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"We must work in the shadow. […] When we assassinate, we assassinate only those who deserve it. The few sick souls who try to control us… but they will never know who we are. Cold, calculated poets of the kill. […] Yes. We are the Hidden Ones."
―Aya, 47 BCE[src]

The Hidden Ones were a precursor incarnation of the Assassin Order operating throughout the Roman Empire. The first organized and developed Brotherhood in its own right, the Hidden Ones were founded in Egypt, 47 BCE, by the Medjay Bayek of Siwa and his wife, Aya, with the stated aim of working from the shadows to ensure that those who would seek to control humanity's free will would die.

In 1050 CE, under the leadership of Hassan-i Sabbāh, they founded a sovereign state in their own right, becoming a more public organization that eventually became known as the Assassin Brotherhood.

History

Foundation

Bayek and Aya's quest for vengeance

Rudjek: "We will find you. We will find you, in your sleep!"
Bayek: "Sleep? I never sleep. I just wait. In the shadows. And I will kill you all. Everyone who sniffed the air that day in Siwa."
―Bayek and Rudjek moments before the latter's death.[src]

In 49 BCE, the Medjay Bayek, the local protector of the Siwa Oasis in Egypt, went hunting with his young son Khemu in order to train him to become his eventual successor. However, when they discovered that Khemu's friend Chenzira was kidnapped by members of the Order of the Ancients, a group that would later evolve into the Templar Order, Bayek ordered his son to run home and proceeded to confront the men. Unfortunately, Bayek was overpowered by them and taken to an Isu vault hidden beneath the Temple of Amun, where they pushed him for information about how to open it, believing that it involved using an Apple of Eden. In order to force him to cooperate, the masked men had kidnapped Khemu and threatened to kill him if Bayek did not provide them with the information.[2]

However, the arrival of Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII resulted in most of the men leaving the chamber in order to avoid being discovered, threatening to kill Khemu if Bayek failed to open the vault by the time they returned. Seeing an opportunity, Khemu stole a knife from one of the remaining men who were standing guard and gave it to Bayek so that he could cut the rope tying his hands. Although he managed to cut the rope and knock some of the men down, Bayek's subsequent attempt to stab one of the men resulted in the man deliberately causing Bayek to stab Khemu instead, killing him.[2]

Khemu's death sent Bayek and his wife, Aya, on a quest for vengeance against the Order. However, Aya was bound to her duties as protector to Queen Cleopatra, who was engaged in a civil war with her husband and brother Ptolemy, who was supported by the Order. The following year, in 48 BCE, Bayek tracked down and killed one of the members of the Order, Rudjek – the Heron - in the Bent Pyramid of Sneferu. Afterwards, Bayek and his friend Hepzefa returned to Siwa, where Bayek killed the priest Medunamun – the Ibis - by bludgeoning him to death with the Oracle's Relic, which Bayek subsequently took with him. Afterwards, Bayek departed to Alexandria in order to see Aya, who had been tracking the remaining members of the Order.[2]

After arriving in Alexandria, Bayek met Phanos the Younger, Aya's cousin, at the Great Library of Alexandria, who informed Bayek that Aya was in hiding due to being hunted by a man named Gennadios and then escorted him to Aya's hiding place. After their reunion, Bayek informed Aya of his successes and she, in turn, informed him that she had managed to kill Actaeon – the Vulture - and had also killed another Order member who had tracked her to her home. Later on, Aya informed Bayek that, through the informants of Apollodorus, she had discovered that their final target, the Snake, was a member of Ptolemy's court. After giving Bayek the Hidden Blade that had been used by Darius to kill Xerxes I, Aya instructed him to kill both Gennadios and the Snake, ensuring her safety and finally completing their quest for vengeance.[2]

Making his way to the Akra Garrison, Bayek killed Gennadios, who, in his dying moments, informed Bayek that the Phylakes would hunt him down and exact revenge. Afterwards, Bayek broke into the office of Eudoros, the royal scribe, in order to find information about the Snake's identity. Searching through a chest in his office, Bayek discovered a false bottom containing a letter from Eudoros to the Ibis that had been stamped with the seal of the Snake, leading Bayek to conclude that Eudoros was the Snake. Infiltrating the bathhouse, having been told by Aya that Eudoros often spent his time there, Bayek managed to locate Eudoros and killed him with the Hidden Blade, although he also accidentally cut off his own ring finger during their brief struggle and, as he escaped the bathhouse, cauterized the stump of his ring finger with a burning stick taken from a brazier.[2]

