- "I hold here a list. Nine men adorn it, nine men who need to die. They are plague-bringers, war-makers... Their power and influence corrupt the lands, ensuring that the Crusades continue."
- ―Al Mualim to Altaïr, regarding Altaïr's new quest.[src]
Billed as an effort to stop the Third Crusade from destroying the Holy Land, the hunt was actually part of a world domination conspiracy that nearly led to the destruction of both the Templars and the Assassins.
The first test
Following the Defense of Masyaf that was brought on by Altaïr's reckless behavior in Solomon's Temple, Al Mualim marked Altaïr as a traitor and personally executed him. However, the execution was a ruse, and when Altaïr awoke he was stripped of his weapons and rank, demoted to the rank of novice. He was then given a chance at redemption which would allow him to reclaim his title; his first task was to hunt down a traitor within their ranks who had opened the gates of Masyaf during the attack led by Robert de Sablé.
Using nothing but his stealth skills, Altaïr was able to learn through eavesdropping that the traitor had an accomplice who was a basket weaver. Altaïr then stole a letter from the accomplice and discovered that there were actually two traitors: Masun, a herald within Masyaf village, and Jamal, an Assassin.
Following this discovery, Altaïr found Masun preaching to the villagers about a "New World Order". Altaïr then stalked and interrogated Masun, who revealed he was in league with the Templars and believed their cause to be righteous and just. Following the interrogation, Altaïr brought Masun back to the fortress, and Al Mualim gave the latter a chance to repent for his sins against the Brotherhood. However, Masun remained defiant, believing that what he had done was right. In response, Al Mualim killed the herald with a longsword before handing the blood-stained blade to Altaïr. When asked about the other traitor, Al Mualim replied that he would speak with Jamal and decide if he was merely misled and could be saved, or if he was corrupted by the Templars and needed to be destroyed.
Start of the hunt
- Altaïr: "Nine lives in exchange for mine."
- Al Mualim: "A most generous offer, I think. Have you any questions?"
- Altaïr: "Only where I need to begin."
- —Altaïr and Al Mualim discussing the task at hand.[src]
Al Mualim then informed Altaïr that he would need to obtain permission from the local Assassin bureaus to perform each assassination. Altaïr argued that he did not need their permission, but Al Mualim overruled him, telling Altaïr this was the price he would pay for his earlier mistakes. Finally accepting the offer, Altaïr left Masyaf on horseback and rode towards the Kingdom, beginning his quest for redemption.
Inspection of the Damascus market
- Tamir: "Ah, but he thinks I act alone. I am but a piece, a man with a part to play. You'll come to know the others soon enough... they won't take kindly to what you've done!"
- Altaïr: "Good. I look forward to ending their lives as well!"
- Tamir: "Such pride. It will destroy you, child."
- —Tamir to Altaïr, after the Assassin's success.[src]
When Altaïr arrived at the Assassin bureau, the Rafiq directed him to gather information about Tamir in the Poor District of Damascus. Through his investigation, Altaïr learned that Tamir currently had an unusually large shipment of weapons prepared for an unknown client, and frequented the Souk Al-Silaah often. The Rafiq granted Altaïr permission to start his mission and provided him with a feather that was to be soaked with the blood of the target as proof of the assassination. Altaïr then set off to the Souk Al-Silaah to kill Tamir.
When he arrived at the souk, Altaïr noticed Tamir harassing one of his employees. The man claimed that he did not have enough time or the manpower to finish their requested orders; when he suggested that Tamir asked for too much, Tamir flew into a rage and killed him, leaving his corpse in the middle of the courtyard as a warning to the rest of his subordinates.
As Tamir inspected the wares around the Souk, Altaïr made his way through the busy crowd and stabbed Tamir in the throat. As Tamir died, he swore that the Assassin and his Order would pay for their crimes. Tamir then asked if Altaïr saw him as some petty death-dealer, taking advantage of the Crusades, and noted that many others profited from the war as well. Altaïr asked Tamir why he believed himself different from other profiteers; Tamir declared that he served a far nobler cause than mere money.
Tamir also revealed that he had "brothers" and was only one piece of the puzzle, a man with a role to play. Tamir warned Altaïr that his death would not be overlooked, and that Altaïr's pride would destroy him eventually. Tamir then passed away, and Altaïr covered the feather in Tamir's blood before retreating to the bureau.
