CHAPTER 1

The dawn painted the sea gray. Far away, Emily caught sight of fishermen on the desk of their boat: the clumsy wavelets made their pace wobbly. On the contrary, the mermaid moved with royal gracefulness, enjoying the quiet waters. She came near until her hands could reach the wood covered with barnacles.

A cough disrupted the peaceful morning, then she heard a spittle. She grimaced. Gross, could they stop doing it where I bath? Since she had become a mermaid, Emily knew every sewer outfall, every port where fish carcasses are pile up and every bridge where assassins and victims usually meet. Spots she carefully avoided.

The sailor threw a net with clumsy moves, so he started anew a few times. Emily jumped at the chance and swam under the hull to reach the other side. She climbed on the ropes then hauled herself until she saw a crate. She knew these fishermen were careless about their good and let their fruits on the edge. Emily grabbed two apples and dropped the cord, falling in the bath with a splashing.

"What?!"

The fish man ran toward the sound then yelled:

"Esteban! Come and see! I'm sure that fat whale is here again!"

"The one who swipe your shoes?"

"He swiped two apples this time!"

Emily should have fled, but the two serkonians kept amusing her. The first one, Pablo, was pretty sure a sperm whale was harassing him, stealing things when some of them simply fell from the deck. The second, Esteban, was more realistic and tried to explain these sea monsters never come near the coasts. Besides, whales were not bullies.

"I tell you he swiped apples!"

"And where d'you see your fat whale? The water is clear like it was in a bottle. We'd saw your whale!"

The fishermen were still arguing when Emily left them, still snorting. The "fat whale" would rather nibble her breakfast, far from their ears. Maybe she will come again next week just to see what they will have in the crates and, mostly, if Pablo and Esteban still neglect their food.


Anton Sokolov had asked to see Emily's parents very early, so the Empress had postponed all her duties. The philosopher had a proposition but he needed to explain the whole situation before the parents' decision.

Despite the softness of the blue carpets in the Throne Room, Sokolov had trouble to walk. A lumbago was paralyzing his pelvis, he bowed anyway right before Jessamine asked him to not suffer for so little. Corvo quickly brought a seat and made sure the old man did not need anything.

A remarkable genius in a rusty body, that was the talented Sokolov had become. Time has no pity: this tremendous man had found a cure to the Rat Plague, he had changed the face of the world with surprising machines. Yet, time did not forget him and Sokolov was suffering with various aches.

"I thank you for receiving me, your Majesty."

"You're the one thanked, Sokolov, for coming here. You should have asked for Corvo to come to see you."

"No, no, it's fine. I wanted to come for I had an idea about Lady Emily: if you accept, it'll be my last visit to Dunwall, my last trip."

Sokolov remembered Jessamine with precise details, the Empress before the Delilah's coup d'état. She had been a serious yet radiant woman, elegant and firm as well. A true ruler of the Empire. Some white hair had started to grow on her temples and she let a strand dangle on purpose, an attempt to hide the crack on her cheek.

"I would accept anything for Emily, Sokolov, you know that."

"Still, I prefer to give you all the details. If my memory is correct, Lady Emily is swimming near Serkonos, is she?"

"The Dunwall's waters were so cold for her. I'm serkonian and I know how the climate is warmer, so I advised her to go there."

Corvo remembered well: the blue lips of her daughter, her soaked shirt and her stunned eyes. She was shaking in the Wrenhaven River, still shocked by her transformation. He had held her in his arms, staring at this tail so unreal, so awful. And he had watched her, going through the slimy waters, sinking in the gray backwash. Emily had aimed for Cullero's port.

The Royal Protector went two times to his native land. But Jessamine could not leave her throne for too long and she had become so fragile, Corvo never had the heart to leave her alone.

"I'm certain Serkonos' climate is better for her. Actually, I know someone living in Karnaca, a chance if we think Emily is already in the vicinity. A former student with a great talent—", Sokolov marked a pause. He stared at Corvo's dark eyes with a concerned face. "—and not an ounce of morality."

