Crossed Eagle

Chapter 30

Selah groaned as she opened her eyes, bright morning sunlight streaming into her bedroom. The teenager shut her eyes close again, pain filling her eyes. Once it faded, she shifted in attempt to get up. Only when she did, a wave of soreness coursed through her. Selah hissed. What in the world? Then suddenly memories of yesterday’s events flooded her mind. The ambush and the attack on the villa. Then the vision she witnessed when she suffered her fit. W-Where had that come from? Could it be the cause of her soreness? No. Selah suddenly remembered Shay’s training. She was just sore from his brutality. The teenager huffed and gave the Irishman a colorful title. Then she only had to turn over.

“How are you feeling?” Shay rumbled.

Surprise was the least Selah felt. The Templar sat on the edge of her bed, next to her waist. When did he—? Selah buried her face in her pillow with a moan, closing her eyes. Her body and head were pounding, but she growled, “I’m fine.”

Shay frowned, making Selah wonder if he knew she was lying. He did pick up on her reluctance to rise. “Sleep well?”

Selah slept horribly. Haytham had dragged her to the quarters immediately after her fit, forcing her to wash the blood off her body and putting her to bed. The Templar—surprisingly—quickly fell asleep, only to awake several times from shouts and raised voices of arguing men. And when she did sleep, it was plagued by vivid nightmares. She was surprised she hadn’t screamed. Unable to speak, the girl only groaned. Now Shay seemed more concerned.

“Haytham said you froze during the grapple yesterday,” he confessed. “He was worried about you.”

“Well, tell him not to be,” Selah retorted. She forced herself into a sitting position, massaging her shoulder. “How you get in here?”

Shay blinked slowly, almost looking like he was going to shrug. “I opened the door...”

Selah rolled her eyes. She got into a more comfortable position. “What happened after the attack?”

“Nothing good. Ojeda sent his soldiers all over the city to find the ones responsible. I heard they even raided a few homes. Back here he had half of the Spanish army on guard. At least, the ones who weren’t tearing through rooms trying to sniff out any unwelcomed guests. Surprised they didn’t barge in on you—Haytham must have stopped them.”

“Seems I missed all the excitement.”

Shay nodded. “Haytham was able to calm him down. Heh, poor bastard looked like a lady finding a frog in her dress.”

Selah couldn’t help but give an amused snort at the analogy. “Glad I wasn’t there, then.”

A silence lapsed between the two of them, but it didn’t last long. Shay turned to her, watching her carefully.

“Selah, on our way back, you knew we were followed,” he observed. “How?”

Selah blinked slowly, trying to understand what he was asking. He almost seemed… surprised. Why? The younger Templar carefully tried to put into words.
“I… I don’t know, really,” she confessed. “My Assassin training, I suppose. I just knew someone was after us. A gut feeling, I believe they call it?”

Her words only made Shay narrow his eyes. “You’re like me…” he breathed. The Irishman shook his head. “That was no ‘gut feeling,’ Selah.”

Curiosity peaking, the girl leaned forward. “What you mean, I’m like you?”

“Selah, when you… have your feelings when any danger is nearby, or only under certain circumstances?”

Now the poor girl’s curiosity was turning into confusion. “I… don’t understand. I mean, it’s only when someone’s following me, I feel something.”

Shay looked down, almost in disappointment. “So yours is weaker than mine.”

“What’s weaker?”

“An ability to sense danger. I heard of it in the Brotherhood, but thought it was just a myth. But then, I started feeling it.”

Another peak. “What do you mean?”

“Like when someone’s wanting to get the jump on me, I can feel them. I can feel their intent as clear as my own thoughts. But… it seems to be slightly different for you. You sense when someone is only pursuing you.”

“That’s a difference?”

Shay let out a soft laugh. “Not a large one, but yes. But just as useful. It’ll save your life—like it already has—as it saved my arse a few times.”

“I didn’t know it existed.”

“I didn’t, either. I thought I was going mad at first. But then you realize you’re not.”

