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Hungry Rat

Chapter Text

Corvo waited for an answer. The scavenger kept repeating the name under his breath.

Eventually he shook his head, looking at a loss. “I’ve heard nothing.”

“You’ve heard nothing.”

“Nothing at all.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because, Griff, you’re the nosiest fucker in the Isles.”

Griff blinked, offended.

Corvo tried to reign in his frustration, and looked at Griff firmly. “Do me a favour, Griff, and give me some good fucking news. For once. For me.”

He hoped he sounded like he was instructing rather than pleading, but he doubted it.

“It’s been a long six months.”

***

6 MONTHS AGO

In just weeks following the Empress’s murder, Dunwall had taken a turn for the worst. The rat plague had spread to most Districts, and the Lord Regent now ruled with an iron fist. Sokolov’s Walls of Light and Arc pylons separated the elite from the peasants, and threatened any citizen that considered crossing into a quarantined area.

Corvo took a slow drag from his cigarette, perched above the Grieves Refinery. From there, it felt like the city hadn’t changed. No rats. No oppression. No Lord Regent.

No regrets, his wayward thoughts added, and Corvo chewed on his tongue.

He heard the thwrp of a transversal nearby, and glanced below as Quinn appeared on the Refinery’s metal walkway.

“Corvo?”

“Up here.”

Quinn peered up and grinned. “Brooding alone again?”

“What else is there to do,” Corvo said, and patted the space on his left.

Quinn blinked up beside him, and Corvo offered his cigarette.

“Thanks.” Quinn took a few puffs, then handed it back. “Quiet up here. It’s nice.”

Corvo hummed his agreement. “Easy to pretend we’re somewhere else.”

“And not Dunwall.”

“Yeah.” He always found Quinn easier to talk to than most.

“I needed a break from the base. Julian’s been kicking off again.”

Corvo sighed. “About you?”

“No, actually. Makes a change,” Quinn smirked. “He’s upset because Daud’s assigned him to Holger Square.”

“I hope the Overseers catch the prick.”

“Harsh.” Quinn nudged him with his elbow, “But me too.”

Julian was always giving Quinn trouble. Corvo had lost all respect for Julian since the day Quinn had joined them. Corvo didn’t see the problem with Quinn wanting to be a man. Just because he had been born a woman didn’t mean he needed to take shit from Julian about it.

“Oh, Daud’s asking for you, by the way,” Quinn said after a while. He grinned at Corvo’s glare. “What? You think I came all the way here just to spend time with you?”

“I was hoping you hadn’t. You’re difficult to look at.” They both knew he was lying. Quinn could give Prince Kallisarr a run for his money.

Quinn chuckled. “You’re a delight as always, Attano. Now give me that cigarette, and get your ass to the Chamber.”

Corvo stood up and flicked the cigarette into the water below. “Whoops.”

“Asshole.”

Corvo tossed Quinn the cigarette pack from his jacket, and blinked down from the roof.

The patrols around the Chamber were more relaxed than usual, despite the chaos in the city. Burrows had been pleased with them after the job at the Tower, so there was the guarantee that their base would be left untouched by the Watch and Overseers alike. Corvo couldn’t help agreeing with Rulfio, though. The coin–

the guilt, regret, despair

– wasn’t worth it, even if Rudshore was safe.

“Corvo,” Anthony called to him from one of the walkways. “Daud’s–”

“Asking for me. I know.” He slipped inside the Chamber and took the short cut, around the other side of the building. He stepped into the office.

There was some kind of understanding between them; Corvo was reminded every time he saw Daud now. Neither of them had spoken about what happened after the Empress’s murder, to each other or anyone else. And there was a silent acceptance that neither of them ever would. But it still made Corvo’s heart pound when Daud’s eyes softened as he saw him. It would have been so easy to pretend Daud’s acknowledgment was more than professional, so Corvo made himself ignore it each time, lest he never get the thought out of his head.

“Sir. You wanted to see me?”

“Come in.” Daud resumed his pacing, having only stopped to motion Corvo inside.

Billie was there too. Corvo stood beside her.

“Before I tell you why you’re both here, I want your word that what we’re about to discuss will not leave this room,” Daud said sternly, taking a seat at the desk.

Corvo and Billie nodded.

“Good.” Daud rubbed his temple. He looked tired. Corvo suspected he hadn’t slept properly since the Tower. “The Outsider has shown himself again.”

Corvo didn’t miss the way Billie’s eyes widened. She had always been interested – Corvo tiptoed around the word obsessed – in the otherworldly being. Daud himself had never seemed keen. Corvo wasn’t sure how he felt about him.

“He spoke to you?”

If Daud was amused by Billie’s almost childlike eagerness, he didn’t show it. “He did.”

“Why now? After all this time?”

“What does it matter. Regardless of the hows or whys, we have regained his attention once again,” Daud said bitterly. He didn’t appear at all pleased about it. “He gave me some information. And if the Outsider is involved, then no good can come of it.”

“What did he say?”

“A name. Delilah.”

Billie obviously expected more. When no more came, she scoffed. “That’s it?”

“Yes,” Daud ground out. “Which leads me to why you’re both here.”

“You want us to follow up on it.”

“I want you to scout the city. Look and listen out for rumour of Delilah,” Daud instructed. “Tell no one else what you’re doing. I want to involve as few people as possible. It may turn out to be nothing in the end,” he muttered, almost to himself.

Corvo scrutinized him. “You don’t think it’s nothing.”

“Your bluntness never fails to astound me,” Daud remarked. “No. I don’t think it’s nothing.”

“Then why only involve us?”

“And your curiosity never fails to irritate me.” He inspected them both, and then sighed. “I’m not involving anyone else in this, because my instincts tell me that whatever lies at the end of this trail is no friend or ally to us. You two are the best I have. You know how to stay out of sight and out of harm’s way. I trust you both to be careful,” he explained, “so be careful.”

They nodded again.

“Careful, Attano,” Daud emphasized, his full attention on Corvo now. “You may have heard this word before. Not that you’ve ever heeded it, according to Rulfio.”

Corvo couldn’t stop his mouth from curving upwards a little. “I can handle careful, Sir.”

“Why don’t I believe you,” Daud muttered. “You search the south side of Wrenhaven. Billie, you take the north. You’ll cover more ground that way. Start tonight.” He waved a hand at them, “Dismissed.”

***

6 MONTHS LATER

The Distillery District was on the far left of the city, and Rudshore was on the far right. Corvo has searched everywhere in between, and turned up nothing. This was the last District in the south that held any hope of word about Delilah.

Griff held his hands up, “On my old bones, assassin, I haven’t heard word of that name in the whole city. Neither’s Jerome. I’ll swear it to Daud himself if you bring him down here.”

Corvo felt a headache coming on, and the morning had only just begun. “Fine.”

“You might try talking to Slackjaw,” Griff said. “His boys might know some–” He stopped himself when he saw Corvo’s glare. “Ah. Ah yes, I forgot your people have been having trouble getting near him.”

Corvo made a frustrated noise in the back of his throat. Slackjaw had made a habit of disappearing whenever a Whaler so much as sneezed too close to the whisky distillery. His portrait had been on the wall in Rudshore, a crossbow bolt stuck between the eyes, for close to two years now. Corvo wasn’t optimistic that they would ever catch the gang leader.

“You could go and see the girls at the Cat,” Griff suggested. “They hear a lot of talk from the clients. This Delilah you’re looking for might be a patron.”

“Fine,” Corvo repeated. What did he have to lose?

***

As it turned out, he had twenty coin and a pack of cigarettes to lose. Violetta had always been quite the haggler.

“Delilah...” she mused, leaned over the river’s edge. “Name sounds familiar.”

“Mm-hm.” Corvo was too paranoid to answer properly. There were a lot of guards around the Cat. Security was abnormally tight there these days; the reason why he had met Violetta down by the river.

“You can relax, Corvo,” Violetta chuckled, noticing the tension in his shoulders. “The guards around here care more about keeping their eyes on the girls than the streets,” she teased. “I think we’re safe.”

“Mm-hm.”

Violetta laughed again. “You haven’t changed a bit.”

They knew each other from the ship they had both been captured on; the one that had brought Corvo to Dunwall, and ultimately to Daud. Violetta was the only survivor he had kept in contact with. He had offered her a home among the Whalers, but she always refused.

“One of the girls, Tilda, might have mentioned a Delilah before she disappeared,” Violetta said.

Corvo reluctantly turned his gaze from the guards. “This girl. Where did she go?”

“I don’t know,” Violetta shrugged. “She just left one night. Tilda struggled here, with Prudence and the clients. She wasn’t happy,” she added, blowing a smoke ring towards the whorehouse. “She’s been gone for weeks, so I doubt you could find her now to ask her yourself. She probably jumped on a ship to Serkonos or Tyvia, like everyone else who’s leaving the city.”

“Another dead end, then,” Corvo muttered. “Wonderful.”

Violetta looked at him. “Mm?”

“Nothing. Thanks for your time.” He started towards the shadows, looking for a route to bypass the guards ahead.

“Y’know, Corvo,” Violetta began slowly, blue eyes lingering on his retreating form. “If you can bear to part with another coin or two, you can take a little more of my time.”

“Stay safe, Violetta.”

“Knew it was a long shot,” she sighed. “Oh! Corvo, wait!”

She trotted after him, heels clipping on the concrete.

“Try Timothy Brisby. He was a regular of Tilda’s when she was here. Maybe she mentioned something to him.”

***

“Waverly truly is the most beautiful woman in the Isles.” Brisby took a delicate sip from his tea cup, staring wistfully into the distance. “Truly.”

If this is what Tilda had to deal with twice a week, Corvo didn’t blame her for leaving.

“Is there someone special in your life, young man?”

“No.”

“Ah,” Brisby shook his head mournfully, “then you don’t know the agony. How the heart weeps for their presence every moment you are apart from them.”

Corvo glowered into his tea cup.

“But, I digress.” Brisby put the pristine china on the table beside his armchair. “What is it you were asking me?”

“Tilda, Mr Brisby. When–”

“Lord Brisby.”

Corvo felt his nostrils flare. “Lord Brisby. When Tilda was working for Madam Prudence, you were a regular patron.”

“Nothing happened between us, I assure you,” Brisby said. “There is no one who could possibly share my heart but Waverly.”

Corvo nearly crushed the cup. “So you’ve said.”

“Tilda and I merely spoke to one another. I told her of my woes, and she provided a willing ear.”

“Did the name Delilah ever come up?”

Brisby at least had the courtesy to look thoughtful about it. “Not that I can recall. The only name that passed my lips was–”

“Waverly.”

Brisby sighed forlornly. “Yes. My sweet Waverly. Unfortunately I don’t remember much of what Tilda spoke of. Like I said, I went there to relieve my mind of my troubles.” He sighed again, “Keeping such a love to one’s self can overwhelm after too long.”

Corvo chewed on the inside of his mouth. “I can imagine.”

“That’s all I can really tell you, young man.” Brisby reached for a little bell beside his tea cup and poised it to ring for a maid. “More tea?”

Corvo stood, his head rushing from how long he’d been seated in the uncomfortably soft chair. “I’m leaving now.”

“Very well. You may as well leave the way you came. We don’t want to alarm the servants or start any rumours,” Brisby muttered, ushering him out. “The door to the balcony is probably still open, seeing as you broke the lock. You should consider rethinking your breaking and entering strategies in the future, you know. Your current ways are quite lacking in etiquette.”

Corvo climbed out onto the balcony. It was beginning to get dark.

“And remember, young man,” Brisby called after him. “Once you do find a love such as mine, you must do anything in your power to keep hold of it. Anything.”

As he landed on the roof opposite Brisby’s estate, Corvo unexpectedly found himself worrying for Waverly Boyle.

***

Billie stormed through the doors of the office. “This job is a fucking joke.”

“Technically it’s not a job.”

Billie sneered. “Oh, of course not. I forgot. Outsider forbid we mention anything to the rest of the men. Even though this would take half the time if we had them looking too,” she muttered through gritted teeth.

“We’re keeping it quiet. Daud’s orders.”

“And Outsider forbid we challenge the old man’s orders. No matter how foolish they are.”

Corvo let her rant. Billie’s attitude towards Daud and their assigned task had gotten worse and worse in the six months they had been searching for Delilah. It looked like she’d had no luck that day, either.

“Did you report back?”

“What do you think I was in there for? Daud’s delightful conversation?” Billie stretched her arms above her head, annoyed, “He makes it sound like it’s my fault every time I tell him I’ve got nothing to give him. It pisses me off.” She examined Corvo. “Have you reported back?”

“I just got back.”

“Better get in there, then.” She brushed past him, giving his shoulder a light pat. “Best of luck. My bad news already put him in a mood. Wonder what yours will do.”

Corvo pushed open the doors. Daud was slunk behind the desk, brows furrowed, mouth set in a hard line. He was writing something, reports probably.

