Full Description: It's been seven years since the events that shook Dunwall and placed a child monarch on the throne. Empress Emily patiently awaits for her Golden Era to arise from the rat-infested shadows, and begs for the day that peace will calm the land. But peace is a fragile thing, just opaque enough to obscure the vileness of man.
After being convicted of heresy by the new head of the Abbey of the Everyman, High Overseer Gregor Parrish, Corvo Attano is forced to recuse himself from Emily's service in a desperate effort to protect her image. How will the empire fair without our beloved Lord Protector, and how will he return to the empress' side? Carefully supports the notion that Corvo is NOT Emily's father. Corvo x Emily. Rated M for future sections of graphic romance and violent themes.
Author's Note: This story will be written in two POV's, first and third. The majority of the first half of this fic will be written from Corvo's perspective as he attempts to write an autobiography, or thinks back to prior events. In these cases, the words will be italized. All third person/current action will be in regular font style.
The Vileness of Man: Mission One — Prologue
"The Tales of a Lord Protector by Corvo Attano
My name is Corvo Attano. For over twenty years I have protected the monarch of the Isles and her family from treason, safeguarding her health, sovereignty, and reputation under the title of Lord Protector. As I am writing this, it has been nearly seven years since the assassination of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin when the Royal Spymaster, Hiram Burrows, initiated a coup d'état to usurp the throne.
I failed in my duties to protect my charge, an event that still haunts me today. The only thing I could (and did) do to attempt to reconcile my horrible mistake was to hunt down and systematically destroy the people who murdered my empress and kidnapped her daughter, heiress to the empire, Emily Kaldwin. I had to assure Emily's rightful succession, not just in order to restore balance to a broken land, but also to alleviate my guilty conscious.
It was a tribulating journey, filled with heresy, prudence, and betrayal, but in the end I took my (and Jessamine's) revenge without shedding a drop of blood. Emily was restored to Dunwall Tower and my thirst for revenge had been sated. While initially I wanted to turn tail to my homeland, Serkonos, and continue to shamefully lick my wounds, the child monarch took my hand and with an innocent smile, asked me to help her guide her empire into a golden era. I never could deny that smile.
And yet here I sit, seven years later, in the dank hull of a small fishing ship headed back towards my homeland, hundreds of miles south of Dunwall…and my empress. How did I end up here, as a shell of my former self, and why have I left my charge? Well, that's where my story begins.
The best way to tell a story, I've discovered among my many years, is to start at the end, and move back to the beginning, occasionally moving back to the end for dramatic effect. I've never written a book and hardly any letters bear my signature. In fact, the only pieces of parchment I recall working upon apart from my schooldays resolved themselves in the form of imperial reports. I am not an "enlightened" man. I do not dabble in poetry or construct epics, nor do I paint or pretend to understand art and fashion. In fact, the only reason I'm writing this book is because I feel as if I must leave something physical behind before I depart this world. It will be called, The Tales of a Lord Protector, or perhaps, The Life of Corvo Attano—I have yet to completely decide on the title."
The crinkling sound of paper echoed off the wooden walls of the dim cabin as the sour man crumbled yet another page of his scarcely started autobiography. It would be the fourth time he restarted his book, with his handwriting growing more incoherent and his thoughts less organized with each new attempt. His head had begun to swell with pain from the effort it took to structure his rampant thoughts, and the ink from his emptied fountain pen seeped messily into the creases of his cramped, coarse hands. He tiredly began to massage his aching wrists, bitterly staring at the black mark stamped onto his left hand. Though it seemed strange, the farther the ship seemed to sail from its point of origin, the more the mark seemed to physically burn, causing him to mildly wince from the minor singeing pain.
Its archaic curves and spines puffed outward from his olive skin, glaring menacingly at Corvo as he reluctantly drifted farther from his charge. It was as if the Outsider himself was spiting him, although realistically the god-like trickster couldn't care less for the petty dramas of mortals. His mark blessed those he deemed worthy by his own set of twisted ideals independent from status, birth, and even morals. The ex-Lord Protector just so happened to have chanced upon being interesting enough to receive his gift. Perhaps it itched because the actions he was currently embarking seemed too predictable for the thrill-seeking deity, or perhaps it was entire psychological, daring him to find any reason to swim feverishly back to his empress' side. Yet, it was all because of that damned mark that he was here in the first place.
His dark eyes swarmed with anger as he cleared his desk in a fit of rage. Parchment flew into the air, empty vials of ink rolled loudly onto the wooden floor, and a large chunk of amber colored stone hit ground with a low thud. The monotonous swaying of the small ship and gurgling churns of the ocean's vicious waves slapping against the hull was beginning to get to him. Luckily, he didn't get seasick, despite the fact it had been years since he had been on any sea vessel other than a dingy. It didn't take him long to regain his composure. Letting out an elongated sigh, he retrieved the smooth stone brooch from the floor and shoved it back into one of trouser pockets without looking at it.
