Chapter Two: The Eagles' nest (+18)
A minor sandstorm obstructs my view, but I can see Alamut appearing in the distance. There, on the very top of the highest mountain, surrounded by steep slopes stands an impenetrable fortress known as the Assassins headquarters. ‘The Eagles Nest’.
Berlo has already outrun his limit, but I urge him one last time, to get to the top of that mountain. He dashes through the gate and stops, barely able to stand on his legs.
One of my brothers runs over and takes Berlo’s reins. I dismount and pat my loyal steed firmly on his side before pulling Lusia off his back and hurrying inside.
I take her to the infirmary located on the first floor. It’s a wide room filled with nothing but beds that never appear to be empty.
Rushing in I call for Hakim, our most capable doctor, and lay Lusia down on one of the beds. Hakim hurries over and takes Lusia’s wrist to feel her pulse.
“You might be just in time. But it can go either way. Her pulse is very, very weak.” He says and feels her forehead.
Hakim opens Lusia’s least damaged eye causing her to suddenly wake. She wails with immense pain as she frantically tries to resist his touch.
I put my hand on her chest and press her down to the bed. Hakim orders his men to get him the equipment he needs while I keep the girl restrained.
Lusia keeps squirming, trying to get away until she turns and looks at me. Fortunately, I am still wearing the tagelmust with a veil that covers my face.
Glancing down I nod, convincing her that it’s okay. Soon she catches her breath and I feel her body relax under my touch. Her eyes flutter as she passes out again. A sudden fear overtakes me, thinking that all I did to bring her here might have been in vain.
I remove my hand from her chest and turn to Hakim.
“Her name is Lusia. Do what you can.”
I turn around and walk out of the room. Her life is in their hands now.
After each completed mission we must report back to our Master, Al Beri. Usually, I bring back only messages of succes or important information. This time I admit, I feel nervous about telling him what I did.
The Brotherhood must be protected at all times. Even if that means paying for it with your life. It’s the only way our secrets are secured, and what makes us able to survive for as long as we do. Therefore, bringing strangers to the fortress is strictly prohibited.
Passing through a gigantic library, filled with books scattered from all over, I walk up a stone carved staircase to find our Master in his study sitting behind his desk.
“El Sibar is dead,” I state with confidence.
A sly smile appears on the Master’s face. “Excellent job my boy.”
He picks up a quill, dips the tip in ink, and writes something down on a piece of parchment.
“Thank you, Master. Although I must admit, during the process I have made some choices that offend some of our rules.”
Al Beri stops his writing and glances curiously at me. “How so?”
I know better than to keep secrets from him. One way or another Al Beri always finds out the truth. All I can do after I tell him what I’ve done is hope for the best and pray he’ll be mild.
“After I fled the scene of my attack, I answered the fearful cry of a girl. She was being severely assaulted by two men. I saved her, and brought her back here to Alamut.”
The Master sits back in his chair, stroking his grey beard, gazing intently upon me.
“Where is this girl now?"
“At the infirmary. She was badly wounded. I have no idea if she’ll even survive.”
The Master’s gaze lingers on me as he gets up from his desk and raises his voice.
“We focus on our mission and bringing ourselves to safety. You know that perfectly well, Diran.”
“And you also know what happens to Assassins who break our rules.”
I keep my eyes to the floor until he speaks again.
“I will go to the infirmary tomorrow and judge for myself whether the girl is a threat or not.” He says, his voice now calm and collected.
Surprised I look up. “You are not angry because of my carelessness?”
Al Beri smiles and shakes his head. “I am sure you saved that girl out of the goodness of your heart. What you did is not exactly a first-degree betrayal of the brotherhood.”
“That makes me relieved to hear Master.”
Smiling fondly he walks to me and rests a firm hand on my shoulder.
“Diran, you have been with us ever since you were a boy. I have watched you grow up and work hard to become one of my best men. That is why I don’t have any doubts that your loyalty and your heart lay here with us.”
After I lost my parents, Al Beri took me in, treating me like his own. He taught me everything I know. So later, when he replaced his father as Master of the Assassins, I felt determined to prove myself to him. Since his leadership, our Brotherhood continued to grow and is now stronger than ever before. Ready to free humanity of pests that infect our beautiful world. I feel extremely proud to be a part of that.
Satisfied, Al Beri nods and I can finally breathe again.
“Thank you, Master.”
Smiling he turns the other way, but I have one more piece of information I must mention.
“There is another thing you need to know. Ramza was at the Caliph’s party.”
