Wednesday, May 29, 2013

“What a Terrible Accident” Let's Play Dishonored: Part 3: The Empty Void

Exhausted from my recent activities, I am escorted to my room by Pendleton's servant, Wallace. It's not a particularly great room and it's all the way on the top floor, but I understand that given our current predicament we can't afford 4-star hotels. The bed is a little hard, but in minutes I'm out cold. After an unknown time lapse, I awaken. However, something feels wrong about this place. It looks like my room, obviously, but the air feels foreign. I open the door, greeted by the sight of a lamppost and a portion of a road on top of two small islands, floating in the air. Looking down, I gaze upon a dim white light in what appears to be a bottomless void. There are stories that describe such phenomena. If the tales are true, this is what it's like to be summoned by The Outsider. Part of me still wants to think this is a lucid dream, but the other half knows exactly what's going on. More importantly, both halves realize the futility in denying the Outsider, so I proceed along the path laid out for me.

Climbing the stairs that appear to my left, I end up on what can best be described as the roof of this island. Heading towards the center, I'm greeted by figure whose appearance closely resembles that of a teenager/young adult who is likely bullied regularly by his peers. While I am the opposite of intimidated, this boy refers to himself as the Outsider, and brands me with his mark. Calling it a gift, the Outsider says that he has chosen me, granting me the power to use magic. Then, he taunts me to use this new power to come after him. Once he dematerializes, two thoughts enter my head. The first is more serious: The men who murdered Jessy clearly had this power as well. Did the Outsider give them these powers too? If so, why? Hell, why did it give me the gift of magic, and does it come at a price?

The second thought: Man, this whole “Outsider” guy is really disappointing. I was expecting some kind of elder god whose form was too alien to comprehend. At the very least, he could have looked menacing! And for someone who is, according to legends, the incarnation of chaos itself, he has to have one of the least interest, blandest faces and voices I've ever experienced. This is the abomination the Overseers led by Baldy constantly go on about! He looks like a ponce, which is not a good way to intimidate people. Actually, Poncy sounds like a great nickname for him. Anyway, since I've literally no where else to go, it's down the linear path for me. However, the gap between this island and the next is pretty big, too far for me to jump. Almost instinctively, I squeeze the hand branded by Poncy and release. This causes me to move fast, faster than I even thought possible. It's as if I blinked in and out of existence in some form of short-range teleportation. Since I have no better name for this power, I'll call it Blink.

The island I land on has the appearance of the rotunda where Jessamine died, complete with her body on the ground and a not reading “You cannot save her.” This place appears to be trying to play with my emotions, but I can't let that stop me. Resolved, I continue Blinking from platform to platform until I reach another vignette. This time it appears to be in some wealthy establishment, either a noble house or some kind of hotel/brothel. In it, two men, remarkably similar, yet subtly different in appearance to Pendleton are grabbing Emily and trying to restrain her. A note is flying out of her hand, but the words don't seem like they belong in her mouth. Is this place just playing tricks on me, or is their meaning here? The next image that appears before me on another island is that of the strategy room in Dunwall Tower. It appears that the Mole is either scheming in there now, or will do so later. Immediately afterward I see two guards on stilts, one of which is shooting a flaming arrow at two men hobbling away. So much must have happened in my absence. Does this city even have a chance?

I come across a wall that's too tall for me to climb, so I do what comes (un-)naturally and use Blink to reach the top. I aim just short of the top of the wall, but my ability seems to have the built in fail-safe of automatically landing me at the top of a building should I aim it correctly. This will definitely come in handy later. Advancing further on yields another visit from Poncy. Warning me of “great trials ahead,” Poncy tells me that through the powers of Runes engraved with his symbol, I can further develop my powers as I see fit. To assist in the collection of said Runes, he hands me a Heart, which will beat faster as I grow closer to them. Before I leave, he says that the Heart has a secondary function of revealing the secrets of whatever I'm looking at when I squeeze on it gently, them vanishes once again.

