Assassin's Creed: Apophis is a fan-fiction by CrimsonAssassin.
The year is 2029...
The Assassin Order has rebuilt itself. Exposing of many Templar lies by Erudito has led to a financial collapse of Abstergo. Their stock was in free fall. The Templar company barely managed to save it from bankruptcy. As the company attempted to regain its stock, the Assassins grew under the Templars' noses. Holdouts grew all around the world. Holdouts in developing nations spread to developed nations. In the 2020s, other Templar companies grew, boosting Abstergo stocks. Competition rose as the war was renewed.
Recently, a conference of the most powerful Assassins has been called to Cape Town, a revitalized city with a strong Assassin influence. Disturbing reports of Templar activity are flooding in. Including the most powerful Assassins is The Magister. He is the new Mentor's second-in-command. Commanding the flagship of the Assassin fleet, the Altair III, a massive yacht built as a mobile HQ to replace the aging Altair II. Guarding the Magister is a group of Assassins trained by him, including his personal apprentice, Kira Sullivan.
Kira is an experienced Assassin known for her dexterity and hacking skills. In charge of the hacking team on the Altair III, she is witty, intelligent, and very capable in a fight. As the ship makes its way to Cape Town, it is intercepted by Templar forces. Taking the Assassins hostage, they strap certain candidates into Animi. Kira, forced to relive the memory of an ancestor, is taken back to Iron Age Britain. As the Templars probe the minds and genetic memories of the Assassins, Kira knows one thing; what they are looking for is something terrible. Something the Assassins must stop at all costs...
- Kira Sullivan
- Edward Vidic
- The Magister
- Joshua Dawes
- Kevin Santros
- Marcus Albius Corda
- Aelius Albius Corda
- Seneca the Younger
- Quintus Petillius Cerialis
This fanfiction was written by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs. This content is rated M for strong language, intense violence, depictions of war, alcohol use, and sexual themes. The content may not be appropriate for all ages. The authors have warned that, in keeping with strict historical accuracy, depictions of warfare, disasters, and implications (zero depiction) of rape have been included in this passage. Reader discretion is advised.
February 2nd, 2029
Aboard the Altair III, near Bermuda
The white bow of the ship carved through the choppy seas. Waves pelted the hull as a torrent of heavy rain cascaded from the dark sky, bombarding the deck with thick raindrops. It was mid-afternoon, but the storm made it seem as if night had already fallen. The ship, a massive yacht, battled heavy winds. The lights of the ship were all on, but they still could not illuminate the sea very well. Had the bridge not been equipped with a radar system, the ship would be sailing blind. The entire crew had taken cover inside the ship.
Inside, hanging lights swayed and objects not secured to a surface tended to move in an unpredictable manner. The ship was a custom-built megayacht; there was not a single ship in the world like it. It was the pride of the group who owned it and the enemy of the group it opposed. The Altair III was fast, quick, and quiet, just like its namesake. Despite its capabilities and specifications, it could not hope to battle the forces of nature, much to the frustration of its inhabitants.
The inhabitants were a group of men and women known as Assassins, a group built on the basis of freedom and liberty to everyone, everywhere. It has survived, in one form or another, throughout the entirety of recorded human history. It was opposed to a tyrannical group known as the Templars, who sought control of the masses and order. Both have been battling each other for thousands of years. The Templars had gained an upper hand in the beginning of the 21st century; they began a purge, leading to the deaths of nearly every Assassin. Following the adventures and sacrifices of a few key individuals, along with the mass hacking of the Templar's puppet corporation, Abstergo, by a group known as Erudito.
The Assassins rebuilt their numbers and evolved into the rapidly changing world. As the Templars and Assassins race for power and seek to undo the progress the other makes, both organizations have recovered from their own crippling defeats. To discuss their next move, the Assassins had called a meeting in their enclave at the plague-ravaged city of Cape Town. The Altair III, along with its mentor, the Magister, and his Assassins, sailed for South Africa. Among these Assassins was a woman named Kira Sullivan.
Kira, a young, energetic, intelligent Assassin, was one of the Magister's apprentices. She was regarded as capable in many of the things she does. She had fair skin, reddish hair, and quick reflexes. Her skills in hacking were almost without peer and her combat skills were incredibly vicious. Though she could be reckless, she was known for doing what was right. On the ship, she worked with her team to hack various programs and improve the Animus.
The radio inside her team's workroom blared as the group attempted to stay upright. Lawrence, the youngest of the group, battled seasickness inside the bathroom. The rest of the team held onto whatever they could, trying to stay focused on their work. Joshua, one of the senior members of the team, scoffed. "I hope the people in the bridge know what they're doing. This weather is horrible. I just wish the people training with blades luck. One misstep is all it takes," he said.
"I wish Lawrence luck. I remember when I first came onboard this ship," Kira said.
"Oh really? What was it like?"
"You were on the ship when we sailed right into Nicole."
"Ah, Hurricane Nicole. Yes, I remember risking our new mobile headquarters to chase down some Templars trying to cash in on yet another natural disaster. You were on the ship?"
"Yes I was."
"What were you doing?"
"I was getting my head bandaged. I got a nasty concussion when we hit something near Florida."
"That was another ship. I'm not sure what the captain was thinking, driving us right into a Templar ship, but we survived and they were, heh, lost to the storm."
