- "We have a mission for you, one that is of utmost importance to our cause."
- ―Al Mualim to Altaïr after the village's siege.[src]
The Quest for the Chalice was a mission assigned to Assassin Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad in 1190 wherein he conducted a search for the Chalice, originally rumored to have been a relic of mysterious powers capable of uniting the factions in the Third Crusade and housed inside the elusive Temple of Sand. The revelation of the true nature of the Chalice as a woman named Adha evolved it into a rescue mission, and ultimately to a failed attempt by Altaïr to desert the Assassins with Adha for a peaceful life far from the chaos.
In his briefing, Altaïr was informed by his Mentor Al Mualim that the Templars already possessed the Chalice, with his objective being to steal it from wherever they had hidden it. Nevertheless, after he learned from the Templar merchant Tamir that it was held at the desert temple, the desperation by which the Crusaders sought entry into this site implied that they had yet to capture it at all. Access to the temple was said to require three keys in addition to a map revealing its location, and these objects became focal points in the contest between the Assassins and their enemies. After acquiring the first two keys from the Romani dancer Fajera in Damascus and an imprisoned old man at the Templar Hospital in Tyre, Altaïr stole the last key directly from the Templar leader Basilisk in Jerusalem. With these keys secured, the Assassin assaulted the Templar citadel in Jerusalem to recover the map, killing half its forces single-handedly and slaying its commander in personal combat.
Despite his precipitous success, his entry into the Temple of Sand did not inaugurate the end of his mission. Not only had the Crusaders managed to penetrate and occupy the temple ahead of him despite losing all keys and the map, but no Chalice was to be found. Instead, Basilisk shocked him with the revelation that all along the Chalice was not an artifact, but a woman, whom Altaïr would later learn to be none other than his friend Adha.
Left to die in an ambush, Altaïr survived and escaped the subsequent sandstorm, eventually hunting Basilisk to Tyre. Here, Basilisk convinced the Assassin to spare his life by divulging the true location of the Chalice as well as a plot to poison the people of Acre. Having no choice but to detour to Acre to save its populace, Altaïr barely returned to Jerusalem in time to rescue Adha from Templar arrest.
When Adha revealed that Harash, the second-in-command of the Assassins, was a Templar spy, Altaïr resolved to kill him before fleeing the Assassins for a normal life with Adha. Though his assassination was successful, his lover had meanwhile been captured by the Crusaders once more. This time, he failed to save her despite slaying Basilisk once and for all, and she would subsequently be executed by the Templars once her value was lost to them.
Return to Alep
With the completion of a recent assignment, the Assassin Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad traveled back to the Assassin fortress in Alep. En route to his destination, he passed through a settlement as he neared Alep, relieved to find a reprieve from his arduous journey. Here, he evaded the attention of the city's guards, as the settlement was under the control of the Knights Hospitalier.
When he arrived at the far end of the city, he learned that the city gates were closed. As he scoured his surroundings, he spotted a nearby merchant that was absorbed in a conversation with another man. Correctly presuming that the merchant had free access to the gate, he pickpocketed a key from the man's pouch and used it to unlock the gates.
As he neared Alep, he was alarmed to discover smoke and fire emitting from the village near the citadel. He soon came across a mortally wounded fellow Assassin who informed him of the Templar attack on the village and with his dying words, gave him his sword, asking him to avenge them.
Altaïr hurried to the village but arrived too late to find its populace massacred with a contingent of Crusaders still in the midst of razing the settlement. The Crusaders, having expected no survivors, were taken aback by the sudden appearance of the Assassin, who began the process of slaying every knight he encountered.
As Altaïr made his way deeper into the village, he soon found himself on the rooftops, scouting for a way through the burning ruins. There, he spotted a Templar crossbowman, of whom he demanded the reason for the brutal assault on the village. The crossbowman declared his resolve to die before speaking, a claim proved false when he was unable to endure the Assassin's abuse of his pressure points. Nevertheless, the most the Templar knew was that his captain was under orders by commander Basilisk to hunt down a man of interest. The crossbowman then succumbed to his wounds, and Altaïr continued the rest of the way through the village, killing more Crusaders that he encountered.
At the village gate, he sighted the commanding officer of the Templar detachment who was unaware of the Assassin's presence. Taking advantage of this opportunity, he assassinated the captain from behind with his Hidden Blade, in the process saving the life of a woman that had been hiding nearby. The woman expressed her relief and gratitude for Altaïr's arrival before urging him to make haste to Alep and alert the Mentor Al Mualim to the attack.
- "Something that powerful must be kept away from the dealings of men. Altaïr, find it. Bring it here."