I hold the Heart in my hand, and I feel it beat. A Rune must also be here in the Void. Testing out it's other function, I gently squeeze the Heart. The voice that rings out in my head causes me to jump. There's no possibly way I could mistake that voice. Without a shadow of a doubt, it was Jessamine's. If that's her voice, then this must be... Oh no! First she's murdered in front of me, and now Poncy rips her heart out and gives it to me as some sick joke. I'm not amused. Despite this horrible turn of fate, I'm likely going to need to keep using the Heart if I want to stay prepared for new occupation. Very well Poncy, I will play by your rules as right now they're the best way to get Emily back.

The Heart, along with the linear path laid out for me, makes finding the Rune a trivial matter. Once I pick it up, the brand on my left hand absorbs its power. A vision enters my head, and shows me the myriad ways my magic can develop. Right now, the skills that seem most useful are out of my reach until I acquire more Runes. After I decide to wait until advancing my skills, the vision passes, and Poncy reemerges. After explaining that only I can choose how to use my powers and that he'll be watching me to see what I do, he returns me to my bedroom in the real world.

I wake up in my room, and gaze upon my left hand. Sure enough, the mark is there, just as it was during my “dream”. The Heart is also present, placed in my pocket. For a small test, I squeeze my left hand and release. Sure enough, I can still use Blink. After confirming my suspicions, I look around the room and see a number of decorations that were not present before. A note on my desk reads as follows: “Congratulations on your purchase on the Void Walker's Arsenal. Scattered about your room are the results of your purchase. Use them wisely!” Though it appears the courier dropped these off at the wrong address, I am in no position to complain and decide to make use of these gifts. Since 12 of these presents bear the Outsider's symbol and make the Heart beat like crazy, I conclude that they have something to do with my powers. They are not Runes, but they appear to be old sailor charms, made from whale bones. A vision appears and tells me that these are “Bone Charms,” which pass minor powers onto their wielders when equipped. The best place to affix them appears to be the holes in my belt, so that's where they'll go.

Picking up the four statues that line my room burns new holes into my belt, which I can use to equip more Bone Charms, for a grand total of 8. Among the 12 charms I “earned”, I pick 3 with which to adorn myself, and store the others in my bag. Other items to make note of are 4 pouches, each containing the financial equivalent to 500 Bronze Coins, plenty of money to fund upgrades from Piero. Lastly, I notice 4 books, each detailing a person of great influence in Dunwall. The first is a what appears to be an excerpt from the Mole's personal journal. It describes his constant paranoia that someone will come in and murder the Empress, along with the various countermeasures lined up. He does not seem to be very trusting of the populace, which is ironic in a sense. The last line of the text hints that he likes to spend his time in the Estate District. Considering that's where all the noble families live and party, it should be no surprise.

The second text appears to be from the journal of an Overseer who works undercover on behalf on the Abbey. He appears to be unhappy living among the various thieves and cutthroats of the city. While that's certainly not the best place to be, it certainly beats that den of indoctrination they call The Abbey of the Everyman. Between the streets and their walls, I'd choose the streets any day. While I feel no sympathy for the man, the text that follows his incessant bitching intrigues me. It appears to reference a man named Daud. I had heard the name several times before, as everyone in the upper levels of society knew of him. However, I never attached any significance to the name up until now. If this report is correct, Daud works as an assassin, hired by the “elite” of this city to kill their political rivals. He is known for an art where he vanishes and summarily reappears less than a second later in another close by location, remarkably similar to my own abilities.

Reading on, it appears the Knife of Dunwall has a history with black magic. Rumors speak of his witch-mother and of known ties with the infamous Brigmore coven. The man is also well-educated, apparently spending time in the Academy of Natural Philosophy itself. Finally, the report mentions two thing that really catch my attention. The first: He appears to be in charge of a group of masked assassin. The second: He has been sighted worshiping Poncy at one of his shrines. I need to keep a close eye out for further information on Daud. If this report is at all accurate, then it seems very likely that he's the assassin I saw that day. Apparently I should have been more concerned when hearing his name come up. Still, I never thought someone would be so brazen as to actually order a hit on the Empress in her own castle. I suppose the blame falls more to the one who made the hit than it does to the hitman, but still!

