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"Laa shay'a waqi'un moutlaq bale kouloun moumkine."
―The Creed of the Levantine Assassins.[src]
Levantine Assassins
Syrian Insignia-R2
Organizational information
Leader's title

Leader
Mentor

Headquarters

Masyaf (until 1257)
Jerusalem

Locations

Damascus
Acre
Tyre
Alamut

Related organizations

Vigilantes
Cypriot Resistance

Religion

Muslim
Christian
Non-religious

Historical information
Date reorganized

1191, 1257

Additional information
Notable members

Hassan-i Sabbāh
Rashid ad-Din Sinan
Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad
Abbas Sofian
Darim Ibn-La'Ahad

The Levantine Assassins, also known as Hashashin, were the Brotherhood of Assassins located along the Levant, and the leading branch of the Order during the High Middle Ages.

Primarily fighting their sworn enemies, the Knights Templar, during the Crusades, the Levantine Assassins were a more public organization than the other Assassin branches. Centering themselves in their fortress in the village of Masyaf, the Assassins quite often found their headquarters attacked by both Crusaders and Saracens alike.

Under the leadership of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, the Assassin Order was rebuilt, with new techniques created and rules and restrictions undone. Using knowledge gained from an "Apple of Eden" to do so, the Levantine Assassins were eventually spread to different locations around the globe – an effort to make the Assassin Order a more global organization – with the Levantine Assassins becoming the forebearer to many other Assassin branches in the process.

HistoryEdit

Saracen attack on MasyafEdit

"His Excellency wishes to inform you that unless you agree to the demand [for peace] a force will remain here at Masyaf, and that our patience is greater than your store of supplies."
―Šihāb ad-Dīn to Al Mualim, during the peace offer.[src]

By 1176, the Levantine Assassins were under the strict leadership of their Mentor,[1] Rashid ad-Din Sinan,[2] also known under the title of Al Mualim.

In 1176, Masyaf was besieged by the Saracens, in retaliation for a failed assassination attempt on the Saracen leader Salāḥ ad-Dīn. Al Mualim sent Ahmad Sofian as an undercover spy to the Saracen camp, who informed the Assassins of the camp's true location. The Master Assassin Umar Ibn-La'Ahad was then sent to the infiltrate Salāḥ ad-Dīn's tent at night, where he left a message tied to a dagger. However, the Saracen leader was woken up, and alerted the guards. Umar fled, killing a Saracen nobleman in the process.[1]

The next day, Salāḥ ad-Dīn and many of the Saracens left Masyaf, and Šihāb ad-Dīn, Salāḥ ad-Dīn's uncle and second-in-command, traveled to the Masyaf fortress to form a peace treaty. The Saracens would return their captured spy, Ahmad Sofian to the Assassins - who had been tortured and revealed Umar's name to the Saracens - for which the Assassins would have the Saracens take the life of Umar in retaliation for the nobleman's death. Against Al Mualim's will, Umar agreed on the conditions, and the Saracens left Masyaf with Umar's decapitated head.[1]

Templar attack on MasyafEdit

"Your time is running out, old man. Tell me what you know of the artifact! Tell me where you are searching for it. It is a small price to pay to preserve what you have built here, no?"
―Haras to Al Mualim during the attack.[src]
Mentor's keeper 5

The Assassins fighting the Knights Templar during the 1189 attack

By 1189, Al Mualim - also secretly conspiring with the Assassins' sworn enemies, the Knights Templar - was covertly planning to retrieve a "Piece of Eden," an artifact from the First Civilization. This rumor caught the attention of the Templar Haras, who had gone undercover in the Assassin Order beforehand. Successful in capturing the Masyaf fortress, Al Mualim, and several other Assassins, Haras intended to retrieve information on the artifact from Al Mualim. Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, son of the late Umar, rode into Masyaf during the attack, and subsequently ordered Abbas Sofian - his former friend who had become his bitter rival - to flank the Crusader forces in the village and drive them into the canyon, while Altaïr himself went deeper into Masyaf, aiming to rescue Al Mualim.[3]

Locked outside the castle by Haras, Altaïr scaled the fortress walls and made his way towards the traitor, air assassinating him and saving Al Mualim in the process.[3] This event led to Altaïr being elevated to Master Assassin, just as his father was. This also resulted in Altaïr's eventual arrogance and disregard of the Assassin's Creed, which further fueled Abbas Sofian's hatred towards him.[3]

Retrieval of the AppleEdit

"I send you - my best man - to complete a mission that is more important than any that has come before and you return to me with apologies and excuses."
―Al Mualim to Altaïr, upon his failure to bring the artifact.[src]

