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…
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.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Walking behind Haytham, I can see the intricate design on his cape fluttering in the night air. He looks back every so often to see if I am following, and every time I’ll nod in acknowledgement.
Jesus Christ, has he even met Ziio yet? Does he know about Connor? No. He’d be grey if he did. I think as I stare at his small, near black ponytail. Has he rescued his sister yet? Oh god, I stop in my tracks…. I can’t tell him anything. Not even anything about Connor or Holden. Haytham looks around and sees me standing in the middle of the road and retraces his steps to me.
“Everything alright Miss Swann?”
Miss Swann? What?
I fix a smile to my face and look up at him as the image of his bloodied face swims in front of my eyes. The image of his son standing over his own father.
“Elizabeth please. And yes, but it just struck me that I have no place to stay for tonight.” Where have these lies come from? And so smoothly too. I almost applauded myself.
He smiles slightly and gestures for us to continue.
We approach a large inn. Above the door is a golden dragon crest. Oh. The green Dragon. Haytham smartly pushes open the door and steps into the golden light with me close behind. The smell of ale hits me instantly along with the warm, stuffy air. I look around and see people everywhere playing games, drinking, and flirting with each other while a small band plays merry music. I stare around for so long I fail to notice Haytham walk up to me. I flinch as a pint is thrust at me, not that he notices. Haytham takes my arm and directs me up the stairs while I try to focus on not sloshing my drink anywhere. Up the stairs, he directs me to the long table where the order are normally seated. It is empty and he gestures for me to sit, before sitting opposite me.
“So, you have definitely sparked my curiosity Elizabeth.” He says as I sip at my drink. It tastes watered down but at least it is still drinkable.
I smile, “I have that effect on people. What can I tell you to cure you of this curiosity?”
Haytham smirks and takes a drink of his own. He gestures to my pocket. “Seeing as you went to all of that trouble, you might as well eat the roll.”
I blush slightly while I take the bread out of my pocket and take a bite out of it. Haytham eyes me for a moment and just when it feels slightly uncomfortable I break the silence. I hold out the half eaten roll, “Sorry, did you want some?” I ask sarcastically. Haytham rolls his eyes.
“Tempting, but I think I can resist. Now, care to explain yourself? Where are you from exactly?”
I swallow my mouthful before answering. “I come from Melbourne.” I say. I then realise where I had said. The damn place hasn’t even been colonised yet…Shit.
“It’s a uhh… very small town in…um… Ireland.” I stuff another mouthful of roll in before I can dig my grave any deeper.
Haytham looks thoughtful. “It must be small, I have never heard of it and I like to think myself a well-educated man. I must say you haven’t got a strong accent”
“Parents weren’t from there and we moved from England originally.”
I give a shrug and feel safe to continue, having thought of what to say on the way here, “As for my clothing, I had a rather…shall we say… boisterous night recently when I arrived with some friends to celebrate a birthday. It is kind of a blur really. I woke up in this.” I pluck at my jacket to illustrate my point. Haytham raises a rather teasing eyebrow
“It must have been quite a celebration for you to end up wearing that.”
I blink several times, trying to ignore that he just directly insulted my fashion choices and instead grin like I had made a stupid and embarrassing decision like the drunk fool everyone thinks of me as.
“Suppose I’ll have to rectify this once I get a job. Those lobcocks I celebrated with were only here for a night.” I don’t expect to be around long enough for a job. Surely it will not come to me staying that long.
Haytham looks thoughtful. Almost like he is plotting.
“’Ello ‘ello, who’ve we got here then Sir?” A man drawls from the stairs. I look behind to see Thomas Hickey clambering up the stairs with an ale already in hand. He grins at me and winks as I attempt to smile back at him. Right behind him are Lee, Johnson and Pitcairn, all climbing up the stairs.
I notice Haytham sit up slightly straighter and in turn introduces me to these men. They all seem merry enough to see me, save Charles, who looks slightly suspicious of me. What a dick.
