was not unnoticed by her friends.
"What's wrong, Wiess?" Ruby asked her partner.
"I don't know why… but I have a powerful urge to strangle my scum of a father." Weiss growled as she motioned her hands with a strangling motion, making her friends slightly move an inch away from her.
Meanwhile, in an airship in Atlas airspace…
Winter Schnee, a Specialist, was in her personal quarters. She prepares for her arrival to Vale until she stopped and narrowed her eyes, and slightly growled.
"Why do I have the urge to strangle father?" She muttered to herself. She held no love towards her father but wondered why she had that sudden urge.
Meanwhile, in the Schnee Manor in the Study Room…
Jacques was at his desk doing paperwork until he suddenly felt a shiver in his spine until that shiver turned into an uncontrollable trembling. He didn't know why but for some reason, he thought that he is in terrible danger, and that terrified him.
Back to JNPR…
Jaune sighed. "Okay… time to head back to the Bureau."
After gathering all the knowledge he could, Altaïr returned to the Bureau.
"Peace be upon you, Altaïr." The Rafiq eagerly greeted. "How may I serve you?"
"I've done as asked and learned all I need to know about my prey." Altaïr informed him.
"Then you must share your knowledge with me." The Rafiq said as he took at the journal from under his counter.
Altaïr began to recite what he has learned. "Abu'l Nuquod is corrupt to the core and despised by his own citizens as a result. It appears he's been stealing money meant for the people of Damascus and spending it on himself. Even as we speak, he flaunts his greed preparing for a lavish party. His guards and servants should have their hands full dealing with the guests. They won't even know I'm there."
"A sound plan." Ren agrees.
"Most impressive, my friend. The others said you'd make a mess of things, but not I, no. I was sure you'd come through and come through you have." The Rafiq placed a feather on the counter, and Altaïr took it. "The Bureau's yours to do with as you please until you're ready to begin."
The usual robotic voice is heard.
'Fast-forwarding memory to a more recent one…'
The screen fades from white, and Altaïr is seen getting up from a mat inside the Bureau he was resting on.
'Memory Block 4
Investigate Complete –
Strike the Merchant King when he comes out during his feast to speak with his people.'
"Okay. Let's do it." Jaune said, slightly nervous with his first assassination through Altaïr.
The assassin traveled to his destination and reached the outside of Abu'l Nuqoud's palace.
"So that's Abu'l's palace." Pyrrha says.
"Think he's compensating for something?" Nora grinned, making the others chuckle at the joke.
Guards are guarding the area blocking the entrance, and a small group of them patrolling the area.
That didn't stop the assassin as he climbed over the fence and easily avoided the guards as Altaïr entered the Merchant King's Palace's front door. He sees many noble people in the open area of the palace courtyard. Additionally, there was a fountain with a statue of a woman holding a jar over her head. Ignoring all the luxuries, the assassin waited for the host to appear.
"Hate to admit it, but that party looks really glamorous." Jaune admits as he and the others are awed by the party.
"But where is the Merchant King?" Pyrrha wondered as she looked around the party for the target.
'Ancestor's memory synchronized
Abu'l Nuqoud soon emerged from his quarters to address the crowd from a balcony as two of his guards let him pass while he held a cup in his hand.
"Looks like he's here." Ren comments.
Abu'l was an obese man, wearing velvet robes with yellow patterns and leopard print fur. His robes were usually open, displaying his large stomach, and he wore long, loose olive-colored pants with yellow, pointy-tipped shoes. He also wore a turban, decorated with a feather pinned by a brooch with a cross engraved into it, as well as multiple pearly strands with a coin pendant. His face was also marked by severe acne.
"Wow! He's is fat!" Nora said without a single shred of shame in her voice.
"No doubt wasting all his greed on himself being like a pig." Ren comments.
"Welcome, welcome! Thank you all for joining me this evening." The Merchant King greeted everyone as his guest all focus on him. "Please, eat, drink, enjoy all the pleasures I have to offer! Take your time. I will wait."
The fountain began to fill with wine, and several people moved in to fill their cups and eagerly drank.
"Wha–, is that fountain shooting out whine?" Jaune says in surprise.
"I doubt Atlas would go that far for the sake of luxury." Pyrrha also says in surprise by that fact.
