Auch in diesem Jahr führt meine englische Artikelserie zu Marta Dietschy-Hillers die Statistik an. Weit abgeschlagen, aber immer noch ganz ordentlich ist ein Beitrag in der Serie „Unterhaltungsmedien und die Botschaft aus dem Licht“, Glaube, Überzeugung, Lichtstreben in I’m not Ashamed, gefolgt von Der Gral – ein Weg.
Heute in der Post vorgefunden: Ausgabe Vol. 29, No. 1 des Journal of the T. E. Lawrence Society, in der meine Übersetzung des Jaroljmek-Artikels abgedruckt ist. Was lange währt. 🙂 Zwar wird der gute Mann im Vorwort durchgängig als „Jorljmek“ bezeichnet, aber hey – ich weiß auch nicht, wie man ihn ausspricht.
Natürlich bin ich gespannter auf die nächste Ausgabe in einem halben Jahr, in der hoffentlich der Mikusch-Artikel erscheint.
New York City, late in 1781
Two men sat together in the dimly lit room of the comfortable but unpretentiously furnished townhouse. A fire was blazing in the open hearth and cast flickering shadows on walls, curtains, ceiling.
“Thank you for coming,” Haytham Kenway opened the meeting in his usual brisk, to-business manner. “I know it must have been inconvenient, but we have to talk. In person.”
Shay Patrick Cormac did not really care for being treated as a guest in his own home, but he was used to – and always a little amused by – the Grand Master’s way of directing the people and events around him. It would have been infuriating in a lesser man. Haytham, however, was a force of nature.
“‘Inconvenient’ is not the word I would have used,” Shay replied in his soft Irish lilt he had never managed – nor bothered – to shed. “I had to leave the Morrigan at Newfield of all places, make my way to New York without being arrested either as a rebel, deserter, smuggler or pirate and sneak through the city into my own house. I assume you have a good reason for asking me to come?”
“Indeed I have.” Haytham looked tired, Shay noticed. Yet there was also a strange grim determination about him. Determination, Shay understood and knew about the Grand Master. But this was something different. “And please. You’re still the best at this business, so I expect it really was nothing more than an inconvenience for you.” He paused for a moment, staring into the flames. “Things are coming to a head with Connor,” he said quietly.
“Ah.” Now Shay understood the dark cloud clinging to the Grand Master. “I suppose it was inevitable, wasn’t it?”
“I had hoped it would not be.” Haytham sighed, more annoyed than grief-stricken. “For all the… accident of his birth, this has something of a Greek tragedy to it.”
Shay waited a beat. “Do you want me to take care of it?” he asked.
“No. This I must do myself.” Haytham, as always, was matter-of-fact about it – even about something as momentous as the death of his son. “Connor is obsessed with Charles. So I’m going to send Charles away until the matter is finished.”
Shay did not understand why Haytham kept holding a protecting hand over Charles Lee whom he had all but designated his successor. After the blunders the man had made, granted with some help from the young Assassin, it was clear to everyone that Lee would not be an asset to their cause for some time to come. If not for loyalties and principles that precluded throwing a fellow Templar to the wolves, Shay would have suggested letting the boy have his prey.
“We should have taken care of the problem as soon as we learned of it,” he said instead. “Before he had a chance to take out half of our number.”
“How kind of you to speak of ‘us’ when you really mean me,” remarked Haytham dryly. “And possibly you’re right. But I had to try to make him see the errors of his ways. Mistakes as a result of lies happen, as you yourself know.”
Shay inclined his head in silent acknowledgement. As a young man, he had been an Assassin himself, and he had killed Templars, all because of a mistaken belief. He had found surprising forgiveness from his former enemies and a welcome among them without any lingering bitterness or blame. Of course the Grand Master had wanted the same for his wayward son.
“This is my fault,” Shay said.
“It is. You were right then about Achilles. We should have killed him. I just never imagined the man could be so vicious still.”
Haytham waved that aside. “Your arguments were valid, Shay. We needed Achilles alive so he could warn others of the danger of meddling with the Seismic Temples. Something I hope he did instill in Connor.”
“You didn’t ask him?”
“I thought it wiser not to, in case he didn’t know about the box.”
Shay agreed. The accursed box, a relic of Those Who Came Before, could be used to locate a very specific kind of Precursor sites, dubbed Seismic Temples by the Order. They held the earth together in a way that went far past Shay’s understanding even after he had twice witnessed – and survived – the catastrophic effect of any disturbance to their strange mechanisms. Entire cities had been destroyed in the ensuing massive earthquakes. It had taken Shay twenty years to track and reclaim the box from the Assassins, and it had remained in his charge ever since.
“Haytham.” Shay never addressed the Grand Master by his first name when in the company of others. But among themselves, they could be friends. Their shared background had bonded them stronger almost than their common goal. While Haytham had never formally been an Assassin, his father had been, and he had trained Haytham from a young age in their ways. Haytham, like Shay, had ultimately adopted the Templar cause. To learn that his son had not only picked up the family tradition where he himself had abandoned it, but by doing so had become the enemy… Shay could not imagine it. Would not imagine it. To think that Brigid or Patrick one day might – no. He refused to let his thoughts wander down that path. “If you’re determined on this plan…”
“Then might it not be prudent to take me with you? As an added precaution?”
Haytham smiled. “What’s the matter, Shay? Don’t you trust I can take care of myself?”
“I know you can, but all the same I’d rather protect than avenge you.”
“Why, thank you, Shay. I appreciate it.” Haytham folded his hands. “But no. I’m going alone. You’re the best man to keep the box safe, now that it’s finally back in our hands. Besides, I have a different task for you. It is time we rectify our old mistake and cut off the viper’s head.”
So that was it. Shay nodded slowly. Things came full circle in the end, it seemed. Achilles, his old Mentor and teacher. The man whose life he had spared after taking everything from him. It would only be fitting to be the one to finally bring him peace.
“Very well,” he said.
“Good.” Haytham stood. “I’ll let you have some time with your family, then. Report back when it is done.”
Shay followed suit. “And you take care,” he said, and he hesitated, a little awkwardly.
Haytham saved them from any embarrassment. “Oh, come now,” he said breezily. “Don’t look so glum. If all goes well, everything will be over by New Year, and we’ll toast the new order with a cup of your wife’s excellent punch.”
Shay could not help but smile. “It’s a deal.”
“Until then.” Haytham nodded curtly and left.
Shay was left wondering.
In the morning, Shay had just built a fire in the dining room’s fireplace to combat the pervading cold and darkness when Cassidy Finnegan walked in, leaning heavily on her walking stick, but still looking alert and cheerful.
“You’re up early,” she commented.
“Aye, to Mistress O’Neil’s annoyance, I’m afraid.” Shay went to her and kissed her on the cheek. “Morning, Cassidy.”
“Good morning, my dear.” She allowed him to assist her to her chair. After the death of her husband Barry, Shay had invited Cassidy to live with them. The Finnegans had been very good to him in those early, confusing days of his involvement with the Templars. Their late son had worked for Colonel Monro, and they had nursed Shay back to health after Monro had given him – shot, half drowned and delirious with fever – into their care. Over time, Shay had become a kind of surrogate son for them, and they surrogate parents for him.
“Well.” Cassidy sat down with his help. “I’m guessing that means you’ll be leaving again soon?”
“Right after breakfast.”
“So soon?” Her face fell, and Shay felt a pang of conscience.
“Business for the cause, Cassy.” Which, if he acted fast enough, might just allow him to return and assist Haytham in ridding the world of his troublesome Assassin son, whether he liked it or not. “Another year at most, and then you’ll see so much of me that you’ll be glad if I take the Morrigan out for a spell.”
“Never.” She patted his hand but smiled.
They were interrupted by the unmistakable sounds of small people trying to be very quiet in the hallway: Loud whisperings and shushings, punctuated by shoving and bumping into walls.
“We’ll have to work on that, won’t we,” Shay muttered.
The door opened, and a small head poked cautiously round the corner.
“Good morning, Birdie,” Shay said. “Come on in.”
Brigid’s face, apprehensive, relaxed at once. Turning around, she hissed something into the hallway and came dashing back, followed by Patrick.