The young Templar narrowed her eyes, reviewing what she had been told. An ability to sense danger. Now it made sense. That foreboding sensation she would feel, unable to find its source. That was why she sensed Shay all those months ago, and the dozens of others times she suspected someone was near. And Shay had it, too. Somehow his was stronger, according to him. It certainly explained why all the assassination attempts on his life had failed. Shay had felt them coming, no different than Selah feeling the presence of her stalker.

Shay’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “Well, when you feel like it, Haytham wants to speak with you. I would go see what he wants.”

Selah gave a nod. She moved to get off the bed, only to realize Shay was in the way. She gave him a gentle shove. The Templar understood the order and rose, allowing her room. The girl slipped off the bed and crossed over to her clothes. However as she unfolded them, she sent a glare at Shay over her shoulder. Once again he immediately knew what she wanted.

“I’ll turn around,” he assured. Selah cocked an eyebrow. The Irishman rolled his eyes. “Fine. I’ll leave.”

Selah smiled victoriously as Shay crossed to the door and left.

Selah knocked on an ornamental door, waiting patiently. She didn’t have to wait long as the reply was almost immediate.

“Come in,” Haytham’s voice came.

The Templar slipped inside. Instead of finding a secluded study, the teenager realized it was Haytham’s quarters. A queen-sized bed was pushed against the wall, similar to hers. However the room was a larger size filled with more furniture, including a tea table in the corner and a desk pushed against the wall. That’s where Haytham was, scribbling on a parchment. He turned at Selah’s approach.

“Recovered from last night’s excitement, I see?” he observed.

“Yes, sir,” Selah replied.

“There is no need to address me that way in private. Come here.”

Selah obediently obliged, crossing over to him. She neared enough for Haytham to wrap his arm around her shoulder, the girl returning the gesture. His position on the chair prevented a proper embrace. Selah let her head fall on his for a moment before pulling away, leaning on the desk to face him.

“What happens now?” she asked.

At the question, Haytham rubbed his brow as if to fight off a coming headache. “Not surprisingly, it’s official now that our headquarters has been compromised. Ojeda has already fled—he left this morning. I am soon to follow and L’Isle has returned to New Orleans. Ojeda’s Master Templars will handle the city in his stead.”

The girl was nodding along, even though a knot was forming in her stomach. “Were the Assassins… behind the attack?”

Haytham looked up at her, watching her carefully. “Yes, we believe so.” Selah said nothing, only looking at the floor between her feet. Haytham’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “Selah, Shay informed me of what happened upon your way here. The attacker that ambushed you—do you think he was after Shay, or you?”

Selah blinked and stared at him with squinted eyes. “What do you mean?”

Haytham observed her expression a moment more before he sighed. “Never you mind…” While the teenager continued to stare at him with puzzled look, the Grandmaster leaned back. “We believe we have found the nest those rats came from. I’m organizing a party to go investigate. Meanwhile you and I will join Ojeda off the island.”

“I want to go with the patrol!” Selah blurted.

Haytham cocked an eyebrow. “And why I should I let you go?”

“Because I’m a Templar now, correct?”

To the girl’s disappointment, the Grandmaster only shook his head. “Absolutely not. It has no concern with you.”

“I thought the purpose you had of me going with Shay to the North and to have me here now was to serve the Order. I am asking to do so. Please, Haytham.”

“I want to you serve the Order alive. I don’t approve of martyrs and I don’t send my men to their graves. That will be you if I send you on this mission.”

“You truly think it is that dangerous?”

“If the Assassins are involved, then yes. These Assassins are different than the ones you have encountered before.”

“But they are Assassins, aren’t they? Don’t you remember I was raised by them? I can help.”

“This is not child’s play, Selah. They trained murderers quite knowledgeable of the land, not some drunken miscreants in an alley.”

Immediately the comment stung as the memory of that horrid night returned. It was the last time Selah had seen an Assassin, and the man had left her nearly crippled. Although she had been delirious, she clearly remembered it was Haytham that had saved her from a gang of drunks that had found her. But now it was different. Selah had grown from that naïve little girl she was. She wouldn’t let that happen again.

“Then what was all my training for, then? What was taking me under your wing? Sparing my life? You wanted me to be of use of you. Let me be so.”

Haytham’s look was turning dangerous. “You will be of use of me. But not today.”

