- "My father wanted this life, Anna, not I. He came to this country with a dream and made the Narodnaya Volya his cause. I do not know if I have the strength to serve the Order of Assassins as he did."
- ―Nikolai Orelov to his wife, 1888.[src]
Late 1800s Russian Empire
Assassins (until 1917)
Nikolai Andreievich Orelov (late 1800s – 1928) was a member of the Russian Brotherhood of Assassins during the late 19th and early 20th century. Nikolai was notably involved in events such as the Borki train disaster and the Tunguska explosion, and spearheaded the hunt for the Imperial Sceptre of the Russian royal family.
Nikolai was responsible for several notorious events during his career as an Assassin; in 1888, when tasked with assassinating Tsar Alexander III, the fight that ensued between the two men accidentally caused the Borki train disaster. Twenty years later, in an attempt to retrieve the Imperial Sceptre from a facility in Tunguska, Nikolai's failure to acquire the artifact in time caused the object to explode, as Nikola Tesla broadcast a burst of electricity to it, resulting in a massive explosion that was later known as the Tunguska event.
- Personality and characteristics
- "I see [Alek] in my dreams, Anna. He calls to me, pleading for me to help him. To save him from the gallows. And I cannot."
- ―Nikolai, about his nightmares during his early life, 1888.[src]
Orelov was born in the latter half of the 19th century. His father, Andrei, immigrated to Russia and became a devoted member of the Narodnaya Volya, a left-wing terrorist offspring of the Russian Assassin Brotherhood. He decided to raise Nikolai as an Assassin as well, and so he had him start his training at a young age. In the Assassin Order, Nikolai befriended Aleksandr Ulyanov and his younger brother, who would later go by the name Vladimir Lenin.
On 20 May 1887, Nikolai witnessed the execution of Aleksandr after the latter was captured during a failed assassination attempt on Tsar Alexander III. As the rope was put around Aleksandr's neck, he pointed his finger towards Nikolai, meaning that he found Nikolai guilty for not rescuing him. This traumatic event caused Nikolai to have nightmares for the following year.
- "Russia will soon be strong and free from imperial rule, an example to the world. But I fear that I will fail our master again."
- ―Nikolai reflecting on his mission to Crimea, 1888.[src]
Sometime in 1888, Nikolai woke in bed after having another nightmare about the death of his close friend, Aleksandr Ulyanov. He confided in his wife, Anna, that he felt deeply responsible for his death, to which she told him that Alek knew the risks when he joined the Brotherhood. Nikolai then mentioned to her that the Mentor had tasked him with assassinating Tsar Alexander III, an ally of the Templar Order, in order to loosen the Templars' grip on the region. Anna wished him safety in his mission, for she needed him to help raise their child, with whom she was pregnant.
Nikolai rode on horseback to Crimea in Ukraine the next morning, chasing the Imperial train. After infiltrating it, Nikolai killed several patrolling guards and extorted information from another. Making his way to the royal carriage, Orelov burst through a door with his gun raised, but he was shocked to find the entire Royal family traveling, despite having been told that only the Tsar was aboard. In response, Alexander III attacked him from behind for threatening his family, and the two engaged in a scuffle. However, Nikolai managed to stab Alexander in the right kidney, though the Tsar was not seriously injured. Meanwhile, in the middle of the fight between the two men, the train careered off the tracks and crashed.
Whilst Nikolai was recovering from the crash, Alexander III began to beat Orelov down while taunting him about killing his loved ones. Following this, Alexander pulled out a Staff of Eden from a box amongst the remains of the dining cart and challenged the Assassin to kill him with it, throwing the Staff over to Nikolai.
Despite wielding the Staff and relying upon his Assassin training, Nikolai was defeated by the physically superior Alexander, but was spared death when the Tsar's children came into view. Shamed, Nikolai fled to report his failure to the Order.
At some point within the next twenty years, Nikolai and Anna's child was somehow "lost", before or after it was born, causing Nikolai to become bitter and filled with anger, which caught the attention of his Brothers.
- First Assassin: "Are Brother Orelov's methods always so... savage?"
- Second Assassin: "He was a gentler man when I met him, years ago. Before they lost the child."
- ―Nikolai's Assassin cohorts discuss his motives, 1908.[src]
In 1908, the Assassins captured a Templar named Dolinsky, who was tortured by Orelov, in order to reveal where the Staff of Eden had gone following his failure. During this, two other Assassins were present, and one noted that Nikolai's methods were extremely harsh, while the other replied that it was because Orelov had lost his child. Under threats to his family, Dolinsky revealed that the facility that housed the Staff was located in Siberia, to which Orelov set off for Tunguska.