"That would explain the amount of wine." Ren said.
"I trust everything is to your satisfaction?" Abu'l asked.
"Most excellent, most excellent, thank you." One of the guests said while many others happily cheered.
"Good, good. It pleases me to see you all so happy." Abu'l announces as he begins his speech. "For these are dark days, my friends, and we must enjoy this bounty while we still can. War threatens to consume us all. Salāḥ ad-Dīn bravely fights for what he believes in, and you are always there to support him without question. It is your generosity that allows this campaign to continue. So, I propose a toast then! To you, my dear friends. You have brought us to where we are today. May you be given everything you deserve." He ended as he raised his cup.
Loud cheering was heard from the crowd as they raised there and drank their wine.
"He certainly knows how to get the crowd going." Nora admits.
"Such kindness! I didn't think it in you! You, who have been so quick to judge me! And so cruel." The crowd seemed shocked at the Merchant King's accusations.
Even JNPR was shocked at the sudden change of attitude.
"Oh no…" Jaune mutters as he shrunk in his seat, not liking where this is going.
"Oh, do not feign ignorance!" Abu'l's joyfulness immediately vanished as he sneered down on his guest. "Do you take me for a fool? That I have not heard the words whispered behind my back? Well, I have, and I fear I can never forget. But this is not why I called you here tonight, no. I wish to speak more of this war and your part in it. You give up your coin, quick as can be, knowing all too well it buys the deaths of thousands. You don't even know why we fight. "The Sanctity of the Holy Land", you'll say. Or "The Evil Inclination of our enemies." But these are lies you tell yourselves!"
"What is he talking about?!" Nora shouts with eyes wide open.
"I… I think he gathered these people who know about the war but refuse to accept it." Ren said, also being disturbed by this.
The crowd began to mutter and start complaining to Merchant King, but he continued.
Abu'l laughed. "No. All this suffering is borne of fear and hate! It bothers you that they are different, just as it bothers you that I am different!"
Abu'l drank the rest of his wine before continuing. "Compassion, mercy, tolerance. These words mean nothing to any of you! Mean nothing to those infidel invaders, who ravage our land in search of gold and glory! And so, I say enough!" He shouted as he slammed his fists against the railing on the balcony while the crowd was unaware that more guards began to surround them from the upper levels at where Merchant King stands.
"The guards!" Pyrrha shouts as she worriedly points out.
"I've pledged myself to another cause. One that will bring about a new world in which all people might live, side by side, in peace." The Merchant King said he placed his hand on one of a dark-skinned guard's shoulder while giving a sincere smile. "A pity none of you will live to see it."
JNPR didn't know what he was talking about because they are too focused on the danger of what is about the happen but what made their fear realized was the next scene that horror-struck them.
Suddenly one of the party guests began to harshly cough and held his throat and eventually collapsed and died, affected by the poisoned wine. Several more people followed while the rest ran in terror as archers aimed at the crowd.
"The wine is poisoned!" Jaune shouts in horror.
"He's planning to kill all the guests?!" Pyrrha shouts in horror.
"Kill anyone who tries to escape!" Abu'l shouts as his guards began to take action.
"It's gone crazy!" Nora shouts in panic. "Do something, Fearless Leader! Do something, Ice King!"
Jaune slightly panicked but was running his brain on what to do. He carefully moves Altaïr around so he could move the screen. He sees the target and the guards on the upper level, but then he notices that the roof is wholly deserted. This made Jaune come up with a plan.
"I know what to do!" Jaune quickly said as he begins to control Altaïr.
Taking advantage of the chaos, Altaïr managed to climb the palace walls and escape the courtyard quickly. He climbed onto the palace. Fortunately, the guards did not notice his escape.
"Jaune! What are you doing?" Ren asked while also being concerned.
"Taking Altaïr to higher ground!" Jaune answered then takes the assassin to the target.
He quickly navigated the building and eventually reached the balcony where Abu'l watched the slaughter down below him, utterly unaware that he was being watched.
"Nice! That fat king is distracted!" Nora grinned.
"Take him down, Jaune!" Pyrrha cheered, making him nod as he controlled Altaïr to finish the job.