“Sir.”

Daud looked up. His expression didn’t change.

“No word of Delilah in the Distillery District.”

Seeing the way Daud’s jaw clenched, Corvo wondered if he had just uttered his dying words.

Daud's fist curled and uncurled on the desk. Corvo watched it. “Do you think me foolish, too?”

Corvo blinked. Daud had heard him and Billie speaking outside.

“Do you believe I should let this go?” Daud asked, his voice stern but unusually quiet.

Corvo was tired and frustrated. He had barely slept for six months, having devoted all his time to their investigation. He wanted nothing more than to rest.

“No,” he answered. “We should keep looking.”

Daud narrowed his eyes, perhaps searching for a lie. He frowned slightly when he found none. “You don’t think it’s nothing.”

“No. I don’t think it’s nothing,” Corvo said, mirroring their conversation six months past. “Billie will come around once we have a lead.”

“She’s hot-headed, and difficult to work with. But she’s good at what she does.”

“I know, Sir.”

Daud sighed through his nose, and the sound reminded Corvo of an irritable wolfhound. “When’s the last time you slept, Attano?”

“I’m fine.”

Daud’s expression was unimpressed. “Try again, when you’re not swaying where you stand.” His eyes traced the darkness under Corvo’s. Corvo looked anywhere but him. “Take a few nights off. You’ve earned it. Tell Billie to, as well.”

“I’m fi–”

“If you say you’re fine again, I’ll put a sleep dart in your neck and leave you to sleep where you fall,” Daud warned. “Take a few nights off.”

Corvo relented. “Yes, Sir.”

“Had I known ten years ago you’d grow to be so stubborn, I’d have left you on those docks,” Daud grumbled. “You’re dismissed.”

Corvo bowed his head, and turned to leave. He was pushing open one of the doors when Daud spoke again.

“Corvo.”

The sound of his name being spoken in Daud’s smoke and whisky roughened voice made his stomach clench and his knees almost give way. He glanced back.

“Know you have my thanks. For not giving up on this.” Daud’s tone made it clear that he was not only thanking Corvo for continuing their search.

Corvo nodded, and left.

***

“Where the fuck you been disappearin’ to these past months, Attano?” Arden knocked back a healthy swig of whisky. “We’ve been missing you in sparring. I’ve been having to put my coin on fucking Jenkins!”

“Piss off, Arden,” Jenkins spat. “I won you twenty coin last week.”

“Yeah, but Attano wins me thirty a night,” Arden smirked at the younger whaler. He turned back to Corvo, “So where've you been? Golden cat?”

“Think you’ve used up every whore in there. So no,” Corvo said. Arden laughed and slapped him hard on the back.

He had been ordered to rest. So when Quinn tracked him down earlier and invited him to play cards under the bridge, Corvo had accepted. They had smuggled some whisky down there, and were sat in a small circle, smoking and drinking, hidden beneath the Chamber and the walkways.

“Stop pestering him, Arden,” Galia said, nestled into Jordan’s side. “He’s not a pup anymore. He can go where he wants without you interrogating him.”

“Alright everyone,” Feodor, their current card dealer, announced. “Show us your hands.”

They all spread their cards on the floor. Jordan had a Royal Dunwall. Everyone groaned as he gathered their gambled coin towards his already ample collection.

“Fucking bastard fuck,” Arden spat.

“Every time,” Quinn muttered. “He wins every time.”

“This isn’t normal,” Jenkins shook his head. “That’s his second Royal Dunwall tonight!”

“He cheats,” Galia said, poking Jordan with her elbow.

“I do not cheat!” Jordan denied, looking far too pleased with himself as he began to pile up his new coin. “I’m just incredibly talented and amazing at everything I do.”

Galia closed her eyes. “This is the man I choose to love...”

“Not too late to move on, darlin’,” Arden pointed out, wiggling his eyebrows at her.

Jordan picked up a few of the cards and flung them at him from across the circle.

As they argued, Quinn nudged Corvo. “Hey. Where have you been lately?” he asked quietly.

Corvo hesitated. He didn’t want to lie, not to Quinn of all people. “I can’t say.”

Quinn looked disappointed. “Alright. As long as you’re not in trouble or anything?”

“I’m not,” he assured, and Quinn nodded, asking no more of him.

“Deal the next fuckin’ hand,” Arden ordered Feodor. “Bastard ain’t winning this round.” He glowered at Jordan, “I’m keepin’ both eyes on you, fucker.”

Jordan pretended to preen under the attention, curling a lock of hair around his finger. “Oh, I’m flattered! Surely I’m not worthy of both of your eyes, Arden! If I’d have known you found me so ravishing, I’d have ditched this lovely lady for you long ago,” he fawned. He laughed when Galia punched his arm.

After a few more rounds, of which Jordan won three, a fight broke out between Arden and Jenkins, and Feodor started packing up the cards, knowing the game was over.

“Why do I even bother suggesting this...” he mumbled to himself.

Jordan stood up and stretched, ignoring Arden and Jenkins rolling around behind him. He offered his arm when Galia got to her feet, “Shall we retire, my Lady?”

Galia smacked him across the chest. “Like you could ever pass for a Lord. Best you could do is village idiot,” she ribbed, but she took his arm and looked up at him like he was the only person in the world.

Jordan pressed his nose into her hair as they walked towards the Chamber. “How’d I get so lucky.”

Corvo didn’t hear Galia’s reply.

Quinn was wrinkling his nose at their retreating forms. “They’re disgusting. Why do they make us watch that crap?”

Corvo just took a gulp of whisky, the liquid scolding his throat.

They bade goodnight to Feodor as he left, and watched Arden and Jenkins tumble about a bit longer. The pair ended up falling into the water, and the fight started all over again.

“They’ll be at it all night,” Quinn sighed. “I’m going to bed.”

“Night.”

Quinn transversed away, and Corvo ended up wandering away from Rudshore, towards Wrenhaven. He sat down near the river’s edge, on some rocks that had washed up there over the years.

The only light came from the moon, a small pub nearby, and the occasional ship passing over the water. The solitude was peaceful, as though Corvo were the only living being in the city. He slipped another cigarette between his lips.

“Excuse me?”

He froze, his lighter poised mid air and its flame catching the breeze. He peered towards the voice. There was a silhouette further down the beach, standing beside a riverboat. Corvo must have been more exhausted than he’d realized. He hadn’t noticed the man before.

“Could I borrow your lighter, if you’d be willing to part with it for a while?” the stranger asked. He sounded Gristol born. He didn’t look like an officer.

“Who’s asking?”

“My name’s Samuel,” the boatman answered. “I was hoping to get this problem fixed before sun down,” he motioned to the boat, “but I’m afraid my hands don’t work as quickly as they used to. I just need a light for a few minutes while I finish off.”

Corvo got to his feet, slowly. He flicked the lighter closed and transversed before the boatman. It was supposed to be a threat, a warning that he wasn’t to be messed with.

Samuel blinked in surprise, but didn’t seem afraid. He held his hand out for the lighter.

Corvo dropped it into his palm, and stepped back carefully.

“Thank you, sir,” Samuel said, and turned to kneel down, grabbing a small tool on the way. He held the lighter up to the part he was fixing. “You’ll have it back in just a moment, you have my word.”

Corvo wondered vaguely if the boatman knew who he was, if he recognised his uniform. Perhaps he did and was simply unafraid of him. Corvo checked up and down the beach; he couldn’t see anyone else around. He decided if worst came to worst, and the boatman tried something he didn’t like, Corvo could easily defend himself.

“Quiet night,” Samuel commented, screwing a loose bolt back into place on the boat’s underside. “Out here enjoying the peace and quiet while it lasts?”

“I was,” Corvo muttered, and the boatman chuckled.

“My apologies for the intrusion–” The lighter dropped into the sand when it slipped from Samuel’s fingers. “Ah, darn it.”

Against his better judgement, Corvo crouched to retrieve it after a few seconds of watching the boatman dig around. Samuel nodded his thanks, and continued working while Corvo held the light where he needed it. They remained like that for a time, sharing an amiable silence. While Samuel worked, Corvo examined the vessel; it was little more than a two person riverboat, maybe able to fit a third if they were light enough.

Corvo eyes fell on the name written on its side. “Amaranth?”

Samuel nodded. “Named it after a woman I knew. A long time ago.”

Corvo didn’t understand the point of naming inanimate things. But he decided he liked the name. “What does it mean?”

“It’s a kind of flower, in Morley. Think it means ‘unfading’. Or something,” Samuel said, shrugging.

Corvo passed him another tool when he asked for it. “I thought boats’ names usually had a ‘The’ in front of them.”

Samuel chuckled again. “Only ships, sir. You see it on whaling ships all the time,” he added, glimpsing up at the river. “Like that one.” He pointed into the distance, “Likely you’ll find a ‘The’ on that one there. Makes ‘em sound important, I suppose.”

Corvo followed his gaze to the ship passing them. He noticed a whale clamped above the deck. “Is that alive?” Corvo had never seen a live whale before.

“No. Don’t think so.” Samuel shook his head, “It’s a shame, I feel. The way folks treat those things. They’re not hurting anyone.”

“Whale oil’s valuable enough to make people forget about morals like that,” Corvo replied, but he couldn’t help agreeing with the boatman. The poor creatures were exploited and slaughtered, all to power Sokolov’s new creations. It was needlessly cruel. At least the people Corvo was hired to kill had done something to deserve it.

“See there?” Samuel gestured to the title on the ship’s side. “The Delilah. Bet you’ll find a dozen more with names like that at one of the slaughterhouses.”

Corvo stared at the ship. “What?”

Samuel pointed back to the river. “You see there? The Delilah. Along the side.”

Corvo narrowed his eyes. It took him a moment to make it out, but there it was, engraved on the side of the ship. The Delilah.

Corvo slapped a hand down on the boatman's shoulder, making him jump out of his skin.

“I have to go.”

Samuel glanced sidelong at him. “If you say so. Thank you for the help–”

“Keep the lighter.” Corvo passed it to him and stood, crossing back over the rocks.

Samuel waved the lighter after him. “Are you sure, sir? I’m almost finished–”

“Keep it,” Corvo called back.

He left the boatman on the beach, who smiled confusedly until he had disappeared.

Corvo could barely breathe by the time he reached the Chamber, having made it there in record speed. He practically fell through the office doors, and the noise caused Daud to grab his pistol.

“Outsider’s eyes,” he snarled. “It’s the middle of the fucking night, Attano. What can possibly be–”

“We’ve got a lead,” Corvo panted, his hair in disarray and his legs shaking from exertion. He couldn’t have possibly looked less presentable in that moment, but he didn’t care.

And from the way Daud was looking at him, expression a strange mix of hope and disbelief, it seemed he didn’t care either. “A lead?”

“On Delilah."

Chapter Text

Corvo had followed The Delilah to Rothwild’s slaughterhouse, in a District nicknamed Slaughterhouse Row. The area had a reputation for violence. Rothwild’s workers, the Butchers, were famous for their brutality. Still, Daud had been adamant that Corvo and Billie were all he needed for the job, despite Billie’s insistence for him to include more of the men. Daud would allow the others to know of their investigation once they had more information.

They had used the cargo bay door to get into the slaughterhouse. The other options had been the main entrance and a sewer tunnel. This had seemed the lesser of three evils.

“Rothwild’s got a stubborn reputation,” Billie said once they were inside. “I doubt asking nicely is going to work. The labourers outside mentioned an interrogation chair in the meat locker. Might be useful to you, if that’s the way you want to play this.”

“Go and see if they were telling the truth,” Daud instructed. “Corvo and I will find Rothwild.”

“He’s probably close to his office. We should start there,” Corvo said.

Billie disappeared to find the meat locker. Daud and Corvo moved down from the cargo bay.

They passed a pile of crates, and Corvo glanced at the shipping location. Samara, in Tyvia. A long way from Dunwall. They were big enough to fit a body inside. Seeing as Rothwild technically wasn’t a target – no one had hired them to kill him – Daud might be grateful for a different way to be rid of him. Corvo made a mental note to bring it up when the time was right. For now, they continued moving.

When they had gotten further into the slaughterhouse, Corvo began to curse his whaling mask; the filters inside weren’t enough to block the smell of carcasses and boiling grease coming from the killing floor. The stench was so strong it would probably cling to their clothes for days after this.

Daud was grimacing too. “Outsider’s eyes.” He glanced at Corvo. “Does that mask work?”

Corvo shook his head. “Let’s just keep going.”

They breathed easier when they eventually found the office. They heard voices nearby.

“Check it out,” Daud ordered.

Corvo leapt up to perch on the rafters. He had a clear view of the room from there. Below, Rothwild was threatening a worker; a young woman in bloodstained clothes.

Corvo transversed back down to Daud. “Rothwild’s there. With a woman.”