Shay couldn’t get over how much they had grown – how much of their childhood he had missed out on both by the war and by his search for the Precursor box. Brigid was almost eight now, Patrick four. They had become shy about him, too, Patrick especially, while Brigid valiantly tried to conceal her unease. Another reason to bring an end to this mess as quickly as possible.
“Where have you left your ma?” Cassidy asked.
“In the kitchen, with Mistress O’Neil,” Brigid answered primly. “They were having words.”
Shay had to force himself to maintain a somber face. “Were they now.”
“Yes, about how Mistress O’Neil needed proper warning if she were expected to have breakfast ready at such an hour.” Brigid nodded vigorously. She had inherited Shay’s coloring and her mother’s wild curls that now bounced around her face, defying the ribbon’s effort to tame them.
Cassidy tutted gently. “What did I tell you about listening in on other people’s conversations?”
“I didn’t, Grandma!” protested Brigid, flushing.
Patrick shivered. “It’s cold in here,” he complained.
“Yes, I just got the fire going. It should be fine in a moment. Here, Pat.” Shay lifted him onto the chair at the top end of the table, closest to the fireplace. “You sit next to Grandma Cassy where it’s warmer.”
“That’s your seat, Da,” Brigid remarked with a faint trace of indignation.
“I think I’ll survive.” He smiled. “Are you cold, too, Birdie?”
Instantly, she stopped rubbing her fingers in the folds of her skirt. “No, Da.”
“Come here, anyway,” he said, and with alacrity she hurried to his side near the hearth.
“I knew you were coming,” she reported proudly, warming her hands at the fire.
“Oh, Brigid,” Cassidy sighed.
“Really? Did Master Kenway send word?” The messenger boy Shay had managed to procure upon his arrival in New York had informed the Grand Master of his return.
“No. I mean… maybe he did. I don’t know.”
Cassidy answered the question. “He didn’t. But of course he knew you’d be home before any message from him would reach us.” She looked at Brigid, chiding gently: “Someone is just trying to get attention.”
Brigid hung her head, looking so miserable that Shay quickly stepped in.
“You’ll always have my attention, Birdie,” he assured her. “Now, tell me what you’ve been up to while I was away.”
Brigid perked up at once. “I’ve been learning about the stars,” she reported proudly. “For na-vi-gation.”
“Can I drive the Morrigan when the British are gone?”
“You don’t ‘drive’ a ship, Birdie. She’s not a carriage. You steer her, or you pilot her, or you helm her.”
“But can I?”
“I don’t see why not.”
“Me, too!” Patrick piped up.
“Aye, you, too, Pat. But you’ll have a little bit of growing to do first. Think you can manage that?”
Patrick nodded solemnly.
The matter of steering lessons was put aside for the present with the entrance of Mary carrying a tray that held a teapot and several cups, dishes and cutlery, followed by Mistress O’Neil with a second tray from which appetizing smells wafted.
“Captain Cormac,” their cook and housekeeper greeted him frostily as she banged the tray onto the table. “Mistress Finnegan.”
Cassidy looked scandalized, but Shay winked at her behind Mistress O’Neil’s back.
“Thank you, Mistress O’Neil. This looks delicious,” he assured her with a warm smile. “I’m very sorry to have put you to so much trouble. But you have my word that I’ll mend my ways.”
The temperamental cook’s glower lessened considerably and she looked almost mollified. “Ah, that’s all right, sir,” she allowed generously. “Must be important business to have you up and about so early.”
“Very, Mistress O’Neil. Thank your for being so understanding.”
She gave him a flattered half-smile and even bobbed a half-curtsy before leaving the room with a new spring in her step.
Mary waited until the door had closed behind Mistress O’Neil before starting to laugh. “Still charms the birds off the trees.”
“What can I say?” Shay shrugged innocently. “I just happen to bring out the best in people.”
Cassidy chuckled, and they all settled down for breakfast. Mary placed Pat beside herself at the lower end of the table, thereby allowing Shay to claim his seat at its head. By no means was this an arrangement particular to Templar families, but Shay found himself pondering the simple order and tradition of it. The same had held true for his parents; he had never known his grandparents but suspected it had been their way, as well, and their parents’, and theirs, back to a distant past. A similar arrangement and order had existed in the orphanage he had spent three years of his childhood in before running away to go to sea. All over the world people clung to their traditions, their roots, because there was beauty, security and stability in the order of them.
He allowed himself a moment of bathing in the domestic bliss of the setting: Cassidy listening to Brigid’s chatter, Mary, gently admonishing, wiping milk off Patrick’s face. She wore a lace cap from under which her light brown curls were always trying to escape, glinting golden in the firelight. She caught Shay’s glance and smiled back at him.
“You’re a lucky man indeed,” Gist had congratulated him on his betrothal.
“I make my own luck, Christopher,” Shay had replied, and never had it been truer than in the choice of his bride. Mary Monaghan was a young widow whose first husband had left her a modest shipping business. Determined and with a good head for numbers, Mary took over the management herself and within two years had not only made it profitable but had even expanded it. (These days, with war, blockades, and the British holding New York, she had adapted and ran it as a smuggling enterprise.) By the time she and Shay met, she was twenty-five and he forty-one. Despite their age difference, they soon were courting, Mary no less determined than Shay. In a way she, too, made her own luck.
In the early stages of their courtship Shay had warned her that for long stretches of time her role would be that of a grass widow. It would fall mainly to her to raise their children, to oversee the household and to manage the business. She was not deterred. Of the Templars, she knew a few things, had to, obviously, as she and the children could very well become targets for anyone trying to get at Shay; and he had made some enemies over the years. But he preferred – had even taken an oath – to keep her in the dark about certain aspects of the Order’s business, and she accepted the secrecy as part of their life together.
“Where are you going next, Da?” Brigid enquired.
Shay focused his attention back on the business at hand. “First to Newfield Harbor, to retrieve the Morrigan.”
“Why?” asked Patrick.
“Because I need her, to get where I’m headed.”
“The British won’t let her into our harbor, stupid,” explained Brigid with all the disdain of an older sister. “So Da can’t bring her here.”
“Because Da fights against the British and sinks their ships.”
Patrick’s eyes went wide.
“Well,” Shay mitigated. “Some, but most of the time we just annoy them by taking their cargo.”
“Remember,” Mary said quickly, “not a word of this to anyone.”
“Because else we’ll be put in prison,” nodded Brigid wisely.
“I would sink them,” declared Brigid, instantly destroying Mary’s pride in her clever daughter.
Shay suppressed a smile. Brigid was very much like him, not only in looks.
Mary seemed to think so, too. She shot Shay a meaningful glance. “Your daughter.”
“Why is she always my daughter when she misbehaves?”
“Because she gets it from you, and you know it.”
Shay tried to look chagrined but knew he failed miserably. The children giggled.
“Why don’t you sink their ships?” Brigid wanted to know.
“The Morrigan is not a spry young girl anymore. The British have built newer and bigger ships with more firepower. I have to be careful about which fights I pick.”
The Morrigan still held her own admirably, and Shay felt a fierce pride in her; they had been through a lot together, the two of them. But there was no denying the fact that she was getting on in years.
With a sigh of regret, Shay pushed back his chair and got to his feet. “Don’t let me disturb you, but it’s time for me to get ready. Best to be on my way as long as it’s still dark outside.”
Seeing their faces fall did nothing to ease his conscience.
Whatever the cost. The Templars of old had understood the dilemma when they formulated their oath. They were not only speaking of death or torture but also of the everyday cost of total devotion to the Order.
Shay was putting on his coat and weapons in his study when Brigid slipped in. In the process of belting on his cutlass and dagger, he gave her a smile over his shoulder.
She did not meet his gaze, instead shuffled her feet.
“Brigid? What’s the matter?”
Nervously, she licked her lips. “I really knew you were coming yesterday,” she insisted.
Mary and Cassidy had certainly been surprised by his unannounced appearance, but still he did not understand why Brigid felt she needed to bring up the topic again, nor why she seemed so anxious about it.
“Who told you, then?”
