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"The Hidden Blade has been a constant companion of ours over the years. Some would say it defines us – and they would not be entirely wrong. Many of our successes would not have been possible without it."
―Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's Codex, page 13.[src]
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Front and back of the Hidden Blade
GuardDogAdded by GuardDog

The iconic weapon of the Assassins, the Hidden Blade was used for both stealth assassinations and regular combat. It was their most versatile weapon, with multiple upgrades and forms of use.

It consisted of a retractable blade, usually in conjunction with a protective bracer. As such, the blade could be discreetly extended or retracted, making it a valuable piece of apparatus.

DesignEdit

"The blade is designed to ensure the commitment of whoever wields it."
―Leonardo da Vinci, regarding the Hidden Blade.[src]
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Ezio Auditore with his father's Hidden Blade

The use of the Hidden Blade initially required the removal of a ring finger, both as a means of more easily extending the blade, and to show the commitment of the one wielding it.[1] As such, many of the early Levantine Assassins could be recognized by their missing fingers.[2] However, the blade's mechanism was modified in the 13th century – as outlined in the Codex of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad – so as to no longer require such a sacrifice, and to keep Assassins from being identified so easily.[3]

Despite this, the tradition was not forgotten. From the Renaissance to at least the early 20th century,[4] Assassins branded one of their ring fingers (usually the left) during their initiation into the Order, as a sign of their devotion to the Creed.[3]

This is not the exact explanation of how the Hidden Blade works. Some of the earliest designs indicate a control apparatus wrapped around the hand. The hidden blade design would evolve over time; Edward Kenway stated in the 18th century that the Hidden Blade is activated by a "flick of the wrist".[5]

However, despite their versatility and strength, Hidden Blades could be broken when struck with enough force. Several Assassins, including Giovanni Auditore da Firenze and his son Ezio, both had one of their blades broken in combat. In both scenarios, the blade broke at the wrist. Later, in 1715, Duncan Walpole's blade was broken in combat with Edward Kenway.

HistoryEdit

OriginsEdit

The first recorded use of the Hidden Blade dated back to 5th century BCE, in the area known as modern day Iran, when Darius used it to assassinate King Xerxes I.[3]

High Middle AgesEdit

AC altair hidden blade
Altaïr with his Hidden Blade extended

The Assassin Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad initially wielded a Hidden Blade. However, due to his failure in retrieving an Apple of Eden, and his disobedience to all three tenets of the Creed, he was demoted to a novice by Rashid ad-Din Sinan, and was stripped of his Hidden Blade and other weapons. Upon his promotion to the next rank however, he earned his Hidden Blade back, along with a sword.[1]

Aside from assassinations, the Hidden Blade was also used in a variety of investigations. For missions given by informants, in which Altaïr was asked to stealthily assassinate a number of targets, he could only make use of his Hidden Blade or throwing knives in order to remain undetected.[1]

Additionally, after successfully interrogating a target, Altaïr would usually kill them so that they could not reveal his plans, and did so by thrusting his Hidden Blade into their abdomen. Although the Hidden Blade was used mainly for stealth, it could also be used in open conflict, but only for countering enemy attacks.[1]

RenaissanceEdit

"Despite its age, the construction is rather advanced. I've never seen anything quite like it."
―Leonardo da Vinci studying the Hidden Blade.[src]
Lineage Hidden Blade
Giovanni's, later Ezio's, Hidden Blade
GuardDogAdded by GuardDog

In his own time as an Assassin, Giovanni Auditore da Firenze also wielded a Hidden Blade, though it was one that had been adapted to the change of the times, and therefore did not require the removal of his ring finger.[3][6]

The mechanism did not require a wrist "flick" to release the blade, allowing the user to extend or retract the blade without any wrist or hand movement. Additionally, as pictured, the weapon could be used with a clenched fist, although Giovanni was one of the few known Assassins to use it in that manner.[6]

Ezio Auditore da Firenze inherited the Hidden Blade from his father, the night before Giovanni and Ezio's brothers were hanged. However, the blade was broken due to Giovanni's last fight in Rome against Rodrigo Borgia and his men, so Paola suggested that Ezio ask his friend Leonardo da Vinci to repair it. Fortunately, Leonardo was able to do so, though only with the aid of the schematics detailed in the Codex.[3]