The third of the four documents appears to talk about Slackjaw, a well know gang leader on the outskirts of the city. The Bottle Street Gang's infamous leader, according to this, was likely the daughter of a prostitute who decided to join a gang rather than be pressed in the Navy or made to work in a noble family's mine. The text describes the brutal way he rose from a cutpurse to one of the most feared men in the cities underworld. Despite this, Slackjaw appears to be a stabilizing element of this plague-ridden city. Though the plague elixirs made by Sokolov and Piero are expensive to the average person, the Bottle Street Gang has been making good business selling diluted, cheaper versions of the Sokolov's brew to people. For gangsters, this seems like the closest thing to legitimate business. He's also been offering employment to people outside the usual mob contacts. Decent work in exchange for food and medicine. Who would've though the crime lord would have the closest thing to a heart of gold in this city after Jessamine's death?

The last document is titled “The Journal of Granny Rags.” Everyone in the city knows that name by heart. According to the tales, she was once a wealthy aristocrat to took a dark turn after devoting herself fully to the Outsider. Rumor has it that she has great power at her disposal, and won't hesitate to use it against those who wrong her. From what this text says, the old hag used to be known as Vera Moray. She had parties that surpassed even the Boyle's in their extravagance. Hell, at one point Sokolov made a painting of her, and Sokolov doesn't make paintings of anyone without a fair degree of prestige behind their name. Vera and her husband used to travel the world together, until what appears to be her first contact with Poncy. From then on, she was obsessed with acquiring bones to make Runes and Bone Charms out of, going so far as to kill her own husband for his. Granny Rags sounds dangerous, so it seems wise to avoid crossing her path. I wonder who would have the resources to acquire all of this and yet not enough influence to get them to their correct destination. Unless they were somehow intended for me. If so, then why me? What am I so special? And how would they know I'm here? I doubt I'll ever know the answer.

After I finish my morning reading, I decide to explore the place again, in part because the Heart indicates another Rune is in the area and because I'd like to get some exercise in. After spending half-a-year in prison, I'll take any excuse to get some fresh air. I enter the lighthouse adjacent to my room, and spot an audiograph. It appears to depict a woman planning out lessons for a child. The woman doesn't sound like either Cecelia or Lydia, so it must be someone I haven't yet met. Speaking of those two, I overhear them talking about Samuel. From what they were saying, apparently he can no long sleep in beds, and has decided to take up residence in a small tent near the boat. Poor guy, that can't possibly be comfortable. I enter Pendleton's room and play an audiograph where he appears to be chronicling his life story. It's not very interesting so I won't describe it here. The audiograph in Havelock's room is only slightly more interesting, revealing that he's glad I showed up, but still unsure of my skills.

Before continuing my search for the Rune, I make a pit-stop at Piero's workshop, since by some stroke of luck I'm now 2000 Bronze Coins richer. His audiograph reveals that he's the one who bound the Heart, doing so at the Outsider's behest without even knowing it. I doubt he even knows it was the Empress's heart. If he did, I wonder if he would've still bound it and kept it in a suspended state of half-death like he did. With the money at my disposal, I buy a Rune off of Piero, a few tools to rewire security devices, some of his plague elixirs, and another hole in my belt with which to affix a Bone Charm should I happen to come across any more. The last request causes Piero to give me a curious glance, but he doesn't ask any questions. Exiting the shop, I follow the Heart's beat to a Rune on a small outcropping of nearby rocks. Time seems to stop as I summon a vision into my head. I picture an image of hungry rats being summoned from the void and pour my Rune energy into it. I can feel my magic growing in strength as a direct response, and I know that this new skill is now available to me. I'm ready to speak to Havelock and Pendleton to accept my first assignment....

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