“Abigail Ames,” Daud supplied. “A labourer outside said she might be worth talking to. Stay hidden for now. Keep an eye on them.”

Corvo returned to the rafters, and Daud circled around the room, both of them ready to interfere if needed. They listened in on Rothwild and Abigail.

“Mr Rothwild. Bundry–”

“Don’t call me that,” Rothwild snapped. “That privilege is lost to you.”

Abigail admirably stood her ground, “You don’t know Ramsey. When he comes for me, he’ll kill you. He’ll gut you like the street filth you are and feed you to the rats.”

“Don’t bother threatening me. I’ve broken your little strike, and my Butchers are the finest fighters in Dunwall.” Rothwild folded his arms, self-satisfied. “Oh Miss Ames, you’re about to find out a few things I learned when I was a gaffer.” He stepped closer to her, “I can do things that don’t even hurt at first. This conversation is going to last a long, long–”

Daud signalled Corvo down, and Rothwild did a double take when they both appeared between him and his interrogatee.

“You,” Abigail gasped behind them. “I know you. You’re the Knife of Dunwall.”

“We’ll deal with you in a moment,” Daud told her firmly.

Abigail paused, gaze resting on the blade in Corvo’s hand, and then she backed away slightly.

Daud’s attention returned to the man they were there for.

“You’re Daud, right?” Rothwild addressed the older assassin. “What are you doing here? Who hired you?”

“I’m here for information about The Delilah.”

“Who hired you? Are you here from the Regent?”

“Maybe he’s here to put you in your special chair, Rothwild,” Abigail suggested.

“Shut up!”

“Kill him,” she urged them, “and I’ll tell you all about Delilah. And pay you, as well.”

“Quiet! She’s giving you very bad advice,” Rothwild sneered. “You won’t be taking me alive!”

Rothwild turned to run. He smacked into Billie when she transversed into his path. She had her blade pointed at his gut.

“Well, don’t I have good timing.” She looked behind Rothwild, at Daud. “What do you want done with him?”

“Put him to sleep. We’ll figure out what to do with him shortly.”

Billie shot a sleep dart into Rothwild’s leg, and he collapsed onto the floor.

Daud motioned Billie over to them. “What did you find?”

“The labourers were right. There’s an interrogation chair.” She examined a snoring Rothwild, “He’s big, so the sleep toxin should wear off soon. There’s enough time to get him to the meat locker.”

Daud looked at Abigail, considering. “Talk to her. I doubt she’ll give us something for nothing, so find out what she wants,” he instructed Billie. “We’ll take Rothwild to the meat locker. Find us there if you manage to make a deal. We’ll wait for you.”

Billie nodded. Corvo noticed her hips swaying slightly as she approached Abigail. Billie had always had a weakness for authoritative women, and Abigail seemed to fit the type. Perhaps Billie planned to flirt her way into a deal. Corvo envied her confidence. He’d never be able pull something like that off.

Daud bent to haul Rothwild over his shoulders, which Corvo was grateful for. Rothwild was a hulk of a man, probably weighing twice of Corvo. There was no chance he could have carried him himself.

They left Billie to it, and made their way to the interrogation chair. It was slow, with Daud carrying Rothwild and Corvo trying to keep them out of sight, but they eventually reached the meat locker. True to Billie’s word, there was the chair, connected to a machine at the back of the room.

Daud shoved Rothwild’s limp form into the seat. They strapped his hands in place. He stirred slightly.

“The toxin won’t last much longer,” Corvo said.

“We’ll dose him again if Billie has good enough information from Ames. Interrogating him might not be necessary.”

So they waited, in silence at first, which Corvo didn’t mind. He and Daud were alike in that respect. No need to fill time with idle small talk. He stole glances at the older man. Daud hadn’t been out in the field for six months. Corvo could tell he was a little rusty, but hadn’t said anything. Daud likely wouldn’t appreciate being told what he already knew.

Daud caught him looking after a minute or two, and Corvo was too late in averting his eyes. “What is it?”

“We should split up when we leave the slaughterhouse,” he said, almost too quickly. “There’s a better chance we won’t be spotted if we each take a different exit.”

“We’ll do that, then.” The silence that followed didn’t feel as easy as before. Apparently Daud felt the same, as he spoke again. “Julian came to me yesterday. With another broken nose. Was it you?”

Corvo winced. He had expected that would come up eventually. “He was hassling Quinn again.”

“So you broke his nose.”

“Yes.”

Daud sighed. “I would have called you into the office, but I wanted you rested for the job today. You can’t keep attacking the men, Attano, I won’t stand for it–”

“With all due respect, Sir, I’m not going to stand by and let Julian behave the way he does.”

“You think I don’t want to punch Julian too?”

Corvo stared at him. That, he hadn’t been expecting.

“Don’t look so surprised. I’m aware of what a shit he can be.” Daud looked at him sternly, “But that doesn’t give you the right to hit back harder than him. That only makes you as much of a shit. Understand?”

Corvo hesitated. “But Quinn–”

“Quinn should come to me when Julian troubles him.”

“He won’t. He’s too stubborn.”

“Not unlike you, then. You and Quinn should have come to me,” Daud said. He seemed frustrated. “If I can’t protect my own men when something’s happening under my nose, then what good am I?”

Corvo swallowed whatever words of comfort he might have said when Billie rejoined them.

Daud turned his concentration to her. “Give us good news.”

“Ames wants us to blow up the slaughterhouse.”

Daud looked unimpressed. “That’s not going to happen.”

“I told her that’s what you’d say,” Billie muttered. “She refused to give us any information if we didn’t do it, so I left her sleeping by the front entrance. She seems capable enough to make her own way out, once she wakes up.”

Billie looked disappointed that her flirting hadn’t paid off.

She gestured to Rothwild, “Looks like he’s your only option. I’ll keep watch outside, make sure no one interrupts.” She slipped back out the door. “Enjoy.”

Daud sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “If we don’t get information soon, maybe we should blow it up.” Corvo suspected he was joking, but the annoyance in his expression left the question open.

“The Delilah's in the harbour, so Rothwild must have something to tell us,” Corvo replied. “I’m certain of it.”

Daud seemed reassured, and when a groan came from Rothwild’s direction, he motioned for Corvo to stand by the electrocution switch.

The slaughterhouse owner hazily opened his eyes, before his gaze cleared and landed on Daud. “What do you want to know that’s worth crossing a man like me?”

“I told you. Before you tried to run,” Daud said. “I want to know about Delilah”

“Choke on your own spit!”

Daud jerked his head towards the switch. Corvo pulled it.

Rothwild convulsed in the chair and electricity sparked on the restraints that bound his hands. The man was left panting when the voltage stopped.

He leered between the assassins. “You think I’ll give up a friend at the first tickle? That’s the kind of thing I pay your sister for at the Golden Cat!”

On Daud’s approval, Corvo pulled the lever again.

Rothwild grit his teeth and took the next volts without making a sound. Corvo saw his fingers clutching the arms of the chair, though.

“Who is Delilah? What’s behind the name?”

Rothwild ignored Daud this time. He looked at Corvo instead, “You know your work, kid. I’ll give you that,” he wheezed. “We can talk this out. Like businessman. You should come work for me. You’re tough as my boys combined. What do you say? Let me out, and you and I can make a deal.”

Daud gripped Rothwild’s jaw, yanking his gaze back to him. "Don’t try and con him,” he snarled. “You and I are talking.”

Daud sounded another refusal away from punching something. Corvo hoped Rothwild broke soon, for his own sake. Being electrocuted had nothing on Daud’s right hook; Corvo had seen it break an Overseer’s nose through his metal mask more than once.

Daud bared his teeth. “Why did you name it Delilah?”

“What do you care?! And it wasn’t me! The previous owner named it, after some sweetheart of his. A painter.”

Corvo’s nerves spiked, a memory surfacing. “A painter?”

“Yeah. Now piss off!” Rothwild’s voice kept cracking. One more shock should do it.

Rothwild shrieked as Corvo pulled down the switch again.

“Who was the previous owner?”

“GODDAMN IT! BARRISTER TIMSH!” Rothwild’s eyes were screwed shut, his chest heaving. “ALRIGHT?”

Daud leaned in close, drawing his sword and stabbing it into the chair, between Rothwild’s thighs. Rothwild gulped audibly, all bravado from before gone.

“Please,” Daud growled, twisting the blade into the chair’s fabric. “Do continue.”

***

They had their answers. Delilah had begun as a baker’s apprentice in Dunwall Tower, and had become Sokolov’s apprentice years later. The woman he had seen in the Royal Physician’s house six months ago. Corvo knew there had been something odd about her. She had most recently painted portraits for her former lover, Arnold Timsh. He was a wealthy barrister who lived in the Legal District, and he had named the whaling ship after her before she had left him. He had sold the ship to Rothwild.

Daud narrowed his eyes. “You saw Delilah? You’re sure?”

“Months ago,” Corvo answered. “I didn’t know who she was. I meant to tell you–”

“But I called you in about the job at the Tower,” Daud finished for him. “Where did you see her?”

“With the Royal Physician.”

“Outsider’s eyes,” Daud growled. “How many times have I told the men to stay away from Sokolov’s house. Those orders do not magically exclude you, Attano.”

“I looked in as I was passing.” And then went inside, Corvo decidedly left out. “It won’t happen again, Sir.”

Daud stabbed a sleep dart in Rothwild’s shoulder, saying no more on the matter. “Now what to do with him,” he muttered.

“There’s a crate in the cargo bay,” Corvo said. “It’s bound for Tyvia. Should keep him out of our hair for a while, provided he survives the journey.”

Daud nodded his approval. He began to bind the slaughterhouse owner’s hands while Corvo bound his ankles.

Billie re-entered the meat locker when they finished tying him up. “Why is he still alive?”

“Because I say he stays alive,” Daud said tersely.

“We can put him on one of his ships,” Corvo explained. “He won’t be back in the city for months.”

“That’s not how we do things.” Billie looked angry. “Killing him would be quicker. Safer in the long run, too.”

“Billie,” Daud warned. “I’m saying no.”

She glared, but didn’t argue any further. “Did he tell you anything?”

“Barrister Timsh has a connection to Delilah. We can get more information from him.” Daud heaved Rothwild over his shoulder again, and brushed past Billie to the door. “Corvo suggested we take different exits out of here, and I agree. Billie, use the main entrance.”

“I’ll take the tunnel under the slaughterhouse,” Corvo offered. The cargo bay door was closest to where Daud was taking Rothwild.

Daud nodded to them both. “Regroup above the guard office over the river. Be careful,” he ordered. “There are Butchers still around.”

Corvo waited until Daud gotten safely past the group of Butchers outside. When he saw him transverse to the level above, Corvo made his own way across the killing floors.

The state of the slaughterhouse almost made Corvo wish they’d agreed to destroy it for Abigail. But he remembered his words to Daud. I can handle careful, Sir. Blowing up an entire slaughterhouse didn’t seem very careful to him.

Corvo blinked between the two killing floors, but came to a standstill when he saw the whale.

The poor creature was strapped into place, suspended above the sewer tunnel; its belly split open and its guts bleeding out onto the metal floor, creating a pale red stream beneath it. It sounded like it was crying, and it took Corvo a moment to accept that it was alive.

This was a world away from the scenario he had imagined when he finally saw a live whale.

“Fuck,” he whispered. Corvo knew how ridiculous he was. He could kill a noblewoman or a Watch guard without batting an eyelash, but he got choked up over a fucking whale. He was never telling Arden about this.

His gaze was drawn to a machine, similar to the one the interrogation chair had been connected to. The whale was attached to it, and the cords ran to a pair of whale oil containers. That much electricity could put the whale down in an instant. There were no tanks installed. Yet.

Corvo looked between the containers and the tunnel entrance. He shouldn’t care. He shouldn’t risk it. It was just a whale.

Five minutes later, when three snoring Butchers were slumped over each other and Corvo was carrying the second whale oil tank on his shoulder, he decided that maybe Daud and Rulfio were right. Maybe he didn’t know what careful meant, after all.

Both tanks installed, Corvo blinked up to the machine. There was a note beside the lever, and the handwriting was Sokolov’s. It instructed the Butchers to keep the whale alive for experimentation.

Corvo glanced up at the whale. Its huge eye was right in front of him. “Hope you appreciate this. The Royal Physician’s not going to be happy with us.”

Corvo was certain he was wrong, but he swore the creature was smiling at him.

“Sorry you had to spend your last days here,” he said, and he pulled the lever.

The whale jolted as the electricity reached its heart, and then it stilled.

Corvo reached out and rested a gloved hand just beneath its eye. His gaze wandered over its face. It looked peaceful now, like the pictures in the stories his father had read to him and Beatrici. This was more what he had imagined.

Voices behind the killing floor doors brought Corvo back to attention. He dropped down beneath the creature. Blood was still oozing down from the tear in its stomach, and Corvo weaved around the falling rivulets.