"What do you mean, Sokolov?"

"I imply that pupil ventured to take part to odd experiences, I even could say macabre ones. We can't free Lady Emily from the spell, but maybe an "experiment" may cancel it."

"Surgery?", asked Corvo quite unsure.

"Sort of. That's why I wanted to talk to both of you, your Majesty and Royal Protector. A surgery could be very risky: there is no treatise about mermaid anatomy, however, mastered knowledge about human body and aquatic fauna could be useful. Nonetheless, failure is still possible, but after all the theories I thought about, this is the only one worth considering.

Jessamine was looking at Corvo. She kept her word: she would do anything for Emily, as long her daughter could become what she was once: a young lady on her feet, able to walk on terra firma.

"Who is this former student?"

"His name is Kirin Jindosh. I remember him at the Academy of Natural Philosophy: reserved at first sight, he has surpassed all the other students, even teachers I may add. Sadly, he has always laughed at ethics: Jindosh doesn't care about limits.

"This isn't a comforting description."

"I know, but it's better if I hide you nothing about his personality. Still, believe me: if I talk about Jindosh today, that's because I estimate him clever enough to accomplish this feat. A colleague from the Academy told me Jindosh has made the heart alive and mechanical at the same time, able to whisper thoughts. This heart worked for about fifteen minutes before turning to ash.

"What a strange creation.", raised Jessamine, pensive.

"Even if I lost contact with him, I know he lives in Karnaca and works for the Duke Abele. He just finished his first prototypes of mechanical soldiers, the Clockwork Soldiers."

"I've heard about it.", confirmed Corvo, still doubtful.

"With his knowledge and his skill, Jindosh is able to help Lady Emily: if he had succeeded in an artificial heart, he can certainly create mechanical legs for our heir."

"Let me summarize. What you offer, Sokolov, is someone who will make an ablation of the fish tail and replace it with two functional metal legs? Someone with a lot of talent, regardless of his previous misdeeds because it could be useful?"

"I understand, Corvo, what you mean. But don't forgot one thing: Jindosh has a great mind and an appetite for challenges. You don't need to beg him."

Jessamine suddenly rose.

"I truly thank you, Sokolov, though I'm sorry that is your last visit to Dunwall, we will miss you greatly. But you know our gates will always be open for you."

"Will you— will you ask for Jindosh's help, your Majesty?"

"There's no question about it: we talk about my daughter. My daughter can't go home and she's condemned to live like an animal somewhere in the South. Even if your former student had made some reprehensible acts in the past, he will be forgiven if he do a favor for the royal family.", Jessamine's gaze became severe. "I remember some hearsays about you, Sokolov, some stories about sacrifices for the good of the science, right? Yet, you saved my Empire."

Inventor's skin burned with shame.

"I'll never thank you enough for all your exploits, Sokolov.", the Empress' voice softened, almost maternal. She came closer and put a hand on his shoulder. "You have saved so many lives. If Jindosh can save my daughter, I'll be eternally grateful. Oh of course, I'll insure myself against future amoral researches."

After Sokolov's departure, Jessamine informed Corvo of the letter she will send to Kirin Jindosh the same day: she will explain the situation and ask him to wait for the Royal Protector's visit.

"If he refuses, you'll arrest him immediately. But I trust Sokolov: if he judges his former pupil enough arrogant to accept a challenge, then you don't need to be persuasive, just give him all the answers he needs. As for the Duke Abele, I'll politely ask him to lend me his Inventor."

"You'll make the effort to ask 'politely'? I hope it won't cost you too much."

"I've always hated his sexist manners, but I always enjoy to give him orders he can't ignore."

Jessamine was still the Empress: she lifted her shoulders like a conqueror. Her appearance amused Corvo: full of thrill, he drew her closer and kissed her forehead.

"Corvo! Your beard's itchy!"

"Then I'll shave it tonight."

"No. Have I not told you how you look handsome with it?"

"I think you already have, pretty much every day."

She laughed and kissed him.


