Entry Six

14 April 1579

Who am I? Why am I here? I no longer know… :

I don’t know how long I sat there before one of the guards finally came to get me.

“On your feet,” the guard said gruffly. Judging by his uniform, and the rest of the guard’s uniforms I had seen, I was being held in the palace. Why I was here, I had no idea.

The guard was a big man, with arms about as big around as my legs. He had a thick mustache that wiggled every time he talked. Grabbing my arm, he began leading me somewhere. His boots clicking on the tiles was the only sound along the way. After a few minutes, we stopped at two huge wooden doors. The guard knocked three times on the door, and I heard a faint, “Come!” from inside. He pushed me through the doors ahead of him, and forced me down on my knees.

“Stand up,” the King said. “No need to bow.” I had known I was in the palace, and I had guessed the guard had been taking me to see the King, but what I hadn’t counted on was seeing the man who killed the commander. He was standing stiffly next to the King’s chair.

“Hello Markus,” the King said. Markus?

“My name is Sebastian de Aguilar,” I said lifting my chin. Maybe they had the wrong man, and I would be free to go.

“Hmm, but it’s not,” the King said standing up. I stiffened. What was his problem? I think I know my own name. “Your name is Markus Arevalo.” Arevalo… but that would mean… I stumbled back a few steps, trying not to believe what the King had just said. “That’s right,” he said seeing the recognition in my eyes. “You are my son.”

“The only father I had was Mateo,” I spat. “You will pay for what you did to him!” Was this a joke?

“Ah, but you are wrong again,” the King said taking a step towards me.

“No!” I practically shouted. So much for keeping calm.

“Then how do you explain that?” the King flung a hand behind himself, pointing to a portrait hanging on the wall behind the chair he had just vacated. I hadn’t noticed it before.  I had been too busy focusing on the King. There were three people in the painting: a younger looking version of the King, a child version of Mateo’s killer, and a child version of me. “Mateo was no friend of yours. He kidnapped you when you were five, and shaped you into his mold. You are Markus Arevalo, and you are next in line for the throne.” Surely he was lying. Mateo wouldn’t do something like that, and besides I was an orphan. Mateo took me in and gave me a home when I had none.

“I am not your son, and I have no intention of being King,” I said hoarsely. My throat felt dry as dust.

“I told you he wasn’t fit to be King,” the man who killed Mateo sneered.

“Quiet Jose!” the King snapped. “However, I fear you are right. He is not ready.” Turning to the guard who had gone to stand over in the corner he said, “Take him back. We’ll keep him there until he is ready.”

The guard grabbed my arm and led me back to the cell. I could wait, though. Mateo himself had said I had the patience of a God; and the first chance I got, I was going to avenge his death.

Entry Five

13 April 1579

I no longer know what to believe in. The commander is dead, and La Hermandad de Muerte has fallen. I am being held prisoner, though I have no idea where. The cell I am in is tiny. The stone floor is cold, and it is damp and moldy. There is nothing in here except for an empty food tray in the corner. I was left with all my possessions, except for my weapons, though there is barely enough light with which to write. I do not know how long I have been here, for the light of day does not reach this far below ground. The last thing I remember is talking to a strange man in the commander’s study:

Upon entering the tower, I hurried towards the commander’s study. Since the attack from La Vertud Perdida, the hallways have been all but empty. The only people I passed were servants carrying out various tasks. The kids who, for whatever reasons, could not be trained as assassins, ended up as servants in the tower.

As I reached the commander’s study, I didn’t even pause to knock. I burst through the doors, “Commander, I have…” What I saw in the room though, stopped me dead in my tracks. The commander was lying in the middle of the room, in a puddle of his own blood. His eyes, already glazed over, were fixed in a permanent look of surprise. A man, wearing a black tunic, was going through the stacks of papers that were piled on the commander’s desk. The man was of average height, with short cropped brown hair and his nose seemed almost too big for his face. He looked familiar, but I was certain I had never seen him before. He calmly looked up when I burst into the room.

“Sebastian de Aguilar,” he said smiling.

“How do you know my name?” I asked harshly. I was positive I had never seen this man before. He was not a member of the La Hermandad de Muerte, though he was wearing the tunic of the brotherhood.

“I have been watching you for quite some time,” he said while picking up one of the sheets of papers and tucking it in his tunic. He’d been following me? How had I not known he was there, if he had indeed been watching me for so long? Then again, he had already proven his skills by killing the commander.