As he crouched down to enter the sewer tunnel, cold lips brushed against the back of his neck. “Fascinating.”

Corvo shivered, and turned to look over his shoulder. But there was nothing but the bloody stream of whale’s blood behind him.

***

“Get up or this coffee’s going on your head.”

Corvo’s pillow muffled his reply.

“Just get up.”

Corvo cracked an eye open. The sun was barely up, and the dorms were horrifically cold in the morning. He snuggled deeper under the sheets.

“Corvo–”

“Pour the coffee. I don’t care.”

“You’re such a shit.” Feodor put the mug on the windowsill, and left him be.

“Thank you,” Corvo mumbled.

He began to doze again. His muscles were aching from yesterday’s antics at the slaughterhouse. The warmth of his bed made him feel heavy and unbothered that sunrise was fast approaching. He had started dreaming of a whale, suspended in mid air, surrounded by blue and floating lanterns, when the bed sheets were torn from him.

“Give them back, Jordan.”

Jordan wolf whistled at the sight of Corvo’s half-clothed body. “Will do, if you let me join you.”

“What would Galia say.”

“Ah, you aren’t getting them back then.” He bundled up the sheets and tossed them at Jenkins’s neighbouring bed. They hit the Whaler’s head, earning a sleepy grunt. “Get up, come on. You too, Jenkins.”

Corvo sat up and blearily reached for his coffee. It burned his tongue, but he finished it within a few seconds. He shrugged on a shirt and grabbed a pair of boots, retrieving his sheets from Jenkins’s bed and throwing them back over his own.

“Come on, Jen.” Corvo nudged the Whaler’s shoulder, before walking out into the corridor.

He met Dimitri on the way to the kitchen. They fell into step together. “You going to the Legal District tomorrow?”

“Yeah.”

Dimitri nodded. “Thought you might be. Billie’s going too.”

“I know.” Corvo glanced into the office when they passed it. Daud was at the desk, as usual.

Because they finally had a solid lead on Delilah, Daud had allowed the rest of the men to know about the search. Corvo had been getting a lot of attention for his involvement since yesterday. He wasn’t sure he liked it.

He and Dimitri joined the crowd in the kitchen. Hobson was having an argument with Rinaldo over how to cook the meat, so Corvo had to reach around them for another coffee. He joined Rulfio at a table near the door, the furthest away from all the commotion.

Rulfio pushed a plate towards him. “Eat.”

Corvo just sipped his coffee.

Rulfio wasn’t impressed. “You’ve got a job half way across the city tomorrow, and you’re a skinny brat. So eat.”

“You cluck more than a mother hen,” Corvo pointed out, but he stabbed some blood sausage with his fork. “Are you mad that I kept the Delilah investigation from you?”

Rulfio smiled slightly. As cold as Corvo appeared most of the time, Rulfio knew he cared deeply for certain people, cared what they thought of him. Rulfio himself was one of those people.

“No. You were asked to keep it quiet, I understand,” he assured. “If I’m mad at anyone, it’s Daud. For sending you to look for something without fully knowing the risks, and without letting anyone know where you were going.”

Corvo glared. “It’s not his fault.”

“Don’t defend him, Corvo. I know how you feel about the man, but–”

“Rulfio,” Corvo warned.

Rulfio sighed. “Sorry. I’m just saying, you have to see he’s not blameless. Now somehow, by the Outsider’s gracious ballsack, you managed not to get yourself killed. But Daud didn’t know what he was sending you after. For all he knew, he was sending you to your death.”

“Don’t be melodramatic. I would have refused the job if I was worried about that.”

“You wouldn’t have refused him.” Rulfio’s expression was painfully knowing. “You know you wouldn’t have.”

“Don’t take this out on him,” Corvo muttered.

“And don’t blindly do whatever he asks of you. I know Daud didn’t want to cause a fuss by involving everyone. I get it. I do,” Rulfio said. “But you remember why we made it a rule to always know where the men go when they leave Rudshore?”

“So we know where to start looking if someone doesn’t come back.”

“Exactly. What if you hadn’t come home one day?” Corvo watched his throat bob as he swallowed. “We wouldn’t have known where to look for you. Do you know what that would have done to me?”

Guilt rose like bile in his stomach. “I didn’t realize. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. I’m not mad at you,” Rulfio waved his apology off. “Don’t let my ‘clucking’ hold you back. I’ve heard you’ve been doing a good job out there. And I’m sure you will at the Legal District tomorrow. I’m proud of you.”

Corvo took a gulp of coffee to get rid of the sudden catch in his throat. “Sentimental old man.”

Rulfio chuckled. “Eat your fucking breakfast.”

Corvo picked at it. He never felt like eating too much the day before a job. He’d rather not eat at all, but Rulfio looked ready to shove the plate down his throat, so Corvo knew better than to argue.

Another argument had broken out between Hobson and Rinaldo’s tables by the time Daud walked in, with Thomas at his heels. He’d discarded his red coat, only wearing a simple white shirt like the rest of the men, the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. Scowl in place, Daud grabbed a coffee and sidestepped the chaos, heading towards their table.

“Excuse me.” Rulfio took his empty cup and made his way out. Corvo watched him go. He was apparently mad enough at Daud to want to avoid him for now.

Corvo greeted Daud and Thomas with a small nod. They sat opposite, and Thomas immediately eyed the sausages on Corvo’s plate.

Corvo pushed it towards him. “Be my guest.”

Daud frowned as Thomas practically swallowed one of the sausages whole. The Whaler looked embarrassed afterwards, but it didn’t stop him from reaching for another one. Thomas often forgot to eat for days at a time, always being so focused on his work. When he did finally remember, it was like watching a wolfhound devour a swarm of rats.

“You coming to the Legal District?”

Thomas nodded, not wanting to answer around a mouthful of food.

“I’m taking him and Arden, along with you and Billie,” Daud said. “No one else.”

Corvo blinked. “You’ll need more men. Timsh’s estate is well guarded–”

“You four are all I need,” Daud repeated. “Unless you’d rather I take someone else in your place?” From the way he said it, Corvo knew Daud wouldn’t allow it, even if he did ask to remain here.

“No, Sir.”

Silence reigned until Thomas spotted more food on the far side of the room. He excused himself and disappeared amongst the squabbling men. Corvo and Daud were left alone. Corvo tapped his thumb against his mug a few times. Apart from discussing Delilah or being out on a job, he hadn’t spent time alone with Daud since the night of the Empress’s murder.

“Unless I’m mistaken, I believe Rulfio is angry with me.”

Corvo made the error of meeting his eyes.

Daud sighed, “I knew he was. Man’s been avoiding me since word of our investigation got around.” He looked Corvo for some moments. “He’s angry because I involved you?”

“He worries,” Corvo said. “It’s what he does best.”

Daud almost smiled. “He has good intentions. But he underestimates some of the men here. Especially you,” he said. “He hasn’t seen the way you work out in the city. If he did, I imagine he’d worry about you less, once he saw how capable you are.”

Corvo stared down at his coffee, now turned cold. How was one to reply to a compliment from Daud, he wondered.

“Regardless, you’re not a novice anymore,” Daud continued. “He can’t pick and choose the jobs you take. Only you can do that.”

“You’d encourage picking and choosing?”

“I encourage my orders to be questioned if you don’t agree with them,” Daud corrected. “That includes which jobs I assign to you.”

Corvo was reminded of why Daud was a good leader. He was strict and gruff by nature, but never unfair when it came to the men.

Daud tried his own coffee, grimacing as he swallowed. He put the mug down and didn’t pick it up again. “Awful.”

“Rinaldo made it today.”

“That explains it.”

“It’s why they’re arguing over there,” Corvo said, jerking his head towards Hobson and Rinaldo. “Can I make a request?”

Daud raised an eyebrow, but didn’t refuse.

“Order Hobson to make the coffee from now on.”

Daud actually chuckled. “A fair appeal. Rinaldo may poison us all if he continues to have free reign over the boiler.”

Corvo smiled, hidden behind his mug. It would be so easy to imagine this conversation was happening somewhere else. In Serkonos maybe, away from Dunwall and the other men and the rats. Just the two of them, talking. It was nice.

Something collided against the cooker, shattering the moment and some plates that fell from the counters. Corvo realized it was Quinn, and Julian was standing a few metres away, so putting two and two together wasn’t hard. The men had stopped arguing, and had focused on the pair instead, anticipating a brawl. Julian started towards Quinn again.

Corvo shot up and transversed in front of him, keeping him back with a hand on his chest.

“Let me at that freak, Attano–”

“You’re a piece of shit, Julian.” Corvo shoved him away. “Leave him be.”

“She,” Julian hissed, shoving Corvo back, “If she hasn’t got a cock like the rest of us, then the fucking freak’s a she–"

“He’s ten times the man you are,” Corvo said. “You’re just a fucking coward–” Julian’s fist lashed across his face, splitting his lip. The rest of the men fired up and swarmed around them.

Corvo wiped the blood, staining his sleeve and probably smearing it all across his jaw. Before anyone else could step in, he grabbed Julian by his collar and head-butted him between the eyes, likely breaking his nose if the crack was any indicator. Julian cradled his face, blood trickling between his fingers.

“Both of you, enough!”

The crowd of men quietened instantly. Corvo and Julian both looked towards Daud. His tone and expression brooked no argument, so Corvo stood down, glaring at Julian’s slumped over form.

“Julian, go to my office,” Daud ordered. “We discussed your treatment of the other men not two days ago. You were on your final warning.”

Julian spat blood Quinn’s way before skulking towards the door, wincing when he cracked his nose back into place.

“Fucker,” Corvo said as he watched him go.

“You too, Attano. Go,” Daud barked when Corvo made no move to leave.

Quinn touched his arm from behind. “You're in deep shit. Stop stepping in like that.”

“And let you have all the fun?” Corvo shot him a reassuring look, "I'll be fine."

He then followed Daud and Julian out of the door, wondering if he could get another hit on the Whaler before Daud inevitably killed him for it.

***

“I am at the end of my fucking tether. With both of you,” Daud snarled. “It’s bad enough I hear of fights between you two around the District. But in the fucking kitchen, in front of the other men? Some of them were novices, what kind of example are you setting by beating each other bloody?”

“Attano fucking started it–”

“You started it, you transphobic piece of shit–”

“Enough!” Daud glared between them. “Julian, we’ve spoken about your attitude. Too many times. It’s unacceptable. If you disobey my orders, if I hear one more allegation, one small word that you’ve been disturbing Quinn again, you’re out.”

Julian’s eyes widened. Even Corvo was a little surprised. He had only heard of Daud banishing someone once, years ago, before Corvo had even joined them.

“Do I make myself clear?”

Julian swallowed and laced his hands behind his back. “Yes, Sir.”

“You stay assigned to Holger Square for the foreseeable future,” Daud added. “Dismissed.”

Julian turned to go, not even shooting a glare at Corvo before he transversed away.

Daud’s hard gaze turned on him. “You.”

“It won’t happen–”

“Again, Sir,” Daud finished for him. “So you’ve said. The last seven times you’ve picked a fight with him.”

Corvo didn’t reply.

“I know you care for Quinn. And I’m not pissed off because you’re looking out for him,” Daud said. “I’m pissed off because I thought you were smarter than this.”

Corvo tried to hold his tongue again, but couldn't. “You should get rid of Julian. He’s not going to stop–”

“Julian, despite how intolerable he is, is one of us. So is Quinn. So are you. Someday, no matter how long it takes, Julian will realize what that means. We trust our own and protect each other. Do you understand why I don’t want you to pick fights with the other men?”

“I didn’t pick a fight. Julian hit first–”

“I don’t care. Do you understand why I don’t want you to hit back?”

Corvo sighed through his nose. “Because, even though we don’t like each other, we have to trust each other.”

“Yes. We have to trust our own, no matter who they are or what they do. If Julian stirs up trouble again, do not meet violence with violence. You come to me. Trust me to do something about it.” Daud tapped a gloved finger against the desk, looking thoughtful. “Although, considering my warning, I doubt he’ll be bothering Quinn again.”

“If he does, will you tell him to leave? For good?”

Daud nodded. “I will. I make good on my threats, and I want Quinn to know he’s safe here.”

Corvo relaxed a little, relieved.

“You two won’t jump into any more fights?”

“No, Sir.”

“You and Quinn will come straight to me if something does happen?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Daud leaned back in the chair to examine him. Corvo hadn’t been dismissed, so he assumed he wasn’t permitted to leave yet. He tried not to fidget under the attention. “How’s your head?”

Corvo’s lips parted slightly. Daud sounded genuinely concerned. “Fine.”

“If that headbutt was as good as it looked, the pain will last for a few days.” His eyes lingered on Corvo’s split lip, and then he stood, the chair scraping against the floorboards as he pushed it back. “Come with me.”