Smiles started to renew on the Empress' lips, just like before. When Corvo got onto a boat for Karnaca, he was at peace: his absence will not be a hard ordeal for her love.

The bow was cleaving the waves, finding a way in the eternal sea. With his elbows on the gunwale, Corvo was wandering in thoughts about the past, sixteen months ago. His fingers touched the Outisider's mark pricking his phalanxes. The tattoo burned his skin; however it had helped him to fight against Delilah, also blessed by the Outsider.

The witch had come one morning, surrounded by twenty or so women covered with petals and thorns. Delilah had presented herself as the Empress' big sister, thus she was the true heir of the throne. That day had been a riot: the sorceresses had chased away the royal family and had slaughtered the loyal subjects. As for the others, the cowards had hidden away and had tried to dodge the witches' charms. The next night, Corvo had been visited by the Outsider and had obtained his gift. Then the Royal Protector had rivalled with the usurper, ready to kill her. But Jessamine had begged him to spare Delilah as another way was foreseeable: trap the artist in one of her own paintings. Corvo has not been surprised by the Empress' clemency; still he had known this impetus was covering a corrosive guilt.

And Delilah, with a last movement, had cursed Emily. The witch could have turned her into a rose bush, a cherry tree or even a lilac, but it would have meant the heir would have her roots put down in Delilah's realm. The witch had wanted to ban her. Emily's legs had stuck together; blue, green and mauve scales had torn her epidermis; her ankles had broken, contorted with clicking noises; the young woman had collapsed with a painful cry.

"Dad! Help me!", she tried to shout. But the powerless and petrified protector had understood when he had looked the portrait of the freshly trapped witch: Delilah had been laughing out loud, her traits twisted, mute yet dangerous.

When he remembered it, his heart clenched and the vise only untightened when Serkonos began to appear at the horizon. As the boat came close, Corvo was watching out for a hybrid shape. But Emily was not here.

He was asleep, exhausted with the heat, when the captain awoke him: they had arrived in Karnaca. As the sun was going down, the temperature was lowering. The air was still searing and the plaster on the building looked like it had been cooking during all the day. Corvo paid and thanked the sailor, then headed toward the Aventa District.

In the coach, the wind was lashing Corvo's face, drying the first pearls of sweat off his forehead. He wanted to keep this distinguished look but he took his jacket off, then sponged down the back of his neck. He had forgotten when the twilight was over twenty five degrees.

The wagon stopped in front of a portal of wrought iron, near two guards.

"Corvo Attano, Royal Protector. I have an appointment with Kirin Jindosh.", said the visitor when he showed a letter marked by the imperial seal. The watchmen did not bother him and opened the gate. The vehicle ran at a quick pace on its rails, leading to the manor which was standing by the cliff, echoing the Shindaerey Peak. Curvy and elegant, the mansion had off-white facades absorbing the last rays of the sun, glowing with a heat. Corvo judged the place beautiful yet a bit too exuberant.

The interior confirmed this opinion: in the hall, enormous statues were overhanging guests, showing an unnecessary luxury. The decorator seemed to be fond of warm colors: the champagne wallpapers were mixed with caramel-colored woodworks, all lightened by gold lanterns. The welcoming surroundings were contrasting with heavy silence. Corvo ignored the audiograph and ventured to beyond the double door.

He jumped: a robot of a considerable size greeted him, its four swords hanging by its sides just like a mantis with its legs. The head looked like a bird's one, crafted in perfectly shine olive wood.

"You're are very welcome, Royal Protector!"

The voice was coming from loudspeakers and seemed shared with the machine. The skeleton twisted, the beak changed of direction and the soldier walked toward the end of the place.

"Follow the guide, Protector, it'll lead you where I'm waiting for you."

After another hallway, Corvo relished the cool lounge where he stepped on. A glass floor revealed an underground waterfall right below.

"There you are."