“No one.” She twisted her fingers. “I just… I knew. Like… like I felt it.”
“Felt it.” Shay stopped in mid motion and slowly turned to face her. “Whatever do you mean?”
Brigid shrugged slightly, still avoiding his gaze. “I just felt it. It’s like someone’s tugging me…” She quickly fell silent, but Shay had not missed her very specific use of words.
“Is like?” he asked, forcing his voice to be calm. “Has something of the kind ever happened before?”
She stared at her feet.
“Brigid. Look at me.”
She squirmed for a long moment before shyly lifting her eyes to his.
“Now answer the question.”
Her voice was barely above a whisper. “Sometimes… sometimes I know when the McCaffrey boys are going to make trouble. I just know.” She swallowed. “And I keep hearing things I’m not supposed to be hearing.”
“That’s called eavesdropping,” Shay remarked.
“I don’t mean to,” she assured him desperately.
“I keep finding stuff.”
“Things that Ma or Mistress O’Neil have hidden away.” Brigid hunched her shoulders.
Shay exhaled. This was no coincidence, not in this concentration. “How long has this been going on?” he demanded.
“I don’t know. Perhaps a year?”
He thought hard. “Come here, Birdie.”
She took a step back. “I’m not lying.”
And now she was expecting him to beat her. “I don’t think you are,” he tried to reassure her, but the slight edge that crept into his tone certainly didn’t help. “Come here.”
Hesitatingly, she inched closer.
“I want you to look around. Don’t try to see anything specific. Just feel your way around the room. Is there anything that stands out for you?”
She did not even blink. “In the corner,” she said promptly. “I’ve found it before.” Shyly, she added: “I come in here sometimes. At first, I thought it was something in the cupboard, but it’s in the wall behind it, isn’t it?”
Indeed it was. Shay had personally bricked it in, and any would-be thief had their work cut out for them. “What does it look like to you?”
Now her eyes changed their focus as she visibly let that other sight take over, almost like she was listening inwards while at the same time fixing the hiding spot. It was uncanny to watch.
“It… it doesn’t have a shape, really,” she said after several moments. “It’s just… it’s…”
“Do you see it at all? Or do you feel it?”
“Both, I think. It’s like… like it’s glowing but I don’t see what it is. And it’s tugging at me?” She looked at him wearily, as though afraid of his reaction.
There was no doubt about it, his daughter had inherited the innate special sense passed down through untold generations from the First Civilization. It seemed odd to Shay now that he had never considered the possibility of it happening. “The sense” had become a part of him so long ago, he never really gave it a second thought anymore.
At some point in eons past, those Precursors of the First Civilization had mingled with the very humans they had created. Perhaps it had happened before the cataclysm that destroyed the old ways, when humans were still their slaves; perhaps after, when the few survivors of both races had learned to live together as equals; perhaps it had always happened, just as it did today in human society. Whatever the case, it had ensured the sense entered the human blood and survived there, long after the progenitors the humans had inherited it from were gone. Even today it marked their descendants. Like Shay. Like his daughter.
Slowly, Shay lowered himself on one knee so he was at eye level with her. “There is nothing wrong with you, Birdie,” he assured her gently. “That ability you have is called Eagle Vision. Sounds very poetic, doesn’t it?”
“Ma doesn’t believe me,” Brigid said. Her lower lip trembled slightly at the words. “Neither does Grandma Cassy.”
“It’s because they can’t see the way we do. Not everybody can. Some, like you, have the Vision from a young age. Others, like me, are born with the ability but have to train it in order to use it. And still others don’t have the ability at all. It is something in our blood, something we have inherited from a group of very special beings.” He put his hands on her shoulders and looked at her earnestly. “So I want you to promise me that you’ll never tell anyone else. Not even your friends.”
“Why?” Brigid asked, sounding like her brother for a moment.
“Why? You saw what happened even with Ma and Grandma Cassidy. People will think you a liar – or worse, if they do believe you.” Shay had seen his share of trouble in his youth, when life at sea had accidentally honed his own latent sense. Seamen were a superstitious lot. While his raw ability had made him much in demand as a lookout, all it needed was the rumor, no, simply a friendly jibe about his remarkable eyesight not being quite natural, to have the crew regard him with anything ranging from fear to open hostility. A good thing Liam had been there to watch his back then, and later, when he had become Achilles’ prized student, to explain to Shay what his strange extra sense actually meant. “It wasn’t long ago that people like us were hunted as witches, Birdie. Some people still believe those powers come from the devil.”
“But they don’t.”
“No, they don’t. They’re just abilities like any other sense, or being able to walk and talk. It’s what we use them for that’s either good or evil.” He tugged playfully at one of her dark curls before getting up. “Tell you what, Birdie. When I return, I’ll start teaching you how to use your special sense properly. It can do much more than tell you where Mistress O’Neil has hidden the cookies or how to avoid trouble.” He would do well to train her in other things, too, her, and Patrick as well.
It was strange to return to the homestead after so many years. It looked shabbier than Shay remembered, and a sawmill had sprung up in some distance. But still the place struck Shay as devastatingly familiar and utterly alien at the same time, like something out of a half-remembered dream.
“Captain,” Christopher Gist, who had signed on again as his First Mate when the Morrigan went privateering four years ago, said with his good-natured bluntness, “not to question your orders, but is it wise to announce our presence by berthing directly in their front yard?”
Shay looked across the narrow bay at the big house up on a steep cliff. It stood in a clearing surrounded by pine trees, their branches now white and heavy with snow. “Achilles won’t run, Gist,” he replied, pulling his collar closer against the cold wind that blew in from the sea.
“Well, it isn’t running that I’m worried about, sir. Do we know if he has other accomplices besides the half-breed?”
“No, we don’t.” Shay stepped onto the gangway down to the wooden pier. “Stay with the ship, Master Gist.”
His First Mate, fellow Templar and friend grimaced. “Between the Grand Master and you, I’m not sure who’s more foolhardy. Sir.”
Slowly, steadily, Shay made his way through the snow on the path along the shoreline. In places, he sunk into it almost up to his knees. Above the forest hung the full moon and bathed homestead and bay in brilliant light, but fast clouds passed, driven by the icy wind: white sails, grimacing heads, giant birds. One moment, they drew together threateningly, the next they fluttered in torn shreds past the bright disc of the moon.
Shay passed the barns, the stables, each step an echo of the past. Here, Liam and he had spent hours doing non-training-related chores, mucking out stables, cutting wood… well, Liam more often than not, his great strength making his woodcutting skills second to none, while Shay encouraged him with friendly banter. He really had been undisciplined in those days.
Over there the two sad graves where Miss Abigail and little Connor were buried. Beyond the house they had trained with Hope, the grounds now overgrown and reclaimed by nature.
If he looked hard enough, he might see their shades: Clever Hope with her laughing eyes, steady, reliable Liam, fierce Kesegowaase, cantankerous Chevalier, living legend Adéwalé – they were all long gone, by Shay’s blade. He regretted the necessity that had forced his hand; they had been his family. And yet he knew he would do it again in an instant.
The house was dark except for a glimmer of light from a ground floor window. Shay looked up, remembering jumping from the upstairs window of Achilles’ office on a snowy night just like this, trying to escape his former brothers and allies. For a moment all sight disappeared, shrouded in darkness as clouds obscured the moon, and he could almost taste it, his desperate flight, with what felt like the whole world against him. Never in all his life had he felt so alone. All he had had was his conviction. As it turned out, it had been enough.
Then the moonlight returned, poured out over the rooftops on which the shadows of the clouds danced, and Shay shook off his memories. He had learned so much since then. The past was just that. Lingering over it would do him no good here.
He debated whether to climb up or try the door. Achilles would hardly leave his front door unlocked, but just as unlikely would he attempt to escape via the window; he was a cripple, after all. Haytham had seen to that. As for Gist’s worry about possible accomplices? Unlikely. They would have made their existence known long ago.
After a moment’s hesitation, Shay walked up to the front door and forced the lock. It was not bolted from the inside, a strangely careless behavior from the head of the American Assassin Brotherhood.
