Part 7: Chapter Three - Part 1Chapter Three - Part 1
Artemiy woke up a little after 1 A.M. On the chest, in which Artemiy kept his stocks of Tvyr and an assortment of other various things, was a letter.
Well, if the only way to fulfill your obligation is to save the life of the enigmatic patient, then, considering the imminent danger, you should immediately begin working on the panacea.
Do not doubt, that the Authorities will provide both you, and those who tread the same path as you do, all possible measures of help. To help you achieve this goal, it is worth it to risk it all.
With such a weapon in your hands, you will soon be the only person, on whom the salvation of the doomed will depend.
One can gain much in such a position, won't you agree?
Always at your service,
These so-called Well-Wishers did not seem to have a good grasp on what sort of a person Artemiy is, or they wouldn't have proposed such things. The disconnect was clear, and Artemiy doubted that these so-called Authorities would help him in any palpable manner.
He continued his work. For several hours, he scoured his father's notes, not finding any information that wasn't known or tangential. Almost ready to leave, Artemiy stumbled on a torn page from his Father's diary.
Diaries of Isidore Burakh. A Note on the Last Obligation, pg.133
Life is nearing its end. She will be upon me, any minute now.
I have sworn, whatever the cost, to save the lives of the following:
Olgimsky's Daughter, she will inherit the earth.
Kaspar Kain certainly...(malice.)
The girl from the wagon (does she know when?)
The sneaky kid with freckles (black.)
Leader of the Dualsouls (l, Artist?)
Daughter of the Gravekeeper
[U], of course, whose tauro is in the box. That is the most important thing.
That is my obligation.
I should write another letter to my son. Did none of the other three reach him?
I should also talk with Simon. He has heard it. The Long Talgur does not consist just of the Adherents.
Not a shred of concrete information. Like everybody else in this town, Isidore had a penchant for cryptic hints. At least, Artemiy knew that his Father had actual wisdom to back these hints up with.
It was a new night and that, as Artemiy knew, meant that the Masks were preparing a new pantomime.
Artemiy entered the theater. He was welcomed by two voices, who were in the midst of a discussion.
The rulers had to admit, that everything has gone awry the horrific discoveries have convinced them. One of them has managed to put an end to these feudal feuds.
That isn't good. The Commandant will abuse his powers, and the rest won't forgive him for it. For now, everything is the same as it ever was.
A quarantine has been declared. From now on, the infected districts will be sealed off, and no one will leave the town, until the situation isn't fixed.
No, it won't be fixed they won't figure it out...
REEL 4: Masks' Nightly Production Night Two
There wasn't much left to do on the streets for Artemiy. He was about to head back to his safehouse, when he found a letter in his effects. It was quite early for one, too early. It wasn't quite 6 A.M. yet
Please come to my house! I'm afraid, that something awful might happen... We aren't allowed out of the house, either, so I can't do anything to help.
Not knowing how urgent the matter was, Artemiy hurried to the Clot.
Track 5 Knotts Night
My head was spinning again, it was a whirlpool. I felt, that Notkin was in danger. Have you met him, yet? He lives in the warehouses, they have a Castle there.
Whirlpool? What do you mean?
Well, that's what me and Maria call our vision. She calls hers flights, while I call mine whirlpools. It's odd, because mine are usually happy, while hers are malevolent. At least, that is how I see them. Are you going to check if there's anything wrong with Notkin?
Alright... I will.
Artemiy grew to trust this girl's visions, however she might have called them. Notkin has helped him before, and, besides, Artemiy has taken on his Father's obligation to protect the boy.
The Daughter of Vlad Sr. worries about her friends. She does call them Adherents, though, which is a bit strange. Right now, her sixth sense tells her, that something bad has happened to Notkin, the leader of Dualsouls. It's worth looking into it.
It was still fairly early, and that meant, that the roads were still dangerous.
The bandit thought that he had found an easy prey, but, in the end, the poor fellow made the scoundrel pay.
