Corvo, if only there was someone else I trusted to send so that you could remain near. But there is no one else, and the Spymaster was right to insist that I send you. The plague has taken so many and we must find a cure. When you are near my heart is at peace. Emily and I will count the days until you return. Hurry home and bring good news.
Corvo Attano read the letter over and over again, smiling. I'll be back soon, he thought silently, But not with the good news you desire.
"Steady hand. That's it. Watch it! Cast off line."
"Casting off line. And we're away."
Finally, off that god damn ship, Corvo thought.
"Take us straight to Dunwall Tower. Lord Corvo has important news for the Empress and it's been a long journey."
"It's been far too long," Corvo said, "and all we have for it is crappy news that helps us in no way."
"Aye, sailors are saying that Black Magic is at work in Dunwall, that we've been cursed," the man driving the boat said.
"Call it what you will, the situation's bad," Corvo concluded.
"I can't argue with that," the driver agreed.
As Corvo looked forward he saw that the boat was approaching the lock.
"Ho there. We're coming up," the driver shouted.
From above a voice called, "Lock is sealed. Ready! Turning on the pipes... and... she's rising!"
Several moments after he said so, water rained down from the walls and filled the lock. In as little as twenty seconds the ship had reached the top.
"Steady pressure! And... stop! Shut 'er down."
As Corvo exited the boat he could hear one a mechanic complaining to one of his co-workers, "All this new technology's way too touchy," he said.
"We'll you design something better," his associate responded.
"No thanks, I'll leave that to the geniuses," he finalised.
Corvo walked on and as he reached a bridge, he saw a very familiar young girl running towards his with her arms outstretched.
"Corvo, you're back!" cried Emily, the daughter of the Empress.
As she reached him Corvo swept her off her feet saying, "There you are my princess, it's been to long."
"Tell me about your trip," she said in her sweet little voice, "Did you see any whales?"
"Plenty, how's life in the castle been?" He enquired.
"It's been really dull, everyone's been so busy being worried about the plague that I haven't been noticed much at all." She complained, "Hey, do you wanna play a game of Hide & Seek?"
"I'm sorry but I've got to give this not to your mother."
"Oh come on, she's busy talking to the grumpy old Spymaster. Please." She said sweetly.
"OK but it has to be quick," Corvo settled, falling for her royal charm.
"Yay! We'll play under the bridge. Come on!" She urged.
"I'm coming," Corvo said following her down the ramp.
"Okay, you hide and I'll seek," said the little princess, "One... Two... Three...
Corvo looked for a hiding spot and went for a spot behind a short metal wall.
"Eight... Nine... Ten... Here I come!"
Emily looked around for a while but after a minute or so she said, "Okay, you win! Now let go and see mother."
Corvo came out hiding and followed Emily up towards the Tower.
On their way Corvo say High Overseer Campbell having a portrait of him painted by Sokolov the inventor and creator of the elixir designed to combat the Rat Plague.
"Hello Lord Protector, welcome back from your voyage," Campbell said warmly.
"How do you do, High Overseer," Corvo responded.
"Please hold still Mr Campbell," said Sokolov.
"Sorry, it won't happen again," Campbell replied.
Looking at the painting Emily said, "I don't think that looks like Campbell."
Corvo and Emily resumed the walk up to the Tower and in a short time they were there.
Just as they arrived, Corvo heard the Empress in conversation with the Spymaster, "They're sick people, not criminals," she was saying.
"We've gone beyond that question you're majesty," the Spymaster answered harshly, "They're..."
"They're my citizens," interrupted the Empress, "and we will save them from the plague if we can. All of them."
"Very well then," he surrendered.
"We will not discuss this again," the Empress said, ending all discussion.
By this point Emily had ran up to her mother and said, "Mother, Corvo's back."
As the Spymaster left he spotted Corvo, "Corvo, two days early. Full of surprises as usual."
"I try," said Corvo simply.
"It is a fair wind that brings you home to me Corvo," said the Empress, "What news do you bring from outside the city?"
"Bad I'm afraid," Corvo said sadly, "Here," he handed her an envelope.
The Empress opened the envelope and read the letter. After a few moments her face became sad. "I hoped the other cities had dealt with this before. That they knew of a cure. This is very bad news. The city can't take this much longer."
She dropped the letter and became angry. "Cowards! They're going to blockade us. They'll wait to see if the plague turns the city into a graveyard."
Seeing her mothers sad face, Princess Emily asked, "Mother, are you OK? You seem sad."
"Yes don't worry darling. Everything's fine," the Empress assured her. "Wait, where are the guards? Who sent them away?"
"Mother!" Emily exclaimed, "Who are those men? What are they doing on the rooftops?"
Corvo turned around to see the men she was pointing to. "Get down!" He shouted as one of them teleported to a spot only a few metres away. The first man charged with a sword in hand and Corvo instinctively took his pistol out of its holster and fired. Instead of the usual fall over and die routine that most people do when they're shot he dissipated into thin air.
Another man appeared to Corvo's right brandishing his sword and Corvo ducked under a blow that would have beheaded him and pierced his sword through his neck. Before he had even retreated the blade from No. 2 he fired a shot from his pistol into No. 3's chest. Both of them disappeared just like the first.
"Corvo, I can't imagine what would have happened if you weren't..." the Empress began only to be interrupted by a loud scream from her daughter.
Two more figures appeared but before Corvo could do anything one of them raised his hands and somehow lifted a now immobilised Corvo into the air. Corvo went completely limp and was unable to keep a grip on his pistol or sword.
The other figure rushed Emily and the Empress with his sword in hand. Pushing the Princess aside he grabbed the Empress by the throat and plunged his blade into her torso.
"NO!" the heartbroken Corvo screamed.
By now Corvo had been dropped and the one who'd been holding him grabbed the Princess and disappeared. The Empress's killer gave Corvo a final glance and disappeared.
Corvo crawled over to her dying body.
"Corvo..." she struggled to form her words, "Corvo... Find Emily... Find..." And at that moment the Empress breathed her last breath.
"I will," Corvo solemnly said, "I promise."
Looking up Corvo saw a group of City Watch guards approaching with Spymaster Burrows at the head.
"Corvo, you are hereby under arrest for the murder of Empress Jessamine," Burrows announced, "What have you done with you young lady Emily," he demanded.
"I haven't done anything to her," Corvo told him, "I didn't kill Jessamine! Believe me!"
Ignoring Corvo, Burrows ordered, "Take this traitor away!"
One of the guards raised his sword and the last thing Corvo saw was the hilt slam mining into his face.