The Mentor requested that Nikolai and his fellow Assassins retrieve the Staff of Eden, which was being tested with electrical machines based upon designs stolen from their ally, Nikola Tesla. While approaching the facility, which had a Tesla coil built above it, Orelov explained to the others that Tesla stood ready with his teleforce weapon in America, ready to destroy the facility, and noted that they had to make haste to retrieve the object.
At once, Nikolai and his comrades stormed the facility, killing all of the Templar guards within, though by the time Orelov had reached the top, the Staff of Eden had been activated by the electrical current. He then heard voices coming from the artifact, saying things such as "Always the fighter", "Adam, I have it", "Just like your father", and "Eve". At that moment, the vengeful Tesla activated his weapon with the words "Rot in hell, Thomas", and the facility was destroyed while the Staff and the Assassins were still within it. Orelov proved to be the only survivor, laying with his clothes in tatters on the explosion's edge, mumbling that the Staff had been destroyed. Soon after, Nikolai returned home to Anna, "bleached and broken", who welcomed him with a look of horror and grief.
- "I no longer consider myself a crusader for change, but I must find the splinter of the artifact. First, however, I need to learn more about it."
- ―Nikolai's personal thoughts on the Shard, 1917.[src]
In 1917, Vladimir Lenin led a revolution against the Tsarist royal house. Lenin had personally sent a letter to Nikolai, asking for him to dispose of Tsar Nicholas II, and eliminate the last symbol of Imperialism. Nikolai did infiltrate Nicholas' residence, asking him for the location of the Staff, which he had spotted on a picture of the Tsar. Nicholas, threatened, brought Nikolai to the Staff, though the Assassin was quickly able to conclude that it was a fake; he said that the real Staff had a light shining from within, and that when one looked into it, they could see "the turn of the world and a glimpse of what lies beyond".
With this, Nikolai broke the fake Staff, proving it was indeed a replica. When Nicholas asked him to spare his family if Nikolai intended to kill him, just like he had spared his father's, the Assassin replied that he wouldn't, saying that he didn't "care any longer" and that he only wanted to make sure that the Staff was indeed destroyed. However, he did warn Nicholas that the next Assassin to come after him wouldn't be as objective.
Nikolai proceeded to leave the building via a window, but not before hearing Nicholas confirm to him that Grigori Rasputin had worn a splinter around his neck, which was of the same material as the Staff, according to Nikolai's in-depth description.
Traveling to Krasnoyarsk, the aged Assassin scaled the walls of the city's asylum and broke into the cell holding Khioniya Guseva, one of Grigori Rasputin's former disciples, who had attempted to assassinate him. Nikolai offered to free Guseva in exchange for the information he sought, forcibly taking her by the hand and leading her from the building.
After bribing a priest, the two took refuge in the city's Svyato-Troitsky Cathedral. Guseva then revealed the details of her attempt on Rasputin's life; how, despite her stabbing and mutilating him where he stood, Rasputin survived the attempt, thanks to his shard from the Staff. She then informed Nikolai that her facial wounds had been self-inflicted, with her own hands being controlled by Rasputin and the shard. At her request, Nikolai then ended Guseva's life with his Hidden Blade and set her down gently.
Following this, Nikolai and two other men went to search for Rasputin's grave, and upon finding it, the three dug up the body. Examining the corpse, Nikolai searched for the splinter that Nicholas II had mentioned, discovering it and then returning to Anna, who was waiting for him in their carriage.
- "Whatever debt I owed my father and Alek has been paid. Tonight we start anew."
- ―Nikolai about starting a new life with Anna, 1917.[src]
Some time after taking the splinter from Rasputin's corpse, Nikolai chose to retire and abruptly cut his ties with the Assassin Order. Along with their daughter, Nadya, Nikolai and Anna crossed Russia's borders and boarded a ship that was bound for the United States, aided by using the power of the Staff's shard. Some time later, Anna gave birth to their second child, a son by the name of Innokenti.
During the Palmer Raids of 1919, Nikolai and his family were at a bar with other Russian immigrants in Hartford, Connecticut, when agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation stormed the building. Nikolai, Anna, Nadya and Innokenti attempted to make their escape, but Nikolai and Innokenti were separated from their family while trying to fend off their attackers. Anna and Nadya were captured and later deported back to Russia, while Nikolai attempted to chase after them.