- Altaïr: "You truly believe you were helping them?"
- Garnier: "It's not what I believe... it's what I know."
- ―Garnier's last words to Altaïr.[src]
After his second mission, Altaïr regained the right to use his Short Blade and was told to travel to Acre, a city that was held by the Crusaders. There he had to kill a doctor by the name of Garnier de Naplouse, the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitalier.
Altaïr traveled to the bureau in Acre and was told to search the Poor District for signs of his target. As the Assassin walked the streets, he learned that Garnier would soon be leaving his secluded study to tend to his patients. Following this, Altaïr also learned that all of the men who resided in Garnier's hospital were taken against their will from Jerusalem, likely stolen away and transported by a man named Talal.
Altaïr scouted out the hospital's location and returned to the Rafiq Jabal, revealing his discoveries. The man remarked that Altaïr had done well, and gave the Assassin the white feather necessary for his task.
With the help of some wandering scholars, Altaïr infiltrated the fortress in time to witness an escape attempt by a patient; the man ran out of the hospital, screaming for help, but was soon caught by Garnier's guards. Garnier then appeared and spoke kindly to the patient, preaching how he would heal him. However, the patient was not convinced, yelling of the evils done by Garnier and his men within the hospital.
Garnier became enraged and slapped his patient, before commanding the guards to send him back to his cell. When the man proclaimed that he would simply escape again, Garnier ordered the guards to break both of the patient's legs. The deed was carried out, and Garnier's victim was dragged wailing into the hospital. Breaking away from the scholarly group, Altaïr followed Garnier into the hospital. As the man was completing his rounds, Altaïr approached and assassinated him.
Garnier accepted his death, but expressed worry for his "children". Altaïr was surprised and confused by Garnier's concern for the subjects he had taken against their will, though Garnier claimed that they had no will of their own, as the majority were either insane or suffered from mental disorders. Garnier claimed that he and the Knights Hospitalier were trying to save these people, and professed that they were only taken for their own good; Garnier went on to add that he had been successful in his efforts, noting that his own guards were once deranged mental patients.
Altaïr asked if Garnier truly believed he was helping his patients, which Garnier affirmed. He then died, and Altaïr immediately escaped from the guards who had witnessed the doctor's death. He returned to the bureau, and after asking the Rafiq for guidance, returned to Masyaf. There, he expressed his confusion over Garnier to Al Mualim; the Master replied that Garnier was deceptive and that Altaïr should trust his intuition, rather than the words of an enemy. He also explained to Altaïr how an enemy could be made a friend if not through bribery or brute force: they could use poisons, drugs, plants and herbs to control an enemy's mind.
A slaver's demise
- Talal: "Beggars, whores, addicts, lepers: do they strike you as proper slaves? Unfit for even the most menial tasks? No, I took them not to sell, but to save, and yet you'd kill us all... for no other reason than it was asked of you."
- Altaïr: "No! You profit from the war, from lives lost and broken."
- Talal: "Yes, you would think that, ignorant as you are. Wall off your mind: they say it's what your kind do best. Do you see the irony in all this? No, not yet, it seems, but you will..."
- —Talal's final words to Altaïr.[src]
Arriving at the city's Assassin bureau, Altaïr was harshly greeted by Malik Al-Sayf, the man who accompanied him during his mission in Solomon's Temple. Altaïr quickly left to search the Rich District of Jerusalem for information regarding his target, and learned that city guards turned a blind eye to Talal's slave-trading. He also discovered that Talal was transporting these slaves to Acre for Garnier de Naplouse.
After receiving the feather from a spiteful Malik, Altaïr departed for the slaver's warehouse. As he infiltrated the building, the doors closed behind him, and he found himself in a room filled with imprisoned slaves. A silhouette then appeared at a window above and Talal called to Altaïr, attempting to reason with him. When this failed, he instead mocked the Assassin and beckoned him to enter a square of light cast by an open shutter on the roof of the warehouse.
Altaïr complied, and Talal's men surrounded him. The Assassin then demanded that Talal reveal himself and fight with honor, but the slaver instead ordered his men to attack. The Assassin quickly dispatched the attackers, to Talal's shock, and the man exited through the roof. Altaïr pursued him through the streets of Jerusalem, and after a long chase he was able to catch and kill Talal.