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The Codex page for the Hidden Blade's design
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Through other Codex pages, Leonardo was able to provide Ezio with a variety of upgrades; such as the addition of a second Hidden Blade. Ezio made use of these innovations for the majority of his assassinations, and was also able to wield them in battle.[3] Though Ezio possessed the same two Hidden Blades until 1500, during the fall of Monteriggioni, he lost most of his weapons, and was only able to salvage the blade and bracer of his father.[7]

Upon his arrival in Rome, Ezio was equipped with a single Hidden Blade, though its bracer had been replaced. Later on, however, Leonardo was again able to reconstruct a secondary Hidden Blade from memory, with Ezio providing him with the money necessary for the raw materials. Aside from using them in combat, Ezio also made use of his Hidden Blade to pick the locks of certain Lairs of Romulus, and operate the mechanisms within the Temple of Pythagoras.[7]

Additionally, Ezio's apprentices were each equipped with a single Hidden Blade, as the right to use two Hidden Blades was only reserved for the most trusted of Assassins, or those who had earned the rank of Master Assassin. However, upon reaching the rank of Assassino, an apprentice was given a Hidden Blade with a bracer much like Ezio's. Additionally, apprentices were capable of all of the standard assassination techniques.[7]

ConstantinopleEdit

The Turkish Assassins of Constantinople used the Hidden Blade just as the Assassins in Italy did, implying that they had somehow learned Altair's variable assassination methods sometime after he compiled the Codex. Most noticeably, however, they had adapted the weapon to feature the Hookblade for use both in combat and to travel around the city on ziplines. Many of the Assassins also carried dual blades, although only the secondary blade was equipped with the hook. 

The CaribbeanEdit

In 1715, the Assassin turncoat Duncan Walpole had a single Hidden Blade in his possession before he was killed by Edward Kenway, and could perform most of the typical assassination techniques with it, as well as use it in battle, though it was broken during his time on Cape Bonavista.

Upon Kenway's arrival in Havana, he received a pair of Hidden Blades from Julien du Casse, who had collected an unknown amount of them from fallen Assassins, implying that the practice of carrying two blades was becoming more widespread. Several Assassins around the Caribbean carried Hidden Blades that were wider than those seen in Europe during the 16th century and later in Colonial America.

Colonial AmericaEdit

By the American Revolutionary War, Hidden Blades were used among both Assassins and Templars alike, most notably worn by the Templar Haytham Kenway and his son, the Assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton.[8]

Haytham's blades were about half the length of those used during the Renaissance era. In an email, Shaun suggested that Haytham could have obtained his Hidden Blades from the time he trained as an Assassin when he was a teenager.[8] It is revealed in Haytham's journals, however, that his Hidden Blades had formerly belonged to the Assassin Miko, of which he acquired the first in Corsica.[9] He would later use this same blade to kill Miko at the Theatre Royal, stabbing him through the chair in which he sat.

Ratonhnhaké:ton's blades were inherited from his mentor, and former Assassin, Achilles Davenport. Achilles used them during his time in the Order, before he moved on to live at the Davenport Homestead.[8]

Ratonhnhaké:ton's left Hidden Blade was designed with a pivot mechanism, which allowed it to change orientation and be used in a manner similar to a dagger. In addition, the blades could also be dual-wielded with swords and small weapons, along with other various tools he possessed. Accompanying this, the pivoted Hidden Blade could be used to skin the animals Ratonhnhaké:ton killed while hunting, providing him with spoils that he could trade with the colonists.[8]

Modern timesEdit

Nikolai's hidden blade
Nikolai Orelov's Hidden Blade
GuardDogAdded by GuardDog

During the late 19th and early 20th century, the Hidden Blade was still a part of standard Assassin attire, and continued to be commonly used. Though the Assassins used guns by this point, during close combat, the iconic Hidden Blade was occasionally utilized. The Russian Assassin Nikolai Orelov used his Hidden Blade during a battle with Tsar Alexander III, for which Nikolai used it to stab Alexander in the abdomen. Additionally, in 1917, he used the weapon to end Khioniya Guseva's life at her request. Nikolai's blade was noticeably thinner compared to those of other Assassins throughout history, and was worn under his sleeve to decrease its visibility. After his death, his son Innokenti took possession of the blade.