“Hello.” I say, completely at loss for how to introduce myself. Thomas grins cheekily at Haytham and lifts his ale slightly,
“Well done Haytham, finally meeting the Boston lasses are you?”
I blink in stunned, blushing, silence and turn to Haytham who is, once more, rolling his eyes at his henchman’s antics.
“That is hardly why she is here Thomas. I suggest you remember that.”
Thomas nods but immediately sits next to me, waiting for the best opportunity to try and to chat me up I guess, while breathing what seems like a pure gas form of alcohol into my face. It’s all I can do to keep nodding politely and not rush for a fricken window.
“Sir,’ I overhear Charles say to Haytham. The grandmaster looks at Lee. “Who is this woman? Why is she here?”
Haytham gestures to me. “Miss Swann shall be staying here for a while. She has offered to assist us with our mission in regaining the key.” He shoots me a look to stop me from speaking just as I open my mouth to protest and gestures for me to follow him. Key? When was that mentioned? Did he lose the bloody precursor necklace or something?
Turns out… He lost the bloody precursor necklace.
“I’m sorry Elizabeth,” Haytham says as he leads me into a plain, sparsely decorated room, “but you must admit you need assistance.” At the no doubt murderous look I was giving him, he sighs and spreads his hands in a gesture of peace. “I merely meant that I propose a compromise.”
“Oh, fantastic, thanks for telling me before ranting it to Charles.”
I have no idea where this is coming from. Less than an hour ago he could have sliced my neck and now I’m scolding him. Haytham sighs again.
“Again, apologies but, if you do help us with this mission, we only need to retrieve a necklace. That is all, and I will see to it that you have accommodation and meals and whatnot.” He raises an eyebrow at me, waiting for a reply. I go over the deal in my head and sigh. What other choice do I have? If I was nearly shot trying to get small roll, I’ll definitely need help providing three meals a day for however long I am stuck here.
“Fine. Fine. Just tell me what I have to do, though I hate to break it to you, but I don’t think a necklace would suit you.”
Haytham mock glares at me while looking somewhat triumphant as he explains his plan. “You just need to get some information from a man we have suspicions about. His name is George Gall.”
That sounds way too simple and I narrow my eyes at him. “Under what circumstances.”
“Well, you seem to have a knack for getting people drunk, yourself included.” I raise my eyebrow and he bites back a smirk. “Get his tongue loose and talking and try to find out where that necklace could have gone. No-one knows who you are so no one will suspect you.”
I nod and sit on the bed contemplating what I have to do… I sink my head in my hands. “Just please don’t expect too much.” I mumble to him.
Haytham nods, “Excellent. We’ll look for a suitable attire tomorrow. I want you to get the information tomorrow night.” He moves to leave the room and stops. “Oh, yes, and this room is yours for now. Have a good night.”
“Thank you Haytham.” I murmur. Haytham stiffens and turns to me. He glares suspiciously at me.
“I never told you my name.” he says darkly.
Shit… I rack my brains for a good excuse. It strikes me and I smile up, almost apologetically at him. I’m suddenly grateful for those ‘useless’ lessons of improv in high school drama.
“Sorry, Mr Kenway. It seems Thomas gets a little loose when he has an ale… or six. He let it slip in conversation.” I shrug my shoulders in a ‘what can you do’ fashion. Haytham relaxes immediately and offers a small smile before tipping his hat and walking off, closing the door behind himself and leaving me to my room.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
I wake up covered in a grey blanket. Seriously, does this inn have no concept of colour? I push the material off of me and slide on my ugg boots before stumbling out of my room onto the landing. Greeting me is and Johnson sitting at the table tucking into breakfast. As I sit down, Johnson nods at me and slides a plate of eggs in front of me.
“Sleep well Miss Swann?” he asks.
I nod. “It’ll take some time to get used to colour again after being in that room but I’ll manage.” Johnson chuckles as Haytham emerges from his room.
“Aah, Elizabeth. Are you nearly ready to go?”
