Based upon a picture. I think you know which one.
I just can’t find it anymore.
By the waterside he walked, gracefully leaping from rock to rock. In the horizon the sails of proud ships streaked the sky in white and flashes of all the colours of the colonies. A deep contrast from the poultry air the man had grown to know in London, the air here was fresh and smelled of salt water and liveliness. Against the bright pastels of the sunrise, it might truly have been a beauty. But the sound of distant gunfire belayed the serenity and brought the cruel reality crashing down. For amongst the smell of sea-salt and fresh air, there was also the stench of carnage and death stinging his nostrils.
From beneath the rubble rose great plumes of smoke, crying for freedom in the murky sky. British flags spread across the waterline of Rhode, a sight unwelcome by the retreating American forces. From afar shouts and cries of pain could be heard and though well out of the reach of danger, the solitary figure amongst the rocks and sand could feel the heat of battle. If only, thought the man, he could have avoided entering the scene of the battle entirely, but inside the fortification there were important documents he had need of and he could not risk losing them after one of his trusted subordinates had passed in the recent fighting.
It seemed the British were on the verge of winning, and so it was of the utmost importance that he moved quickly and slipped by the troops undetected. This would hardly prove a challenge, with all his years of training. And after all, Haytham himself had played his own part in the battle; though he would not soon admit it.
Slipping past the defenses, as he suspected, proved of little difficulty. One misplaced redcoat had fallen to his blade on the way in, and the corpse had been well hidden before he continued inside the wreckage which supposedly had been home to many. Using the debris to his advantage, Haytham avoided the battle the best he could, and was pleased that he never once had to face any soldiers.
Locating the former headquarters of Leopold was the difficult part, the man who had held the documents before his death. While he had the sense of the general area he might have lived, Haytham was unfamiliar with Rhodes and Newport in particular. He was lucky enough to find the etching of a sign that once might have been that of the Order and upon further investigation, found that it was precisely what he was looking for. There was much digging to be done, and once he feared the remaining structure would crumble and collapse atop of him. The second floor had fallen through, but along the outer ridges of what remained of the floor stood a bookcase and half of a desk. It was there that he found the documents he was searching for. At least what remained of them, half charred and words blotted.
It was enough, and taking care to fold the papers, he tucked them safely away. Then he made to escape. During his search the fighting had become worse as the Americans attempted desperately to retreat, kept back by the ruthless English troops, who seemed determined to thoroughly defeat the patriots; granted, for good reason. Though in truth he felt he should have been of some aid to the retreating soldiers, he felt it was more important to escape and have use of the documents. He was determined to use them for his own gain.
By now most of what remained was turning to ruins around him and it made hiding all the more difficult; more walls crumbled than not, and what still remained deemed too much of a risk to use to his advantage. The best he could, he kept to the shadows, ducking instinctively at the sound of cannon fire and creeping towards the outskirts of the battle, where he would hopefully be able to slip away as easily as he had slipped in.
As the area was teaming with redcoats, this was not done so easily and though he did his best to avoid any commotion or attracting any attention, he stumbled upon one scene in particular that caught his attention. As he rounded a corner there was a streak of white and blue, followed by crimson. The strangled cry told him all he needed to know of the man’s fate. His attention was immediately upon the man in white, his son. Connor. For what seemed like an eternity, Haytham could only stare and watch as Connor made corpses of soldiers.
He thought back on the last time he had seen Connor, so long ago. The last he had seen his son; he wanted nothing to do with him. There was such hatred in Connor’s eyes then that he had been unable to argue against him. Now, he was here before him. Might there be the chance to redeem himself, if only a little, should he aid him now? He weighed his options, wondered if he might chance it and nearly approached.
In that moment, Connor turned, spotted him and they met eyes. Such ferocity was there in his son’s eyes that Haytham took a half step back and strangely, felt a heart-wrenching pain. He clutched his chest, glanced down questioningly and looked up just in time to see an incoming cannonball. “Look out!” He cried, contrary to what rationality might have told him.
There was a moment in which Connor’s eyes flicked to the cannonball, saw it coming and grew wide with fear. For all his training, he could not clear himself from the path of it fast enough. It clipped him, perhaps only barely, but it was enough that it would have killed any other man; enough that it would surely kill Connor.
Haytham, for a moment, could not even will himself to move. He was simply still, dazed and staring at the spot where Connor had been just moments before; glaring venomously at him with such loathing that he could have burned a hole through his chest.
Then his eyes fell to where Connor lay, unconscious and gripping the wound that tore through his side. Blood bubbled from his lips with a strangled noise. In an instant, Haytham was at his side, searching desperately for a pulse and finding none. “Connor,” He hissed, pulling his son’s body close while he frantically worked at the wound, tearing his own clothes so that he might better stop the bleeding.
Trying very hard to fight off the sinking feeling that there was no hope for the man, he continued. “Come back to me, Connor.” There was an attempt to sound strong, to no avail. Even as he worked, his fingers trembled and he was reminded too much of all the death he had witnessed already. “I have not given you permission to die here.”
“I swear it, Connor, if you do not wake up,” He paused, giving his limp body a shake. Still, there was nothing. No breath, no pulse, no air. Already, he knew it was too late. There was nothing that would wake his son from his slumber. “Connor, son…”
There was nothing and he was crumbling. From the burning in his chest, threatening to shatter the very structure of his being to the stinging in his eyes. No amount of iron will could keep the well of emotion from thwarting the instinct to run and to survive. Not another death, please. Anything but the loss of Connor, Connor who he was never a proper father to, Connor who did not understand… who now would never understand. His throat was tight, burning with the smoke from battle. “Son, please.” He buried his face in his shoulder. “Even if they’re full of hate,” His eyes squeezed shut and fingers, now bloody, curled around his robes and hair, “Please, Connor. Open your eyes.”