With my hand placed firmly of Emily's shoulder, I surveyed the room, and its weak points should our enemies launch a second attack I wanted to be prepared. Daud's assassins were one by one disappearing into the shadows.
I turned to face Daud, I hated to admit it, but I was completely lost for an explanation. I looked at him, his face hadn't changed since our duel in The Flooded District. His eyes were still firm, as was his voice.
"Can you shed any light on this?" I asked, keeping my voice firm. He merely shrugged and replied
"Perhaps he will be willing to tell us" I followed his gaze to a man, dressed differently to his comrades. This man wore a thick armoured black overcoat, his allies had been wearing mere black robes. His face unlike the others was not covered. However his face was far from normal. His eyes were empty sockets, dark shadows swirling within. Even more odd was the mark of The Outsider, tattooed to the side of his face.
Daud and I began a slow approach up the stairs to where he stood waiting. I was ready to draw my weapon when Daud placed his hand in front of my chest, bringing me to a halt. He simply breathed the words
"Wait, and see" No sooner had his assassins appeared on both sides of the new enemy. However in a quick succession of magic, he stopped time itself, the only people immune to his power being Daud and I. Before we had time to react our enemy had used a spell to propel us backwards with a large torrent of wind. He then drew a blade a black as the pits of his eyes and used it to slice the throat of every assassin surrounding him. After which Daud and I had finally come to our senses only to see our enemy propelling towards us with great speed using magic once more. It had only just occurred to me that using so much magic in such a short time space would exhaust either him or Daud, unless he had of course consumed a spiritual elixir, but I had no memory of seeing him do so.
Our enemy appeared right before us. Daud attacked his left side, whilst I aimed for his head from the right. I was well aware the original plan was to disable, and interrogate the man, but my first duty was to Emily's safety. It didn't matter anyway because with astounding speed he parried both of our blows. He then took advantage of Daud's lack of balance after his attack failed to connect, and slashed at his chest. Daud fell to his knees, and was then kicked in the head and knocked to the ground. The wound wasn't fatal, part of me wished it was, and yet our enemy still managed to parry my attack after he'd finished with Daud, his speed simply wasn't human. He turned to kick me in the chest with incredible speed and strength. It was enough to send me collapsing to the ground. In that instant everything seemed to slow down, and yet speed up in the same moment. Time was returned to its usually schedule. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw all of Daud's assassins begin to fall with me, their throat pulsating blood out of their bodies. Then I saw our enemy move towards Emily using magic to propel himself to her at speeds she didn't have time to comprehend. Then finally I hit the floor.
Barley in conciseness, I watched him scoop Emily up and sprint for the door, I watched as she was leaving my life, again. Then I thought of the first time, Daud had been responsible, I remembered my anguish, my pain, my sorrow, and I refused to let it happen again. By this time he was at the balcony I had been attacked on. I quickly got to my feet. Now they were about jump into the air off of the railing. I used magic to propel myself to them. Time once again seemed to slow down, but not due to magic. I stared into the hollow pits of my enemies eyes. I tried to pry Emily from his grasp as we were moving through the air. No such luck, this man had a grip of iron. So I brought up my blade, and lunged it will my might into his arm that was clutched to Emily. My blade cut through his wrist as if it were paper. I then let go of him and kicked him away with all my might. Then I used magic to propel myself and Emily safely back to the balcony. The rescue had only taken mere seconds, but it seemed like an eternity.
Once on the balcony safely with Emily I looked down, in search of my, now one handed enemy. He was nowhere to be seen. I turned back to see Emily staring wide eyed at me. I simply stroked her hair and looked beyond her into the throne room.
Daud was rising to his feet, behind him were the remains of our battle, and behind that, up the stairs where we had first encountered our magic wielding enemy, was a clock, it signalled midnight and the beginning of a new day. I dropped to my knees exhausted, Emily stood beside me and held my hand. I looked at her and said
"Happy birthday, my dearest girl"