- "My father wanted this life, Anna, not I. He came to this country with a dream and made the Narodnaya Volya his cause. I do not know if I have the strength to serve the Order of Assassins as he did."
- ―Nikolai Orelov to his wife, 1888.[src]
Nikolai Andreievich "Kolya" Orelov (Russian: Николай Андреевич Орелов; died 1928) was a member of the Russian Brotherhood of Assassins during the late 19th and early 20th century. Nikolai was notably involved in events such as the Borki train disaster and the Tunguska explosion, and spearheaded the hunt for the Imperial Sceptre of the Russian royal family.
Nikolai was responsible for several notorious events during his career as an Assassin; in 1888, when tasked with assassinating Tsar Alexander III, the fight that ensued between the two men accidentally caused the Borki train disaster. Twenty years later, in an attempt to retrieve the Imperial Sceptre from a facility in Tunguska, Nikolai's failure to acquire the artifact in time caused the object to explode, as Nikola Tesla broadcast a burst of electricity to it, resulting in a massive explosion that was later known as the Tunguska event.
- "I see [Alek] in my dreams, Anna. He calls to me, pleading for me to help him. To save him from the gallows. And I cannot."
- ―Nikolai, about his nightmares during his early life, 1888.[src]
Orelov was born in the latter half of the 19th century. His father, Andrei, immigrated to Russia and became a devoted member of the Narodnaya Volya, a left-wing terrorist offspring of the Russian Assassin Brotherhood. He decided to raise Nikolai as an Assassin as well, and so he had him start his training at a young age. In the Assassin Order, Nikolai befriended Aleksandr Ulyanov and his younger brother, who would later go by the name Vladimir Lenin.
On 20 May 1887, Nikolai witnessed the execution of Aleksandr after the latter was captured during a failed assassination attempt on Tsar Alexander III. As the rope was put around Aleksandr's neck, he pointed his finger towards Nikolai, meaning that he found Nikolai guilty for not rescuing him. This traumatic event caused Nikolai to have nightmares for the following year.
Borki train disaster
- "Russia will soon be strong and free from imperial rule, an example to the world. But I fear that I will fail our master again."
- ―Nikolai reflecting on his mission to Crimea, 1888.[src]
Sometime in 1888, Nikolai woke in bed after having another nightmare about the death of his close friend, Aleksandr Ulyanov. He confided in his wife, Anna, that he felt deeply responsible for his death, to which she told him that Alek knew the risks when he joined the Brotherhood. Nikolai then mentioned to her that the Mentor had tasked him with assassinating Tsar Alexander III, an ally of the Templar Order, in order to loosen the Templars' grip on the region. Anna wished him safety in his mission, for she needed him to help raise their child, with whom she was pregnant.
Nikolai rode on horseback to Crimea the next morning, chasing the Imperial train. After infiltrating it, Nikolai killed several patrolling guards and extorted information from another. Making his way to the royal carriage, Orelov burst through a door with his gun raised, but he was shocked to find the entire Royal family traveling, despite having been told that only the Tsar was aboard. In response, Alexander III attacked him from behind for threatening his family, and the two engaged in a scuffle. However, Nikolai managed to stab Alexander in the right kidney, though the Tsar was not seriously injured. Meanwhile, in the middle of the fight between the two men, the train careered off the tracks and crashed.
Whilst Nikolai was recovering from the crash, Alexander III began to beat Orelov down while taunting him about killing his loved ones. Following this, Alexander pulled out the Imperial Sceptre from a box amongst the remains of the dining cart and challenged the Assassin to kill him with it, throwing the Staff over to Nikolai.
Despite wielding the Staff and relying upon his Assassin training, Nikolai was defeated by the physically superior Alexander, but was spared death when the Tsar's children came into view. Shamed, Nikolai fled to report his failure to the Order.
At some point within the next twenty years, Nikolai and Anna's child was somehow "lost", before or after it was born, causing Nikolai to become bitter and filled with anger, which caught the attention of his Brothers.
