I got this idea when playing Lady Boyle's Last Party mission and I thought 'I have to write it down!' LOL. I'm sorry if there are any mistakes or errors (I know there are lots of them :/)
Being invited to one of the biggest, lavish parties of the year; long back before the outbreak of the rat plague that shook the entire city and nation, that could have been easily considered as one of the perks of being someone from one of the wealthy families in Dunwall. But looking at their current circumstances back then, given to the fact that they lived in the midst of the crumbling of an Empire, Becky wasn't sure if that could be considered as one.
The entire city was on the brink of losing its foundation. With Empress Jessamine passing six months prior, Dunwall had become nothing but pen of corpses, an asylum for the mad nobles and weepers; a hiding place for citizens in revolt, while a stage for the Empress' own Lord Spymaster, Hiram Burrows, who rose to power to become the Lord Regent since Emily Kaldwin was still nowhere to be found. To sum it up, it was like Dunwall was holding a party for chaos and madness alike, and everyone was cordially invited.
And back talking about being invited to a big, lavish party, amidst the situation, ever since three weeks ago, the Boyles had already sent out the invitation to their so-called soirée that was going to be held in their private mansion in the Estate District. Becky was about to make herself some tea when the invitation for the masquerade party had arrived. Something that her older sister, Hannah, found it exciting, the minute she got the invitation, the minute she dashed off to their boutique to designed herself her own costume for the party after had dropped by to her house just to squealed excitedly, whilst Becky could only snicker upon seeing her reaction.
And if one could be perfectly honest, Becky didn't know why, but there was this inkling that told her that this was something that she wouldn't want to miss. As a person who wasn't a fan of parties, she found it particularly odd though that hunch was pretty much that drove her to agree to attend the party even before Hannah could have made an attempt to coax her out just like the usual. That, and the fact that it was a masquerade party, which meant that she could hide behind her mask without people knowing of her identity. Now that was something that Becky could consider as a perk.
See, the Atkins were not highborn like the Boyles, or the Pendletons, or the Brimsleys, no. In order that they could be invited to Dunwall Tower for a feast alongside with other wealthy and aristocratic families, Becky's parents had to work twice as hard to earned to what they have achieved back then. Her father, Walter Atkin, was a notable chemist and an alumni at the Academy Of Natural Philosophy which where he had met his friend and fellow colleague, Anton Sokolov, back when they were still working under Esmond Roseburrow.
Her mother, Eliza, on the other hand, was someone with a dream of becoming one the most famous designers in Dunwall, and had happened to successfully achieved that dream by opening her first boutique, Atkin Allure, ever since twenty-one years ago. The boutique that passed on to Becky and Hannah after their parents' death eight years ago.
Becky was only twenty when it happened; Hannah was twenty-two. It was a tragic loss that left a huge hole in both of their hearts, but that didn't stop them from leaving their marks on this world. With the support of Sokolov, who was probably the only person who had looked after them, the Atkin sisters relentlessly worked from nine-to-five just to uphold their family's name when people were starting to doubt about their capability. Worked as hard as their parents had done before them, thus just in three years short, the two managed to prove to those people that they were utterly mistaken.
Three weeks had passed by like a blink of an eye, as Becky gazed at her own reflection in the mirror in her apartment for one last time that night. She was thinking of wearing pants for the party, but had scratched the idea last minute before sewing, since she thought it had been quite a time since the last time she wore a dress. And so the young Atkin ended with a striped aubergine velvet gown with high collar, and tape lace inserted bodice, and trained skirt that she took inspiration from one of her mother's early design whilst had been looking at the boutique's archives.
Shooting one last wistful smile to herself, Becky then proceeded to put on her elaborate white mask that she had painted by herself the morning before. Hiding her face perfectly, though it was still ample to show her bright grey eyes underneath.
Finally satisfied with her appearance, the blonde haired woman eventually headed downstairs to meet up with her sister who had been waiting for the past fifteen minutes outside of her house, as the sound of her foot tapping impatiently was the first thing that Becky's ears could perceive before she could hear her saying,
"What took you so long?" Hannah asked equally in boredom and exasperation. Her mask had been taken off, as Becky could see it resting above her head as if it was a headband.
Becky only smirked under her mask upon hearing that. "Says the person who took almost an hour to prepare her hair," she countered.
"Ugh, fine, fine, let's get going. We don't want to be late," Hannah suggested as she dropped her mask back to her face again. Concealing her heart-shaped face in one motion, as she jumped in into the car with Becky followed suit, chuckling.
