From The Depths

BY : LordDBurroughs
Category: +A through F > Dishonored
Dragon prints: 7893
Disclaimer: Dishonored is copyright Bethesda Softworks and its parent company, Zenimax Media. I own none of the places, persons, or mollusks within, and make no money from this work.

(A/N: Had this idea for awhile, gonna go with it so I don't get burned out on the Dragon Age story. Still working, don't worry. Meantime, enjoy this.

-LDB)

'Way, hey, and up she rises,

Way, hey, and up she rises,

Way, hey, and up she rises,

Early in the Morning...'

     - A Dunwal children's song

People in Dunwall tended to think things got bad when the Empress was murdered.

They were wrong.

Things were always bad when you were poor. Every day was a struggle, a fight, a war that never seemed to end. Fighting for every scrap, struggling to stay one step ahead of the cold, of the gangs, of death. And then the rats came.

Huge, angry, clever, and hungry, they swarmed and devoured and brought the plague.

And the war went on.

When the Empress met her end on an assassin's blade, though, something did change.

The war got a fresh group of fighters. Where the rich and the posh, or even the relatively well-off were immune to the troubles of the world, of the poor, now they were everyone's troubles. The rats didn't care how rich you were, who your father was, how grand your house was; they came and they ate, and they left the plague.

Dunwall was a cruel place if you were an adult, big enough to fight the gangs or the rats, or buy a precious sip of elixir.

For a child -small, vulnerable, naive- it was hell. A place without hope, a short life and a slow death.

But Sascha wasn't like other children. He had an edge they didn't. He was quick and clever and quiet.

And he had Granny.

It had been so long ago; an eternity to the mind of a child, when Sascha and his family had come from Tyvia on one of the gleaming steamships Sokolov had designed. His father, a successful merchant, had come to Dunwall to expand his business, and had brought Sascha and his mother along. They would have lived in a big, beautiful house in the Estate District.

In this life, things so seldom work out as you plan. A storm had blown in just as they were in sight of Dunwall, with its towers and crowded rooftops. The great steel behemoth they'd sailed on had seemed so powerful, so impervious. The rocks shattered that notion as quickly as they had the ship itself. He remembered screams, and the horrible grinding sound of the hull, and the cold sting of the water as he was washed over the side and dragged down, down, down into the dark.

That was the first time he'd had the dream.

A world of endless blue dotted with floating islands. A sky that went on forever, a ground that didn't exist. The mournful song of the great leviathans, as if they wanted to share some deep, painful secret.

And him. The stranger with the black eyes. The Outsider.

He'd spoken to Sascha, but what he said, Sascha couldn't remember. The words were meaningless, but their meaning had been all too clear. That meaning had burned into the boy's mind and seared itself into his flesh. The mark was still there, black against the pale flesh of his side. Had he been beneath the water for an instant? Or for an eternity? He could not say, even were anyone to ask. There was no time in that place, that world of endless blue.

When he'd awoken, he was on the shore, in the muck beneath the docks. He'd learn later, years later, that he had been the only survivor, picked for something special, a destiny he didn't understand. But he did understand he'd been saved by the stranger. And somehow, that made all the difference.

There, shivering in the cold mud, in the reeds and refuse, he'd awoken; a chunk of carven bone in his hand, clenched in numb, clumsy fingers. He could hear it singing, the same sad, sweet song of the whales.

He hadn't been the only one to hear it. She had found him there, washed up among the flotsam. Her blind eyes had seen him where others would have passed him over. And old, gnarled hands had dragged him from the cold and the mud and the dark into the light and the warmth. And though he had no one else, he would always have Granny.

Years later, he would hear the other children tell stories about his Granny. Granny Rags, they called her in their cruel, mocking tones. She was a witch, they said. She ate children, they said. They learned not to say it around him.

They didn't know Granny like he did. They didn't hear the whispers, the secrets. She had been beautiful, once. Princes and Emperors had begged for her favor. She had seen the secret places of the world, and danced with the dark-eyed stranger in the world of endless blue. She knew the words of whalesong.

Granny was wise and strong and wonderful. She taught him so many things. How to dance like a little lord, how to speak like a nobleman, how to lie and flatter and charm.

She taught him how to read the runes, how to etch them on the bones of the great beasts. She taught him how to see what was hidden, how to hear the words that no one spoke. He learned to call the little birdies, to have them eat from the palm of his hand, how to ride them through the dark and into the hidden places. Funny little birds, he thought -they had no wings or feathers or bills, and didn't look much like birds at all- but Granny called them birdies, and Granny was always right.  Granny taught him to walk without stepping, to move so quickly and quietly that he'd never, ever be caught.

Granny was so good to him; even now, he'd go see her every year on his birthday, and she'd give him a shiny piece of bone, and teach him a new trick. Sascha loved his Granny, but he longed for the places from her stories; the beautiful houses filled with beautiful people, the rich food, the sweet music. He wanted a life away from the cold and the damp and the stench of nightsoil and rotten reeds.

And Granny's lessons, he knew, could get him there.

How hard could it be? He was so clever. Granny always said so.



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