By the late 20th century, Hidden Blades were less commonly used, and were mostly preserved for ceremonies. However, a few high-ranking Assassins still wore one for traditional purposes, such as Paul Bellamy. Daniel Cross was gifted with a ceremonial, but functional, Hidden Blade by the Mentor in 2000, which he swiftly put to use, impulsively killing the Mentor.[10]

During the escape from the Assassin hideout he was stationed at, Desmond Miles obtained a Hidden Blade and bracer that was almost identical to the first one that Ezio had received. He later used this Hidden Blade to fend off the guards sent by Abstergo Industries to capture him, led by Warren Vidic.[3]

Upon traveling to Monteriggioni, Desmond began using a bare Hidden Blade without a bracer, making it less visible on his arm, though at the cost of some defensive ability. He also used it to operate mechanisms in the tunnels underneath the Sanctuary, as Ezio had once done. 

Additionally, in the Animus Virtual Training Program developed by Rebecca Crane, Desmond was given the chance to hone his skills with the Hidden Blade. Such challenges included stealth assassinations and flawless kill streaks using only the Hidden Blade.[7] Later, Desmond used his blade to kill Daniel Cross within Abstergo's Roman facility. After Desmond's death in the Grand Temple, the broken blade was among the possessions which were recovered along with his body, by Abstergo Sample Recovery Unit 3. 

In 2013, members of the Onmoraki-Gumi, a yakuza branch taken over by the Osaka Brotherhood, wore Hidden Blades that were concealed by the long sleeves of their suits. Kiyoshi Takakura impaled the palm of Emmanuel Barraza on his Hidden Blade before learning he was a fellow Assassin.[11]

CombatEdit

High Middle AgesEdit

AC1 Hidden Blade Counter
Altaïr performing a counter with the Hidden Blade

As it was mainly used for stealth assassinations, the Hidden Blade could only be used in combat under certain conditions, and could not block any attack. Altaïr was only able to assassinate a guard who had fallen on the ground, or those who had become momentarily distracted.[1]

He could also use the Hidden Blade in a counter-attack; however, the time frame was extremely short, especially in comparison to that of his sword and dagger. Successfully intercepting an enemy attack enabled one of several different – and always lethal – counter-attacks, in which Altaïr could stab his opponent in the chest, head, abdomen, base of the skull, or spine.[1]

RenaissanceEdit

"Now I can kill double the guards."
―Ezio Auditore, on receiving the second Hidden Blade.[src]
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Ezio using his dual blades in combat

The Hidden Blade eventually became vastly more useful in combat due to several upgrades. The mounting of a metal plate on the opposite side of the blade allowed the Hidden Blade to be used defensively. In terms of offense, when used together, the dual Hidden Blades were swift but less damaging in comparison to a sword, with more utility in suppressing enemy attacks.[3]

Unlike other weapons, every counter-attack with the Hidden Blades resulted in an instant kill, with only the narrow timing window as a disadvantage. Unlike the sword or short blade, the Hidden Blades could perform counter-attacks on nearly all archetypes of guards, including Brutes, Seekers, and Papal Guards.[3]

The Hidden Blade also gave Ezio more freedom in movement than any other weapon. For example, Ezio could easily strafe to either side while in combat, which was barely possible (except from very close range) with the sword or dagger. It also allowed Ezio to quickly flee from a battle without having to take the time to sheathe his weapon.[3][7]

By the time of his arrival in Rome, Ezio had gained a greater aptitude with the Hidden Blades. Aside from being able to perform more counter-attacks due to his improved reaction time, he was also able to perform multiple instant kills after assassinating a single guard. To continue this "execution streak," each kill needed to be quickly followed up with another, without Ezio being hit in between. Countering attacks was permitted however, and did not break the streak, allowing Ezio to defend himself from an attack and continue eliminating his opponents.[7]

Colonial AmericaEdit

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Connor stabbing Haytham with the Pivot Blade
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By the 18th century, the Hidden Blade had become an even deadlier tool, thanks to the development of the "Pivot Blade", which allowed the user to rotate the blade 90 degrees and wield it like a dagger. It could be held either in the hammer or icepick grip, enabling Connor to have the option to quickly stab, cut, and slash his enemies.[8]

During silent assassinations, the Pivot Blade could be retracted back into the Hidden Blade orientation, although in high profile assassinations, the enemy would be violently killed with the Pivot Blade's added function.