Before dying, Talal exclaimed that God had abandoned him and the people he had captured. He then claimed he was not taking away the slaves' lives, but saving them, liberating them from the streets and improving their quality of life. Altaïr disagreed with Talal, stating that he benefited from the Crusades and the broken lives of his captives. Talal responded that Altaïr was ignorant and still did not see the irony in the situation. As Talal drew his last breath, Altaïr smeared the feather with his blood and returned to the bureau, where he was criticized by Malik for rousing the entire city and not being subtle in his task.
Upon returning to Masyaf, Altaïr expressed his confusion at Talal's choice of soldiers: beggars, whores, addicts, lepers—the dregs of society. Al Mualim explained that a broken person could be rebuilt, turning them into a soldier that would be fervently loyal to their savior.
The Merchant King's party
- Altaïr: "So this is about vengeance, then?"
- Abu'l: "No, not vengeance, but my conscience. How could I finance a war in service to the same God that calls me an abomination?"
- ―Abu'l Nuqoud to Altaïr.[src]
After Altaïr received a new pair of combat gloves from his master, along with his next rank, he was given the names of three more targets, one in each of the three cities.
Altaïr returned to Damascus and headed to the bureau, where he asked about the wealthy "Merchant King" Abu'l Nuqoud. After receiving a backhanded compliment from the Rafiq regarding his lack of favor within the Brotherhood, Altaïr learned that his new target was very secluded and "strange". From there, he was instructed to gather more information around the Rich District of the city.
After scouring the district for information, Altaïr found out that the Nuqoud was having a rare celebration, during which he would emerge from the seclusion of his home and appear out in public. On his return to the Rafiq, Altaïr was given the necessary feather and left to kill his target.
Arriving at Nuqoud's grand palace, Altaïr blended in with the crowd, and soon after the merchant appeared to give a speech to the attendees. While at first appearing to be a gracious host, Nuqoud quickly began to lecture his guests, claiming they fueled unnecessary conflict with their ignorance and fear of those who were different from themselves. He accused the attendees of mocking him and his idiosyncrasies, then gleefully explained that they would no longer talk behind his back, revealing that he had poisoned the wine on offer. As some of the guests began to perish from the poison, Nuqoud commanded his archers to "kill anyone who [tried] to escape".
Spurred into action, Altaïr scaled the building to the balcony where Nuqoud stood. The merchant fled with Altaïr in pursuit, and the Assassin quickly caught up and dispatched him. As Nuqoud lay dying, he claimed that he did not believe in a God who labeled him as an abomination, and he sought to undermine those whose hearts were rife with bigotry. He then told Altaïr that he did not support Saladin, but a higher power, claiming that they "[would] have [their] New World". He also challenged Altaïr's faith in his cause, remarking that they were the same in what they did, killing a few to improve the fortunes of the many.
Once Nuqoud passed away and Altaïr obtained the mark of his death, the Assassin returned to Masyaf with news of his success. He then asked Al Mualim about the men that he killed, saying that they all seemed to be connected, though Al Mualim only replied that he would learn the answer when he "no longer needed to ask".
- Altaïr: "No matter how noble you believe your intentions, these actions are cruel and cannot continue!"
- William: "We'll see how sweet they are, the fruits of your labors. You do not free the cities as you believe, but rather damn them! And in the end, you'll have only yourself to blame... you, who speak of good intentions."
- ―William to Altaïr, on his last breath.[src]
After his work in Damascus, Altaïr was given a pair of Assassin's boots that allowed for dexterous dodges and improved balance, along with a stronger silver blade. Altaïr then rode to Acre for a second time to assassinate the city's regent, William of Montferrat.
The Rafiq in Acre told Altaïr that William was put in charge of the city as a sort of political hostage, to calm the conflicts that his son, Conrad, was building with King Richard I. Altaïr expressed disgust at the underhanded acts of politicians; the Rafiq reminded him that he too was a politician of sorts, as each of his assassinations changed the political landscape of the Holy Land in its own way.
Altaïr then traveled to the Rich District of the city and found that William of Montferrat was a harsh leader who oppressed his people with strict governing, while antagonizing his own men and blaming them for his failures. Although he was said to be training soldiers for the Crusades, no men had moved from Acre to join the battle at Arsuf; instead they surrounded William in his fortress. Altaïr also learned that King Richard had come to Acre to berate the Regent Lord for the execution of nearly 3,000 Saracen prisoners taken when the Crusaders captured Acre, who were meant to be traded back to Saladin.
