Disclaimer: I do not own Akame ga Kill! nor do I own Dishonored.
Esdeath was not sure how to judge the teen in front of her.
When she had seen him on her hunting grounds, she had considered giving him a warning to back off, as everything within the vicinity was her prey, and only hers. That option disappeared when he felled a Danger Beast that was, by all means, extremely hard to even outmaneuver; the Giant Horned Tiger. Even though she herself could do the same, the amount of time he took was shocking.
It hadn't even lasted ten, no, six seconds! He had charged at it headfirst, ducked and swayed seamlessly from its swipes and sliced the tendons of the front and back legs to disable it, then disappearing in a blink of an eye and finishing it from above with a plunge into the back of its neck, and snapping it just as quickly. All the actions were executed with pinpoint precision and no hesitation, his movement almost like a ghost.
She remembered grinning excitedly. He is strong. There is no doubt about that. Nevertheless, it was her territory and she must establish dominance.
He had turned to her with a curious expression when she called out to him. She'll have to admit, he isn't bad-looking. His scruffy long hair hung over a sharp face and matching dark-brown eyes, and there were early signs of stubbles developing on his fairly tan complexion. He seems to be only a few years older than her. His tense brows were set in a seemingly permanent scowl that alluded to apprehension, if only slightly. His attire, which consisted of a dark hooded long-sleeve tunic wrung with numerous belts and buckles with matching pants and boots, gave him the impression of a night stalker, and the strange crossbow that rests on his waist and the skull-themed mask strapped to his shoulder only cements that fact.
The boy didn't seem to like her demand and fled. She was pleasantly surprised at first, and recovered quickly to pursue him.
The chase had felt just like any other hunt she had participated in. Pursue the prey, corner it, wound it and tire it out, and close in for the kill. Enjoy every steps and span it out if possible for maximum pleasure. Her 'prey' had kept his distance from her for a good amount of time, which she could respect, admire even. That just means he will be a challenge.
And Esdeath loves challenges.
She felt delight at seeing his panicked face when she finally caught up to him. It was an image she had intended to savor when she digs her knives deep into his guts and spill out his intestines, but not before lacerating his tendons to keep him from running again and piercing his lungs to keep him from breathing.
But then something changed when she struck. His previous expression quickly morphed into an effigy of coldness. Retaliation is always expected, so she quickly moved away from the fists that flew her way.
It felt familiar; the way they were fighting. He should know that there are holes to exploit, yet he is doing nothing besides making wordless, subtle remarks about them. There weren't any fatal counterattacks, and he hadn't even pulled out a weapon to fight with.
Then she remembered. This whole match felt like the times when her father taught her how to fight. How to use each tools for each specific tasks, like gutting a Danger Beast for its valuables or slicing it apart for its meat. How to use each weapons to defend and hunt for herself. And she realized it.
He was mocking her. Mocking her strength!
It annoyed and infuriated her, yet at the same time, she felt a sense of thrill that she had seemed to forgotten over the months of loneliness in the Northern Frontiers. Confusing as it was, she didn't ponder on it further. No, it's fairer to say that she couldn't, as lethargy soon made a full course through her entire body and she found herself gasping for breath. Her 'prey' had found his way behind her and has her life in his hands, his arms wrapped around her head in a headlock.
'Ah, so this is how I die…' she thought as she lost consciousness.
Then something strange happened. She woke up next to a fire. She could still feel warmth and pain, so therefore she is still alive. And she was honestly confused when he refused to finish her off after she told him to do so. Why? She is weak, is she not? He is strong, is he not? So that means he has to kill her. It is the law of nature, after all.
And that was exactly what she told him.
A flurry of emotions flowed through the boy's face, some she didn't understand and others she saw on her father once; namely, shock and anger. Then he gave an explanation that she couldn't comprehend. The law of nature shouldn't be followed? That doesn't make any sense. There are no other rules of life other than that.