I stare at him disbelievingly. “Unlike you Haytham, I like some time to actually register that I am awake before rushing off to go and get someone drunk.” I shoot him a smile. “I know you’re keen on finding a dress to match the necklace”
Haytham fires me a look while Johnson claps me on the back, laughing.
“Just give her a moment sir. I’m sure she’ll be ready soon.” Haytham nods walks down the stairs.
Johnson gives a low whistle. “If any of us tried that, the grandmaster would have our tongues.”
“Well. Will this suffice?” I ask as I emerge from the next room. Haytham sits on a chair wearing what I reckon is one of the most bored looks a face can produce. I teased him endlessly when we entered the shop, throwing dresses his way and exclaiming how pretty the pink looks on him and how the silver brings out his eyes. Which, for some reason, only threw daggers at me. I was enjoying this far too much. He looks around at me and scans up and down at my selection. A simple white shirt with flowing sleeves, a shire green vest, grey trousers and some delightful, dark brown boots.
“For someone who was so keen to see me in a dress, you show an immense lack of interest for wearing one yourself.”
I place my hands on my hips. “That is what every woman thinks when a bloke tells her to wear one.” I gesture to my clothes again and raise my brow questioningly. He shakes his head and sighs.
“It looks fine, though I would think a dress would be more suitable.”
“I’ll buy one when you wear one, Haytham.”
Consequently, we left without a dress.
“Right lass, are yeh sure about this idea?” Pitcairn tugs nervously at his simple coat I made him wear instead of his uniform as we sit in a small pub across the other side of Boston.
Sure? Sure? Of Course I’m not fucking sure. I have no idea on what to do. I don’t even know why I agreed to do this. Instead of voicing any of these thoughts, I flash Pitcairn a smile and nod. A moment later the pub door swings open and a man wearing grungy brown clothes stumbles in. Pitcairn nudges me and nods his head in the man’s direction. So that is Gall. I watch the man make his way to the bar and slap some coin onto the bench. We wait for his drink to come before the plan goes into action. I turn to Pitcairn and slap his arm.
“Oh so because I’m a woman you reckon I can’t hold my drink! Is that it?” I say to him with a raised voice.
Pitcairn laughs and slams his drink on the table. “Yes. That is exactly what I am saying.”
I gesture wildly to the patrons around me. “I reckon I could beat any man here.” I look around and see most of the people looking at me. Some men even looking rather eager to prove themselves. Of course I scan right past them and stop at Gall.
“Mate,” I call, walking over to his table and clapping Gall on the shoulder. “Help me make a point?”
Gall stares at me for a moment before he shrugs off my hand. “Nah girl. Be too easy to beat you.”
Well excuse me? At least Pitcairn was joking. I leer at him. “Strong talk mate.” I say, letting my Aussie accent creep through. “I’d rather see to believe. Unless you don’t want to be shown up in front of everyone, which I accept.” Checkmate.
Gall grips his pint and stares at the brown liquid before he downs it… alright. It begins
“Pour me another” he calls out, staring at me with muddy brown eyes. I sit opposite him and a crowd gathers around us, cheering as I too slug one down. A man whisks our tankards away before slamming more in front of us. We both grab for our drinks as the crowd stomps. I knock back the second one while he follows close behind. Another.
This goes on for several more minutes with the other people in the pub calling out support and passing money around. From what I can hear I am bringing up a lot of cash. I decide to have some fun and look in marvel at my fingers. The crowd hushes and stares at me.
“I feel something...” I mutter “a slight tingle in my fingers.” The crowd chuckles as I put on a horrified expression. “I think it’s affecting me.” Gall looks triumphant and slams down yet another drink. His smug smile falters when I shrug and tilt my head back, finishing another drink.