The hall beyond was still, dark and mostly empty, but the house did not hold the stale and slightly musty smell of abandoned buildings, so someone saw to it that it was regularly aired. Light filtered in from deeper inside the house. The oldest trick in the book, possibly, but Shay followed the lead anyway.
The light originated from what had been the library in his time. It had no door, just a broad, arched opening. Shay stepped closer.
The library was gone, the room having been transformed into a combined study and bedroom. Someone was lying on the bed at the left-hand wall, wrapped in a thick layer of blankets.
“Connor?” asked a wheezy voice that held only an echo of Achilles’ strong, assured tone Shay remembered. The bundle on the bed moved.
Shay stepped deeper into the room.
“No, it’s not Connor,” he said quietly. “But of course you knew that, Achilles.”
A low, wheezing laugh answered him. Keeping his distance, he circled the bed until he came face to face with its occupant.
Achilles had indeed grown very old and very frail. He had always been such a vigorous presence that the sight of the bent, gray-haired, thin shadow of his former self took Shay aback.
“I knew,” Achilles said feebly. “Your step is very different from Connor’s. But I did not expect they would sent you.” He frowned. “Not after all this time. It has been so long, I wasn’t sure you’d still be alive.”
Shay looked around. He recognized several of the furniture from the former upstairs office. From that desk by the window he had taken the manuscript – stolen, really – on that fateful night.
“Aye, it has been a long time,” he said. “This is where is all began, twenty-six years ago.”
“Where it all ended, you mean.” Achilles gestured weakly. “Sit down, Shay, if you’re not in too much of a hurry. It has been a while since we talked.”
Shay pulled up a chair. “We never talked, Achilles,” he reminded his former Mentor. “You taught and you preached and you gave orders.”
“Which you either disobeyed or made light of, as I recall.”
“Except for the one I should have disobeyed.”
“Ah, yes.” Achilles sighed. “Lisbon. Are you still angry about that?”
Shay pondered the question. “Angry? No. It set me on the path I am proud to follow.”
“The path of a killer for the Templars.”
“You taught me to be a killer. Can’t complain now.”
“And yet, I expected you – any of you – years ago. Now… now you might as well have spared yourself the journey. I am dying anyway.”
“You’re not dead yet. Which means I am not yet too late.”
Achilles regarded him steadily with rheumy eyes. “Do you really hate me that much, Shay?”
“I don’t hate you.” It was true. Shay despised his former Mentor, his lies, his manipulations, the way he hurt both Haytham and his son simply out of spite. Hatred, however, was reserved for worthier foes. “But you should not have meddled in our affairs.”
“It was worth it.”
“Was it? More killing in the name of the Creed, when really it was for your private vendetta only? Does your protégé know of your history?”
“Not in great detail. I have never told him of you, for example.”
“Why is that?”
“Because if I had, he would have gone after you. You were right then. Your defection – I am to blame for it. If I had not been so pigheadedly righteous about knowing what was best, if I had just listened to you and believed you about the danger of Precursor sites, the whole tragedy might have been avoided.”
If Achilles had hoped to soften Shay up by his late half-apology, he was about to be disappointed. “What tragedy is that, Achilles?” Shay coolly returned his gaze. “You’re not talking about the murder of Monro or Johnson or Pitcairn, about Hope’s decline into a potential mass murderer, or about the slaughter of innocents. You’re talking about the fall of the Assassins. That’s your tragedy. Not what you’re doing now, setting father against son.”
Achilles struggled to sit up. “Haytham Kenway has to be stopped!”
“Why, old man? You may lie to the lad and make him believe that he’s doing a noble thing by murdering his own father, but you’re not fooling me. They could have found common ground if not for your infernal meddling. And for what? Because you want to make Haytham pay for what he did to you. Because you fear the lad will cease to be your second Connor. Yours is a petty and vicious mind, Mentor. You cannot see past your own personal losses. You never could.”
In Shay’s youth, Achilles had seemed like a giant, capable and informed. But it had always been an illusion, Shay’s illusion, born out of the idea of what an Assassin Mentor was meant to be. In reality, Achilles was just a man, and a very flawed one at that.
The old fire in Achilles’ eyes that had spelled trouble for Shay in days past flared up – and guttered out just as quickly. “I did what I had to do, as do we all,” Achilles said tiredly. “You and Liam were the best of friends. Yet, in the end, you were both willing to kill each other. Because you felt it was the only way.”
“We were spared that particular burden, at least.” Shay caught Achilles’ surprised look. “No, I did not kill Liam. The earthquake did. And for that I am grateful.”
With a soft sigh, Achilles closed his eyes. His wheezing had become more pronounced, and he sagged heavily against the headboard. It was a while before he spoke again. “So you have retained some part of your soul after all,” he said.
Shay had lost much of his youthful idealism. It was inevitable, doing what he’d done. But he considered it a small price to pay for the protection of humankind. “My soul has always been my own.”
“Then how do you reconcile your noble intentions with what you did in Boston? In Versailles, when you orphaned a little boy? You always saw yourself as the champion of the people, Shay. Is that not why you betrayed us in the first place? Because you wanted to protect the people? Where did it all go wrong?”
Nothing came readily to mind that Shay might have done in Boston to upset Achilles. “What are you talking about?”
Achilles opened his eyes. “Charles Dorian? Well, his son was of Assassin stock, so why should you care? And the Boston Massacre? Did you tell yourself five people dead, maybe ten, were just acceptable numbers to not trouble your conscience?”
It was such an off comment to make, Shay was blindsided for a long moment. He vaguely remembered the little boy with Dorian, but the infamous Boston Massacre, one of the key incidents that led to the revolution, had happened more than a decade ago. At the time, Shay had been in Spain, following a lead on the whereabouts of the Precursor box, and only learned of it afterwards.
Finally, what Achilles had really been suggesting registered with Shay. “You believe we were responsible for Boston?”
“You don’t know?”
Shay sat, stunned. He was by no means privy to every decision made by the Grand Master and had always accepted it as part of the Order’s structure and his own particular assignment. For many years, the hunt for the box had taken him away from the Colonies and thereby from the Templar Council and its politics. If – if – Achilles was somehow right and the Templars had orchestrated the whole bloody affair in Boston, he would not expect his brethren to tell him long after the fact. But a small, treacherous voice deep inside him also whispered that this had not been a simple oversight. They had not wanted him to know.
Since his early adulthood, Shay had learned the ways both of the Assassins and the Templars, and while they were not above using the same methods, there were distinctive preferences both sides had in handling things. Shay, by dint of his training, bridged that gap. He was a Templar who more often than not applied Assassin methods – stealth, an ear to the ground, an eye enhanced by Eagle Vision, and not least a quick blade. His brethren, in contrast, worked covertly as well, but in a different manner, planting subtle suggestions, discrediting their enemies, leaving false trails. What Achilles was insinuating sounded appallingly like exactly the way they would go about it to… what?
The answer presented itself to Shay almost instantly: To fuel animosity toward the British authorities. To bring revolution, independence, the new order, one step closer. Was that not what Germain, the French Templar whose underworld contacts had finally alerted Shay to the whereabouts of the box, had spoken of? A nudge here, an outcry there, and old, rotten institutions began to crumble?
“You Americans have started something that will change the course of history,” he had said. “An inspiration to us all.”
“It was never meant to turn into a full-blown war,” Shay had been forced to admit. “The Assassins had a hand in that.”
Germain had smiled, a thin smile that did not reach his odd colored eyes. “A little chaos reminds the people why they crave order, Monsieur Cormac. It is a necessary evil to rid society of those who would hold back its progress. Your country will be the stronger for it, as will mine, when the time comes.”
A thought unbidden entered Shay’s head. Monro would never have stood for it. His mentor among the Templars, the late Colonel Monro, had been the best man Shay had ever known. He had genuinely cared about the people, had always acted with compassion, honor and integrity. To imagine him involved in a plot like this was absurd. But Haytham? Would he do it? Would Lee and Weeks, even Gist?
Aye, Shay answered himself immediatedly, they absolutely would, if they felt it was necessary.
In spite of the sudden surge of shame and anger he felt, Shay forced himself to keep his voice calm. “What proof do you have of this?” he demanded.
