“And what of your assignment, William? How go the plans to purchase the native land?”
We all knew, of course, but it had to be said, and it had to be said by William, whether he liked it or not. “The Confederacy has given the deal its blessing . . .” he started.
“But . . . ?”
He took a deep breath. “You know, of course, Master Kenway, of our plans to raise funds . . .”
“And you know, of course, all about the Boston Tea Party?”
I held up my hands. “The repercussions have been felt worldwide. First the Stamp Act, now this. Our colonists are revolting, are they not?”
William shot me a reproachful look. “I’m glad it’s a situation that amuses you, Master Kenway.”
I shrugged. “The beauty of our approach is that we have all the angles covered. Here around the table we have representatives of the colonials”—I pointed at Benjamin—“of the British Army”—I indicated John—“and of course our very own man for hire, Thomas Hickey. On the outside, your affiliations could not be more different. What you have in your heart are the ideals of the Order. So, you’ll have to excuse me, William, if I remain in good humour despite your setback. It’s only because I believe that it is just a setback, a minor one at that.”
“Well, I hope you’re right, Master Kenway, because the fact of the matter is that that avenue of raising funds is now closed to us.”
“Because of the rebels’ actions . . .”
“Exactly. And there’s another thing . . .”
“What?” I asked, sensing all eyes on me.
“The boy was there. He was one of the ringleaders. He threw crates of tea into the harbour. We all saw him. Me, John, Charles . . .”
“The same boy?”
“Almost certainly,” said William, “his necklace was exactly as Benjamin described it.”
“Necklace?” I said. “What sort of necklace?” And I kept my face impassive, tried not to swallow even, as Benjamin went on to describe Ziio’s necklace.
It didn’t mean anything, I told myself, when they’d finished. Ziio was dead, so of course the necklace would have been passed on—if it was even the same one.
“There’s something else, isn’t there?” I sighed, looking at their faces.
As one, they nodded, but it was Charles who spoke. “When Benjamin encountered him at Martha’s Vineyard, he was a normal-looking kid. During the Tea Party, he wasn’t a normal-looking kid any more. He wore the robes, Haytham,” said Charles.
“Of an Assassin.”
27 JUNE 1776 (TWO YEARS LATER)
It was this time last year that I was proved right and Charles wrong, when George Washington was indeed appointed the commander in chief of the newly formed Continental Army and Charles made major-general.
And while I was far from pleased to hear the news, Charles was incandescent, and hadn’t stopped fuming since. He was fond of saying that George Washington wasn’t fit to command a sergeant’s guard. Which, of course, as is often the case, was neither true nor an outright falsehood. While on the one hand Washington displayed elements of naïveté in his leadership, on the other he had secured some notable victories, most importantly the liberation of Boston in March. He also had the confidence and trust of his people. There was no doubt about it, he had some good qualities.
But he wasn’t a Templar, and we wanted the revolution led by one of our own. Not only did we plan to be in control of the winning side, but we thought we had more chance of winning with Charles in charge. And so, we hatched a plot to kill Washington. As simple as that. A plot that would be proceeding nicely but for one thing: this young Assassin. This Assassin—who may or may not be my son—who continued to be a thorn in our side.
First was William. Dead. Killed last year, shortly before the Revolutionary War began. After the Tea Party, William began to broker a deal to buy Indian land. There was much resistance, however, not least among the Iroquois Confederation, who met with William at his home estate. The negotiations had begun well, by all accounts, but, as is the way of things, something was said and things took a turn for the worse.
“Brothers, please,” William had pleaded, “I am confident we will find a solution.”
But the Iroquois were not listening. The land was theirs, they argued. They closed their ears to the logic offered by William, which was that, if the land passed into Templar hands, then we could keep it from the clutches of whichever force emerged victorious from the forthcoming conflict.
Dissent bubbled through the members of the native confederation. Doubt lurked among them. Some argued that they could never contend with the might of the British or colonial armies themselves; others felt that entering into a deal with William offered no better solution. They had forgotten how the Templars freed their people from Silas’s slavery two decades before; instead they remembered the expeditions William had organized into the forest to try to locate the precursor site; the excavations at the chamber we had found. Those outrages were fresh in their minds, impossible to overlook.
“Peace, peace,” argued William. “Have I not always been an advocate? Have I not always sought to protect you from harm?”
“If you wish to protect us, then give us arms. Muskets and horses that we might defend ourselves,” argued a Confederation member in response.
“War is not the answer,” pressed William.
“We remember you moved the borders. Even today your men dig up the land—showing no regard for those who live upon it. Your words are honeyed, but false. We are not here to negotiate. Nor to sell. We are here to tell you and yours to leave these lands.”
Regrettably, William resorted to force to make his point, and a native was shot, with the threat of more deaths to come unless the Confederation signed the contract.
The men said no, to their credit; they refused to be bowed by William’s show of force. What a bitter vindication it must have been as their men began to fall with musket balls in their skulls.
And then the boy appeared. I had William’s man describe him to me in detail, and what he said matched exactly what Benjamin had said about the encounter in Martha’s Vineyard, and what Charles, William and John had seen at Boston Harbour. He wore the same necklace, the same Assassin’s robes. It was the same boy.
“This boy, what did he say to William?” I asked the soldier who stood before me.