"You see, Alexander, these men cannot be trusted. They pull the strings of power, playing our leaders like puppets. Their intellect and charisma are unmatched, and they would enslave us all given enough time, power, and freedom." - Quentin Ferrant to Alexander William on the Templars
Assassin's Creed: The Apple is the first in the Assassin's Creed: Conquest saga, which follows the shifts of power and the struggles in Europe during the late Georgian and early Victorian era, as well as the early 20th century up until the outbreak of World War II, and the influence of the Assassins and Templars on the seats of power at the time. It also sheds light on the truth about the First Apple from the late Georgian period up to the early 20th century. The Conquest saga is designed to fit in also with the Dominion trilogy, as well as the Collective Initiative series, and focuses on the actions of the Assassins.
AC: The Apple follows the narrative of Quentin Jamoux Ferrant, accomplished French master assassin, as he mentors Alexander Edward William, a young but abandoned and betrayed English aristocrat, as power shifted and enemies were made before and after the death of Napoleon Bonaparte I. Through this journey, the truth is revealed as to the fate of the First Apple during this period, including the how Napoleon aquired it, and its fate after his death.
- 1 Prologue: Abandoned
- 2 Chapter 1: Inducted
- 3 Chapter 2: Napoleon
- 4 Chapter 3: Paris, The City of Regents and Rats
- 5 Chapter 4: Infiltration
- 6 Chapter 5: Betrayal
- 7 Epilogue: The Shape of Things to Come
"We need to ease him in, let him experience one of the earlier memories before proceeding to find it..."
London, February 1820
The street lived as it always had, the rows of terraced houses leading down the cobbled pavements to the monstrous factories at the heart of London. Alleys jitted off in all directions, with the sound of children's laughter and parents' curses echoing down the dusty paths. Smog hung heavy over the air, as it did most days of the year, forming a dense, choking cloud over much of the city. Street sellers advertised their wares, and cursed at those who ignored them; beggars lay on the edge of the cobbled roads, lost and abandoned; in the alley-way, a dog whimpered, searching eagerly for food to fill its starving belly, but wary of any people who approached it after a lifetime of neglect.
The travelling circus had arrived in town, and everywhere you looked were strongmen, lifting unbearable weights; fortune tellers, who claimed to be able to predict the future for as little as sixpence; sweet sellers, who's stalls had the most incredible and exotic treats one could imagine, and who had crouds of excited children queuing up to purchase these wonderful creations; and acrobats, cartwheeling and somersaulting in front of the growing crowd who had come to marvel at these curiosities.
And at the end of the street sat the manor. William Manor had been home to the most aristocratic and powerful family for as long as anyone could remember. Lord Robert William ruled with an iron fist, presiding over this whole north-eastern area of London, taking most, if not all the income from the factories, powerhouses and street sellers, taxing the area dry. It certainly showed; the manor was the grandest building you would have ever seen, whereas the houses and slums in the surounding area were in a state of disarray. Sewage lined the streets, the poor and weak starved in their hundreds, and disease was rife. The manor, on the other hand, was magnificent beyond comprehension. Ivory turrets sprouted from the rooftop, gothic decor swirled around the outside of the windows, and the garden was lined with perfectly kept hedges and trees. There was a sense of irony about it; rows and rows of poverty-stricken slums leading up to an impecable mansion.
Down the street, at the edge of one of the alley corners, stood a man. His arms were folded, and he leant against the nearby wall, but he was heavily focused on the goings-on of the travelling circus. His breath was coming out in small, misty clouds in front of his eyes in the cool, late-winter weather. His attire was not of English origin; he seemed to be a noble of France. His red cloak had a frill at the neck, and beneath it was a buttoned shirt. A strap on which there was a holster for short blades was mounted over his head and round one shoulder. He had various pouches lining his waist, and his boots were well fitting and dyed with maroon and gold. The buckle of his belt was a metal insignia in the shape of an 'A', with a curve below it. He had a bracer on his left wrist, and there was a sabre held in a sheath to his right side. There was a simple, flintlock pistol in a holster on the left of his waist. He had a narrow, defined face, with pale blue eyes and a long, thin patch of well-kept hair on his upper lip. A thin, pointed, scarlet hood emblazened with golden patterns was hung heavy over his face, and he was nearly invisible to the nearby crowd he was silently observing, waiting to strike. After what felt like millenia and yet also a few moments, he straightened up and started walking forward. Each step was single, precise, and silent; he was a predator stalking his prey. As he glided, unnoticed, towards the crowd, he flicked his braced left wrist, and the silver glint of a blade emerged from the sleeve of his coat. He could see his target now.
His target was wearing a heavy fur cloak, under which was a thick, woven shirt, and was chatting loudly to an associate. He seemed to be of Bulgarian or Serbian origin. His hair was heavy, knotted and black, and he had a thick moustache on his upper lip, whilst the rest of his jaw was uncared for, with patches of stubble every here and there. He was wearing the trousers and boots of a noble man who had stopped caring for this world, and so whose possessions had fell into dissarray. On the forefinger of his right hand was a ring on which stood the red cross of the mark of Cain. This man was a Templar, and he ran the nearby jail; little known to the law enforcers of the area, it was also where he experimented on prisoners given the death sentance, trying to figure out how to control the masses of humanity. He was completely oblivious to the Asassin approacing him from behind.
