Crossed Eagle

Chapter 9

Selah stared out the carriage window, watching the world crawl by. Scores of people swarmed the streets of New York, all minding their own business without a care of the world as they mixed together. Many laughed as they conversed with their associates, save for a few patrons arguing with stubborn merchants, all the while salesmen or town criers would yell above the noise. Selah wished she could join them.

But now she was like bird in cage: able to see the world and what she missed while the outside saw her, laughing and smiling at her restricted freedom as she cried for release. And there was nothing she could do about it. Suddenly Haytham’s voice came, interrupting her somber thoughts.

“So, Seh-lah,” he said. The girl glanced at him, thinking he expected something from her with how he pronounced her name. Instead the man’s eyes were slit with thoughtfulness and curiosity. “That’s a Hebrew name, yes?”

Oh, he was educated enough to recognize the origins of names. Selah wasn’t impressed. But reluctantly knowing silence would mean nothing, she played along.

“It is,” she confirmed.

“What does it mean?”

Selah gave a small swallow. She disliked talking about her personal life, especially when it built her identity. Her name was sacred to her. She certainly didn’t want it tainted by Templars. But she could tell by Haytham’s gaze he wasn’t going let her slip away easily and a voice said continued defiance would gain her nothing. Selah wasn’t ignorant nor spoiled; she knew the reality before her. She was well aware there was no escape for her—at least as of now—and all she could do was make her life slightly easier.

Suppressing a heavy sigh, she reluctantly informed him, “It has many meanings. However, my mother told me she named me for its meaning of ‘fortress.’”

Immediately the Assassin clenched her jaw shut once she realized she revealed more than she intended. She prayed her mistake wasn’t noticeable, but the intensity of Haytham’s gleam proved it was too late. Selah thought quickly, deciding to show that the Templar wasn’t the only educated one. “And ‘Haytham’ is Arabic, correct?”

Haytham smiled and answered willingly. “Indeed.”

“And it’s meaning?”

“‘Young eagle.’”

An aged Templar named after the spirited version of the Assassins’ iconic symbol. The irony. Selah looked back to the window to continue her solitude, but to her dismay, Haytham questioned her.

“So then you have a mother,” he observed.

Had a mother,” Selah corrected bitterly, more frustrated at herself than him. No need to let him know that, though. “She died when I was very young.”

“Then how do you remember her?o”

“I recall only a few things. My name being one of them.”

Selah knew she shouldn’t be telling him any of this. Either all her frustration was catching up to her or her inability of control had reached its peak, causing her tongue to burn.

“And your father?” Haytham questioned.

“I have no knowledge of him.”

“So you’re an orphan…”

Selah’s jaw clenched.

“How did you come across the Assassins?”

Haytham had repeated the question he had asked her a few days ago, which only caused Selah to imagine ways to kill him back then. Now she inwardly cursed as her mouth moved before she could stop it.

“James found me on the streets. Saved me from a group of redcoats, actually. He saw I had strength for such a young age. He was the one who took me in.”

“So you were close to him,” Haytham digested.

“He taught me everything I know.”

Haytham dipped his head. “Then it’s no wonder you hate us. I am sorry…”

“Why would you be?”

Haytham’s gaze softened even more. “Because I know what it’s like to lose someone.”

Selah glanced at him. “And who did you lose?” Her tone wasn’t sympathetic.

“My father…” Now it was the Grandmaster’s turn to stare out the window. “He died when I was a young age.”

The cool pain in his eyes told there was more to the story. Selah found herself trying to shove down the sympathy in her heart. Was he saying all this just to get close to her? And why was she blabbering in the first place? Maybe she was going somewhat mad. That all the stress she had suffered was using any emotion it could find for release. And if she was going to stay with the Grandmaster (ugh, just the thought sounded horrid), she could at least try to ease the tension with at least some knowledge of one another. Didn’t mean she had any less hatred for her slaver.

Selah considered continuing the conversation to learn about the Templar himself, but suddenly the carriage rattled to a halt.

“Ah, here we are,” Haytham piped merrily.

Selah’s heart only sunk. She didn’t make eye contact as the driver dutifully opened the door. Haytham exited first, only to turn around and offer a hand. The teenager begrudgingly accepted it as she climbed onto the street. Only when her foot touched the ground, she hissed when shot of pain came from her ankle. Apparently her fall from the other night was greater than she thought. But she refused to show her discomfort. Haytham didn’t show his concern.

His home seemed quite fair, honestly. It was a rectangular two-story manor, like most properties in the colonies. The exterior was made of brilliant, pure-white wood and dark-shaded shingles made the roof. The manor was not as grand as the Davenport Homestead, but it was on a greater scale than most homes. It was still more modest than what Selah was expecting from the Grandmaster of the Templar Order. Then again, he couldn’t particularly build a palace without raising eyebrows.