In 1908, the Assassins captured a Templar named Dolinsky, who was tortured by Orelov, in order to reveal where the Staff of Eden had gone following his failure. During this, two other Assassins were present, and one noted that Nikolai's methods were extremely harsh, while the other replied that it was because Orelov had lost his child. Under threats to his family, Dolinsky revealed that the facility that housed the Staff was located in Siberia, to which Orelov set off for Tunguska.
The Mentor requested that Nikolai and his fellow Assassins retrieve the Staff of Eden, which was being tested with electrical machines based upon designs stolen from their ally, Nikola Tesla. While approaching the facility, which had a Tesla coil built above it, Orelov explained to the others that Tesla stood ready with his teleforce weapon in America, ready to destroy the facility, and noted that they had to make haste to retrieve the object.
At once, Nikolai and his comrades stormed the facility, killing all of the Templar guards and scientists within, though by the time Orelov had reached the top, the Staff of Eden had been activated by the electrical current. He then heard voices coming from the artifact, saying things such as "Always the fighter", "Adam, I have it", "Just like your father", and "Eve". At that moment, the vengeful Tesla activated his weapon with the words "Rot in hell, Thomas", and the facility was destroyed while the Staff and the Assassins were still within it. Orelov proved to be the only survivor, laying with his clothes in tatters on the explosion's edge, mumbling that the Staff had been destroyed. Soon after, Nikolai returned home to Anna, "bleached and broken", who welcomed him with a look of horror and grief.
Search for the shard
In 1917, Vladimir Lenin led a revolution against the Tsarist royal house. Lenin had personally sent a letter to Nikolai, asking for him to dispose of Tsar Nicholas II, and eliminate the last symbol of Imperialism. Nikolai infiltrated Nicholas' residence, asking him for the location of the Staff, which he had spotted on a picture of the Tsar. Nicholas, threatened, brought Nikolai to the Staff, though the Assassin was quickly able to conclude that it was a fake; he said that the real Staff had a light shining from within, and that when one looked into it, they could see "the turn of the world and a glimpse of what lies beyond".
With this, Nikolai broke the fake Staff, proving it was indeed a replica. When Nicholas asked him to spare his family if Nikolai intended to kill him, just like he had spared his father's, the Assassin replied that he wouldn't, saying that he didn't "care any longer" and that he only wanted to make sure that the Staff was indeed destroyed. However, he did warn Nicholas that the next Assassin to come after him wouldn't be as objective.
Nikolai proceeded to leave the building via a window, but not before hearing Nicholas confirm to him that Grigori Rasputin had worn a splinter around his neck, which was of the same material as the Staff, according to Nikolai's in-depth description.
Traveling to Krasnoyarsk, the aged Assassin scaled the walls of the city's asylum and broke into the cell holding Khioniya Guseva, one of Grigori Rasputin's former disciples, who had attempted to assassinate him. Nikolai offered to free Guseva in exchange for the information he sought, forcibly taking her by the hand and leading her from the building.
After bribing a priest, the two took refuge in the city's Svyato-Troitsky Cathedral. Guseva then revealed the details of her attempt on Rasputin's life; how, despite her stabbing and mutilating him where he stood, Rasputin survived the attempt, thanks to his shard from the Staff. She then informed Nikolai that her facial wounds had been self-inflicted, with her own hands being controlled by Rasputin and the shard. At her request, Nikolai then ended Guseva's life with his Hidden Blade and set her down gently.
Following this, Nikolai and two other men went to search for Rasputin's grave, and upon finding it, the three dug up the body. Examining the corpse, Nikolai searched for the splinter that Nicholas II had mentioned, discovering it and then returning to Anna, who was waiting for him in their carriage.
One last mission
- "This will be my last mission. I have to think of Anna and Nadya... One last time. One last mission."