He rounded the desk, passed Corvo, and started up the stairs to the level above. Corvo hesitated, glancing at the door, before following.

Looking around at the bedroom, he could almost forget the chaos it had been six months ago, with books and bone charms scattered over the floor, and Daud shaking in the centre of it. Corvo stayed by the stairs.

Daud motioned to the bed. “Sit.”

Corvo perched warily at the edge of the mattress while Daud soaked a cloth in the sink. He wrung it out and approached, kneeling, but pausing when Corvo flinched back slightly.

“Stay still,” he instructed, dabbing the cloth against the side of Corvo’s mouth.

It was a while before Corvo was able to speak. “There’s an infirmary. Akila or Montgomery could have done this.”

“I’m well aware there’s an infirmary,” Daud said, giving no further explanation. “Do you think we did the right thing with Rothwild yesterday?”

“Interrogating him?”

“Letting him live.” Daud looked conflicted. “Billie doesn’t seem to agree with most of my choices these days. Stay still,” he chided again when Corvo moved his head. Daud raised a hand to hold his jaw steady while he continued to clean away the blood. “Do you feel the same as she does?”

Corvo forced himself not to lean into Daud’s touch like a stray cat. “You haven’t killed since the Empress.”

Daud’s sigh was shaky. “No. I had wondered if you’d noticed.”

“I don’t agree with Billie,” Corvo said. He didn’t disagree with her either. But if Daud no longer wanted to kill, then Corvo knew which of the two he would support. “If there’s another way to deal with Timsh, we should take it. Like we did with Rothwild.”

Corvo didn’t know if he imagined Daud’s thumb stroke against his jaw or not. The movement was so brief. But Daud certainly appeared relieved by his answer.

“I see.” Daud removed the cloth, now half stained with blood, and inspected the slash across Corvo’s lip. “How was it? Headbutting Julian?”

The side of his mouth hurt when he smiled, but he didn’t mind. “Great.”

“I envy you the privilege,” Daud admitted. “Don’t do it again.”

“I won’t.”

“What will you do instead?”

“Come to you.”

Daud nodded, satisfied. “Take an elixir from the desk. This should heal by tomorrow.”

Corvo felt like he was being repaid for something. The night of the Empress’s murder, maybe. Maybe something else. He didn’t know.

Daud got to his feet and threw the cloth back in the sink. “You’re dismissed. And don’t get into any more fights today, Corvo,” he added, shooting him a pointed look. “I want you prepared for the job tomorrow.”

Corvo frowned. “I’m still coming to the Legal District?”

“Of course you’re coming. The events of this morning have me doubting your capability.” There was a challenge in his tone. “Make sure you prove me wrong.”

Corvo nodded. “I will, Sir.”

When he left the office, he found himself unable to stop touching the cut on his lip for the rest of the day.

Chapter Text

Daud was working out a deal with Barrister Timsh’s niece. From what she'd told them, she had just as much information as her uncle. Perhaps more. Thalia wanted Timsh gone and his last will and testament brought to her, in exchange for what she had on Delilah Copperspoon.

Corvo had been ordered to scout ahead to Timsh’s neighbourhood.

He was perched above a Wall of Light. The crackling sound they made always set him on edge; he’d seen too many citizens turned to ash because of them. But he stayed nonetheless. The guards below were discussing a prisoner, and it had caught his interest.

“I found him snooping around the District,” one guard said. “He won’t say who he is or what he’s doing, but I locked him up in there just to be safe. He seems familiar to me, reminds me of someone who used to do business with Timsh.”

The other guard nodded, pleased. “Good work, Simmons. Now that that’s handled, we can move on.”

Someone who used to do business with Timsh. This prisoner could be worth investigating.

Corvo left the guards talking, and took a second story window into the prisoner’s current jail cell. Inside, there was little more than a few crooked paintings and a chair. The building looked completely scavenged; broken glass and cracked walls. A large hole in the floorboards, giving a view of the ground floor.

A man stood at a dining table below, dressed in a three piece suit. The guards’ prisoner. He wore an ornate looking mask, perhaps to prevent plague. Perhaps to simply hide his face.

Face hidden or not, Corvo wouldn’t trust anybody outright. Especially a nobleman. He took a step towards the opening.

“I know you’re there.”

Corvo paused. He hadn’t made a sound. He knew he hadn’t.

“Come on out. Wherever you are.”

Corvo frowned. Creepy, but the prisoner didn’t look like a threat. He was scrawnier than Corvo, and unarmed. Corvo blinked to the far end of the table.

The prisoner wasn’t afraid. “Hello.” An elegant voice, to match the elegant mask and suit.

Corvo stayed silent.

“You’re one of Daud’s, aren’t you?” He examined Corvo up and down. “Why are you in here?”

“I wanted to know why they locked you up.”

“Eavesdropping on the guards outside, were you? They locked me up on Timsh’s orders,” he said. “My name is Roland. This used to be my sister’s house, before the Barrister got his hands on it. He falsely accused her of having the plague and then took everything she owned,” he gestured around bitterly. “He did the same to me last month. And he was perfectly within his right, thanks to that immunity document. He carries it everywhere, like a blasted talisman.”

“Immunity document?”

“Not heard of it? It’s a piece of paper Timsh uses to create false plague rumours, evict innocent families from their homes, and then take their belongings for himself,” Roland said. “The Barrister has complete immunity from the Lord Regent. As long as he has that document, he’s untouchable.”

Roland took a graceful step around the table. Corvo took a step back.

“As long as he has the document,” the nobleman mused. “You might be just who I need.”

“What do you want?”

“Revenge. To do to Timsh what he did to me. What he’s done to half of this neighbourhood.” Roland paused to study him. “You seem rather young to be an assassin.”

“What do you want,” Corvo repeated icily.

“Not much of a talker, are you?” When Corvo just glared in answer, Roland chuckled. “Straight to business, then. Please, go to my old apartment. It's right next to Timsh's estate. Inside you'll find some papers stating that Timsh’s estate was to be seized a month ago due to infection outbreak. It has the forged signature of the Lord Regent, so it should look authentic enough to work.”

“What good will it do if he has the–”

“The immunity document, yes. Replace it with my forged papers.”

Corvo considered it. Daud didn’t want to kill. So they needed an alternative way to remove Timsh. This could work to their advantage.

“Listen. I know you wouldn't be here unless you were after Timsh’s head. But the Barrister dying would mean nothing to me. A man like that deserves to see his own ruin. He deserves to taste it,” Roland insisted. “He’s meeting with General Turnbull later today. If the General sees my forged papers in Timsh’s possession, he would be taken into custody immediately.”

“There has to be proof of plague for an arrest,” Corvo said. “The document alone may not be enough.”

“Already ahead of you. Two buildings from mine, there’s a sack. The woman who lived there provided it for me, in exchange for a piece of whalebone I used to have.”

“A sack.”

“It gives off a plague-like odour. I have no idea what’s in there, and I imagine its best not to poke around inside it,” Roland advised. “There’s a ventilation system in Timsh’s basement. Put the sack in there, let the system work its magic, and the General will have all the proof he needs to arrest him.”

“Is it dangerous?”

“The sack? No, it’s quite safe. I assure you,” Roland said. “If you choose to accept the job, there's payment for you in my building. Five hundred coin, to be exact. Unless someone’s already pilfered it in my absence,” he muttered.

“What’s the number of your apartment?”

Despite the mask, Corvo knew Roland smiled. His posture gave him away. “Does that mean you accept?”

“What’s the number?”

Roland chuckled again. “A shame you didn’t go into politics instead of killing. Frankness like yours would be most refreshing in court,” he remarked. “My apartment is number eight, the highest floor. I doubt you can get in from the streets, but I'm sure you'll manage somehow. The sack is at number ten.” He looked at Corvo, expectant. “So, do you accept? Is there some kind of– I don’t know, blood ritual you people do? To seal the contract?”

“You have to pledge your soul to the Outsider.” Seeing the nobleman become tense, Corvo allowed himself a smile. “A joke.”

Roland relaxed. “So you do smile, like the rest of us. What a relief. What’s your name?”

Corvo answered, reluctantly but honestly, seeing as they were now allies. “Corvo.”

“Corvo.” Roland tested the name on his tongue. He seemed to rather like it. “Will I know if our little plan has succeeded, Corvo?” His voice was hopeful, like a child asking for candy.

“I’ll return when it’s done. If you’re still here.”

Roland glanced at the locked doors. “Where else would I go. Do we have a deal, then?”

He held out a hand. Corvo eyed it cagily.

“I hope a handshake will do just as well as selling myself to the Outsider?” Roland jested, extending his hand further.

Corvo reached to take it, but was pushed back when Daud transversed into his path and held his sword to Roland’s neck. “Who are you?”

“Outsider’s breath! I didn’t hurt him, I swear!” Roland leaned as far from Daud’s blade as he could manage.

“I’m fine.” Corvo laid his hand on Daud’s arm. It probably wasn’t wise to touch him when he was growling like a wild beast. “He’s a client.”

Daud leered at him. “A client.”

“He has a way to remove Timsh. He’s no threat.”

Daud slowly eased his sword from Roland’s neck. The nobleman let out an audible sigh of relief.

Corvo flinched when the older assassin turned on him. “I told you to wait above the Wall of Light. And you just disappear? Outsider’s eyes, we didn’t know what to think.”

Corvo dropped his gaze. He wouldn’t admit to himself how engaging Daud’s concern was. “The guards said he was connected to Timsh,” he jerked his head towards Roland. “I left to look into it.”

“Not without telling me first,” Daud said firmly. “Never disappear like that again.” Then he faced Roland. The nobleman took an intelligent step back. “You.”

“I didn’t hurt him,” Roland insisted, holding up his hands. “He agreed to do a job for me.”

“Did he now?” Daud narrowed his eyes at Corvo.

“Or, I mean, talk the job over with you first,” Roland added quickly. “He’s been most helpful.”

Daud growled in answer. “Outside. Now.” He blinked to the level above.

Roland winced. “I assume that was Daud. Charming man. I hope I didn’t get you into trouble.”

“I got myself into it.”

“Will I be seeing you again?”

Corvo heard Daud leave through the window above. “We accept the job. I’ll come back when it’s done.”

Roland nodded, delighted. “Good. Good. Best of luck, then. I’ll just...” He looked around the ruined surroundings. “Wait here.”

Corvo leapt up to the second floor to trail Daud. He felt Roland’s eyes follow him as he left. He found Daud, accompanied by Thomas, on the building he should have been waiting on when they arrived.

The older assassin glowered as he approached. “Give me strength not to push you from this rooftop and be done with you.”

“I thought you just said he found you a lead," Thomas said. "Why are you angry?” He was quickly silenced by the look Daud shot his way.

“If this isn’t the most worthwhile plan I have ever heard, I will throw you from this building,” Daud threatened. Corvo believed him.

So he explained Roland’s plan to have Timsh arrested, instead of killed. As he spoke, he saw the tension ease from Daud’s shoulders bit by bit. Daud had been frustrated and apprehensive all morning, and Corvo knew why. Until now, they hadn’t had a choice but to kill the Barrister if they wanted his niece’s cooperation. Now they had another way of dealing with him. Just like Rothwild.

“We’ll do it,” Daud said gruffly. “That does not mean my order to remain at your post is not to be ignored again in the future. Ever again.”

“Yes, Sir.” Corvo looked around, suddenly noticing their lack of Whalers. “Where are Billie and Arden?”

“Billie’s at an equipment stash nearby,” Thomas said. “She’s keeping an eye on the Barrister’s estate for us. Arden’s with Thalia.”

Corvo frowned. Arden and the Barrister’s niece had taken an instant disliking to each other. The pair had bickered relentlessly since the moment they had met.

“He’s standing in as Thalia’s bodyguard.” Thomas didn’t smile often, but when he did it was a pleasant sight. “He wasn’t happy about it.”

Thalia’s bodyguard had been killed by a group of Hatters. Corvo wondered if Arden would survive as the replacement. When Corvo left them to scout ahead, Thalia had looked ready to throttle the Whaler with something.

“We need the niece protected. Arden will have to deal with it,” Daud said. “Where are the forged papers?”

“Apartment eight. Top floor.”

“We’ll see if this Roland is telling the truth about his plans for the Barrister.” Daud turned to Thomas, “Go to the equipment stash. There should be a key to Timsh’s basement. Meet us behind his estate.”

“Yes, Sir.” Thomas disappeared.

Corvo glanced at the estate in question. It was big, with four floors including the basement. Getting around there unseen would be risky. And getting close enough to the Barrister to steal the immunity document, even more so.

Daud must have discerned his hesitation. “Is there a problem?”

“The plan has risks. Maybe too many.”

“What do your instincts tell you?”

Corvo looked at him. That I’d kill Timsh for you, if it came to that. “That we should at least try.”

“Then let’s go.”