He came over to the other side of the desk, stepping over the commander’s body, the hem of his tunic dragging through the blood. I tensed, reaching for my sword. He smiled again, this time showing his teeth.

“I’m not here to kill you,” he said. I kept my hand on my sword hilt.

“What do you want then?” I asked.

“I’m here to take you home.” He stepped closer to me, his right hand disappearing inside his tunic. I tried to draw my sword, but before I could, I saw his hand move quickly towards me. I felt a sharp pain in my head and darkness washed over me.

Entry Four

4 April 1579

Following Gregorio has proven to be a rather difficult task. He didn’t get promoted to captain based on his looks. I have managed to find out some useful information though. The circle of traitors seems to be much bigger than I first thought. I’m beginning to think the commander knows much more about this than he was letting on. After all, Gregorio is doing this right under Mateo’s nose. Most days Gregorio spends his time in the tower, performing tasks for the commander. Yesterday, though, he left the tower on some business. I followed him to the palace:

The city was bustling with life as I followed Gregorio to wherever he was going. The streets were crowded with peddlers and shopkeepers crying their wares. I ignored them for the most part, occasionally stopping at random stalls so as not to seem suspicious. The harvests had been particularly good this year, so the ones selling fruit and vegetables were having no problems getting people to buy their goods. Occasionally farmers’ carts pulled by donkeys and horses rumbled by piled high with harvests.

Weaving in and out of the people, I managed to stay within a good distance of Gregorio, but not too close. He seemed very nervous and kept glancing over his shoulder. Each time he did, he would increase his pace so that he was practically running by the time he reached his destination, the palace. La Hermandad de Muerte had always been on the side of the merchants. Anything we did was for the common working folk. The King was usually on the other side, standing for the rich men. So what was Gregorio doing at the palace?

Watching him go inside, I looked for another way in. Finding nothing, I turned back around and followed the streets toward the back of the palace. The closer I got towards the palace, the less people I encountered on the street, so that the street that ran right behind it was all but deserted. The area was not guarded at all, and I finally found the perfect way in through the gardens. The wall was pretty high, but it provided many footholds, so I was able to climb it easily. After nearing the top of the wall, I listened for any voices or footsteps before climbing over and dropping easily onto the soft grass. I began to walk towards the palace, on the lookout for guards. Before I reached the door though, I heard voices coming from another part of the garden. I crept up just within hearing distance. The King was sitting on the side of a fountain, lazily dipping his fingers into the water. Two guards stood on either side of him with swords at their hips. Standing off to the side, was another man. Upon looking further, I noticed the white rings of La Vertud Perdida on the man’s shoulder. No surprise there. La Vertud Perdida worked for the King, brutally enforcing his laws. It looked like Gregorio had just arrived there as well.

“Sir,” Gregorio said while getting down on one knee and bowing his head. “I believe Mateo knows about “the circle”.” The King stood up, anger painting his face.

“And yet, you came here?” he practically roared.

“Please sir,” Gregorio almost panted while standing up. He unconsciously took a step back from the King’s looming presence. “No one followed me.”

“Are you sure?” the King asked.

“Positive,” he replied. “I have an idea of who Mateo would set to follow me.”

“Who?” the King inquired, while sitting back down.

“Sebastian de Aguilar. Everyone knows he’s Mateo’s pet.”

The King paused, staring into the water of the fountain. “Get close to him,” he said finally. “Watch his every move. He will be the second to die when we attack La Hermandad de Muerte.”

I got up quietly and headed back towards the tower. The commander needed to know about this.

Entry Three

25 March 1579

I’ve been working diligently on the task set to me by the commander, yet I do not think anyone suspects what it is I am doing. I have been careful with what questions I ask, and I have managed to find out some useful facts. Most of the brothers I have spoken to claim to have no idea who the traitor could be, yet their eyes show the lies they speak. We are trained as assassins to be strong, but this shakes them to their cores. I am careful to keep the information secret. I am hesitant even to write it in this journal, because if this fell into the wrong hands, it would send the brotherhood into a state of chaos. However, I will record the conversation between me and the commander:

As I approached the commander’s study, the captain, Gregorio (the commander’s right hand man), looked up from the stack of papers he was shifting through.

“I’m here to see the commander,” I told him. He nodded and got up from the desk. I followed him through the wide archway to a sitting room. On the other side was a room with two huge shut doors. The captain went over and knocked on one three times and then poked his head in the other room.