Sokolov had spoken about a former student though Corvo was surprised when he saw someone younger than he had expected. Jindosh might have been around thirty-five and his elegant appearance gave him a feline look. In fact, everything about Jindosh recalled cats: his gray eyes owned the same mischievous shard and the way his lips curled was the smile of a haughty household tiger. The Inventor offered Corvo his hand; in a surprising way, Corvo's strength did not make Jindosh yield for he was also energetic. He invited the guest in a plain smoking room and offered Corvo cigars and whiskey. As for him, Jindosh contented himself with a cigarette.

Corvo remembered very well Sokolov's warnings, but either the Duke had managed to muzzle this whimsical mind, or Jindosh was a very courteous monster.

"I must say I was looking forward our meeting, Royal Protector: I was greatly intrigued by our Empress' request."

"So are you interested?"

"Absolutely. Moreover, the missive's tone didn't let me any choice, I guess my interest is a bargain. First of all, there is just a little formality as you know I work for the—"

"The Duke Abele already knows you'll serve our Empress from now until your work done. You don't have to take care of him."

"That's perfect. Now, we can talk about the heir as I'm quite skeptical. What does the Empress mean by turned into a mermaid?"

"This isn't an expression, Jindosh, Emily Kaldwin was turned into a mermaid."

The scientist could not hide his surprise: as anyone else in the Empire, he had heard, among the society conversations, some rumors about Emily Kaldwin shut in Dunwall Tower, way more disfigured than her own mother, maybe mortally injured. Some even dared to say Jessamine's daughter was dead and her funerals were a secret.

"A mermaid? Since when?"

"Since Delilah Copperspoon's coup. We don't know the spell that was used for this vengeance, but anyway, the heir is hiding somewhere in the sea right now: she has no longer legs, instead a tail of a fish."

"Do you know exactly where she is?"

"Around Serkonos, near Cullero more precisely but well, she's certainly explored the isle a few times already."

"Dunwall's ports were too risky I guess, but why didn't you keep her? You could have built an aquarium."

The word did not please Corvo but Jindosh was right with his exactness.

"The Empress thought about it but we didn't want the heir to become a freak. It has been sixteen months and a very few people know the truth about Lady Emily: she knows how to hide and in the meanwhile, we're trying to find a solution. And you are our last trump card."

"How did you come to think about me?"

Jindosh already knew the answer but he could not deny himself the pleasure to hear it.

"Anton Sokolov told about you. He thinks you're brilliant and daring enough to succeed."

The Inventor's smile was not ambiguous: the former student had exceeded his teacher once again. As the professor had failed, the apprentice had to prove his talent.

"You have to know I've never worked about something we only find in fairytales."

"Failure isn't bad, Jindosh, but be careful: Emily Kaldwin isn't a guinea pig and her death will lead to your conviction. I hope you know that."

"You must suspect that the Duke Abele was a helpful financial assistance.", remarked Jindosh, eluding the threat while he stubbed out his cigarette. "The Empress won't think I'm too greedy as I always work with the finest equipment? Well, nothing is too beautiful for her daughter, isn't it?"

"You'll have everything you need."

"Wonderful. The best is for my old professor to send me all his research, so I could save up some time and not start over. Then, I'll keep you informed about every progress."

"It sounds good."

"So this is our deal, Royal Protector."


Two weeks had been needed to modify the Clockwork Mansion's laboraty: if Jindosh was first amused by the aquarium, it had become a necessity to keep Emily. He pursued some studies with Sokolov's ones but quickly came to an end: Emily's situation was genuinely remarkable. Paltry specifications stated the tail was around the same height than the former legs. Moveover, the mermaid has not webbed hands. Jindosh would complete the account. He had tried to gather more knowledge about human anatomy and fish's one: and since the first simply sail, the second could not leave the waters. An ocean separates the two species.

Still, pride brushed off even the slightest doubt. Kirin Jindosh observed one of his Clockwork Soldiers: these machines were the pen which had written his name in history, but if he cured Emily Kaldwin, this action will be another kudos. Robots already existed when mermaids were only chimeras. Uncatchable chimeras and Jindosh was thinking about a way to find the Empress' daughter. If Corvo was right Emily was swimming near Cullero. On his side, the Royal Protector hired a few guards with sea legs and provided with the secret meaning so they could help Jindosh. Emily's safety was not essential, it was a compulsory condition.

