DISCLAIMER: Bethesda/Arkane own Dishonored, Daud, Dunwall ... wow, a lot of these names start with a 'D', don't they?
THE WHALER'S TALE
Chapter the Second,
in which Daud meets a stranger.
A sudden, muffled crash sounded out in the night. Instantly, Daud slipped his whalebone trinket into the pocket of his ragged pants, and ran to the source of the noise. It was coming from the shore. Peeping around the corner of the house, Daud saw six men, all broad-shouldered, heavily built thugs. Screams penetrated the air, as they beat down a man with broken glass bottles and whatever else they could lay their hands upon. A very familiar man ...
"Fuh - father ..."
Daud collapsed, his eyes stinging, as he realised who the men were and who their unlucky victim was. As he wept, the thugs caught sight of him. Yelling to his mates, he roared, "The brat's here as well! Kill 'em all!"
A bottle crashed just by him, and, unthinkingly, Daud ran, ran around the house, and raced into his room. "The hitmen!" he cried. "The hitmen are here!" He shook his brothers awake. To his horror, when he pushed Noland over, he found a kitchen knife sticking out of his brother's chest. Daud backed away, straight into the arms of a hitman. They closed around his throat, and, for a second, he couldn't breathe ...
A piece of glass ...
Kitchen knife ...
Coins clinking ...
The raucous laughter of drunken men ...
Sounds of chains clanking against each other ...
Daud woke, sweating. He remembered only incoherent fragments from what he sincerely hoped was a dream. Judging by his current situation, it was most definitely not. He was shackled to the wall by his ankles, and his throat was parched. His eyes stung, and, with every breath, his lungs seemed to slap the inside of his ribcage like a red hot poker stirring coal. Once he mustered up enough strength, he looked around. Spotting a bowl of sickly-looking broth, Daud lunged at it. He greedily slurped up as much as he could stand, and then leaned back, his thirst sated. As he sat against the cracked plaster, events came flooding back to him.
It was probably a week ago, when Daud had found his father and brother lying dead. He'd awoken after that in the back of a horse carriage, knowing instantly that he was in Karnaca. He'd known from the pristine look of the buildings and the accented words of the men who paid the carriage-driver that they were all upper-class. Of course, the hitmen had been hired. He pretended to be still asleep, as the men left the carriage and entered the shadowy slums of the city. Daud was pulled out of the carriage as well, and shaken awake and strip-searched in public, then and there, outside a large, white house. From there, they dragged him to the cell he was in now, and flogged him until his lungs were exhausted from screaming. Once he recovered, he was once more stripped and his head submerged in ice-cold water. Every few seconds, they'd pull him out so that he could breathe just enough to survive a second dunking. The day after that, they'd let him be, but without food. Daud, however, was used to going a day or so while starving, much to their displeasure. So the next day, they poisoned him. They force-fed him a foul-smelling potion, which made him retch and suffocate, and then he vomited it out, so that they could give him more.
So did the torture continue, until the end of the week. It was the fifth or sixth day, when Daud was kicked awake, only to find that his captors had released his shackles. He was cuffed to one of their wrists, and dragged out of his prison. Finally, Daud figured out where he was. He had been held in a decrepit hotel in the slums of Karnaca, one who's name he quickly learned: the Kelsey. From the Kelsey, he was returned to the white manor he'd been searched outside. Daud caught a glimpse of its name: Streeton Lodge, number thirty-nine, Fenting Street. Inside the manor, he was taken to a small room, in front of a table stacked with papers and an inkwell. At the table sat a man who Daud would learn to hate until the day he died.
He was a fat, glistening man, dressed in the fashion of a foreigner. He wore a long red gown and small, gold-rimmed spectacles, and his neck and fingers were adorned in rubies. His hair was the colour and texture of muddy water; thin, unattractive strands combed over an almost bald head.
"I," the man said, without preamble, "am the man who ordered the death of your father. My name is Nero Streeton. Your father owed me money, a huge amount he demanded two weeks ago. When he failed to repay it, I sent my men after him."
When Daud refused to speak, Streeton continued, "I had your older brother and your mother executed as with your father, and sold your sister as a servant girl to a foreign nobleman." He smiled thinly for a second. "He paid handsomely. As for you ..." the moneylender gestured vaguely, "you are ... well, you're too young and ugly to be sold, and I do not you. So I have you tortured every day. Would you like to drink something?"
"Your blood," spat Daud, as all the hate he'd felt in the last few days boiled over, and he took a fearsome step towards Streeton. The moneylender shrank, squealing, "Guards!" and of course Daud was restrained, and beaten, and taken back.
Back in the present, Daud sat up straight as a thought occured to him. Hmm ... the torturers haven't been here all day. I wonder what's with 'em? He felt his pocket, fiddling around until his fingers closed around a warm object. The whalebone thing. He'd been surprised when the searchers hadn't found it, assuming it had fallen out somewhere; but, two days ago, he'd returned from his daily torture sessions to find it in a small hole in the cell. He sat there now, his hand in his pocket reaching around it, and closed his eyes until sleep took him.
This has to be a dream ...
Daud was still in his cell, but it was no longer a room. The roof and two walls had vanished, and the room seemed to be anchored to an invisible point in a swirling vortex of an undescribable colour. He looked down to see that his shackles were gone, and wandered outside. The sky was the same undescribable colour as the rest of the world he was in. As soon as Daud stepped outside, the air in front of him seemed to glow and haze, thickening to form a man's body. He wore a rust-coloured leather jacket and long black trousers tucked into his glossy black shoes.
"Who the ..." Daud began, but the man simply raised a hand, and this action seemed to silence Daud by its very doing.
"All in good time, Daud," the man said. "As for who I am, where you are, and how I know your name ... I am the Outsider. You might have heard of me?"
"You're the one the Abbey of the Everyman preaches against," Daud said. "The pagan demon ..."
"Is that what they're saying now?" the Outsider mused. "And in any case, you are ... somewhere else, let's put it that way. I've only brought you here for the moment, don't worry. Soon enough, you'll be returned. I've been watching you for a while." His eyes were deep black, expressionless, but his tone was deadly serious, like an unavoidable truth.
Despite this, Daud was pissed. "I don't have time for your bullshit," the teen growled.
"Now, now. I don't suppose you'd care to try politeness for once?"
Daud told him where he could shove his politeness, and the Outsider chuckled. "Well, then. To the point," the black-eyed 'god' stated. "I've chosen you. You ... intrigue me. Unpredictable, always. You might be important, or you might die a hopeless, lonely death in chains. Who knows?"
Daud's hand burned, and he screamed, as the Outsider spoke.
"I prefer to think you're important. Now come on, it's only a little tattoo. A permanent brand seared into your skin. Why don't we pass the time ... I know. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
THE WHALER'S TALE: to be continued ...