With that, both of the Atkin sisters set their destination straight to the Boyle mansion in their rented rail car that Hannah's boyfriend, Lewis Alcott, had kindly arranged for the sisters from weeks ago.
The trip only took ten minutes from her apartment to the Estate District, the next thing she knew, the sight of the floating lights and multi-colored fireworks began to stampede her sight as she peered out of the window upon arriving at Greasely Boulevard. And once again, she had to give credit for what the Boyle had done to their house was superlative. She couldn't almost believe such sublimity existed at such hard times, even Hannah couldn't hide her excitement behind her mask once they have arrived at the mansion.
"You think anyone'll recognize us in these?" Hannah motioned her head to their costumes as the two proceeded to the mansion after giving their invitations at the entrance.
Becky shrugged, eyes still scrutinizing every inch of the mansion as she replied, "Besides Lewis, let's cross our fingers that no one else will. I'm tired of being asked to paint them or something."
"You're no fun. Well, at least not after a few glasses," her sister teased which only earned her a comical chuckle from her.
"Oh, come on, sis, that was one time!"
"One time and you nearly ruined Thalia Timsh's party for it!" Hannah chimed in mirth, while Becky could only shake her head as the memories began to come rushing in. By the stars, why did she had to bring that up?
It was when Thalia celebrated her twenty-fourth birthday when Becky had drunk too much of the Tyvian wine that night. She couldn't remember what happened after that, though she did remember being taken to the nearest ward by both Hannah and Sokolov for breaking her left ankle. After the occurrence, Thalia had never invited her to one of her parties again ever since. Though she didn't mind about that, as Hannah often told her, Thalia's party often ended up boring anyway.
Arriving in front of the main entrance, Becky and Hannah gave a respectful nod to the hulking guard that was guarding the door, as he kindly opened the soaring door for the two of them. They also exchanged nods to a couple who were entering the mansion alongside the two sisters, where Becky instantly noticed that the two women were wearing costumes from Atkin Allure.
If only they knew that the people beside them are the sisters who happened to own and designed those costumes, Becky thought funnily.
Upon entering the grand foyer, she was welcome with the sound of music that echoed in the air; the sight of three guests talking to what it sounded almost stilted in her opinion, and the Wall of Light that was guarding the staircase to the upper level. Now that was something she hadn't seen before. But aside of those, it was the still the same mansion that never stopped making Becky's jaw dropped slightly upon seeing the vast interior and its opulent furnishings. Though her personal favorite was the ornate glass ceiling, where she could see the skies alighting from the fireworks above.
"I'm going to find Lewis, he said he'll be waiting for me in the smoking room," her sister suddenly announced after signing the guest book.
Becky could feel her brows furrowed upon hearing that. "What? You're going to leave me by myself?"
"Pst, no need to be timid, Biby, you know these people as much as I do."
"Yeah, but not with their masks. How am I supposed to guess who wears what?"
Hannah merely crossed her arms upon seeing her sister's reaction. Becky couldn't see it, but she knew well that behind her mask, she was smirking like crazy.
"Are you trying to stop me from seeing my boyfriend because you're jealous that you have none?"
"Me? Jealous? Really, Han?"
Hannah chuckled behind her mask as she took a step towards her. "You'll be okay, sis. Just come find us if these people keep pestering you to paint them," she appeased. "And besides, you have your mask on, no one's going to know that it was you."
Well, Hannah was right. One of the reasons why Becky agreed to attend this party, after all, was because it was a masquerade party. So as long as she kept her head low and all, she crossed her fingers nobody would recognize her.
Eventually, she exhaled softly before nodding her head, "Fine. Say hello to Lewis for me."
Hannah was already walking away from where she stood, as she waved her hand to her and said, "Will do!"
Alone, Becky eventually decided to head to the banquet hall since she had been thirsting for a glass of wine. For an appropriate amount, of course, she thought she had enough of being dragged to the ward by her sister to once a lifetime.
She found the hallway as a boisterous place of guests revel in the evening; the sound of continuous gossips and laughter from every room Becky passed through somehow managed to silence the music that she previously had heard, as here she could scarcely hear the violin playing in the background. And truth to be told, gossips like these were one of the few reasons why Becky would always send her sister alongside with her parents every time they had asked her and Hannah to come with them to some parties, for Becky would rather be at home and paint. Well, except when it was being held at Dunwall tower or when she felt like going. And this party could be considered as one of the cases where she felt like too.
Becky had already heard the rumors from her sister that the Boyles would be wearing the same costume in different colors that night; Lydia would be in the white costume, Waverly in black, and Esma in red. So, thanks to her sister's information, she then knew that the person that was about to pass her in the hallway was none other than Waverly Boyle herself. And at that, she deliberately quickened her pace as in order to avoid the Boyle woman.