- ―Al Mualim assigning Altaïr his mission.[src]
Arriving at the fortress of Alep, Altaïr rushed to Al Mualim's study to notify him of the attack. Though Al Mualim reassured him that the situation was under control, he regretfully informed that the Templars had succeeded in hunting down their "man of interest," an Assassin with vital information on a relic known as the Chalice. This legendary artifact, then in the Templars' possession, was rumored to possess the power to unite all factions in the Holy Land under one banner. Asserting that such an object must be hidden away from the temptations of humankind, Al Mualim instructed Altaïr to retrieve the Chalice for the Assassins before the Templars can abuse it.
The Rafiq's challenge
- Altaïr: "Old man, I have a message for you: A cat's dream is filled with mice."
- Rafik: "Not here, you fool! Ladies, you must excuse me!"
- ―Altaïr, upon meeting his contact in Damascus
Arriving at Damascus, Altaïr located the Assassins' Keeper of the city, a merchant by the name of Rafik who was in the midst of advertising silk to a group of women. Altaïr approached Rafik conspicuously, bluntly addressing him as "old man" while uttering the Assassins' password in front of the patrons. Reprimanding Altaïr for his improper timing, Rafik excused himself from his would-be customers and ushered the young Assassin into his store.
Inside the shop, the Keeper began his tirade, berating Altaïr for not only his indiscretion but also his disrespect. Thus doubting the young Assassin's abilities and deeming him to be, in his words, a "howling brat," he assigned Altaïr a preliminary task to test his skills. The challenge was simple: kill the man at the end of the street in front of the large gate and survive to meet the Keeper at the Assassin bureau.
With his new orders, Altaïr traversed the rooftops along the street to approach the man from above. Upon arriving near the gate, he promptly identified his target idling in solitude but stalled his assassination when he noticed a crossbowman on the roof overlooking the gate square. Aware that this guard could alert the adjacent barrack, he stealthily disposed of him with his Hidden Blade. Now presented a window of opportunity, he lowered himself down onto the street behind his target and plunged his Hidden Blade into the man's neck, killing him. The task thus accomplished, he escaped the area just as soldiers by the gate detected his deed.
Although Altaïr had alerted the guards, Rafik was impressed nonetheless and, convinced that he had misjudged the young Assassin, accepted him into the bureau to discuss Altaïr's mission.
- Tamir: "My beautiful carpets! The Venetian Silverware! All gone!"
- Altaïr: "Surely, you can buy them back...."
- Tamir: "What....Who's there!?"
- —Tamir and Altaïr's initial meeting
Within the bureau, Altaïr told Rafik of his objective: to find the artifact known as the Chalice. Rafik expected as much, for Altaïr was not the first man sent by Al-Mualim to find the artifact, but he cautioned that with the exception of the man hunted down by the Templars near Alep, all other Assassins assigned this task had returned empty-handed.
With regards to Assassin's first lead, Rafik suggested a wealthy oddities merchant by the name of Tamir who had recently moved into Damascus. This man had close ties to the Templars and therefore may have knowledge of the Chalice. Rafik warned, however, that Tamir's residence was well-guarded, prompting Altaïr to suggest a way of circumnavigation. Praising Altaïr for his insight, Rafik supplied him with a grappling hook and advised him to seek a man named Misbah on Lowend Street who has had dealings with the merchant.
On Lowend Street in the Poor District, Altaïr found that the grappling hook was indeed convenient for navigating the often dilapidated buildings of the slums. After bypassing a locked building with a key stolen from a watchtower guard, Altaïr managed to locate Misbah in a small market. Confronting Misbah, he claimed to have been directed by a mutual friend. This failed to dissolve Misbah's suspicions and when the man demanded to know the stranger's identity, Altaïr replied that he required information on Tamir. Without waiting for Misbah's response, Altaïr grappled him and began to abuse his pressure points.
Before Misbah could capitulate, nearby Crusader guards were alerted to the struggle and attempted to apprehend the Assassin. Misbah seized this opportunity to escape via the rooftops, but the soldiers failed to subdue Altaïr who soon enough was in hot pursuit of his target. The chase took Misbah to the roof of a decaying four-story building which crumbled as he tried to flee across a narrow beam. As the structure collapsed, Misbah desperately grabbed hold of a rope that dangled high off the ground. Faced with his fear of heights, he pleaded for Altaïr's assistance who complied on the condition that Misbah provided him with a means of bypassing the security around Tamir's house.
Misbah adamantly denied any knowledge of such means but upon further intimidation by Altaïr, realized that he was quite literally at the end of his rope. Thus acquiescing, Misbah, though insisting that he had never visited Tamir's home, suggested that Altaïr could flush Tamir out of his house by igniting the oil barrels on his terrace. Though grateful for his assistance, the Assassin retracted his end of the deal, leaving Misbah to his fate.