Another large wave swept the ship and its contents around. There was a loud bang from the bathroom. "Fuck!" Lawrence cried out from the bathroom. Kira and Joshua fought the urge to laugh. The door to the corridor opened as another hacker, Michael, entered the room. He closed it behind him and awkwardly walked to his station, fighting the sway of the ship. "Man, it's crazy out there. Have you seen it out there?" he said as he rummaged through his station. Kira motioned to the room's window, which was blocked by various terminals and supplies. "I'm down here rain or shine," she said. Joshua nodded.
Lawrence opened the bathroom door and, like Michael, fought the sway on the way to his station. Everyone in the room suddenly noticed how cramped the room was as a horrible smell emerged from the bathroom. "Lawrence, are you okay? What happened in there?" Josh asked. Keeping his head down, Lawrence said, "I don't want to talk about it. I just want to get off this ship. Why did we sail into a storm?"
Kira, keeping an eye on her work, said, "We're the only ship of our size that can weather the elements like this. Civilian ships avoid storms like this and Templar ships don't have what it takes to fight these waves."
"What if they have a submarine?" Lawrence asked.
Lawrence faked an 'oh' before realizing which Nicole Kira was talking about, prompting a louder 'oh'. As Kira typed away at her screen, her phone began vibrating. She took the tiny device out of her pocket and tapped the screen to answer the call. The message wasn't long, but it frustrated Kira enough. She put the phone back in her pocket and said, "I'm always right in the middle of something when he calls."
"What's he want now?" Josh asked.
"He wants to work on climbing exercises."
"He just wants to make sure you can handle climbing on unstable platforms."
"I guess. What's the worst he can do?"
5 minutes later... Kira stood there in a white poncho with the hood drawn. In the rain. She struggled to maintain a good footing already as she talked to the Magister. The Magister wore a black poncho. The man had a very kind face, especially for someone who made a living on killing people. He had a beard and no hair on his head. He argued that he kept it shaved so he could readily disguise himself with any sort of deceptive wig, but Kira's theory was that he liked how he looked without hair. She'd seen him with wigs before and absolutely nothing suited him more than his almost infamous chrome-dome. Maybe the Santa hat during the Christmas party. Maybe.
Despite his friendly demeanor and his good intentions, he was, to be honest, a pain in the ass. He was persistent, stubborn, and he called at the absolute worst times. Every time, though, Kira answered him politely and promptly. She told herself it was because she respected the man, but there was something about him that had a general 'do not fuck with this person' stigma about him. She took care not to anger him. So there she stood in the rain, listening to the old man talk. He had a loud voice for someone of his age.
"Ms. Sullivan, good to see you," he said, keeping his voice louder than the storm.
"Likewise, Magister," Kira returned, shouting above the rain.
"I've been waiting for a storm like this to test your capabilities. You're one of our best freerunners and climbers," he said.
"Wait... you sailed into this storm because of me?"
"No, no. It only happened that it would benefit us. Hide us from the Templars."
"So where do you want me to go?"
"I'd first like you to run to the very tip of the ship and center yourself. Become one with your surroundings."
"Just don't fall?"
"You read my mind. Go ahead whenever you're ready."
Kira nodded and looked at the front of the ship. A flash of lightning struck the water nearby, searing a line of light in her eyes for a minute. She looked back at the Magister and took off. The ship defiantly swayed beneath her feet. The slippery deck betrayed her footing, but the way she ran allowed for her to flow with the water as it moved. She came upon a ledge overlooking the prow of the ship. She put a hand on it and jumped over it. On the other side was a sloping row of windows and decks. She slid down the windows before jumping to the deck at the last second and continuing onto the very front of the ship.
She hoisted herself to the tip of the bow. Going any further would result in a plunge into the dangerous ocean. She spread her arms out and became one with her surroundings. It was as if she could feel everything that was happening near her, perhaps even predict it to a point. She felt the ship's bow take a plunge as a wave picked the ship up. She quickly left the danger zone. The Magister stood at the top of the sloping windows. Kira picked up as much momentum as she could, running straight for the row. She was able to run up the first set of windows, finally having to bring her hands down to catch the very edge of a window before climbing the rest of the way up.
She saw people staring at her from inside the ship. She mouthed, "Sorry," as she proceeded to the Magister's location. He nodded his head in approval. A lesser freerunner would have slipped and fell on the deck. Someone with less steady footing would have perished by falling into the seas. The Magister knew how rare Kira's abilities were, but he almost always hid any sense of astonishment, resorting to a humble nod. It was better than other Mentors' congratulations. The Mentor in New York, whom Kira studied under for a time, had an infamous golf clap whenever he was happy with a student. Kira would take the subtle, if almost apathetic nod.
"Hmmmm. Ah, I've got an idea. See the comm tower?"
"The one on the bridge?"
"That's the one. Climb to the very top of the antennae."
"Isn't that going to disrupt communications?"
"Kira, those look like they're important, but they're obsolete. They're for training!" the Magister said. Looking at the antennae made her nervous. She wasn't sure which was scarier: falling from an antenna or disrupting the ship's communications, even if it was allegedly impossible.
Kira ran for the bridge, keeping her steady footing to avoid slipping. She made it to the other side of the ship relatively quickly. From there, she climbed up the bridge tower. She wondered what the people in the bridge were doing in response. Were they laughing or dumbfounded? As she reached the top of the tower, she reasoned that there were probably elements of both. She looked at the antennae and shook her head before waiting for the right moment.
