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Corvo Attano was going home. He sighed ambivalently as the broken skyline of Dunwall began to poke up from the horizon. Captain Curnow was making sure the small vessel they would be taking the rest of the way in to the capitol was ready to depart. Curnow was a good man; he and Dodson had been fine travelling companions for the last several months, but Corvo grew tired of their company. This was not his place. He may have been born in Serkonos, but it was not home. He'd looked towards the trip to his land of origin with both apprehension and curiosity; he was interested to see how things had changed since his absence, but this curiosity was tempered by the direness of his errand. It was of grave importance that he learn more about the rat plague.
He'd come up far short on that front. On the one hand, he was glad that Serkonos had not been gripped by the horrible illness, which was always fatal and, in its later stages, rendered men as slavering husks, bleeding from the eyes, nose, and mouth, incubating all manner of vile insect, and lashing out with feral savagery at any who had not yet been gripped by the plague's cruelty. On the other hand, the fact that Serkonos had no insights into the plague left him with nothing to present to the Empress.
There was also the matter of leaving his charges undefended. As Lord Protector, Corvo was sworn to safeguard the Empress and her daughter, Lady Emily. In times of plague, civic unrest was more prevalent than usual. It ate at him to leave them alone, unguarded, while he led a fruitless search for anything that might help Dunwall stymie the vicious disease that threatened to bring it to its knees. Corvo Attano was not an arrogant man; he did not presume that he was infallible, incapable of allowing harm to come to his charges. However, he was also a realist, and realistically, he had never met a man, or any three men, for that matter, who could best him in battle. He'd been a swordsman since he'd been old enough to lift a practice saber. He'd never found pleasure in killing, but he was good at it, and he would not rest easy until he was where he could keep an eye on Lady Emily and her mother. He trusted their guards, but he trusted himself most of all.
"We're ready to go, Lord Protector," Curnow said, obviously as eager to go home as Corvo himself was. Dodson climbed into the small boat and Corvo followed. He bid a silent goodbye to the Jessamine, the vessel they'd called home for these past months. It was a comfortable enough ship, but Corvo preferred to have land beneath his feet.
He wondered how Emily had fared over the past months. She was probably bigger now, and if he knew the princess, even more precocious than she'd been when he left. The girl had a weight on her shoulders that would cripple fully grown women, but she was strong, as he mother was. Corvo smiled faintly as he thought of the pair of them. He'd tried not to think about them since his voyage had begun. He was doing important work for Empress Jessamine, and diverting his focus towards worrying about her in his absence only hindered his productivity.
Lady Emily would want to see him the moment he stepped off the boat. He thrilled at the prospect of seeing her. She would want to play hide and seek; he was sure of it. It had always been her favorite game, partially because he was always willing to impart climbing advice. She had an adventurous spirit, and it was one he was always happy to indulge.
He found himself thinking of the men who Jessamine had surrounded herself with during the time he'd been away from Dunwall. He trusted precious few of the men in the upper echelons of Parliament. He had no doubt that they were loyal to the throne, but many men were not subtle in their resentment of his ascension to the position of Lord Protector. He understood the resentment, to an extent. Here he was, a foreigner with the ear of the Empress. He tried not to further stir their ire, though he wished that they would recognize that the safety of the Empress was paramount, and there was not a man in Dunwall more devoted to the task. Spymaster Hiram Burrows was one of the most vocal opponents of Corvo's tenure as Lord Protector. No doubt the man would have preferred to install one of his own agents as Jessamine's bodyguard. Such a man would fulfill a dual function; not only would he protect the Empress, but he would serve as a fly on the wall, bringing secrets to his master. Corvo would never betray the royal family's confidence, and he served no secret master.
As the small boat approached Dunwall, his thoughts drifted away from intrigue, away from plague. His thoughts turned to Jessamine. He would see her again soon; his Empress, his duty…and the mother of his child. They could never openly acknowledge their relationship, or the fact that Emily was his daughter. But when they were together, away from prying eyes, they were, in the truest sense of the word, a family. Corvo Attano's small smile widened. Home was no Serkonos. Home was not even Dunwall. Home was relationships, loved ones. It was a stolen glance, a subtle wink that hinted at later passions, after the official work of the day was over. It was playing hide and seek with his daughter. Home was Jessamine. Home was Emily. Corvo Attano was going home.