Corvo Attano had snapped. Seeing the body of his beloved Empress just lying there, blood pooling around it had driven a dagger into his heart far sharper than the ones he had deflected as Lord Protector. And then the 'Lord Regent' and his cohorts had accused him of the crime and thrown him in jail. Each word of protest fell on deaf ears, until he spoke no more. He didn't even scream when tortured any longer. Yes, something had broken inside Corvo Attano.
He had been a good, honourable man. Now his blade sliced open flash without any hesitation, and bullets flew from his pistol like raindrops.
It was odd. The more he did it, the easier it became. And after a while he started enjoying the feel. Blink to a watchman, drive the edge of the blade through their throat, do the same to two more. Get spotted? Fine. Shoot, counter, dodge, windblast, repeat as desired. Run through a wall of light and watch them turn to dust.
Emily, the one tie he had to the world of normalcy, of what he had been slipped out of his grasp. He could see that the chaos raging around her had affected the empress to be in a terrible way. Paintings of death talk of power and fear from a girl who had been carefree and innocent not so long ago. It pierced through the scattered shards of Corvo's conscience. He resolved to get his little girl back.
He would have, had his allies not betrayed him. He should have felt shocked, startled, horrified even. What he felt was anger. How dare they, after everything he had done for them? Corvo wanted nothing more than to rise up and bash in the admiral's head, spill the inquisitor's guts and make Pendleton squeal like a pig in his last moments. But darkness claimed him before he could do more than reach weakly for their blurring images.
Samuel had come to his rescue. The old man had always been so casual after their missions, as if Corvo had just been out shopping, not ending the lives of countless men. And one woman in Lady Boyle's case. Even as he had strangled the life from her he had wished that there was another way. Alas, he had a job to do. Corvo had walked down from her chambers as if nothing had happened, earning a knowing wink from the guard.
Revenge on the one who had started this whole mess hadn't brought him any satisfaction. Everything had gone to shit in so many different ways anyway, that he couldn't even muster up the indignation at one more thing. The plague was overrunning the city, the iron fist of the Regency was about to be replaced by the admiral's boot, and he now had to kill those who he had thought were his trusted comrades in arms. The murder that started all this seemed so...small.
Corvo felt even more pieces of himself fall away as Samuel condemned him on the ride to the island. Not one word had been raised against his methods before, just approval at getting the job done. Why everyone had suddenly turned against him for doing as he'd been told puzzled Corvo. Perhaps to make a scapegoat out of him, be even easier in future? Piero had just been able to give him better tools for killing, nothing more. Samuel had always been the last bastion of morality for Corvo, his optimism and faith guiding the assassin to even try to sneak his way past whole corridors of guards at first. Eventually that went to hell. The thrill of blinking up to a tallboy and driving one's sword into their chest at the mechanical contraption fell to the ground became addictive after the first time, just as with the other ways of disposing of guards.
Corvo felt especially grim as he disembarked from the boat. So the last person he could have considered a friend now wanted nothing to do with the animal he had become. Well there went his chance at redemption. The assassin didn't say anything, as exchanging words would have been all but useless at this point. He'd already been declared worse than the bastards who had used him and then tried to kill him, for a reason every much as selfish as the Lord Regent's.
'Thats why I'm going to tell them you're coming.'
Oh no. Corvo whirled around in horror, just in time to witness a stone faced Samuel pull out a flare gun from inside his jacket. NO! Corvo didn't care at all if they were alerted; it just meant the slaughter would start sooner. But the element of surprise would be needed to get at least one of them before they crept into their rabbit holes. And he couldn't let that chance be ruined...
He didn't want to do it, wished to the Outsider that he wasn't forced to take action. Why Samuel? he wanted to scream as his crossbow appeared in his left hand. Why make me do this!? The bolt flew from the crossbow like lightning, yet everything seemed frozen to Corvo as he watched himself sign his friend's death sentence. He knew full well that it would take minimal effort to stop time and snatch the bolt from midair. The deadly intent would remain unfulfilled and Samuel would still live.
But it was too late for that. Redemption was gone by now. The wooden bolt struck the boatman in the chest and threw him overboard before he could make good on his promise. After a few seconds the crossbow bolt floated back up to the surface. Corvo stared at it and all it represented, before turning and walking up the beach. There would be no point in retrieving the bolt, or the body. That would waste time. Time spent on revenge.
His victory was a hollow one. It would have been a miracle if it had been any other kind. The admiral had died and Emily was safe. But he could hear her thoughts with the Heart, and they were all corrupted. What would adding power do to that? Would she be remembered as favourably as the Empress had been, or be cursed in the history books? Was it even possible for things to get worse from here?
Corvo considered killing her as they walked. Just snapping her neck in one go. It would be quick and relatively painless, certainly compared to electrocution or being torn apart by rats. Just as he was getting ready to put these thoughts into action, Emily took his hand and smiled at him, that same sweet innocent smile she'd had when they used to play together in the gardens. Corvo's murderous desire was snuffed out in an instant as he grinned mirthfully under his mask and lifted her into the air. They were soon laughing as he spun her around and around, both of them oblivious to the carnage surrounding them.
The former Lord Protector felt hope for the first time in what felt like an eternity. Doubts and suspicions about Emily still lingered, but maybe he was wrong. Maybe it was possible for things to go back to the way to the way they were before; maybe this whole mess could be fixed? Emily could go back to being innocent and Corvo could regain his honour.
Maybe it wasn't too late for redemption.
As she was being spun through the air, the future empress of Dunwall caught sight of the dead bodies strewn all around them. Some were riddled with bullets; others were criss-crossed with slashes. A select few lay mangled and broken at angles, as if a great force had crashed into them. Emily's gaze moved over the piles of bodies, and her giggles grew even more fervent.