Speaking his name is enough to make my blood boil. Al Beri notices my anger and looks sympathetically into my eyes.
“Ramza has not been sighted for months. This must not have been easy for you.”
“If I was not holding that girl, I would have lashed out,” I say through gritted teeth.
“Then that alone is reason enough for me to be grateful to her.” Al Beri steps towards me and puts both hands on my shoulders. “We will find him. I’ll send scouts to Baghdad right away.”
I bow my head to him. “Thank you, Master.
After he grants me permission to leave, I go up to my room to freshen up and rest.
Not all Assassins reside within the fortress. The ones with families mostly live down in the village. For me, this room is all that I need. It has a bed, a desk for my books, a few closets, and a mirror. Down in the corner, there’s a simple bath which seems to already have been filled with water.
I take off my dirty clothes when I hear a knock on my door.
“Come in,” I respond and the door opens.
In comes Lorena, dressed in a sheer white dress leaving little to my imagination. She's got her long black hair braided to one side. Her full red lips curl into a smile when she walks towards me.
“It fills me with joy to see you made it back home safe. I readied a bath for you.”
Her hands softly caress my bare chest and she leans in for a kiss on my mouth, but I turn my cheek to her instead. “Thank you, Lorena.”
After carefully sorting my weapons on the desk, I get rid of the rest of my clothes and take a seat in the bath. The surprisingly hot water immediately relaxes my body.
Lorena stands behind me, massaging my painfully stiff shoulders. I let out a sigh of relief while closing my eyes and relax into her pleasing touch.
Her warm breath tickles my neck as her hands slowly slide down my arms, into the water. Lorena traces kisses from my jawline to my ear. I bring my hand back to stroke my fingers through her hair as she gently nibbles my earlobe. A soft moan escapes my lips.
I open my eyes as I feel her pull away. She stands before me, slowly pulling off her sheer dress as she looks at me with longing eyes. Lorena is beautiful, caring, sweet, and desires me. But that is where it gets complicated. She wants more, and I can’t give her that. No woman for that matter. Not with the work that I do.
Lorena smiles and takes a seat in the bath, straddling my lap. Once again she leans in for a kiss and I freeze as she caresses my lips with hers. I pull away slightly and she sighs, gently scraping her nails along my neck.
“Close off your mind Diran, and let me take care of you...” she whispers and sits even closer to me.
Her soft naked skin is pressed against my chest. Hesitant I drag my fingertips down her spine and press a kiss on her shoulder. The water feels ice cold against our rising hot bodies.
Lorena cups my cheek and whispers again. “Don’t think.”
I do my best to resist, even though I know I don’t want to. She licks my lip with the tip of her tongue. Then roughly bites into my lower lip. I moan and kiss her full on the mouth.
My body is tired but filled with adrenaline that has nowhere to go, except to her.
Without breaking our kiss, I stand up from the bath with my hands grasping her buttocks. Lorena wraps her legs around my waist and her arms around my neck, as I move our dripping bodies to my more comfortable bed.
I drop her onto the sheets and pause to admire her longing, naked body. Lorena smiles and bites her lip before taking my hand and pulling me towards her. I sit astride her and hold her arms pinned over her head against the bed. Lorena laughs when I bury my nose in her neck, taking in her scent. She smells like sweet honey.
Painfully slow, I slide both hands down her arms, along the sides of her body until I feel her tremble beneath me. My thumb caresses one of her sensitive hard nipples, making her gasp as I do.
Gently I twist the other one between my thumb and index finger and stroke my lips along the side of her neck until I reach her ear.
“Are you sure you want this?” I whisper.
Lorena mutters something that sounds like ‘uhu’ and I place myself at her entrance. She moans as I slide into her, pushing as far along as I can.
One more look at her beautiful face releases me of my thoughts.
I kiss her roughly on her willing lips, and finally, let myself go.
Lighting Strikes. Followed by deafening thunder and there’s a fire from the impact.
I see movement in the fire and run towards it. It’s a body going up into the flames. Through the smoke, I try to make out a face.
As I look intently at it, the eyes suddenly open, right at another struck of thunder.
At that moment I wake up.
Lorena sits up next to me.
“What’s wrong?” she says with worry and strokes my arm to soothe me.
I pull away from her and lie back down with my back towards her.
“Nothing... just a nightmare. Why are you even here still?” I say gruffly.
Lorena sighs and I feel her getting up from the bed. Not long after I hear the door slam.
I turn over onto my back and can’t stop thinking about what I saw in the flames.
A burning body, and two emerald eyes.