Altaïr returned to the bureau with this news, saying that he would attack while Montferrat was distracted with his men in his fortress. The Rafiq approved, giving him leave to strike. Altaïr found William arguing heatedly with King Richard as they exited the Acre Citadel. William claimed that their enemy's army would not be outraged by the death of the Saracen prisoners in Acre, but filled with fear. Richard asked how a man who stayed so far from the fighting knew the enemy so well, to which William replied that he ought to have earned his King's trust by then. Richard responded that making him Regent of Acre was sufficient proof of his trust, and left William to sulk as he headed back to the front line at Arsuf.
Frustrated, William gathered his men in his quarters to berate them, just as Altaïr suspected he would. With William distracted, Altaïr infiltrated the citadel, waiting silently above as William dismissed his men to their posts. While William walked over to a nearby desk to make plans, the Assassin leaped down from above, putting his blade through William's throat.
As William died, he claimed that he did not care about his son Conrad or King Richard, and that neither man would be fit for the "new world" he was creating. He claimed that Acre belonged to neither of them, but to the people. When questioned about his cruelty to the citizens of Acre, such as stealing their food, he responded that he was simply preparing his people by taking possession of it, so that it could be rationed for the lean times which the transition to his new world would bring. He also claimed he ruled strictly to give his city order and justice, as his district was virtually free of crime, and that heavy army conscription instilled his ideals into the people. Altaïr remarked that while William's actions may have been well-intended, they were cruel and could not continue. With his last breath, William said that Altaïr's actions would not free the people of the Holy Land, but damn them.
After checking in at the bureau, Altaïr returned to Masyaf, confused and frustrated by his targets' words. There, he confronted Al Mualim and accused his master of deceit, demanding answers before he proceeded any further. Though furious at Altaïr's outburst, Al Mualim conceded, and told the Assassin of the hidden connection between the nine men: that they were all Templars, and whatever side of the war they claimed to be on, they answered only to Robert de Sable. Before Altaïr left, Al Mualim asked how he knew that he would not be killed for his insolence; Altaïr replied that he had not known for sure, and had taken a leap of faith.
A tyrant's execution
- Altaïr: "You'd kill people simply for believing differently from you?"
- Majd: "Of course not! I killed them because I could! Because it was fun! Do you know what it feels like to determine another man's fate? And did you see the way the people cheered? The way they feared me? I was like a god! You'd have done the same if you could! Such power!"
- ―Majd Addin, speaking to Altaïr regarding the power he held.[src]
Following the death of William of Montferrat, Altaïr was given additional throwing knives and sent to Jerusalem to kill the city's ruler, Majd Addin. When he arrived at the bureau, Malik told him that the city had been in chaos since Saladin left for war and Majd Addin usurped control of Jerusalem, ruling it through intimidation and violence. Altaïr asked for a location to begin his search, which amazed Malik, who expected Altaïr to demand assistance rather than request it. He then named several areas of the Poor District to explore.
As Altaïr searched the area, he discovered that Majd Addin loved giving righteous speeches while personally performing executions, and turned his back on the crowd when he spoke to the criminals. Altaïr also overheard from a father whose son was to be executed that one would occur that day, performed by Addin himself.
Altaïr returned to Malik and, bearing the Rafiq's criticism, explained that he would strike during the upcoming execution. Before excusing him, Malik gave Altaïr one more task: save the life of an Assassin that was up for execution by assassinating Majd Addin before the deed could be carried out. The resulting chaos would allow a team of Assassins to save their captured brother, and give Altaïr cover to escape.
At the execution site, Altaïr moved into the audience as Majd Addin appeared, prompting cheers from the crowd. Addin gave a speech about justice and highlighted the "crimes" of the accused, many of them fabricated. The angry father Altaïr observed in the Poor District charged the stage, insisting on his son's innocence, before he and an accomplice were cut down.
Altaïr stealthily approached the platform. The first victim in line for execution, a woman accused of infidelity, claimed that she was falsely convicted when she refused to lay down with Addin. Insisting that she rejected her chance at redemption, Addin killed her and moved to the next victim. As the executions continued, Altaïr mounted the stage and approached Majd Addin, assassinating him with his Hidden Blade.