Alliance with Cleopatra

Cleopatra: "You are my Medjay now! Protector of the true Pharaoh of Egypt."
Bayek: "So it shall be! Tonight, we drink, celebrate, make love! Tomorrow..."
―Bayek pledging allegiance to Cleopatra.[src]

After returning to Aya and sharing a moment of intimacy, Bayek was told by Aya to seek out Apollodorus in order to confirm that Eudoros was the last member of the Order, while she, in turn, would go to Phanos to inform him of the death of Gennadios and promised to see Bayek later. After meeting Apollodorus in Kanopos, Bayek rescued his messenger, Damastes, and recovered the scroll he had been carrying, which was meant for the Roman general Pompey in an effort to sway Rome to Cleopatra's side. Afterwards, Bayek and Apollodorus traveled to the latter's estate, where Cleopatra and her court were residing. After meeting Cleopatra and Pasherenptah, a high priest from Memphis, Bayek and Aya were informed that the men they had killed were part of a larger organization known as the Order of the Ancients and that Eudoros was actually the Hippo, instead of the the Snake. When Cleopatra asked for him to serve as her Medjay, Bayek accepted, taking off his old Medjay badge that marked him as Ptolemy's Medjay, and replacing it with the one offered by Cleopatra.[2]

Later on, Bayek was sent to Sais by Apollodorus in order to track down and assassinate a member of the Order known as the Scarab, who was oppressing the people in the region and summoning warriors to the ancient city of Letopolis. Eventually, after helping defend Letopolis from reavers, Bayek discovered that the Scarab was Letopolis' leader, Taharqa, and assassinated him. Meanwhile, Aya, accompanied by Damastes and Phoxidas, was sent by Cleopatra to the Aegean Sea to assist the military general Pompey and initiate an alliance with him. Encountering and destroying several ships sent by Ptolemy, Aya and Phoxidas succeeded in aiding the Roman general and convinced him to accept the alliance, which resulted in him sending his fleet to Egypt shortly afterwards.[2]

Traveling to a marketplace in Giza, Bayek spoke to Mered, Apollodorus' contact, in order to find his next target, the Hyena. After Bayek paid him a fee and ran an errand for him to retrieve his stolen horse, Mered informed him that the Hyena's name was Khaliset and told him the location of her lair. Making his way to her lair, Bayek discovered a detailed map of the Pyramid of Khufu, which allowed him to track her to the pyramid. Finding a room full of ancient technology, Bayek discovered that Khaliset was conducting a ritual to bring her deceased daughter, Eshe, back to life. After Khaliset confronted him, Bayek chased her through the tunnels and outside of the pyramid, eventually succeeding in killing her.[2]

Bayek subsequently traveled to Memphis in order to find and assassinate an Order member called the Lizard. Speaking with Pasherenptah at the Temple of Ptah, Bayek learned that the Lizard was spreading a plague throughout Memphis, causing many people to get sick as well as resulting in Pasherenptah's wife, Taimhotep, suffering three miscarriages. Following Pasherenptah's advice, Bayek visited Taimhotep's Seer in order to ask him for information and participated in a ritual that resulted in Bayek having a dream about his son. Upon waking up, Bayek was informed by the Seer that the "curse" in Memphis was caused by the Lizard poisoning the temple food. After reuniting with Aya, who had come to Memphis to prepare for Cleopatra's arrival, the two traveled to the Temple of Ptah in order to discover the cause of the Apis Bull's poisoning. Upon discovering that the poisoners were twin priestesses who had been pressured into poisoning the bull by bandits who had kidnapped their brother, Panchrates, Aya stayed with the priestesses while Bayek traveled to the Temple of Hathor and rescued Panchrates. Upon bringing him home, Bayek was told by Panchrates that the one who ordered his abduction was a priest of Anubis at the Great Temple who wore a blue scarf and had a terrible cough.[2]

After reuniting Panchrates with his sisters, Bayek and Aya raced to the Royal Palace and informed Cleopatra and Pasherenptah of the Lizard's identity as a priest of Anubis, whom Pasherenptah specifically identified as Hetepi. Making his way to the Temple of Ptah, Bayek assassinated Hetepi and subsequently reported his death back to Pasherenptah and Cleopatra. Afterwards, Bayek and Aya celebrated the Festival of Apis together before being seperated again, with Aya accompanying Cleopatra to Herakleion in the north while Bayek left to track down his next target.[2]

