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As always, everything slowed down. I imagined it like all the air and oxygen around us was suddenly replaced with water. People and things moved slower, much slower. Apart from myself, of course. If anything I moved quicker.
A slow buzz snailed past my ear. It was a mosquito mechanically lowering its legs as it came into land on its prey: the same faceless assassin I was hunting in my sights. I thought about squashing the parasite but changed my mind when I evaluated exactly how much pain and discomfort I wanted him/her/it to feel.
The dull metallic face painted a paradox on to my first victim as he had barely even begun to lift his arms in defence.
I stabbed him once in the groin with the long edge of the cross. The mask looked ready, fired up even, this guy was anything but. Grim was the first of them to react to my sudden attack. However, he had already lost one of his pawns, or was mere seconds away from doing so. The man screamed, and now I knew it was a man because men scream different to women.
I wiped the cross on my rough tunic sleeve as his noise faded into whimpers and then nothing. “One…” I sensed their fear and smiled at Grim. Time returned to normal, like it does when I’m not…killing. They all backed away as one. I spared a look for the motionless, dead, assassin to my side. The mosquito had become a smeared mass of legs and wings. ‘Pity’ I commented to myself.
‘Henry, this isn’t what we want: to go to war with you.’
‘No?’ I replied gesturing to the dead assassin by my feet.
‘I brought them in case things got tricky…you know, with the Archbishop.’
I responded by setting the cross into the palm of my hand and spearing the deadly edge out of the middle of my clenched fist. Again the line of ‘fearless, faceless agents of fate: The assassins of the Iron Mask, retreated a little further. Finally Grim stepped forward and took off his hat. I blinked in surprise. Grim was bald on top!! This was the first time I had seen his ‘new’ bald patch. I smothered a giggle. I couldn’t stop myself. This was too good! People age, even those closest with whom you have shared so many experiences. Especially those.
I felt deflated at this gesture. Grim was humbling himself before me. I relaxed my hand a little.’Tell them to piss off then…baldy’
Grim smiled up at me, hat still in hand, and I could tell that he wanted to crush me. I laughed and slid the cross into my pocket. The time for talking had returned, briefly.