Now notorious owing to his conflict with Misbah, Altaïr was compelled to travel through the Rich District via the rooftops. Though he took care to avoid a large outdoor market, he was detected by civilians in a small square with a gazebo. He escaped them as they threw stones at him, eventually reaching Tamir's residence. True to Misbah's words, a shipment of pots filled with oil sat on the terrace of the house, and most conveniently, alongside a small box of fire torches. Infiltrating the terrace, Altaïr alighted the oil pots with the torches, setting the entire house ablaze as the barrels combusted.
As Tamir ejected himself from the burning building, his Hospitaller guards left the vicinity in search of water and people to assist. In the midst of grieving over his lost possessions, Tamir was confronted by Altaïr who demanded for information on the Chalice. Though startled by the sudden appearance of the Assassin, Tamir initially proved unyielding until Altaïr pointed out that Tamir was alone and utterly defenseless. Resigning to his ordeal, Tamir divulged his understanding of the Chalice.
He revealed to Altaïr that while he was oblivious to the nature of the Chalice, he was aware that it lay in an ancient temple in the midst of a desert. In order to gain access into the temple, one would require three keys, but of that, he claimed, he too possessed little knowledge.
Consequently, he referenced Fajera, a dancer he mused saw herself as "a butterfly." Although Tamir had been honest about all he knew concerning the Chalice, Altaïr closed their conversation by killing the merchant just as the guards returned to the scene. Altaïr, after escaping the guards, returned to Rafik seeking information on his new lead, Fajera.
Returning to the bureau, Altaïr consulted with Rafik, asking him if he knew of a dancer named Fajera. Apparently finding this humorous, Rafik specified that Fajera was a circus dancer and thus would be located in the circus on Market Street.
Arriving at the circus tent, Altaïr confronted Fajera, who claimed that her cards foresaw the coming of the Assassin. Insisting on the futility of Altaïr's efforts, the dancer called for the attention of one of her circus friends, a brute named Badr. Badr warned Altaïr to disturb Fajera no further, but despite being overshadowed by the towering man, Altaïr was unyielding and a conflict became inevitable. Though Badr's strength far eclipsed that of Altaïr, the Assassin employed his superior mobility to his advantage, allowing him to defeat the giant by smashing him against a support pillar.
Altaïr escaped the tent as it collapsed, leaving Badr under the rubble. Outside, he sighted Fajera on the rooftop and proceeded to give chase across the district. Though the nimble Assassin was swift on foot, his progress was retarded by hails of stones from angry civilians. After a long chase, Fajera traversed a river via a fragile, wooden bridge that promptly crumbled with her crossing, leaving Altaïr behind. Now seemingly out of her pursuer's reach, Fajera taunted the Assassin from across the river, before passing through a gated checkpoint. Altaïr, however, quickly found a solution in his grappling hook, which he used to swing himself across the river, killing a crossbowman as he landed on the opposing rooftop.
Bypassing the guarded checkpoint from the rooftops, Altaïr located Fajera by a well. Though Altaïr initially believed that he had cornered the dancer, Fajera calmly revealed that the scenario had been forecasted. Impressed by the Assassin's skills, the Romani explained to the confused Altaïr that she had merely been testing his resolve. She further clarified that, through her cards, she had foreseen his coming and therefore knew beforehand that the Assassin sought the Chalice. Voluntarily giving a key to the desert temple to Altaïr, she only requested that in return, the Assassin dispose of a man named Alaat, who was at that moment engaged in the baths of the Noble District.
Consenting to her request, Altaïr was escorted by Fajera into the Noble District to a sewer entrance. Before parting, the dancer advised Altaïr to later seek a man in the hospital of Tyre who had once journeyed to the desert temple. As planned Altaïr navigated his way through the sewers, infiltrating the bathhouse of Upper Street from below. There, he identified Alaat, resting within the warm waters alone. Initially mistaking the Assassin for a beggar, Alaat began to catch on too late to the stranger's nature. As he desperately cried for help, he was swiftly killed by the Assassin before the guards could arrive.
As soldiers filed into the bathhouse, their captain ordered them to slay the Assassin. In this, they failed when their swordsmanship proved inferior to that of Altaïr. When the Assassin had dispatched the Crusaders, he met back up with Fajera, who acknowledged Altaïr's success before reminding him that his next step was to travel to Tyre to find the old man in the hospital. Bidding him good luck, the two parted ways as Altaïr departed for his journey to Tyre.
Arriving at Tyre, Altaïr noted that the amount of troops in the city had drastically increased since his last visit. He thus maintained a low profile as he contacted Hamid, the Keeper of Tyre, who regularly assumed the public profession of a carpet merchant. Hamid clarified that the recent upsurge in soldiers was directly related to the reopening of the local hospital. When Altaïr explained that he required an entrance to this very same hospital, Hamid replied that they would have to rendezvous at the hospital itself, albeit separately so as to maintain discretion.
