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Chapter 1: Hands Stained in Royal Blood

"Boat's away!" the ship captain cried.

"Tell Dunwall Tower that Lord Protector Attano will be there in five minutes." the first mate yelled to the skipper of the small boat.

Corvo Attano breathed in the sea air as his boat proceeded toward the majestic city of Dunwall. Three months out looking for aid for the city, and he was back two days early. The news he brought back was no reason for the Empress to be pleased. The other Isles had their own problems, and the "Dunwall Plague" was spreading beyond its namesake.

At least there's more whales out there than two years ago. Corvo thought, realizing that with the whalers succumbing to the rat-borne pestilence, the whales could reproduce again.

"Approaching the lock." the skipper announced.

The doors opened as the boat approached. Once it was inside, they closed and the lock filled with water. As the small skiff rose, Corvo mentally played out the dreaded conversation he was going to have with the Empress. And that was assuming that he'd even be able to break the bad news. A man named Daud had allegedly made a vendetta that was being taken very seriously by Spymaster Burrows.

"Corvo, Empress Jessamine is expecting you." a young lad called out.

"Thanks, son." Corvo muttered, putting on a faked Gristol accent.

Corvo continued to play out the conversation in his head. Hopefully, Jessamine would keep trying to get help for Dunwall. As he walked and thought it over, a young girl ran toward him.

"Corvo! You're back!" the girl exclaimed.

"Lady Emily, heiress to the throne! My angel in white!" Corvo replied, his natural Serkonan accent flowing smoothly.

"Want to play hide-and-seek?" Emily asked.

"I do, but I can't right now. I must see your mother." Corvo answered.

Emily pouted.

"I'll tell you about my trip." Corvo promised, hoping to brighten Emily's mood.

"Did you see any whales?" Emily excitedly asked.

"I did." Corvo answered.

"Did you bring me any presents?" Emily asked.

Corvo dug around his pockets until he found the trinkets he had bought on his trip.

"A traditional Tyvian bone charm and a rune necklace from Serkonos." Corvo answered, presenting the gifts to Emily.

Along their way to the gazebo, Corvo and Emily passed a few of the regulars at court. The genius Anton Sokolov was busy painting the portrait of High Overseer Campbell. After ten minutes of walking, Corvo and Emily arrived at the gazebo.

"Corvo, you're back! I take it you have good news!" Empress Jessamine exclaimed.

"Sorry, milady. I have no good news. Tyvia and Serkonos have been stricken by the rat plague, as has Morley." Corvo solemnly announced, handing a letter to the Empress.

Spymaster Burrows smiled. Now was the time. Producing a mirror from his pocket, he covertly signaled his lackeys. Excusing himself, he left Corvo, the Empress, and Emily.

"Where did the guards go?" Empress Jessamine asked.

"Rooftops!" Corvo yelled.

The Empress gazed in horror as three men in crimson descended upon the gazebo. All of them had swords in their hands. One of them she recognized as Daud. The other two wore masks.

"You all die." one of the masked ones announced.

Suddenly, the other masked one fell dead as Corvo plunged his sword into his ribcage. The Empress grabbed a trans pistol and killed the other one. Suddenly, Corvo found himself frozen. Unable to move, he watched as Daud drove his blade into the back of Jessamine's neck. A third masked man climbed up onto the gazebo and grabbed Lady Emily. Just then, Corvo was freed. He dragged himself over to his dying lady.

"Find…Emily…" Jessamine wheezed as she drew her last.

Suddenly, Burrows and a dozen guards arrived at the gazebo. All had their swords drawn.

"Corvo, I hereby arrest you for the murder of Empress." Spymaster Burrows announced.

"Gor blimey! Didn't you see the assassins?" Corvo asked in his fake accent.

"Then why are your hands covered in the Empress's blood?" Spymaster Burrows inquired.

"I didn't kill her! It was Daud!" Corvo pleaded.

"Captain Curnow, take this man to the prison." Burrows demanded.

"I didn't kill her!" Corvo insisted as he was dragged to Coleridge Prison.