"Altair…I told you, there is no need to ask for forgiveness about that. That was, what, five years ago?" Malik chuckled softly and shook his head.
"But Malik…I still feel guilty for you losing your brother…" Altair sighed softly as he sat against the wall of the Assassin’s Bureau in Jerusalem.
"And I feel like you’re being a novice with all this damn apologizing. If I accept your apology this time, will you drop the subject?" The Rafiq arched his eyebrow.
"No, I probably won’t," Altair responded with a grin.
The two friends chuckled softly, savoring their wine as they simply enjoyed the cool night air that was part of living in the desert.
There was a sudden clamor from above and both men scrambled to their feet, drawing their swords.
"Safety and peace, brothers!" It was another Assassin who had dropped in, and he panted out his greeting.
"Upon you as well. What is the hurry?" Malik questioned the man who was still a novice, a fact made obvious by the dark gray tunic under his robes.
"I have a message for Altair." The young man looked upon the Master Assassin. "Maria has gone into labor."
"What?! Now??" Altair quickly belted on his weapons, pulled on his boots, and yanked up his hood.
"Altair, wait! I’m coming with you!" Malik was getting himself prepared as well.
"What about the Bureau?"
"You, novice." Malik turned to the messenger. "Stay here and look after things. Don’t touch any of my maps and DO NOT disturb my pigeons!"
The young man nodded, a bit confused but scared to ask anything as the two older Assassins went climbing out the roof.
Altair sprinted to the gates of Jerusalem, Malik right behind him. They each mounted a horse and took off at a full-blown gallop.
"Altair, be careful! Horses cannot run forever!" Malik was a little worried about his comrade’s horse; the animal was beginning to breathe rather heavily.
"This one better!" Altair spurred the horse onwards, leaning down low against its neck.
The ride from Jerusalem seemed to last an eternity, and Altair had never been so happy to see Masyaf’s gates as he was now. He dropped down from the horse and took off running through the village on foot, pushing past anyone in his way and jumping over obstacles like a madman.
Malik shook his head and stayed behind to care for the overworked horses.
Altair sprinted into the fortress’ courtyard and ran up into the castle itself. He made his way to the chambers that he and his wife, Maria, shared. Several servant girls were in the room, some of them taking out bundles of bedding and others smoothing down fresh linens.
"Maria?" He finally managed to make his way to the bed.
His wife was leaning back against the headboard, her sweat-dampened hair plastered to her forehead and neck. A small bundle was cradled in her arms and she smiled tiredly at her husband.
"It’s about time you showed up."
"I’m sorry, Maria…I came as fast as I could, but I was in Jerusalem-"
"Altair, I was joking. I understand. Neither of us expected this to happen today." Maria giggled softly and then looked down at the baby in her arms. "Look…here’s your son."
The servants had left the room to give the new family some privacy.
Altair hesitantly leaned down to get a good look at the new child. The baby was staring silently up at him with big, startlingly blue eyes. Slowly, the infant reached up and clumsily grasped the edges of Altair’s hood before tugging his face closer.
"Have you thought of a name yet?" Altair murmured his question, getting completely lost in his little son’s eyes.
"No. I wanted you to pick his name." Maria smiled as she watched her husband and child.
"Darim… His name will be Darim." Altair felt his face break out into a grin as the baby made a sort of cooing noise. A lump was in his throat, and as he sat down on the bed beside his wife and took his son into his arms, tears sprang into his eyes. "Hello, Darim. Welcome to the Brotherhood."