I am a simple girl. I don't care about dresses or delicacies. I hate the guards and the cruelties they encourage. Then I met Connor. He saved my life and so I have devoted myself to the Assassins and all they stand for. My parents are strongly opposed to it, but they'd never cared about me. Until now. My name is Clara, and this is my story


17. Chapter 17

I pull back on the string of my bow, aiming directly at the doe's head. As soon as it puts its head down I'll shoot.

"Clara!" I hear someone shout.

The doe bolts, and I let go of the bowstring, the arrow flying through the air. It burrows deep into the earth next to the doe, and I lose my prey.

I jump down from the tree and approach Connor, irritated, but happy to see him all the same. I walk into his arms.

"Why did you call out? I had that kill ready!" I exclaim while planting a kiss on his cheek.

"Sorry. But we have been invited to a formal gathering in Philadelphia." Connor says, smiling at me.

My mood suddenly brightens. Philadelphia sounds nice. "Because of the Lexington incident?" I ask him, remembering our most recent adventure with the "Sons of Liberty".

"Most likely." Connor replies.

Connor and I sit next to Sam Adams, listening to Washington's speech. I have to wear a dress, which irritates me, but I have to blend in. I refused to wear a corset.

"Truly, there is no man better suited to the task." Sam whispers.

"Really? I can think of several." A voice muttered in the back. I turn around to find Charles Lee. I quickly turn around again, begging that he didn't see my face. Connor turns around too.

"Charles Lee." Connor growls.

"Do I know you?" Charles asks mockingly, moving forward in his seat a little.

"I would not expect you to remember." Connor spits. I grab his hand, restraining him from doing something foolish.

"Come Connor - there's someone I want you to meet." Sam says, distracting him, and dragging the native towards Washington. "Sorry to pull you away like that, but the last thing we need is the two of you coming to blows." He whispers to Connor and I. He clears his throat and gestures to a man in a blue uniform.

"Connor and Clara, allow me to introduce you to our newly appointed Commander-in-Chief, George Washington."

"Ah! So you're the one who saved Sam and John at Lexington!" Exclaims George, looking at Connor and completely ignoring me. I did half the work at Lexington, the least he could do is thank me!

"It was the Patriots who did that, we merely lent support." Connor says modestly, looking at me like he's trying to shove some of the spotlight on to me.

"As humble as he is brave. We could use more men like you. I'm sorry, but if you'll excuse me - I should attend to Charles over there. He looks none too happy about being passed over for command. It was good to meet you, Connor." Washington says.

Connor turns to Adams. "Tell me you have news of Pitcairn."

"I'm told he's taken shelter in Boston, where he's guarded by a thousand Redcoats. The only way you're going to get at him, is if we draw him out. Lucky for you, we're launching an offensive against the city in order to do just that. Israel Putnam has been given command of our forces. Present this to him and he'll provide whatever aid you require. You'll find him at the encampment on Bunker Hill." Sam says.

"You have my thanks." Connor replies.

"No need. It's the least I could do. Pitcairn's a dangerous man. The sooner we're rid of him, the better."

"I would say the same of Charles Lee." Connor counters.

"Now that's an altogether different beast. Let us leave it for another day. Best you head to Boston, Connor and Clara." Sam says.

Connor and I exit the room, walking out into the hallway of the building. I make an annoyed noise.

"What is the matter?" Connor asks.

"George Washington." I say, extremely annoyed. "He acted like I didn't even exist! I helped at Lexington, too! I wasn't just another helpless woman who screamed her head off."

Connor makes an amused noise. "I know, but we need to stay on good terms with these people."

I cross my arms angrily and walk ahead of Connor, who keeps up easily.

"People just need to start recognizing women as equals. It's the same as with you, or Achilles. Just because I am a woman, doesn't mean I'm weak." I say to him.