Before the Assassin could reach and confront his target, the large, oak doors of William Manor barged open, attracting all attention and silencing the crowd. Out of the splendidly decorated hall marched two police officers, dragging a blonde teenager, who was struggling and cursing at the two men. This young man seemed to be aged 17, and his hair was short and messy. He was clean shaven, and had small, brown eyes. His face was full yet defined; his chin was pointed and triangular, and his nose was slightly crooked to the left; there was a scar along his right cheek; and bruises dotted his face. The clothes he was wearing were grand, though torn from trying to resist the two officers. This was Alexander Edward William, the younger of two sons of Lord and Lady William.
As the two officers descended the steps to the crowd, one cried out to the Templar, "Branislav, I have another one for you. This young and insolent criminal was found defacing the back of his own manor! How could you disrespect your family and betray society, you brat?!" The last words were directed at Alexander.
Before the young man could respond though, Branislav spoke up. "Good. I have been running out of... work. Bring him here. I will bring him in immedietly. No doubt his family will be devastated. They will want this commotion to be over as quickly as possible," faking sympathy.
At these words, the Assassin glanced a look at the William family. They did not seem upset, rather on the contrary; they had smugly joyful faces, and it looked as if they were pocketing some money. There was definitely something wrong with this. But before the Assassin could act, Alexander was handed over to Branislav. He could not kill his target now; he had to follow him to his prison and finish him in his own domain. And what of the boy? His family did not seem wanting of him, but he was not going to survive in the jail. Freeing him and leaving him on the street would not work either; he was a noble, and would not cope with such harsh conditions. He looked like a fighter. Perhaps he would make a good recruit.
As Branislav dragged Alexander to his jail of torture, the Assassin silently made his way onto the rooftops.
Chapter 1: Inducted
"We have as much time as we need..."
Part 1: The Jail
The Assassin slinked along the rooftop, body low to the ground, remaining hidden from his prey. Beneath him was Branislav Petrovic, the Templar agent who was unlocking the secrets of how to control humanity without the aid of a Piece of Eden. He was dragging Alexander William, a young, betrayed, aristocratic man, to the jail in the north-east of London. There he would certainly experiment on him, turning his life into hell to aid the Templar means, before his life was lost on the gallows.
For that was where Alexander would certainly go. The Assassin had noticed something strange as the boy was being handed over to the Templar. It made sense now that his family would have betrayed him for a little bit more money, sending the child they did not care for to the Templars. The Assassin had not been in London for long, but he already knew the workings of the devious William family. Branislav was only allowed to experiment on those sent to death. The police turned a blind eye to what happened to those deemed not worthy of life, so the jail workers could do with the prisoners what they pleased. And the William family wanted to get rid of their son. Being paid for it by the Templars was just a perk to the deed.
But why? Why to Branislav? The Assassin knew that there were others in the city who also dealt in the illegal trade of humans. Others who would offer better prices than Branislav, and who would do the deed more quietly; surely it would be shameful for an aristocratic family to have their children thrown into jail?
It was no matter any more. The terrifying jail owned, paid for and run, oblivious to the people of course, by the Templars loomed staggeringly into sight. Windows were broken, sewage ran from its core onto the streets, and the screams of the tortured could be heard even from the outside. It was a place of true horror, but of course it needed to terrify its victims. It would make their minds easier to break.
The Assassin could see the expresion on Alexander's face as he neared the building. It was a face he would never forget.
Alexander was pale, and shaking. Goosebumps ran up and down his skin, and tiny beads of sweat ran down his face. He was unblinking, and his eyes were dilated. His mouth was open in an open scream, but no sound came out. He was too terrified to make a sound, or even try to run. He was facing his destiny with full, if unwanted, acceptance. There was no way he was going to escape his fate now.
Branislav, on the other hand, was unafraid, and determined. There was no fear or dread in his face, just the slight hint of the sad acceptance and guilt he faced by having to do this work. Of course, it was all for the betterment of humanity; if he could unlock the secrets of enforcing order now, the rest of humankind would be better for it.
At least that is what he believed.
As the Templar walked with his victim into the jail, the Assassin dropped from the rooftops to one of the broken windows. He clambered through, severing and tearing parts of his attire as he did so, cursing "Merde!" under his breath as he treaded on broken glass.
The inside of the jail was no less frightening than the exterior. It was dimly lit, and a heavy fog of candle smoke choked the air. There was a stench of rotting flesh, and as he looked around, the Assassin could see why. There were rows and rows of cages, some with the rotting remains of dead prisoners, others with the starving shells of the living who had lost all hope. It was probably better for them if they were dead. Rats gnawed on the bones, and cockroaches scampered through cracks and over the living. It was an imensely dreadful sight to behold.
In the distance, through the dim light of this cavern, the Assassin could just make out the silhouette of Branislav, throwing Alexander into one of these cages. Realising that those he could see in the cages near to him were just dead men walking, he bid them "Repose en paix," and left to free the young aristocrat, and to kill the bastard who had brought him here, and who had ended the lives of so many others.
