"What's this? No words of wisdom for me? Surely I have failed in some spectacular fashion?"
"You performed as an Assassin should; no more, no less! That you expect praise for merely doing as told, however, troubles me."
"It seems everything I do troubles you."
"Reflect on that."
Like all of those either born or brought into the Assassins Order, Malik A-Sayf began his life in the Brotherhood at a young age. However, this much is up for speculation, as we never learn about Malik’s past, or if he has ever known any other family members besides his younger brother, Kadar because Rev is actually applying for a supporting character for a change. Though some hints would indicate that he very nearly rivaled the skills of the talented Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad as Master Assassin (his brother, meanwhile, had ascended to the rank of a Journeyman Assassin, a rank that is neither Novice nor Master). As every member of the order do, they, too, spent most of their lives learning the ways of the Creed.
Malik was also born in 1165 AD, during the time of the Third Crusade when he served the Assassins Brotherhood. The Assassins Order, or the Hashshashin, was an organized group in continuous opposition against the Knights Templar. While they had grown rapidly in power throughout the twelfth century, using their power of authority to strike down on the people, the Assassins were dispatched to contend them and their leaders long after the Templars disbanded in 1312 (way after Malik’s time, obviously).
The important part in Malik’s life began when their master, Al Mualim, sent Altaïr along with both of the A-Sayf brothers on a special mission to Solomon’s Temple. On the surface, their task seemed to be quite simple: Retrieve the temple’s treasure, and send it back to their master in Masyaf. None of them were given the specifics, however, neither did they question their master’s authority. All they were told was that it was to be a great honor to be granted this task, given the importance of this particular artifact.
Due to Altaïr’s arrogance, however, their mission didn’t transpire so smoothly.
It started when Altaïr killed an unsuspecting innocent during their investigation through the temple. In spite of Malik’s insistence that the old man did not need to die, Altaïr broke the first ideology of their Creed: Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent. Regardless, Altaïr claimed that his way was better than the methods their master had taught. When asked what he would have done, Malik explained that he would not have drawn attention to them, taken the life of an innocent, and regarded everything their master had taught them. Even then, Kadar expressed a great deal of admiration in Altaïr’s skill, which seemed to frustrate Malik further.
Upon closing in on the treasure, the three were crossed with Robert de Sable, a lieutenant of King Richard’s as well as the Grand Master of the Knights Templar. Altaïr considered this their chance at being rid of Robert by exposing himself to their enemy; another act that Malik objected to at the risk of Altaïr breaking yet another one of their tenets: Always be discreet.
Of course, that didn’t stop Altaïr, and in his stubbornness, exposed himself to Robert and his men before attempting to assassinate the lieutenant. His failure to do did not come without a grave price: Not only was Altaïr cut off from both Malik and Kadar, but the two brothers were sequentially left to die while Altaïr departed to Masyaf and report of their failure. The details of what Altaïr had left behind are vague; what we do know is that Kadar is consequentially killed in the conflict, and Malik gravely injured his left arm in his attempt to escape.
One thing does go right during this encounter, however, in that Malik somehow managed to retrieve the treasure from the temple, and make a quick getaway. Unfortunately, he failed to successfully avoid the Templars, pursuing the Assassins to Masyaf in order to reclaim the treasure Malik had stolen. He was at least able to return to their village in time to make an ass out of Altaïr in front of Al Mualim, both who believed the two brothers to be dead. Malik laid blame on Altaïr, stating that his actions nearly cost them victory. With that, he presented the treasure from Solomon’s Temple to Al Mualim, as well as news of the Templar invaders attacking Masyaf.
Because of his injuries, Malik was unable to partake in the battle, leaving Altaïr and the other Assassins to drive Templars out of Masyaf. The result of his wounds cost Malik his entire left arm. To make life suck for him even more, he was no longer able to equip himself with the hidden blade, and as such he was stripped of his status as an Assassin entirely. Not much to anyone’s surprise, Altaïr had been relegated from his title of Master Assassin even after driving out the Templar Knights from Masyaf, rendering his title as a mere Novice; the lowest of the ranks. Malik, of course, saw this to be a highly lenient punishment for Altaïr’s actions, who believed that a life should be exchanged for his brother’s life. However, because of Altaïr’s rank and skill, Al Mualim thought it to be a waste of both time and skill on everyone’s part, much to Malik’s chagrin.