For the next two years, he attempted to find clues to their whereabouts, breaking into compounds where immigrants were held for deportation, though Nikolai only managed to uncover that they had been transferred to Finland, a country at war with Russia. After hearing a rumor that some prisoners were shot by Finnish soldiers after having crossed the Russian border, and not hearing anything that indicated Anna or Nadya's survival, Nikolai became convinced that they had perished.
- "These are not honourable men, Kenya. They are killers. They live by old laws which apply only to them and then call themselves heroes. If they capture me... If they capture us... we will be used and then thrown away. Better we should die here as free men."
- ―Nikolai to his son, about the Assassins, 1928.[src]
For the next years, Nikolai lived in seclusion with his son in a cabin in the woods near Manchester, Connecticut. They scraped together a life, cutting wood from trees and hunting the wildlife in the forest. In 1926, Nikolai was tracked down by his former Assassin brother Sergei, who was sent to retrieve Nikolai by the Mentor, as the Assassins claimed ownership of the Staff's shard and the knowledge of Nikolai's vision at Tunguska. After Sergei threatened Innokenti's life, Nikolai attacked him and strangled him to death. Nikolai then discovered an FBI badge in Sergei's pocket, and realized that more Assassins would come after him.
Over the course of the next days, Nikolai began training Innokenti in combat and stealth, in the hope that they might be well prepared for the inevitable. Nikolai's training consisted of himself being Innokenti's practice target, and his harshness often resulted in Innokenti being forced to sleep outside with a meager meal upon his failures. One day, when Innokenti was able to overpower his father and held his knife at Nikolai's throat, Nikolai knew his son was ready and strong, and together they began to prepare for the oncoming Assassin attack.
Part of these plans involved the pair abandoning their cabin, since they had rigged it with explosives. As a result, when the team of Assassins arrived, one of them attempted to open a window, which caused the cabin to explode and leave only five Assassins alive. Next, when the Assassins tracked down Nikolai and Innokenti's makeshift camp in the woods, Nikolai was able to rapidly kill three of the Assassins, though he was shot in his right leg by a fourth one. As one of the Assassins held Nikolai at gunpoint, Innokenti snuck up on him from behind and stabbed him in the neck, saving his father's life. From there, the two proceeded to make their escape, coming to a halt at a cliff.
Nikolai told his son to throw a rope to the other side and use his rifle to slide down, in a makeshift zipline. As Nikolai prepared to follow his son, he was shot in his left foot by the remaining Assassin, and with both his legs wounded, Nikolai was left at the Assassin's mercy. Holding Nikolai up by his shoulders, the Assassin yelled out to Innokenti and revealed that his sister was still alive, though Nikolai denied the Assassin's claims and told Innokenti to "be strong". To this, Innokenti understood his father's intention and shot him, killing both Nikolai and the Assassin.
- "I began as a crusader for change and now I am no better than a common grave-robber."
- ―Nikolai Orelov to his wife, after recovering the shard of the Staff from Rasputin's grave, 1917.[src]
At an early age, Nikolai was trained as an Assassin, though this was his father's choice and not his own, which led him to sometimes show disdain at his life in the Assassin Order. Nikolai also felt intense guilt from Aleksandr Ulyanov's death, which haunted him for over a year. Though despairing in his life as an Assassin, Nikolai's personality went through a massive change after the death of his first child.
Following this loss, Nikolai became bitter and unflinching, no longer lamenting on his role. Nikolai also became noticeably more heavy-handed in his actions, showing little compassion or lenience towards Dolinsky, a Templar that had recently been captured, and even made threats against the man's innocent family in order to coerce information from him. During this interrogation, two of Nikolai's Assassin brothers remarked on how the death of Nikolai's child had driven him to become as "savage" as he was, and that before, he had been a gentler man.
In regards to his outfit and armaments, Nikolai wore a large fur coat with the traditional Assassins' hood, along with a sash and a baldric with the Assassin insignia on it. He also wielded one Hidden Blade, a dagger, a sabre and a Berdan rifle.
- Nikolai's surname, Orelov, is not a Russian name; the closest match being "Orlov" (Оpлов), which means "сын орла" (syn orla), or "son of eagle". Other Assassins such as Aquilus, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Arno Dorian and Arbaaz Mir also contained references to eagles in their names.
- Nikolai's portrait was available as a patron image in the second stage of the Animi Training Program, after a system update.
- A playable skin of Orelov was available from the DLC Skin Pack 5 of the Xbox 360 arcade game Minecraft.