Although Philadelphia has been nice, the experience was marred by Washington's treatment of me. If Washington treats me the same way next time we meet, he's going to get an earful. And quite possibly a broken nose.

I wrench open the door with anger, my hair soaking wet from the rain, an unusual occurrence in summer. Connor follows me inside.

"I can't believe those bastards! I just- oh!" I rage, my voice an octave higher from my anger. "We go to them trying to help, we kill Pitcairn, we help them fight their battle against the British, and what do you get? Respect. Thanks. And what do I get? Several eyes on my breasts. A few… disgusting comments. Even a few men tried to- to-" I shudder. "grope me." I storm upstairs into my bedroom. Connor follows. I can feel his concern. Mixed with laughter. I spin around suddenly.

"Stop laughing!" I spit. "It's bad enough I have to deal with those apes, and now you as well? Ratohnhnaké:ton, if you aren't quiet within the next ten seconds, I will break your nose."

I sit down on my bed with a great big huff. Connor sits down next to me.

"I am sorry, Clara. But you are very… amusing when you are angry." Connor says.

I glare at him. "I don't know why it gets me so angry. It's childish, but I cannot help myself. I just… I'm so sick of it. I warn you, I don't care if we need those men to save your people, or to kill the Templars. If one more man tries to court me, or grab me, or even look at me in a certain way, the only contact they will have with me is with my fist!"

Connor holds my hand and I can feel the anger slowly drizzle out of me.

"Clara, do you really think I am free from those men? While they may respect me, they still think of me no different than anyone else. To them, I am a savage. They think I spend my free hours digging in the mud. I understand your problem." Connor says, placing an arm around my shoulders. I turn to him and give him a small kiss.

"Thank you." I say softly. I lean into his shoulder, and Connor rests his head on mine.

"I am glad you have a temper. It gives you strength. Do not hate your anger; contain it, and let it give you power." Connor advises.

"You sound like Achilles." I joke. I stand up, still holding Connor's hand. "Come." I say. "I want to warm up."

I lead Connor downstairs, into the living room. I sit in front of the fire, holding my hands out to it. I remember I once thought of my temper as the fire; hot and wild. Uncontainable.

Yet here we sit in front of it, unafraid to be burnt. It gives us warmth. Comfort.

It can also kill.

"Alice!" I scream out, terrified. The fire is hot, much too hot. The blaze grows higher and higher, and the smoke chokes me, burns my throat and lungs. My little sister, Alice, is nowhere to be found. My throat is tight with fear for her. I want to race back upstairs, to look for her there, but a seven year old girl cannot run through a blazing fire.

Suddenly someone grabs me around my waist. I am carried outside, to the cool air. A crowd of people have gathered to watch the house turn to ash, but only my rescuer has dared to race inside. The stranger places me on the ground.

"Are you alright?" The stranger says. It's a man with a British accent.

"I'm fine, but my sister! She's still inside!" I exclaim.

The man stands up. "Stay right here!" He orders.

And with that he returns inside. A few minutes later he runs out, carrying a little girl in his arms. My Alice.

She is limp and burned. She has awful red marks covering most of her skin. The man places her gently on the ground.

"Alice!" I cry out as I run towards her. She doesn't move. I fall to my knees beside her and cradle her head in my arms. She isn't breathing.

"Alice, no, no, please! Alice!" I exclaim, tears streaming down my face, mixing with the ash and dust. After a while, the man places his hand on my shoulder.

"Who are you?" I whisper to him.

"My name is Haytham. It's going to be alright." Haytham says, rubbing my shoulder.

I haven't ever seen Haytham again. Connor's father is also named Haytham, but he is a Templar. He wouldn't risk his life for two little girls, so they must be two different people.

"Clara… Why are you crying?" Connor asks gently.

I quickly raise a hand to my face, and find tears on my cheeks. I haven't realized I'd been crying.

"Oh." I murmur. "I was just thinking about my sister."

Connor sighs. "You told me she died. Back in the cave."