On approach to Notkin's warehouse, it became clear that the Dualsouls had unwelcome guests.
The hell are you here for, you mongrel?
What are you doing here, good folk?
Oh, we are the bad folk! Right now, we're going to stab ourselves some snotty punks. They've been getting awful rowdy lately. Did Griff send you?
Oh, so you're one of Griff's folks?
You know, you better get the hell out of here before we scalp you!
Fine, fine I'm going.
Artemiy could very well just kill these thugs right now, but it didn't look like they were going anywhere quite yet, and killing them would only remove the symptom, and not the cause. It was time to visit Griff and persuade him to lay off the Dualsouls.
He still remembered the way to Griff's warehouse, even amid these mazes.
The state of affairs inside was entirely the same as it was two days ago. Artemiy was about to start the conversation with Griff, when the clock struck 7 A.M.
Day Three, during which, Haruspex, with a great risk to his life, uncovers the mysteries of the primordial alphabet of the Steppe folk.
Knowing these things, it was all the more pressing for Artemiy to continue his work towards panacea.
My folks are all riled up... I hear the whispers... It's only a matter of time, before there is a schism.
A schism, you say? Well, I'm sure you'll figure it out. Tell me, did you order some of your thugs to gut those boys?
What am I, a monster? I don't kill children, even if they are as troublesome those scoundrels are... No, I only ordered my boys to take away the kids' dogs, the mongrels that they are... The Dualsouls are getting out of hand...
Well, maybe you aren't a monster yourself, but the thugs you've sent seem to be a little too knife-happy, if you ask me.
Maybe, they only want to scare them...
Maybe, maybe not, Griff. You know, you should just order those thugs to leave. You know, with what's happening right now, there are bigger things happening than these kids, and the rats are a bit more dangerous than dogs right now.
Okay, I can do that. I've got a favour to ask of you, though. This big-wig, Bachelor, is too proud to come visit us. Tell him to come here, I have a very lucrative offer for him.
He'll ask what you want, you know...
Just tell him it's very lucrative. No one here will lay their hands on him, don't worry. We don't shit where we eat. You believe me, right?
Artemiy didn't, but, if this was what it would take to sort this situation out, he would do it. He wouldn't lie to Bachelor on Griff's behalf, though.
Alright. I'll have him come over.
Griff has agreed to leave the Dualsouls alone if I lead the Bachelor Dankovsky to him. I wonder, will the Bachelor swallow his pride to save these kids?
Perhaps, Artemiy wasn't as charitable to Dankovsky as he could've been, but he could be forgiven, for Artemiy genuinely did not know whether Bachelor would help him or not.
Artemiy was on the same road that he has treaded many times over in the last two days, when another letter found its way into his pocket.
Vlad Olgimsky Sr.'s invitation
I have, by accident, found out about your difficulties, regarding an enigmatic subject, marked by an ancient sign. You found it in Isidore's inheritance, right? Perhaps, we have things to discuss. Come over to the Clot.
Always at your service,
The Clot was closer to where Artemiy currently was, so he decided to visit Olgimsky first.
It was always so quiet in the Clot, but, then, it was always very quiet in all of Adherents' houses. As if, the time stood still, even if it hasn't.
Vlad Sr., however, seemed particularly dour today. His fingers twitched a little bit more than usual, too.
Esteemed Master Burakh. Or, if one is to be more precise, - oinon Burakh. They will start calling you as such, soon you are, after all, the carrier of knowledge. Servitor, menkhu, a chirurgeon, so to speak. Even more than that, perhaps. Have you been looking into your inheritance?
I have, of course. It is the most important thing right now...
There was a Tauro in there, correct? And notes, in which, a secret name is marked with this sign, right?
Yes. How do you know all this?
My daughter told me about these... doomed children, who were cared for... by the deceased. Besides, I don't see any reason to hide the truth from you. Tauro, with which this... ahem... subject was marked, is related to the secret script, used by the Steppe folk. Do you know of the long circles of Tauro?