- ―Orelov planning to leave Russia, 1918.[src]
In July 1918, months after the October Revolution, a disillusioned Orelov decided to retire from the Assassins and leave the country with his family. Needing false documents to escape the turmoil in Russia and unable to get it through the Assassins without revealing his departure, Orelov decided to accept one last mission for the Brotherhood hoping to find some money to buy new identities for his family. Traveling to Saint Petersburg, Orelov met another Assassin who tasked him with stealing Ezio's Precursor box, which according to informants was in possession of the Tsar's family, who were kept prisoners by the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg.
Once there, Nikolai discovered that the artifact was also coveted by the Templars, who had infiltrated the ranks of the Red Army and were planning the death of the Romanovs. While in the city, Orelov also found safes containing jewels left untouched by the looters and took possession of them in order to finance his departure. Infiltrating the house where the Romanovs were kept, Nikolai witnessed the murder of the Imperial family but reached Princess Anastasia, who was holding the box, in time to secure the artifact. However, as Nikolai was taking the Precursor box from Anastasia's hands, the shard of the Staff around his neck and the box interacted, and the girl was somehow imprinted with the genetic memories of Chinese Assassin Shao Jun. Suffering from a kind of Bleeding Effect, Anastasia became overwhelmed by Jun's skills and memories and the older man decided to take her under his protection and bring her to the Brotherhood in Moscow in the hope that the Assassins could heal her.
Pursued by both the Bolcheviks and the Templars, the two escaped from Yekaterinburg by hiding on a train and in September, after evading their pursuers, eventually arrived in Kazan. While the city was in the midst of a civil war with the Red Army about to launch an assault to retake the city from their enemies, Nikolai hoped to find help from his good friend and leader of the army, Leon Trotsky. He left the box in the care of Anastasia and ordered her to stay hidden until his return. Evading the numerous soldiers in Kazan, Nikolai found Trotsky in an isolated house. Unfortunately for Nikolai, Trotsky thought that Anastasia was too dangerous as a symbol to be left alive and for the sake of the Revolution, having deduced that Nikolai would come to him, had betrayed his friend to the Templars who captured the Assassin.
While Nikolai was tortured by the Templars who wanted to know the location of both the box and Anastasia, the girl, worried about Nikolai, decided to look for him. Using the abilities of Jun, Anastasia eventually reached the house where the Templars were keeping Nikolai, and after eliminating all of them, she freed her amazed protector. The two then escaped the city, with Orelov covering the girl from the rooftops, sniping every guard in Anastasia's path. They successfully reached the Volga and sailed on a boat toward Moscow.
Breaking with the Brotherhood
- "This is not the Creed I swore to uphold. Hold on, Anastasia. Find the strength I know you have. I'm coming!"
- ―Orelov deciding to leave the Brotherhood and save Anastasia, 1918.[src]
Once in Moscow, Nikolai and Anastasia were met by the Assassin scientist Sergei who, after receiving the Precursor box, also assured Nikolai that he would bring the princess to the Mentor to find a cure for her conflicted personalities. Despite Nikolai wanting to go with the girl, Sergei sent him to the Assassins' local bureau to make a report on the latest events. While waiting at the bureau, Nikolai overheard other Assassins talking about Anastasia's condition and the fact that she was now like a living Precursor artifact; the Mentor and Sergei wanted to extract Jun's memories from Anastasia through a process that would probably kill her or leave her barely human.
Caring for the girl he had protected during the last two months, and enraged by his Brothers' lies about their dishonorable projects for Anastasia, Nikolai decided to fight against his Brothers and save her. Extracting the location of the facility where Anastasia was kept from an Assassin he threatened, Nikolai rushed toward the Kremlin, trying to knock out the Assassins chasing after him instead of killing them when it was impossible to avoid them. Nikolai ran through the city by traveling on the roof of the tramways and then through the sewage system before being joined by Ilia, an Assassin who, by friendship toward Orelov, decided to help him by giving him the access codes to the laboratories.
Once in the underground laboratories, Nikolai freed Anastasia from her captors. Working together, they managed to escape and reached the surface, also destroying the laboratories in the process. As they believed to be safe, a tank driven by Assassins appeared and Nikolai told Anastasia to flee and wait for him at the Bolshoi Theatre as he was taking care of it. Chased throughout Moscow by the tank, Nikolai eventually succeeded in destroying it by shooting at its weakest points with his rifle.
