Assassin's Creed: Renaissance Page 100

Ezio could see all the sky and the stars, and hear their music. He could see the Earth spinning, as if he were looking down from Space. He could make out continents, even, on them, a city or two.

‘When we were still flesh, and our home still whole, your kind betrayed us. We who made you. We who gave you life!’ She paused, and if a goddess can shed tears, she shed them. A vision of war appeared, and savage humans fought with handmade weapons against their former masters.

‘We were strong. But you were many. And both of us craved war.’

A new image of the Earth appeared now, close by, but still seen as from Space. Then it receded, becoming smaller, and Ezio could see it now as just one of several planets at the centre of whose orbits stood a great star – the Sun.

‘So busy were we with earthly concerns, we failed to notice the heavens. And by the time we did…’

As Minerva spoke, Ezio saw the Sun flare into a vast corona, shedding unbearable light, light which licked the Earth.

‘We gave you Eden. But we had between us created war and death and turned Eden into hell. The world burned until naught remained but ash. It should have ended then and there. But we built you in our image. We built you to survive!’

Ezio watched as from the total devastation that seemed to have been wrought upon the Earth by the Sun, a single ash-covered arm thrust skyward from the debris. Great visions of a windswept plain swept across the sky, which was the Roof of the Vault. Across it marched people – broken, ephemeral, but brave.

‘And we rebuilt.’ Minerva continued. ‘It took strength and sacrifice and compassion, but we rebuilt! And as the Earth slowly healed, as life returned to the world, as the green shoots thrust up out of the generous earth once more… We endeavoured to ensure that such a tragedy would never be repeated.’

Ezio looked at the sky again. A horizon. On it, temples and shapes, carvings in stone like writing, libraries full of scrolls, ships, cities, music and dancing – shapes and forms from ancient times and ancient civilizations he didn’t know, but recognized as the work of his fellow beings…

‘But now we are dying,’ Minerva was saying. ‘And Time will work against us… Truth will be turned into myth and legend. What we built will be misunderstood. But Ezio, let my words preserve the message and make a record of our loss.’

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An image arose of the building of the Vault, and others like it.

Ezio watched, as if in a dream.

‘But let my words also bring hope. You must find the other temples. Temples like this. Built by those who knew how to turn away from war. They worked to protect us, to save us from the Fire. If you can find them, if their work can be saved, then so, too, might this world.’

Now Ezio saw the Earth again. The skyline of the Roof of the Vault showed a city like a vast San Gimigmano, a city of the future, a city of towers crushed together which made a twilight of the streets below, a city on an island far away. And then all coalesced once more into a vision of the Sun.

‘But you must be quick,’ said Minerva. ‘For time grows short. Guard against the Templar Cross – for there are many who will stand in your way.’

Ezio looked up. He could see the Sun, burning angrily, as if waiting. And then it seemed to explode, though within the explosion he thought he could discern the Templar Cross.

The vision before him was fading. Minerva and Ezio were left all alone, and the voice of the goddess now seemed to be disappearing down a tunnel of infinite length. ‘It is done… My people must now leave this world… All of us… But the Message is delivered… It is up to you now. We can do no more.’

And then there was darkness and silence, and the Vault became a dark underground room again, with nothing in it at all.

Ezio turned back. He re-entered the antechamber and saw Rodrigo lying on a bench, a dribble of green bile oozing from a corner of his mouth.

‘I am dying,’ said Rodrigo. ‘I have taken the poison I kept back for the moment of my defeat, for there is no world for me to live in now. But tell me – tell me before I leave this place of wrath and tears for ever – tell me, in the Vault – what did you see? Whom did you meet?’

Ezio looked at him. ‘Nothing. Nobody,’ he said.

He walked back out, through the Sistine Chapel and into the sunlight, to find his friends waiting there for him.

There was a new world to be made.