The assassin dropped down from atop the building and quickly rushed towards the Merchant King as his Hidden Blade was ready. Hearing the noise Abu'l turned around but was quickly stabbed in the stomach, ultimately killing him.
(J)NPR cheered now that the Merchant King is now dead while Jaune sighed in relief now that it's over.
"Out of all assignations, that one was the most stressful." The leader said while everyone agreed with him.
"Agreed." Ren nodded, not expecting it to be this chaotic.
"At least fatty here got what he deserved." Nora commented.
"You did great, Jaune." Pyrrha smiled warmly, making the blond chuckled awkwardly.
The screen quickly fades to white as Altaïr carefully lays him to the ground showing another Memory Corridor.
JNPR paid extra attention to the screen, now wanting to hear what the Merchant King would like to say before he kicked the bucket.
"Be at peace now. Their words can no longer do harm." Altaïr calmly says.
"Why have you done this?" Abu'l asked with rigged breathing.
"You stole money, wasted on yourself, and even killed people." Ren narrowed his eyes as he calmly spat out. "What other reason is there?"
"You stole money from those you claim to lead. Sent it away for some unknown purpose. I want to know where it's gone and why."
"That's right. That was mentioned before." Pyrrha points out.
"Look at me! My very nature is an affront to the people I ruled." The dying man growled. "And these noble robes did little more than to muffle their shouts of hate."
"What is he talking about?" Nora questioned. "Is this revenge or something?"
"I'm just as confused as you are, Nora." Jaune agreed with his friend.
"So this is about vengeance then."
"No, not vengeance, but my conscience." Abu'l corrects as he continues. "How could I finance a war in service to the same God that calls me an abomination?"
"If you do not serve Salāḥ ad-Dīn's cause, then whose?" Altaïr asked, more confused than before.
"He's aligned with the nine targets." Ren realized.
"It's official. They are all connected." Jaune said as everyone agreed with him.
"But why? What's their ultimate goal?" Pyrrha wondered what these people could gain by doing all this.
"In time, you'll come to know them. I think perhaps, you already do." The Merchant King cryptically said.
"Then why hide? And why these dark deeds?"
"Is it so different than your own work?" Abu'l mused. "You take the lives of men and women, strong in the conviction that their deaths will improve the lots of those left behind. A minor evil, for a greater good? We are the same."
"He's… not wrong." Jaune slowly admits. "I mean, Altaïr is an assassin, so it is part of the job, and we know that that he's not in the wrong."
This got everyone thinking. They know that killing is not a good thing and being an assassin did not make it better, but they know that Altaïr is fighting for the right cause killing those who made others' lives difficult because of their dark deeds. Killing the Merchant King and the previous targets was proof of that.
"No, we are nothing alike." Altaïr denied.
'Ah, but I see it in your eyes." Abu'l chuckled. "You doubt. You cannot stop us. We will have our new world." With his last breath, the Merchant King dies, then Altaïr follows by staining the feather of the dead man's blood.
"That was something." Jaune breathed out.
"Better get ready to run, Jaune." Pyrrha reminds her leader.
The screen quickly fades into white again and out rapidly, showing Altaïr is back at the balcony. One of Abu'l's guards attacked him but was quickly killed by the assassin.
"Whoa!" Jaune jumps, not expecting an attack that quickly, but calmed down when Altaïr promptly dealt with him. "That scared me!"
"Less scaring, more running!" Nora shouts.
And with that, Jaune began to take Altaïr for a run back to the Bureau.
Altaïr escaped Abu'l's palace with his target dead and rushed back to the Bureau while avoiding the guards and hiding in hiding places when needed until he finally reached the Bureau.
"Home sweet home." Jaune breathed sighed of relief along with the others.
"Word has reached me of your success, Altaïr." The Rafiq said the moment the assassin steps foot in his shop.
"No kidding." Nora rolled her eyes.
"With all the warning bells, it would make sense." Ren agreed with his childhood friend.
"Abu'l Nuqoud's reign of terror is at an end." Altaïr presents a bloodstained feather to the Rafiq
"I'm glad to hear it." Rafiq nodded in approval.
"He killed them." Altaïr spat in disgust. "The men and women at his party. It was poison, a coward's tool. Blamed them for the war. Said he wished to end it."