If the heir could have heard her father, she would have snorted: Emily saw herself as clever enough to avoid dangers, fleeing from gazes. Many sailors had glimpsed her swift body, of course, but they were so superstitious they thought it was a supernatural creature or a hallucination provoked by the last drink. They never have imagined it has been Emily Kaldwin as a mermaid.

The guards chosen by Corvo had started to make inquiries in some bars but a few sailors were willing to speak, only quote the hearsays. If bone charms were banned by the Abbey, surely the fantasy about a fish-woman would be a heresy too.


"Esteban! The fat whale! The fat whale!"

"What again?"

"I kept an apricot tartlet for later and it pinched it! My tartlet!"

"Whale don't eat tartlets, it gives them runs, you didn't know?"

Pablo belied and wailed louder and louder while Esteban did not listen anymore. Their boat was slowly going back to the port but the sailor's bawling did not soothe.

"What a thief! Can't believe it! Can't believe a whale can pinch that much!"

His outraged complaints caught a guard's attention.

"What's going here? You better be a victim to have the right to bellow so much in the evening!"

"A victim! Yes! Yes I am! A victim of a thief!"

"A robbery, then? Where? When?"

"You can't do much about it: it was on sea and you weren't there. A whale pinched me all the time!"

The guard looked at the quiet one, or rather the tired one, for an explanation.

"Pablo thinks a whale stole his things."

"Why a whale? Aren't you the one who confiscates his goods?"

"Excuse you?!"

"It's a whale, sir: it steals my foods among other things and is off with it. I know it swims and every time it pinched a thing, I hear a huge splash! It must be a fat thing, not just a bass or an eel."

The guard was not someone virtuous and his patience was quickly lost. The exchange ended with some hits to scare the madman and his partner. "And stay low or I'll come and I'll kill your fucking whale!", warned the guard, so the legend of Pablo's whale was created. This joke jumped from a street to another, amusing groups of friends: the picture of a whale with shoes at its fins and an apricot tartlet between its teeth was truly comical. Still these surrealist fables collided with some protests: Pablo and Esteban were not the only ones robbed as many disappearances were disturbing boats' inventories. These conversations came to in the ears of the guards engaged by Corvo. The four of them looked at each other: some objects had simply fallen, for sure, but it was a lot of food and it was certainly a hint about the area we needed to focus on.

After they had informed Jindosh about it, they welcomed the Grand Inventor's exceptional presence on their boat. Yet they looked unfavorably on the machine which was following Jindosh like a steel guard dog. A dog with the head of a bird.

"Don't mind my creation: it's nothing but a worker for now."

To the machine's shoulders were fixed two hooks which were supporting a cylinder of glass, large enough to contain an adult man. Soon it will be filled with water and when Emily will be spotted, the mermaid will be placed in the cage.

Jindosh had adjusted the machine so it will detect a hybrid body between the woman and the fish, still, without specimen for a test, the function was not really reliable. The guards told the Inventor what they had heard: as a creature pilfered food on the decks, so they had placed a basket full of fruits near the edge. They hoped the mermaid was the true culprit and the lure will work on her.

"A good initiative", conceded Jindosh.

And the tactic was proven as effective at dusk.


Emily has not seen her favorite fish men since a while: their last argument had made her laugh to tears but now, she felt a bit ashamed. What if they had changed their place? What if their quarrel had incurred the wrath of a touchy guard? She promised herself to leave them alone for a long time. After all, other boats were pretty careless and she had always managed to eat until now.

A new boat had dropped anchor. Despite its size, she saw nobody on the deck. When the sun had finished its fall, when the wood of the hull had turned black, Emily grabbed one of the ropes and climbed. Before her eyes there was a basket full of fruits, she just had to stretch her arm, her fingers and she could reach the edge to make it tip over. The creature put her weight on the rope, spanned her arm and

"This playback indicates the machine has detected a hybrid creature."

