Note to all: The sequel to this story, 'Silence is Silver', is now up and uploading. It covers the events of Dishonored 2, is better written, and can be read as a standalone.
Emily Kaldwin: Void Singer
"What do you do with a drunken whaler, early in the morning…"
Emily Kaldwin finished singing, paused, and then nodded, pleased with herself.
She looked across at Thomas, sat in the garden beside her, who was staring at her with a confused expression. "What was that?" He asked. "You sung the notes wrong!"
Thomas was also ten years old. His clothes and face were dirty, his hair was black and messy, and he didn't have any money. She didn't know his second name, and he said he didn't either. He absolutely was not supposed to be in the garden of Dunwall Tower.
Emily giggled, picking a daisy and looking around at the gardens of Dunwall tower. "It's called harmonising." She said, idly picking at the petals. "It sounded nice, right?" Thomas nodded, cautiously, and she continued. "One of the maids taught me it. She says you need to have a strong will, and be able to 'stay resolute to your tune' or something."
Thomas curled his nose up. "Yeah, for an empress' kid, strong will means harmonising. Where I come from, strong will means not getting shanked down a back alley."
He made a stabbing motion, and Emily giggled. She learned all sorts of new things when Thomas showed up; interesting things, the kind they didn't teach her in the classroom. When she had asked her mother what a 'shank' was, she had been harshly scolded, while Corvo had tried very hard not to laugh.
Speaking of whom…
The boat lift to the tower began to clunk into noisy action, and guardsmen rushed to position, with cries of "The lord protector!" Circulating around them. Emily gasped and pulled Thomas to his feet, her white dress contrasting with his ripped brown rags. "Corvo's back, Corvo's back! Quick, you need to get out of here! If he sees someone like you snuck up here, he'll, he'll—he'll shank you!"
Thomas laughed. "Don't you say it, it sounds weird! Alright, see ya!" Waving her goodbye, he climbed up a pillar and disappeared over the edge, and Emily turned and ran to the waterlock. She wasn't supposed to go in there unsupervised, since there were long drops and she might fall (as if she was afraid of heights. Hah!). So she just stood in the middle of the path, rocking on her heels, and waited for the boat to come up. When it appeared, it's main occupant didn't even wait for the ramp to come down, jumping off the front of the boat and vaulting the barrier before approaching Emily.
She grinned, and ran to Corvo.
He'd been away for far too long, on a special mission mother had given him to help him with the plague. But now he was back, and when he scooped her up into her arms, everything was alright again.
Grinning at his eighth successful sneak into the Empress' tower, Thomas began the long, treacherous descent to the river below, and the city past it. A few metres down however, he spotted something flicker into vision in the corner of his eye. He turned, recognised the mask of the figure—no, figures, that had appeared on the rooftop, and blanched.
A really good friend would have ran back to warn Emily.
Thomas knew he wasn't a really good friend.
"Whelp, screw this I'm out." He muttered, before diving the long distance down to the water.
Emily kicked her boots, sighing. Corvo had just got back, and after a too short game of hide and seek, he was talking to her mother about business. Ugh. She glanced around the surrounding walls, seeing if she could spot Thomas on his descent...and then frowned.
"Mother, look! What are they doing on the rooftops?" Emily pointed at the roof of the waterlock. She didn't see why her mother never let her go climbing. Corvo could teach her, she was sure of it, and Thomas went up and down from the city to the garden plenty of times and he was always fine—
But then the men on the rooftops vanished, and reappeared right in front of her. And she realised something was very wrong.
"What? Emily, come here!"
She was grabbed, pulled backwards towards her mother, and then Corvo was in front of her with blade whirling into life. He was a storm of dark and loud and sharp, like she'd never seen him before, and the men fighting him had no faces, just masks, and they fluttered around like ghosts. They were untouchable. And one of them appeared behind Corvo, and grabbed Emily's arm and flung her away from her mother. She screamed, but Corvo was suddenly there again, and there was a BANG and that faceless man dropped dead to the floor in front of her. Because of course she was going to be okay, because she had Corvo, and Corvo would always—
And then the world started glowing green, and Corvo was suspended in the air.
Wait...what? But, but that's not—
A voice rang out— "He's mine! Get the empress!" and a man in a red coat appeared out of nowhere, grabbing Corvo and vanishing.
Just like that, he was gone.
One of faceless people moved in and grabbed Emily's mother by the throat, and Emily didn't know what to do, she wanted to run, wanted to fight—
And the sword of the dead man was right in front of her.
She had to help, so she picked it up in both hands, and stumbled forwards, thrusting it outwards at the assassin grabbing her mother.
But they turned, and saw her, and their body parted like mist in front of her.
She saw her mother's shocked face, and then her arms shuddered to a halt as the blade in her hands tore right into—
Royal Spymaster Hiram Burrows charged up the steps as fast as his ageing legs would let him, for once not having to fake the panic on his face. Corvo's back. Of course Corvo's back. The one day where things can Absolutely Not Go Wrong—
He shouldn't be worried, he rationalised, as he shouted for the guards to accompany him. Daud and the Whalers had never failed him before. But still, Corvo Attano being Corvo Attano...
We'll improvise. He decided, bursting onto the scene and looking to the gazebo. If they don't kill him, we can make him take the fall! Just so long as they actually get—
And then he stopped, and stared in pure horror.
Empress Jessamine Kaldwin was dead. He'd expected that. But that was the only point where expectation and reality met smoothly.
'The empress dead, her daughter gone, and Corvo there to be incriminated', that was the revised plan.
Burrows was instead met by the sight of Emily Kaldwin, wailing in anguish, with a blade hilt deep in her dead mother.
Close, yet faraway, the Outsider looked out at the scenario. Slowly, a curious smile spread across his face.
"Emily Kaldwin." He said to himself. "How...interesting."
Well, this is interesting.
Hi everyone, I'm Adamant, and I wrote this prologue over five years ago. You know, Void Singer is the fic I held up as 'the first thing I made that's actually decent' for a long, long time. Coming back to look at it, there was some cringe, some shoddy paragraph work, but ultimately? I'm proud of it. Especially since the later chapters, since they were done later in my 'career' (oh my lord this thing took me three years to finish—).
So, why did I feel the need to touch up the first chapter of an old fic?
Because the sequel is out now.
And that I would highly recommend. I've put hundreds of thousands of words under my belt since I started this, so I decided to (finally) take a crack at the story of Dishonored 2, and Death of the Outsider. Go straight to that if the writing of this still feels a little unpolished (or you're more a fan of violence, swearing, and angst). If not, have fun with the only thing I ever wrote that got onto the top page if you search by follows.
I'm not sure if anyone still reads or writes for dishonored. But if you're here, I know you must be starving for content.
So, please enjoy, and thanks a lot for reading.