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Men on Rooftops

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There is a man standing on a rooftop. He wears a metal helmet and a white tunic. He is a guard of Acre and has the red cross to prove it. This man's name is Christopher Malarney, and this is the story of his death.

His morning started out like many others, lately: with a note left on the pillow and some bread taken from whomever-he'd-been-"staying"-at's cubboard. He'd closed and locked the door like a true gentleman and headed to the guard tower to report for duty. His uppers had assigned him to what they referred to as "watching": simply observing the goings-on of Acre and making sure nothing too odd happened without his interference. Christopher had merely nodded and left the tower with a tight smile and a sip of gin from his flask. He doesn't have a good feeling about today. The guard is superstitious and sees dreams as omens, and he had such a bad omen last night.

Christopher rubs his hand of his nose and sniffs in the too - warm air. He can't wait until King Richard had won the Crusades and he can get out of this infernal place; Englishmen simply aren't made for heat. Quite the opposite of the curious "assassins" he'd been hearing about nights at the tower. They were said to have the robes of angels and the blades of the devil himself. Just last week, one of the guards had been found slumped on a roof, a knife in his back. One of the older guards had nodded when asked about it and claimed it was most definitely the work of an Assassin (he always spoke the word as if it were capitalised), yes, indeed.

Now Christopher merely blinks these thoughts away and shifts his stance a little bit. Focus is key in being a guard, absolutely necessary.

"The rooftops appear quite 'armless today..."

Christopher jumps slightly and turns around. It is merely his fellow guard, John, a curly-haired womaniser with a daring grin and too much confidence.

"Aye."

Chris turns back to survey the road below him, showing his back to John. He does not want to talk today. A hangover is keeping him company and refuses to leave; even one of the old wenches nearby couldn't make a brew strong enough to chase it away.

"Y'think an 'Sassin'll come getcha, Chris? Mm?"

Christopher is enveloped in John's arms and the words are much too close to his right ear. A wet tongue trails its way up his neck, and Chris sighs emotionlessly. (His control over himself is famed throughout the city; it was said that only when the last of his family died did a tear drop from his stormy blue eyes.) The guard shoves John away, disgusted. "You sinful child," he begins, contempt twirling through his voice, "you have damned yourself forever and are sentenced to hell."

John's reaction is much different compared to what Chris expected; the boy merely juts out his hip and places his hands on said hips. The effect is that of a child when she is being pushed farther than is safe for her antagoniser. "Someone's a wonderful, God - fearing Christian, ain't you?" The youth is sarcastic and arrogant.

"I don't have time for this, John."

"What? Doesn't everyone need to know his fellows like the back of his hand?"

"Bastard, no one's said that since the Romans."

John blinks at Chris and cocks an eyebrow. "Resorting to name - calling, now, aren't we? Well, I h-"

His voice is cut off by a slim knife pointing through his neck. The brunette makes a gurgling sound and falls to the ground, terror clouding his eyes and blood spilling onto his robes. The red liquid seeps slowly into the cloth, and at some small, small place inside him, Christopher is wondering just how much a man can bleed from his neck. It takes great effort for him to raise his eyes from his fellow's twitching corpse to the white robes of the person standing about three yards behind the body.

Said person has a small scar on the right side of his lip. The lips curl themselves into a gentle smile as the Assassin strolls towards Christopher, stopping a yard away, where John's body is now. He  takes his time, even flicks out the knife concealed in his sleeve and cleans it. When he speaks, his voice, though deep, is honey sweet and silky smooth. "I thought you'd appreciate me taking care of ..." The man grabs John's body suddenly and holds the corpse against him like a mother might her baby; Chris doesn't even see him bend down. "John, was it?"

Chris swallows and shakily draws his sword.

The Assassin is at his side in a flash and his once sweet voice is now rough and cruel. Christopher draws his sword back, prepared to strike.

"Look at you, you're shaking." The Assassin's voice is mocking. "Your sword won't be able to get within a yard of me, let alone actually touch me. You really shoulodn't swing."

Christopher swings the sword in a wide arc, cold sweat making a river on his neck. Just as his visitor said, the sword doesn't even get close to him. The man jumps lithely into the air and lands easily on his feet, his momentum knocking his hood back. "What did I tell you, Chris, don't swing!"

The man's hidden blade flicks out and meets the unyielding skin of Christopher's neck. Christopher dies silently.

The Assassin flicks his hood up and leaves the rooftop as silently as Christopher died.❥