***

Corvo had thought the slaughterhouse smelled bad. The sack was an abomination.

“Outsider’s fucking eyes.” Daud’s curse was muffled beneath the sleeve he held to his nose. He grabbed the sheet thrown over a nearby couch, and wrapped it around the sack a few times. It enclosed the smell. Mostly. “This better be worth it.”

Apartment ten was the aftermath of an Overseer purge. There were corpses of sinners wrapped in shrouds, and cultist notes left beside each one. Corvo assumed the woman who had provided the sack was among the dead. When they walked back out onto the balcony, the breeze thankfully blew the sack’s odour away from them.

Corvo tightened the strap he used to keep his hair out of his eyes, the wind having loosened it.

“I keep telling you to get that mop cut shorter,” Daud muttered. “It’s going to get you killed. If your inability to follow orders doesn’t first.”

Corvo tried to look guilty. “Yes, Sir.”

The balconies of Timsh’s building were well guarded. The basement was their best bet for getting inside without being seen. As told, Thomas met them at the door with the key. Once inside, he closed it behind them.

“What’s that smell?” Daud threw him the sack. Thomas grimaced. “Lovely.”

“We can’t be rid of it until we’ve switched the papers,” Daud said. “And found the will.”

“Timsh’s lawyers are on the ground floor. The will is probably with them somewhere,” Thomas said. “Timsh is in his bedroom, from what Billie and I saw from the lookout spot. Sir, if I may advise that only one of us go after the immunity document? If we go grouped together, there’s more of a chance we’ll be caught.”

Daud grunted, ambivalent. “Trying to sneak up all four floors is suicide. There must be a dozen guards here, if not more. We need a better way to get to the bedroom.”

Corvo had already found it. A dumbwaiter system inside the kitchen; most likely used for transporting food to each level of the building. He’d be able fit, just about.

“I’ll go. You get the will.”

Daud scrutinized the dumbwaiter. “Does it work?”

“I’ll find out.” Corvo held his hand out for Roland’s false papers.

Daud passed them over, but tightened his grip when Corvo took them. “Be careful.”

“I will.”

“Careful, Corvo.”

“I promise.” Corvo stored the papers away when Daud relented them.

“Thomas, stay here with the sack. Sorry,” Daud had the heart to add, at Thomas’s sour expression. “I’ll be back once I have the will."

Thomas nodded solemnly, glaring down at the sack. “Yes, Sir.”

Daud moved through the kitchen and took the stairs to the ground floor. Corvo hopped up into the dumbwaiter, his head narrowly avoiding the top.

“You comfortable in there?” Thomas asked.

“No.” Corvo was basically curled into a ball, his knees almost above his ears. “That sack is starting to look more appealing than this.”

“I’ll trade jobs with you, in that case.”

“Not a chance.” Corvo twisted the dumbwaiter’s controls, selecting level four.

“Good luck,” Thomas wished him. “Don’t be seen.”

“I never am.” Corvo pulled the switch.

The dumbwaiter creaked and began moving upwards. The motion of it made Corvo’s stomach lurch. The ride was unsteady and slow, but he stopped safely at the top of the building. He climbed out, able to breathe comfortably once more.

He was at the end of a long hallway, and Timsh’s voice carried from the bedroom at the end of it. There was a Watch officer smoking on the balcony outside. Corvo watched his turned back while he crept along the hall. The doors to the Barrister’s bedroom were open. Timsh was there, with a maid young enough to be his granddaughter. From the looks of it, he was trying to seduce her. Corvo blinked to perch on the large bookcase against the wall, out of sight.

Now with a full view of the bedroom, his gaze was drawn to the painting beside Timsh’s desk. The glowing, luminescent colours matched the ones Corvo saw in the Royal Physician’s house, when Delilah had been painting. This portrait was of a woman with branches for arms and clothing. Corvo felt like her eyes were watching him.

“Stay tonight, Melissa,” Timsh said to the maid. “It’s going to be a cold and miserable evening. Stay here, where it’s warm. And comfortable. We can share a bottle, and pass the lonely hours together.”

“That’s so kind of you, Barrister Timsh. But I have to get home.” The maid drew away from Timsh’s outstretched hand, inches from her cheek. “My husband will be expecting me.”

Timsh conjured another sleazy excuse for her to stay. Corvo contemplated how to switch the papers while Timsh had company. If he had been alone, Corvo could simply wait until his back was turned.

Corvo used Void Gaze to scan the room, searching for anything of use. There were a lot of valuables around, and Corvo’s eyes flit back when he saw the urn above the fireplace. That could draw some attention. He aimed his wristbow towards it, replacing the sleep dart with a steel bolt. He shot the urn, shattering it. The ashes poured out onto the fireplace below, creating a dusty cloud.

“What on earth– No! No!” The Barrister rushed for it, kneeling to salvage the shards. “That urn was priceless! How did this happen?! Damn it! Damn it! It was irreplaceable!”

The maid hurried over as well, crouching beside him. “I’ll help you get this cleaned up, my Lord.”

With both of them facing away, Corvo dropped down silently from the bookshelf. He took the immunity document from Timsh’s belt, placing Roland’s false papers in its stead. With the ash cloud surrounding them, neither Timsh nor the maid saw him make the switch.

Corvo slipped out of the room. The guard was now nowhere to be seen, leaving the balcony clear. Corvo vaulted over the side, and blinked opposite onto apartment ten’s veranda. He paused to check the stolen paper in his hand. It was the immunity document, without a doubt.

He quickly descended to street level, heading back to the basement behind the estate. Thomas was leaned against the ventilation system, the sack still at his feet. He was holding his nose.

The Whaler looked surprised when he saw him. “That was fast. Did you get it?”

Corvo waved the paper. He looked around. “Daud’s not back.”

“Not yet.” Thomas’s brow furrowed. “Think something’s gone wrong?”

“No.” Even to himself, Corvo didn’t sound confident.

He eyed the kitchen door for half a minute, before pushing the immunity document into Thomas’s hands.

“I’m going.”

“Thought so.” Thomas looked at the sack. Flies were buzzing around it now. “Please hurry up.”

There were a couple of maids bustling about the kitchen. Corvo stole past them and crept upstairs to the law offices. Peering into the lobby, his eyes were once again drawn to a painting hanging above the staircase. The same eerie style and colours as before, and this time it was a portrait of the Barrister himself. It was obnoxiously large.

Two lawyers were conversing at the foot of the staircase, and Corvo made out three guards patrolling the level above. But there were none that he could see on the ground floor. He activated Void Gaze for a second time, and a familiar shape came into view on the other side of the lobby. Corvo kept his head down, stooping under the staircase to move past the lawyers and across the foyer.

Corvo was met with the barrel of Daud’s pistol once he’d gotten inside the office. It was quickly lowered and replaced with a scowl. “Don’t sneak around like that.”

“Would you rather I was seen?” Corvo asked.

Daud’s responding expression was acidic. “Rulfio’s always saying what a pain in the ass you are. I’m starting to realise what he means,” he muttered. “Did you make the switch?”

Corvo nodded. He approached, examining the document in Daud’s gloved hand. “The will?”

“Yes. I thought to read it through before taking it, to make sure it wasn’t a fake.” He looked puzzled. Daud never looked puzzled. “It’s strange. Timsh doesn’t name himself the beneficiary. He’s giving the inheritance to Delilah.”

“Why?”

“The niece said he was bewitched by her. But there's no more information in the will.” Daud seemed to shake away whatever thoughts were clouding him. He stored the will inside his coat, and focused instead on Corvo. “No matter. We have it, that’s all we need. Is Thomas still down there?”

“He asks that we hurry. The sack’s attracting wildlife.”

“Best do as the man asks, then.” His eyes turned black as he used Void Gaze, and Corvo did the same. “Still no one guarding the basement. I’ll follow your lead, since you made it here so efficiently.”

Corvo spotted a pack of cards by the door, and swiped it as he passed. He wasn’t blind to the discerning look Daud gave him. “For Arden. We sometimes play cards–”

“Under the bridge, beneath the Chamber. I’m aware.”

“You haven’t told us to stop.” Corvo knew the bridge was usually a no-go area; the flood water had worn its structure, and it was only standing through sheer luck.

“What the men do in their spare time is none of my concern,” Daud grumbled. “If you fools get want to risk getting crushed, you’re welcome to it.”

Corvo smiled slightly, and they slipped out into the lobby. Corvo took them on the same route; around the lawyers, under the staircase, staying hidden from the maids when they passed through the kitchen.

Thomas sagged in relief when they came into view. “Tell me we can get rid of this infernal sack now.”

***

General Turnbull and his men arrived at one o’clock exactly. The Barrister had been driven out of the estate by then, courtesy of the sack’s plague-like aroma. Watching Timsh hand over the forged papers was nothing short of poetic justice. Much more satisfying than a blade to the throat, Corvo had to admit.

He, Daud and Thomas watched the ordeal transpire in the courtyard, the three of them hidden far above the District. When the General placed Timsh under arrest, and the old Barrister fainted as a result, Daud actually cracked a smile. Thomas hadn’t looked so shocked in all his life.

Once General Turnbull had hauled Timsh into his carriage and taken him away, Daud led them to the equipment stash. Billie was waiting there, still keeping an eye over the estate. She stood to greet them.

“Timsh is ruined,” she stated. “They’ll lock him in Coldridge prison if they don’t send him to the Flooded District. I hope not killing him was worth the trouble.”

Daud’s gaze was hard. “The Barrister’s gone, and we have the will as agreed. His niece has every reason to cooperate now.”

“If you say so. I scouted around while you were busy. There’s a door to Treaver’s Close in that building,” Billie gestured towards apartment ten. “A shrine and rune too, in the back room. In case you were interested.”

Daud’s jaw became tight at the shrine's mention.

“I think the door’s a quicker route to the docks. And safer than going through the blockade again.” Billie shrugged, “Your choice, though. We should probably wait until the commotion’s died down before we move on.”

“Agreed.”

The commotion was happening in the courtyard beneath them. The Barrister’s staff, the guards and maids and lawyers alike - and even those in the surrounding buildings - had joined together to celebrate the Barrister’s departure. One servant had braved the stench inside, returned with a stolen bottle of wine from the kitchen, and was passing it around.

While they waited, Corvo took a seat at the edge of the rooftop, watching the celebration below. The gathering reminded him of the marketplaces in Karnaca. The streets had been so crowded that it was difficult to move. Corvo remembered his father taking him when he was young. He had always told Corvo to hold Beatrici’s hand, so that he didn’t get lost in the crowd.

A grunt beside him brought him from his thoughts. “Yes.”

Corvo blinked at Daud, standing above him. “Sir?”

Daud’s expression was a strange mix of irritation and pride. “Yes, you’ve proven me wrong. After your imbecility yesterday morning.”

Corvo’s veins pulsed with the memory of Daud’s fingers on his jaw, as he tended to his wounds. He unconsciously chewed on the still healing side of his mouth. “Good to know.”

Daud crouched and sat by his side, legs hung over the edge of the roof. He examined the crowd beneath them, all rejoicing the Barrister’s arrest. “I never considered before, how our choices affect the people other than our targets. I can’t imagine them reacting this way, had we killed Timsh.”

“His arrest means something to them. They’ll have justice for how Timsh treated them, when he faces trial. They wouldn’t get that if he was dead.”

Daud raised an eyebrow. “That may be the longest sentence I’ve ever heard you say.”

Corvo felt his cheeks warm. Roland’s words from earlier surfaced in his mind. “I’m not much of a talker.”

“I know what that's like. Why waste words when you could act instead.” Daud shook his head, “But you’re different from me, from the other men. You see details others don’t. You act on intuition. I’ve never known anyone who thinks like you do.”

Corvo ran a hand through his hair. “We have better fighters and tacticians than me in Rudshore. Intuition can’t fire a pistol or lead an army. If it could, I’d be Emperor by now.”

“And then,” Daud sighed, “you say something like that. And I start to question who I’m speaking with. The prodigy that just removed one of the wealthiest men in the city. Or the sarcastic little shit Rulfio’s always complaining about.”

“Can’t I be both?”

“They're both insufferable, so I suppose it doesn’t matter.”

Corvo felt a little guilty at that, recalling the distress in Daud’s voice after he had abandoned his post. “I don’t mean to be difficult.”

“Difficult? I suppose you are. Though I wouldn’t describe you that way exactly.” He considered until he settled on a better description. “Impulsive, maybe. Imprudent, definitely.”

Corvo smiled at that. “You sound like Rulfio.”

“Then I fear what’s become of me.” Daud smiled in return, and if Corvo hadn’t fallen ten years ago, he would have in that moment. “You have good instincts, Corvo. The shipping crates for Rothwild. And today, the immunity document for Timsh.”