Selah shifted behind him, signaling she still wasn’t enlivened. Haytham understood and led the away, suppressing his gentleman demeanor of flattering her. When they neared the porch, the front door flew open to reveal a young lady. She appeared in her early thirties but her bright blue eyes shone with wisdom and patience, as well as an eager kindness. Her sandy blonde hair disappeared in the white cap around her head. She wore a humble green dress absent of any wrinkles or stains, a tawny apron wrapping over it.

“Master Kenway!” she greeted in a cheer. “So good to see you return safely!”

Haytham smiled warmly. “Thank you, dear, it’s nice to be home.”

He courteously accepted her hand and kissed it. Selah allowed herself to roll her eyes. She looked back when the woman noticed her, eyes widening with curiosity.

“Oh, is this the girl you mentioned in your letter?” she asked.

Haytham looked between them. “Yes. I would like you to meet Selah; she’ll be staying with us. Selah, this is my maid and head servant, Ann.”

Head servant? As in more than one? Dear, Lord… Maybe he wasn’t so humble… Selah was making another comparison that there wasn’t a single server in the entire Assassin village when suddenly Ann neared her enthusiastically. The teenager couldn’t stop her body from stiffening and slightly leaning back. Even though Selah enjoyed warm people—which Ann glowed with—her instincts were still cold. The maid was oblivious.

“It is a pleasure to meet you!” the woman smiled with a mother’s kindness. “Please make yourself welcome.”

However Haytham must have noticed Selah’s rigidness. “I’m afraid she’s still skittish, Ann. She’s been though quite an experience. Please be gentle with her…”

Selah shot a glare of death at the Templar, but he was already turning away and making his way inside the house. Ann however softened with sympathy and compassion.

“Ah, you poor thing,” she cooed. “Do not fret; Master Kenway will take good care of you now. Come, I’ll show you your room.”

The woman spun on her heels and led the way, leaving Selah trying not to snarl. The maid’s energy and pity certainly didn’t help the Assassin’s dark mood. She was disliking her stay already…

Ann ended up giving her a brief tour of the entire manor as she escorted her inside. The interior was similar to the outside—if not revealed a little more extravagance. While the walls were painted a pale shade and furniture looked modest at first glance, but analyzing their elegant design and rare material revealed they were on the more expensive side of the market. On the right of the doorway was a large library crammed with gigantic bookshelves stuffed with editions. A few pieces of comfortable furniture offered places to sit. Across from it on the left side of the foyer was a large living room with more expensive décor.

Heading down the hallway showed a staircase leading upstairs and a large study similar to the one in Fort George. Selah only had the briefest of glances inside before Ann ushered her onwards. Further back in the home was the kitchen—already filled with the clanking of dishes as chefs already began to cook tonight’s supper. Not surprising it was connected to a large dining room, which was probably the most decorative of the house. Finally in the far corner were spare rooms for Ann and a couple servants, out of view of any temporal visitors. Selah mildly disliked the idea that they lived here—made them sound like concubines.

Her escort then led her upstairs, showing her another half-study, half-library room on the right. Directly next to it was a lounging room, similar to the upstairs of the Homestead. The hallway bent, cutting off the sleeping quarters of the household. Selah was just grateful enough that her room and Haytham’s were on opposite ends of the corridor.

Her tour ended when Ann opened a door saying, “And this will be your room.”

Selah followed her in. The room wasn’t terribly different from Fort George: an average sized room with the main feature a queen-sized bed taking the center. However there were also two large dressers pushed up against the wall, as well as a small writing desk and chair. Selah glanced around. It was slightly cozier than the coldness of the fort and it would certainly suffice, but the teenager couldn’t help but have another pang of homesickness. She couldn’t help but wonder if her pain and depression would ever recede.

“Can I get you anything, dear?” Ann’s cheery voice interrupted.

Selah shook her head. “No… thank you.”

Ann gave a respectful nod. “I understand. Come find me if you change your mind.”

The maid disappeared from the room, leaving Selah alone. The Assassin let out a sigh. How had it come to this? The teenager suddenly felt tired. Even though her day was relatively uneventful (besides last-minute bickering with Templars before her leave and moving in with the Grandmaster), she felt its stress knocking at her skull. With a moan, the teenager collapsed on the snowy white sheets of the bed.

She stared at the ceiling for a moment with a blank stare before turning over and falling asleep.

The light from the dying sun was pouring through the shutter of the window when Selah opened her eyes. At first a moment of disorientation clouded her mind, making her give a sharp gasp of panic. Then she quickly remembered she was in the personal home of Haytham Kenway. The reminder only made her sigh and drape an arm over her eyes. How she wished she could go back to sleep…

But feeling alertness in her thoughts and energy in her muscles, Selah knew that wouldn’t happen. So reluctantly the teenager lifted herself off the bed and straightened her wrinkled clothes. How long had she been asleep? Had she missed supper, perhaps? No, Haytham would’ve wakened her.

