Another stinking mouth, that's what my mother said. A mouth that'd need feeding for years on, then would sass her every time it would open. First words I can remember, her saying that. When she'd drunk for so long that her eyes stopped working for good - drunk an ocean, it seemed to me - I left the patched up shack we called home. But before heading out, I reminded her of all the times she'd put her hands on me or thrown something at my head. The night she'd rushed me like an ox and sent me down the back stair. All the times she'd told me I was just another stinking mouth. Last thing I heard was her cursing me from her bed, cursing the blind dark.
Running with my pals, we had to stay sharp to make enough coin to keep from starving. Same story, across the Isles. Not the biggest kids, but sometimes the smartest and meanest when we needed to be. The only way to stay off the back-alley mattresses. Not desperate enough to go out on the drain-flats with the mudlarks. So it was the knife for us, trying to catch the eye of the Hatters or the boys from Bottle Street so they'd take us on.
But when a dandy from Serkonos stepped down from his polished coach and cracked my dear Deirdre's pretty head and left her twitching and dying in the muck, I snapped off one of the wooden gazelles on top of the coach and drove the splintered end into his eye as deep as it would go. Last I saw of Deirdre she was still, eyes wide to the gray sky. But now I like to remember her with a smile, laughing from the Void at the one-eyed dandy with the gazelle coming out of his head.
No one would take me after that. The City Watch made a full sweep once a week for months, trying to catch me. Even the Grand Guard came in from Karnaca, down in Serkonos. It seems the dandy's daddy was the Duke of Serkonos. I was too much trouble for my friends from the old neighborhood. Anyone who saw me tried to drive me away. Threw rocks to get me to leave, or tried to get a bag over my head, hungry for the reward. Even the gangs cursed me on sight. Billie's bad luck, they'd say. Hexed. She'll make it bad for all of us.
You may think you know what loneliness is, but I can tell you, you don't. By late in the Month of Harvest I had a hate inside of me that would've choked most.
Then I met Daud.
It was early in the dark morning, the only time I could go out. Walking the streets of the Legal District, I saw them up ahead, three who looked like boys from the City Watch, but dressed out of uniform. They were out for blood and coin, running some kind of murder racket, waiting on a drunk barrister to stagger out of the bar at just the right time.
I didn't see him at first, but in the flicker of an eyelid he was on them, out of the cold night air. He used a single blade, nothing else, and it only touched each of them once, at the left side of the throat. Their blood splattered and steamed on the cobbles. Quick movements, an occasional grunt. Dark hair and the glimpse of a long scar down his face.
When it was over, he made for the rooftops. I'd never seen the like of it, so I followed. I could've stayed and looted the poor bastards he left bleeding. Could have eaten for a month, most likely. But this seemed bigger. So I tried to stay up with him. Tried to stay hidden, without losing sight of him.
All across Dunwall, into the wrecked and ruined parts. He crossed into what I could tell was his territory. Hidden sentries in odd masks. I thought I'd seen everything in the city, all the gangs, but this was something else. Clinging to the rooftiles and watching from behind chimneys, I watched, then followed him into an old building.
Inside was all gloom. Rotted carpets and desks full of rat-eaten papers. Paintings ruined by the wet. There were weapons and practice dummies. Men lived here in secret, training with knives and crossbows.
I lost track of him and continued to explore, but I was a fool. He'd known I was following and came up from behind. When I saw him, I froze, waiting for him to speak.
"You followed me, found this place, and now you're not begging or running for your life."
"There's nowhere to run," I said "And I'm not very attached to it to tell the truth."
He came close and looked me right in the eyes, trying to see some light inside that would tell him my story. "You think you're already dead inside, but I'll give you something to live for. You'll fight for me and kill people like the ones who've hurt you."
I just nodded, feeling relief for the first time in months.