Then he stated something she would never forget, "There are two kinds of people in this world. Winners and losers. It is the right of the winner to have authority over the losers. I am the winner, and you are the loser. And I decide that you will live."
She could understand that. But live… live for what? Live for him? Ah, that makes sense. Why else would he spare her?
"I see. So I am your slave by right of conquest."
The silence that permeated the air almost made her reconsider what she just said. Almost. His reaction was far from what she expected. Delight was something she predicted he would have. Instead, it looked more like aggravated confusion, so she explained herself to him. If anything, it only served to make him look more disturbed, for some reason.
Then he turned and left without another word. What a weird person.
And that's what Esdeath didn't understand herself. She could have just made her escape just like that, what with his back turned and herself not in ropes and tethers, or ambush him again and finish him off for good. Instead, she found herself following after him for the next two days. She really didn't understand what is going on with herself.
It's a good thing he asked for her name, as the silence between the two was starting to drive her crazy.
"Esdeath. My name is Esdeath," she introduced herself. "And may I have the name of the person who managed to enslave me?"
She found herself enjoying his aggrieved reaction.
"My name is Corvo Attano. And don't call me master."
Still, he is such an interesting and confusing person. She'll have to study him more.
Outside, he maintained a neutral expression. Inside, he yelled internally and angrily at himself.
When he first saw the large trail of smoke from afar, he didn't know whether to investigate or not. He had initially decided against it, seeing that it was none of his business. Then he noticed something odd. Smoke does not burn black. Deciding against his initial choice, he went to see what was going on, and was horrified by what he saw.
The entire village is in ashes. Each building that had once stood tall lay crumbling, the smell of burnt flesh and charred wood assaulting his nose. No one was spared; men, women, children, elders, dogs, cats, livestocks, not even the rats were spared from the now-dying conflagration.
And Corvo couldn't do anything about it. It truly bothered him. If he had only been here minutes, no, seconds earlier, none of this would have…!
He took a deep breath, despite the noxious fume. No. Now is not the time for regret and self-loathing. There has to be survivors. Something can still be done. There is always something that can be done. Despite showing no sympathy for what had occurred, Esdeath had helped him search for survivors without a word.
For that, he should thank her.
His eyes travelled, searching for any signs of life. But there was nothing but ashes and ashes, burnt bodies and livestocks, and rubbles of melting concrete. Soon, he became desperate enough to use his ability Dark Vision and after an hour, reality slapped him harshly.
There were no survivors.
It weighed heavily on him. His hands may not be clean, but they were like that for a reason. Everything he had once done, he had done because they were orders. Everything he had done by his compliance, it was for Jessamine. And when she had passed, everything he had done, his only reason for living, and his only purpose was Emily.
Now that he has passed on into this world… what is wrong with searching for another purpose? Emily and Jessamine surely would have scolded him if he had fallen into depression. Ha, he could even imagine that, too.
So he chose to explore and help any that he could. It was a decision he made after two months of meditating through the choices given to him. A decision he must not regret.
At the very least… he can give these people a respectful passing.
He and Esdeath set out to work, gathering the bodies and placing them on a makeshift funeral pyre. Once he made sure all were accounted for, he lit it and placed a fist over his chest in respectful prayer as the smokes began to rise.
Memories began to assault him again. Just as the curtains began to furl in when he rescued Emily one last time, she had taken it upon herself to oversee the restructuring of Dunwall. The first among them was seeing to gathering the dead and finally allowing them to rest their bodies properly in peace. Slackjaw and his cohorts had helped him retrieve the bodies, as repayment for the debt of saving him from the witch Granny Rags. However, the graveyards soon reached their capacities, and the last option remained: a funeral pyre was placed instead.
That day became known as the Affair of Dissonant Fog, for the entire day, the sky was filled with black smoke.
"There is no point in this," she finally remarked, watching the smokes rise. Corvo turned to look at the girl, and she continued, "Why should we mourn the dead because of their weakness? It's their own fault that they died. They have only themselves to blame, so why do you insist on sending them off like this? It's better if the vultures finished them instead. At least then, these weaklings have a purpose in death."