Emily jumped and saw a tall skeleton made of metal running toward her. She dropped the cord and let herself fall in the sea, blinded by fear. She swam under the hull, her favorite shelter, and tried to distinguish the noises above but the waves hitting on the wood made the only sound around. A brief moment and she took to decision to swim to the surface, slowly, so she could take a breath and flee away.

Her nose was out when a net flattened on her, whipping her face. She did instinctively struggle with all her strength, just like a fly in a spider web. Her body left the waters, lifted by the trap. A freezing shiver wrapped her: her teeth began to chatter, but she was not sure if it was of fear or for the cold. Her fingers tried to remove the black hair on her face while she was unable to see the tube.

"We caught her! We caught her!"

The creature felt she was trapped in the cylinder. Emily raised her head to take a breath but there was no surface: a lid blocked this prison full of water and she will soon need some air.

The Clockwork was lighting the scene with its beacons, revealing an outstanding sight. The men were facing a mermaid, a true mermaid. The tail was waving, striking the glass while her hands tried to push the lid. Jindosh was fascinated: the link between the human part and the fish part was perfect. Some scales were above the waist, separated from the matching ones, but below, there were plentiful, shining like coins, stopping at the border of a big transparent fin.

But the mermaid was too turbulent. The beacons lighted her throat and her jaw. Jindosh noticed something then: Emily had no gills. She could not breathe under the water.

"Remove the lid!"

The guards were looking at the Inventor, stunned. In a meanwhile, Emily felt like her heart was ready to explode. As he lost his patience, Jindosh ordered the soldier to pierce the up of the cylinder: a crack freed some water and the captive could breathe again.

This mermaid had no webbed hands nor gills: Emily was more an amphibian creature than an aquatic one.

"She needs air: if she's totally submerged, she'll die."

With the glass fissured, the cylinder could break any time: it was better to hurry to the port.

Emily was observing the men: four of them were wearing the guard uniform when the last one, if his clothes were of high quality, did not look like a noble. Maybe just a bit pretentious and eccentric. She knew no one and was wondering why she has been catpured: to help her? Study her? Punish her? Her arms wrapped around her bare breast and she curled up, waiting.

The machine lifted the cage and the mermaid was hitched to its back.

"All my apologies, Lady Kaldwin, for this approach but your mother, our Empress, had asked me to retrieve you. I'm Kirin Jindosh."

The heir was sceptic. Very sceptic. She did not who was this Jindosh and how he was in contact with her mother, but as she watched the machine following the man, she came to the conclusion that Jindosh was its creator. The Inventor assured to the guards they will not be needed from now, back to the port, when he put all his trust in his soldier.

"You will excuse this measure, Lady Kaldwin", and before Emily could understand, a cover was thrown on the cylinder.

She was rocked by the machine's gait. An incomplete fish on the back of a bird made of metal : the picture was peculiar enough. Under the sound of the gearwheels, she could hear people speaking away, cats yowling, birds flying away. Even if her feet, or what was left of them, could not touch the cobblestones, she somehow felt wholy human again. Suddenly the machine stopped. Still the mermaid sensed movements: a coach took over. The blanket was taken off and Jindosh put a piece of cloth in the crack to prevent the water to flow.

Despite the night, Emily devoured the landscape: the light did not tower over her, it was her governing it. The buildings were tiny cubes and not slumped giants on the beach anymore. She has totally forgotten this view and avidly watched it despite the wagon's speed. Sparks sprang in the shadow of the car and she guessed Jindosh just light up a cigarette: she did not share this friendly gesture for so long she wanted to stretch her hand and swallow some puffs. But she has to wait before she could smoke again.

The coach arrived at the destination and Emily admired the mansion. Banned for so many months, she was almost amazed when she saw doors, windows, paintings and carpets. But the most incredible were the machines: there were others in the manor. These robots, these moving rooms. It seemed Jindosh was an uncommon inventor.