Well... You haven't been here in a while, indeed... You have left as a youth, though, so it all stands to reason. The long circles of Tauro are akin to an alphabet, of sorts. Signs, which were used to mark the bulls. Every single Tauro has many meanings. Every sign is a song - a whole magical history within its lines. A spell.
I think I understand...
I cannot read this secret writing, myself. Only those of the Order know it. Perhaps, one of the worms-odonkhe, or one of the butchers, may help. This is a little embarrassing, for, I must admit, that I am the person who is currently stopping you from solving this mystery. I have sealed all of the Order in the Apiary.
I have heard about that why?
Well, you must understand... An epidemic is afoot. Quarantine. No one is allowed to break it. There are almost eight thousand souls in there. What will happen, if the infection gets in?
What if it's already inside?
An expression of angry irritation flashed across Big Vlad's face.
The esteemed Bachelor Dankovsky has already managed to tire me with these incessant questions. If it's already in there, then it's even more certain that we cannot open it. Surely, you understand. Enough about this. I want to help you - you do want to find out the meaning of this tauro, right?
A number of the butchers managed to escape from the Apiary, before the blockade was up. I'm offering you a deal. I've already told you, that they may be useful to you. You will be looking for them, regardless. When you find them, tell me where they are hiding. If you agree, I'll tell you where to start. Do you agree?
I will not be a traitor to my people.
I won't kill them, believe me, but I have to be able to monitor them. Don't you understand? Can't you see what is happening? All the carriers must be isolated! Besides, remember your obligation!
Artemiy's partnership with Olgimsky, if it could ever have been called that, was growing tumultuous. Still, he didn't have any leads, so there wasn't much choice for Artemiy but to agree. Besides, it's not like he couldn't renege on the deal.
Very well, you have convinced me...
There's a den... I've already sent some people there the reception they received was a cold one. Regardless, there's a personage who lives there. She is, usually, very well informed. She knows the dealings of the butchers, and their ways. They say, an odong left her for a Tvyr Bride... Well, start with her she will help you.
Vlad seemed knowledgeable about the ways of the Gatherers. Artemiy decided to probe out the extent of his knowledge.
A Tvyr Bride?
That is the line of the Gatherers. They have these virgins there, the Tvyr Brides. I think, they summon the herbs out of the Earth. You should be aware this, shouldn't you? They know of you, that is for sure. They were present during your birth as midwives.
Were they, now?
Of course... Son of Isidore Burakh - now, the eldest Burakh. It means quite a bit for them, that you are of the line of Menkhu. Menkhu aren't just butchers or chirurgeons, you know. They are healers. The role is almost sacred, religious even. In any case, that person will want to help you.
Very well... This seems enough for me to go on. Show me where she lives.
Well! This is interesting the house that Vlad Sr. pointed out on the map belonged to Ospina. She will help him, indeed, but Artemiy did not want to betray her trust quite yet. She could be fairly useful in the future. With this in mind, he decided to postpone the conversation with her for a bit and visit the Bachelor first.
In order to find out the truth of my inheritance, I have to visit Ospina this time, as a traitor. However, I believe that she is wise and harbors only good will towards me. Perhaps, I should trust her?
The streets of the town have started blurring together into one big golden canvas. Artemiy was getting to know them like the back of his hand, yet staying in this town felt, more and more, like drowning in Amber.
At first, I was happy that this wasn't an actual plague...
Ah does that mean, that you have started researching this disease?
Indeed. In fact, you can help me quite a bit with this process. Tell me is it true, that, in this society, only certain people have the, shall I say, moral right to use medical instruments on the bodies of other people even the dead ones?
That is correct. Menkhu the butchers and servitors have this right, not that it is a moral one.
If it isn't a moral right, then what sort of right is it? Besides, people aren't too shy to stab each other with knives around here, either, not to mention the fact, that, people who seem to look like educated members of the contemporary society, are barring me a certified doctor from dissecting corpses!
The frustration was piling for a couple of days, now, and Bachelor was letting it vent on whom he clearly perceived as the embodiment of the town's backwards ways. Artemiy wasn't bothered, the man's frustration was entirely understandable.
