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The Swan Song

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Cold air brushes against my cheek. I reach out with my eyes still closed and feel my hand come into contact with something. Something wet and unbelievably cold…
Ah… snow
My eyes fly open and take in the massive expanse of white surrounding me, glistening and taunting in the night. Like a switch being flicked on, I suddenly feel the cold biting into every part of my body.
What the fuck happened? I panic. “It was just a few drinks surely.” I mutter to myself.
I brace my hands under myself and push off the ground in an unsteady stance.
I grab my head as a pang of pain launches in front of my eyes. I lean against a nearby tree as it sears and leaves me pulling my hair in agony. Moments pass before it slowly begins to fade as I slump, massaging my head. I look around and see myself surrounded by tall red bricked buildings at least three stories high and wooden panels forming small fences. To my left a small alley way led out into what looked like a busy street. The whole scenery strikes me as oddly familiar and I frown as I hear small snatches of conversations creep into my hearing. This is either the biggest birthday stunt my friends have ever pulled on me or that was some very strong pre-big-day vodka I had last night. I stumble from the alleyway, still clutching my head. I accidentally knock into a crate and stumble, gripping a person’s shoulder as I try to steady myself.
‘Oi, watch it. Bloody drunkard,” a man grumbles at me in a rough British accent.
I quickly let go of his shoulder.
“sorry, I ju-“
Before I can tell him how hungover I might be, I suddenly take in his attire. He wears a long rugged, green coat over his waistcoat and sports a tricorn of some sort. That is definitely not from where I come from. Must be some sort of convention going on. Before I can recover the man tuts at my state and walks off grumbling something about a waste of good ale.
‘BOSTON NEWS!” I hear a voice call out before it drifts down the road. I stagger away from the alley to the sound of the bustling and talking. The sight of more people, men, women and children, dressed in the same way as the man in the alley freezes me in place. A great dock, lined with stalls, horses and people in old fashioned clothing are dotted along the stretch of road. Massive sailing ships groan behind the set up. Whatever blood flowing in my poorly circulated body freezes at the sight and my breath catches in my throat. A woman passing by gives me an odd look and I snap back into place.
“Excuse me,’ I call out to her. She looks wary and turns to face me completely. Her light red dress flows against the movement.
‘Yes dear?’ her Irish lilt hits me. I stumble with my words, trying to put it as simply as I could.
‘Um… What date is it?”
She stares at me and looks around me, no doubt scouting for the tell-tale bottle of grog.
“August the third” She says, her eyes knitting together. I nod and wait… when it became clear I was not going to get any better than that I prompted her further,
Her eyes widen, “how much have yeh had?” she breathes in wonder. I shrug and roll my hand, gesturing her to continue.
“Well um…of 1755 of course.”
I stumble like I was punched in the gut and slump against a wall. Several people glance at me as they pass by and hurry onward, not wanting to get involved. The women in front of me looks concerned, bless her.
“Are yeh alright, ye’v gone as white as that ships sail.”
I nod numbly and pinch my forehead in utter disbelief. 1755, fuck off. I am a good 260 years from where I thought I was. I try to talk but only a rasping noise escapes me. I grip at my chest and I feel a small metal object under my hand. I look down and see the Assassin insignia glinting merrily up at me… This has something to do with it. I am sure.
“Ye’d best go home dear. Stay off the bottle hmm?” I nod again without thinking and the woman walks off, casting concerned glances behind her. What the hell do I do? I can’t book a room or buy food, I have no money. There is no way my 20th century notes and coins would purchase anything save for some strange looks and a possible night in prison. The night air hits me again and I shiver. I need food. What can I do? I look around wildly and see a stall selling fruits and breads. I feel my stomach claw at the sight and I know what I have to do. It can’t be that hard surely…. Surely.
Steeling myself for what I am about to do, I take a deep breath and walk as inconspicuously as I can towards my ‘prey’. The stall vendor gives me a brief nod before turning to an inquiring customer and I feel my pulse quicken. This is my chance. I reach out slowly, while pretending to inspect the wares and slip a large roll into the pocket of my jacket. No one reacts and I take a sigh of relief. I reach out again and take an apple. It is like all sound is gone from the world. All I can see is that apple. I almost have it into my pocket too. Suddenly a hand clasps around my wrist painfully. My eyes jerk up to see the vendor leering at me.