Heeding Hamid's advice to avoid the streets, Altaïr traveled by the rooftops but nevertheless failed to elude guards when he ventured into a restricted building. Mistaken for a thief, the Assassin was attacked by two Hospitaller soldiers and their crossbowman Nazim. Though he dispatched them with ease, he was soon detected once more when he entered another prohibited area. A man on the roofs definitively identified him as an Assassin and proceeded to summon the guards, but despite this fiasco, Altaïr ultimately arrived at the hospital plaza unscathed and incognito.
At the rendezvous, Hamid instructed Altaïr to locate Roland Napule, the man in charge of the hospital. According to Hamid, this doctor was a depraved man with a nefarious reputation that owed in part to his interrogations. He further remarked that Napule was obsessed with the acquisition of an unknown item, and that an Assassin sent into the hospital a few months prior had never returned. When asked for a way in, Hamid directed Altaïr to a large, drained fountain that connected to a sewage system beneath the city. Though the well was regularly sealed, a man in charge of up-keeping the well possessed the appropriate access key. This custodian was at that moment present in the courtyard, it being the usual hour to clean the well. Pickpocketing the key from this man, Altaïr managed to slip inside the locked sewer.
As he progressed through the old passageways, Altaïr encountered two stranded Hospitaller guards arguing over their predicament. Though Altaïr offered his assistance, the soldiers suspected deception and resolved to kill the Assassin. While Altaïr slayed the guards effortlessly, their presence revealed that the sewage route was not as secretive as the Assassins had presumed.
The Templar Hospital
- Altaïr: "End of the road, Templar!"
- Roland: "I'll see you in hell, Assassin!"
- ―Roland's last words to Altaïr
The sewers shortly led Altaïr into the subterranean chambers of the hospital. Despite his best efforts to elude the guards, his stealth was abruptly compromised when a wooden beam he was traversing failed to support his weight. Collapsing onto the floor in front of a Hospitaller soldier, he immediately alerted the room to his presence. A fully-armored Templar knight and his companion, alarmed by the cry of "intruder," arrived just in time to witness the slaying of the Hospitalier. Identifying the trespasser as an Assassin, the knight attacked Altaïr, but he and his fellow guard were killed all the same.
The debacle nevertheless placed the guards on high alert, and Altaïr was forced to rely on swordsmanship over stealth as he advanced through the various chambers. Eventually, he ventured into a particular furnace room with viscous tar spilled over the stone floor. From the upper walkways, he perceived that not only were the guards unaware of his presence but that the majority of them had heedlessly wandered onto the puddles of tar. Taking advantage of this, he rained fire torches down at the flammable tar, instantly incinerating a Hospitalier named Firas and two other soldiers. In the next room, he discovered a lever that not only unlocked a secret passageway but also released an imprisoned Templar knight, who, despite the liberation, was keen on murdering the Assassin. The maddened knight fell at Altaïr's blade. Through the passageway, Altaïr stumbled upon an old Templar crypt. Disposing of the remaining guards, he deduced that the tomb was only a disguise for an access corridor, and finding the coffins suspicious, proceeded to ram each of the closed caskets into the apertures in the walls. This solved the crypt's apparent puzzle and triggered an old mechanism that activated a lift into the hospital.
The lift led him directly into the detention room where Roland Napule was in the midst of interrogating none other than the old man Altaïr had been instructed to find. His conspicuous entrance notwithstanding, the Assassin was at once spotted by the doctor, who barked at his guards to eliminate the intruder before fleeing to an upper level. Witnessing the swift slaughter of his guards, Roland realized that his fate was sealed. As if in affirmation, Altaïr climbed onto a chandelier and leapt from afar to kill him with his hidden blade.
With Roland dead, Altaïr approached the old man, who was at first frightened by the unfamiliarity of the Assassin. When Altaïr declared himself to be an Assassin, the prisoner expressed doubt, but Altaïr proved his allegiance by revealing that his left ring finger was severed. Reassured, the man provided Altaïr with a second key to the Temple of Sand but cautioned that the Templars had already discovered the method of entry into the Temple of Sand and that Basilisk possessed the last key.
The City Gardens
- Altaïr: "Tell me where the king is having his party this evening."
- Ayman: "I don't have to tell you anything, begone!"
- Altaïr: "I'm not a Djinn for you to order around."
- —Altaïr and Ayman's exchange of words at the gardens of Jerusalem
Altaïr arrived at the bureau in Jerusalem, and met up with the local rafiq, Kadar, asking him where he could find Lord Basilisk. Kadar remarked that the man's fierceness and feral bravado in battle had earned him the trust of the King, such that Basilisk was frequently idling in the King's audience.
Normally, this would have meant that Altaïr needed to infiltrate the palace, but as it so happened, a party hosted by the King was soon to take place outside the castle. Lacking knowledge of the precise location of this party, Kadar advised Altaïr to take to the city gardens frequented by the nobility. As an addendum, the rafiq asked that Altaïr bring back news of a spy he has lost contact with if by chance he discovered his whereabouts.