She finally jumped on the bundle and attempted to scale them before noticing a bolt of lightning strike the ocean near the ship. It was at that moment she realized that she was climbing a giant lightning rod in the middle of a lightning storm. As she reached the top, she looked upon the ship, watching the Magister observe her every move. As a shiver ran down her spine, she decided it was time to get off of the antennae. She jumped off of the antennae and made her way down the bridge. The Magister once again nodded and said, "Okay, Kira, now it's time to-"
Just then, sirens started blaring around the ship. Kira's first thought was, shit, I broke something up there, but the Magister seemed to know better. He said, "Kira, get inside and prepare for a fight. We've picked up some Templar attraction it seems." The two hurried inside and removed their ponchos. As Kira ran down the halls, avoiding her shipmates, she came upon Joshua, who was running the other way. "Josh, do we know what's tailing us?"
He shrugged and pouted his lips before continuing on. Kira continued running down the corridor in the hopes of reaching her room. As she reached it, she heard a loud crash and felt a large jolt, which temporarily knocked her off balance. It wasn't a cute little rogue wave jolt. This was a 'we were either hit by a ship or we hit a ship' jolt. She fought with the door, trying to get it open. It was jammed in the frame by the collision. She kicked it down and searched her belongings, finding her white windcoat with a hood. She put the coat on before arming herself with an AR strapped around her back. She strapped on abdominal armor and secured it with a strap going over one shoulder. The armor included throwing knives and spare ammo. On her thighs were two holsters for Desert Eagle pistols with accompanying guns. Before leaving, she strapped on her hidden blade, ready for close-quarters combat in the ship. She drew her hood and left the room. This wasn't assassination wardrobe. This was combat armor for the Assassins.
As she left the room, there was another crash and a loud groaning of metal. Then came automatic gunfire. She reached for her pistols and ran down the corridor, running to battle. Outside, as the storm raged on, a battle between Assassins and Templars took place. A ship smaller than the Altair III was lodged in the starboard section of the bow. Water was surely flooding into the ship. Another ship circled the Altair III. A helicopter hovered above the yacht's deck. Kira fired at a Templar that was in a gunfight with an Assassin. The shot landed in the Templar's neck, entering through the spinal region and exiting through the front of the neck. As she ran over to the Assassin, she asked, "Are you okay?" The Assassin couldn't have been more than eighteen. He nodded, trying to keep vomit down.
Kira looked at the body. Blood poured out of his neck. Kira turned him around and noticed the Templar was wearing a gas mask. Kira stared into the blank eyes of the gas mask before a realization hit her: they were wearing gas masks to avoid their own weapons! She called out, "Take their gas masks!" Fiddling with the Templar's mask, she finally removed it and put it on her face. As she strapped the mask onto her face, she noticed how damp it was inside of the mask. It was the last breath of a man she killed. Deciding this was not the time to think about that, she lifted the hood over the mask and prepared to attack more Templars.
She shot at another Templar before taking cover behind a ledge. Bullets impacted on the ledge, showering Kira in sparks and bits of metal. As she turned around to return fire, she noticed that something was off about the air. It seemed almost... wavy. She began noticing her comrades falling left and right. It was an almost invisible toxin and the Assassins hadn't heeded her warning. As the remaining Assassins fell to this toxin, she shot at the Templars. Before long, she was the last Assassin on the ship... and she was feeling lightheaded. As she took cover, she ran her hand against the gas mask's filter and noticed that it was chipped. Her surroundings began to spin and her head felt like it was about to split open.Then everything went dark...
Bralor pushed as hard as she could. Sweat and tears mixed with the dirt and grime on her face as she pushed with all the strength she could muster. She had endured pain before, especially this past year. Nothing, however, could have prepared her for this amount of pain. She was doing everything the doctors told her, but the pain was still excrutiating. "Push, Bralor! Do it! Push!" the doctor on her right cheered. He spoke to her in her native language, though it was very broken. His Latin accent almost mocked her. No matter how much she had attempted to accept the Romans, she saw most of them as invaders still.
Bralor was a young woman, roughly sixteen years of age. She had long, red hair and fair skin. She was a native of the Iceni tribe, a Celtic tribe located near present-day Norfolk. She was married to Marcus, a Roman soldier. He had saved her during the Claudian invasion and the two had quickly fallen in love. They were wed in mid-43 AD, when Iceni allied themselves with the Roman government. He was intelligent, agile, and incredibly well-mannered. He offered his wife many more liberties than most other men of the Roman Empire had.
She swore in her native tongue. The doctor had no reaction, meaning he either didn't care what she had called him or he didn't know. On her left side was her sister, Kalash. She squeezed her hand hard. Suddenly, Bralor heard an infant's shouts and cries. As she laid her head back, relieved that the baby was out. "It's a boy," the doctor said. Bralor smiled as she looked at her new son. Her husband stood nearby. He wore a simple tunic. He motioned to the doctor, who handed him the infant. Marcus held the baby in his arms. Bralor hadn't seem his face; her eyes were filled with tears. Had they not been, she'd have seen him grinning from ear to ear. A knot was forming in Bralor's stomach. Marcus was either going to accept the baby or deny it, the latter resulting in the baby's death. He held his son up and said, "Aelius. Aelius Albius Cordus."
Kira stood alone in a white area. It had no floor, no ceiling above her, nor any walls. It was an ANIMUS loading screen. She called out, "W-where am I?" No answer.
"Where am I?!" she said again, this time louder.
A voice responded, "You'd think you've never seen an ANIMUS loading screen before."
"Who is this?"
"I never properly introduced myself. Nor will I, come to think of it. I think we'll leave it at Adam."
"Mind telling me what's going on?"
"We intercepted your ship, took it down, and took your people. Those not coming from a certain ethnic background or people who weren't important were eliminated."
"Yeah. We were looking for anyone with British ancestry."
