66 - Epilogue -o- Nascence

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May, 1511

Constantinople, Turkey

The air was salty, as was to be expected while on the open seas, sailing the mostly-calm Mediterranean waters upon the ship. The skies were clear, though, the sun's rays shining down, warming her face even beneath her hood and cloak. It was a little warm, but nothing she couldn't handle. Behind them, an endless horizon that met a blue sky. Before her, a massive city sprawling with all kinds of people she had yet to encounter, even back home. This was an entirely new country, wrought with all new mysteries to solve. Yet, even in all the unknown, a familiar presence remained—Templars. The Byzantines were here, and she knew, somewhere in the shadows, were their own allies. Assassins. They had come for a great purpose here, and she only prayed they would be able to make it in time. After all, if her husband's research into his father's work was right, then there were to be five keys hidden here by Niccolo Polo centuries ago; ones that would open a treasure trove of information and more still that they could not allow to fall into the hands of the Templars, whom vied for the artifacts, too, and even already had one.

And so Catherine Auditore had made the venture to Constantinople, hoping to stop their enemies in this long life of her work. Nearly forty years now an Assassin, but she could never bring herself to leave it. It was a life she had taken willingly, and in it she had found many things: purpose, love, family, pain, horror, despair, darkness, and light—everything. All things came in this world of Assassins and Templars and ancient power, and she would not leave it—just as her husband would not. Just as all those she loved would not, even at the cost of their lives. Still, they went on; all for the hope to protect the people of this world from the control of the Templars. They were Assassins, and they fought for the people; fought to protect their evolution.

Thus, here they were.

"It's bigger than I thought it would be," a voice rumbled, and a firm arm soon was wrapped around her waist, pulling her close. It was her adored husband—her Ezio. Still as strong and charming as ever, although his beard had become thick and gray in his aging years. His salt-and-pepper hair had lost its ponytail at some point, and though she occasionally missed it, she enjoyed his ruggedness. Even his new wrinkles added charm. She, too, had aged, of course, and now had wrinkles of her own, though she retained more of her youth.

She chuckled, lifting her arm to place her gloved hand above his and use the other to lower her hood, revealing the red locks of hair tied into a loose bun that glimmered with gold in the sunlight. Freckles were decorated across her face still, although a scar now lay across her left cheek, almost to her nose—a memory of a time of great darkness and pain, but a time of great growth as well. A time when she became a stronger and better person—somehow. A time of redemption. But that was a time long ago, and while it had brought much sorrow, it had brought something far better.

"Not as big as Roma, though, I think?" Catherine chuckled as her husband placed a warm kiss on her brow. "So, my dear, how are the children doing? Is Mario still pining after that woman—Sofia, was it? The one you said could be my sister?"

"Indeed he is," Ezio snickered, gazing out upon the city. Towers could be seen here and there—perfect places to scout. "It seems he takes after me more than we thought."

"You mean how he likes intelligent, beautiful, redheads?" she smirked, earning one in kind.

He pouted a moment later, though, "Indeed I do. Sadly, he has your shyness."

"Oh, hush. I wouldn't have been shy if you had been sincere. I'm only so glad Diana took after me in that regard."

"What?" the older man guffawed, pulling back in mock hurt. "You weren't any more sincere! I had to force your confession out of you!"

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