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The Gifted Eagle [Arno Fanfiction by DAZ]

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Leo K's picture
Leo K
Toronto, Canada
Joined: 12/30/2009

Normally, staying hidden required being out of sight, and being silent. Arno was so far above the angry crowd in the streets, that he could be neither heard nor seen over its roars of fury. Anyone that looked up at that exact moment would see only a great eagle swoop down. The bird’s eye watched everything. It watched, flew over the anger in the streets and Arno observed the bird as it disappeared into the distance. He wouldn’t say he’d made friends of the animals, but up where he was, they were all too often the only thing that offered any company. “Never have I met an eagle less trustworthy than the most honest person,” the boy muttered. For all intents, that’s what he still was, a boy.

Recently turned twenty-one years of age, and already having been inducted into the Brotherhood. There were younger ones, of course – but not very many. He was one of the youngest in recent times. A famous example, the Italian Mentor in the Renaissance had joined the Assassins when he was merely seventeen. His life had also been framed by loss. The boy had set out on his journey only seeking revenge, justice of sorts being the only thing on his mind. At least, in the beginning – he’d grown out of it later. While Arno respected every member of the Brotherhood, and paid special reverence to the most notable ones, his will was closer to a desire for redemption.

Still, it haunted him. He looked over the city, and accepted a strange beauty into his heart. It was a beauty born of looking at so much human ugliness. He scanned the crowds, and admired the people’s anger. He knew it was destructive. He knew it could be dangerous, but at least it made them act. If Arno had acted back then… If he’d acted while he had the chance… He put his hand into his pocket, mindful of his hidden blade and careful not to trigger it carelessly. He drew the silver pocket watch out and put it below his eyes, staring at it in sad admiration. His thumb stroked the two initials scratched into the metal’s surface, and when he opened the trinket to look at the picture inside, all time seemed to slow.

Whenever he needed to remind himself why he did what he did, all he had to do was remember. All he needed was to remember that day. That damn day. At the time it felt like he couldn’t have done anything, but in hind-sight, every night he knew he could have made a difference. He knew he could have acted, and it had been too late. But too late was not good enough. Too late did not help the boy sleep at night. Too late was his curse, and his dark blessing too.

He had not cried in months. He closed the watch, pressed it to his lips and kissed the smooth metal. When he put it back into his pocket, he looked out over Paris again, and the same bittersweet admiration filled him. The people were dangerous, but they had the will to act. They were held back, however, by the rich and powerful. Was that justice? Was that fair? When Arno had been younger, he hadn’t had the will to act even when he could have done what was necessary. These people, the children of this great but dying city, they had the will, but now they were unable to use it? And because of tyrants? He wouldn’t stand for it.

No one would suffer the way he had. He blinked and swept his vision to the right of him, where he gracefully dropped off the perch he was standing on, his hands grasping a horizontal flagpole on the way down. He felt the tension in his shoulders, but it was nowhere near as bad as the first time he’d tried the maneuver. He twirled on the pole and floated off of it, ever downwards while twisting his body in mid-air to catch a handhold on the side of the building. Slowly but surely, this process would lead him to ground level. He climbed down several meters, hopping onto a thin stone railing, then hopping off of that and onto a horizontal beam jutting out of the wall. He twirled off the beam and was happy with his preservation of momentum as his feet hit the ground.

Immediately, he was inside a thick crowd of peasants. He hated the word, but as with all pain, respected it. It was a term of derogation, but it was also the truth. To look away from this truth was to be no better than the fancy nobles who held parties in lavish, marble-floored halls – all while the poor struggled to find an inch of ground to stand on without stepping on each other’s toes.

“You cannot tell us what to do, cochon! Back away from here or you will never see what precious little you still have again.”

The voice had come from the end of an alley, in between two shops with entrances facing each other. Arno closed his eyes and breathed out. As he opened them, he blinked away a faint golden shimmer that he saw in the direction of the commotion, already moving toward it. Those who hated people would hate doing what he did. Arno did not kill because he hated. He killed because he loved, and sometimes protecting that love demanded blood.

The Assassin had no trouble going through the thick crowd, hands gently pressing against shoulders, arms, chests and backs. Some would take great issue with needing to touch so many peasants, and all at once. The corrupt nobles – Arno wanted to spit, so fowl was the thought – in particular, would never be caught getting their pristine hands dirty with even a single speck of dust. These people were part of the city. The boy reasoned that they were his people. Equality, Fraternity, and Liberty, that’s what he fought for, and all three on different layers that nonetheless held bruised and beaten hands.

The Templars demanded inequality. No one could be above them while they ruled their New World. The Templars were the ones who were opposed to fraternity, and any of them were expendable for the purposes of completing their final goal. The Brotherhood itself was one of the only splinters left in this finger of a society that still upheld the second principle. And liberty, the worst of the Templars’ transgressions. It was that which the Assassins fought for in prime, in earnest, and perhaps most characteristically, in contrast.