“That was Roland’s plan. I just–”

“Found him. Spoke with him. Made the deal that led us here,” Daud motioned to the jubilant crowd beneath them. “Don’t discount your involvement in any of this. I’m certainly not. You're wise beyond your years, and I couldn't do this without you.”

Corvo decided not to argue. The look in Daud’s eyes was enough to shut him up, let alone his high praises. He nodded in acknowledgement. He was reminded of how he'd felt when it was as though he and Daud were talking somewhere else, far away. No one else but them.

Corvo looked to the celebration. "Its thinning out a little."

“So it is. I’ll go and handle whatever’s in apartment ten.” Daud’s bitter tone made it obvious he was referring to the shrine Billie mentioned, and in essence the Outsider. “Meet us there.”

“I’m not coming?”

“You have to let your client know his plans have paid off.”

“My client?” Corvo had never been specified his own client before.

“You found Roland. You deal with him.” Daud got to his feet, and Corvo did the same. “Thomas, Billie. With me.” He glanced back at Corvo, “Don’t take long. And pick up Roland’s payment on the way.” He and the two Whalers headed to apartment ten.

Corvo went to Roland’s apartment and collected the coin purse from the bedroom. Five hundred, as promised.

Roland was pacing around his sister's ruined dining room, whistling to himself when Corvo returned to him. He had removed the ornate mask. The dark hue to his skin could have labelled him Serkonan, if not for his pale eyes. Morley, maybe.

He smiled when Corvo appeared. “You didn’t die,” he observed. “And you appear to be unharmed, so I assume you weren’t noticed by the guards. I must admit, even if the job didn’t go according to plan, I’m impressed.”

“Your forgery worked.”

Roland’s eyebrows met his hairline. “It did?”

“Timsh is in custody as a plague victim.”

“You’re joking.” Roland looked short of breath in his excitement. “They actually arrested him? It truly worked? Truly?”

Corvo nodded.

Roland rushed forwards, and Corvo would have gone for his blade, but the nobleman didn’t attack. He grabbed the collar of Corvo’s coat and crushed their lips together. It would have felt like an impulse, a whim, a spur of the moment result of Roland’s excitement, if not for the slight parting of his lips against Corvo’s.

But Roland did pull away relatively quickly. He became sheepish; smoothing back his hair and straightening his cravat. “Forgive me. I– I don’t know what came over me.”

Corvo blinked in answer.

“I meant to thank you. Just thank you,” Roland assured. “I’m afraid I rather lost myself in my excitement. I apologise.”

Corvo cleared his throat. “It’s fine.”

“Good. I, uh– hope the payment was to your satisfaction. The five hundred coin,” Roland clarified quickly. “I meant the five hundred coin, not the– not what I just did, not that.”

“Yeah. It was. To my satisfaction.” Corvo didn’t know what else to say. “I have to go.”

“Right. Of course.” Roland glanced around at the bleak walls. “Before you do, I don’t suppose you could let me out?”

The doors were still locked, Corvo percieved. There was no escape but for the hole in the ceiling. Without abilities like his, it was impossible to reach.

He approached Roland and took his arm. “Try not to hold your breath. Most people forget to breathe afterwards.”

Roland's eyes widened. “Oh. Oh no, wait–”

Corvo blinked above, and then outside, taking Roland with him. Roland staggered as they landed on the roofs. Corvo steadied him as he bent over, gasping deep breaths.

“Well. That was something.” The nobleman straightened up after a few moments. "My legs feel odd."

"You'll feel normal in an hour. Happens to everyone the first time."

"Splendid. We're rather high up," Roland pointed out, peering at the streets below.

“You can get into your apartment through there.” Corvo gestured to the living room window.

The window was accessible from the roof, if you knew what you were doing. “Looks easy enough.” Roland didn’t sound sure.

“Come with me.” Corvo led him to the window, climbing through and helping Roland do the same.

“Thank you.” Roland dusted his suit off and inspected the apartment. “Lovely to see nothing’s been taken. Unlike my poor sister’s house.” His gaze refocused on Corvo. “I really am sorry for, you know. That. Before. I was just excited. And you’re– well, you must be aware of how you look.”

Corvo had never given his appearance much thought. Dark hair, brown eyes. Nothing special, in his opinion. “I said its fine.”

“I apologise, all the same.” Roland hesitated, searching Corvo’s eyes. “Unless, it really is fine,” he said slowly. “And I could maybe...”

Do it again. The intent was obvious.

“I’m sorry.”

Roland looked slightly disheartened, but nodded. “Yes. Of course. It was foolish of me to ask. You’re already taken, I imagine.”

Corvo swallowed. “Yes.”

“Ah. Never mind, then.”

Corvo quickly changed the subject. “What will you do now the Barrister’s gone?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Roland replied with a laugh. “The neighbourhood is at least safe from false plague accusations now. Maybe I’ll pick up where Timsh left off. But do it properly. Fairly. Outsider knows, this city doesn’t see enough fairness these days.” Roland motioned to him, “And you? What will you do?”

“Finish the deal. Our work for the day isn’t done,” Corvo answered.

“I see.” Roland stepped closer. “Thank you. Really. I’ll never be able to repay you for this, not properly.” He held out his hand. “I’m glad I met you today, Corvo.”

Corvo looked at the offered hand. After some indecision, he took Roland’s wrist instead, pulling him closer and pressing a brief kiss to his cheek. “Take care of yourself, Roland.”

Roland blushed, and nodded. Corvo left via the balcony, jumping up to the roof from there.

“Corvo.”

He glanced back at Roland’s call. The nobleman had followed him outside, and was looking up at him from the veranda.

“Will I ever see you again?”

Corvo smiled at his determination, and didn’t answer.

Any playfulness or flippancy he felt became annoyance, when he blinked to the next rooftop and saw Thomas.

“You're a spy, now?”

“Daud asked me to keep an eye on you.” Thomas gestured Roland’s way. “Looks like you’ve got an admirer. Was it a good kiss? It looked like a good kiss-”

“Fuck you.”

“Just curious–”

“Fuck you to the Void.”

The Whaler chuckled. “Come on. Daud’s at the shrine.”

As they closed in on apartment ten, Corvo hesitated when a familiar shape appeared. The balconies of Timsh's estate were now unguarded, and Billie emerged from the top floor. She seemed overcome, frustrated. She had a rose in her hand.

Thomas hadn’t spotted her. “You go ahead,” Corvo said to him.

Thomas gave him a look, but didn’t question him. “Suit yourself.”

When Billie jumped onto the balcony, Corvo grabbed her attention. “Billie.”

She startled at his voice, eyes widening. It was an unusually open reaction for her. “Corvo. Didn’t see you there. You’re always so quiet.”

Corvo glanced to the Barrister’s house. “I thought you were with Daud.”

“I was doing another run. Making sure we didn’t miss anything.”

Corvo examined the rose. “You’re bleeding.”

Billie peered at her hand. One of the rose’s thorns had pricked her finger through the glove. “This is nothing. Stupid, really. Don’t know why I took it.”

“You don’t see many flowers in Dunwall.”

“No. Suppose not.” She was avoiding his gaze. Her shoulders were pulled tight.

Corvo pretended not to notice. “So nothing important inside?”

Billie shook her head. “Nothing I could find. Better go check on the old man.” She dropped the rose onto the balcony as she opened the apartment’s doors. “You coming?”

“Give me a minute. I forgot to get Roland’s payment,” he lied.

“Okay.” Billie disappeared inside.

Corvo picked up the rose once she was gone. Blood-red, with the sharpest, thickest thorns he had ever seen. They were more like knives. He kept it in hand as he leapt across to the estate’s highest balcony.

Billie had either come from the bedroom or the dining room. He checked the bedroom first. He discovered nothing in there that could be connected to the rose. The painting by the desk continued to disorientate him though. He swore, just as before, that the portrait’s eyes were following him around the room. The dining room was also a dead end.

There was one more door. Small and unassuming at the end of the hallway. He hadn’t noticed it before. It was unlocked, and creaked when he pushed it open.

The room looked like an art studio; paints and brushes and canvasses flung about the space. There was a statue in the middle, plain white stone, in the shape of a woman. She looked familiar, though Corvo couldn’t think from where. The statue’s clothes were designed like branches, and a rose was attached to its wrist, sculpted like the one in Corvo’s hand. He held it near to compare them. Identical.

Corvo frowned, hunting around the room for why Billie was sneaking around with a flower, of all things. When he found nothing, he shook the suspicions from his mind. Billie was one of them. They could trust their own, as Daud had said. And from what little indication he had found here, there was nothing to investigate. He felt guilty for even suspecting her.

“Waste of energy,” he muttered, moving for the door.

“Such a curious little crow.”

Corvo’s hand stilled on the doorknob, and he turned back. The statue was looking in his direction. Corvo took a few wary steps back into the room. Its eyes followed him.

It smiled.

“Who are you?”

“An inquisitive thing indeed, aren't you. Like me. I understand your curiosity.” The statue’s smile widened. “Who am I? I’m strange.”

Corvo examined the face. The sculpted jaw. The sharp nails. He recognised her at last. “Delilah.”

“So you do know me.”

Corvo stayed well out of the statue’s reach. He wasn’t sure if the legs were able to move. He hoped not. “You were Sokolov’s apprentice. I’ve seen you before.”

“You are clever. It’s true. I made my name as a painter. I started in this world as nothing, and now...” She gestured to herself. Her left hand remained poised over her heart. “Now I’m obviously something much greater. I hope that satisfies you. Because you won’t get more.”

“Timsh has more.”

“Ah yes. Arnold Timsh,” she said indignantly. “He means less than nothing to me, so do whatever you want. I insist. I won’t hold a grudge. I’m done with him.”

“I meant his niece. She has information on you. Information she’s happy to share.”

“I admire your bravery, little crow. I really do. It’s going to get you killed. And your master, too.”

Corvo felt his expression become icy. “What do you know of Daud?”

The statue seemed to smirk. “Much more than he knows of me. If you care for his life, you’ll give your master this message. Tell him to stay away from me. There are great changes coming, and I’ll expect him not to interfere. I have influences in places he won’t expect.”

“We don’t respond well to threats.”

“Curious. Brave. And now the little crow’s a stubborn one, as well?” The statue titled her head, and some stone crumbled from her hair and fell to the floor. She had no pupils, but Corvo could feel her eyes looking him up and down. Roaming over him. Dissecting him. “Lurk was right about you.”

The statue became still, and didn’t move again.

Chapter Text

Corvo slammed the studio door, uncaring whether the noise travelled. He turned, punched the wood, and his knuckles came away bloody.

“Idiot. Fucking idiot,” he bit out. It added up. Rothwild’s slaughterhouse was north of Wrenhaven, where Billie had been told to search. She was a good scout, and wouldn’t have missed the Delilah by accident. No wonder Billie had been fighting Daud’s decisions tooth and claw. Delilah had turned her against him. They must have been in contact for months.

Corvo should have seen it. Seen something. “Idiot.” He crushed the rose, still clutched in his hand, and left the petals to wilt on the floor.

Entering apartment ten, there was no one around the shrouds of corpses, so Corvo guessed the others were further on. Eerie light streamed through an open doorway in the back room. In there, a shrine was raised against the far wall. Violet lanterns surrounded it. Corvo thought he saw a figure sitting above, but a second look marked him as mistaken. Just a trick of the light.

The adjoining dining room was better lit, and Thomas was sat on the table inside, fiddling with his wristbow.

“Where’s Daud?”

The Whaler straightened when he saw him. “Where have you been? I thought you were right behind me.”

“Thomas, where’s Daud?”

“He left. That way,” Thomas gestured to the double doors. “Whatever he and the god spoke about seemed to piss him off, so I stayed back. To let him cool off.”

“Did Billie go with him?”

“He sent her ahead.” Thomas gave him a once over, frowning. Corvo must have looked as overwrought as he felt. “What’s wrong?”

“Did he go to the docks?”

“I don’t know, I think so.” Thomas held him back when Corvo moved for the doors. “Whoa, Corvo. What’s going on?”

“Let me go.” Corvo cut past him.

He hastened into Treaver’s Close, dropping down from the balcony the doors opened onto. From there, the way to the docks was easily mapped out. Across an air vent, blink from street lamp to streetlamp, up and over the Wall of Light.

Corvo was lightheaded, more from adrenaline than exertion. Please be alright, please be alright, please be alright, repeated itself like a mantra in his head.

He got around the guards’ alarm, the guards’ station, the guards themselves, not slowing until he reached the meeting point Daud and Thalia had agreed on. Corvo saw the Barrister’s niece sat by the river, with her temporary bodyguard. Arden kissed her hand, and she laughed, swatting at him playfully. Corvo would have been endeared by the lack of hostility between them now, if he wasn’t desperately searching the harbour.

When he saw a familiar shade of red approaching the riverfront, Corvo swore he almost passed out cold from relief. His mana was low, but he transversed anyway, reaching for the sleeve of Daud’s coat.