The cabin itself was nothing compared to the life of luxury Corvo had grown accustomed to while living in Dunwall Tower, but he was not a pretentious man. Any place with a bed and a decent view would do, and that was about the extent of the small room. Apart from a wooden desk tucked neatly against one wall of his below deck compartment, the only other items that furnished the area was a small metal-framed bed, a catty-corner beverage cupboard with a whale-oil lamp glowing a dim blue, and fixed wall sink with a small mirror hanging above it. The water that flowed from faucet as Corvo turned the rusty knob was a milky white and metallic in taste. He splashed the cool water on his face and forcefully scrubbed his palms, trying to clean away his ink stained hands with no avail. Turning the water off with an agitated groan, he looked up at the mirror and gazed into its silver glass.
For someone with such a rugged complexion, he was rather handsome, although he was too modest to admit it to even himself. His thick, rust-colored locks gently framed his stalwart façade, and his long bangs hung wispily over rich brown eyes. Patches of chin stubble gave him almost an aloof appearance, but age pulled at his features, sinking in his steely eyes and generating a more sapient aura about him. If he wasn't dressed in such a gentlemanly fashion, someone could have easily mistaken him for a whaler or street ruffian simply because of the severe manner of which he conducted himself. He wasn't a particularly friendly person anyways, and the circumstances surrounding his presence on the ship made him that much more reluctant to leave his small bedroom. In fact, only a few of the ship's meager crew had actually met the noble hermit gracing their otherwise unimportant ship, and those that had seen him remarked on him barely speaking a word.
The ship Corvo was sailing upon was of modest caliber. It was a relatively small fishing vessel, used mainly for smaller species of fish, such as the hoards of hagfish that infested Dunwall's rivers. It wasn't the latest model by any means, and still used a sail as a primary means of propulsion, despite it having a trans-powered turbine engine. Although, finding any form of technology that didn't run off of trans was nigh impossible anyways. The exterior of the vessel was made out a lightweight metal that all Gristol-built ships incorporated in their designs. It seemed like the only place you could still see wooden clipper boats was in the southern parts of Serkonos. It had been rented out specifically to secretly carry the former Lord Protector to the southern country by the newest high overseer, High Overseer Gregor Parrish.
Corvo's throat burnt with hatred for that name as he choked down his anger, a sensation that could only be quelled by the taste of strong alcohol. Grudgingly, he moved to the small catty-corner cupboard and knelt, opening the wooden door to search its interior for a bottle of liquor. It had been a while since the sour taste of booze had quenched his lips, and he was almost looking forward to its sweet release. As he fumbled around in the dark hole, his hands fell onto something soft and warm, which skittered out of his grasp and made him recoil from the shock. A white rat scurried out of the shadowy cabinet and into the man's view, and meekly began to gnaw on Corvo's thick boot. It wasn't a vicious fit of bites, like those of the plague-infested rats still swarming Dunwall's sewers. No, it was almost playful in a way, which made the belligerent man crack a faint smile.
"Are you a stowaway too?" he whispered to the rat, which at the sound of the voice ran and hid back into the cupboard.
Perhaps stowaway wasn't the correct term to describe himself, but he sure did feel like one. The entire reason he was on board of this ship was to be quietly taken to Serkonos without the empress', or anyone else's knowledge. He had snuck away from his charge, and all to protect her image. The reason for his departure would have been quite damaging it met by the public eye, as so he was given a simple choice: either to leave Dunwall that night or be ousted tomorrow via the Broadcast Center to the entire city. Political matters such as these were to be tread upon carefully, as to not leave a wake of destruction by being overzealous, a realization Corvo knew all too well. His choice, although not particularly a hard one, infuriated him just the same. Surely he would eventually return to his empress' service, but how long it was until the dust had settled would not be for him to decide.
A little short for a first chapter, and a little hazy, but it will all come to play soon enough. I need reviews to make sure I'm doing well enough to continue, and that enough people like it enough. So please, REVIEW! Any criticism is treasured, as long as it's not hateful, because that's not helpful at all.
I'm a huge fan of Dishonored, and I beat it with Low Chaos with Ghost and Clean Hands, which is the trail this story will follow. Despite how the game strongly suggests a relationship between Corvo and Jessamine, I love how the designers left it fairly ambiguous to allow me to construct the pairing of Corvo x Emily. Hopefully I see other fans of this pairing, and for those who don't believe it can be done, I hope to show you a personal interpretation later on.
Edit 12/20/12: The time period has been changed from five to seven years after an unfortunate discovery that Emily was 10 during Dishonored, and not 12 as I had originally thought.