"I'll take you to my laboratory; you won't stay in this cage any longer. The mansion is already perfectly protected, my laboratory is better: you don't need to hide anymore."

Since she was in the cylinder, Emily had kept her arms around her chest: a very feminine prudishness, noticed Jindosh, proving the young woman was still human is her manners and did not go over the animal side.

In the observatory, converted into a laboratory, a pool occupied a lot of space, taking two levels. Filters and other mechanical accessories made it look like a scientist bathtub. The bird poured the tube and Emily was thrown in her new bath, still shocked. She quickly came to the surface and enjoyed the air less confined than in her prison.

Jindosh brought a seat closer. The morning would come in a few hours but apparently, sleep was not his priority.

"At last! No glass, no lid, we can talk. Can you talk, Lady Kalwin?"

"Yes.", Emily closed her mouth immediately. She sounded so grave. So hollow. Her voice slept in the deep of her throat for many weeks, it was reluctant to wake up.

"Apparently, the waters of Dunwall were too cold. Does this one suit you?"

She nodded. Emily rubbed her trachea and heated her vocal cords.

"I have lost the habit of talking."

Jindosh gave her a glass of water she sipped slowly.

"I don't sleep floating on water."

"Excuse me?"

"Outside, when I was tired, I could find an isolated beach and I could sleep on it. I can't breathe under water. Here, I've no support."

Indeed Jindosh did not think about this detail, convinced Emily was like any other fish and could sleep underwater. He placed a table against the aquarium's rim.

"It's better than nothing.", observed Emily. "Even if the wood will be too hard."

"I'll find something, Lady Kaldwin."

The scientist never had a royal subject on his table, and tail of fish or not, Emily Kaldwin was the heir of the throne, so he preferred to apply the good manners. The future Empress will remember his devotion. He explained the situation: the empress' letter, Corvo's visit and Sokolov's researches.

"Did you made them?", asked the young woman, pointing on a Clockwork soldier.

"From the blueprint to the manufacture. The smallest cog was made in this place. As I'm not a wizard, I can't cancel the spell, but I can build legs."

"I don't want legs like these!"

"Of course not: it'll look like human legs. Judging by your coloring, I would opt for cherry tree wood or apple tree wood. The joints will be made of steel, I'll explain you how to take care of it."

"And you'll operate on me? Just like that?"

"You didn't become a mermaid like from the fairytales: your legs were replaced by the tail of a fish. It's a dull anatomy problem."

"A dull problem?!", Emily hit the surface with her tail, provoking a violent sound, just to remind Jindosh the 'dull problem'.

"You didn't understand, Lady Kaldwin. You're quite touchy. Let me explain: if you would have gills, webbed hands and other traits, the modifications would have been more delicate. But as I can see, the problem is limited to your legs and the task will be easier."

"When do you plan to remove my— what had been transformed?"

"I need more data first, you'll get used to this idea. For now, I let you rest awhile. I'll write to your mother, do you need anything?"

"Some clothes. My shirt has worn out and I didn't really need it, but now—"

Jindosh sacrificed two pillows and a blanket, leaving it on the table. Emily thought she could felt an ancient joy, the one when one can sleep on cotton, but the sand soaked the water better. She observed Jindosh across the office, on the other side of the circular balcony. The letter was written for a long time and he has pursued with other tasks, maybe notes about her.

Even if she had accepted her situation, she was not against some help from someone who was able to remove this bloody tail. Emily wished she could run again, wished she could scamper on the ramparts and follow her father. Corvo has given her the taste for getaways and sword combat. She missed all these exercises.

Maybe the legs this Inventor would create will not suit her. She will leave a hybrid body for a mechanical one. Tiredness made her pessimist: she did not want to come back to the imperial court with cherry tree wood or whatever wood. She did not want to become Emily the First, the Mechanical. Without noticing, the light from the desk became a mist of honey sticking between her eyelashes. While she was imagining these futures, the young woman fell asleep.