In 1191, Altaïr and the brothers Malik and Kadar Al-Sayf were sent to retrieve the "Apple of Eden" from Solomon's Temple. Inside the temple, Altaïr broke one of the tenets of the Creed, by killing an innocent man. Progressing further into the temple, the Assassins found Robert de Sable, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and Altaïr strayed from their primary objective to obtain the Apple, hoping to kill de Sable. Revealing himself to the Templars, Altaïr disobeyed yet another one of the tenets; to hide in plain sight. With Altaïr's assassination attempt unsuccessful, Robert threw Altaïr to a wooden beam, causing the main entrance into the temple to be cut off and Altaïr to be routed.[4]

The Al-Sayf brothers were left alone to face the Templars, which resulted in Kadar's death and Malik receiving a severe injury to his left arm, which would later have to amputated. Nonetheless, Malik was able to retrieve the artifact and escape Solomon's Temple, bringing it safely to Masyaf. In the process, Altaïr disregarded the third tenet; to not bring harm upon the Brotherhood.[4]

AC 13

Al Mualim, Altaïr, and Malik hearing news of the Templar attack

However, as Altaïr and Malik both returned to Masyaf separately, the Templars had followed them back, which resulted in yet another attack on the castle. Altaïr, now responsible for many more deaths, climbed the watchtower outside the Masyaf fortress and released a wave of tree logs, which crushed the Templar army and forced Robert to retreat.[4]

Altaïr was punished for his arrogance and disregard of the three tenets of the Assassin's Creed. Stripped off his rank, Al Mualim sent Altaïr on a quest to kill nine Templars around the Holy Land, both from the Crusader and Saracen armies.[4]

Al Mualim's betrayalEdit

Altaïr: "What you plan is no less an illusion. To force men to follow you against their will."
Al Mualim: "Is it any less real than the phantoms the Saracens and Crusaders follow now? Those craven gods who retreat from this world that men might slaughter one another in their names? They live amongst an illusion already. I'm simply giving them another. One that demands less blood."
―Altaïr and Al Mualim about the latter's betrayal.[src]

In Altaïr's absence, Al Mualim studied the Apple, slowly becoming corrupted. When Altaïr killed his ninth and final target - Robert de Sable - at the Battle of Arsuf, months after he started his quest, the Templar Grand Master revealed to Altaïr that Al Mualim himself was a Templar too, but had betrayed them as well.[4]

Simultaneously, Al Mualim had used the Apple to control the minds of the citizens of Masyaf, turning them into mindless followers of Al Mualim. Altaïr, having returned from Arsuf and already making his way towards Masyaf castle, met with Malik Al-Sayf and four other Assassins who had remained unaffected of the Apple's powers. While Malik kept the manipulated Assassins away from Masyaf, Altaïr confronted Al Mualim in Masyaf's courtyard, which the Assassins referred to as "Paradise."[4]

Masyaf Confront

Al Mualim confronting Altaïr with the Apple of Eden

Restrained by the Apple's powers, Al Mualim forced Altaïr to fight clones of the nine Templars. Defeating them one by one, Al Mualim went down to ground level from his balcony to face Altaïr himself with eight duplicates, summoned with the Apple. Altaïr stood victorious, and Al Mualim revealed more about the artifact's history and powers, before facing Altaïr one-on-one with the Apple. Despite the usage of the Apple's powers on Altaïr, the Master Assassin killed the Mentor. Desiring to destroy the Apple, Altaïr found himself enchanted with the artifact and decided to examine it first.[4] Soon after, Altaïr sent Malik to Jerusalem to bring news of Al Mualim's death, while Altaïr went on to burn Al Mualim's body to make sure he would not return - against the rules of the Levantine Assassins.[3]

Civil warEdit

"This is no time to quarrel over the past. We must decide what to do with that weapon!"
―Altaïr to Abbas during the civil war.[src]

While carrying Al Mualim's body to a wooden pyre on a cliffside right outside Masyaf castle, Altaïr met with Abbas Sofian, who labeled Altaïr a traitor to the Order. Refusing to believe Al Mualim had betrayed the Assassins, Abbas convinced several Assassins to rise against Altaïr after he had cremated Al Mualim's body. A small civil war broke out, and Abbas pushed Altaïr from the cliff they stood on to the ground, before running towards the castle to retrieve the Apple. The two divided groups faced off against each other, with Altaïr not physically attacking any of the Assassins, hoping to win their trust.[3]

Mentor's wake 6

Altaïr talking to the Assassins at the burning

Having retrieved the Apple, Abbas climbed the watchtower outside the castle and found himself unable to use the Apple's powers, to which the Apple slowly began to drain the life from Abbas and hurt many other Assassins in the immediate perimeter. Altaïr, moderately unaffected, climbed the tower and saved Abbas from being killed.[3]

Over time, Altaïr issued orders to the Assassins loyal to him, including Malik, that none of the rebels should be harmed. Instead, Altaïr persuaded them of Al Mualim's betrayal and his own ability to lead the Order, winning the loyalty and hearts of the Assassins in the process. Receiving the title of Mentor, Altaïr became the leader of the Levantine Assassins.[1]