“None except my student’s word. He was there, you know, when it happened. If you choose to disbelieve me or him, I cannot convince you otherwise.” Achilles shrugged. “But I think you know better than anyone what your fellow Templars are capable of.”
Shay narrowed his eyes. “I know what you are capable of, Achilles, better than anyone.” Achilles was playing him again, still, manipulating him like the best of the Templars, trying to steer him toward a certain way of thinking or behaving. With a sharp snick, Shay’s Hidden Blade slid open. “You had your chance at living. You should have just taken it.”
For the first time, there was real bitterness in Achilles’ voice when he spoke. “You believe it was mercy you showed me?” he asked. “It was humiliation. I was your trophy, nothing more. The defeated, broken Assassin Mentor, allowed to live out the rest of his miserable life in hiding, by the generosity of the Templar Order.” He nearly spat out the words. “A great triumph for Grand Master Kenway and his faithful executioner.”
It had been a day of triumph for them, but not for the reason Achilles prided himself on. They had felt it then, the crisp breath of a bright new future, of unlimited possibilities. They had emerged from horror and destruction to the dawn of a new age. Never before in history had the Templars experienced such a complete and sweeping victory. Shay would remember it to his dying day, how the light on the icy reaches of the Arctic had seemed somehow brighter, newer, full of promise. “If you think we spared you another thought, you flatter yourself.”
The man responsible for the death of that promise almost smirked. “And that was your mistake, was it not?”
With a snarl, Shay sprang to his feet. “A mistake I do not intend to repeat, Achilles!” he snapped. “The question is, what do you intend with all your talk? Do you hope to delay your end even more?”
“Perhaps I hope to protect the people by making you see,” replied Achilles. “If there truly is some soul left in you. Your ilk talk of furthering mankind, but as Boston showed, the Templars don’t scruple to sacrifice some for the greater good – whatever they imagine it to be. You once felt the Assassins were too obsessed with power and the ‘greater good’ to protect the individual. Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your side is not doing a terribly good job at it either!”
They had almost arrived at a shouting match. Achilles started to cough, badly, trying to find his breath, and Shay was furious with himself for allowing his old Mentor to get under his skin. Retracting his Blade, he crossed his arms and forced himself to calm down. After a pause, the silence broken only by Achilles’ labored breathing, Shay asked sarcastically:
“So your idea of protecting the people is murdering those Templars who were trying to find a peaceful solution, thereby starting a war and getting more people killed?”
Achilles’ voice was so weak, it was almost inaudible. “The people need to be free to carve out their own destiny, without both our interference.”
“And a splendid job you’re doing in bringing that about,” scoffed Shay. “Tell me, Achilles, how often have you left the homestead in the last, say, five years? Have you seen what’s going on out there? It’s a war! People are dying. People are being maimed, they are starving, they are losing their homes and their livelihood, their loved ones, and you have the gall to talk about protecting them.” Slowly, he started pacing. “If it wasn’t so tragic, it would actually be funny.”
Achilles spoke to his back. “Have you ever considered, Shay, that they may think it a price worth paying?”
Shay stopped and looked over his shoulder. Achilles had not moved, still sat slumbed against the headboard, his face turned away. “Our way would have kept them safe.”
In the hallway, the staircase creaked.
Reflexes honed by three decades of continual use had Shay step into the blind spot provided by the door frame, his Hidden Blade out, before the sound had even ceased.
“Don’t!” he heard Achilles’ frantic whisper. The old Assassin had lifted his head, his eyes wide with alarm. “It’s just my nurse! I’ll get rid of her.”
Quick steps approached. “Master Davenport?” A young woman’s voice. “Are you well? I heard shouting…”
“It’s alright, Fiona, it’s alright.” Achilles held up a hand. “I’m fine. Sorry to have woken you.”
“Are you sure, sir?” She was standing right inside the doorway. Shay tensed. One more step… “Do you need anything?”
“No, no. Thank you, Fiona. Go back to sleep.” He smiled weakly. “Good night.”
“Good night, sir.” She did not sound convinced. But after lingering for a long, strained moment her steps receded back into the hallway. The staircase creaked, a door closed, and the house went quiet again.
Shay let go of the breath he hadn’t even noticed he’d been holding. There was an absurd moment of connection when he and Achilles shared a look of undisguised relief.
His old Mentor had expected him to simply slit that girl’s throat, Shay realized. With his dying breath, Adéwalé had called him a monster, and it had felt like it then. Should he be surprised the Assassins considered him one? Was this how he would be remembered in France, in Spain, in all the places where he had left his mark?
Shay realized something else, too: He would take no satisfaction from killing the old man. A part of him had expected to. He would finish it because that was why he had come here and because it was the right thing to do. But any personal, emotional thread that still bound him to Achilles had become so thin, so eroded over the years, it would leave no trace at all when it was finally cut.
“I agree with you on one thing, Achilles,” he said quietly. “The people must be free from those who would exploit them, who would prey on them.”
“Strange words from a Templar.”
“You know nothing about us. We have no wish to enslave anyone. We want the people to prosper.”
“Under your rule.”
“If it ensures their happiness? What is wrong with that?” Shay shook his head. “But no, not under our ‘rule’. Under our guidance, perhaps.” After all, what did the Assassins have to show for their high-minded talk of freedom? Thousands dead, a war still raging, and freedom and justice for people like Achilles and young Connor nowhere even remotely in sight. “Next time, we’ll be wiser. We certainly won’t risk any Assassin interference.”
“Next time.” Achilles sighed. “So you are plotting again already.”
“This war is won battle by battle, Achilles. Sometimes we lose. But we rebound. We rally. We’ll never stop until we have achieved our goal. Your part in the war, however, is at an end.”
He half anticipated to run straight into Achilles’ blade when he stepped in for the kill, but whether he was too weak or too slow, his former Mentor never even tried to make a last effort to take Shay with him. Connor was his hidden weapon now, his legacy; the poor, deluded but all too dangerous young man.
Shay felt Achilles flinch slightly when the blade nicked his skin, drawing blood; then he moved away just as quickly as he had struck. After a heartbeat or two, Achilles turned to look at Shay in confusion. His fingers went to his neck, feeling for the wound and coming away with a drop of blood.
It took another few moments before Shay saw Achilles’ neck muscles stiffen and his eyes widen with the recognition of what was happening.
“Poison?” he rasped.
Shay pulled out a handkerchief and wiped the coated tip of his blade clean. “I thought about it at length on my way here,” he confessed calmly. “You poisoned me and all of us with your lies. You poisoned the others against me. You poisoned Connor against his father. It seems a fitting ending, doesn’t it?” He put the handkerchief away, retracted the blade and walked around the bed back to his chair. “Besides, I don’t want that poor girl to find you in the morning with your throat slashed.” He sat down. “So I’m just going to wait and watch you breathe your last.”
Already, the poison was exacerbating Achilles’ condition. He clawed at his throat, gasping for air. “You…”
“Go on,” Shay prompted him, weary of it. “Every single Assassin I have ever killed cursed me with their dying breath.” He hesitated. “Except Hope. She was kind.” And brave. She, and even sourpuss Chevalier, had willingly acted as decoys, as last lines of defence, leading Shay a merry dance to give Achilles and Liam time to reach the Arctic Temple first. At the time, rage had blinded him to their bravery. He had since learned to admire it.
Achilles pressed a hand against his chest, every heartbeat spreading the poison further inside his body until it would slow and ultimately halt the pulse itself. “You won’t… get any kindness… from me…”
Shay had not expected to. “Goodbye, Achilles.”
Dying from poison was neither a pleasant nor a quick way to go. Shay forced himself to witness it all, until finally, Achilles sagged back into his cushions, his painful gasping stilled. Then Shay got up, moved over to the bed and gently closed his old Mentor’s eyes.
He left the homestead without a backward glance.
By the time Shay and Gist made it back to New York, everything was truly over.
Jack Weeks was the one to tell them. Shortly after they had left, Connor had entered Fort George where Haytham had gone as a decoy in order to give Charles Lee time to escape. There, they had fought and there, Haytham had been slain.