Notably, the weapon could be dual-wielded alongside a sword, dagger, or a tomahawk, allowing defensive parries to fierce deadly counter-attacks, increasing the weapon's lethality.[8]

UpgradesEdit

CodexEdit

"The device has begun to show its age – and so I have been researching improvements beyond ending the need to remove one's finger to wield it."
―Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's Codex, page 13.[src]
ACB-HiddenBlade
The blade with the pistol and poison upgrades
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In his studies of the Apple of Eden, Altaïr envisioned several upgrades for the Hidden Blade, which he wrote into his Codex,[3] and some of which he used himself.[2] Throughout Ezio's travels, he would acquire these Codex pages, and Leonardo da Vinci would build the improvements detailed within when Ezio presented him with a page.[3]

The first of these improvements was the addition of a secondary Hidden Blade, which was attached to the user's other arm, allowing an Assassin to kill two guards at once, either on the ground or from the air. The second was a metal plate on top of the primary blade's bracer that allowed one to safely deflect enemy attacks with the blades.[3]

Other Codex upgrades included the Poison Blade and Hidden Gun. The Poison Blade allowed Ezio to stab an enemy with a lethal dose of poison and leave them to die slowly, granting both a low-profile assassination, as well as a distraction to kill or bypass other enemies, while the Hidden Gun allowed an Assassin to make a loud but assured kill from a distance. Additionally, both blades could be supplemented with various vambraces, which acted as protective armor.[2][3][7]

Da VinciEdit

"I ask if he can arm a crossbow bolt beneath my wrist. He ponders for a moment and declares it possible, but expensive."
―Francesco Vecellio asking Leonardo to create the Hidden Bolt.[src]

Upon his arrival in Rome, Leonardo envisioned further improvements to the Hidden Blade, such as a poison dart launcher, which allowed the use of the Poison Blade from a distance.[7]

Leonardo also designed and built the Hidden Bolt, a weapon that could fire small crossbow bolts, upon the request of Francesco Vecellio. As Francesco was only an apprentice at the time, Ezio had not allowed him to use the Hidden Gun, and so Francesco had devised a similar, though lighter, alternative.[4]

HookbladeEdit

Hookblade 3
Yusuf showing the Hookblade to Ezio
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The Hookblade was a modification of the Hidden Blade that was adopted by the Assassin Guild of Constantinople. Unlike the other Hidden Blade advancements, it was attached to the user's secondary Hidden Blade, instead of the primary.

Upon his arrival in the city, Ezio also made use of it in combat and travel. Primarily, it could be used during navigation in conjunction with ziplines, as well as allowing one to perform the "hook-and-run" and "hook-and-throw" maneuvers over their enemies, and generally extend one's reach when climbing and leaping.

The Hookblade also aided in battle by allowing a wider variety of attacks or counters, as well as permitting one to "counter-steal" or trip an enemy.[2]

ReplicasEdit

"The assassin leaps! As he lands upon the senator, a weapon protrudes from his wrist. Pierces his victim's neck!"
―Fiora Cavazza observing an Assassin's technique.[src]

In their study of the Assassins' methods and weaponry, several members of the Templar Order created their own variations of the Hidden Blade, though the mechanism and appearance often differed.[4]

ACB prowler switchblade
Il Lupo's switchblade
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The first known instance of this was in the early 16th century, when Fiora Cavazza and Baltasar de Silva tailed the Assassins of Rome, in order to take note of their techniques. They eventually trained Il Lupo in the Assassins' ways, and equipped him with a Switchblade, a Hidden Blade variation that split into two parts, folding forward only when in use.[4] Lia de Russo also wore her own Hidden Blade, and though its mechanisms seemed to match that of the Assassins, it was worn on top of her forearm, rather than underneath.[7]

While disguised as a slave in Chichen ItzaAveline de Grandpré was forced to make replica Hidden Blades by scrounging up knives, belts and wood.[12]

In modern times, during the second stage of simulations hosted by the Animi Training Program of Abstergo Industries, every recruit was given access to a variation of the Hidden Blade. The virtual weapon was also worn under the left forearm, but its blade folded along two circular joints when not being used.[2]

As part of the console stage of Abstergo Entertainment's Animus technology, the Animi Avatars contained within could use another variation of the Hidden Blade, this time possessing a two-part telescopic function to the mechanism.[8]