In the gardens, Altaïr eavesdropped on a conversation between two civilians that spoke of a man named Ayman fortunate enough to have been invited to the grand party that evening. As it was a habit of Ayman to stroll through the other side of the gardens at that very hour, Altaïr was able to locate him without further ado by crossing a stream. Initially indignant, Ayman revealed that the party was held at Lacoeur's villa to the north once the Assassin resorted to intimidation. The noble then pleaded desperately for his life, which Altaïr obliged provided that he pretended that they never met.
Confrontation with Basilisk
- Basilisk: "A challenge, finally!"
- Altaïr: "Not really, Basilisk. I'm not here for you..."
- ―Altaïr and Basilisk, exchanging words at the underground area of the villa
Arriving at the villa, Altaïr noticed that the only way in was through the front entrance, which was, as with the rest of the castle, heavily guarded. Concluding that there was no other option, he disregarded stealth altogether and fought his way past the barbican. As he routed the guards in the outer courtyard, those in the inner courtyard raised the drawbridge to bar his progress. This failed to ward the Assassin, who circumvented with his grappling hook. Navigating through the rooftops, Altaïr fell through an unstable wooden roof and plummeted inside a building, by chance encountering Kadar's missing spy.
The man informed the Assassin of a secret passage built for those who needed a concealed way in and out of the villa. This route could only be opened after four "stones" were pressed down simultaneously. Before parting ways, Altaïr inquired as to the spy's situation. The spy, assuring him that he was safe, explained that he had not found the opportunity to contact Kadar ever since Basilisk, ever vigilant, arrived.
Exiting the building, Altaïr soon found the hidden entry, a tunnel submerged in water under a moat. He followed the spy's instructions by setting nearby crates upon four floor panels after slaying more guards. This drained the moat allowing the secret passageway, which led through a sewer, to be accessed. Within the sewers, he spotted the exit from afar, a gate that could only be activated through a nearby mechanism that kept it ajar only temporarily. After rushing towards the exit, he arrived at a rotating stone wall at the end and, triggering the hidden doorway, came out of the darkness. Here, he coincidentally ran into the very man he had been seeking: Basilisk.
Altaïr, sighting the key wrapped in a necklace around Basilisk's neck, sought to steal it from behind but failed to elude detection. Seeing a challenge within the Assassin, Basilisk drew his weapon and prepared to duel Altaïr. The Assassin, on the other hand, was not so eager to fight, and openly retorted that the Templar was not his target. Regardless, Basilisk engaged the Assassin in combat. After a brief exchange, Altaïr climbed onto Basilisk's back and stole the key around his neck before aborting the duel altogether. Basilisk, lacking the speed and agility to catch the Assassin could do little but shout at him as he escaped.
Into the Tower
- Master: "Enough of this! So, you've destroyed half the fortress to get to me..."
- Altaïr: "To the map, Templar, not you."
- Master: "You almost broke my heart when you said that... And it will be just that much more enjoyable to watch you die!"
- —Altaïr and the Master of the Tower before commencing their final duel.
As Altaïr set his foot onto the streets of Jerusalem once more, he made his way to the shop of a fellow Assassin named Hazad. In spite of his haste, he arrived too late to prevent a trio of Crusaders from assaulting the store and mortally wounding Hazad. As they left, the Crusaders warned Altaïr not to get involved, and Altaïr rushed to aid of the dying Assassin. With his last words, the man told him of a map stolen by his agents that detailed the way to the Temple of Sand, but had just been retrieved by the Crusaders that attacked him. He urged him to pursue the Crusaders and recover the map before they return to their fortress, a prominent tower in Jerusalem. Assuming responsibility, Altaïr set off in a furious chase for the three Crusaders.
In the meantime, the Crusaders had been prompt in implicating Altaïr in the murder of the shopkeeper, and his pursuit was hampered by furious citizens hurling stones at him or alerting the guards. Nevertheless, he was able to escape the crowd and soldiers by taking to the rooftops, where he eventually located his targets at a construction site.As he watched the men, they discussed their apprehension of being hunted, as well as the urgency of returning the map to the tower lest Basilisk executes them for their failure. One of them decided that it was best to leave the map to the care of the fastest among them, the guard captain, while the others rally their forces to hunt any pursuing Assassins. With the captain now taking full responsibility of the map, Altaïr quickly fled the scene to intercept him, but not before being spotted by a catapult commander. Without concern for friendly casualties, the Crusaders fired their catapults from the rooftops at the agile Assassin, killing several of their own men in the process. After killing the knights manning the catapults, Altaïr managed to catch up with the captain at the gate of the heavily guarded military compound leading to the tower, but proved moments too late to prevent him from escaping into it.
