Footsteps – soundless rhythm amidst city's busting noise. A crowd without face, everything fading to dark grey and black, flashes of red and dashes of blues and white. Inhaling – not the pollution of modern day New York but age-old dust – that of Jerusalem's beaten tracks. Italy's sandy roads endlessly sprawling before his eyes. People staring, he did not see them. They were with him – the cold demeanour of one and the restless pace of the other – split shadows in his wake caused not by the street lights flashing sickly orange – the shades of a timeline split inside his head. Tall glass eyed tower sightlessly leaning towards the sky – or those clear, sun-bleached minarets – the roaring call of the wind. To climb and stay up, away from the roaming crowds threatening to take over, an endless stream fighting him without knowing. Not that he could help it.
A ghost of a hand over his shoulder, as though he was here, smiling his eternal boyish smile. That of a man long since gone who never forgot how to smile despite what life had dealt to him. A presence tracing his steps. Following them and being followed, a trail of gold floating through the maze. Inside his head, in spite of better judgement – simply there. Comforting him as no one could. Not normal to all – uncommon and sick – what do they know? A low, dark voice telling him not to care. Black night morphing into the maze of Venice – buildings so tall sun never reached the ground. Behind him, he could feel them, senses alert. Take off, the eagle's flight. Dashing through the throng uncaring – apologies flowing in languages no one spoke anymore. Dante clashing with Ibn Mundhiq – a strangled flow of words without end. In his lungs, the choking air of Acre, salt and rot melting against the asphalt. His feet pounding – he could feel the weight of an armour on his body – heavy and reassuring. Not afraid of confrontation. His blade strapped to his arm – he glanced down and could almost see it – Altair's hand, as though memories never truly faded anymore. He smiled, his hood concealing his eyes – looking like any other lurker.
Faster – jump on the trashcans to reach exit stairs he barely saw. Springing upward, muscles moving on their own accord. Deeply ingrained memories. Hands holding him together as he climbed, the sounds made by clanking steel and iron drowned in the drone of city-life. The heavy breathing of the ones on his tail drawing farther, looking for another route. At the top of the stairs... Roof flat and useless, too wide – without long-range weapons, useless. A sharp eagle cry – his head spinning to the left. There. A run down building... and then a tall building with wide windows. Much like those he had had to climb not so long ago... centuries ago. Take a deep breath. Feet pounding harshly on the hard surface of the concrete roof. One. Two. Three. Breath. One. Two. Body launching through the air, movements keep momentum intact – white wings in his wake, a red trail in the air. Shouts far behind – to the ground fall, absorbing shock. Bones rattling with age-old training. Windows too tall, he would never make it – and still his body moved, muscles aching from strain. Fingers grappling for the thin steel windowsill. Leap. Catch. Leap. Catch. Careful, without thinking. The height was maddening and wind was wiping his back. The giddy sensation of climbing up to the top. Never mind the guards – a glance downwards – not New York's bleeding traffic of white, red, yellow and green. The dark streets of Rome – Sant' Angelo – flashes of red in places. People shouting – couldn't care less.
Breath in – the filth of panic coating his nose and lungs – breath out – shadows covering him, protecting. Ancient protectors of a Creed forgotten by those who condemned. Cold on his skin like paper cutting through to naked bones. And still up he rose – the far off bird of prey a beacon in the starless night. Sounds fading as he rose. Up – roll to his back – breath deep and look up. He made it – no net to catch him when he falls. Shaun would find him. Like they did find them before. Names people recalled or not. Extending his left arm, as though he could touch them. He could feel them, singing in his bloodstream, parts of him revelling in the adrenalin pumping through his system. With him – the voice extinct in the night – lost track after several floors. At peace. The stars killed by the sickly orange haze that shrouded the place. Pollution and light – new form of assassination. Slowly rise – the rustle of coarse linen he knew was white. A subtle smell of spice and maddening heat, a sense of sunlight on his back – that of the sea – cry of seagulls – and fire. Pyres and buildings burning – books burning. A man falling across from them. Shudder. Rising to his feet, he felt a strong hand holding his shoulder – a man no longer the boy he had met.
Steady and focused. Walk to the brink, walk next to it, less than an inch from impact. Feet moving and arms keeping his balance. They were here – next to him, inside of him – breathing their wisdom, learning their moves – their pains. They had become his own. Not insane, mind guarded by ghosts of pasts long erased. Carrying through his own life – he was the ghost – not them. Closing his eyes, stark gold leading him to the end of the building. No barrier guarding the fall. There was no fear. Breathing deep – raw air of the mountains – distant echo of a river running down – miss and hit the water. And drown – no one to catch you. Step into his body, led by they whom he had called back from the dead, deep into himself. Extending his arms – legs projecting his body from concrete and glass – free fall back into his own time. In spite of him, they followed. The eagle's cry far above – he could see it under the bright sun washing over the red-tiled roofs. Echoeing against fortress walls. The fortress of his own mind. The fall never ended and he was weightless, suspended. Faith in his kin never wavering – may it never change.