TriviaEdit

Design
  • Patrice Désilets, one of the creative directors for the Assassin's Creed series, stated that the addition of a second blade in Assassin's Creed II also had a lucid reason: "it's Assassin's Creed II, so there [were] two blades."
  • Assassin's Creed: Renaissance and early concept art for Assassin's Creed II showed Ezio possessing three Hidden Blades; one on his right, and two on his left.
  • The original design of Ezio's second Hidden Blade in Assassin's Creed II was displayed as a brown glove, however, in-game, it was replaced with a second bracer. This was reverted in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood however, where his second Hidden Blade included a glove, until a bracer had been purchased.
  • Concept art for the "Shock Blade", a modern version of the Hidden Blade, was shown in the Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia.
  • It is unknown why the Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood box art, E3 Trailer and other official media including the opening cinematics of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed III depict Ezio with a secondary Hidden Blade bracer that is identical to his primary one, as in-game, no such second bracer exists.
    • The same happened with Ratonhnhaké:ton on the "Ignite the Revolution" poster and in the box art for Assassin's Creed III.
  • In early concept art for Assassin's Creed III, rope darts were integrated onto the Hidden Blade's bracer, envisioned as the "Chain Blade". This concept was later modified to be closer to reality, resulting in the "Chain Blade" being scrapped for a more reasonable alternative.
  • The second Hidden Blade was marginally longer than the primary one in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.
  • One concept art by Martin Deschambault for Assassin's Creed II showed two unimplemented Hidden Blade upgrades; a retracting arrow-shaped blade, and a retracting trident-ended blade for parrying weapons and disarming enemies.
    • Martin Deschambault's art also shows two designs of the blade itself; feather-look, and normal blade with designed holes.
Mechanism
  • In the E3 teaser trailer of Assassin's Creed, as well as in certain concept art, Altaïr could be seen pushing a button to operate his Hidden Blade. In-game however, no such button or other trigger mechanism existed.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Renaissance and the Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood novel, unleashing the Hidden Blade required the use of a button, via a certain muscle on the forearm being flexed.
    • The same mechanism also triggered the Hidden Gun if the user's thumb was pushed to the left.
  • In an Assassin's Creed developer diary video, Jade Raymond spoke about the lack of Altaïr's ring finger and the Assassins' initiation ceremony.
  • The Hidden Blade is a crafted item in Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy. The materials for its construction are 2 Coils, 1 Iron, 1 Hide and 1 Box of Components; the latter in turn being crafted using 3 Gears, 3 Screws, 1 Chain and 2 Sprockets.
  • In Assassin's Creed: The Secret Crusade, the trigger mechanism was depicted as a ring worn around a finger. Movement of that finger would cause the blade to extend or retract.
  • The closest novel adaptation of the Hidden Blade to the in-game version appears in Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, wherein Edward Kenway stated he had activated the blade by the tensing of a muscle that came from the upper arm as well as the forearm, and a simultaneous flick of the wrist. This is much unlike the ring-triggered or button mechanisms as mentioned in previous novels, thus more like the in-game Hidden Blade.
Others
  • In Assassin's Creed, despite being equipped with a Hidden Blade, some Assassins, such as Malik Al-Sayf, retained all fingers. This error was later corrected in Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
    • Along with this, however, came another error. The Assassins retained amputated ring fingers even after Altaïr changed the design of the blade so that amputation was no longer necessary.
  • In Assassin's Creed, the Hidden Blade was used in every major assassination. Even if an Assassin began by attacking their target with a sword, they would always finish them off with the Hidden Blade. Later however, it was changed so that they could use any weapon they wished.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines, if the PlayStation Portable was linked to Assassins Creed II, Altaïr's Hidden Blade could be upgraded to be able to block light and heavy attacks.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles, Altaïr could only use the Hidden Blade to assassinate an enemy from behind, if it was related to the story.
  • There was a glitch in the Assassin's Creed II mission "Practice What You Preach", in that if Ezio went to the blacksmith and purchased the Leather Vambrace, instead of practicing the new assassination techniques, he could acquire the second Hidden Blade before Leonardo had even made it for him.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Embers, the Chinese Assassin Shao Jun used a modified Hidden Blade, located along the sole of her shoe. This operated essentially the same as a shoe knife, which was used by the KGB during the Cold War.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Brahman, the Indian Assassin Arbaaz Mir was equipped with a modified Hidden Blade, which could extend into three blades.
  • The Hidden Blade could be used in Valve's Team Fortress 2, under the name Sharp Dresser. It was available for those who pre-ordered Assassin's Creed: Revelations on Steam before December 2, 2011.
  • The NBC series Grimm has featured a vambrace which has been specially modified to include a retractable blade.

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

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