Demoted to Rafiq (a scholar rank just below the caste system; Assassins being the highest of the ranks), Malik assumed leadership of the Assassin’s Bureau in Jerusalem. There, he took on the task of providing information and guidance to his fellow Assassins. It was also his responsibility to determine whether or not if Altaïr had enough knowledge on their target in order to perform the assassination, and if not, he was to provide advice on where to gather information. In addition to being made a Rafiq, Malik also earned the title of “dai”, who are direct representatives of the imam, an Islamic leadership position of spiritual leaders. While embittered by his demotion, Malik’s dedication to the Brotherhood persevered, as that was the only reason he could justify aiding Altaïr on his missions.
Over the course of what was probably less than one year since the incident at Solomon’s Temple, Altaïr returned to the bureau in Jerusalem, reporting to Malik before carrying out an assassination. In order to redeem himself for his failure, Al Mualim ordered Altaïr to kill nine people. The moment Altaïr walked into the bureau for the first time since the attack at Masyaf, he was immediately met with harsh criticism from Malik; it was no surprise that the dai still begrudged Altaïr for his actions. Nevertheless, he provided his rival with the information needed in order to successfully carry out his task, if only because it was what Al Mualim desired.
Altaïr’s first target in Jerusalem was Talal, a slaver who was publicly assassinated shortly after Altaïr achieved his mission. He returned to the bureau to report to Malik of his success, to which Malik replied: “I know… In fact, the entire city knows!” Naturally, the dai was not nearly as impressed with Altaïr for not taking such discretion during Talal’s assassination, even when Altaïr argues that a good assassin would “make sure his work is known by the many”. At this time, Malik saw himself on the complete opposite spectrum, as though he saw Altaïr, too, as his enemy. Malik was quick to brush Altaïr back to Masyaf.
Altaïr came back after Al Mualim ordered him to take out Majd Addin, the regent of Jerusalem who appointed himself as leader during the absence of the city’s proper ruler, Saladin. In Saladin’s absence, Majd Addin ruled the people of Jerusalem through fear and intimidation, prosecuting many innocents or, at least, exaggerated their crimes to the point where the crowds would scream and demand for their deaths. Not surprisingly, Malik continued to berate Altaïr, addressing him as “Novice” and then explaining that “a man’s skills is defined by his actions; not the markings on his robe”, further proving that he expressed much resentment towards his fellow Assassin. Malik rebukes his verbal punching bag some more before explaining to Altaïr that one of the men Majd Addin had ordered to be executed was one of their own. As long as Altaïr carried out his mission before Majd Addin executed the (potentially all wrongly accused) prisoners, Malik’s own men would take care of the rescue.
Strangely enough, Altaïr did not return from Majd Addin’s assassination to scorn, much to his own astonishment. Rather, Malik proceeded to tell Altaïr: “You performed as an Assassin should—no more, no less.” What troubled him more was the fact that he expected praise for merely doing what he was supposed to. Altaïr noted that everything he did troubled Malik, which, to this, Malik had not much else to say but: “Reflect on that. But do so on your way to Masyaf.”
Later on, when Altaïr returned to Jerusalem, Malik’s impression of the Master Assassin had changed drastically, this time greeting Altaïr with “safety and peace” rather than the usual harsh criticism Malik would exchange under the previous circumstance. It was then that Malik had accepted that, through his actions and words, Altaïr was no longer the man he knew—a man who no longer so much as sought revenge but knowledge. Altaïr then shared his concerns with Malik, that all of the nine men he had killed between the cities of Acre, Jerusalem, and Damascus were somehow tied together; that they were not really allied with King Richard, when they only served Robert de Sable under the idea that they will somehow stop the war. He also divulged that the citizens were divided on the subject of Robert de Sable and the previous eight targets; many of them in turmoil, but others who insisted that all of the men Altaïr had killed were there to parley. Altaïr and Malik were both perplexed by the fact Robert de Sable would intend to make peace, Malik realizing that this would technically make them their allies, and yet Al Mualim wanted them all dead.
Before Altaïr left for Majd Addin’s funeral that Robert would be attending, he finally fessed up and realized that he’d never said that he was sorry, both that Malik had lost his arm and his brother as a consequence of his actions, and that he’d merely been too proud to apologize. While Altaïr accepted that Malik had every right to be angry, Malik did not accept the apology, if only because he saw that Altaïr had changed. For that reason, Malik felt that there was nothing left that needed apologizing for.