He quickly found a rotted, wooden ceiling beam he may be able to run across unnoticed. Testing his weight, he clambered onto the ancient thing and shimmied accross to the other end of the room. He passed Alexander's cell; he could see him crying and begging his family, no, his mother, for forgiveness. There was no time to dwell on him. At least, not for the time being. The Assassin needed to take out the Templar. edging further to the edge of the room, he could see Branislav looking over some of his books; arcane scrolls of herbs and spices, and also texts on the human body and mind. Not wanting to dwell on how he used these books, the Assassin decided it was time to strike.
He whistled to get the man's attention. Branislav looked around, before standing up out of his chair and looking up at where the Assassin was perched. His next expression would have been comical had the matter not have been so serious. The Assassin may even have smirked. But instead, he leaped, unleashing the hidden blade from under his wrist as he did so.
Landing on Branislav, he plunged the blade deep into his flesh, ending his life almost instantly. There was only enough time for the Templar to explain his means before his life ebbed away.
"Why Assassin? You know my goals; I want-" he spluttered, before continuing, "I wanted peace, in all things. I was only trying to help them..." His last words came out as a whisper, as he gestured to the prisoners.
"Les extremites ne justifie pas les moyens. Repose en paix," the Assassin responded, though he knew the Templar could not hear him. Now it was time to find Alexander.
Fishing the keys from Branislav's corpse, and backtracking to the cage in which Alexander was held, and he opened the door.
"The man who threw you in here is dead," the Assassin announced, unwaveringly, in a heavy thick French accent, to Alexander.
"You- what? He's really dead? You just killed him?" Alexander had a look of surprise, astonishment and admiration on his face. "You freed me from the gallows?" His voice was rough, but not deep. It had a slight posh tinge to the accent.
"Then I am forever in your debt. Give me your name, Sir, and I will follow you, and serve your cause, as I have no family of my own." He sounded bitter.
Extending a hand to help the battered young man, the Assassin proclaimed, "Je m'appelle Quentin Jamoux Ferrant. Et je suis un Assassin."
Part 2: The Assassins
Quentin's hideout, west London
"I still don't get it," Alexander murmered under his breath, stirring the tea Quentin had made him. He was sitting at an expensive wooden table, with one arm over the back of his chair. Quentin was busy in the corner writing and reading letters to other assassin contacts across Europe.
"You are an assassin, and yet you don't get paid for killing your targets? You say you are fighting for the greater good?"
Quentin sighed and slumped for what felt like the millionth time. He picked himslelf up, dropping his pen in the pot of ink that sat next to the pile of notes and letters on his desk. Striding over to Alexander, he cleared his throat, before booming in a voice that wasn't loud, but demmanded respect, "Right. I am only going to tell you this one more time, comprende?" He leant over Alexander.
Beneath him, Alexander shrunk in his chair, and gulped. Meekly, he replied, "Yes."
"Okay," Quentin responded, before walking back over to his desk. Straightening up and fixing his clothes, he began to explain the age old conflict between the Assassins and the Templars to Alexander.
"Everything you think you know about assassins and the Knights Templar is wrong. You believe that assassins are hired killers, trained to take out those who are unwanted by an individual, oui? You also believe that the Knights Templar were a group of knights whose resposnibilities were to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land during the Third Crusade. That they were disbanded in 1314 after King Phillip IV of France burned their Grand Master, Jaques de Molay?"
When there was no response from Alexander, Quentin grunted, then continued, "This is wrong." He paused, cocked his head whilst thinking it through, then added, "Well, most of it, anyway. There are those who call themselves assassins who kill for money. But these are only men who are aware of our tendency to kill and believe that they are becoming one of us." He laughed. "If only! Pouvez-vous imaginer la pagille, nous serions en?"
Studying Alexander's puzzled expression, he continued. "Sorry, I am sidetracking. That is not who we are. Our order is much more... noble than that. We fight not for money, but for the preservation of the free will of humanity. So far, bar a few isolated cases, we have succeeded. That is all you need to know for now. We fight for peace. Peace is the purpose of our creed."
"So who are the Templars?" Alexander asked, like a young boy asks what the sun is. "What do they stand for? Are you telling me that they still exist?"
"Unfortunately for us, yes. Both the Assassins and the Templars have existed since the dawn of man."
"Since Adam and Eve?" Alexander interrupted.
"Oui- non. No.
Not how you know that story. But yes. Since Adam and Eve... In a way. Some of our great mentors showed us how." He waved nonchalantly at a board, at which drawings of 3 men were hung. One seemed to have come from the east; Egypt, possibly, or Syria. Another seemed Italian, or Spanish. The third seemed native to the Americas. "In time, Alexander, you too will know the origins of our species. But it is a tale best kept for later..." Quentin stared longingly into the distance, as if he were peering into a future in which Alexander was a Master Assassin, learning the truth of humanity's existence.
Snapping out of his trance, Quentin exclaimed, "I am sidetracking again! I am sorry. I do this a lot. You must forgive me. Ou etais-je? Oh yes... From the birth of humanity, there have been those who have been seeking peace, in all things. In the beginning, though, these men splintered, on contrasting ideals, into the Templars and the Assassins.