As the captain alerted his men of the Assassin's presence and to set their defenses, Altaïr managed to sneak inside the compound undetected, but was soon spotted by several crossbowmen from afar. The captain managed to deliver the map as Altaïr made his way across the compound's winding passes, all the while evading the traps set by the soldiers. Within the entrance hall of the fortress, Altaïr engaged in open combat against waves of Crusaders, commanded by the captain and supported by a crossbowman. After dispatching the captain and the soldiers with him, he executed the wounded crossbowman and made his way to the tower. There, he confronted their leader, a man referred by his subordinates under the title "master."The Master, who was hugely impressed by Altaïr's skills, tried to persuade the Assassin into joining their ranks, stating that they shared the same creed. Altaïr declined, much to the man's disappointment. Ostensibly to give the Assassin a moment to reconsider, he left him alone with his guards. After slaying the guards, Altaïr confronted the master, who asked again if the Assassin was interested in joining, to which Altaïr reaffirmed his refusal. With no truce forthcoming, the Master and Altaïr engaged in a sword-fight. Unable to fend off the Assassin, the Master fled outside for a moment of respite, ordering more guards to cover his retreat. As soon as he finished slaying these soldiers, Altaïr rushed to the balcony to track the Master to the top of the tower.
After scaling the side of the tower, and navigating through its complex structure, Altaïr soon found himself inside the tower's dungeon face-to-face with the Master's disciple. The apprentice repeated the offer once more, and upon the rejection, engaged Altaïr in combat. Despite the aid of a few more soldiers, the disciple fell to Altaïr's blade. The Assassin then proceeded along the stairs towards the the top of the tower, killing the few high-ranking knights impeding his advance before engaging the Master once more. After another brief duel, the demoralized Master fled yet again, hoping that his traps could hinder Altaïr. He had hoped that where combat failed, a test of agility and guile might succeed, but it did not take Altaïr long to bypass the obstacle.
At last, Altaïr confronted the Master for a final time in the very room that held the map he sought, sealed within a stone casing and covered in glass. After a heated exchange, and an intense duel, the victorious Altaïr killed the Master and recovered the map. With knowledge of the precise location of the fabled Temple of Sand, the Assassin set off for what he believed to be the final destination in this quest.
The Sands of Syria
The Temple of Sand
- "Looking for something, assassin? This game of ours is amusing, but it's getting old rather quickly..."
- ―Lord Basilisk, upon meeting Altaïr at the Temple
Leaving Jerusalem, Altaïr made his way through the desert, and managed to locate the entrance to the temple, much of which was underground. As he wandered through the ruins, the fragile ground beneath him gave way, and he slid down into the subterranean chambers below. There, he immediately chanced upon two Crusaders, who he assassinated without further ado. Although the Crusaders had lost out on all three keys and the map to the Temple, they had somehow managed to occupy the entire complex before Altaïr had arrived, and many of their knights patrolled the corridors. Navigating through the temple's myriad booby traps, all the while dispatching every enemy he encountered, he eventually reached a vast grotto at the very bottom of the complex. Through this grotto, he discovered a long staircase climbing high into the Temple's upper levels, barred by a gate composed of stalactites and stalagmites. After interrogating a henchman of Basilisk, Altaïr learned that for the gate to be opened, two triggers far from one another must be activated simultaneously. Altaïr proved that such a task was not impossible for a man without partners by collapsing a pillar on one trigger, and setting a crate on the other. With the gate ajar, he ascended back higher into the temple.
Arriving in the upper areas, Altaïr resumed his search for the Chalice, dispatching more knights as he did so, and killing the giant champion that served as the Templars' last line of defense. Through the crumbling structure and perilous hallways, where the slightest misstep could spell certain doom, Altaïr finally managed to make his way to the Chalice's antechamber. There, he saw the shrine of the Chalice, wrought in gold and placed upon a stone platform hanging above a fiery chasm with four bridges stretching in different directions. Altaïr carefully made his way to the center, sparks of flames flying up from the pit below.
To his surprise, the shrine was empty, devoid of all but dust. Here, a confused Altaïr was greeted by Basilisk, who had grown weary of their recent encounters. Basilisk, feeling he owed the Assassin an explanation before his impending demise, told him of the Chalice's true nature; that it was no artifact, but was in fact a woman, flesh and blood.
Mocking the Assassin, Basilisk abruptly departed, ordering two captains to finish off Altaïr within the chamber. Though cornered, Altaïr slew the soldiers without issue before moving to inspect the opened shrine more closely. As he interacted with the shrine, he was blinded by the dust that enveloped the collapsing chamber, and soon found himself standing outside the rubble of the temple.
As he climbed to his feet, Altaïr was dumbfounded when he saw a powerful sandstorm ravaging the ruins behind him, slowly making its way towards him. The Assassin wasted no time in fleeing the scene, evading the obstacles formed by the fallen rubble of the temple and the collapsing ground. After a desperate run, Altaïr reached the nearest shelter, killing the Crusaders that tried to prevent his entry. Safe and secure, he paused to recall what Basilisk had said at the Temple, that he had some business at the city of Tyre. Wasting no time, Altaïr left for the harbor city.