"And you disposed of anyone without these genes?"
"Did I make that somehow unclear? It's expensive to feed prisoners."
"You goddamned monsters!"
"Yeah, well, you took down a few of our guys before you passed out, so it's about an even trade."
"What did you do to me?"
"Well, we induced a coma and put you in an ANIMUS."
"You... you can't do that. There are all sorts of complications that are-"
"We've made progress, Ms. Sullivan. The ANIMUS has seen a lot of changes. We'll get what we want and you will not resist or escape. It's just not happening."
"So... so I'm reliving the life of someone in Roman Britain."
"It appears so. Your ancestor seems to have been alive during several revolts, the most notable being around 60 AD."
"Adam, when I get out of here, I will kill you."
"See, the more you argue with me, the less mental breaks you'll get. I know I'm unpleasant. I'm the one who put you in a coma after all. But I would really appreciate it if you would kindly cooperate."
"Go to hell."
"Back into the memory you go!"
The Cordus household was a modest round home in Venta Icenorum. Marus worked as a merchant, selling his trade to those who could afford it. Bralor, however, stayed with the house to take care of Aelius. The boy was growing quickly. He had retained his father's Roman facial features while inheriting his mother's eye color and skin color. He had reddish-brown hair and quick reflexes. He was already familiar with the Icenic and Latin languages.
As Bralor salted a slab of meat from a deer that Marcus had killed, she said to Aelius, "You're quiet today." Aelius said, "Barna said something to me yesterday." "Why do you listen to him?"
"He said that the Romans should leave here."
"A lot of people are saying that."
"And he said that I should leave too because father is Roman."
"Aelius, you represent the best of both worlds."
Just then, Marcus entered the home. "Your sister is completely insane," he said. Bralor responded with, "I've known that for a very long time." Marcus snickered. He looked at Aelius and said, "How are you, son?" He asked in Latin, half-quizzing his son. Aelius replied in Latin, "I'm doing well." Aelius patted him on the back and said, "Good boy." As he toussled Aelius' hair, there was a knock on the door. Marcus walked to the door and opened it. "Hello," he said. A man with a white hood was standing at the door. Marcus nodded his head and said, "Come in."
Turning to his family, Marcus said, "Everyone, I'd like you all to meet Cassus." The man nodded and said, "Greetings."
"Nice to meet you, Cassus," Bralor said. "I haven't seen you around the city. New here?"
"I'm visiting from Rome. I've never been in Britannia before."
"Venta Icenorum isn't exactly a model Britannic city."
"It's pleasant enough."
Marcus whispered in Cassus' ear before saying, "If you'll excuse us, I must talk to Cassus in private."
As Bralor watched the two leave the roundhouse, she said, "Aelius, it's getting late. Time for some rest."
"But I'm not tired."
As Aelius walked to his room, he heard voices outside. He put his ear to the front door and heard Cassus speak to Marcus.
"-arriving tomorrow to take the weapons of Iceni and other tribes."
"What do you expect?"
"Chaos. However, some of the men leading the raid are confirmed Templars. They want "
"Who will I be taking down?"
"Marcus Ostorius Scapula is leading the attack. He will be the legate. He's influenced by the Templars and must be eliminated. His friend, Marius Pella Malsta, is a tribunus laticlavius. Malsta is your target."
"Does the Circulum have any members in the city?"
"Three other men."
"Five men against the Celts and the Romans?"
"Remember our real enemies here."
"And the Circulum has no more allies?"
"None that can help us in Britannia."
"No politicians can be swayed?"
"No. Prasutagus is pro-Roman. He'll likely replace the current Iceni king if the Templars have their way. They'll likely not suspect the Circulum to be working out here, but after Caligula's death, they have eyes and ears everywhere. Just use the revolt as cover and you will be fine, Marcus."
A hand touched Aelius' shoulder. His mother stood behind him and said, "I said it's time for bed." Aelius apologized and turned to go to the bedroom. His mother looked at him as if he had discovered something terrible. Aelius walked to his bedroll and went to sleep.
He awoke to the sound of a town yelling and iron weapons clashing. The roundhouse was empty and the fire pit had been snuffed out. "Mother? Father?" Aelius called out. Nothing. As he investigated the house, he continued to call out for his parents. Aelius stepped outside to see if his parents were farming. He saw Roman soldiers marching in the city, making him tread lightly. As he went to the farm behind his house, he cried, "Mother? Father?" Still nothing.
He began to walk into the farm. The tall wheat grass surrounded him as he walked into the sea of crops. Suddenly, a hand pulled his hand down, forcing Aelius to the ground. He looked at what had done it, but it was very obscured. "What are you doing? Get back in the house!" it whispered. That was Marcus' whisper. "Father?" Aelius asked. "Get to the house!" it whispered again, this time sounding harsher. Aelius complied and went back into the roundhouse.
As Aelius walked, Marcus stood up. Aelius kept facing forward until he entered the house and Marcus had shut the door behind them. Aelius turned around to see his father dressed in a white hook and cloak. Roman segmentata armor covered his torso. Leather wrist braces were tightly wrapped around his wrists. Several knife belts were strapped to his legs underneath the cloak. An almost familiar symbol was on each wrist brace. "Father, what's going on?"
"In time, my son. In time, I will tell you. Where is your mother?"
"I thought she was with you."
Marcus looked visibly shaken. He searched the house before stepping outside himself. He saw Cassus walking to the roundhouse. "Marcus? Are you alright?" he asked.
"I'll live. Did anyone see me?" Marcus said.