“You fucking thief,” He snarls at me. I twist my wrist around wildly and kick out at his shin, wrenching my hand from his grip before sprinting off down the road. My feet thud down the cobbled street as I hear the man calling for guards. People launch out of my way as I barrel past them. I look behind and see three men in red coats carrying… fuck… guns running after me. I sprint down the docks and dodge around corners, my lungs tearing themselves up. A massive bang sounds and I hear a bullet race past me. Seriously? I stole a fucking roll and they’re trying to kill me. I turn into an alley way and into a place similar to where I woke up. There are wooden fences dotted around the area and I run through.
A hand roughly grabs my shoulder, next I know, I am pinned against a wooden plated fence. All of the red coats run past and out of sight leaving me panting in fear and exhaustion. As I look to thank my saviour I hear a small ‘snick’ and I feel something cold press against my exposed throat. A man with dark, black hair pulled from his steely grey eyes and fine clothes is pressing a small, intricate blade to my neck. I freeze as, even in the dark I can see that, Haytham Kenway is leering at me with pure malice blazing in his eyes. I try to still my breathing and attempt to shift my head from the blade that was dangerously close. “Not a good idea,” Haytham says. His deep voice is rumbling and full of malice and authority as I feel the cold metal touch my skin again.
“What do you want?” I whimper.
A small smirk plays on his lips. “Is that really so hard to work out, assassin?” He practically spits the last word at me. My heart speeds up at my realisation of his intentions.
“Assassin? No. I’m not. I don’t know the first thing about killing someone.” I stumble to him. Haytham looks enraged and I feel the blade as it is pressed harder. Any harder and it will penetrate my skin.
“A poor lie indeed. You wear the orders crest around your neck. Do you think me blind?”
The necklace. Of course, how stupid. “Pl-please sir,” I breathe shakily “it was a gift from a friend, I only just arrived here. I don’t know your customs. If it offends you, I’ll take it off. You won’t see it again, only let me go.” I ramble on. Haytham shakes me slightly.
“Who was this friend who gave it to you?” When I didn’t answer he shook me again. “Well?”
“M- My brother,” I whimper.
“HE is the assassin?”
“No, no, you don’t understand, he isn’t an assassin. He is a soldier.”
“Then how did he come by this?” at the last word, Haytham flicked the blade against the crest, a slight clink rang from the action before the blade was returned to its former position at my neck.
“He knew I liked trinkets like that.” I splutter quickly and Haytham’s eyes narrow in demand for a more detailed answer. I tried to elaborate.
“I know it sounds simple, but all he did was find it.” I look squarely at Haytham to show I wasn’t lying. In truth, I wasn’t that far off. My brother is a soldier, and he did find it… in a shop with many other replicas around it.
Haytham’s eyebrow lifts and I feel pressure lift off of my neck. The blade retracts and I almost laugh in relief.
“Your name if I may?” he says, obviously still suspicious.
I’m taken slightly aback. He’s starting a normal conversation while he has me pinned against the wall as if it a completely civilized thing to do. It takes a moment before his question registers in my brain. A name? Shit. I rack my brains for anything that sounds even remotely close to what is suitable for the time.
“El-Elizabeth” I say…. “Elizabeth… um… Swan.” I inwardly cringe at my choice. Haytham stares at me for a moment and for a terrifying second I believe he won’t buy it, until the pressure pinning me to the wall is lifted completely and I slide down pathetically with relief.
“My apologies Miss Swan.” Haytham says, looking down at me. “Indeed there have been no reports of assassin’s with that name.” He offers a hand to me. I stare at it for a moment before taking it. His hands are warm and slightly calloused. In a single movement I am lifted to my feet.
He looks me up and down as if noticing me for the first time. I follow his gaze and realize why his face was scrunched up in confusion. A Tight fitted striped top, black jacket and jeans… and…aaah. Ugg boots, is hardly the outfit of the time. I try to act nonchalant.
"Something the matter sir?” I ask, drawing his attention to my face.
“Well um, I was wondering where you were from. You said you just arrived here and –forgive me- your clothes are hardly appropriate for this weather or indeed of a… fashion… I recognise.”
Of course, I should have realised this question would have shown up somewhere in this completely insane-but-might-not-be-a-dream, situation. I can imagine how the conversation could play out
‘Ah you know just thought I would take a stroll around Boston…260 years in my past. Research for a history project and all that. Oh, by the by, you are from a game in my world, brilliant character… Love your work.
“Well um…” I look around, attempting to stall for time. It strikes me just how freezing it is standing there in my single layer of clothing. I hug myself to try and keep warm. Haytham notices and his face turns to one of realisation.
“Oh, of course. Let’s talk somewhere warmer.” He gestures for me to follow him and turns, his cape billowing out behind him. Taking in a deep breath, not sure whether I am lucky or unlucky to have ‘stumbled’ across him, I follow him into the cold, tucking the crest out of sight as I go.