Altaïr reported back from his assassination with news that things, once again, did not go as according to plan. After his attempt to kill Robert, Malik had already caught word that the funeral had become a place of chaos. He learned that the entire scene had been a trap set for Altaïr and that Robert had sent another in his place. Altaïr explained that the imposter had told him where Robert had gone. The two argued over whether or not if Altaïr should return to Masyaf to seek council from Al Mualim, or head straight to Arsuf to finish what he was sent out for. There, Robert de Sable intended to plead his case to King Richard in order to unite the Saracen and Crusaders against the Assassins. Because of the men that Altaïr had killed in each city, the armies would have more than enough reason to take out the Assassins of Masyaf. Altaïr insisted that he did not have time to go back to Al Mualim, and that he must head for Arsuf immediately before Robert united the nations against the Assassins. In spite of this serious conversation, Malik took the time to vacillate on the fact that Altaïr had mentioned “she” when referring to the imposter who had told him of this information, because YOU KNOW WHAT WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE IN UNIFORM THIS IS THE TWELFTH CENTURY WHAT THE HELL.
In any case, Malik felt that Altaïr acting out on his own could, once again, compromise the Brotherhood. Altaïr accused Malik of using the Creed as more of a shield than anything else, and suggested that Malik head to Masyaf while Altaïr go to Arsuf instead. Malik claimed he was unable to leave the city, but he could walk among its people and search for those who followed the men Al Mualim had targeted, in case Altaïr had missed anything.
After they spoke, Malik stepped out of Jerusalem anyway, leaving to Solomon’s Temple with some of his men while Altaïr left to assassinate Robert de Sable in Arsuf. Malik then discovered Robert had left a journal at the temple, revealing that not only Al Mualim betrayed them, but that he was a Templar as well; Al Mualim had used them from the beginning in order to obtain the Piece of Eden—the treasure that they had stolen from Solomon’s Temple with the power of illusions and manipulations.
By the time Malik made it to Masyaf, Al Mualim had already activated the Piece of Eden in order to control the minds of everyone in the city to follow under his command. Citizens were walking like zombies, and their fellow Assassins were turned against them. Malik and his four remaining men, being the only ones not yet affected by the Piece of Eden, aided Altaïr while being overwhelmed by other Assassins under Al Mualim’s influence. After explaining to Altaïr what was discovered, he suggested that they attack the fortress from behind in order to distract the Assassins from Altaïr, and to avoid killing anyone if possible. Just because Al Mualim is a douchebag, didn’t mean that they had to disregard everything they had been taught as well.
The two parted ways, allowing for Altaïr to move in on the fortress to assassinate Al Mualim. Malik and his men managed to catch up to Altaïr later after the death of their master just in time to watch the Piece of Eden being activated and revealing a holographic map of the world.
Which is weird, because holograms? In my Crusades?
It is more likely than you think!
At first, Malik A-Sayf is harsh and brazen; most particularly so in regards to Altaïr, and with good reason, of course. In general, though, Malik seems like a pretty grumpy guy, but chalk that up for a failed mission and the death of a brother, both of which could have been avoided. For a long time, Malik held much resentment for the way things went back at Solomon’s Temple. Malik, who probably always harbored some resentment towards Altaïr, was oftentimes sarcastic and cold towards his fellow Assassin while the two frequently shared metaphorical daggers in their conversations (i.e. “Thinking of another great plan, Altaïr? Like the one back at Solomon’s Temple?!”). It goes without saying that he’s definitely one to hold grudges.
Despite his left arm being out of commission, Malik is hardly much of a cripple. As a matter of fact, he never really regards it when making any reference to the events at Solomon’s Temple. Shortly after the incident, for instance, Malik even chided Altaïr: “If were not by your arrogance, de Sable would be dead, and my brother would still be alive!” While his arm probably did not help with his grief, he was obviously more devastated over his own brother’s death to hold it against anyone other than himself.
This could also be because Malik admits that he has always been envious of Altaïr, which in effect caused himself to be just as careless; for this, he also holds himself to blame over Kadar’s death. He believes that, as Assassins, they should share the pain in both their glories and defeat, and by this, they grow closer and stronger.
Malik had always been respectful, following the Creed that their master had taught them: Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent, Always be discreet, and Never compromise the Brotherhood. Among the tenets, the most cryptic one would be Nothing is true, everything is permitted. This last tenet held different meanings, in that nothing anyone says how one should be or act is true, and everything imaginable within possibility’s reach is allowed to happen.