"Yeah, but I took them down."
Cassus was wearing a similar cloak, minus the segmentata armor. "Where's Bralor?"
Marcus asked. "I don't know," Cassus responded.
"Malsta is dead. What of Scapula?"
"Still at large. We lost two men trying to take him down."
Marcus continued to look at the market city as Roman soldiers and guerrilla warriors met in combat. The fighting would last for days and there would be no sign of Bralor. Cassus stayed with Marcus for a while. On the fifth day, however, there was a note on the door informing the family of Bralor's death. It stated that her body had been found in the market. Marcus broke down in tears as Cassus read the note. Taking a closer look at the note, Cassus pointed to the first letter of each line. "Tread lightly," he read aloud.
End of Sequence 1
After Bralor's death, Marcus began to train his son in the ways of the Liberalis Circulum, a covert group of assassins working against the Templars and their goal to assert dominance over the rest of the human race. The training was tedious and difficult. Aelius did not come out without scars. Marcus taught him how to climb, use a knife, blend in with crowds, and many other talents the members of the Liberalis Circulum did. Cassus taught him the philosophy of the Circulum while Marcus taught him many forms of martial arts employed by the Circulum and even some combat skills he learned in the Roman military.
One particularly eventful day, the two were attending the winter solstice celebration. The trip from the Iceni lands had taken quite some time on horseback. It was early in the evening the day before the solstice. Flakes of snow began to fall as celebration drums could be heard in the distance. As the convoy of horses continued to march to the site of the celebration, the Iceni members looked forth in awe. Suddenly, as if it had come out of nowhere, a massive megalith rose in the horizon, illuminated by torches and various other things.
The megalith was a circular structure composed of various carved stones. It had been there for as long as the Celts could remember. As the horses drew closer to the megalith, the sounds of celebration drums grew louder. It was an amazing sight to see. Most Iceni did not worship at this megalith. Only a handful of people traveled to the megalith this year. Aside from the Iceni King and his family, only a few others usually attended. Lately, however, Prasutagus didn't attend these celebrations. Whether it was to protect himself or keep his allegiance to the Romans was up to debate. This year, Marcus and Aelius were among those fortunate enough to attend.
As the convoy of horses arrived at the megalith, the other Celts greeted the Iceni. Some showed joy while others weren't incredibly pleased about the attendance of the Iceni. The tribe had many enemies. A Silurian man shouted at the convoy, "The traitors arrive!" There was groaning and arguing. The convoy stopped at a felled tree and dismounted. Aelius and his father wore tan tunics with hoods. The harsh wind whipped their hoods to the side as the men dismounted their horses. As they secured the horses, another figure with a tan cloak marched by.
The celebration, despite the animosity between some of the tribes, had many things to bring the tribes together. Drinking, eating, and dancing was an activity shared by most people there. A delicious-looking hunk of meat was hanging above a raging fire. The scent of slow-cooked meat hung in the crisp, cold air. Aelius took in a deep breath as Marcus subtly chuckled. "I told you as a kid I'd take you here. Now there may actually be business to attend to here," Marcus said.
The two began to walk to the drink tent. Barrels of beer were stacked in a neat pile as men poured beer into various cups made of various things. Some cups had been traded to the Celts by the Romans or had been recovered in raids. Others were made by the Celts themselves. Either way, the cups were simple, if not downright ugly. The scent of alcohol lingered in the air. As Aelius and Marcus walked to the beer tent, Marcus said, "This is where they were supposed to meet us." Taking a look at the crowd of people, the older man said, "This isn't the best place to meet in secret."
Aelius nodded and walked to the end of the beer line. He looked behind him, expecting to see his father right behind him. Instead, his father had stayed away from the beer line. He smiled and said, "I'll keep my eyes open. Have a drink." Aelius nodded and entered the line. Marcus was still a Roman by many standards. He absolutely hated beer, as did most Romans. The drink, considered barbaric by Roman standards, was a Celtic favorite. Mead was a different story. Marcus could down mead like there was no tomorrow.
Aelius reached to his belt to unclip his cup, a handmade copper tankard. Over the span of a few minutes, the line dwindled as people filled their cups and left the beer line. Before long, Aelius was up next. He placed his cup under the tap before a meaty hand seized his hand. "You're in the wrong line, little boy," the owner of the hand said. Aelius looked to see a massive, intimidating man clenching Aelius' arm. "That isn't a very good idea," Aelius said to the man.
The line grew dead silent.
Aelius could feel all eyes on him. He immediately regretted his choice of words. He stared down the man before the man began to laugh heartily, as if he'd known Aelius all his life. Aelius had no idea what to say or do at that point. He didn't want to make an issue, so he began to laugh like the man. The man let go of his hand and let Aelius pour some beer. He looked forward to enjoying this drink. As he walked out of the beer line, he took a sip. The cold air had refrigerated the beer to a cold, refreshing temperature.
As he walked to his father, drink in hand, the same meaty hand was placed on Aelius' shoulders. "Marcus, this is your boy? He's certainly got your temper!"
"Krant, good to see you," Marcus said.
The massive hand patted Aelius' shoulder, making him spill his drink a little. "I'm sorry if I scared you with that scene back there. I needed to see your hand," Krant said.
Marcus laughed. "For the Mark?"
"I didn't know if you'd branded him or removed his ring finger."
Aelius raised his left hand, showing a missing ring finger. A bracer with an odd mechanism was strapped onto his wrist. "We decided it was time to bring these to Britannia," Aelius said. Krant examined the device and said, "Fancy. I haven't seen one of these before. Most people in Gallia still use knives. Only a few people in Lugdunum use these things and they're the weird ones." Aelius nodded and said, "It's definitely useful."
