Mercy is the Mark
Daud raised his head as one of his followers entered the room. "What is it?"
"Corvo has vanished from confinment, from the whole area. And the men on duty swear they saw absolutely nothing. It sounds impossible, I know. The Greaves refinery restarted. What do you make of it?"
Daud responded bluntly, "That he knows your work better than you do. Deal with the sentries as you see fit. As for Corvo, I suspect that in time he will come to me here. He'll have to."
He started recording an audiograph, his own thoughts on the ironic fate of the Hiram Burrows, formerly Lord Regent. Curious that Corvo had let the man live. Curious, and concerning. He was a wild card in a deck that he knew inside and out, the only variable that he couldn't predict with reasonable certainty.
"So you've lost it all. Ruined at last. Lord Regent. Royal Spymaster. Hiram Burrows. You small, worried man. You'll never know how many times I've thought about trying to get close to you again, just to put a piece of sharp metal in your eye. But now there's no need. You've been taken down by the same apparatus that gave you life to begin with. Laws and courtrooms and the mighty swell of public outrage. Good riddance to you, sir. So many schemes you had and so many contracts. How many people did I kill for you. None like the last. None like her. I'd give back all the coin if I could. No one should have to kill an Empress."
Suddenly, the assassin who stood guard by the door slumped to the ground. Daud quickly checked on him, surprised to find that he was merely unconscious. Daud drew his own weapon.
"You think you can hide from a hunter of men?" he called out, intending to bait the former Lord Protector into revealing himself.
Strong arms wrapped themselves around his throat and began to press inward. Daud tossed his head back, feeling it collide with hard metal, but the arms slackened enough for Daud to shake loose. He Transversed a short distance away, turning to face the masked assassin. A few of his followers appeared beside him, but Daud quickly called them off.
"Stand down, this is my fight."
Daud slowed time. "And now we fight a duel that no two other s could fight, against the ticking of the clock." He struck out at Corvo, who merely blocked the blow and dashed away. Time resumed its normal tempo.
"Come on, fight like you mean it! You know I killed her." Daud taunted the assassin, beginning a Tethering to draw him in close.
With practiced skill, Corvo drew a small crossbow from beneath his coat. The first bolt caught Daud in the shoulder, the second tore into his thigh. Each shot was frighteningly accurate, but non-lethal. Corvo did not intend to kill him, it seemed.
Daud stopped time again as a third bolt left the weapon, freezing the projectile in mid-air. With a wave of his hand, Corvo summoned a gust of wind that caused Daud to stagger backwards. The blade of Corvo's weapon retracted into the handle and the hand holding it swung around to punch Daud. The professional killer dodged the blow and caught his arm, twisting it and forcing his opponent down. Corvo vanished from his grasp and reappeared a short distance away, not unlike a Transversal. As time returned to normal, the unattended crossbow bolt continued its flight and struck Daud in the arm, staggering him. Corvo took advantage of his momentary lack of balance to drive a powerful kick into his midsection, knocking the wind out of his lungs.
Daud teleported out of the room, out into the open air. More of the Whalers arrived, but Daud dismissed them.
"Get away from here. This is none of your concern."
The man himself emerged from the building calmly and approached the kneeling man.
"I have one more surprise for you." Daud informed the approaching man. "I ask for my life. When I killed your Empress and took her daughter, something broke inside me. Now I see the design on the back of your hand, the mark of the Outsider himself, and I remember all I've done. The years of waiting for the right moment to step forward from an alley and drive a knife between the ribs of some noble. All the money exchanging hands, from one rich bastard or another. Killing for one of them one year, then being paid to kill him in return the next. And what have I accomplished? More than you have, or much less? I remember bending at the shrines, listening as the Outsider whispered that I was going to change things, that I was somehow important. It felt good, made me believe I was powerful. Now I want nothing but to leave this city. And fade from the memory of those who reside here. I've had enough killing. The men you worked for asked you to kill for them, but you always found another way. You took a path I could have followed, but did not. So my life is in your hands."
The former Lord Protector listened silently to his confession, then pulled a strange clockwork heart from his coat. Perhaps he imagined it, but Daud heard an echoing voice speak.
"His hands do violence, but there is a different dream in his heart."
Corvo sheathed his sword and walked away.
"And you choose mercy. Extraordinary...Unexpected."