While traveling through Faiyum, Bayek was informed by a storyteller of Aya and Phoxidas' exploits at sea, where they had managed to destroy the Gabiniani fleet. Afterwards Bayek traveled to Soknopaiou Village in order to meet Hotephres, an informant, for information regarding his next target, the Crocodile. However, Bayek discovered that Hotephres' bureau had been ransacked and eventually discovered a letter revealing that the Crocodile knew who he was and had ordered the arrest of one his servants, who was then taken to a nearby military camp, while Hotephres himself had managed to flee. After infiltrating the camp and saving the servant, Bayek was informed by him that Hotephres had taken a trader's ship to Lake Moeris and that the Crocodile had hired mercenaries to find him. After making his way to Hotephres' ship, Bayek informed him of his search for the Crocodile, prompting Hotephres to reveal that he had stolen a ledger from a Greek magistrate he suspected of corruption, which contained the true identity of the Crocodile. Hotephres revealed that he had given the ledger to his wife, Khenut, and then gave a Bayek a doll belonging to his daughter, Shadya, which would allow Khenut to identify Bayek as a friend.[2]

After making his way to Hotephres' family, Bayek gave Shadya her doll and looked through the villa in search of the ledger. Eventually, by reading an excerpt from Shadya's diary, Bayek discovered that Shadya had taken the ledger with her. After discovering that Khenut and Shadya had been taken to the Lighthouse by soldiers, Bayek made his way there. However, by the time he arrived, Shadya had been drowned within the pier, having had her feet bound to a tether sunk within the riverbed. After retrieving Shadya's body, Bayek brought it to her parents. Although the ledger had been lost, Hotephres revealed that Khenut had stated that there had been other men with the soldiers and, based on her description of them, he identified the men as gladiators from the arena in Krokodilopolis. After promising to avenge Shadya's death, Bayek traveled to Krokodilopolis to investigate.[2]

When the Order had Pompey murdered, Bayek helped Cleopatra meet with Pompey's rival, general Julius Caesar, in Alexandria, which formed a successful alliance. The two later aided Cleopatra by unlocking the door to the tomb of Alexander the Great.[2]

However, this allowed the Order's leader, Flavius Metellus – the Lion – who was manipulating Caesar as well, to obtain Alexander's Staff of Eden. The Staff, used in conjunction with the Oracle’s Relic, in actuality an Apple of Eden, taken from Cleopatra's follower Apollodorus, allowed the Order access to the Siwa Vault. In 47 BCE, after Caesar and Cleopatra discharged Bayek and Aya from their service, the two returned to Siwa to stop Flavius Metellus, who they now knew to be the man ultimately responsible for their son's death. Arriving in Siwa, the two found the town’s people in a state of paralysis and the Vault already opened. Bayek pursued Flavius to Cyrene where he eventually avenged Khemu's death, reacquiring the Apple in the process.[2]

Meanwhile, in Alexandria, Aya recruited the Roman Senators Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, political opponents of Caesar, to their cause. Determined to leave for Rome to combat the Order there, Aya and Bayek named their new brotherhood the Hidden Ones, laying out the foundation of the Creed and their customs.[2]

Early activities

Expansion into Rome

While Bayek established a bureau in Memphis, Aya set sail across the Tyrrhenian Sea towards Rome, accompanied by Damastes and Phoxidas. In 46 BCE, their ship was attacked by a Roman fleet, but they successfully managed to sink the ships and made port in Antium shortly afterwards. From there, Aya made her way to Rome and established a bureau there.[2]

Aya founded the Roman branch of the Hidden Ones, and aside from Brutus and Cassius, also recruited several other Roman Senators, as well as the Roman philosopher Publius Volumnius.[2][3] The Roman branch of the Hidden Ones referred to themselves as Liberatores.[4]

Assassination of Julius Caesar

"[Caesar] has created his own private senate, filled with deceivers, manipulators, people who have no business in Roman affairs. My brothers are eager for blood, but I am not certain I can spill it."
―Marcus Junius Brutus on Julius Caesar, c. 44 BCE.[src]
Assassination of Julius Caesar

The Hidden Ones killing Julius Caesar

By 44 BCE, Julius Caesar had become the new head of the Order of the Ancients, with Lucius Septimius as his right hand. With Aya as their leader,[2] Brutus and Cassius spearheaded a conspiracy with thirty-eight other Roman Senators who also opposed Caesar's imperialist ideals after he was appointed dictator for life. After being assigned by Cassius as the one to come up with the plan of assassinating Caesar, Brutus designated a temple preceding a sealed First Civilization vault, hidden beneath what would eventually become the Santa Maria Aracoeli, as a meeting place for his co-conspirators.[5][4] Having received visions of Caesar's future assassination within the vault, Brutus was further motivated and scheduled their attack for the Ides of March.[5]