"So how does it work?"
Aelius looked at Marcus. Laughing, Marcus said, "It's your turn to talk about it, not me. I explained it enough when we were building the damn thing." Aelius rolled his eyes and turned to Krant. "Okay, get ready. This'll be pretty complicated," Aelius began.
Ten minutes later... "...and that's how the blade comes out."
"I thought there was a ring that did it."
"There's the ring and a movement you have to do. You don't want this coming out when you don't mean for it to."
As the conversation about the hidden blade ended, Krant and Marcus began to catch up. Krant was a fellow member of the Circulum. He lived in a small town in Gaul called Lutetia. He came from Roman and Parisii descent, though he was very removed from his Roman side. The Circulum was apparently interested in establishing itself more in Britannia. Cassus of Rome had already stated interest. A small group was already being put together in Camulodunum.
As men talked, Aelius noticed the woman in the tan tunic walking to the beer line. "Father, who is that? She came with us from the Iceni lands," Aelius asked. Marcus shook his head and said, "I have no idea." Little did they know that a situation was unfolding in the beer line. Several Silurian men began bothering the cloaked woman as she searched for her beer tankard. They shouted remarks about the Iceni tribe and its king as the woman seemingly ignored them. As she retrieved her cup, an elegant cup made of some sort of metal that didn't taint the taste of beer, one man shouted, "Your king is a coward!"
The cloaked woman clenched the cup in her fist and struck the man in the jaw with it. He fell to the ground as the woman said, "The queen is not." The other Silurian men prepared to attack as a hushed silence fell over the crowd. Aelius and Marcus looked at each other in awe. This was the fire-haired Boudica, queen of the Iceni tribe. Tall in stature, she had a harsh voice and a fierce attitude. The Silurians, however, were either too drunk or too stupid to figure out not to pick a fight with her.
Marcus walked to the crowd and said, "Easy. You've had a lot to drink. Leave the woman alone." The Silurians laughed and said, "Oh, can the Rome-lover not handle beer? It's just a little alcohol!" Aelius walked up to the group as well and extended his hidden blade. "We aren't going to ask you again. Leave this woman alone," he said. The Silurians backed away from Aelius quickly and said, "S-sure thing." As the drunk men left, Aelius retracted his hidden blade. Marcus looked at Boudica and said, "My lady, are you okay?"
"I really wanted to use that cup for beer. Marcus, I can take care of myself."
"My lady, we must ask: why are you hiding? Are you not proud to represent our people?"
"I'm proud to represent the Iceni. I'm not proud of our allies, no matter what Prasutagus says about them. I came here to enjoy what it is to not be Roman for a change. You should know that, Marcus."
"How did you get away from Prasutagus?"
"I said I was going to Camulodunum. Shouldn't be too hard to prove or disprove. Ignore it."
"As you wish, my lady."
Aelius stood in awe as his father and the Iceni queen spoke to each other. Marcus never said he knew Boudica. What happened next was even more shocking. Boudica looked over to Aelius and said, "So you're Marcus' son?"
"Y-yes, my lady," he said, avoiding eye contact.
"You don't have to avert your eyes. We're all human."
"Yes, my lady."
"I remember when your father first arrived here. Not many people were happy at a Roman soldier marrying an innocent Iceni girl. I certainly wasn't. But your father proved himself. The only good Roman."
"Is a dead one."
Boudica laughed and said, "I like you."
Marcus rolled his eyes and said, "Great. They're bonding."
"Of course. With his mother's wit and your skills, what's not to like?" Boudica responded. Marcus countered with, "Well he still has much to learn."
"It'll come in time, I'm sure. So why are you out here? Is there a secret meeting I don't know about?"
"What if I said I can't tell you?"
"Getting answers out of you is like squeezing water out of a stone."
"That's what happens when one belongs to a secret society."
"True. Well, I'm going to try to get beer. You never saw me here. Oh, send my regards to Cassus," Boudica said as she walked back to the beer line.
"Will do!" Marcus shouted.
As the father and son mingled with the crowd, they certainly noticed how divided the festival was among the tribes. The Iceni seemed to be staying in one place. Same for the Silures, Damnonii, and other tribes that gathered for religious reasons. Marcus decided to stay with the Iceni. There was no need to talk to members of other tribes. They would neither listen to nor respect Marcus. Still, some people occasionally wandered into areas occupied by hostile tribes.
Several hours into the night, the celebration had really kicked off. The singing and drumming and dancing carried into the night as the strong scent of roasting meat over exposed fires whipped through the air. Even Boudicca, the seemingly somber figure in the brown cloak, had let her hair down a little, though she remained anonymous to all but a few people. Aelius and Marcus sat on a fallen piece of the ancient megalith sipping down beer and laughing. As Aelius had seemed to have let his guard down, Marcus kept eyeballing a few odd characters.
"What's wrong, Father?" Aelius asked as he wiped beer from his lip.
"There are a few people here that we should keep an eye on," Marcus grumbled.
"I like to keep my eye on everyone," Aelius joked.
"Well, you're doing a wonderful job staring at that Brigantes girl. And you certainly are keeping a watchful eye on that beer line," Marcus scolded.
"They're, uh... people of... interest..."
"I'm not telling you not to have fun. I'm telling you that anybody here could be a you-know-what."
"True. Actually, I did see a Silure somewhere around here giving us the evil-eye. The 'I know who you are' evil-eye, not just the 'I'd like to pummel your sorry ass because you're not a Silure.'