“Then when?! When all the Assassins are dead? When your peace has been achieved?” Haytham rolled his eyes, but it did not discourage Selah. “Haytham, everything and everyone I loved is gone. What I once fought for is gone.” Now the Grandmaster was leaning back with folded arms at her speech. “I rather had been dead. But you forced me to stay alive. Because of that, I hated you, Haytham.”

“I already knew that.”

“And I still can’t forgive you. You stole everything I knew from me. You ruined my life.”

Haytham only closed his eyes, remaining silent. Selah let out a shuttering breath as she felt her emotions taking the better part of her. She had to close her own eyes for a moment before reopening them.

“But you gave me a new life,” the Templar continued. “I did not want it, but I lived it anyway. It was then I stopped seeing you as Templars.”

It was then Selah remembered the all kindness and warmth she had seen. How she didn’t see cold and heartless monsters, but humans. Robert. Anna. Even the other Templars. Pitcairn, Johnson, Hickey, Lee, Church. After adjusting to her presence, they tried to include her until she began to tolerate them. Then there was Haytham and Shay… Those she misjudged most of all, and now made her world.

“I began to understand. See the world in a different way,” Selah sighed. “Now I know, Haytham. I was meant to be a Templar. And I want to be one. I want to defend it.” Now her look appeared near-desperate. “I lost everything once. I can’t let that happen again.”

Finally Haytham sighed. Selah watched him carefully, waiting for his response. She was terrible at reading expressions, and Haytham’s was impossible. She braced for another refusal, but instead the Templar spoke of something entirely else.

He gripped the bracer on his arm, rubbing it. “Selah, do you where I got this hidden blade?”

The young Templar glanced at the Assassin insignia on his arm, revealing the true origins of his unique weapon. Of Haytham’s true origins. Selah still remembered that the Grandmaster had revealed of his true heritage, but decided to be his own man. She had her assumptions how he precisely got the sacred blade, but in truth, she had no idea. She shook her head.

“I relieved it from a Master Assassin by the name of Miko,” he explained. “It was the first time I fought with an Assassin. I took his blade to compensate the loss of my father’s sword... and barely escaping with my life. The Assassin survived as well. We made an agreement that we would meet for a proper fight, and one of us would die.” A strange, almost dreamy look glazed over Haytham’s eyes as he continued to fiddle with his hidden blade. “The next I saw him was in the Theatre Royal in London, where I assassinated him. I denied him our duel. I broke our promise.” Something Selah could not understand flashed in Haytham’s stone gaze. “I have broken many promises.”

It was then the girl was curious what possibly he could have broken, but then she remembered his father. She wondered how much faith he put into his son to be a Master Assassin, only for Haytham to cut ties with his bloodline and become the leader of their enemies. She then realized living the forsaken lifestyle he followed, only God knowing of his sins. Finally the Templar looked back to the young girl before him.

“I promised you, Selah, that I would protect you and offer you that new life. I also insisted I would not make you a slave. I have no intention of breaking that promise.”

“You haven’t, Haytham,” Selah assured, feeling like she should stay something.

The Templar only shook his head, but the teenager couldn’t tell for what. “I wish to keep it that way. However, I know forcing you to do something you have no interest in will ruin it.” Suddenly he gave an amused snort. “After all, even if I refuse you, knowing you, you’ll find some way to have your wish.”

Selah meant to reply with a defiant glare to prove his words, but she could stop the smile that came instead. Haytham mirrored her smirk, but it quickly disappeared with a solemn tone.

“You do understand what you’re getting yourself into, correct?”


Haytham closed his eyes for a moment. “Then you truly leave me no choice. Shay will be in charge of the patrol. I will allow you to go, only under the condition that you are to follow his every order, is that understood?”

Selah nodded.

The Grandmaster locked gazes with her. “I will not waste my breath telling you what I’m placing in you. Do not disappoint me.”

“I won’t, Haytham.”

Selah moved to leave, but the Templar placed a hand on her arm to keep her in place.

“Do not do anything reckless. If something must be done, leave it to Shay. He is more experienced and skilled than you.” Haytham paused, as if he was swallowing. “Come back to me, Selah.”

“You have my word.”

The teenager leaned down, planting a kiss on the man’s brow before exiting the room.

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