“Wait.”

Daud let himself be tugged back. Corvo’s unease must have been obvious; Daud checked him up and down, and focused on the scraped knuckles of his right hand. “What happened? Did Roland do this? One of the guards?”

He took Corvo’s hand to examine the damage, and any other place or time, Corvo would have been powerless. But he drew his hand away.

“I have to talk to you.”

“What happened?” Daud insisted.

Corvo pulled him back a few steps, away from Thalia and Arden. The pair were still fussing over each other, and hadn’t noticed them yet. Billie was nowhere to be seen. For now.

“This is important.”

Daud’s eyes tenaciously flit back to Corvo’s knuckles, but he yielded. “What is it?”

“Where’s Billie?”

“She’s running low on elixirs, so I let her go back to the base. We should be able to manage without her from here.” Daud laid a steady hand on his shoulder, clearly bothered by his distress. “Corvo, what’s this about?”

Corvo wavered. He felt inadequate to be bearing such news. Billie had been with Daud longer than he had, longer than most of the men. And Corvo had to tell him this.

“She can’t be trusted.” The words hurt.

Daud frowned. “What?”

“Billie. Delilah’s manipulating her. They’ve been in contact somehow–”

“This isn’t funny.”

“It’s the truth.” Corvo wasn’t in the habit of having to explain himself. But this was important. He tried to gather his words. “She said she found nothing on Delilah in the north, but the slaughterhouse is that side of Wrenhaven. Billie wouldn’t make a mistake like that. She knew the Delilah was there, and she kept it quiet. Delilah must have gotten to her, all the way back then–”

“Corvo, I’m serious,” Daud said firmly. “This isn’t funny.”

“This is difficult, and I’m not explaining it well,” he said. “I don’t understand why or how it happened, but it did. It is happening. I’m certain.”

“Corvo–”

“You said I should trust my instincts.” Corvo carefully took Daud’s arm, the one still placed on his shoulder to steady him. “I’m right about this. Billie’s–”

“One of us.” Daud’s expression was stern. “She’s one of us.”

“Daud–”

“That’s enough.” He withdrew his hand, leaving Corvo’s shoulder feeling bare. “If this is some kind of elaborate joke you and Arden have come up with, I’ll say it again. I don’t find it amusing–”

“It’s not.” Corvo felt his lips becoming dry. “There’s a statue in Timsh’s estate. Of Delilah. It gained consciousness. It spoke to me–”

“Outsider’s eyes, Corvo, that’s enough.”

“I think it spoke to Billie too–”

“You expect me to believe a talking statue is your proof for this? This has gone on for long enough.”

“You have to trust me.” Corvo felt his temper starting to seethe. “This isn’t a joke. I’m serious.”

“So am I,” Daud growled. “I thought we’d gotten past this yesterday, with Julian. What did I say–”

“I know Billie’s one of us,” Corvo cut him short. “She’s family, I get it. This is as hard for me to say as it is for you to hear. I hate that I’m the one telling you this. You have no idea how much I hate it, and I’m sorry.” Corvo had to take a few breaths. His throat was starting to burn. “But you said we could trust each other. I’m asking you to trust me. Please. We’re not safe. If you’ll just come with me back to the estate, you’ll see–”

“No.”

Corvo felt his anger boil. “Daud–”

“I said no. You’re wrong. You've done well these past months. Very well. But you're wrong this time.” Daud went to turn away. “I’m not listening to this anymore.”

Corvo grasped his sleeve again and tried to pull him back. “Daud–”

Daud snatched his arm away. “Don’t touch me–”

“Listen to me–”

Daud snarled. “One more word–”

“I’m trying to keep you safe–”

“You’re just a child, and I won’t stand here and take these foolish accusations–”

Corvo felt himself snap. “You are the most selfish, pigheaded man in the world! Just listen to me!”

“Go back to Rudshore.”

Corvo stilled. Daud’s voice was quiet then. Dangerously quiet, and his eyes were cold. Livid. As though he were holding himself back from an attack.

“Get out of my sight.”

“Daud–”

“Not another word out of you,” he snarled. “I won’t let you accuse my men, your comrades, of betrayal. Especially Billie. You’re no longer involved in this investigation. And if you ever speak to me like that again, I’ll throw you out of Rudshore myself.”

Corvo felt his anger simmer now, rather than boil. It was the kind of anger that would fade after a few hours, but for now it made him feel spiteful. Malicious. Hopeful, even. Hopeful that Billie would succeed in whatever she was up to. Hopeful that she would perhaps cut Daud down, that Daud would feel as much pain as possible when she did. The feeling wouldn’t last, he knew it wouldn’t. It would probably be gone before he made it back to the Flooded District. But for the moment, he embraced it.

“Fuck you.” He pushed past Daud before any more could be said, and headed for the way to Rudshore gate.

He walked by Arden and the Barrister’s niece, who had witnessed the fight since their voices had begun to rise. Arden said something to Thalia, and then jogged after Corvo.

He put a hand on his shoulder. “Corvo–”

“Don’t.” Corvo shoved him off, and continued down the passageway, alone.

***

Daylight had faded when he reached the District. His anger hadn’t. Not completely.

Corvo had wanted to scream all the way back, to physically rid himself of the frustration. The last few conversations with Daud, at breakfast, after the fight with Julian, after Timsh had been arrested that day, all felt like lies now. Daud didn’t trust him, not really. And Corvo shouldn’t have been so naive to hope Daud saw him as more than an obedient soldier.

Corvo had gotten careless, carried away on Daud’s praises, and he wouldn’t make that mistake again. He’d keep his head down, know his place. Speak when spoken to. Obey orders. That’s what Daud seemed to want from him. So that’s what Corvo would do. And if he had to follow Billie on his own, in the shadows, so be it.

Rudshore gate was unusually quiet when he entered. These days, it was regularly guarded by a dozen officers, sometimes even a Tallboy or two. It was abandoned tonight. Corvo stayed hidden anyway, moving through the ruined flats and bypassing the sewer tunnel. The tunnel led straight to the Chamber, but Corvo didn’t want to use it. He’d use the route past the Grieves Refinery instead. It was a longer walk, and it would give him the extra time he needed to calm down.

As he passed the Refinery, he looked up. There were stars, the sky unclouded for once. He was tempted to stay right there until morning; it was quiet and detached from the other buildings.

But oddly, Corvo realised he didn’t want to be alone. He didn’t particularly want company either, apart from Rulfio. He felt like shit, and credit to the man, Rulfio was good at making people feel less like shit. He’d tell him about Billie too. If anyone could make Daud see sense, it was Rulfio.

The Rail Station led to the centre of Rudshore. It was in a secluded courtyard, and was normally a popular area for the men to patrol. Especially at this time of night.

There was no one.

Corvo stopped in the courtyard. He hadn’t seen anyone from the Refinery to the Station. Something wasn’t right. Daud can’t have gotten back before him, so he can’t have ordered the men to leave their posts. The only other person with the authority to dismiss them was–

He saw the wolfhound too late. It sunk its fangs into his leg and crunched. Corvo felt his muscles strain, his leg buckling. Still, he had another leg, and he kicked the beast in the snout. It released him, whining and shaking itself, before pouncing again. Corvo shot a bolt between its eyes with his wristbow.

Wolfhounds were never on their own. Gloved hands seized Corvo’s arms from behind. Overseers.

He struggled and kicked, managed to catch a few fingers between his teeth and bite down. Iron filled his mouth, and the Overseer shrieked and wrenched his mauled hand away. Another cultist kneed Corvo hard in the stomach, winding him. His arms were secured behind his back again, this time with more hands. He couldn’t fight.

The throbbing in his stomach made his throat close up and his vision hazy. The golden masks around him suggested there must have been fifty Overseers, if not more. An ambush. Had Burrows told them?

“Keep hold of him,” someone commanded.

“Yes, Overseer Hume.”

Corvo glanced up. The one who’d given the order was the only cultist without a mask. The leader, most likely. He was inspecting his bleeding hand, the one Corvo had bitten.

“Do not drop your guard,” Overseer Hume added, glowering Corvo’s way. “We’ve caught a savage one, here.”

Corvo spat his blood onto the floor. There were four other wolfhounds prowling amongst their masters, baring their teeth. One sniffed at its fallen pack member and hissed at Corvo.

Corvo tried to lunge sideways, in hope the Overseers holding him would loosen their grip, but one of them kicked him in the stomach again. Corvo’s breath left him. He closed his eyes, head bowed to the floor and breathing shaky.

“We’ve caught one of them, my Lady.” Overseer Hume spoke to someone else, a distance away. “He’s alone, from the looks of it.”

Corvo’s head was racing. There were exactly sixty five Whalers in Rudshore. Expecting an attack, they’d have the advantage. An Overseer attack out of nowhere? Corvo didn’t like their chances, especially with Daud not yet returned. He felt sick.

Corvo heard heeled footsteps approaching him, and a cold finger tipped his chin upwards. “Hello again, little crow.”

Delilah crouched in front of him, fingers holding his chin up to her height. Corvo wished he’d saved spitting Hume’s blood in her face instead.

“In the flesh this time. How strange, to meet again so soon,” Delilah purred, stroking a sharp nail along his jaw. The trail it left made Corvo’s flesh sting. “I shouldn’t be surprised. Lurk told me you had a habit of finding trouble.”

She turned his chin towards the Rail Station. Corvo’s eyes locked with Billie’s, who was stood near the doors.

“How does it feel?” Delilah forced his gaze back to her. The dark shadows around her eyes made them look hollow, like a skull. Corvo shivered. “How does it feel, little crow, to be cast aside? I was cast aside once, too.”

Her fingers tightened on his jaw, and she showed her left hand. Beneath the black vines of her sleeves, which coiled around her wrists and fingers, Corvo saw the Outsider’s mark.

“I shall never be cast aside again.”

“I’m not afraid of you.”

Delilah chuckled. “My, you are a stubborn one. But you can’t interfere any longer. My plans are finally in motion.” She gestured around, to the Overseers, to Billie. “Between us all, we’ll tear down your District, your men. Your leader.”

“Daud will stop you,” Corvo said, voice rough.

“Your master should have forgotten my name the day he heard it. And now.” Delilah brushed a stray lock of hair from his face. “Now his little crow shall suffer for that mistake. Such a shame. You are a handsome young thing.”

She stood, walking to join Billie. Corvo glared at the Whaler.

“I thought you were still with Daud.” Billie licked at her lips, the movement guilty. “You weren’t supposed to have returned yet.”

“What have you done?”

She wouldn’t meet his gaze. “Daud isn’t fit to lead us. Not anymore.”

“And you are?” Corvo struggled in the Overseers’ grasp. They were too strong. “How long have you known about Delilah?”

“Since Daud sent us after her. Daud’s control is slipping, Corvo. You must be able to see that.” Billie shook her head, “Since the Empress, he’s been different. He’s weak. Delilah’s not. This is the best course of action for everyone.”

“That’s our home,” Corvo jerked his head at the Rail Station doors. “Those are our friends. And you brought Overseers here? They’ll slaughter them.”

“If the men cooperate, they won’t be harmed.”

“Bullshit. They’ll be cut down. Because of you.”

Billie closed her eyes.

Delilah stepped closer to her, caressing her cheek. “Now now, don’t lose heart. Between us and Hume’s men, we’ll have Daud dead to rights. And we’ll only grow stronger from it.”

Billie nodded stiffly. “I know.”

“Don’t do this.” Corvo had never begged in his life, but if there was ever a time to start, it was now. “Daud trusts you, Billie. Don’t do this to him.”

Billie finally met his gaze. Her eyes were slightly wet. “I’m sorry, Corvo. I never meant for you to get caught in this. I always liked you more than the others.”

Corvo tried to stand. “Billie–” The Overseer on his right shoved him back to his knees.

“Let us begin.” Delilah placed a hand on Billie’s lower back, and they stepped up to the Rail Station’s entrance. “When Daud arrives, do not approach him until the Chamber has been taken. He must continue to trust you until the time is right.”

“Don’t touch him!” Corvo snarled. “Don’t you dare fucking touch him!”

Billie looked back at him, guilt ridden. But she didn’t answer. She stepped through the doors when Delilah opened them for her.

“Uh– Lady Delilah,” Overseer Hume called out. He pointed towards Corvo, “What do you want done with the heretic?”

Delilah paused, looking back over her shoulder. She smiled at Corvo. “Whatever you want, Overseer Hume. He’s none of my concern.” She followed Billie into the Rail Station.

Hume nodded, and signalled to the three Overseers keeping Corvo in place. “Take him to Holger Square. We’ll see if he’s still a fighter after we’ve had some fun with him.”

The closest Overseer drew his pistol. Corvo thrashed, but the gun was struck across his head, knocking him over. He fell beside the dead wolfhound.

Corvo watched the army of Overseers march towards his home, before he descended into darkness.