"The Assassins seek peace through freedom. We beleive that peace should be found, and that free will is a far greater gift than anyone can imagine. The ones we kill... They have chosen the path that denies us our power. They want to take it from us, to enslave us all."
"And that's who the Templars are!" Alexander exclaimed, the concept finally clicking in his mind. "They want to turn us all into slaves, and grow rich and fat off our suffering."
"NON! Quand il comprende? The Templars believe that they are also following the path of righteousness. They cannot see that humanity can achieve peace through free will. So, in order to enforce peace, they seek to control us, if only to protect us. But they are sly, and can manipulate even the most powerful world leaders in order to further their aims. Julius Ceaser, Pope Alexander VI, in fact all of his family, Prince Ahmet of the Ottomans, Branislav Petrovic - the man who captured you earlier, maybe even Napoleon Bonaparte! These men were all either influenced by the Templars, or were Templars themsleves. All to further the Templar goal of controlling humanity.
"You see, Alexander, these men cannot be trusted. They pull the strings of power, playing our leaders like puppets. Their intellect and charisma are unmatched, and they would enslave us all given enough time, power and freedom.
"We fight against them. And currently, we are losing. The Templars are tightening their grip on us, Alexander. We need more Assassins. We need you, Alexander." Quentin was shaking. Beads of sweat were slowly making their way down his face, and his eyes were filled with terror and desperation.
Alexander laughed to ease the tension that had arisen in the room. "Okay, crazy man. I'll help you, seeing as I have no alternatvie..." He gulped as he remembered how his family had abandoned him, just a few hours previously. "Hell, I've heard too much now. I want to help. You never can know, it may be fun."
"Nous n'avons jamais avoir du plaisir..." Quentin whispered chillingly under his breath as he shuffled back to his desk to remain in contact with however few Assassins there were left in Europe.
"What? I do understand some French you know. My parents may have been rotten and corrupt, but at least they cared to educate me when I was young." Alexander stood up out of his chair.
Quentin turned around so suddenly and menacingly that Alexander took a few steps back in surprise and fear. Relaxing, he sighed. "Nothing. Now quieten down. I am expecting an old... friend, soon."
Part 3: Esmé Beauguoix de Lyon
At that precise moment, a loud thud echoed through the house. A visitor had arrived.
Quentin hurried down the creaking oak stairs, silent and gliding as ever, leaving Alexander sitting, bemused as to the timing of the knock, staring at the portraits of the three men on the wall opposite him. Moments later he heard hurried whispering from downstairs, before footsteps made their way towards him.
Behind him, Alexander heard, in a rather hurried, eccentric tone, Quentin proclaim, "I would like you to meet Esmé Beaguoix de Lyon, legendary Assassin and master of the Assassins in France." He nonchanantly turned round in his chair to see one of the most battered, bruised young women he had ever seen.
She was not tall, standing no larger than 5 and a half feet, and was particularly scrawny as well. Her clothes, those of a peasant from some farm or another, were in tatters, a mesh of patchwork patterns. She wore no shoes, so her feet were covered in blisters and mud, along with god knows what else were on the streets of London. He could see the handle of a short blade poking out the top of one pocket, and she wore a holster round he waist, hanging in which was a simple flintlock pistol. Although she was turned away from him, apparantly at the end of a deep conversation with Quentin, Alexander could still make out her face under her knotted brunette hair. Her eyes were small and close together, and her nose short and pointed. She was not particularly pretty, and yet she had an awe of wonder, confidence, and a little bit of smug arrogance, surrounding her; Alexander had no doubt that she was incredibly skilled with a blade and a gun.
Unwilling to intrude upon the conversation that Quentin and Esmé were having, Alexander shrugged and returned to his seat. As he did so, he wondered: what was really happening? Had Quentin told him the truth, or was this all just some sick joke, cooked up by Alexander's wicked parents? Alexander thought he knew that "Assassins" were hired killers, and that "Templars" had been dispanded long ago. And yet here he was, in the prescence of two "freedom-fighting" Assassins. But was he? After all, Quentin and Esmé could simply be mad, believing in delusioned conspiracies. But before he could complete this thought, Quentin sat down across from him, with Esmé standing by the stairs. They both had looks of relief, and yet dread, on their faces.
"He has it..." Quentin groaned. "We have recieved confirmation from our contact there..." He looked in a state of despair. But before Alexander could ask who "he" or "it" were, he was interrupted.
"Oh, come off it, Quentin! It is not all bad! At least we can recover it now," Esmé replied, as comfortingly as she could. She had a strong, commanding voice, and spoke in a good English accent, although you could still tell she was from France from hearing her speak.
"Oui, but that would involve going there, and taking it from him. We would have to kill him, Esmé. And how? It would have to be done covertly; we could not just use our blades or guns as we usually do."
But Esmé still looked defiant. She believed that whatever was being discussed could be achieved. Of course, Alexander still had no clue about what was being discussed.
"It would be possible," she mused. "Perhaps... Perhaps with arsenic. It is not as easily traceable as, well, as a wound. And as for reaching him, well-"
Alexander could hold his curiosity in no more. "WHO?" He demmanded. "WHERE? What are you people on about?"
