I've been having such vivid nightmares lately, but in between two of them, I was in some body of pristine, transparent ocean blue swimming with whales. It was serene and humbling and majestic. My mind needed this.
He was born on the 13th day in the Month of Ice, on board a pirate ship bound for Serkonos. He remembers nothing of the crew, or of the ship, but the sound of the sea and whale song haunts his dreams, mingling with the words his mother sang on cold and sleepless nights.
Many thought her to be a witch, for all her herbs and healing tinctures, so easily turned to devices of death and sickness. But she bore no mark the zealots could find, and the Oracles took pity on a lowly woman with naught but her herblore skills to feed her and her mewling infant, beset by misfortune and malicious slander of jealous men, and both were spared the cleansing fire. In another life she might have been one of them.
When he was eight he joined a gang, and fought hard and ran even harder, cutting purses free of their strings and robbing rich merchants of their shiny trinkets. His mother whipped him when she found out, but she still took the coin he had earned, and they ate meat that day for the first time in months. She never whipped him again.
When he was nine a man came into their home. He was an actor, mother said, a man who pretended to be other people, and was paid to do it. He had a rich manner of speaking, which at a moments notice could drop to lower town Serkonan, as vile and vulgar as an urchin, and Daud would laugh and mimic him, much to the delight of both the actor and his mother. Perhaps he would tread the boards one day, be a great star, be famous, be special, he could be useful…he was nine when he woke up on board another ship, the sound of the ocean thick in his ears and the taste of his mother’s sleepwell tincture in his mouth. He never saw her again.
He was ten the first time they caught him and branded him as a thief, and the man who pretended to be other men beat him for getting caught. He was ten when he slit the sleeping man’s throat, and ran away into the night.
He was sixteen when he reached the high walled ports of Dunwall. Sixteen and ragged to the bone, when a merchant spat on him for trying to buy a loaf of bread. He was sixteen when he decided to wage war on the city of Dunwall, on the capital seat of the Empire which let its people starve and grew fat on the suffering of others. The watchmen tried to apprehend him, but he cut through them too, like sheaves of corn falling before the sickle of the reaper. He was sixteen and already coated in enough blood to drown a man. So why stop there?
“Ego homini Lupus“— “I am a Wolf to Man”. A little pretentious perhaps, but it serves it’s purpose. The type of men who hire him like to think they too are wolves among sheep. Only Daud knows they are but pigs.
When the shrine lit up and the man appeared, Daud wasn’t sure who was more surprised, him, or the Outsider. He has stopped counting the years now, it has been too many to recall since he began this search for the one being feared the most in all the world.
“You are persistent, aren’t you, Daud?”the black eyed bastard crooned, seemingly amused by the offerings left at every shrine from the lowest basement in Dunwall to the highest cliffs in Morley. “How very skilled you are, to always find my shrines, but what should I give you in return?”
He spends that winter at the Academy of Natural Philosophy. It’s too cold to go anywhere else and Dunwall is too far to reach in the snow. So instead he sits and listens to old men, who dabble with the same tinctures and herbs his mother would have been burned as a heretic for, and tries not to sneer as they are heralded as geniuses and harbingers of change, nursing the black mark on the back of his hand. It itches, and it is an itch that can only be scratched by use of the power it wields. And it hurts to use, the most delicious ache in his bones, and overwhelming need, the most exquisite torture he has ever known, burning him up from the inside. Daud has always been clever, has always been in control, but now he has the power to truly bring change to the world. The Outsider has told him so.
The first time he tries to share his power with another, the street urchin dies. Later that night as he stands before the shrine, dripping blood from his cut hand onto the offering, the Outsider comes. Daud suspects him to be laughing, laughing at the idea of wanting to share the power Daud has sought after for so long. But how else can he do what he wants? How else can he train his people to be the best, how else can he become what the Abbey fears the Outsider to be? A living embodiment of the Devil himself. It gives him a thrill every time he walks within the Abbey walls, to hear the fearful chant “he walks among us” and know they do not know how right they are.
“You really wish this?” the Outsider presses, and Daud simply nods. “Very well.”
The second time he shares power with another, he binds their soul to himself, drawing the sigils of power on their broken skin, mixing his tainted blood with theirs. He can feel it, always there, like a wounded animal just on the edge of hearing. If the Whaler feels such despair he does not let it show, if anything he marvels at the feeling of power, and Daud smirks to know that it is but a mere fraction of what he possess, a thimbles worth to an ocean of strength. And they are grateful for it, his faithful hounds, his ruthless hunters, who dare to walk in the shadow of a wolf.
He has stopped counting the years, stopped counting the bodies, the money…you could float a whale on the amount of noble blood he has spilled…but somehow this is different. Somehow it’s all going wrong…