Hunt for Basilisk
Upon arriving in Tyre once more, Altaïr was again greeted by Hamid, this time at the docks. The Assassin asked him if he knew of Basilisk's current whereabouts, to which Hamid mentioned that two agents who had access to the Templar's Hold could help him, if only they were not captured. Endeavoring to free these men, Altaïr asked to be directed to them, and Hamid instructed him to scale the fort's outer wall along the sea, advising him to take care as this route was rife with dangers.
As Altaïr navigated the great precipice, he indeed found that it was a perilous route: much of it was obstructed by shipwrecks or gutters bursting with torrents of sewage water. After reaching the roof of this wall, Altaïr found the cage that held one of the two captured Assassins, who afterwards assisted in the rescue of his brother, the other missing Assassin. In gratitude, the latter pointed to the gate farther down the wall that allowed entry into the Templar's Hold, and as suggested, Altaïr stole the key from a guard on the nearby lookout tower to unlock it.
Infiltrating the fortress, Altaïr sniped five knights in the immediate courtyard before proceeding deeper into its premises. He relied extensively on the rooftops, stealthy assassinations, and his crossbow to elude detection, eventually finding an isolated servant in a courtyard. Upon interrogation, the man revealed that Basilisk could be found eastward by the city gates, though his precise location could not be pinpointed. Nevertheless, Altaïr easily found his query before this very gate.
Dispatching the three captains overlooking the courtyard from behind, the Assassin engaged the Templar leader for a second time. Thrilled by this renewed challenge, Basilisk ordered his guards to barricade the gate with their shields so that this time Altaïr had no chance of escape. This proved inconsequential when Altaïr wounded Basilisk, sending him fleeing with his guards. The Assassin gave chase, and despite the whole of the stronghold's forces now rallied against him, he was able to bypass all obstacles and catch Basilisk once more in a warehouse—this time alone.
At the conclusion of their duel, the Templar laid on the floor incapacitated from his wounds. Before Altaïr could deliver the coup de grâce, Basilisk bargained for mercy in exchange for two vital pieces of information. The first was the location of the Chalice: in Jerusalem at Don Carvaggio's villa, and the second pertained to Acre, where the Crusaders, weary of the stalemated siege, planned to poison the water supply. Knowing that Altaïr would have to detour to Acre if he hoped to prevent the death of countless innocents, this put Basilisk in a clear advantage to reach the Chalice first if he lived. In spite of this, the Assassin honored Basilisk's deal and spared his life, but not before setting fire to his entire fleet docked in Tyre to delay his head start.
- "Kill him, Altaïr, and then come with me. We'll hide, we'll go as far as possible."
- ―Adha to Altaïr[src]
After successfully toppling the Templar poison plot at Acre, Altaïr hurried to Don Carvaggio's villa in Jerusalem just in time to find a group of Templars escorting the Chalice out of the building. Much his astonishment, the Chalice was none other than his friend Adha. Stalking them as they hurried down the streets through two checkpoints, his plan was to close the city gates ahead of them to prevent their exit. While he initially avoided detection by using the rooftops, his stealth was compromised when he reached an open plaza of nothing but ruined Roman columns. The Templars, alerted by the sound of an explosion set off by Altaïr to move a column closer to another, broke into a sprint. As they reached the next checkpoint, frantically urging for the gatekeeper to open the gate, Adha screamed for help. One of the knights, Sadad, threatened to kill her if she did not silence herself, to the reproach of his superior, who reminded him of her importance. Sadad was left behind to guard the gate, to little use as Altaïr followed after on the other side of a canal. Now in open view of everyone, the Templars rallied their elite forces to slay the Assassin. In the fierce battle that ensued, Altaïr killed all the knights that confronted him before assassinating the last captain by a valve. Nevertheless, this put him no closer to Adha, who still stood on the other side of the canal with her three escorts. As these remaining knights taunted Altaïr from afar, the Assassin twisted the valve on his side, dramatically increasing the pressure of a giant sewer hole near the group. The two captains of the group perished in the resulting toxic explosion, and the last guard, Qasim, fled the scene in a panic.
At last alone with Adha but still segregated by the furious canal, Altaïr urged her to enter the sewers through the destroyed sewer hole, while he did the same through a smaller manhole on his side. Though apprehensive of Altaïr's Assassin affiliation, she acquiesced when he promised not to leave her alone. Within the sewers, the two still remained separated, but Altaïr reassured Adha that they would find a point where their two paths converged. Sure enough, after cooperating to aid each others' navigation along parallel routes, the two at last met before an exit of the sewers, activated through a secret mechanism.