Rebuilding and expandingEdit

"Our duty is to the people, not to custom. [...] We shall be made anew..."
―Altaïr, about rebuilding the Order.[src]
AltaïrCodex

Altaïr writing in the Codex

Under Altaïr's leadership, the Levantine Assassins entered an age of renewal and prosperity. Rules and restrictions that were vital under Al Mualim's leadership were discarded, as Altaïr considered them to not be relevant to the main goal of the Assassins; these included the removal of the ring finger, and the disallowance of Assassins to show love and emotion to their children. Most of Altaïr's thoughts and inventions during his time as leader were documented in his Codex, which he continued to write in for the majority of his remaining life.[5]

Together with Malik, Altaïr invented several new assassination techniques for the Assassins, including air assassination, assassination from hiding spots and assassinations from ledges. Altaïr also allowed the use of poison, which resulted in the invention of the Poison Blade, an upgrade for the ordinary Hidden Blade. Eventually, Altaïr recreated the standard Hidden Blade so that it would not need the sacrifice of the ring finger, and also allowed several Assassins - including himself - to wield two of them.[5][3]

During Altaïr's leadership, he strengthened the positions of the Assassins in the Holy Land, also spreading it to other countries such as Cyprus,[5] after having journeyed there to hunt the Knights Templar.[6] Altaïr actively promoted the way of the Assassins in new areas, until his progress was stopped in Constantinople, due to the Fourth Crusade waging on.[1]

The spread of the Assassins' influence was again stopped in 1217, when Genghis Khan had been conquering new areas to expand the Mongol Empire. That year, Altaïr, his wife Maria and his son Darim left for Mongolia, leaving the Order in the leadership of Malik.[1]

Decline of the BrotherhoodEdit

Mukhlis: "He takes our money and gives us nothing in return, where once the citadel was the heart of the community from which came strength, guidance..."
Altaïr: "And protection."
Mukhlis: "That too. All those things left with you, Altaïr, to be replaced by... corruption and paranoia."
—Mukhlis and Altaïr discussing Abbas' reign.[src]

In Altaïr's absence, Abbas began to consolidate power in the Brotherhood, gaining some of the most weak-minded Assassins on his side and turning a violent apprentice, Swami, into his right-hand man.[1]

In 1225, Abbas secretly ordered Swami to kill Altaïr's second son, Sef, and to place the murder weapon on Malik's bed. Malik was found guilty of murder as a result, and imprisoned in Masyaf's dungeons. With Sef dead and Malik out of the picture, Abbas placed a council in charge of leading the Order, consisting solely of men he had gained on his side and with himself at its head.[1]

Two years later, Altaïr and his family returned, successful in their objective to kill the Mongol leader with the aid of the Mongolian Assassin Qulan Gal. Greeted by Swami, he made the family believe that Sef was in Alamut, and Darim quickly rode off to retrieve him. Altaïr and Maria, led to Masyaf castle by Swami, were informed of their son's murder, Malik's imprisonment, and the leadership of the council. Altaïr, not fully believing Malik was responsible for the murder, rescued him from the dungeons and discovered the real truth from him. Leaving Malik sleeping in the bed of their residence, Altaïr and Maria left to confront Abbas.[1]

New regime 6

Altaïr taunting Abbas to take the Apple

Facing each other, both Abbas and Altaïr tried to find flaws in each other to convince the Assassins of their point of view. Eventually, Abbas demanded Altaïr to give him the Apple, to which Altaïr eventually agreed, taunting Abbas. Swami went to retrieve the Apple, telling Altaïr that he told Sef his father ordered the execution, who upon touching the Apple, felt Altaïr's rage flowing through his body. A golden ray erupted from his mouth, and Swami began to mutilate himself. Maria, trying to stop Altaïr from using the Apple, was slit in the throat by Swami in the frenzy, and eventually died in Altaïr's arms. Altaïr, left with no other options, fled Masyaf castle and eventually met up with Darim. Fighting off the attacking Assassins, the two men were able to escape the village,[3] and lived in exile in Alamut.[1]

Abbas disbanded the council some time afterwards,[1] and usurped the title of Mentor,[3] becoming the sole leader of the Order.[1] Under Abbas' reign, the Order became corrupt, straying far from the main goal of the Assassins. The training of Assassins was put to a halt, with the practice area in Masyaf castle no longer being used and the fortress becoming silent. They started alliances with bandits and used violence against the people for enjoyment, also demanding taxes from them. Those who did not cooperate with paying the taxes were either beaten up by the Assassins or banished from the village.