So the girl stepped out of her room and down the hallway, seeing if she could find anything of interest. All she had to hear was the familiar deep voices coming from the upstairs study. Immediately Selah raised her eyebrows and slipped into the next room, pressing her ear to the wall. She recognized the owners instantly.

Haytham and Shay.

She listened intently, hoping the two distinct accents together wouldn’t give her a headache.

“So you’re leaving…?” Haytham’s upper-class British one came, quickly followed by Shay’s brogue.

“Aye,” the Templar replied. “There have been reports of Assassins in control of smuggling in Georgia. They’re supposedly headed by a pair of twins called Adam and Eve.”


Selah practically heard Shay shrug. A silence appeared between the two, making Selah tight with tension. Finally Haytham’s voice came.

“So what is your opinion of the girl?” he asked.

“Don’t have one.”

If Selah wasn’t trying to eavesdrop she would roll her eyes. Meanwhile she could feel the disappointment from Haytham and could only imagine his face. However Shay spoke up again.

“Do what you have to do, Haytham,” the man advised. “She can only be stubborn for so long.”

Selah suppressed a growl, instead inventing another death scene.

“I suppose your words have merit,” Haytham agreed. “I simply wondered if you had any interest in her. You both come from the same Brotherhood, after all.”

The Assassin swore Shay snorted. “I don’t.”

Selah found herself agreeing with Gillian: Shay was dreadful.

“I suppose understand,” Haytham sighed. “Though she does seem curious in you…”

Another death scene.

Meanwhile Shay gave another snort. “Of course she is. The fire attracted the cat, as well. Mind telling her that.” A pause. “Just keep an eye on her, Haytham.”

“Very well. I bid you good luck on your hunt.”

The Assassin Hunter made a noise and Selah stiffened as the door of the study opened. However the Assassin snuck to the threshold of her own room, only exposing an eye in the hallway. She saw Shay’s dark form retreating down the stairs. Suddenly Haytham appeared out of the study, arms behind his back and expression inscrutable.

“Selah, come out here, please,” he called.

Selah’s heart stopped. Of course he would find her… Selah wondered if she should go hide in the corner of the room or find some nonchalant reason why she happened to there in the first place, but thought of none. Admitting defeat, she shuffled out of the room like a toddler knowing they were in trouble. She carefully avoided Haytham’s gaze as he peered at her.

“I’m assuming you heard all of that?” he questioned.

“Just… that Shay was leaving…” she admitted quietly.

Haytham blinked but his lack of expression didn’t change. “Are you going to stop him?”

The Assassin painfully remembered her last plot against the Templars. “No…”

“Good.” He turned around. “Come along, then. Our dinner should be ready.”

“No! No! No! No! Stay with me!” Selah cried.

Blood poured between her fingers, cloaking her entire hands. Even her arms were soaked and she was aware of several stains on her robes. With a sob, she pressed harder, only for more crimson liquid to seep through her fingers.

“Stay with me!”

She looked to the person’s face. Instead of the bloody corpse of James, it was a dying William. The Master Assassin had his eyes open with their light quickly fading and his tanned skin was pale. He was unmoving from her touch.


Suddenly the Frenchman gasped and his body lurched. However instead of jumping to his feet, he turned his weakened gaze to a sobbing Selah. With a smile that was too much like James’s and just as much as his signature ones, he slowly reached up and placed a hand on her cheek. The Assassin apprentice was oblivious to the wetness of blood from his touch.

“I’m sorry, Selah…”

Suddenly his light was gone and his mouth closed. His hand dropped from Selah’s face. Immediately the frantic girl harshly grabbed his shoulders and let out an ear-piercing screech.


Suddenly a force caused her to look up. When she did, she was only greeted with a dark figure standing over her. Only a masculine build and a stern frown could be seen. And the glint of the flintlock pointed at her. Selah froze as she stared into the barrel of the gun. She suddenly tasted death on her tongue.

The gun fired.

Selah bolted awake with a loud gasp, cloaked with sweat. Immediately she started shivering, causing to her hug her body, even though it offered no warmth. Now she saw William’s death as well. Maybe even her own. She didn’t know who the dark figure was, but the familiarity burned in her mind. Was it Shay? Haytham? Maybe both. Selah let out a soft sob and curled her body into a ball, still hugging her shoulders. Moonlight illuminated the room, giving it a soft light but making the shadows of the room look menacing. Selah saw the dark figure in each one of them…

Panic and fear coursed through her. The young girl refused to close her eyes in fear the dream would return with vengeance. Adrenaline finding its way to her veins, the Assassin skipped off the bed and out of the room. She found herself heading towards Haytham’s room before she stopped herself. Her stomach knotting, she turned around, only for a wave of hysteria to make her turn again. The teenager practically made a small dance as she jumped back and forth between on which direction to go.