Though unfortunately, it seemed that the lady fortune wasn't in her favor that night.
"Rebecca Atkin, enjoying the party, dear?" Waverly asked as they met face to face, and all that Becky could think of was how on earth that she could recognize that it was her. But then she remembered that it was her party, Becky's guess was that the woman may have found information about guests that were coming over and their costumes to get more acquainted with her guests.
"Good evening, Lady Boyle. Yeah, I certainly enjoy the party," Becky answered reluctantly with eyes rolling. It was a good thing it was a masquerade party, maybe she should consider wearing a mask on a daily basis so she could tease some people.
"Thank you, my dear." Becky couldn't guess if the woman was really flattered by the compliment or was it a pack of lies. As she had already aware before, the Boyles probably received more compliments than they should have anyway. "I haven't seen Hannah, where is she anyway?" Waverly suddenly inquired again.
"Oh, she is with Lewis in the smoking room."
"Oh, silly me, of course, Hannah is with Lewis," Waverly laughed vehemently behind her mask. "Anyway, I have to go. Grab some drink, dear, try to loosen out a little, will you?"
Loosen out a little? Is she asking for a party pooper? She thought to herself.
With that, Waverly gracefully took off and once again, leaving her alone on the long and crowded hallway. Though she thought her own company was way better than being with her, and also thank the strictures that their encounter went relatively short.
Though she had to admit, it was rather odd hearing those words came out of the mouth of Waverly Boyle, for she had never been that… blithe, perhaps? Maybe she was drunk?
But enough about her.
Becky then continued to head to her original destination: the banquet hall, where she could see several guests were in the middle of enjoying their meal and wine—and again while gossiping when she had arrived in the room. Ugh, seriously was there anything better to do for them besides gossiping?
Without dilly-dallying, Becky quickly fetched herself a glass of wine from the buffet table before scurried away back to the foyer, since the banquet hall was just too noisy for her to handle.
As she had found her way back to the foyer, her ears once again found that dulcet tone. And a small smile instantly appeared on her face as she took the opportunity to let her eyes wander until her ears caught to the sound of some several guests who were in the middle of discussing High Overseer Campbell's death that happened a week ago.
His body was found in the Office of the High Overseer's dining room with eyes shot wide open and a strong smell of wine coming out his mouth. Poisoned, without a doubt, was the cause of his death, but by whom? And why? And the fact that Sokolov was still missing only made her face dropped in glum.
He was reported missing by Hannah when she had found him missing from his apartment a while ago. When asked, none of his guards swore that they saw a thing about his disappearance, it was like as if he was being pulled into the void. And ever since that, Becky had been nothing but worried sick. And the question was, how couldn't she? Sokolov was like an uncle to her, especially ever since her parents' death.
Even though many times Becky had told him that she didn't agree with some of his methods regarding using test subjects for his researches, or somehow his obsession with the Outsider, or his partnership with Bundry Rothwild, but still, he was someone that used to looked after her and her sister. The man was like a family, despite for his unconventional behavior.
As her mind once again wandered off, suddenly her attention diverted to the newly arrived guests could be seen entering the mansion from the main door, and ironically, in such orderly fashion. There was this woman with a plain mask who entered the mansion with a man with a white tailored costume with a walking stick, followed by a woman with a dark fuchsia costume that made a small run towards the hallway, before the last person could be seen entering the building with his hands folded to his back. And upon his entrance, Becky could feel her gaze went solely to him, since in her opinion, his costume stood out from most of the guests in the party. Something that instantly caught her attention.
He was wearing a rather odd and frightening mask. It almost reminded her of a human skull that had painted in black with a few hints of gold, that somehow matched to his blue-black colored coat that swathed his well-built physique perfectly. Making him look equally terrifying and dashing in her honest opinion.
She could see he was signing the guest book with his left tattooed hand that appeared vague to her, due to her position that practically meters away from him. Then shortly after signing the guest book, he straightened his posture back before proceeding to made his way towards the hallway with head inspecting his surroundings. And that was when his mask found hers.
Becky was transfixed at the stare; she didn't know what to do though eventually she chose to nod at him, as that was the niftiest move she could think of. And much to her surprise, he nodded back at her, as their masks lingered for a brief second before Becky dropped his gaze to look down to her feet.
With a grin on her face, all that Becky could think of was how wonderful if she could paint him. She was thinking about how to engage a conversation with him: should she start by saying who she was? Or just directly told him that she was interested in painting him?