Nikolai later met Anastasia at the Bolshoi, where he gave her the false documents originally destined for his wife and part of the documents he had managed to buy for himself and his family. Now known as Anna Anderson, Anastasia made her farewells and left after having told Nikolai that she was heading for Germany and that she was confident in her ability to control the memories of Shao Jun and keep being herself.
Move to the United States
- "Whatever debt I owed my father and Alek has been paid. Tonight we start anew."
- ―Nikolai about starting a new life with Anna, 1918.[src]
After betraying his brothers to save Anastasia, Nikolai finally carried out his plan to definitely leave both his country and the Assassin Order. Along with their daughter, Nadya, Nikolai and Anna crossed Russia's borders and boarded a ship that was bound for the United States, aided by using the power of the Staff's shard. Some time later, Anna gave birth to their second child, a son by the name of Innokenti.
During the Palmer Raids of 1919, Nikolai and his family were at a bar with other Russian immigrants in Hartford, Connecticut, when agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation stormed the building. Nikolai, Anna, Nadya and Innokenti attempted to make their escape, but Nikolai and Innokenti were separated from their family while trying to fend off their attackers. Anna and Nadya were captured and later deported back to Russia, while Nikolai attempted to chase after them.
For the next two years, he attempted to find clues to their whereabouts, breaking into compounds where immigrants were held for deportation, though Nikolai only managed to uncover that they had been transferred to Finland, a country at war with Russia. After hearing a rumor that some prisoners were shot by Finnish soldiers after having crossed the Russian border, and not hearing anything that indicated Anna or Nadya's survival, Nikolai became convinced that they had perished.
For the next years, Nikolai lived in seclusion with his son in a cabin in the woods near Manchester, Connecticut. They scraped together a life, cutting wood from trees and hunting the wildlife in the forest. In 1926, Nikolai was tracked down by his former Assassin brother Sergei, who was sent to retrieve Nikolai by the Mentor, as the Assassins claimed ownership of the Staff's shard and the knowledge of Nikolai's vision at Tunguska. After Sergei threatened Innokenti's life, Nikolai attacked him and strangled him to death. Nikolai then discovered an FBI badge in Sergei's pocket, and realized that more Assassins would come after him.
- "These are not honourable men, Kenya. They are killers. They live by old laws which apply only to them and then call themselves heroes. If they capture me... If they capture us... we will be used and then thrown away. Better we should die here as free men."
- ―Nikolai to his son, about the Assassins, 1928.[src]
Over the course of the next two years, Nikolai began training Innokenti in combat and stealth, in the hope that they might be well prepared for the inevitable. Nikolai's training consisted of himself being Innokenti's practice target, and his harshness often resulted in Innokenti being forced to sleep outside with a meager meal upon his failures. One day, when Innokenti was able to overpower his father and held his knife at Nikolai's throat, Nikolai knew his son was ready and strong, and together they began to prepare for the oncoming Assassin attack.
Part of these plans involved the pair abandoning their cabin, since they had rigged it with explosives. As a result, when the team of Assassins arrived, one of them attempted to open a window, which caused the cabin to explode and leave only five Assassins alive. Next, when the Assassins tracked down Nikolai and Innokenti's makeshift camp in the woods, Nikolai was able to rapidly kill three of the Assassins, though he was shot in his right leg by a fourth one. As one of the Assassins held Nikolai at gunpoint, Innokenti snuck up on him from behind and stabbed him in the neck, saving his father's life. From there, the two proceeded to make their escape, coming to a halt at a cliff.