Corvo gazed at her. "…You speak like a child who never truly lost anything."
"Do I?" Esdeath smiled challengingly and viciously at him. "What if I told you that I have lost everything? My father, the entire Partas clan were all killed by a rival clan only two years ago, but do you know what he told me as he succumbed? 'Live strong.' So there is nothing to worry."
She swatted the ashes that flew too close to her eyes. "I have lost everything, but I do not feel anything about it. Why? Because I am strong. I mourn for my clan and my father, but that's all there is to it. The strong will prosper and the weak will vanish. If for one moment I feel worried for the dead, I will become weak. And then I will die."
He could only shake his head in pity. "Such thoughts are diseasing to the young mind."
"And it has helped me survive this far. What can go wrong now?"
"Many things," he chose to reply simply. Esdeath remained silent at his two-worded answer. He looked back at the fire. "Why did this happen?"
She looked at him as if reevaluating her impression of him. "You're not from around here, are you? That explains how you don't know why all of this is happening." He merely nodded. She motioned to the remains of the village. "Events similar to these have been happening the past months since the emperor's passing. I don't know the exact reason, but I heard a new Prime Minister has been elected, and the new Emperor who had been crowned is only a young toddler, at best. That can be something.
"And here I was planning on enlisting into the Imperial Army as well. Prey had getting scarce, and I had nothing better to go after." She's studying him again. "So what do you think we should do?"
What should he do, indeed? Corvo had planned to travel to the southern regions and accustom himself to the more tropical climates that locals had claimed to been infamous for. But now that this has happened, he must know what is going on and present himself with decisions that could possibly stop these senseless events, if everything Esdeath has told him are true. Another situation like Dunwall is never good.
"We're going to visit this Empire."
His arrival into the Empire wasn't a welcome one.
It was only an hour after he got past the guards that he got pick-pocketed by a boy who was nimble on the feet and spent the last few minutes running after the miscreant. After he caught the kid, he was greeted by watch guards who stopped their patrol to apprehend him.
He wasn't sure how and why he warranted the arrest at first, and eventually he settled his eyes on his garments, which is probably the main reason he was mistaken for a thief. Coupled with the fact that he was chasing after a little kid, it was easy to label him as a molester. Esdeath had managed to run away and hide throughout the entire ordeal. On the other hand, he could have resisted and ran away, but what good would that do? He had allowed himself to be captured, if not out of morbid curiosity of what will happen to himself, then to scout further and see the further interior.
So here he sat, in a cell with bars that look like it will fall apart if struck with enough force and all his equipments confiscated, and no guards standing to watch. So far, it's been 2 hours since he got arrested.
"Um, why didn't you just turn me in and run away?"
Corvo stared neutrally at the boy he was in the cell with. The boy had messy black hair and strange red eyes, though he shouldn't be saying that after meeting Esdeath. He still had on the roughspun tunic, pants, and footwraps that he wore during their chase, and was covered all over with grime that appear to be many weeks old.
"What is a child doing stealing other's gold?" Corvo responded with a question.
The boy scoffed. "No other way of living. I don't have money or a lounging place. I only have myself, my friends on the street, and my skill set to rely on."
"What about your parents?" The boy glared at him.
"I don't have parents. They're dead to me," the boy finally gave. He looked down. "When did it all start? Some months ago, things were just fine. Then bodies began littering the streets and it became normal to see blood or corpses on the sidewalk on the countryside." He bit his lips. "We were all happy. Poor, but happy. Then my so-called parents decided to sell my sisters, so I ran away before they could do the same to me."
Corvo found himself shocked again. What a story… why is this child telling him this? "And why are you telling this?"
The boy shrugged. "Dunno. I get the feeling I can trust you. You haven't lashed out like all the other adults I've stolen from, and frankly, you don't look like the type to get along with authority, either."