“He had been stabbed in the wrist,” Weeks reported, almost choking on the words. “He couldn’t engage his Hidden Blade.”
Shay recalled an incident at the beginning of his friendship with Haytham when the Grand Master had allowed him to witness his use of the Blade. Always a mistake to reveal all your weapons, he thought numbly, even to those you trust.
“Connor knew,” he said. “He knew exactly where to strike first.” Haytham had been forced to fight with half his strength.
Weeks nodded. “We, ah, we kept the Blade, in case…” He trailed off.
“Ghoulish,” commented Gist, but without rancor. The shock sat too deep.
“People don’t get buried with their swords anymore, Christopher,” Weeks pointed out. “What were we to do, dump it into the harbor?”
“May I see it?”
Wordlessly, Weeks handed the weapon over, and Shay realized it had been their foregone conclusion that it would go to him. His heirloom.
He turned the cut and bloodstained bracer, examining the mechanism. “Damaged,” he said. “The stab went right through the release mechanism.” Clever, clever lad.
There was more to come. Weeks continued his tale. After killing Haytham, Connor had set out in pursuit of Charles Lee, finally cornering and despatching him as well. Where he went from there, Weeks could not say.
Shay could. The lad would return to the homestead, to find his Mentor dead. They had circled each other, Connor and Shay, both going after their quarry while simultaneously failing to be where they were truly needed.
Shay remembered his first meeting with Haytham. It had been at his induction into the Order.
“Do you swear to uphold the principles of our Order and all that for which we stand?”
Afterwards, they had talked…
“Colonel Monro spoke highly of you, Shay. He was convinced you could become the best among us. I expect you will not disappoint.”
“Curse him!” Shay whispered and wasn’t sure whether he meant Connor or Achilles… or maybe his younger self, the one still too soft, too merciful to do what Haytham knew had to be done. Hundreds, thousands of people would be alive today that weren’t, all because of him.
“Captain,” Gist interrupted Shay’s dark thoughts. “Jack. We’re all that’s left. As hard as it is, we must put our grief aside for the moment. It falls to us to decide what is to be done now.”
Shay laughed mirthlessly. “If you have any plan, Christopher, I’d be glad to hear it.”
“Well.” Gist scratched his beard. “I may not have a plan, Captain, but I have a hunch what your first instinct is. And while I certainly sympathize, I strongly advise against it.”
“You don’t think I’m a match for him.” (“What’s the matter, Shay? Don’t you trust I can take care of myself?”)
“Not in his own territory, no. Granted, you have the advantage insofar that he knows nothing about you. But that’s your only advantage. You are more than twenty years his senior, and he knows both the homestead and the woods like the back of his hand. We’ll deal with him one day. On our own terms.”
Angrily, Shay clutched the broken bracer. “Haytham wanted him dead!”
Gist and Weeks exchanged a glance.
“He wanted him dead so he would not harm Charles,” explained Jack patiently. “But that ship has sailed, hasn’t it?”
Gist nodded emphatically. “Master Kenway believed Lee to be the future of our Order,” he said. “Whether he was right or wrong, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. But what I do know is that we Templars are not in the business for revenge.”
Shay wondered darkly where in the Templar code that particular clause was set down.
“Personally,” Gist continued, “I always thought there was someone much better suited than Lee, and that’s what we need to focus on now.”
“Yes,” agreed Weeks. “We need to decide on who is going to lead us.”
In the following expectant silence, Shay eyed them suspiciously.
“Why do I get the feeling you two have been scheming?” he finally asked.
“I wouldn’t call it scheming, Captain,” Gist protested. “Jack and I have… talked on and off these past few years.”
“Out with it, then,” Shay prodded.
“I thought it was obvious, Captain. We want you to be the new Grand Master.”
Weeks chimed in. “We can think of no better man to fill the position.”
The tip of Haytham’s Hidden Blade bit into Shay’s flesh, but he hardly noticed it. “You’re both much longer in the game than I am.”
“What does that matter?” Gist shrugged off the argument. “As I see it, merit trumps seniority.”
“And you have been far more involved in the Order’s business.” Shay could not help but think of Achilles’ revelation about the Boston Massacre. “I am a hunter, not a general. I could never make the kind of decisions that need to be made.”
Gist laughed at that. “Captain, in all the years I’ve sailed with you, you have never steered us wrong.”
“This is different.”
“It’s politics.” Shay looked at Weeks. “No offense, Jack, but this is definitely more your arena than mine.”
“None taken.” Weeks’ eyes, as always, were unreadable behind his dark glasses. “However, it is far more than politics, Shay. It’s establishing the entire direction the American Rite will take from here on. We may have lost most of our influence, but the revolution will soon come to a successful end, and then what? It will be a new world. We can make it whatever we wish. That needs vision. I may be a politician, but I’m no visionary.”
“And I’m a drunk,” Gist added cheerfully. “Mine are the kind of visions found at the bottom of a cup.”
“Whereas you have shown both vision and conviction early on, courage, the ability to lead…”
“Stop trying to flatter me, Jack, I’m blushing.”
“… both mercy and determination where needed.”
“Not to mention your knowledge of Precursor sites,” Gist chimed in. “By Jove, the Grand Masters of old would be proud to count you one of their number!”
“None of us asked to be put in this position,” Weeks pointed out. “Yet here we are. We have to make the best of it, if not for us, then for the Order. Or are we to slink back to our brethren in London or Versailles and ask for their help?”
“De la Serre would love that,” Shay muttered, thinking of the diplomatic almost-crisis he had created by killing the Assassin Charles Dorian practically under the French Grand Master’s nose without informing him beforehand.
“Oh, fie to him!” Gist, clearly remembering the incident, dismissed their aristocratic brother in France. “And to your idea, Jack. Shay – if you consider yourself unfit for the position because you’re a hands-on man, I say what’s stopping you from being a hands-on Grand Master? If it gets things done, who’s going to complain?”
Shay met their expectant gazes, looked down at the bracer still clutched in his hand, and felt something settle around him. Fate, perhaps. Inevitability. Or perhaps just the mantle of responsibility.
“I suspect New York will prosper under your watch, Master Cormac.” Another voice from the past. “You can do great things for this city and its citizens. After all, a man needs purpose.”
Ah, Colonel, Shay thought, how I wish you were here now as the voice of wisdom. I never wanted this. I still don’t want it. But…
“Do you swear to uphold the principles of our Order and all that for which we stand… whatever the cost?”
The Colonial Templars needed someone to guide them as they built themselves up again from the ashes of a decades-old feud Shay had not only witnessed but in a way started. Someone who understood the failures, the price that ultimately had to be paid, not only by them but by everyone.
“You realize, of course,” he warned his fellow Templars, “that by making me Grand Master you’ll have no way of stopping me if I wish to go after the Assassin.”
“None except persuasion.” Gist clapped him on the shoulder. “You’re a reasonable man, after all, Shay, most of the time.”
Involuntarily Shay’s thoughts went to young Connor, his equal and opposing force. The last Assassin of the old and the first of the new Brotherhood. Did he understand what that meant? Probably not. But he would, in time.
I make my own luck. It was as easy as a yes or a no.
Historical and other notes
Privateering during the American Revolutionary War:
Yes, there actually were privateers fighting on the revolutionaries’ side during the war. Congress issued almost 800 letters of marque to private shipowners, which I thought fit Shay perfectly (and also helped explain his absence during AC III).
Achilles’ death date:
The Essential Guide gives us only an approximate for the dates of his birth and death. We know from AC III that Connor last spoke to him in 1781 before going off to confront Haytham and Charles Lee, which is the date The Essential Guide settles on. When Connor returns sometime in the late summer or early fall of 1782, we never learn if Achilles is still alive or not. There is no tombstone yet.
I settled for early 1782, with the understanding that a tombstone could be erected at any time and revealed nothing about the actual date of the burial.