When he got close enough to the front of the crowd that had gathered around the end of the alley, he placed his hand on the shoulder of a man that looked around thirty. He had tired eyes and his constitution was drooped, slumped over even while standing. That had become commonplace for the people of Paris, especially after the food shortages had started.

“Pardon, monsieur, may I inquire as to what’s happening in front of us?”

“Ah, what else?!” the man spat, “More food seizures! They are taking from us again! Say, that is a nice hood. Where’d you get these fancy clothes, eh?”

Arno patted the man’s shoulder twice in quick succession as he pulled back into the crowd and found another avenue of observation on what was apparently four powder-wigs harassing three citizens with their bayonets. On the floor was a sack of grain.

“You want this, huh?” one of the soldiers asked the peasants in front of him with a snarl in his voice. The Assassin could almost feel the pang of pain shoot through his heart when he saw the guard kick the sack of grain, some of it spilling onto the street as the peasant’s brother got on his knees and began collecting it frantically in his hands. The soldier’s weapon threatened the peasant, until he buried his head in his hands and wept. His brother put his hand on his back and consoled him.

“Merde,” Arno swore under his breath. “I have to move before these soldiers cause any more panic.”

“What?” someone beside him asked when she overheard him. “Monsieur, you cannot seriously be hoping to fight those men. They have guns and… And we have nothing!”

“Yes. Men with guns should only point them at other men with guns.” The comment had barely left his mouth before he turned to smile charmingly at the girl and put his arm around her waist so he could rotate around her. “Excuse-moi, madame,” he added, making sure she was between him and the guards in front. Two of them were just standing watch, doing nothing much at all. The other two were the terrorizers. “Do you trust me?” he whispered in her ear. She shook her head and swallowed hard, saying, “I don’t think I can, but whatever you’re going to do, do it fast, please!” He turned the wrist of his left hand skyward and stretched his arm out completely, resting it on top of the girl’s shoulder with his knuckles waterfalling down over the front of her collarbone. The device on his arm extended in opposing directions and he flexed his wrist.

A tiny dart zipped out of the launcher and by the time one of the sentry guards had begun scratching and pawing at his neck, Arno had pecked the girl on the cheek, given her a quick “Merci,” and been on his way. The guard began to act oddly, shoving the one in front of him. His temporary enemy stumbled forward a step and turned around to brandish his weapon at the damn peasant who’d laid a hand on him. His eyes widened when they saw that it was his ally, pupils dilated and face full of rag that stood in front of him. Worse still, the offender was now drawing his sword, and with a single stab, he’d killed the shocked man in front of him.

“Hey! Mais pourquoi tu fais ca, Stephan?!” the soldier who had earlier been threatening the crying brother interrogated. There was no reasoning with the enraged, however, and he took down another of the soldiers while the last one shot him in the head, unsure of what else he could have done. Likely he viewed the berserk one as some kind of traitor, for what else could he have been?

Sweating and panting, the final guard left standing turned around to face the peasants behind him, but found himself face-to-face with a young, thin, hooded man who bore no indication of entertainment on his face.

“Q-Quoi?” the soldier stuttered.

Arno embraced him, he embraced the man that might have been his brother had he not subscribed to the twisted beliefs of the wealthy.

But affection was only half of the matter. The blood that began to pool from where Arno had stabbed the man in the gut turned the guard pale with fear. Arno rested him on the ground and, covering his eyes, spoke, “May you rest in the peace you would not give to these people.”

He turned around to look at the crowd, who were all silent with the uncertainty of who this man was, where he’d come from, what he was about to do next. Arno always found these moments hurt him a little – when the ones he was trying so hard to save believed he would hurt them…

He looked at the two brothers on the ground, and saw them shaking in fear, tears still in the eyes of the younger. Arno smiled, bent down, slowly began to scoop up the spilled grain with his hands and stuff it back into the sack. The brothers, when they saw this, began helping out, the younger blinking back tears and sniffling, all while saying, “Merci, merci, merci, oh, merci, merci…” again and again.

Slowly, the crowd watching them began to murmur, and then a few people muttered approval. Several of them started cheering, then all of them. Arno finally gave the sack to the younger brother, patted him on the shoulder, did the same to the older one.

He turned to the crowd and smiled, some people beginning to call him a hero.

Arno shook his head and pointed to the girl he’d met only moments before. “She’s the hero,” he said, as he spun around and began his quick ascent up a tall tower. The crowd gathered around the girl. That day, everyone got to know her name. When he’d reached the summit of the viewpoint, Arno looked down to see the citizens’ excitement. That was what made things worth it.

He took the watch out of his pocket and flicked it open again. This was what he fought for. Even as he smiled, even as the tear fell out of his eye, he whispered, “Desolee, cherie…”

He wiped the tear and continued to look at the picture.

This was the only happiness he had left.

But God damn, would he make it count.

gerund's picture
The Netherlands
Joined: 10/29/2012

Good read man, really good read. I like how you described Eagle Sense.

"...and if I had no self-awareness, I think I'd know."