Taken aback, Esmé glared angrily at Quentin. "Does he not know? Did you not tell him?"
Defending himself, and suddenly standing up, Quentin advanced towards Esmé. Rubbing his temples for a second in frustration, he replied, "Do you not listen? The boy has only been here a day. I have not had time!"
"But he must know, if we are to do this."
"I know! So I shall tell him now," Quentin sighed, before turning to face Alexander. Taking a moment to choose his next words, he explained of Napoleon's possession of an object of great power. "You must be aware of Napoleon Bonaparte, oui?" When Alexander nodded in reply, Quentin glanced back towards Esmé for a second, as if for encouragement. Scowling, he continued. "Well, we have reason to believe that he is in possession of a Piece of..."Templar Treasure". It is a very valuable artifact, and in the wrong hands, it can be dangerous. Esmé just explained to me how Barry O'Meara, our contact on the Island of Saint Helena, and Napoleon's physician, had confirmed this fact to us. We must kill Napoleon, and recover the treasure. But how, I do not know..." He turned to Esmé. "I was hoping you could shed some light on this?"
Sitting down, Esmé thought to herself for a minute. "You are right that we have an ally on the island, in Barry, but we also have Sir Hudson Lowe to contend with. And you know how he is, setting up sentries around Longwood House every night. And we couldn't approach by day, either; we would need official business with Napoleon... Merde!"
Turning once more to Alexander, Quentin decided to plan ahead. "Obviously we cannot approach Napoleon now, not without a good plan. We will need to spend time here deciding how best to do this. Perhaps you could unpack your bags and stay here for a while, Esmé? There is a second guest room downstairs." He gestured towards the stairwell, and Esmé nodded, though she stayed put for now. "In the meantime, Alexander, you need to learn. Not only of our philosophy, but also of how to fight, how to run, how to hide." Quentin nodded towards Alexander, excitement in his eyes.
○ ○ ○
The training was painful. Intense. Unrelenting. Alexander learned much over the coming months. Of how to do battle, with sword or with fists; of how to shoot; of how to weild the hidden blade. He also learned of the importance of stealth, and how to blend with the crowd. And when this was done, he planned. He plotted. They all did; Alexander, Quentin, and Esmé. How to infiltrate Saint Helena? How to get close to Napoleon? How to steal the Apple. By early March they were ready. Esmé had managed to forge the paperwork needed to disguise Quentin and Alexander as British physicians. They were to attend upon Napoleon (the occassion made all the easier by a sudden drop in Napoleon's health due to a suspected stomach ulcer, seemingly requiring the need of some "expert" physicians), before poisoning him with arsenic and taking the "Templar Treasure" from him. He would die some days later, with no suspicion given to either Quentin or Alexander. The Assassins were ready to take the upper hand in this fight.
Chapter 2: Napoleon
"This part is important. Make sure you watch carefully."
Part 1: Saint Helena
The boat trip was long, but not as long as it would have been were it not for the recent invention of the steamship. Alexander and Quentin were well disguised as British physicians, even with different names and attires; Alexander was for now known as Daniel, and Quentin as Charles. They both wore dark suits and jackets with top hats, and Quentin sported a monocle. He had also been working on perfecting his English accent as to not draw suspicions to himself. Esmé had departed to Paris to reunite with her guild and manage the other Assassins around France and Europe.
As they passed Cape Verde, the temperature only increased. They were slowly but surely reaching the Tropic of Capricorn, and with it the island of Saint Helena, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. There they would kill Napoleon Bonaparte.
The ship docked on the 30th of April, 2 days earlier than expected. Alexander and Quentin were there. They nearly had the Templar Treasure. But first they had to rest up, and wait for their appointed date to inspect upon Napoleon. And so they travelled to a local inn, named "The King's Head". It was not a large building, composed entirely of bricks, tiles and glass. But the people there were friendly, and the duo felt safe. Upstairs, in their room, they plotted.
"Okay, so our alloted appointment to meet 'the Empreror' is at mid-day on the 3rd," explained Quentin to Alexander for what felt like the hundreth time. "We have 45 minutes to interrogate him, lightly of course, to find out where the treasure is, how he got it, and what he has done with it. Then we give his staff the arsenic, disguised as palliatives. They will kill him for us. Are we clear, Daniel?"
"Yes, Charles," replied Alexander, in a rather sarcastic tone. "I know what we are doing. We have been through this too many times before."
"I was just making sure." Quentin had an irritated tone about him. "I just really don't want us messing up. This, right here, is possibly one of the most important assignments I have undergone. This could turn the tide in our fight." Fixing his cuffs, Quentin continued. "How does my accent sound?"
Alexander shrugged, and frowned for a second. "Pretty good. It has a little bit of a Birmingham twinge to it, but you can get away with that. Anyway, if it's okay with you, I would like some fresh air. Even being on deck on a steamship is hell, with all the smoke and steam..."
With that, Alexander left. Right outside the inn was a bustling market. It was remeniscent of England, being a British colony, although it certainly had a tropical feel about it. Street vendors, instead of offering apples and vegetables, advertised exotic looking fruits, which came in a wide array of colours. The lack of any large amount of factories meant that the air was clear and there was no smog. The cobbled street, smoothed by years of wear from the townspeople, was enclosed on two sides by sloping mountain, and on a third by the sea. It ran inland, steadily rising, before disappearing out of sight. His curiosity piqued, Alexander chose to follow it uphill.