It is an ancient tradition, its roots found in religion. Or, to be more precise, in mythology.
Fine! Whatever! I don't practice the local religion! I'm saving this town from the epidemic! Or, I should say, I'm trying to save this town from the epidemic, while the several thousands of its denizens are actively preventing me from doing so!
You aren't being allowed to dissect the dead, yes?
Yes. I already need the dead tissue of someone, who died of the Sand Fever. I've tried to obtain it at the cemetery, but the guards there chased me away.
You want me to obtain it for you?
I won't spare any reward if you do.
You got it. I'll do what I can, even if I, myself, still don't have the full right to do it, myself.
Why? Aren't you from the family of... damn it, I forget the name. Wasn't your father a surgeon?
Not many people around here know me yet. Don't worry, though I gave you my word. I'll do it.
The Bachelor needs the tissues of an infected person. If anything else, blood will work just fine, as well.
Now, with the source of the frustration abated, Artemiy could get to the reasons why he came, in the first place.
I wanted to ask you about something, oinon. This matter is important to me very important. I'm talking about the panacea
What, exactly, are you talking about? An antiserum?
Yes. Tell me, how does one extract the antibodies from the tissue?
First of all, they have to be there in the first place. After that, there are many methods of doing so. Antiserum, after all, is only cleansed blood. As far as I can see it, you can simply mix the material with these... natural reagents that you Burakhs have. For now, find the suitable material. After that, you can start experimenting.
Thank you. Perhaps, this way, we'll find a panacea, eventually.
I think it might work, yes. I've heard that your Father was self-taught, too. In any case, what was it that you wanted to ask me about the antiserum?
When you will be examining the dead tissue, tell me if you find any antibodies in there.
Of course, I'll tell you if I do find them. However, I must say, that I don't believe that the human body has the capacity to resist this taint at the very least, based on what I've observed.
Well, you say that, but my father's experience would beg to differ...
That is my hope, yes. In any case, you will be the first to hear about the results of my research. I should have the first results tomorrow morning.
Thank you. Before you go, I have one more favour to ask of you. Griff wants to see you.
Griff? Who is that?
He is the leader of the thieves.
Oh, that scumbag. What does he want from me?
He said , that he has a lucrative offer for you.
No, I see no reason to see those scoundrels. It's enough, that Rubin works with them.
I'll be honest with you, oinon. In exchange for your promise to see them, they've agreed to leave a gang of children alone.
Are their lives in danger?
I believe so, yes.
Very well, I'll come.
Thank you, oinon.
For all his disdain for the local ways, the Bachelor was, very clearly, an honest and honourable man, who has, with this act, earned Artemiy's long-lasting respect.
The visit will occur Bachelor Dankovsky made a promise. I think, that he is one of those people, who always keep their word. I can return to Griff.
Artemiy didn't believe that he was sending the Bachelor into any serious danger. Griff might be wily, but he is still a coward, and the rest of the town's powers wouldn't forgive him an assault on Dankovsky quite yet.
There were less people in the Warehouse, than before. A bad sign?
The Bachelor will come. He gave his word.
Will he keep it?
I've seen his eyes. The like of him keep their word.
Good. I'll send a messenger to my guys, so that they don't get too naughty. Or, perhaps, you should go yourself I don't have any free hands, right now. If they act up, just tell them the code phrase - Khagat on Pokhodi
What sort of gibberish is that? What does it mean?
What it means is between us, thieves. Don't think too hard about it they'll listen.
I hope so.
Griff will call off his thugs. I can go see Notkin and check on him, in the meantime.
Dealing with thugs wasn't pleasant, and Artemiy hoped that he will soon be done dealing with them.
Ah, here you are, you meat-sack. Griff told us that you're working with us, right?
Working with you? Pfft. Leave Griff's orders.
Leave? The fuck are you talking about?
Khagat on Pokhodi, got it? Now, get out!
We'll see you again, you punk.