Fuck. What was she doing? Once again Haytham’s kindness from the previous dream flashed across her vision. Did she actually want comfort in him? Selah tried to shake the notion from her mind. He was the Grandmaster. Her enemy. Her slaver. She should hate him with every fiber in her being. But the childish stubbornness refused re-entry of her dark room. Fuck.

Squeezing her eyes, Selah turned a final time and shuffled to Haytham’s bedroom door. Naturally her hand froze before touching the handle. She gave a small sigh. She knew this wasn’t natural. To seek comfort in her enemy. She had dreamed of William’s death, after all. But Haytham gave her a sense of warmth and protection whenever he wasn’t under her skin. The warmth and protection the trembling child desperately craved.

Selah snatched the handle before she could change her mind. Gulping, she slowly turned it and silently pushed it open—millimeter by millimeter. The teenager peered through the widening crack in attempt to spy the interior of the room. One thing she hadn’t thought of was how Haytham would react to her sneaking into his quarters. Selah pushed the door further, her muscles trembling with the urge to slam the door and run.

Finally she saw into the room. Light poured into this room as well, showing its contents. It was similar to hers, only slightly larger and grander furniture. It had a central bed as well, except it was king-sized and clothed with more expensive sheets. Curled in those sheets was Haytham.

The man lay on his side in his night clothes, back facing her. His hair was still tied in its red ribbon, only that it was loosened from sleep. Although at first glance he seemed asleep, but Selah noticed the stutters of his shoulders, showing he was awake. He must have heard her. The teenager swallowed and quickly spoke.


“Hmm?” the Templar replied sleepily.

“….May I come in?”

Haytham hummed again, like he was already falling back to sleep but Selah took it as a yes. She quickly but silently skirted inside and closed the door. Her legs like pasta, she carefully made to the bed. Thankfully Haytham was sleeping on the edge, leaving plenty of room for her on the side closest to the door. Selah carefully took up the space, but didn’t settle under the clothing and kept a distance from Haytham. She laid there awkwardly with her eyes open. She couldn’t help but wonder if this was entirely appropriate: a young girl sharing a bed with an old man she shared no relation with. Haytham’s voice suddenly broke her thoughts.

“Was it another dream?”

Selah nodded even though she knew he couldn’t see her. But she assumed the ruffle of cloth answered him.

“Do you want to discuss it?”

“No,” she answered meekly. They lay there silently for several long moments. Finally Selah whispered, hating her voice wasn’t stronger, “I still can’t forgive you.”

“I never asked you to.”

Selah looked down, not knowing what else to say. The girl didn’t dare move as Haytham turned over with a grunt, his stony eyes meeting hers.

“Move closer,” he ordered patiently.

Hearing no suggestive tone in his voice, Selah awkwardly wiggled towards him. When she was close enough, Haytham reached out and laid his arm on her hip, hand on her back. The young girl fought a squeak as he pulled her towards him. However he stopped before she made contact, having their bodies several inches apart with only Haytham’s arm between them. Selah looked into the man’s soft gaze, feeling his breath on her neck.

“Better?” he asked.

Selah nodded timidly before looking down and slightly curling, bringing a hand near her face.

“I’m sorry…” she whined.

“For what?”

“I-I don’t know.” Selah forced her eyes closed. “Why me?” She continued as Haytham let out a questionable hum. “Why let me live? Why keep me?”

Now it was Haytham’s turn to shift. “I haven’t been very honest with you, have I?” Selah didn’t reply, but the Grandmaster went on anyway. “I can see how strong and intelligent you are. Not to mention the courage and conviction you possess. All noble qualities.” His voice dropped to a lower whisper. “You have an incredible spirit to fight. A very rare quality.”

Selah listened him, not stiffening as he unconsciously stroked his thump on her hip. Still she didn’t take his words to heart. They were obvious qualities he wanted in a perfect soldier. She began to wonder if her decision to come to him was wise, but his next words interrupted her.

“And I empathize with you. I want give you the same chance I was given, but I do not wish to break it as it was for me.”

Selah opened her eyes and looked at him. That cool pain had returned. The Assassin dared.

“What do you mean?”

“I was taken in by the Order after the death of my father,” Haytham explained, voice low with both nostalgia and pain. “A man named Reginald Birch became took me under his wing, becoming my mentor. I learned to trust him.” Suddenly something flashed in the Grandmaster’s eyes. “But he eventually broke that trust.”

“How so?”

Haytham looked back into her eyes, but failed to hide the betrayal and hurt in his eyes, even the growing anger. “He had murdered my father.”

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