He walked, in the blistering heat of the midday sun, for roughly 15 minutes. Then he came across a large plateau in the near distance. Built along it was a large house, surrounded by farmland and British sentries. Standing astute, with rifles balanced against their shoulders, these men were being inspected by a balding man, who looked to be in his 50s, and whose red jacket was laden with military medals. Alexander realised this had to be Sir Hudson Lowe, the Governor of Saint Helena, whose main task here was to supervise the guarded building, in which dwelled Napoleon Bonaparte. This was Longwood House.
The house was mostly wooden, with tiled, sloping roofs. Alexander could not see in; the curtains were drawn, and anyway, it was too far away for him to have been able to make out anything inside. On the farmland surrounding it, farmers worked tirelessly to harvest the crops needed for the island to survive. Alexander sat on the hill where he was for what felt like only a few minutes, but by the time he noticed a disturbance in the house, the sun was setting in the west.
Alexander could hear shouting, but could not make out any words, due to his distance from the building. Snapping out of a daze, he looked up to see Lowe storm out of the house. His face was creased with fury. Behind him followed a diminutive man, in a suit and with a dark top hat, who had short, messy brown hair and was rather thickset, as well as several other men in suits and jackets. The men were definitely having an argument, with the small man occassionally gesturing towards the house with a concerned look on his face, whereas Lowe seemed to be angrily defending himself. The other men were more composed, contributing little to either side of the argument.
This lasted for several minutes, or perhaps more (Alexander had little way of telling how much time had passed, save the fact that the sun had set by the time this was over), before Lowe stormed off towards his troops. The smaller man, who did not seem satisfied by any resolution that may have come about, massaged his temples in irritation before slumping off into the house again. Deciding it best for him too to leave, Alexander now stood up and head back to the town. Who were those people? He had to ask Quentin.
"I believe that small, broad man you described must have been Barry O'Meara." They were in their room in the inn, with several candles and a single gas lantern illuminating the area. Alexander was sat on his bed, intently listening to what else Quentin had to say. "Those other men must have been the other governors on the island. No doubt Barry was complaining to them of Lowe's treatment of Napoleon." To Alexander's confused expression, he continued. "Lowe is neither Templar nor Assassin. But he is British, and so it is no secret that he loathes the man. He has been doing everything possible to make Napoleon's final days here desperately depressing; we have heard reports of him refusing firewood, forcing Napoleon to burn his furniture to stay warm in the cooler winter months, and he has restricted Napoleon to only be allowed on the Longwood estate. Of course, as Napoleon's physician, it is Barry's duty to make sure that Napoleon is cared for. This has made clashes between the two inevitable."
Alexander seemed satisfied with this for a moment, as Quentin retired to the desk across the room, but then a mystery occured to him. "You say Barry has to care for Napoleon, but then isn't he on our side? Didn't we recieve our information from him? I thought you said Napoleon was a Templar?"
Quentin had not been expecting this question, and it took a few seconds for him to turn round and face Alexander, and even longer for him to respond. "What I said back in London was that we suspected him of being a Templar, or at least of being a puppet in their worldwide game. We cannot know for sure until we interrogate him ourselves." As Alexander put up an argument to this, Quentin masterfully silenced him with a flick of the hand. "Before you ask, Barry cannot have questioned Napoleon on this matter. He has a permanent job here; delving into conspiracies would arouse suspicion, and he would be forced to leave. This leads me onto your other point: this is Barry's job. Yes, he is on our side, and he wishes for Napoleon to be gone from this world as we do. But he needs to make a livelihood too. Being in service to Napoleon provided a useful combination of making a living, as well as extracting information. If he killed Napoleon before being certain of him being a Templar, he would lose his job."
"But Quentin," Alexander slyly said, "if you don't mind me asking, what is it you do to survive? I have never seen you collect payment from any man."
To this, Quentin shamefully looked away. "That... Is something best told at a later time," he mumbled under his breath. Looking back, he proclaimed, "Anyway, we must get some rest, young boy. We are only but 3 days away from securing the Templar Treasure."
Part 2: Repose en Paix
May 3 1821, Saint Helena, Southern Mid-Atlantic 
Alexander checked his pocket-watch. 11:46. Gesturing to Quentin, they left the inn.
Silently, they walked down the smoothened cobble path, away from the hissing sea and towards Longwood House. The sun rose ever higher as they walked, as the temperature rose. The two men began to sweat. Out of nervousness? Due to the temperature? It is unclear.
Reaching the estate, they were escorted in by Sir Hudson Lowe's men. Tough, valiant soldiers, they were, trained and ready to serve their country. Inside, the place felt cold, calculating, menacing. The wooden walls were barren; the curtains drawn. Grey and brown stains marked the interior.
Alexander fumbled for his pocket-watch once more. 11:58. He closed the lid, then slid it back into his jacket pocket. Alexander and Quentin shared nervous glances towards one-another. Lowe's men still stared forwards, unwaveringly, with flat expressions. Then, they were there.
