Commentary on Shadowed Fate, Chapter 4: Dreary Party, Indeed

For those curious and wish to pick my brain, I’m going to divulge some of my creative processes and reasons for the unusual character directions I took with the Outsider and Corvo.

Blandcorp mentioned that much of the chapter is dense…like hiking through a thick forest of rich imagery. I tend to visualize everything I write as a movie – complete with special effects, lol. So yes, there are several visuals that I slowed down and took the time to build. The reward though (I hope) is a vivid picture in the reader’s mind of everything that’s going on.

I enjoyed Lady Boyle’s Last Party. It was a chance to see the more extravagant part of Dunwall, the pretty and glittering instead of corpses everywhere. That same party in the Void during Dunwall City Trials really stuck with me. The mistiness, the purple lights, the drapery. The masks and weird Voidness (lol) in general. Those details were the influence here when Corvo arrives at the party, and forgets everything (as people tend to in dreams). He then is a slave to the illusion Granny Rags has constructed around him, and until her little birdies attack the avatar of his soul (Tyger), he is helpless in her grip.

I figured Granny would want to look her best, just in case her groom happened to make an appearance. Hey, it’s a dream right? If you had control of your dreams, you’d look like a super model too. But in Granny’s case, she appears as her younger self. And getting her dialogue rhythm was tough. She has a particular way of speaking and I tried my best to duplicate it without cheating and using the same segments of dialogue as in the game (as I’ve seen some writers do. Drives me nuts). I also gave her the ability to conjure items in the Void: the fan the only example, made from the wine streaming by her. She also has more experience with the Void, and seems to “know” how to predict its arbitrary nature. Example being when she stops looking through the mirror at the dark mirror Outsider, and turns to welcome the real deal. She also has moderate insight to Corvo’s state of mind, and knows all about Delilah, Daud, and what happened at the lighthouse.

So despite her “kittenish yearning” for the Outsider, and obvious delusions of marrying him, she’s pretty powerful in this chapter. She takes on Corvo, doesn’t back down when he threatens her, and holds her own in the brief bickering contest between herself and Corvo. I didn’t want her weak because she was never weak in the game. I wanted her in character.

Which brings me to Corvo. There is a theme of mirrors in the chapters, of duel aspects of people and ideas. The Void itself is two entities: dark and light which the Outsider represents (and in turn, you have the “real” Outsider who is all spirit, hovering, and his dark mirror counterpart, standing on his feet) So when Corvo sees the dark side of the party, it creates a conflict of emotions for him. There’s disgust, yes, but there’s familiarity and comfort — which leads to a yearning of his own. He feels more at home in the darkness of Dunwall, having been forced into its shadows as he hunted his targets one by one. And since this is a high chaos Corvo, there is a sliver of his soul that desires that chaos again – and that sliver is what this story is all about.

Because what if that aspect of Corvo, that unpredictability and darkness, and craving for violence, was allowed to flourish and grow? What would it become? Maybe something that rivals the Outsider?

Realistically, people don’t realize they’re being idiots until they’re called out. This is why I let Corvo make a fool of himself. The Outsider gives Corvo a reality check, forcing him to confront the realization that he has been running from the very thing he craves. Like Granny Rags, he desires the Outsider, but has repressed the feelings so deep, it’s practically an epiphany when the Outsider spells it out for him. In the coming chapters, Corvo will be wrestling with this attraction, and will be trying to understand why he feels it.

I even let Corvo get angry at Granny and the Outsider for “dragging him to the Void” and then get angry again when they dismiss him. There’s no moment that he stops and says…wait I’m contradicting myself. Because again, who realizes they are being contradictory until it’s pointed out? The reader is aware of it, but Corvo is an unreliable narrator. He’s going to lie to the reader as he lies to himself. He’s a frustrating character to deal with, both reading and writing him – but that’s how real people are. He’s as deluded as Granny, but has the potential to overcome his faults, and be a stronger person. And this is why he feels sorry for Granny even though she tries to kill him. He still has the ability to empathize – which is the only thing keeping him from actually becoming the monster he thinks he already is.

And this is why he sees “himself” at first in the mirror. That mask is the persona he believes he truly is, but once he loosened up, allowed himself to BE honest with himself (craving Dunwall again) is when the Tyger appears.

Speaking of being honest, the Outsider was certainly blunt. He’s a little more chaotic in this world, influenced by Corvo’s actions in the main game. However, I kept the duality, the impassiveness, and sarcasm – with some hints of humor. He’s too damn old to be coddling his Marked, and since he sees everything, he knows what events will lead to his death – and what events that might lead to a rare, highly improbable future – but one he desires above all else. He knows he should kill Corvo if he wants to insure his survival, but that’s not how the Outsider works. His curiosity of “what might happen” is his character flaw – or strength depending on how you look at it.

My intention was to make the Outsider a three-dimensional character: not some dude giving confusing speeches or irritating Corvo with riddles. His body language, his gestures, glances, tone of voice are all deliberate. And when he’s caressing Corvo toward the end, I wanted a hint of desperation. The Outsider is a force of nature in my head canon. He floats at arms length for a reason. His touch will kill. The only reason Corvo isn’t waking up dead is because he (and Granny) have an affinity for the Void. And the Outsider touched Corvo’s dream body (dream kneecaps and dream bruises) which is technically his soul. If it had been Corvo’s REAL body, he would have died.

And yes, this is MY head canon. It’s something I decided to do because it felt right and it was different. The Outsider is powerful. Why not have a downside to that power? And what if eventually, someone came along that the Outsider could touch without sending them into convulsive fits?

The answer to that question will be in the later chapters. Much later.

So that brings us to Daud and Billie.

I gave Billie the Mark because you could tell in the game she wanted it. She mused about what the Outsider smelled like, and wondered when he’d talk to her. I gave her what she wanted, lol. Her powers are freaky, and don’t expect her and Corvo to be best buds. There’s a lot of rivalry between the two, and she will be angry about the mess he made of the Whalers – just as he gets angry about her involvement in Jessamine’s death. Then there’s Daud, who Billie wants to protect (from himself) so she start’s realizing that Daud’s feeling’s for Corvo go far beyond wanting friendship.

But that’s future chapters.

Daud…I’ve been playing a lot of Knife and Brigmore DLC’s to get a handle on his speech patterns and mannerisms. There’s still a lot of guilt there, some of which he actually jokes about when he’s being wrongly accused of assassination.

And the bounty thing. That’s something I think Daud would do just to be an asshole.

Next chapter will go into how Daud is there, and how much he knows about Arella (which won’t be much, surprisingly) and what she wants Corvo to do. We get to see Billie’s freaky powers (and they are…weird), a tea party, the Duchess slap Corvo, Daud and Billie crashing that same tea party, Arella revealing a huge plot twist, and High Overseer Hawk taking on Daud. Throw in some birds of paradise and a bunch of moths that eat people, and Daud chasing Corvo through the Palace, and you got chapter 5.

Should be fun 🙂

PS. I do want to post some rare info on the Outsider, that he was human around four thousand years ago in the Dishonored Universe. There’s some other cool stuff from the devs too. Just go here for some forgotten lore.

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