Oh, I hope so.
Killing this chump would've been public service, but Artemiy didn't want to shatter the agreement that he made with Griff. Besides, the town in small enough, and Artemiy was sure that they'd see each other again, one night or another.
The kids inside looked defiant. It seems, they've taken Artemiy for one of the thugs.
How did you get through? Hold it! Are you with them?
Don't worry, I won't hurt you kids.
We aren't kids! We're Dualsouls! Here, there are more than enough of us to take you on. Besides, you take any of us and multiply it by two we fight with our friends. We are a real power.
It doesn't look like those guys in front of the entrance were afraid of you, though.
Where are they, by the way? Why did they let you through?
It's alright, they're gone.
Gone? Well, we're going to have to thank you for that!
Well, that won't hurt.
Take this gun. It's homemade my granddad said, that this was a hunting rifle, at some point the trigger was also replaced. You can use buckshot or slugs for it. Do you know where to get those?
They're very rare around here. You can find them here, or there not a whole lot. We told our girls to look for them, wherever they can. You can ask them, you know. They might trade you for some girly things. You know rings, bracelets, that sort of junk.
Notkin won't be have to worry about his warehouse for some time. I think I've earned the young Lady Olgimsky's thanks.
Artemiy turned to leave, but Notkin called him over.
Weird times, you know! An epidemic! I hope our scouts return soon...
Scouts? What are you plotting again, Notkin?
Plotting? Well, maybe... You want to help?
Depends on what you're plotting.
It's a good thing. My Dualsouls are always lurking around, getting everywhere they can get into. They're spying after the enemy Dogheads, catching Souls and are usually faffing around here and there. I've decided to put them to good use. Even Matchstick will be jealous.
Good use? What sort of good use?
We'll be checking which houses are infected. Every morning, we'll be making a new map. Can you imagine? If we do it well enough, then the Bachelor will pay good money for it.
Interesting... Are you going to show it to me?
If you want, we'll even make a copy for you. You'll have to do us a favour, though.
Your father knew the recipes of some great tvyr mixtures. When the First Outbreak happened, he even wrote some of the down. I've heard, that they can protect you from the Sand Fever. Will you make us some?
How many do you need?
I think that ten mixtures should be enough. If you make them, then the map is yours. Don't think, that I am greedy, or anything I'll give the mixtures to our scouts.
Sounds good, I'll do it.
Famous Burakh recipes
It seems, that Notkin is planning a dangerous scouting mission. He agreed to share the results for ten immunoboosting mixtures. I need to gather enough herbs and make the mixtures in the distiller. The faith in the Burakh knowledge seems to be strong around here...
Making this amount of mixtures would require going back to the hideout and stocking up on Tvyr. Artemiy would return later with the requested mixtures. For now, Artemiy will go to Kapella and inform her that she can stop worrying, for now.
Once again, Kapella's visions have proven true. She was proving to be a reliable ally in Artemiy's struggle. From this day, he will listen to everything she has to say, without exception.
You are having a hard time, right?
I am... Still, your friend is safe.
What trouble did he get himself into?
He got into a bit of a fight with the bandits.
Because of the Souls, right? I think I've heard of that. Griff was demanding that they get rid of the dogs. Were they protecting their pets?
Yes, I believe so.
Good on them! Don't think, that Notkin would be feuding with the thieves for no reason...
How come they've settled on the thieves' turf, anyway?
He got into a fight with another boy. With Khan. He is a brave one, too and a true leader. They were best friends, before all this. Nowadays, Khan rules in the Polyhedron and the proud Notkin rules in his hideout, surviving among the bandits... It's a long story. How can I thank you?
I'm alright, thanks. I'm happy to be of help to you.
Kapella was grateful, yes... However, her gratefulness was strange, as if she cared about him not out of friendship, but out of some sort of obligation. I wonder what games are these kids playing at?
This matter took a while to settle, but it was finally over. Soon, Artemiy will head to Ospina to finally ask for her help with figuring out the meaning behind Tauro.