Expecting Addin to justify his actions as the other targets had, Altaïr was surprised when the man claimed he was only interested in power, and did not believe in the New World. The tyrant admitted that his victims were not criminals, but dissidents who spoke out against his authority. When asked how he could kill men simply for disagreeing with him, Addin replied that he did it because he could – he loved the god-like power he gained from inspiring fear, and claimed that anyone else would have done the same if given the chance. Hearing this, Altaïr thrust his Hidden Blade into Addin's throat, saying this was the fate of those who raised themselves above others.
Altaïr then escaped the execution site and returned to the bureau, informing Malik of his success. When Malik said nothing, Altaïr sarcastically asked why he had no criticism. Malik replied that Altaïr performed no better and no worse than he should, and that he should not expect praise just for completing a task.
Returning to Masyaf, Altaïr spoke with Al Mualim about something that he had noticed: the Templar leaders were intentionally hindering both the Crusaders and the Saracen army, but Altaïr was at a loss as to why. Al Mualim opened the Templar treasure that Malik had recovered and removed an orb from inside. He explained that Robert de Sable wanted the Holy Land for himself to begin a new Templar empire, what they called their "New World", but that they could not do so without the orb.
Altaïr asked how a piece of silver could have such importance, and Al Mualim explained that it was this object that helped Moses part and close the Red Sea, began the Trojan War, and allowed "a carpenter to turn water into wine". Altaïr claimed that such power must never fall into Templar hands and Al Mualim gladly agreed, giving Altaïr two more targets to pursue.
- Jubair: "Why?! Why have you done this?!"
- Altaïr: "Men must be free to do what they believe. It is not our right to punish one for thinking what they do, no matter how much we disagree!"
- ―Altaïr to Jubair, speaking of the rights of man.[src]
As a reward for his previous success, Altaïr was gifted with his personal sword before departing to eliminate a target in Damascus, Jubair al Hakim. However, when he arrived and told the Rafiq of his task, the man found it odd, as Jubair was not a politician but the Chief Scholar of Saladin. Despite this, the bureau leader would not question Al Mualim's judgment and explained that the scholar had been very active lately, sending his men out into the city to preach about "the light and the flame". Altaïr was then sent to the Middle District of Damascus to find more information.
Altaïr learned that Jubair had been gathering texts and books from the people of the city and burning them, calling the writings "dangerous". He also had a group of followers who wore the same robes as he did, with gold embroidery on his cloak and a small pouch as his only distinguishing features. Eavesdropping on a man who wanted to join Jubair's ranks, Altaïr learned that his target had scheduled a meeting with his men that day at the Madrasah Al-Kallāsah in the Middle District. Altaïr returned and told the bureau leader of Jubair's actions and said that he planned to strike during the meeting.
Arriving at the meeting location, Altaïr watched from above as scholars threw books onto a fire, and one pleaded with Jubair to end his vendetta against every written work in Damascus. Jubair said that the books were a weapon used to trap people, but the scholar disagreed, saying that the writings were gifts of knowledge. Jubair questioned who had written the books and whether the authors were trustworthy, stating that they limited the people's view of the world.
He picked up a book and moved toward the fire, only for the scholar to block his way and beg him to stop the madness. Scoffing, Jubair claimed that the man believed in books more than he did in himself, and pushed him into the flames. As the man died, Jubair turned to the rest of the group and asked if any more disagreed with him, prompting no response. The meeting then ended, the scholars splitting up to gather texts and preach across the district.
Swiftly, Altaïr moved through the area from scholar to scholar, killing off each man in succession. Finally, Altaïr found Jubair in a roofless house proclaiming his ideals to the people in the street. The entrance to the house was well-guarded, so Altaïr climbed around his target, eliminating the archers who watched over Jubair from above. Next, the Assassin dropped silently into the house, sneaked up behind his target, and put an end to his destructive beliefs.
In Jubair's last moments, Altaïr told the Templar that free thought could not be forced on the people, but must be taught to them. Jubair protested that they would not learn because they were fixed in their ways and compared himself to the books he had burned, a source of knowledge that Altaïr did not hesitate to remove from the world. Altaïr explained that Jubair was a danger to the people, but Jubair claimed that the written word led both Saladin and King Richard into their bloody war. Books, he said, had caused many more deaths than one man ever could.
- "I followed my orders, believing in my cause, same as you."