The door was oh-so slightly ajar, enough for a thin crack of light to shine through from inside, illuminating the dust that floated through the air. Lowe's men checked the papers of Alexander (or Daniel) and Quentin (or Charles) once more, before grunting and gesturing at the door.
"He's in there," one of them said gruffly. "Do with him what you must."
"Oh, we will," Quentin nodded, before entering. Alexander followed not long after, as the two guards slowly left the building, their creaking footsteps slowly fading away and away.
After closing the door behind him, Alexander turned round, and gasped. If the rest of the house was decrepit, Napoleon's room was anything but. The curtains were closed, but it did not matter, as many candles and lanterns lit up a wide array of paintings, on both canvas and plaster. There was a shining wardrope in the corner, polished to perfection, and the wooden floor was covered with exotic rugs of silk and animal pelt. Atop the many desks were globes, models and other trinkets, aside an assortment of gold, silver and gemstones, enough to fill even the aristocratic Alexander with awe. And there, in the corner, lay the massive poster bed, with curtains raised to reveal, underneath the quilted duvet, a pale, haggard man. Alexander could not believe his eyes for a moment, but this had to be Napoleon. He was in a very ill state.
By the time Alexander had snapped to his senses, he realised that Quentin was down on one knee, talking very softly to Napoleon. At once Quentin turned his head to Alexander, and said, in a very soft, sympathetic tone and perfect Britsh accent, "Daniel, I think you should stand at the door and keep watch. I will handle the talking." Alexander nodded, and fumbled out his pocket-watch once more.
As he walked over to the door, he read out the time to Quentin. "The time is 12 noon exactly, Charles." He folded his arms and leant by the door.
"Very good," came the reply from Quentin. "Now, General," (for he was forbidden by Lowe to call Napoleon any other title), "I believe we have some things to discuss." Quentin took a deep breath, and steadied his nerves, before locking eyes with Napoleon. "We only have 45 minutes, so I might as well get straight to the point. Are you aware of the Apple?"
It took a few seconds for Napoleon to muster the strength to reply, and when he did, it was in a very musky, pained voice. "Allez au Diable." His eyes narrowed in anger as he spoke.
Closing his eyes, and swallowing his frustration, Quentin sighed and began again. "General, I will only ask this once more before I snap. You are aware of the Apple, aren't you? You know of its power?"
Napoleon was silent. Quentin grew every more furious. Without looking away, he asked Alexander of the time.
Looking down at the ground, and then back towards Napoleon, Quentin pushed on. "General, do not play coy with me. I know you are in possession of the object. I have written confirmation from Barry O'Meara. He saw you with the thing." The two men still had locked eyes.
Napoleon stayed silent. He was unwavering in his duty. He was not to give up the Apple. Quentin finally broke.
"Oh, Jesus Christ, General! Do not put me through this!" A vein on his forehead began to bulge dangerously. "Alexander, start searching this room. Now!" He finally broke eye contact with Napoleon to give this last order, as Alexander sprang into life, and began hurredly opening draws and closets, searching for... What, exactly? Until now he had believed the "Templar Treasure" to be some jewellery of some kind, or perhaps some precious gold. But now he had learned that it was an Apple? Still, he dared not talk to Quentin in this state.
"General, you do realise that we will find the Apple?" Quentin pressed Napoleon. "We will recover it. It is only a matter of time."
Napoleon continued his silence, forcing Quentin to change his tact.
"Okay, let me ask you this. Where did you get the Apple? When? From whom? Hm?" As Napoleon refused to speak, Quentin drew up his hand to strike him. "Answer me!"
Finally, fear became the better of Napoleon. "Louis-Nicolas Davout! Egypt!" Napoleon barely muttered, as quickly as his voice could allow. "When I camapaigned in Egypt, he approached me. In his hands was that shining orb... Such beauty, such power... I could not resist. I took it from him. I used it. The Battle of Austerlitz, the Battle of Friedland, so many battles, so many victories..."
"I've found something," Alexander proclaimed, lifting a small but heavy, dark wooden box out of one of Napoleon's draws. Fiddling with it, he could not open the lid.
Napoleon turned over to see what Alexander was doing. As he did so, a look of suppressed terror crept across his face. He lifted one finger as his hand started to shake. "No... Whatever you do, do not open that box. It... It is too powerful." Napoleon began to break down. "Il est trop puissant..."
"Then you understand why we need to take it, General," Quentin explained gently. "We must keep it from...men who would abuse its power. Men like Louis-Nicolas. He is part of a force greater than you could ever imagine, General. Are you aware of this?"
"I am only aware of the power that the Apple grants to me. The knowledge it brings... The promises it makes... But no."
"Then you are only a puppet in their game."
"In who's game, Charles?" Napoleon asked, as dread slowly spread throughout his body. But ignoring Napoleon, Quentin instead turned to Alexander.
"What time is it?"
"12:28." Alexander paused for a second longer. "How in the world do we open this?"
"It does not matter for now," replied Quentin, as he turned back to Napoleon. Responding to his earlier question, Quentin lowered his voice. "There are greater powers in this world than men like you, General. I do not wish to explain. But what you must know is that we need to open that box. Please, tell me how. And then, you can be put to rest."