Numerous villagers and Assassins secretly loathed Abbas, hoping for someone to return the Order to its former state. Some Assassins stayed true to the principle of the Creed, including Malik's son, Tazim "Malik" Al-Sayf.[1]

Mentor's return 10

Altaïr facing Abbas one final time

Eventually, after twenty years of exile, Altaïr returned to Masyaf, saving the life of a trader named Mukhlis outside Masyaf. Secretly gaining the support of Assassins and villagers alike, Altaïr marched to Masyaf castle, facing Abbas and his supporters. Not using violence and only capturing the attacking Assassins, Altaïr eventually faced Abbas one-on-one, using a new invention he created during his time in Alamut - the Hidden Gun - against Abbas, killing him and thus freeing the Order from his tyrannical reign.[1]

Altaïr was accepted as leader once more, and revived the Brotherhood back to its former state, while also beginning the construction of a library beneath Masyaf.[1]

Disbandment from MasyafEdit

"His vision for the Order was that the Assassins should go out into the world, he said. They should operate among the people, not above them."
―Niccolò Polo describing Altaïr's motives for disbanding the Order from Masyaf, in his journal; The Secret Crusade.[src]

Due to Altaïr's efforts, all of the neglect under Abbas' rule was undone. However, not too many years afterwards, Altaïr decided that the Assassins should disband from Masyaf,[1] seeing the village's castle as a sign of arrogance and a beacon for their enemies.[3] Instead, he wanted the Assassins to be a widespread organization, secretly acting from the population. He then began to send the Assassins to various locations away from Masyaf, with the castle being nearly abandoned by the time Altaïr's son Darim arrived from a journey across Europe. On his journey, Darim met the tradesmen Niccolò and Maffeo Polo, and had invited them to stay at Masyaf. In June 1257, the Polo brothers arrived.[1]

The torch 7

Altaïr giving Niccolò the Memory Seals

Knowing of the Polo brothers' journeys across Europe and Asia, Altaïr began training the Polo brothers to become Assassins, hoping that they would be successful in founding several Assassins Guilds. Altaïr frequently met with Niccolò, telling him the story of his life, which Niccolò wrote in his journal,[1] later titled "The Secret Crusade."[3] On 12 August 1257, Masyaf was attacked by Mongols, who had destroyed most of the Assassins' fortresses along the Levant the previous year, under the command of Hülegü Khan. After a little over a month in training, the Polo brothers said their farewells to Altaïr and Darim, with Niccolò receiving Altaïr's Codex and several other books to answer his remaining questions.[1] Altaïr led the Polo brothers out of Masyaf during the attack, and gave the brothers the five keys needed to open his library,[3] to guard the items from falling into the wrong hands.[1]

Lost legacy 3

Altaïr locking the Apple away

Returning to the castle, Darim prepared to leave for Alexandria, taking the remaining books from the library with him. Saying farewell to his father in front of the library gate, Darim left the castle and Altaïr locked himself in the library, placing the Apple on a pedestal and imprinting his sixth and final memory into a Seal, before passing away.[3]

After this, the main headquarters of the Levantine Assassins shifted to the city of Jerusalem, one of the largest cities in the Levant. By 1511, the Levantine Assassins were led by an individual called Mujir and were engaged in conflict with the ruling Mamluks. With help of Ottoman Assassins sent from Constantinople by Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Mentor of the Italian Assassins, the Levantine Assassins were able to stabilize their guild.[3]

Origins and appearanceEdit

Mentor's return 2

Altaïr with two Levantine Assassins

The Assassins in the Levant came from various areas across the Middle East, of both Muslim and Christian backgrounds.[1]

The Assassins primarily wore generic white robes.[3] Under Al Mualim's rule, each rank of Assassins had their unique set of robes, with Al Mualim himself dressing fully in black.[4] However, after Altaïr consolidated power in the Brotherhood, the rank-based clothing was discarded, with all Assassins wearing the same set of standard robes, while Altaïr himself continued to wear his Master Assassin robes for the majority of his life.[4]

TechniquesEdit

The Levantine Assassins were the first Assassin branch to use most of the techniques later adopted by other Assassin branches, including air assassinations, ledge assassinations and assassinations from hiding spots; all of which were invented by Altaïr and Malik. Additionally, the two also revised the Order's decision not to use poison as an assassination technique, one of the many revisions they made to combat the increasing difficulty in remaining discreet during their missions.[5]

Nonetheless, the Levantine Assassins wielded no special equipment, only primarily being equipped with a Hidden Blade, a sword, a short blade, and throwing knives, with the amount of weaponry depending on the rank of the Assassin.[4] On special occasions, Altaïr allowed Assassins to wear two Hidden Blades; however, only a limited amount of Assassins were given this privilege, as the materials required to create one were scarce.[5]

Altaïr also invented the Hidden Gun, though he is not known to have distributed any to the rest of the Order, and was only recorded using the gun himself once, to kill Abbas.[3]

ReferencesEdit

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