How funny that Connor would remember. After all this time, he still remembers that small comment after I'd refused to approach the fire.

"Tell me about her." Connor says, resting his chin on my head.

I sigh and wipe away the tears. "She was smart. Pretty. Kind. She had the most beautiful laugh. She was almost perfect. She was an annoying sister at times, but I miss her so. My parents only began to hurt me after she died. She had a way of looking at the good in life. She never spoke ill of people, or anything, for that matter." I say.

Connor looks at me and kisses me, sympathetic. I know that if anyone can understand, it's him.

"What about your brother?" He asks.

"James? He is older than I am. He's twenty three. He has a wife and baby son in New York. Sarah and Theodore. They are the most darling people. James ran away from home soon after Alice died. When I was fifteen, I started receiving letters from him. He was living in New York, and he'd just met Sarah. He spoke very fondly of her. He invited me to come and live with him, but I knew my parents would track us down if I went to live with him. So I said no, but the day you and I met met I'd travelled back from visiting James. I hadn't seen my brother in… around ten years." I tell Connor.

We sit in front of the fire for a while more, until Connor stands up and walks downstairs, into the secret basement.

Connor stood in front of the portraits in the basement, thinking about Clara.

"How fares the hunt, Connor?" Asked Achilles as he entered the basement.

"There is progress, but I worry it is not enough." Connor said.

"You must strike where you're needed most. What if you pursued Charles Lee and your father – what then of Paul Revere? And the soldiers at Lexington?" Achilles asked.

"Soldiers? There were no soldiers in those towns - only men and women forced to defend themselves."

"Is this not why you fight? To protect your people? Your struggle is the colonists' struggle. In helping one, you help the other." Achilles said, walking away.

Connor turned around, suddenly angry. Of all his emotions, his anger was the hardest to control. "Encouraging words from one who thought mine a fool's errand." He said, walking angrily towards the old man.

"Make no mistake – I still do. But I can't help but feel some pride in your success." Achilles replied calmly.

Connor looked down. "And why should I give you any credit?" He asked.

"Then don't. But first, return the robe. And the blades. And the darts. And all the years of training and knowledge I have bestowed upon you." Achilles retorted, walking up the stairs. "Return these and then your words may have some merit."

Connor stood in the basement and made a face. Then, his anger flaring up again, he ran up the stairs two at a time. He found Achilles in the kitchen.

"Or you could just admit that you were wrong!" I hear Connor exclaim angrily.

I turn around, slightly alarmed. I get up and walk into the kitchen, where Connor and Achilles are arguing.

"Oh child, please. You've killed two men – one more salesman than soldier. You're gonna have to try a lot harder than that to impress me."Achilles tells him.

Connor walks towards Achilles angrily. "Is that so, old man? Or perhaps we should step outside? I will gladly demonstrate how easily I could trounce y…" Connor trails off. I follow him into the next room, where Achilles stands with another man.

"Connor, this is Benjamin Tallmadge. His father was one of us, no need for secrecy. I think he has something he wants to say." Achilles says.

"Achilles tells me you've uncovered a plot to kill the Commander in Chief." Benjamin says.

"Yes. But I have only false starts and dead ends to show for it." Connor replies, calming down slightly.

"Not anymore, my friend. Thomas Hickey's your man, and I aim to help you catch him." Benjamin says, walking over to Connor and placing a hand on his shoulder. Connor doesn't react well to it; he isn't comfortable being touched by someone he isn't familiar with.

"How?" Connor asks, looking down uncomfortably.

"I'll explain on the way. You and I are going to New York." Benjamin says, leading him out of the room.

I clear my throat loudly, and Benjamin turns around as if he's just noticed me.

"Another assassin, Achilles?" He asks, looking impressed.

"Yes." I reply. "And I'm coming."

Benjamin nods and the three of us walk out the door. I can't help but feel exited; perhaps I'll get to visit James?

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