"Where did this guy slither off to anyway?"
"I don't know. He disappeared into the crowd by the roasting pig half an hour ago."
"Hmmm... do you want some roast pig?"
"You read my mind."
The two men stood up and looked for the Silure, who was bound to be lurking around somewhere. The Iceni pushed past several men from various tribes on the way to the roasting pig. Aelius approached the pig as Marcus scoped the area out for the Silure. As Aelius approached the delicious pig, a few men from other tribes laughed.
"Sorry, sport, this pig is for people who could actually take one down, not cower from it," a hefty man said.
"Be careful, lad! Don't you know you're talking to an Iceni? A fearless Iceni who will do anything to protect his people... except fight for it?!" another man joked.
"Shouldn't you be sucking Rome's tit right now?" a third man asked Aelius.
"Say what you will about the Iceni, boys," Aelius said as he sliced off a piece of pork with his sword before continuing with, "But we're not the ones wallowing in filth like the Silures."
"Oi! What'd you say, mate?" the large man said.
Aelius help up his finger as he chewed a piece of pork.
"I think he wants a fight!" one Silure said.
"Actually, I just wanted a bite to eat. I like my meat cooked, you see. Not rotting and smelling like shit," Aelius said, pointing at the large man in front of him upon saying the last words of his sentence.
The crowd's reaction was a mixture of guffawing and gasping. Marcus leaned over to Aelius and said, "Nice. Real nice. Not helping you with this one." Aelius replied, "Just find the you-know-who. I'll take care of the pig," saying the last part loudly.
The large man charged at Aelius. Aelius ducked right under the man's fist, giggling a little as a taunt. The large man turned around and threw a few more swings, Aelius backing away with each swing. "'e's a slippery bastard!" a man in the crowd said. Aelius said to the large man, "You'll just tire yourself out." The large man attempted to backhand Aelius as the Iceni narrowly dodged the hand before striking the man on the side of the ribs. The large man howled. "You've been eating too much pig," Aelius taunted. The large man tried catching Aelius again.
Aelius stepped back to avoid the man, though he stumbled on the roasting pig. The large man laughed as he grabbed Aelius by the throat and attempted to strangle him. Aelius kicked the large man's right kneecap. A satisfying snapping noise could be heard as the man's kneecap broke. The man stumbled for Aelius again, but he was too slow. Aelius was able to quickly circle around the man and grapple him from behind. His cloak, which had been catching fire due to it being directly in the flames that had been cooking the pig a moment ago, sent a brilliant, glowing arc through the air as Aelius quickly moved behind the man and delivered a well-placed blow to the back of the head.
The large man saw stars obscure his vision as he passed out from the heavy blow to the occipital lobe. Aelius turned to the more pressing matter; a fire that was spreading up his cloak. He patted at the flames before deciding to remove the cloak, quickly unfastening the rope that held the cloak together on his neck. The cloak fell to the ground as Aelius furiously stamped on the flaming article of clothing. Once he was sure the fire was out, he grabbed the singed cloak again. The cloak was practically ruined. He slung it over one shoulder and looked for his father in the crowd.
The other men that had been taunting him seemed to have respected the fact that he took the large man down as they seemed to pay him no mind, a stark contrast from the animosity he had been receiving before. Aelius searched for his father before accidentally bumping into him.
"Did you find him yet?" Aelius inquired.
"No, did you?" Marcus asked.
The two looked around before suddenly seeing the man near the Iceni tribesmen. They ran over to the man, examining him and his actions. The man looked like an ordinary Silure; brown hair with a brown beard, ratty clothes, and a general dirtiness. The man, however, carried himself with discipline to indicate one of two things; he belonged to the Circulum or he was a Templar.
The man stalked dangerously close to the cloaked Boudicca. Marcus yelled, "No!" and raced for the Silure. The Silure drew a blade from his cloak as Marcus raced to stop him. As the assailant prepared to strike the Iceni queen, Marcus braced the man with his left hand, covering the man's mouth. With his other hand, Marcus rammed his blade into the man's ribs. Marcus then cradled the dying man to the ground. Onlookers watched as Marcus softly uttered in Latin, "Et dimissis peccatis tuis, non vestrum. Requiescat in pace."
To the others, Marcus had just spoken an insulting language to a dying Celt. Their outrages was stifled by surprise when the dying Silure spoke and said, "Et mortuus est in gloria." Aelius bowed his head respectfully as the Celts spoke with each other. "What did he say?" one asked. Aelius was about to speak up, but Boudicca beat him to it. "He said... he said that the attacker's choices were not his own... and he wished him to rest in peace. The other acknowledged the honor with which he died," she said softly. The others looked at her as she lowered her cloak. Looking at Marcus, she said, "I think it's time to go."
"At once," Marcus said as he prepared to accompany her to the horses. As Aelius, Marcus, and Boudicca began to leave the megalith, Marcus noticed a faint glowing blue hue on one of the stones at the megalith. Interestingly enough, the same color was glowing underneath Boudicca's cloak. Marcus hurried the group up as they proceeded to the horses. This celebration was over.
The day had started out like any other. Training in the morning, bread at noon, and more training until sundown. The day took a turn for the worse, however, when a handmaiden of King Prasutagus arrived at the longhouse of Marcus and Aelius. Bowing, she said, "My lords, I bring grave news! King Prasutagus has perished!" Marcus and Aelius scrambled to their feet and prepared to visit their longhouse. Rather than donning traditional assassin robes, Marcus wore a black cloak while Aelius wore a dark blue cloak, both symbolizing mourning.