On 15 March 44 BCE, Aya, Brutus, and Cassius went to the Theatre of Pompey where the Roman Senate was to convene. While Brutus and Cassius went to the curia, Aya fought and killed Septimius – the Jackal – before joining her brothers in the Senate. Aya was the first one to strike Caesar, followed closely by the Roman Senators. Caesar resisted at first, but resigned himself to his fate upon recognizing Brutus.[2][5] Shortly thereafter, Aya adopted the name Amunet.[2]

Driven to severe guilt from his actions, Brutus later returned to the Colosseum, and abandoned the dagger he had used to strike down Caesar within the vault, along with his heirloom armor and the scrolls describing his dreams and discovery of the vault. These scrolls also contained drawings of the chamber and its pedestal.[5]

Attempted resurrection of Brutus

"Whatever power lies within this artifact, it has not returned our Brother to us."
―Publius Volumnius commenting on the failed resurrection of Brutus.[src]
Philippi, Macedonia

The Shroud covering the deceased Brutus

After the assassination, the Senate, led by Caesar's friend and co-consul Marcus Antonius, passed an amnesty for his assassins. Nonetheless, uproar among the population forced Brutus and Cassius to flee from Rome, and a civil war ensued.[6]

In 42 BCE, armies under the command of Marcus Antonius and Octavian clashed with those of Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi in Macedonia, and Cassius was killed in the ensuing battle. Faced with inevitable defeat, Brutus fled and committed suicide shortly thereafter.[6]

After Brutus' death, his fellow Hidden Ones gathered in Philippi, Macedonia and tried to reanimate him using a Shroud of Eden. Since they had never used it before, the Hidden Ones feared its effects, but nevertheless wrapped Brutus in the cloth. Though the corpse opened its eyes and moved its arms, it neither breathed nor reacted to any touch, and eventually fell still in a seeming "second death".[6]

As some of the Hidden Ones wept, Brutus was wrapped instead in a burial mantle, and the Shroud was returned to its wooden storage box.[6]

Assassination of Cleopatra

On 12 August 30 BCE, seventeen years after the formation of the Hidden Ones, and thirteen years after Aya had decided to spare Cleopatra's life after killing Caesar,[2] the Assassin then known as Amunet(Aya's new identity) killed the Egyptian Queen in Alexandria, by using a poisonous asp.[7]

Activities in the Roman Empire

Assassination of Caligula

In 27 BCE, the Roman Republic had been transformed into the Roman Empire by Octavian. The third Emperor who reigned over this new empire, Caligula, was influenced by the Order. This turned him into a target for the Hidden One Leonius, who assassinated him with a dagger in an underground corridor beneath Palatine Hill on 24 January 41 CE.[7]

Securing the Ankh

"The power of this artifact has yet to be uncovered, but the object itself possesses a strong symbolic value for our circle..."
―Lucius to his son Aquilus about the Ankh, in a message recorded by the artifact, 259.[src]

Some time before 59 CE, Lugos traveled to Egypt to recover two Pieces of Eden, the Ankh and the Scepter of Aset, which had been found in a pyramid by Roman plunderers. However, while carrying the two artefacts aboard his ship back to Rome across the Mediterranean Sea, a terrible storm opened an enormous waterway within the ship, causing it to sink. Before his demise, Lugos recorded a message with the Ankh, detailing the ongoing events and lamenting the failure of his mission.[8]

By the mid-3rd century, the Roman branch of the Hidden Ones, now known as the Liberalis Circulum (Circle of Liberals), had spread throughout the Roman Empire, with members operating in Gallia, Germania and Iberia.[8]

AC1D Aquilus Gracchus

Aquilus in General Gracchus' tent

By 259 CE, a group of Hidden Ones operated from the city of Lugdunum. That year, the Aleman Hidden One Accipiter managed to obtain a Precursor artifact known as the Ankh, which had resurfaced in Germania. The Gallo-Roman Hidden One Aquilus, who was also a cousin of Accipiter, was tasked by his father Lucius with first assassinating three known associates of the proto-Templars, Senator Caius and Generals Titus and Gracchus, and then to retrieve the artifact in Accipiter's possession.[9] However, his third target, General Gracchus, had learned of the deaths of Caius and Titus and knew of Aquilus' intentions. As such, when Aquilus entered his tent, Gracchus ordered him to be disarmed and, after questioning him about his allegiance, stabbed him, causing him to lose consciousness.[10] Fortunately for the Hidden One, Aquilus was saved by his cousin, whose army had ambushed the camp shortly afterwards. After nursing him back to health, Accipiter gave Aquilus the Ankh. The Gaul then took the artifact back to his father in Lugdunum.[9]