Either way, she thought she had to tell Hannah about this, hoping that maybe—just maybe that she recognized this man.
After the man had disappeared in the crowds, Becky instantly launched herself to the smoking room in a brisk pace. Upon arriving in the room, there she found Hannah and Lewis stood near the fireplace with a drink in their hands; while the other tied together in a knot. They didn't seem to be noticing her arrival, but Becky was about to change that.
"Hannah, Hannah, you have to see this! I think I've found my new painting object!" Becky announced her presence in the room though it wasn't loud enough to make people stared at her, as she shook her older sister's arm.
"What? Who? What did you see?" Hannah asked in bafflement after handing Lewis her wine glass.
"Lewis, may I borrow my sister for a while?" she asked kindly to her sister's boyfriend without bothering to answer Hannah's question first.
The tall auburn man could only chuckle as he nodded kindly, "By all means, Becky."
After she had given the permission, Becky instantly dragged Hannah's arm outside the room whilst eyes seeking for the man with the scary mask. To her favor, she found him in the banquet hall with hand holding a glass of wine as he stood stock-still near the door that led to the courtyard.
"Okay, now what's with something that I have to see?" Hannah asked as they had stopped near the hall's entrance.
Becky cautiously gestured with her thumb as she inquired, "Do you recognize that man in that mask?"
"Him?" she motioned with her head once her eyes found him.
"Yes, the man with the scary mask!"
Becky could see as her sister began to inspect the man. She thoroughly eyed him from head to toe though to her misfortune, all that Hannah came up was a shake of her head, "Hmm... sorry to disappoint you, sister, but I have no idea who he is."
Disappointed, Becky frowned in dismay. "Aw, damn it. It's okay, Han."
The Atkin sisters only stood there in silence then, their attention still fixated on that mysterious man, wondering who he might be. Suddenly, they could see he changed his course to head outside after placing his glass on a nearby table. And Becky could feel Hannah brushed her arm on hers upon seeing that.
"He's going to the garden, you should approach him there!" Behind Hannah's mask, Becky could see her gray eyes twinkled in pure enthusiasm, though her suggestion only made Becky thinking.
"What should I say then? 'Hello, you look dashing in that mask, could I paint a portrait of you?'" Becky replied in sarcasm.
Hannah shrugged, "I guess?"
"I— I don't know. Wouldn't that be awkward?"
"You will never know if you never try. No pain, no gain, dear sister," she encouraged keenly, while Becky could only freeze in her place in the middle of thinking Hannah's words. "C'mon, Becky, you could do it!"
Well, it wouldn't hurt to try, right? Besides, if he turned out to be a douche or a mere spoiled rich bastard, she could have always left him be. But again, Hannah was right: no pain, no gain.
"Okay, okay, I'll go," Becky let out a long exhale at her decision. "Wish me luck, Han."
"Attagirl. I'll be cheering for you from here, Becky!" she exclaimed as Becky had started to make her way toward the door with fingers crossed and lips kept chanting silent prayers to the Abbey. By the strictures, she couldn't believe she was actually going to approach him.
"Well, here goes nothing." With one last look to her sister over her shoulder, Becky took a deep breath before pushing the door open.
As Becky stepped her foot outside of the mansion, there she instantly found the man talking and handing a man with the wolf mask a letter that she couldn't recognize at first. But after she inspected the man one more time thoroughly, Becky realized the man with wolf mask was none other than Lord Montgomery Shaw, and once again, all thanks to her sister's information.
"Pendleton is a gutless, lying sack of shit. I hope he's paying you well for this," Lord Shaw scorned as he went down the stairs to the center of the courtyard, which the man and Lord Shaw's guards followed from behind.
Becky could feel her brow raised upon hearing Pendleton's name. So he's one of Pendleton's man? She asked herself.
But even before her question could be resolved, suddenly she could see the quartet converged in the middle, as one of Lord Shaw's guard presented the man and Lord Shaw a box with two pistols in it.
Wait a second, they are going to have a duel?!
"A contest of honor will take place between this anonymous gentleman acting for the challenger, Lord Treavor Pendleton…" So he is indeed one of Pendleton's men, Becky said to herself, "and Lord Shaw, the challenged party. You will each turn and proceed to the marked positions, and remain facing away from each other as I count to three. You may then turn and fire at—" But even before the guard could finish his words, Lord Shaw intercepted by simply dismissively waved his hand to him and said,
"Get on with it. I'll kill this fool and we could all go back inside."
"Sorry m'lord," his bodyguard apologized as he closed the box. "We shall proceed."