He didn't know what to say about that. To a degree, the boy is right. He had opposed the City Watch and the Abbey of the Everyman when he had posed as the Unknown Assailant, but other than that, he is one who has the utmost authority when it comes to the Empress's safety. It didn't matter what reputation and prestige anyone had, but if they did anything that offended or harmed the empress and her honor, he would reprimand them with severe prejudice. So in a way, he didn't get along much.
Silence came again, and then the boy continued, "There are a lot of people from the countryside that come here for fame, glory, or just money. Usually, their best bet is joining the Imperial Army. Some of them were good people, if a little naive. The others were showoffs that got scammed by the harlots in the local house. They ran off soon enough," the boy curled his legs in. "But recently, they've been disappearing one by one. I know because I've spied on the army registrar. They weren't on there."
Corvo turned to the boy, who took it as a question for why he's here. "Me? I'm just here to find my sisters. That's all." He remained silent after that, which he responded with silence as well.
Soon, when Corvo was sure the guards weren't making any rounds, he stood up and walked to the bars. "The bars may be rusty, but there's still patrol making rounds outside. The best thing to do is-"
"No," he simply replied. "There's someone I know who's coming."
The boy looked confused, but it quickly turned into surprise when the supposed person arrived at the cell.
"Esdeath. How did you get in?"
She smirked. "Front door was open. Plus, the guards that were supposed to be here aren't here." The smirk morphed into a Cheshire smile. "So, it's only been some time, but does that mean you are, as the guards call, a prison bitch?"
…He had the feeling Esdeath would not let this lay down, if that smile is any indication.
"Let's… let's just go." He turned to the speechless boy. "You too."
He scowled as they traversed out of the building. Abysmal. The duty of the guard posts of this jail is simply abysmal.
He had made note of the surroundings when the three of them made their way to get his equipments, and then out of the prison. Along the way, he had spotted a total of six gaps that could easily get carved away to make way for an escape, or even an entrance. More than eleven windows were unlocked and showed no signs of being manned or reinforced by bolts, and it is more than likely that if there was a back entrance, it would be left unchecked by the guards.
And then there's the guards. The three of them had slipped by them unnoticed, but even so: there were four groups of them, four in each. Possibly more groups, but he did not confirm. Two of the groups had shown intention of skipping duty, thus the possible reason the route they took to escape was left unpatrolled. The fence that he kicked down moments prior required reinforcement as well.
Not to mention, there was a distinct possibility that a tall muscular man with blond hair in a gray suit of plate armor had seen them on top of the guard tower, yet did nothing to stop them.
Such is the hardship of a former Lord Protector.
"We're out," he declared neutrally, tying his mask back onto his shoulder.
"Hm," Esdeath hummed. "I thought we would run into some guards, but honestly, how boring."
"Who are you people?" the boy accompanying them asked, "
The bluenette took a moment studying him. "Corvo. Why's your thief with us?"
"Better to steal than starve in the gutter, lady," he retorted. "Who the hell do you think you are, anyways?"
"Ah, so we have a mouthy one here," she smiled. "I will enjoy teaching you how to respect your elders."
"I'm 11 years old, and you don't look anywhere near 18, stupid bitch!"
If anything, Esdeath smiled even wider. "Esdeath, enough," Corvo stated firmly. "Check to see if there are any guards following us. I'll catch up to you soon."
"Pooh, you're no fun," she waved aridly and went to do as he said.
Corvo turned to the boy and took out his pouch. "I hope it's not too late to introduce myself. Corvo Attano. Just a wandering waif who doesn't have a clear goal, but a lot of questions."
"Waif? What's that?"
"It means a homeless person who doesn't have a place to go to."
"Oh. So like me."
He nodded, pulling out a pouch of coin. The boy's eyes shifted towards it. "I don't know if this will help you, but it should last you at least some months. Join the army or get to the top. From the rumors I've heard, children are sold to be used conditioned into soldiers and the like. Your best bet will be there, among the high ranks."