"If he wanted the war to end, then why didn't he just used all that wealth to help the army instead of killing those who can't fight back?" Pyrrha said, disgusted by what the late Merchant King did.
"Maybe he chose the ones who had too much power?" Jaune guessed.
"Perhaps…" Ren slowly agreed. "Conflicts mostly start with those with power."
"Strange. But then again, the Merchant King was known to be a bit... different." The Rafiq admits. "Perhaps this was simply a symptom of his madness."
"Or he's part of some cult." Nora said.
"Perhaps." Altaïr says unsurely.
"He doesn't sound sure." Ren points out.
"Good. That way, he'll start piece together what's going on." Jaune said.
"You sound unconvinced." The Rafiq noticed. "Speak with Al Mualim then. He may offer a better explanation."
"Yes, we'll see what he has to say..."
After that, the screen fades to white, and the usual robotic voice is heard.
'Fast-forwarding memory to a more recent one…'
The screen fades out from the white, and Altaïr is seen getting up from a mat inside the Bureau he was resting on.
'Memory Block 2'
'Target has been eliminated.'
'Return to Al Mualim.'
The screen fades back to white while the screen shows that the game is being saved. The screen fades out from white, showing Altaïr in Masyaf. He found his Master near a bookshelf in the study.
"Back in Masyaf." Nora said.
"I wonder what will the Mentor will say?" Pyrrha said.
"Come, Altaïr. Speak with me a moment." Al Mualim requested as the student approached him.
"As you wish."
"Word has reached me of your success. You've my gratitude, and that of the realm." The Mentor thanked him. "Freeing these cities from their corrupt leaders will no doubt promote the cause of peace."
"One small step at a time." Ren comments.
"Can you really be so sure?" The student questioned.
"The means by which men rule are reflected in their people." Al Mualim answered as he sorted his books. "As you cleanse the cities of corruption, you heal the hearts and minds of those who live within."
"That's a good thing to hear." Pyrrha smiled at that.
"Our enemies would disagree." Altaïr counters.
"What do you mean?" The Mentor sternly asked.
"Each man I've slain has confessed strange words to me. They are without regret. Even in death, they seem confident of their success. Though they do not admit it directly, there is a tie that binds them. I'm sure of it."
"And I'm sure the future target will also say something similar." Jaune said with a tiring sigh.
"There is a difference, Altaïr, between what we are told to be true and what we see to be true. Most men do not bother to make the distinction. It is simpler that way. But as an Assassin, it is your nature to notice, to question."
"That's an interesting topic." Ren hummed at that. "Most ordinary people would just ignore the bigger picture and just listened to what they are informed."
"Well, it's a good thing people like Altaïr and us are on the job." Jaune said with a determined look while his teammates smiled at his resolve.
"Then what is it that connects these men?" Altaïr asked.
"Ah, but as an Assassin, it is also your duty to still these thoughts and trust in your Master. For there can be no true peace without order. And order requires authority."
"Why does he have to be so cryptic?" Nora pouted, not liking the older man talking in circles.
"You speak in circles, Master! You commend me for being aware, then ask me not to be. Which is it?" Altaïr frustratingly said.
"The question will be answered when you no longer need to ask it." The Mentor cryptically said.
"I assume you called me here for more than just a lecture." Altaïr dryly said.
"Yeah, let's just skip to the next mission." Jaune said, not wanting to hear more of Al Mualim's cryptic talk.
Al Mualim chuckled. "Very well. A rank and weapon are again restored to you. Two more leaders remain. Go and see to it that their rule is ended."
The scene fades to white, then returns to the assassin.
'DNA Synchronization Augmented.'
Altaïr puts on his new combat boots.
'Synchronization Rank 5 Memory
New Ability Gained –
Regain Balance & Dodge
New Ability Gained –
Sword Expertise (Damage)
You can practice in the courtyard.'
"Alright! Altaïr has new combat boots." Jaune smiled, liking the new gear.
"So he can now regain balance and dodge." Ren said. "Meaning he can be more versatile when avoiding his enemies."
"I'm more curious about 'damage' for sword expertise." Pyrrha said.
"C'mon, Jaune! Let's try them out!" Nora grinned in excitement.
Jaune nodded as he and his team waited for the game to load.
To be continued…
Next Update: RWBY Plays Assassin's Creed II