Towards the sixth drink I can see him slosh a bit over the sides as he drinks it, pouring more down his shirt that into his mouth. I’m not feeling too fantastic either. That ale is starting to give my head a numb, buzzing feeling and there most definitely is a slight tingle in my fingers. Another drink is brought to us and I feel faint at the sight of it. I sip this one slowly until it is gone. Gall pales slightly at the thought of another drink and slides off of his chair. A few men from the crowd hoist him up back into his seat. He lifts the drink up to his lips and holds it there, a sheen of sweat coating his brow. The crowd chants, waiting for him to take a sip, and then groans when he slams his mug down and raises a hand.
“I…I.. Submit.” He murmurs. The patrons cheer and I feel several hands slap my back in celebration. I make out the hazy image of a man stashing his winnings into his pockets. Soon the crowd disperses back to their own pastimes and Gall and I are sitting at the table, attempting to keep our heads up. I notice Pitcairn sidle into the chair behind Gall, listening in.
“So…” I grumble. “Whose arse did I have the honour of taking the seat out from under?” Gall waves a hand. “George Gall.”
I nod my head. “We’re new round here.” Pitcairn ventures, slipping onto the stool beside me. Judging by Gall’s state he won’t remember this in the morning. “Know any decent shops can spend my winnings at? Jewellery perhaps?” Gall raises his hand again. “Aye. There are some lovely ones near the town centre…give… give fine jewellery. Although I saw this fine one lot nong ago. Passed through my hands,” he scrunched up his face sluggishly. “Just yesterday.” I see Pitcairn stiffen and subtly lean closer. I stare in wonder, was that all the prompting he needed? “It was all… round with some sort of holey thing in the middle.” Pitcairn nods at me and I make a noise of thought.
“Sounds divine. Truly.” I slur. It really is a wonder he can understand me. “Know where I could purchase such a fine piece?” I hold my breath as he stares at me.
“Some bloke named Phillip Turner or something bought if off me yesterday. Gone now.” His voice trails off and he leans forward slowly, completely slumped against the table top. A snore tears itself from him. I look over at Pitcairn and see him rise towards me. He grips me under the arm and guides me out of the tavern. More like carries me than anything as I stumble into him and into the cold night.
“Pit...” I mumble “Pit my ol' friend, we should do this again.” I suddenly double over in hysterics and start singing Auld Lang Syne at my full belt while poor Pitcairn attempts to cover my mouth and drag me back to the Green Dragon.
“I AM TRIUMPHANT!!!” I sing as Pitcairn drags me into the tavern. I ignore the funny looks from the patrons and toddle up the stairs onto the landing where all of the order are sitting. I see Johnson clap a hand to his growing smile as I hit the railing and curse at it for stepping in the way. Hickey laughs at the sight while both Haytham and Charles share a look.
“What? Did two drinks make ‘er this tipsy?” Hickey chortles. I balance myself on the railing and attempt to draw myself to my full, and rather unimpressive, height.
Pitcairn smirks at me before turning to Hickey, “try six drinks, Thomas.” The lads all share an impressed look around the table and Hickey looks shocked. I turn to him and saunter past towards my room, throwing “and if you think THIS is tipsy, you should see the other guy,” behind my back before slamming my door shut to the sound of their laughter and collapsing on my bed.
The following morning wasn’t fun. I spent it in bed while trying to wash away the hangover with copious amounts of tea. I emerged well into the afternoon with a ripping headache. Haytham is seated at the table on the landing and glances up from his writing as I sit near him. He closes the book and I realise with a pang that it is his journal. I feel like I’ve invaded his privacy knowing that I’ve read it all. There will probably be some pages about me in there now though.
“So Miss Swann. How is the head?” I hold up my hand in a silencing gesture.
“Could you whisper?” I mutter at him.
“No. Not really. I think you’re spent enough time in recovery. Though don’t worry, John has already given a report on the information you… extracted.” I nod and lower my head into my arms.
“A job well done. I have Charles and Johnson going to retrieve the necklace from this Turner fellow at this moment.”
“Glorious news.” I mutter.
I can hear the teasing laugh before he says “How about a drink to celebrate?”
“Fuck off Haytham.”