After reuniting with his father and getting reacquainted with Senator Caïus Fulvus Vultur, an old friend of the family, Aquilus gave the artifact to his father and informed him of how General Gracchus had been expecting his approach and stabbed him, which led him to conclude that they had been betrayed. When asked whether he had any idea as to who the traitor was, Lucius replied that Faustinus, the bishop of Lugdunum, had visited them a rather large number of times, concluding beyond any doubt that he was the traitor. Before leaving to go interrogate Faustinus, Aquilus was informed by his father about the Ankh's powers, which he described as a "temporary resurrection".[9]

AC2A - Aquilus Faustin interrogation

Aquilus interrogating Faustinus

Making his way to Faustinus' home, Aquilus woke him up in the middle of the night and threatened to kill him for his treachery. After Faustinus stated that he had no choice and that Emperor Gallienus had forced them to provide him with any information they had on matters that conflicted with the intentions of the empire, Aquilus demanded to know who his collaborators were. After Faustinus claimed to have acted alone, Aquilus beat him and finally managed to get him to reveal his contact in Rome, Senator Caïus Vultur. Taking advantage of Aquilus' surprise, Faustinus attempted to flee, but was then killed when Aquilus threw a knife into his back.[9]

After escaping from Faustinus' home by jumping through a window, Aquilus hurried home to inform his father of Vultur's betrayal. However, he disovered that he was too late when he found his father's body and then followed a moaning sound, which came from his father's servant Weke. Aquilus asked Weke what hap happened and who had killed his father, but Weke, with his dying breath, only cryptically replied that "eagles do not fear vultures... but they should learn to be wary of them.", which only managed to confuse Aquilus. A maid then came up to Aquilus, telling him Caïus had fled after killing both Lucius and Weke, and had taken the Ankh with him.[9]

Aquilus tracked Vultur to Rome, where he eliminated him and his fellow conspirators, and retrieved the artifact. Later, the arrest and execution of Aquilus was ordered by the prefect of his home city, but even after Aquilus' death, the artifact was successfully hidden. It was this same Prefect with whom Cuervo, an Iberian Hidden One sent to preserve the Circle's interests in Lugdunum from the Germanic armies raiding the Empire, and Accipiter were negotiating the spare of the Roman city in exchange for a significant tribute to the Alemanni.[8]

After Accipiter negotiated a truce with the Prefect of Lugdunum on behalf of the Alemanni, he attempted to rescue Aquilus, who was killed by Roman guards during Accipiter's ambush. Accipiter left the Ankh in the care of Aquilus' wife Valeria.[8]

Foundation of Constantinople

In the 4th century, an unidentified Roman Hidden One operated in the Roman Empire during the rise of Constantine I as emperor, witnessing the foundation of Constantinople.[11][12]

Reformation into the Assassin Brotherhood

In 1050, under the leadership of Hassan-i Sabbāh, the Levantine branch of the Hidden Ones founded a sovereign state in their own right from their capital of Alamut, openly operating from the purportedly impregnable fortress as a public organization which eventually became known as the Assassin Brotherhood. Under Hassan's command, public assassinations occurred much more often, and the people were encouraged to stand up to their oppressors, realizing that they were not on their own.[13]

The Hidden Ones were not the only faction to take on a more public identity, however, with the Order of the Ancients similarly reorganizing itself into the Order of the Knights Templar. This would bring the Assassin-Templar War into the public eye for some time.[13]

When Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad became Mentor of the Levantine Brotherhood, he worked to once more reform the order into a more secretive organization, as it had been during the time of the Hidden Ones, and fully accomplished this task by the time the Mongols conquered Masyaf. Thanks to Altaïr's efforts, the Brotherhood was turned into a secretive organization once more.[14]

Members

Ptolemaic Egypt / Roman Republic

Roman Empire

(Julio-Claudian Dynasty)

(3rd Century)

(Constantine Dynasty)

High Middle Ages

Allies and puppets

Ptolemaic Egypt / Roman Republic

Gallery

References

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