Shay’s story and family in general:
As a real-life biographer, I tend to apply the same research techniques to my fiction writings as well. So I ignored the plentitude of theories on the net and went with the official sources, trying to get them to fit logically. My premise is this: Shay is a figure that over the centuries has been interpreted very differently and very incompletely by both Assassins and Templars, just like it happens with any historical figure. Over two hundred years later, neither side has all the facts. For Otso Berg, Shay is his hero, his role model, the great hunter of Assassins, but his background is virtually unknown. So when new genetic data is found that could reveal details of Shay’s life, Berg naturally jumps at the chance to get involved. For the Assassins, on the other hand, Shay becomes this almost demonic figure: the great betrayer, the murderer of everyone who ever trusted him, the traitor who crippled his own Mentor for apparently no good reason. There is no middle ground. It is as Achilles prophecized in Rogue: The world forgets what really happened.
A bit of an interesting challenge was to reconcile the young, impulsive and idealistic Shay of the main Rogue storyline with the colder, much more controlled Shay of 1776 and also the reflective Shay of the narrative in 1789 or so. The game got around that specific character development by skipping more than a decade, but a story told from inside Shay’s head had to find some correlation between those three points in his life. I simply could not picture young Shay going along with the Boston Massacre, yet older Shay spoke frankly of starting a revolution in France. We know the Templars were a driving force for American independence, so the idea was already out there. And of course Shay, with his background, would be sympathetic to a people trying to free themselves from oppression and exploitation by the ruling class.
Reform in France was another idea already out there in 1776, and discussed by the Templars, as we learn from the Unity novelization, though its methods and form were a topic for debate. We also know Shay was informed of, if not involved in, the French Revolution before it even began, as stated clearly in his narrative in Rogue. And then there’s this interesting bit in the Unity novelization concerning Élise’s claim to the title of Grand Master:
‘[…] I’ve sent appeals all over. To Spain, Italy, even America. I’ve had murmurs of sympathy but not a single pledge of support in return, and do you know why that is? It’s because to them the fact that the French Order is running smoothly makes your dismissal of marginal interest.
‘Besides, we can be sure that Germain has used his own networks. He’ll have assured our brothers overseas that the overthrow was necessary, and that the French Order is in good hands. […]’
Of course Shay would have established his own network of contacts and informants during his search for the box. It’s a logical assumption Germain was one of them, being both well-connected and on the lookout for potential allies. De la Serre definitely did not assist Shay in the killing of Charles Dorian, because if that had been the case, Shay would not have needed Franklin’s help in getting into Versailles palace in the first place.
So we know Shay lived at least until about 1789; much longer if we take into account another source (see below). From that we can deduce he and Connor never actually met, for as Reflections makes clear, Connor was alive in 1796 – and as the history of Assassin’s Creed shows, only one usually walks away from such an encounter. Possibly those years constituted a period of relative peace between the factions; mainly because they ignored one another, each being busy with other things.
As to that: By 1863, according to Last Descendants, the Templars have consolidated their power in the US through Tammany Hall. Wikipedia tells us that
Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York City political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789, as the Tammany Society. It was the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in controlling New York City and New York State politics and helping immigrants, most notably the Irish, rise in American politics from the 1790s to the 1960s.
It’s one of those historical coincidences that makes a great point for Shay becoming Grand Master of the American Rite in 1782.
As for Shay’s family: It gets a bit trickier there. Last Descendants (which I like very much) has a great antagonist in Shay’s grandson “Cudgel” Cormac, but its math is attrocious. Shay was born in 1731, according to The Essential Guide and Le Codex Culinaire, which fits perfectly with Rogue. Cudgel, however, is active in 1863 and, as Last Descendants points out several times, is “not old” or “younger”.
If we stretch this rather vague information to its limits, I’d put Cudgel’s earliest possible birth date in the 1810s. Cudgel also claims he was taught by his grandfather himself, which, unless Shay lived to be a very spry centenarian, would probably mean theoretical teachings only and would also mean that Shay was around as late as the 1820s or even 1830s.
Now, you could go with Patrick as Cudgel’s father, if you’d like, but I personally think there was another son born in or after 1782.
We learn nothing about Alice of Last Descendants: Locus except that she, obviously, is a Hunter, operating nine years after the events of Last Descendants. Is she Cudgel’s student or perhaps another member of the Cormac family? (Her age would fit with a granddaughter of either Brigid or Patrick.)
I don’t know yet where Ubisoft is going with it, but I dearly hope they don’t make historian Alannah Ryan in Odyssey into another of Shay’s descendants, as some of the dialogue seems to imply. Because if I interpret it correctly – and I do hope I’m wrong – Alannah would be Shay’s great-great-granddaughter, which would be another prime example of crappy math. For reference: I’m probably several years older than the fictional Alannah, and my collective great-great-grandfathers were all born between 1837 and 1865. Read up on generations, guys!
Thanks to DKGames for providing the material for the screenshots.
In solchem Tun zeigt der Mensch Mißachtung des Erdenkörpers, doch keinen Dank für das zur Reife überlassene grobstoffliche Werkzeug, das nicht genug beachtet, sauber und rein gehalten werden kann, da es für das bestimmte Erdenleben unentbehrlich ist.
Deshalb lerne den Erdenkörper richtig kennen, Mensch, damit Du ihn darnach behandeln kannst! Erst dann wirst Du auch fähig, ihn richtig zu verwenden, zu beherrschen als das, was er für Dich auf dieser Erde ist.
(Abd-ru-shin: Im Lichte der Wahrheit – Gralsbotschaft, Vortrag „Der Erdenkörper“)
Angeregt durch meine nähere Bekanntschaft mit dem Assassin’s Creed-Franchise (hier und hier) ging mir kürzlich ein interessanter Gedanke durch den Kopf – daher dieser Beitrag in der Serie. Nun weiß ich nicht, wie viele meiner Leser Gamer sind; ich vermute, nicht allzu viele. Ich selbst würde mich nie als Gamerin bezeichnen, weil der Begriff für mich viel Zeit, Einsatz und Ehrgeiz impliziert und ich zwar gern mal diverse Stunden mit einem schönen Spiel verbringe, aber dazwischen durchaus Monate liegen können, und außerdem lege ich so überhaupt keinen Wert auf Superleistung, Superrüstung und Superwaffe. Gähn. Für mich sind Atmosphäre, Handlung und Charaktere das entscheidende.
Was uns dann auch zum Thema dieses Beitrages bringt. (Das sich übrigens auch auf Filme erstreckt; mehr dazu später.) Um zur Erläuterung Assassin’s Creed als Beispiel zu nehmen, die Grundidee der Spielereihe ist folgende: Wissenschaftler haben eine Methode entwickelt, auf das „genetische Gedächtnis“ von Menschen zuzugreifen, soll heißen, in der menschlichen DNA ist nicht nur Erbgut im herkömmlichen Sinne gespeichert, sondern auch die Erinnerungen jener Vorfahren, von denen die DNA stammt. Der Spieler führt also grundlegend zwei Charaktere, einen in der Gegenwart und einen, nämlich dessen Ahnen, in einer historischen Epoche. (Interessierte Leser müssen sich nun nicht durch die fünfzehn oder so Teile der Reihe kämpfen, es gibt auf YouTube sehr schöne Zusammenschnitte.) Und hier wird es auf mehreren Ebenen interessant. Ich kann mich nicht entsinnen, ob es im Spiel jemals so genannt wird, aber in der Verfilmung wird für den Vorgang des „Rückführens“ in das historische Geschehen tatsächlich dieser Begriff verwendet, nämlich „Regression“. Die Parallele zu vergangenen Leben und Reinkarnation ist also nicht wirklich schwer zu ziehen. Aber in dieser Artikelserie auch schon oft behandelt worden, daher will ich nicht vertiefend darauf eingehen.
Die andere Ebene erfordert ein leichtes Umdenken, und hier kommen wir auch zu Filmen wie The Matrix, Avatar und vielen anderen. Der Gedanke dabei ist, daß „wir“, unser eigentliches Bewußtsein, also letztlich gesehen unser Geist im Sinne der Gralsbotschaft, ein „Avatar“ steuern und durch ein Leben mit all seinen Geschehnissen führen. Und das ist ja, was wir tun! Zugegeben, wir fühlen unser gegenwärtiges Avatar sicher etwas intensiver als eine computergenerierte Spielfigur, aber wenn wir uns einfach einmal von der Vorstellung trennen, daß unser derzeitiger Erdenkörper sonderlich viel mit unserem Ich zu tun hat… dann rücken wir die Dinge in ein ganz anderes Licht. Und wenn wir das Szenario, für das unser aktuelles Avatar geschaffen ist, hoffentlich erfolgreich bewältigt haben… dann ist zwar für dieses Avatar das Spiel vorbei, aber für uns noch lange nicht. Eigentlich doch ein schöner Gedanke.