The boy stared at him. "You're just gonna give some stray a bunch of coins? And not just any coins," he opened the pouch, and widened his eyes, "but gold coins? Did I die in a ditch and go to some shitty heaven or something?"
"I can always throw you back in jail, if you'd like," Corvo offered neutrally.
"…You strike a very hard bargain."
"Shut up and take my money," he made his intention clearer.
He complied quickly. Corvo stood up and made his way to Esdeath, who had signaled that the coast is clear.
"Hey, Corvo," he turned back and regarded the child. "…Will we meet again?"
He thought about it. Will they meet again? This world is strange, and worlds have always been small. "I can't say for sure," he decided on. "If it happens, it happens. I still need to find my answers. By then, if I haven't changed, perhaps I'll join the Imperial Army."
The boy smiled and waved.
"If that's the case, see you! I dunno how to say this, but you're actually a nice guy!"
Corvo smiled thinly and departed, catching up to Esdeath. The boy continued waving until the two were out of sight… and then he forgot something very important.
"…Ah, damn. I forgot to introduce myself."
Right after the two made their way out of the Capital, it took them three minutes to encounter yet another obstacle. In this case, it is a bull-sized, scaly lizard-like Danger Beast that had reptilian-like wings protruding out of its back, and a long prehensile tail.
A completely foreign creature Corvo had yet to see in his life, and he's over seven decades old here.
"Corvo… it's-" He tensed as the lizard-like winged creature closed in. From the tone Esdeath had made, it must be dangerous. Where are its vital points? What are its weakness? Maybe he can subdue it and use it to fly to the South or something. He knows little about the creatures that dwell around the central part of this continent… Isn't Esdeath a hunter? Maybe she knows how to confront it. He turned to her…
Only to meet sparkling blue eyes. "It's so cute! Can I keep it? Please?!"
…What in the Void was he expecting?
"…Yes. Yes, you can. But don't kill it."
She smiled and went forward. "There are many ways to subdue a youngling Sky Dragon, Corvo. Here, I'll show you one way."
It lasted another two minutes. The lizard creature had tried to devour her in one movement, which she retaliated by punching its snout. Taking advantage of its brief flinch, she quickly climbed onto its head and clenching her hands into knuckles, she punched both of its eyes. The creature screamed and attempted to shake her off, but Esdeath held onto its neck and with a sadistic smile, she fashioned a rope into a noose and wrapped around its neck, and began to choke it for the remainder of the time, all while gently whispering at the side of its head. From the looks of it, she could have done more than choking and punching, but it would have rendered the Sky Dragon near useless.
Corvo was impressed. For a girl her age, she is really strong. She had shown the same amount of potential, if not more than, as Emily had when he gave her his own assassin training. He shuddered to think what Esdeath would become if she underwent his own regime.
By the end of it, the Danger Beast had submitted to Esdeath's coercion.
"I think I'll call him Drachen. What do you think?" she asked cheerily, as if she hadn't just forced a creature five times her size into becoming a pet.
He nodded, unsure what to think. "It's a nice name. But the name Sky Dragon… why isn't it in the sky instead?"
Esdeath hummed and pointed at its wings. "A youngling won't have any developing muscles in the roots of their wings, which is absolutely essential for flight. Also, their parents are infamous for being overprotective, so from the looks of it, this one here was abandoned by its mother. Aren't you, poor boy?"
'Drachen' let out a harsh breath. He didn't know whether it understood her cooing question, but Esdeath had interpreted it as a 'yes' and caressed its head. And is that 'purring' he hear? The last he heard, scales don't have any nerves in them… do they?
…Maybe he should stop thinking about the illogical jargons that are happening and just accept them. It would probably ease his ailing headache.
"Come on, Esdeath. Let's go."
So he tread onward, the bluenette trailing after him with ever-studious eyes with her newly-adopted Sky Dragon.
A/N: Dishonored 2 had officially been announced at E3! I guess that means there will be more materials to cover as the stories go, yeah? I'll try to keep up as best as possible and interpret the story in my own way.