36 Returning To England
As the carriage rolled to a halt, Thomas jolted awake and yawned, looking out of the window.
"We're here, sir!" The driver called down, patting the side of the carriage.
Thomas stepped out, thanking the driver and paid him, stretching as he looked around the city of London. He fitted in well, dressed as a normal middle class gentleman, his assassin outfit shoved into a travelling bag by his side. However, he stood out by the tanned colour of his skin, quite different compared to the pale Britons. He took a deep breath, recalling the sights, smells and sounds of the London he left behind. It was cleaner than he remembered, although perhaps it just looked better in comparison to Nassau. The city sounded odd as the sound of waves was absent, replaced by children's laughter, chatter of the inhabitants and the rattle of passing carriages.
Getting back on track, Thomas set off through the familiar town, cutting through alleyways and backstreets that he still knew off by heart. He reached a door, usually assumed as just another entrance to a home, but Thomas knew otherwise. He knocked and a shadow passed below the door, a brief moment passing as the person inside inspected the man on the other side. A chain rattled and the door opened, a smiling maid standing before him.
"Welcome, sir, and your name...?" She asked, hands clasped.
"And your creed?"
"Nothing is true, everything is permitted." Thomas replied and flicked his wrist, the blade darting out.
The woman didn't flinch, merely nodded.
"The Master is this way."
The maid lead Thomas through the façade of a London home, stepping down to the basement where the differences began to show. It was much larger than any normal cellar, corridors leading off into various directions, to either secret underground passages from the surface, or to other rooms.
The room itself held various training equipment, assassin uniforms hanging on mannequins with tables and chairs scattered about, tankards left unattended.
Taking a torch from the wall, the maid continued, stepping through a dark corridor, her footsteps echoing about. The corridor wound in several directions, eventually leading to a set of steps, a metal door at the top. The woman knocked and a panel slid away, two eyes on the other side checking who wished to enter.
With a nod, the panel closed, keys clattered in locks and the door opened.
"Go ahead, he's waiting for you." The maid told him.
"Thank you." Thomas gave a smile. "And, in the mean time, could you get this cleaned for me?"
"Of course." The maid took his bag as it was just the uniform that it held and stepped back down into the tunnels.
Thomas turned and looked around the large, mansion looking house. Hidden in plain sight, the assassin hideout had never been discovered, not since it had first been set up here. The house took the image of a regular family home, but it's assassin symbols, various weaponry and decorations proved otherwise.
Thomas spun at the voice and saw the London Master Assassin standing before him.
"Er, hello, sir." Thomas nodded his head in respect and the Master Assassin waved him into his office.
"Thank you for writing ahead, Emilia nearly didn't recognise you with that darkened skin tone you achieved while in the Bahamas, I feared you would have been denied access." He remarked, sitting down behind his desk.
"Just a precaution, after Walpole's betrayal, I know everyone had to take extra measures to ensure the safety and protection of the Brotherhood." Thomas said, standing in front of him.
"Indeed. And speaking of Walpole, I am lead to believe you discovered his intentions and the intentions being to betray us, it was you that carried out his... Extermination?" The Master Assassin, leafed through several documents, some being Thomas' letters.
"That's true, aye." Thomas cringed, not just at the lie as it was in fact Kenway that killed Walpole, but using the vocabulary he had picked up around the crew.
The Master Assassin however, seemed amused by it, and gave a half smile.
"Then a congratulations is in order." He stood, passing over a purse of coin. "Another dead rat makes a better world."
"Thank you, sir." Thomas smiled and pocketed the reward.
"And your hunt of the Sage, in truth, I have not heard much of this man, it was more our tropical and European Brotherhoods that were interested in these matters. Tell me, what did you find?"
"The Sage is said to be the only man who knows where the Observatory is." Thomas said, and at the Master Assassin's blank expression, he continued to explain. "The Observatory is mostly legend, but is said to hold fantastical treasures and a way to see through another man's eyes, to see what he sees as he is somewhere else. It seems unbelievable, but it is widely believed by the Templars and Assassins over in the West Indies."
"And you found him?"
"And I trust you took care of him to avoid the Templars gaining the upper hand?"
"I did." Thomas lied again. It was unlikely the Master Assassin would ever find out and he trusted Mary and Kenway had the Sage under control.
"Very good." The Master Assassin smiled. "You have indeed gone beyond the call of duty, Thomas."
He passed over yet another coin purse, larger than before, which Thomas gratefully accepted.
"That will be all for now, but please report back tomorrow, I wish for you to instruct a young assassin in our ways and an exceptional assassin like yourself would be perfect to train the young man."
"Of course, sir. Thank you." Thomas nodded and left, amused by the thought that he was once called the 'young assassin'.
He exited the house through a back door, only to be used by the inhabitants that weren't dressed in the uniform as to not arouse suspicion.
Stepping back out into the streets, Thomas headed for the market, back into the bustle of London civilisation, the talk of people and the shout of sellers filling his ears. The flurry of the crowd pushed him about, tossing him like a boat in the sea as he tried to reach a clearing. Once at the other side, he stopped, taking a breath from the escape.
He turned to see a young woman, dressed in elegant attire, a pink lacy umbrella shielding her from the sunlight, matching her gown.
The young woman nearly shoved the umbrella into the hands of the man beside her, lifted her skirt, and with a joyous cry, ran to embrace him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, laughing as they gripped each other.
"It's been so long!" She exclaimed, standing back to look at the man he'd become.
"It has." He said, taken aback by her overly friendly reunion.
"I thought of you every day you were away."
"So have I." Thomas lied.
"I hear you became a privateer after we parted ways. And a wealthy one at that." A playful smile danced on her face.
"Aye, I mean, yes. It paid well."
"Oh my!" She chuckled. "My bonny sailor boy has picked up the pirate lingo! Oh, that'll be a catch."
"Ah, this must be your Thomas!" A large man said, approaching Elizabeth, the umbrella tucked under an arm.
"Indeed, father." She replied. "And just look at his colour! As if kissed by the tropical sun."
She smiled, stroking his cheek, then turned to her side and bent her arm, inviting him to link arms with her.
"Will you accompany me home, dear Thomas?" She asked, her voice sweet and irresistible.
"Of course, dear Elizabeth."
Thomas took her arm and together, Elizabeth's father walking at a safe distance behind them, they walked though the city of London, the flurry of traffic and bustle of people taking the breath away from the assassin. For so long he'd been at sea, used to the open waters, warm air and the feel of sand beneath his feet. This was home, but it didn't feel like it.
"Tell me, Thomas," Elizabeth said. "Where are you staying and how long will you remain?"
"At an inn, most likely, until I can find somewhere more permanent. I have no reason to leave."
"Nonsense!" She exclaimed. "You will live with me."
"Are... Are you sure?" He couldn't believe it. For years, he'd be planning ways of winning her love back. He didn't expect she'd just invite him in.
"I wouldn't have it any other way. You still love me, don't you?"
He took her hand.
She smiled and stroked his cheek, kissing him tenderly as they paused in the streets.
"And I you."