The three men were paused in motion for what was only a few minutes, but what felt like an eternity. And then Napoleon spoke.
"In Paris... That most beautiful city... You are aware of the catacombes that run underneath it?"
"Then go there. The box, I trust you have noticed, does not have any hinges. How it truly works is a mystery to me. But I know that what it does require is a special kind of key." Napoleon focused on the distance and began to slowly shake his head. "There is no hole for the key - or whatever it is, it is not shaped like a key, nor is it made of conventional steel - to go into. No. The box works by simply being in proximity to the key. Then it will open. Like magic. Like it is not of this world."
"Or like it is from a time before our own," Quentin finished mournfully. But Napoleon was concerned.
"Doctors, please, what is in that box... I trust you will not abuse it. It can bring you great power, oui, but it corrupts the mind. It led to my downfall. It is the reason I am here now. It is the reason that you will kill me now." Napoleon's face seemed to stay composed as he said this, but a single tear that slowly slid down his face gave away his true emotion. "If you must, which I know you must," he continued, silencing any objections from Quentin or Alexander, "do it quickly. Painlessly. I do not wish to suffer. The Apple has made me suffer enough."
"Indeed, General," came the strained reply from Quentin. He too was taken aback by the sudden sombre mood. Calling Alexander over with a flick of the wrist, he continued to speak to Napoleon. "We will recommend palliatives, but really, these pills," (he was reaching into a briefcase he had carried with him to the room) "contain arsenic. It will not be quick. It will not be easy. But we need to remain hidden. Othewise those who wish to abuse the Apple's power as you did shall punish the world.
"Repose en paix."
Napoleon nodded, as Quentin and Alexander rose. Alexander checked the time once more. 12:45 sharp. He could begin to hear the thud, thud of Lowe's soldiers approaching from the distance, as Quentin hurredly fitted the box containing the Apple into his briefcase.
Little had they noticed the thin, hooded man who was doing his very best to stay hidden within the house.
Part 3: Welcome to Paris
It was with a heavy heart that Quentin and Alexander set sail for Paris that evening. As did a local merchant. But neither Alexander nor Quentin noticed that man. They were too busy preparing for the journey ahead, as Quentin changed back into his normal hooded attire.
Napoleon died just 2 days later, of a suspected cancer. Good.
It was on one of the long days aboard the ship that Alexander visited Quentin in his cabin. It was a grim, dimly lit place, with a wooden desk at which Quentin was sat at one end, and an uncared mattres at the other. Underneath the small, round window that looked out to the vast ocean rested a small wooden drawer. In it was the box which contained the Apple.
Alexander knocked, then entered as he heard Quentin grunt in response. Carefully closing the creaking iron door behind him, he stepped over to the mattres, where he sat. Before he could open hi mouth, however, Quentin spoke.
"You wish to ask me about my past, hm? About my life? How it is I survive?"
Alexander was taken aback. How had Quentin known? In his surprise, he could only muster a feeble "yes" in reply. Quentin shook his head, then turned to face Alexander.
"I could tell. The way you questioned me on Saint Helena... I knew you would come knocking again." He grunted, and shrugged. "We will get onto myself later. First, Alexander, I want to know about you."
Alexander was thrown off. About him? Why? He didn't even have to ask; his puzzled expression gave his feelings away.
"Because I need to know if I can trust you," Quentin explained. "I need to know how well you will stick to our order, and at the same time, keep it a secret." He paused for a moment, as Alexander remained silent, before asking, "Well?"
It took Alexander a while longer to find his words. When he did, he was staring at the ground, but was focusing on the distance, as if looking towards a distant past. "Where to begin, where to begin... I suppose I have always known London. I was born there, in William Manor, and had lived there all my life. It sounds silly really, but even a rich boy like me, I never left England." He looked up towards Quentin. "Don't get me wrong, I visited other areas, such as Liverpool, or the Derbyshire Dales, but never for long, always for a quick business trip. I was as rooted to London as the poor factory workers." Quentin continued to stare intently at Alexander as he was speaking; never making any sign that he was acknolodging what was being said, just listening. Alexander continued after a brief pause. "My parents... They were, I don't know how to describe them, sort of good and bad at the same time, if you understand. They provided many, many jobs for the people in the area around the Manor, but these were torturous, low-paid jobs, and the people had no choice but to do them or move out. It was practically slavery. And so they profited, immensely.
Chapter 3: Paris, The City of Regents and Rats
"His signs seem to be improving. Perhaps we could venture a little further forward..."
Part 1: Catacombes
Part 2: How Did This Happen?
Part 3: Bird of Prey
Chapter 4: Infiltration
"We must carry on. We need to know the truth."
Part 1: Pandemonium
Part 2: Rappelez-vous, non anglais
Part 3: Lost and Found
Chapter 5: Betrayal
"I don't care if he seems to be deteriorating now! We are near the end. We cannot afford to pull him out."
Part 1: The Templar Masterstroke
Part 2: The Beginning of The End
Part 3: The Final Act
"Perfect. We've got it."
Epilogue: The Shape of Things to Come
"Wait, what's going on here? How is this happening?"
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