Here, Adha revealed to Altaïr the cause of her mistrust: she had heard rumors that an Assassin named Harash was a spy for the Templars. Incredulous, as Harash was second-in-command in the entire order, Altaïr maintained that it'd be futile to accuse him without proof. While Adha admitted that she could provide none, the risks were great enough that she could not return to Alep with him. Though Altaïr trusted Adha, he understood that he'd be marked as a traitor if he killed Harash without having been able to expose his treachery. At that moment, he resolved to a critical choice: he would abandon the Assassins and live a normal life with Adha. Together, they formed a plan to escape via a boat in Tyre, but not before Altaïr returned to Alep to assassinate Harash, or at the very least investigate the veracity of the rumors. Before they parted, Adha gave Altaïr her sword, more powerful than any weapon he had ever wielded.
Returning to Alep in the middle of the night, Altaïr took care not to announce his presence to any of his fellow Assassins, particularly those loyal to Harash. Though he eluded the initial patrols, he was nearly caught by Harash's men inside an armory, narrowly avoiding them by employing a smoke bomb. After that, he blended with a group scholars to reach the gate of the Assassin citadel unnoticed. The gate, however, was locked, and in order to force it open without confronting the guards, he sabotaged the nearby aqueduct with bombs from the adjacent outpost. Alarmed by the explosion, the guards behind the gate threw it ajar to investigate the scene. In the chaos, Altaïr slipped inside and snuck past more of his brethren. After a haphazard encounter with the sentries, he disguised himself with the armor of a Saracen to ease the rest of his way to the Mentor's office. It was from this office that he spotted Harash below in the courtyard consorting with a Templar captain, confirming the keeper's betrayal. To his horror, their conversation revealed that they had already found Adha hiding in Tyre, only delaying their capture in the hopes of catching Altaïr as well when he returns to her. Once the Templar captain had taken his leave, Altaïr immediately moved to assassinate Harash. Without exchanging any words, the two rushed at one another with swords drawn, commencing a fierce duel. As it progressed, three of Harash's elite Assassins arrived as reinforcements, but all fell before Altaïr's sword. At last, the traitor was disarmed, and the Assassin executed him with his Hidden Blade.
A Desperate Rescue
- "So we meet again! This time, it WILL be our last encounter!"
- ―Basilisk to Altaïr in their final duel.[src]
Racing back to Tyre, Altaïr arrived to find that he was too late: the Crusader army had already occupied the entire harbor with Adha hostage. Stealth was out of the question as he entered the docks to the taunts of the Templar captain that greeted him, who questioned his ability to fight through the entire army on his own. Wasting no time, the Assassin slew this captain and his cohorts and prepared to do just that. From there, a determined drive to find Adha among the Crusader forces commenced.
As Altaïr closed in on the harbor shack that held Adha, defying all attempts by the Templars to impede his advance, the knights quickly destroyed the beams leading to the building, forcing him to detour. Basilisk seized this precious time to drag Adha away and onto his ship, and the couple could only shout at each other from far. Killing several of the Templars' most elite knights, the Assassin traversed Templar ship after ship in desperate pursuit. At last, a ship before the one that held Adha, Altaïr was blocked by the imposing figure of Basilisk himself. Cursing him, he engaged in his final duel with the Templar as Adha watched on with her captors from the deck of their ship. Though the Assassin overpowered Basilisk and killed him, it was of little consequence. As soon as the Templars witnessed their leader's defeat, they set a ship ablaze and sent it straight between the two ships before Altaïr could leap over. As the fire ship rammed into his ship, the Assassin narrowly leaped into the water for safety as it exploded. From the docks, Altaïr could only watch as the ship with Adha a prisoner departed from the harbor and sailed over the horizon.
A Tragic End
Without delay, Altaïr took to the seas after the Templar ship, a pursuit that persisted for many days and nights, but when he at last caught up with Adha, he could do nothing but cradle her corpse. Though the circumstances of her death are unclear, she had likely been executed by her captors once her worth to them proved empty or spent. In his anguish, Altaïr hunted down each and every last man complicit in her death, but the success of his vengeance neither released his grief nor provided any solace.
- "I had thought Adha would be the one to lead me to rest, that I might lay down my blade and live as a normal man. But now I know such dreams are best left to sleep..."
- ―Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad in his Codex[src]
The death of Adha scarred Altaïr gravely and forever ended his aspirations for a life of normalcy, and until he met Maria Thorpe, he came to believe that he could never again love anyone as deep as he had Adha. Contrary to his expectations, the Assassins did not punish him for his murder of Harash despite his lack of proof of his duplicity. Instead, he was welcomed back into the brotherhood. With no other place to go, he no longer entertained dreams of an alternative life. In spite of his return, throughout the next year, his attitude became marked with arrogance and contempt. He would not regain his respect for the Assassins and their creed until his mission subsequent to his demotion renewed his sense of purpose and broadened his understanding of the world.