The two arrived at the longhouse to pay respects to Prasutagus. Boudicca silently wept with her children over the loss of her husband. The body was surrounded by candles, a tradition practiced to keep demons away from the body. Aelius and Marcus know there were no demons; only the Templars. Nevertheless, Iceni was a kingdom under the Roman Empire. The death of a king was sure to attract Templar attention.
Marcus and Aelius stayed with the body for hours, trying to comfort Boudicca and her daughters. In the morning, Prasutagus' body was taken to a holy well outside the city where the body was washed before being placed in sacred dress and wrappings where he would be left in his residence for a week. Following the funeral, Boudicca called a meeting of the important people in the tribe in order to read Prasutagus' will. Reading aloud, Boudicca recited the words on a parched scroll; To my daughters, Balsta and Linaste, I leave everything. My kingdom, my wealth, and my knowledge. My only regret is that I am unable to see what you will do with the kingdom you will inherit...
A courier was sent to Londinium to inform the Roman Empire of the changes while Marcus and Aelius prepared for a likely Templar infiltration. They did not, however, expect an army to arrive within a few days.
Marcus and Aelius woke to the sound of horses rushing through the streets and people screaming. The two rushed out of their homes to see Centurions marching through the streets. They silently swept around town to see what the problem was before reaching a dispute in front of Prasutagus' longhouse.
"Boudicca of the Iceni, your daughters' rights to rule are null. They are women; unfit to rule!" a general spoke.
"Our king had no male heirs! There is no other way, General!"
"You're right. With no male heirs, the Iceni Kingdom is hereby disbanded! You are all officially part of the Roman Empire! Our customs are now yours. Retrieve Prasutagus' body."
"No! What are you doing?!" Boudicca screamed as soldiers marched in to her longhouse to retrieve Prasutagus' body.
"Calm yourself, wench," the general said.
"No! Fuck you! Fuck you and your culture and your empire! We are Iceni! Get out of our kingdom!"
"Aelius, no matter what, stay here," Marcus said as he ran for the group of soldiers nearing Boudicca. "Marcus, no!" Boudicca screamed as the man attempted to strike the general down with his sword. The general quickly dodged and drew steel, waving his soldiers off. "Ah. A member of the Circulum. I thought I would run into your kind in these backwaters," the general said. Marcus struck for the general, but his attack was parried. Another attack grazed the general's left arm before the general, seeing the opening, swung for Marcus' exposed arm with his gladius.
Metal struck flesh as the sharp blade. It was a brutal swing; the force was enough to cut straight through the radius and ulna, cleaving the limb off in a fluid motion. Pain shot through Marcus' arm as he fell to his knees, holding the stump. He would have screamed, but the shock of losing his arm rendered him dumbstruck. Marcus stared at the stump, not knowing what to do. The general then delivered a blow to the back of Marcus' head to knock him out.
Marcus awoke in his longhouse. He attempted to move his fingers, feeling both palms close. Unfortunately, only one of his hands was still attached to his body. He still felt his lost limb. His stump was wrapped tightly as a druid prayed nearby to ward off infection. Marcus waved him off as Aelius approached. "Aelius... what... what happened?" he asked.
"Father... Boudicca and her daughters have been taken to Londinium to be flogged and raped... I've failed you. I am so sorry.
"There was nothing you could have done, Aelius. Even if you had killed the general, our cover would have been blown. You did well.
"What do we do now?
"Will Boudicca be returning?"
"Most likely, if not to humiliate her."
"We must... we must speak to her when she returns."
The two waited for almost a week before Boudicca and her daughters were returned to Iceni lands. Marcus and Aelius watched as the Roman soldiers returned her and her daughters. All three were bruised, bloodied, and naked. Aelius and Marcus brought them blankets to cover themselves as they walked to the longhouses. Boudicca's eye was swollen shut and her daughters were unable to walk more than a few steps at a time.
Arriving at Marcus' longhouse, the three were washed. The druid offered healing, which the three women graciously accepted. They slept there overnight before returning to their longhouses the next morning. It was another week before they were heard from again. They called a meeting by a massive bonfire. Men from the Iceni and their allies, the Trinovantes, gathered around the fire as Boudicca spoke.
"For decades, now, the Romans have humiliated us and insulted our way of life! They show no respect for decency or our people! No more I say! No more!" Bouidicca cried. Men cheered as she continued. "I am here to announce our revolt from the Romans! I am here to tell you that we will march on Camulodunum and burn it to the fucking ground! We are going to march on Londinium and we. Are. Going. To. Burn it. To. The. Fucking. Ground! For Iceni and in the name of Prasutagus, I invoke the will on Andraste!"
Boudicca then released a hare from the folds of her tunic, a symbolic action call upon this Celtic deity. Cheering and drumming pierced the night and a celebration ensued. During the celebration, Marcus approached her. "I understand how angry you are," he said to her.
"Of all the people on my side, I thought you would be at my right hand," Boudicca scoffed, motioning at Marcus' missing hand.
"This revolt is suicide. It accomplishes nothing," he said.
"It's better than living under the thumb of the Romans. Debt collectors are going to drain us dry until we all starve to death. We're dead anyway.
"Whatever is going to happen otherwise, it's not worth a revolt."
"I should have expected you to understand."
"How do you even expect to hold this land?"
Boudicca then pulled a sword out of her tunic. The ebon blade shimmered with blue as she gripped it. Marcus had seen it before, but it only seemed to glow when she was angry. "This is what will secure it," she said.