To Becky's dismay, the man didn't utter a single word in reply. He simply marched to his position in dead silence with his pistol drawn without bothering to inspecting if it was loaded, no. He just stood there facing front with the audacity that Becky found it both impressive and worrying.
No, this is bad, Becky thought. There's a party inside and they're outside killing each other's arse off?!
"Wait!" Becky burst out which causing all four heads to turned to her in one motion. "You can't just kill each other while there's a party inside!?"
Of course, Shaw merely sneered at that. "You worry too much, lady," he gave a mirthless chuckle then, his mask once again finding his opponent's "This is what we call the real party."
Ignoring her protests, both men proceeded to turn away from each other on their marked positions. And judging from how the scary masked man changed his stance where his feet were inches apart and toes slightly pointed outward, it almost looked like as if he was ready to kill. Which was bad.
With both men have set up in their position, one of Shaw's bodyguard proceeded to begin the countdown, "Three!"
Becky could feel the rhythm of her heart palpating upon hearing that; her palms clammy from the sudden nervousness.
"This is bad, this is so bad," Becky whispered to herself, before she instantly shut her eyes tight. Anticipating for the final countdown, since she just didn't have the stomach to watch someone got shot at that very evening.
A moment later she could hear the sound of the gunshot being emitted. Something that made Becky nearly jump in her place though all of a sudden, everything went quiet. Too quiet, Becky couldn't help but open her eyes slowly just to check if there was still a living person stood there in the yard though upon seeing Lord Shaw already lay motionless on the ground, Becky could feel as if she was about the faint as she gasped in horror.
"By the Abbey!" Becky exclaimed with eyes wide. To her surprise, she could see the man had already stood next to her. He was in the middle of hiding the pistol under the coat he was wearing when Becky had asked, "Is—is he dead?"
He shook his head. "No, he isn't. He's just unconscious," the man simply replied in what it sounded to be a vague Serkonan accent.
Becky could feel a slight relief upon hearing that though that didn't mean that she was going to drop the subject just like that.
"But how? I heard a gunshot?"
"He missed, and I shot with my sleeping dart instead," he said while motioning his head to a strange looking crossbow that was fastened to his belt.
And Becky's brow twitched at that. A sleeping dart? Why, this man seriously began to pique her interests.
"Why?" she simply asked.
"The man was only bluffing, and he's not worth of my time," he replied plainly, mask meeting hers for the second time that night, before he added, "So, it's no use killing him."
She snorted. "Huh, now you're sounded like an Assassin."
He was only silent at that, before he averted his gaze to the unconscious aristocrat that was in the middle of being inspected by his own guards.
And so then came the awkward silence that began to linger as none spoke a single word afterward. Though that was about to change when Becky exhaled heavily as she had mustered up the courage to say what was her original intention earlier. She thought it was better to do it, before he had managed to slip back to the party.
But while the words sounded perfectly formed in her head alas, there went her nervous habit that came meddling in; twisting her words like a mere prattle, if she could do a facepalm back then, she would do it in a heartbeat.
"I'm sorry, it's just… okay, I know this will sound crazy, but I came here to the courtyard because I thought your mask looks impressive and all when I first saw you entering the foyer. And I don't know, but I have this crazy idea about painting you. And I also—"
"What did you say?" Asked the man with the deep voice, interfering her words even before she could finish them. Though she didn't blame him, even she couldn't understand what she was saying back then.
Taking a deep breath, Becky spoke again with a timorous voice. And she made sure to cough up her words more slowly. "What I was saying is that, can I paint a portrait of you?"
In Becky's expectation, his answer would be a rejection before he went back inside to the party. Leaving her like a fool for that blabber that she always did when she was nervous, but when instead she could see him closing the distance between them, Becky found it there was something amiss about the situation.
And her speculation turned out to be correct when she heard him saying, "Rebecca Atkin?"
And Becky could feel her mouth fell open behind her mask.
Becky freaked out at the question; her eyes widened underneath her mask, her pulse raced as her mind only asked for one question: how on earth did he know that it was her?
"How—who's asking? W—who are you?!" Becky stuttered in horror as she took a step back from him.
He must've realized the fear that had dawned on her, the man simply held up his palms to her as his own way to show that he meant no harm as he said, "I'm sorry, I don't mean to frighten you, but I have a colleague that asked me to search for you here."
"And who would that be?" Becky proceeded to ask. Her mind was in complete disarray by these absurd things she had heard from him, she couldn't even think about that 'colleague' that he was talking about.
Though it turned out, his answer was the least person that she could think of.
End of chapter 1