Die Seele selbst, die sich in ihrer Art dem grobstofflichen Körper nie verbindet, sondern die nur fähig ist, sich einem Erdenkörper anzuschließen, wenn die dazu bedingten Voraussetzungen erfüllt sind, vermöchte ohne besondere Brücke den Erdenkörper nicht zu bewegen, ebensowenig zu durchglühen. […] Wir können anstatt Brücke auch Werkzeug sagen, das die Seele noch besonders benötigt. […] Die Seele wird mit dem Astralkörper verbunden und wirkt durch diesen auf den schweren Erdenkörper. Und auch der Erdenkörper kann in seiner dazu notwendigen Ausstrahlung die Seele nur durch den Astralkörper als den Vermittler wirklich an sich binden. […]
Der Astralkörper ist der in erster Linie von der Seele abhängige Mittler zu dem Erdenkörper. Was dem Astralkörper geschieht, darunter leidet auch der Erdenkörper unbedingt. Die Leiden des Erdenkörpers aber berühren den Astralkörper viel schwächer, trotzdem er mit ihm eng verbunden ist.
Wird zum Beispiel irgendein Glied des Erdenkörpers abgenommen, nehmen wir dafür einmal einen Finger an, so ist damit nicht gleichzeitig auch der Finger vom Astralkörper genommen, sondern dieser verbleibt trotzdem ruhig wie bisher. Deshalb kommt es vor, daß ein Erdenmensch zeitweise wirklich noch Schmerzen oder Druck empfinden kann dort, wo er kein Glied mehr an dem Erdenkörper hat.
(„In der grobstofflichen Werkstatt der Wesenhaften“)
Natürlich sind wir dazu angehalten, unser Avatar gut in Schuß zu halten. Denn unter anderem hält bekanntlich Essen Leib und Seele zusammen – wortwörtlich! Nun ist mir in Games noch nie untergekommen, daß die Charaktere essen (trinken, namentlich Alkohol, ist hingegen verbreitet, führt jedoch folgerichtig zu einer Beeinträchtigung der Fähigkeiten), aber Assassin’s Creed dient unerwartet auch hier als Anstoß, nämlich in Form des darauf basierenden Kochbuchs, in dem sich folgender Satz findet:
So zählen Auberginen, Kichererbsen und Lammfleisch, Kreuzkümmel, Mandeln und Koriander noch immer zu den wichtigsten Zutaten der Küche dieses Landstrichs. Zutaten, deren Geschmack Altaïr ohne Zweifel sehr vertraut war.
(Thibaud Villanova: Assassin’s Creed – Das offizielle Kochbuch)
Und zwar im späten 12. Jahrhundert bis Mitte des 13. Jahrhunderts. Das ist also eine sehr lange Tradition, und ich finde den Gedanken ansprechend. Der Influx völlig anderer Eßgewohnheiten und Nahrungsmittel ist ja eine sehr neue Entwicklung, wenn man von dem normalen, langsamen Gang absieht, mit dem über Jahrhunderte exotische Genüsse in ein Land einwanderten. (Heute kennen wir kaum etwas Deutscheres als die Kartoffel, aber vor acht-, neunhundert Jahren hätte man sie hier vergeblich gesucht.) Vielleicht verbinden „uns“, soll heißen unsere Erdenkörper, kulinarische Traditionen viel stärker mit unseren kulturellen und ethnischen Wurzeln als wir gemeinhin denken.
Der Erdenkörper ist verbunden mit dem Teil der Erde, auf dem er geboren wurde! […] Nur der Teil dieser Erde gibt dem Körper ganz genau, was er bedarf, um richtig zu erblühen und kraftvoll zu bleiben.
(Vortrag „Der Erdenkörper“)
So die Signatur meiner Marta-Sammlung im Institut für Zeitgeschichte. Ich erhielt gestern die Beschreibung der Sammlung zur Durchsicht und war durchaus ein wenig beeindruckt, daß neun Seiten dabei herausgekommen sind. (Mein Mitgefühl an dieser Stelle für den Bearbeiter/die Bearbeiterin, der/die all die Inhalte auflisten und katalogisieren mußte – ich weiß, daß das eine ätzende Arbeit ist.)
Ein leises Lächeln löste die Beschreibung meiner Person als „Journalistin“ aus, aber erstens ist alles andere zu kompliziert, um es in einen kurzen, knackigen Text zu packen (ich bevorzuge „Biographin“, das würde sich aber in diesem Fall mit dem Rest des Satzes beißen), und zweitens ist es, genau betrachtet, gar nicht mal so falsch. Relotius ist (war?) ein Journalist. Jens Bisky ist ein Journalist. Und meine Recherche war erheblich gründlicher und wahrheitsgetreuer als die dieser „echten“ Journalisten. Wenn man aus dem Text nun lesen möchte, ich allein habe Marta aus ihrer Anonymität gehoben… zu viel der Ehre. Die gebührt tatsächlich Jens Bisky bzw. seiner Quelle „Frau S.“ Aber erstmals lebensgeschichtlich erfaßt, ja, das würde ich über weite Strecken durchaus für mich in Anspruch nehmen. Mit Hilfe und dank vieler wunderbarer Menschen.
Die Journalistin Clarissa Schnabel veröffentlichte 2015* eine
Biografie über Marta Hillers und deren Umfeld unter dem Titel
„Mehr als Anonyma“. Damit wurde die zunächst anonyme
Autorin des Bestsellers „Eine Frau in Berlin“ erstmals
Der Nachlass der Journalistin und Autorin Hillers befindet sich
seit 2016 im Archiv des Instituts für Zeitgeschichte (Signatur ED
934) und wird sinnvoll ergänzt durch die Abgabe von Fr.
Schnabel, die dem Archiv 2019 ihre Rechercheunterlagen und
auch Originalkorrespondenz der Geschwister Hillers übergab.
Und darüber hinaus „Frau Hillers‘ Schreibmaschine“.
In 20 AE** liegen nun Personenrecherchen aus verschiedenen
Archiven und Literatur vor; sind familiäre und freundschaftliche
Beziehungen nachvollziehbar. Durch Kopien können die
journalistischen Arbeiten von M. Hillers als auch ihrer Freundin
Trude Sand direkt rezipiert werden. Einige Originale der
Veröffentlichungen etwa in „Die neue Gartenlaube“, „Wir
Mädel“, „Hilf mit!“ [Schriftleiterin Sand ab 1942] sind enthalten.
Daneben ein Russisch-Kurs (Hillers) und „Zickezacke Landjahr
Hillers‘ Aktivitäten für die KPD sind nun quellengestützt
Die in der Überlassung vorhandenen Fotos bleiben kopiert im
Ursprungszusammenhang; die Originale sind im Bildarchiv.
Verschiedene Unterlagen liegen auch digital vor; eine
Abbildung der Ordnerstruktur und Verweise auf Fundstellen im
Bestand befindet sich in Band 20. Der Massenspeicher wird
dem Bildarchiv übergeben.
*Es muß natürlich 2013 lauten; 2015 erschien die erweiterte zweite Auflage. Ich habe es bereits weitergegeben.
Man arbeitet sich vor. Meine Übersetzung von Jaroljmeks (wie zum Geier spricht man den Menschen eigentlich aus?) Mekkabahn-Artikel wird in der nächsten Ausgabe des Journal of the T. E. Lawrence Society erscheinen.
Bin mal gespannt, wann es mit dem Mikusch-Artikel soweit ist – die Ausgabe drauf? Oder in einem Jahr? Aber immerhin ist er überhaupt beim Empfänger gelandet und wurde meines Wissens auch akzeptiert. War ja ein ziemlicher Kraftakt.