As the one called the First Finger attacked Beira, Levinia mentally and physically prepared herself for this battle. Normally, confident enemies implied that they were quite powerful, and boasted of abilities that were better than the run-of-the-mill mage, or they were just really stupid. Judging from the assassins Beira and herself had dispatched, these two assassins were going to be a bit of work. Fortunately for Levinia, she had a few aces up her sleeve. Now was the time to use her magic.
First things first, she had to improve her speed. Assassins tended to strike really fast, and so she needed all she could muster to keep up. A tiny flash of silver light manifested on her hand, and a little, ornate black ring coalesced on her finger. Instantly, she felt the power of the ring surging through her veins, giving her an assurance that this battle wouldn't be over in a matter of seconds with her back to the ground. The Third Finger seemed to wait for her to attack for a moment, but when she did not make any moves, he made a chuckling sound, which was more akin to rubbing sandpaper on wood, and vanished into inky shadows.
Teleportation again. Levinia didn't have to look around to know where the attack was coming from. Her White Augural Grimoire would inform her, while she would act as though she was clueless. That might give her a sense of carelessness which the Third Finger would want to exploit. But she would be ready for him...
He came, not from behind, but a little off to the side, his hand armed with the gauntlet open, fingers splayed out, aiming to grasp her head. He was surprisingly fast, even with the boost she enjoyed from her Ring of Velocity. She managed to pull her head out of the way at the last instant, but having long tresses of hair could be a disadvantage in close quarter combat. The Third Finger's grasp missed her by mere inches, but managed to close on a copious amount of her hair. Levinia felt a sharp pain as the assassin gave a vicious jerk, planning to drag her to the ground. If she resisted, she might get some serious scalp injury, depending on how much hair he yanked away. Even though she was super-humanly strong, and she was resistant against damage to a degree, she preferred to avoid unnecessary pain... not to mention that she was not ready to lose the beautiful hair she was proud of, after so many years of not having any at all.
She fell along with him, mitigating the damage that his hair pulling would cause. Of course, it would put her in a very unfortunate situation, seeing that she would be on the ground, and he would be looming over her. But perhaps she could turn this to her favor. She grabbed his wrist with one hand, so that it would be both easier for her to prevent her head from striking the forest floor with a lot of momentum, and she could have a grip on him. Then she pointed Jet, her revolver at his face and fired off two shots, just before she hit the ground.
She found herself alone as she impacted the solid earth. The Third Finger had somehow extricated himself at the nick of time, and although she was disappointed that she had not injured him with her bullets, his letting go of her allowed her to have a much more comfortable landing than she would have originally had to deal with. His teleportation was very handy if it could enable him to dissociate himself from a lock. That meant that she would have to rely less on grappling him, and focus more on just getting some very decisive hits home.
As she got to her feet, she noticed him perched on a low branch. A portion of his mask had been blown off, and a trickle of blood ran its way down his face from a bruise over his eyebrow. A reptilian eye glared back at her, even though the skin surrounding it was relatively human. "That was a close one,"
he rasped. "You have impressive reflexes."
Levinia smiled to herself. Her attack had caught him off guard, and she had probably hit him with the first bullet. His mask had protected him from most of the damage, but her bullet was still powerful enough to injure him. His teleport had saved him from the second.
Levinia got to her feet and tossed Jet over her shoulder. The gun faded into a silver outline, then vanished entirely. "I could say the same about you, but I'm not so keen on praising someone who wants me dead before supper tonight."
Her clothes suddenly seemed to glow silver, then transformed into form-fitting black battle armor. "I'm going all out. Let's end this quickly. I can't wait to enjoy my freedom from knife throwing cutthroats."
The Third Finger made the raspy laugh again and vanished into shadows. From an angle behind her, a poisoned knife sailed in her direction. She shifted her shoulder and evaded it. The Alchemy Armor she had just put on now enabled her to much more easily respond to his attacks, but it seemed he wanted to play a long ranged game, this time. As she turned in his direction, he had vanished again, this time appearing and disappearing almost immediately as he slugged another blade in her direction. In a flicker, he had repeated the act three more times, so that Levinia found four knives sailing in her direction. He was good, but she could still avoid his projectiles if she performed a very good jump.
So, jump she did. The projectiles missed, but at that moment, she realized why he had forced her to make that maneuver. To jump meant that unless one could fly, an attribute which was rare even for mages, one was unable to evade easily in mid-air. Levinia's jump was quite the feat, though, taking her much higher than the average person could jump. That put some good distance between herself and her shadow, which of course was on the ground. He would not be able to teleport there for a very quick attack, like the assassin who almost killed her."You missed..."
she started to say triumphantly, but then he was gone, again. The smile froze on her face as he appeared above her, wielding a wicked looking sword that glowed with a sickly light. There was no mistaking it: he wanted her in this position, and she was now at his mercy. Her eyes widened as he aimed the sword at her face. The exultant light was evident in his eye."Die!"
The Third Finger swatted through empty space and a series of runes. His expression, for a moment, mirrored Levinia's just moments ago, then was replaced with shock and pain, as she crashed into his back from above, dealing him a solid, earth-shattering blow with a bat which looked to be made of blue glass. The shock wave resulting from the blow to his back kicked up no small amount of dust and leaves, and he collided with the ground with enough force to leave a small crater. Levinia dropped onto him, twisting the sword out of his hand and plunging it into his chest.
The assassin screamed and grabbed her leg with his gauntlet. A terrible pain shot up through her body, threatening to numb her brain and render her useless. She knew that if she did not break free, it would be the end of her. Somehow, she was sure that trying to pull free might not afford her much, so she did what her panicking mind thought of first. As the bat named Everime dropped from her hands, she summoned Aldebaran, aimed it at his face, and fired the Nutcracker at point blank range. The crater in which their mortal struggle played out was engulfed in luminous smoke from the Aldebaran.
The pain receded as his lifeless hand fell to the ground. The battle was over. Unless he could regenerate his head, which she had blown into next week, he had a chance of coming back. Exhaling in a loud, long sigh, Levinia sank to her knees, leaning on Aldebaran for support."I could do with a long break right about now. But I guess we don't have to worry about being hounded by these assassins anymore."
Drawing her strength together, she pulled herself to her feet and stepped out of the crater. Smiling at Beira, she opened her mouth to speak, when a sudden space-time rift cut her short. As she stared, a translucent being floated through the portal. It was dressed in long flowing robes, which were designed with different types of runes that indicated numbers and time. Instead of a head, a circular orb burning with a golden flame floated a few inches above the shoulders."What now?"
Levinia groaned, almost at her wits end.
The apparition turned to Beira, then shifted again to face Levinia. It pointed a bony, grey finger at her. "Levinia Arx Creuset, thou hast committed grave sins against the Flow of Time. Thou hast created anomalies which do threaten the Cosmos. Thou shalt answer for thy crimes with but one penalty: Death!"
The poor girl stared at the apparition as though she was going to faint. Then all she could say in reply was, "Wait... what?"