- ―Sibrand's last words.[src]
With the success of Jubair's assassination, Altaïr was rewarded with an upgraded short blade and traveled to the ports of Acre to kill Meister Sibrand, Grand Master of the Knights Teutonic. Upon further investigation, Altaïr learned that Sibrand had become paranoid with fear of the Assassins due to his brothers' deaths, causing him to see enemies everywhere. He demanded that patrols be doubled and even threatened to withdraw knights from the battlefield to serve as his personal guard. With Sibrand's fear clouding his mind, Altaïr returned to the bureau to report what he knew and gained permission to carry out the assassination.
Infiltrating the docks, Altaïr came across a commotion: Sibrand had accused a scholar of being an Assassin due to the similarities in their clothing. Though the scholar claimed that the Assassins wore similar robes to instill fear and uncertainty in the people, Sibrand refused to listen, and brutally killed him. Sibrand then told the onlookers to be vigilant and to report any suspicious behavior to the guards, as he doubted that he had seen the last of the Assassins. From there, Sibrand donned his helmet and returned to the safety of his ship to await departure.
Navigating across the water, Altaïr reached Sibrand's vessel and found the Templar shooting arrows across the water and at birds, sure he saw an approaching enemy. Altaïr climbed aboard the vessel, and Sibrand attempted to make an escape. However, after a brief pursuit, the Assassin lunged at his target and drove his blade into Sibrand's throat.
With his dying breath, Sibrand said that he was afraid. Altaïr reassured him that he would be safe in the arms of his God, but the Teutonic leader claimed that only nothingness awaited him; the Templar treasure was proof that this life was all humanity had, that there was no Heaven or Hell, and that was the cause of his fear. He also revealed that he intended to block the ports of Acre to prevent "fool kings and queens" from sending reinforcements when the Templars freed the Holy Land from "the tyranny of faith". Altaïr questioned Sibrand's idea of freedom given the means by which he would achieve it, but Sibrand responded that he followed his orders and believed in his cause, just as Altaïr did with his own.
Back at the bureau, Altaïr questioned the Rafiq about the justness of his task and whether his targets needed to die, saying that they were "misguided, perhaps, but pure in motive." The Rafiq assured Altaïr that regret for the killing of others is only human, but said that the choice of whether they should live or die was above him, and that he should speak with Al Mualim. With that, Altaïr rode for Masyaf to speak to his master.
On his arrival, Al Mualim finally explained Robert de Sable's plans for the Holy Land: peace, and an end to war. Altaïr was confused, but Al Mualim explained that it was not the Templars' goal that was evil, only that they meant to achieve it by forcing order using the Apple. The speeches of the men he had killed began to make sense for Altaïr, and he knew that Robert needed to die to prevent the Templars' plans from coming to fruition.
Funeral for the fallen
- Maria: "Robert rides for Arsuf to plead his case, that Saracen and Crusader unite against the Assassins!"
- Altaïr: "That will never happen! They have no reason to."
- Maria: "Had, perhaps. But now you've given them one. Nine in fact. The bodies you've left behind--victims on both sides. You've made the Assassins an enemy in common and ensured the annihilation of your entire order. Well done."
- —Robert's decoy, Maria Thorpe, revealing the Templar's plans.[src]
After the successful assassination in Acre, Altaïr was promoted to the tenth and final rank, and all of his equipment was returned to him. He was then instructed by his master to head for Jerusalem, where he was to confront Robert de Sable, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar and the Assassin Order's greatest enemy.
Upon Altaïr's arrival at the bureau, Malik greeted him respectfully, much to Altaïr's surprise. Altaïr then began to scour the Middle District of Jerusalem for information and found that Robert would attending the funeral of Majd Addin as a symbol of cooperation between the Saracens and Crusaders. With this knowledge, Altaïr reported to the bureau and, after a heartfelt conversation with Malik, left for the funeral.
As he arrived, he saw that both citizens and soldiers were in attendance for the sermon. Standing beside the speaker was Robert de Sable, along with his men and the Saracen guards assigned to protect them. As Altaïr watched from within the crowd, de Sable whispered in the speaker's ear, and the man began to preach on their attempts to locate Addin's killer before exposing the Assassin's presence. As the citizens fled from the cemetery, soldiers went to seize Altaïr, but the Assassin was able to overpower them and attack de Sable.