As both a Rafiq and dai, Malik does convey some educated and leadership qualities; he would not in charge of the Assassin’s Bureau in Jerusalem and a designated a spiritual leader if he wasn’t competent. Even though he is accused of hiding behind words and using the tenets as a shield (both of which are likely true in Malik’s case), he still stresses the importance of discretion and subtlety in order to avoid compromising the Brotherhood. He has no reservations in holding back when it comes to voicing his opinion, making him cynical and blunt in the process.
He is dedicated. This sign of dedication is shown when an Assassin, as an initiation process, is required to sacrifice their left ring finger in order to express their level of dedication. Of course, later on this process of dedication caused his arm to be amputated, but he reveals no sign of regret for his actions nevertheless. He is loyal without a fault and firm to his beliefs and cause, almost to a point where it potentially clouds his judgment from seeing the bigger picture: Nothing is true.
Intelligent and wise in his young age, Malik describes himself as perceptive, putting him in the role of an ideal informant. In addition to his skills in topography, Malik also specializes in cartography, creating maps of detailed, intricate accuracy. His ability to establish connections with those around him is a way of always keeping himself in the know, long before anyone else. Though he still is strong in his belief that a true Assassin can never really know anything; they can only suspect, and that they must always suspect that a mission might not go the way they planned. That way, it’s easier to adapt when a situation has turned to chaos, and use the chaos to your advantage.
Over time, Malik’s bitter disposition does change. While he’s still quick to speak his beliefs and butt heads with those he disagrees with, he has toned down his anger to a degree. Though branded with quite a temper, Malik knows that there’s a time and place for certain, serious matters, which signifies that he has a good handle of his own emotions for the most part. He tries not to dwell on the concept of revenge, for it was a similar course of action such as that which got his brother killed in the first place. It comes to show that he had probably spent his own time coming to terms with his own carelessness, and learning to deal with the things in life as they come.
Since being demoted from his rank as an Assassin, Malik was no longer capable of wielding the hidden blade like all other Assassins of his former rank (having both arms was kind of a requirement for that). He is, however, a very proficient fighter, claiming that his “blade arm is still strong” while many would deem his condition to be a great disability. He is also skilled in the short blade and throwing knives, more than capable of throwing with great accuracy with the arm he has. He’s fairly capable in counter skills as well as dodging, mastering the movements of his own body with precision to make him nevertheless effective in combat.
Assassins were trained to be extremely agile; masters in parkour. While Malik is unable to maintain equilibrium as he would have when he, you know, was able to balance with two arms, he is far from being out of shape. He stresses the importance of subtly and blending in rather than to draw attention to oneself, so he is quite talented in stealth. That said, parkour (literally translating to “the art of movement”) was a very vital aspect to his role as an Assassin, harnessing one’s own body and environment to access certain, out-of-the-way places that would otherwise seem inaccessible to most. This requires a lot of physical endurance and upper body strength, offering themselves a chance at escape or give chase if necessary.
Deprived of his left arm, Malik lacks much of the stability required to perform many of these aptitudes, and he’s certainly not going to be climbing any high viewpoints anytime soon. Regardless, his wits are still sharp and he remains agile and strong in what he’s capable of… almost deceptively so, for him practically being a one-armed ninja.
As a dai, Malik would be what you would call a graduated scholar, allowing him to be knowledgeable in gathering information as well as a spiritual leader. He was in command of a group of fellow Assassins, and as far as leadership goes, he proved himself to be pretty competent in that matter.
Like many of the Rafiqs seen in each divided city, Malik has revealed his own respective talent in mapmaking, and proved a great deal of artistry and a keen eye for detail. It may even be suffice to say that he has something akin to an eidetic memory, being able to take a location and copy it onto a map and remake multiple copies by hand. Though the life of an Assassin as he knew had been halted unexpectedly due to his handicap, he continues to makes do just fine with the abilities he’s still more than capable of.
As far as powers go: It is never stated whether or not if Malik possesses the ability of Eagle Vision, shared among the Assassin lineage. Although it is a rare gift, even among Assassins, it’s unknown whether he shares this same ability. Eagle Vision is a sixth sense that allows the individual to be able to “see” people’s true intentions. With this ability, an Assassin is able to use their intuition to determine whether or not if a person is truly an enemy, an ally, a source of information or bystander, or their target (although in Altaïr’s case, “target” seems to have an adjustable connotation). Other than that, though, that is really the only thing that could be qualified as a power. Even if Malik does not possess this sixth sense, he’s still perceptive enough without it to get by.