From their vantage point on Fort Frederick’s walls, Liam and Kesegowaase watched the attack continue below. Flames and smoke rose from the town, but the fighting had moved to the fort that the British still managed to defend. They fought valiantly, not least thanks to their commander who was right there in the thickest of it alongside them. Under different circumstances, Liam might have admired the man’s courage and tenacity. As it was, Monro needed to die, for many reasons. Without him, the French would carry the day, and the colonies would be rid of one of the most influencial secret puppetmasters pulling the strings of the British to establish their chokehold on the New World. The Assassins had harried him since Fort William Henry. He should have died there; he should have died several times after. Today, his luck finally ran out.
“Look,” Kesegowaase said, pointing at something in the distance beyond the town. His usually stoical face tightened in an expression of hatred, stretching the fresh scar tissue on his left cheek where his skin had been burned. Liam followed his gaze and felt his own mien freeze.
The Morrigan had laid alongside the pier, proudly flying the British flag as though to taunt him. Before long, Liam saw a familiar figure appear down among the breached ramparts, cutting down French soldiers, aiding the British defenders and especially their Templar commander. Liam found himself clenching his fists so hard they hurt. It was not that he had not believed Kesegowaase before. But to witness the truth with his own eyes cut deep. He had mourned and buried his best friend as rash and misguided perhaps but still as a good man. This creature, however, who’d clawed his way out of death’s jaws was neither. He’d made a choice Liam would never had thought him capable of making, a choice that mocked everything Liam stood for and Shay himself had professed to believe in. He didn’t even look like Shay anymore, this hard-faced stranger who fought with a determination and focus that had been but an unrealized promise before. Why did it have to be the Templars to bring out that potential? Liam almost drew his pistol then, but Shay was far out of range, and a small piece of Liam was glad for it.
Before long, the fighting down below came to a hold. The British had held Fort Frederick for the time being, and the two men responsible for the success now met among the defenses and spoke. Liam’s Eagle Vision was not strong enough to enable him to hear what was said, but he tensed when he saw Monro produce a familiar-looking book.
“Yes,” Kesegowaase confirmed, likewise watching the goings-on in the courtyard with hard eyes.
The stolen manuscript they had believed lost to the sea forever. This was an unexpected boon. From their perch, Liam and Kesegowaase watched as Monro tried to pass the manuscript on to Shay who declined. There was a wretched moment of what appeared to be light-hearted bantering between the two men. Liam saw an expression of amused exasperation flit over Monro’s face, the same expression he had seen many times before on the faces of his fellow Assassins, no doubt the same expression Liam himself had often worn when dealing with Shay. How quickly Shay had adapted, Liam thought bitterly, being friends with the enemy now.
The two men below split up, Monro leaving in the direction of the town and docks, Shay apparently staying behind to see to the defenses. A better opportunity to strike Liam and Kesegowaase could not have wished for.
“Follow Monro,” Kesegowaase said, never taking his eyes off of Shay’s black-clad form.
Liam threw him a quick glance. While his brother Assassin had his own good reason for going after Shay, Kesegowaase was also being kind in his matter-of-fact way. He was sparing Liam the burden of confronting and killing his former best friend – for that was whom Liam would have felt he needed to choose if the decision had been left to him. But Kesegowaase had decided for him. And Liam was grateful.
He nodded once, quickly descended the tower, and followed the Templar colonel over the walls of the fort.
The eagle and wolf symbolism has been treated somewhere before, I’m sure. To sum it up here: The eagle has been the Assassins symbol right from the beginning. The wolf as a symbol for the Templars came much later and has not been used consistently in the AC games but appears to be on the rise now. Examples are:
AC III: The first mentioning of the idea. “Wolves often travel in packs,” is the famous quote by not-so-line-toeing Templar Edward Braddock about his brethren that informed the use of the wolf symbolism from here on. Interestingly, in the AC III add-on/DLC The Tyranny of King Washington where everything is very different from what we know, Ratonhnhaké:ton wears a wolf hood, and the wolf is also one of his spirit animals (along with the eagle).
Rogue: Chock-full of the symbolism, which doesn’t really surprise. The sweeping intro follows the flight of an eagle and passes over a wolf pack before coming to rest on our Assassin/Templar protagonist. Shay’s ship, the Morrigan, features a wolf figurehead as well as stylized wolves on her sails after Shay begins working with the Templars. In a related symbolism, he is called the Templar’s “hunting dog” or simply “dog” by the Assassins several times.
Origins: While the precursor (ha) of the Templars, the Order of Ancients’ symbol, is the snake, things begin to shift toward the end of the story. Septimius asks to be Caesar’s, the Order’s leader’s, “wolf”, corresponding to the wolf pelt he wears. This, of course, harkens back to Rogue where the wolf symbolizes the hunter.
Odyssey: Not quite as clear-cut, since the two factions don’t really exist as yet. What we find are concepts. The Cult of Cosmos are dedicated to chaos, making them precursors of the Assassins, as far as the two opposing forces go. Their white masks also /bring to mind the Assassins’ white hoods. Protagonist Kassandra or Alexios respectively stands for order, the red of their Spartan armour reminiscent of the red Templar cross. However, the Cult as an organization has much in common with the later Order of Ancients or Templars while Kassandra/Alexios and their companions more closely resemble the early Hidden Ones. There is another layer as well: The warring Spartans and Athenians are also representative of the order/chaos concept (not to mention of modern US politics with their “red” and “blue” affiliation). Rigid, ordered Sparta and artistic, free-thinking Athens are the same polar opposites that the Templars and Assassins will later represent. It doesn’t surprise, therefore, that we find the wolf symbol among the Spartans, in Nikolaos, “the Wolf of Sparta”, while Kassandra/Alexios have their pet eagle Icaros.
I know I keep repeating myself, but I truly love Rogue as a story. It is a story without villains, quite a feat for an Assassin’s Creed game. Its characters are all, without exception, trying to do what is right, and for the first time, we get to understand both sides of the conflict. Even more so than in AC III, the Templars are rounded, three-dimensional characters, each with their own distinctive personality. There is a great dynamic between them; they form friendships; they have fun.
Oh, and did anyone notice that the end scene at Versailles echoes the opening scene at the opera in AC III?