Claiming he wished to see de Sable's eyes before he died, Altaïr removed Robert's helm and was shocked to find a woman in his place. She explained that she was a decoy so that the real Robert had enough time to flee. She admitted that, because of Altaïr's meddling, control over the Holy Land began to slip away from the Templars, but, de Sable had seen an opportunity to turn the Assassin's victories against them.
Altaïr sneered that the Piece of Eden was still in Al Mualim's possession and that the Assassins could easily repulse Robert's army as they had before. However, the woman explained that de Sable had ridden to Arsuf, where he would propose that the Saracen and Crusader armies unite against the Assassins, who had robbed both groups of influential figures within their ranks. In response, Altaïr released the woman, saying she was not his target and he would not take her life. He ordered her not to follow him and she claimed she would not, for he was already too late.
Returning to the bureau, Altaïr explained to Malik what had happened, and Malik instructed him to return to Masyaf and seek Al Mualim's counsel. Altaïr refused and said he would ride for Arsuf, as they had no time to waste if they wished to stop de Sable. Malik claimed that they could not compromise the Brotherhood by acting without the master's permission; however, Altaïr rebuked him for hiding behind the Creed, and claimed that Al Mualim was keeping important information from them, particularly regarding the Templars.
Altaïr then instructed Malik to head for Masyaf while he himself rode for Arsuf. However, Malik could not leave the city, and Altaïr gave him a new order: scour Jerusalem for information regarding Altaïr's targets that they might have missed. Altaïr and Malik then bid each other farewell, and Altaïr departed for Arsuf.
In pursuit of Robert de Sable
- Main article: Battle of Arsuf
Riding on horseback, Altaïr fought his way past archers and guards until he reached King Richard on the battlefield at Arsuf. The monarch, accompanied by Robert de Sable, initially assumed Altaïr was one of Saladin's heralds come to negotiate; Altaïr corrected him and explained de Sable's plans for the Holy Land, including overthrowing the king. Richard responded that Robert had told him a different story, and that he merely wished to avenge the murder of several lieutenants in Acre by the Assassins. Altaïr replied that he had killed those men for good reason, as they had become corrupt and were working from Robert's orders alone.
Richard turned to Robert and asked him for the truth; Robert insisted that Altaïr's words were lies meant to prevent the Crusaders and Saracens from allying and marching on Masyaf. Uncertain whom he should trust, Richard claimed that the decision would be made by God, and instructed the two to fight. Robert reluctantly agreed, and then set half a dozen of his best men against the Assassin. Altaïr swiftly eliminated them, forcing Robert to enter the fray; Robert proved a masterful swordsman and a difficult foe to defeat, but Altaïr was eventually able to strike a fatal blow.
As Robert lay dying, Altaïr remarked that the Templars' schemes were finally at an end. However, Robert explained that of the nine that Altaïr had killed, there had originally been ten, with the final man being Al Mualim. When Altaïr refused to accept this, Robert explained that Al Mualim could only have known about the conspiracy if he was part of it, and that he had been using Altaïr to hunt down his former comrades and gain sole possession of the Apple. Robert then warned that Altaïr was the only one left for Al Mualim to dispose of, before succumbing to his wounds.
After learning the truth, Altaïr spoke with King Richard, who stated that God was watching over Altaïr, even if he was not a believer. After a brief discussion as to the validity to the Assassin Order's mission, Altaïr took his leave, and returned to Masyaf to face Al Mualim.
- Main article: Retaking of Masyaf
When Altaïr reached Masyaf, it at first appeared to be abandoned, but he was quickly besieged by citizens enthralled by the Apple. Forced to fight against them to survive, he was soon joined by Malik and a group of other unaffected Assassins, who distracted the afflicted and allowed him through to the Assassin fortress. Altaïr made his way to the castle gardens, where Al Mualim restrained him with the Apple and used its power to battle him. However, Altaïr was able to fight through the illusions and strike a fatal blow to his former master. As he died, Al Mualim revealed why he wanted to seize the Holy Land: with its people enslaved by the Apple's power, there would be no war and the populace would be guided by only his own objectives.
With the death of Al Mualim, Altaïr took possession of the Apple, curious if its power might somehow be used for good. In the years to follow, Altaïr became Mentor and ushered in a great new era in the Assassin Order's history, drastically changing the way it operated throughout the world.