“Commander, Sebastian is here to see you.”

“Ah yes,” I heard the commander say from inside the room. “Send him in.” I went towards the room at a short nod and gesture from Gregorio, who closed the door behind me. I went to stand in the middle of the study and put my fist over my heart and bowed.

“Commander,” I said curtly.

“Hello my son,” he said calmly. “I suppose you are here with a report of the mission I gave you.” I nodded even though he didn’t see me. He had gone over to stand in front of the window. He continued to stare outside as he spoke again. “There are few things I trust in my life, Sebastian. Man is not one of them. Men are corrupt. Never forget that. Lies and corruption are everywhere, even within our walls I’m afraid. However,” here he turned away from the window to face me. “I would trust you with my life.”

I put my fist over my heart and bowed again. “Your life is safe in my hands,” I said simply. The commander went over and sat down at his desk. He put his arms on it and looked up at me over his clasped hands.

“Now, what report do you have for me?” he asked.

“It is very frightening news sir,” I began. “I have reason to believe that there is circle of traitors within our walls. I believe they are planning to assassinate you.” He was quiet for a while, simply staring at the painting of one of the great commanders that hung behind me. The man in the painting was Marcos de Segura and he had led La Hermandad de Muerte to a great victory over La Vertud Perdida. Every commander of La Hermandad de Muerte aspired to be as great as him.

“It is as I expected then,” he said quietly. I barely masked my surprise. He had known about this? “The situation may be worse than I thought. I fear I can give you no time to rest, for I have something else for you to do, Sebastian. Something much more important than your last mission. I believe I know one of the traitors. I need you to follow him, and report everything he does inside and outside of these walls.”

“As you say sir,” I said. “Who shall I follow?”

“Gregorio.” This time, it was not so easy to mask my surprise.

Entry Two

23 March 1579

Two nights ago we were attacked by the brotherhood La Vertud Perdida. They came in the middle of the night and slaughtered a quarter of our men before someone managed to raise the alarm. They struck at our weakest moment, and they struck hard. Even though we managed to drive them out, they left death and destruction in their path. Our members have dwindled to a little over twenty of the fifty from before. The brotherhood’s existence hangs on a thread. I have included an account of the night’s events below:

I was jerked awake by the sound of steel ringing against steel. A minute later I heard the shout “Invaders! Invaders! Wake for your lives….” The shout was cut short by what must have been a knife. Wasting no time, I jumped out of bed, grabbing my sword and dagger. I opened my door slowly, checking for signs that anyone was there. Detecting nothing, I slipped out into the dark hallway. I ran silently towards where the shout had come from. I could hear distant sounds of ringing steel and shouts coming from parts of the castle. As I continued down the hallway, I heard footsteps coming towards me, and slipped deeper into the shadows of a nearby doorway. My black tunic made me appear as just another shadow. Ahead of me, I saw a head peer cautiously around the corner, and after a few seconds the rest of the man’s body followed. I could just make out the white rings of the brotherhood La Vertud Perdida on right shoulder of the man’s tunic. Slipping silently out of the shadows, I pulled out my dagger and crept up behind him, my soft soled boots making no sound on the stone floor. Acting quickly, I slid my dagger cleanly across the invaders throat. I felt him tense before he crumpled to the floor. Not wasting a second, I ran towards the north end of the castle. If La Vertud Perdida was in the castle, the commander was in trouble. I ran silently, but quickly down the halls, pausing to peer around each corner before continuing on. When I reached the commander’s chambers I found him battling two invaders by himself. It was an even match even though it was two on one. Immediately I pulled out my sword and joined the fight. I took one opponent while the commander took the other. I moved effortlessly around the room, keeping my opponent on the defense. The other man was good, but he was making careless mistakes that would soon cost him his life. I’m not sure how long we fought, but eventually, through one his careless errors, he performed a stance wrong, leaving him wide open. I moved in for the kill, stabbing him cleanly through the middle. After wiping my sword on the fallen man’s tunic, I looked up to see the commander doing the same. The sounds of shouts and ringing steel had faded and the castle was once again quiet. Following the commander out of his chambers, we went to see how much damage had been done.

By this point, everyone in the brotherhood knows that the only reason La Vertud Perdida was able to kill so many of our men, is because there is a traitor among us. Even at our weakest moment, we are stronger than La Vertud Perdida. This is why the commander, Mateo, has ordered me to find this traitor within our ranks and kill him.