Nikolai told his son to throw a rope to the other side and use his rifle to slide down, in a makeshift zipline. As Nikolai prepared to follow his son, he was shot in his left foot by the remaining Assassin, and with both his legs wounded, Nikolai was left at the Assassin's mercy. Holding Nikolai up by his shoulders, the Assassin yelled out to Innokenti and revealed that his sister was still alive, though Nikolai denied the Assassin's claims and told Innokenti to "be strong". To this, Innokenti understood his father's intention and shot him, killing both Nikolai and the Assassin.
Personality and characteristics
- "I began as a crusader for change and now I am no better than a common grave-robber."
- ―Nikolai Orelov to his wife, after recovering the shard of the Staff from Rasputin's grave, 1917.[src]
At an early age, Nikolai was trained as an Assassin, though this was his father's choice and not his own, which led him to sometimes show disdain at his life in the Assassin Order. Nikolai also felt intense guilt from Aleksandr Ulyanov's death, which haunted him for over a year. Though despairing in his life as an Assassin, Nikolai's personality went through a massive change after the death of his first child.
Following this loss, Nikolai became bitter and unflinching, unable to lament on his role for decades. He also became noticeably more heavy-handed in his actions, showing little compassion or lenience towards Dolinsky, a Templar that had recently been captured, and even made threats against the man's innocent family in order to coerce information from him. During this interrogation, two of Nikolai's Assassin brothers remarked on how the death of Nikolai's child had driven him to become as "savage" as he was, and that before, he had been a gentler man.
After what happened at Tunguska, Nikolai had never been the same. His fellow Assassins were concerned how it had affected his mental stability, especially when he had gone rogue.
That being said, even as an increasingly ruthless and brutal Assassin, Nikolai's character was not entirely callous; during the Russian Revolution, Nikolai expressed strong vocal disgust and moral outrage that the Bolsheviks would stoop to murdering the Tsar's family even though they were just children. He also realized that the Brotherhood he had long served was growing brutal and corrupt, as if they were becoming more like the Templars. Their plans to experiment on Princess Anastasia proved so outrageous, he fought many of his former comrades without a second thought in order to rescue the girl.
Equipment and skills
In regards to his outfit and armaments, Nikolai wore a large fur coat with the traditional Assassins' hood, along with a sash and a baldric with the Assassin insignia on it. He also wielded one Hidden Blade, a dagger, a sabre and a Berdan rifle.
Together with Assassin's Training, Nikolai gained many skills. Nikolai is an excellent freerunner, able to move on any structure with ease. He learned sword-fighting techniques that allowed him to fight many soldiers. He is also good at unarmed combat, although he often uses it. Orelow is also a good marksman who almost never misses. In addition, Nikolai is a master in pickpocketing, lockpicking and stealth. Nikolai has the Eagle Vision, a supernatural ability that shows him the intentions of various people etc.
Having survived the Tunguska explosion, Nikolai might have been the most durable of all the Assassins, withstanding an energy yield capable of reducing an entire city to ashes, and still managing to walk home and later recuperate from it. However, old age finally got the best of him, as he grew weaker and was finally put down with a bullet.
- Nikolai's surname, Orelov, is not a Russian name; the closest match is "Orlov" (Оpлов), which means "сын орла" (syn orla), or "son of eagle". Other Assassins such as Aquilus, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Arno Dorian and Arbaaz Mir also contained references to eagles in their names.
- Reversing Nikolai's surname, Orelov, reads "volerò", which in Italian means "I will fly".
- The personal name Nikolai is a Russian variant of the Greek name Nikolaos, formed of the words nike, "victory", and laos, "people".
- Andreievich is a patronymic, literally meaning "son of Andrei". Russian names are formed by a personal name (Nikolai), a patronymic (Andreievich), and a family name (Orelov).
- In Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia, Nikolai is incorrectly spelled as "Nikolaï".
- Nikolai's portrait was available as a patron image in the second stage of the Animi Training Program, after a system update.
- A playable skin of Orelov was available from the DLC Skin Pack 5 of the Xbox 360 arcade game Minecraft.
- Assassin's Creed: The Fall (first appearance)
- Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy
- Assassin's Creed: The Chain
- Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia
- Assassin's Creed: The Official Collection