Part 14: Chapter Seven - Part 1Chapter Seven Part 1
Various bits of research that Artemiy undertook bore no fruit, and, closer to the evening, Artemiy called his sixth day in the Town a day and went to rest.
REEL 7: Insquisitor's Arrival
There were, as usual, letters waiting for Artemiy when he awoke. He grabbed the first one that was written in Daniil's characteristic handwriting.
Results of the Analysis and the synthesis of bull's and human blood.
The bulls are able to get sick. The antibodies in bulls' blood block the Sand Fever microbes and stop them from multiplying. Human antibodies are able to destroy these microbes, but can't do so in time to stop the disease from reaching the critical stage.
I will attempt to combine them doing so will take all night. Perhaps, there'll be a result, but I don't have a very good feeling about this.
Not much new information here, aside from the fact that the bulls can actually get sick. Is it possible for them to be carriers for the disease? That seems probable and can have dangerous consequences, if true. He grabbed the next letter a slightly torn page, sealed in an official-looking envelope.
Diaries of Isidore Burakh. Excerpt on predetermination.[pg.29]
She hurries towards me, overtaking the wind, and, on the way, she gathers the fragile fingers, weaves the thin bones and stretches out the flexible joints. Her black face has no eye sockets, her white face has no nostrils. Both of her heads will never agree on anything.
Thus speaks The Saga.
I think that I will manage to do enough before her shabnak rises out of the earth at least up to its ankles.
[V] the only one who must survive no matter the cost. I dearly hope that I can manage to make enough broth to feed its giant carcass in time!
The [V] rears its head once more. If this was truly the udurg, like Artemiy thought it was, then this letter only gave rise to more questions. Just how large was it, and how exactly would the Dead Broth that never managed to completely heal someone of the infection would save it?
More questions and no answers business as usual. It was past midnight, and that meant that it was time to get more answerless question at the Theater.
The page from his father's diary gave rise to another curious possibility it seemed to confirm the Rat Prophet's words about Klara in an indirect way.
Two faces of the disease that never agree with each other? Sounds like a pair of disease-carrying doppelgangers to me... It was also curious how Isidore referred to the coming of the disease as the arrival of her shabnak. Was Shabnak-Adyr supposed to be the avatar of the disease of some sort? If so, then Klara fit the bill completely. Not a great prospect someone is ought to do something about the girl...
Seeking out the girl again was not something in Artemiy's plans, though he had quite enough on his plate as it was. He did, however, have time for a little sideshow. The Theatre was getting a bit cramped, considering that it has been re-purposed as a morgue in the recent days, but there was still room for a performance.
Today, a certain someone got almost tied to a post! I have managed to avoid an execution only through a miracle! I have been valiantly saved by the Bachelor.
The voice was a little girl's it was fairly clear whom this Tragedian was playing...
Unbelievable the Sand Fever isn't a human, that much has been proven. One has to ask, though what is the source? It's clear that it is all connected to this girl somehow...
You can run from anyone, even from the Inquisitor's ire, but you won't escape yourself. The Earth Sister is breathing down your neck...
Two old voices from before one calm and the other harsh. Artemiy couldn't see them, but they sounded like Executors would...
What is there to do, then?
It seems, as though the entire world is against me! There is no escaping from this noose! Is there no way to escape the execution?
Ah, the shrill fellow is back, too... Artemiy was starting to come to the conclusion that this was the Masks' exaggerated interpretation of the Bachelor... Still, if that was Daniil, then who was supposed to be Artemiy?
No moaning, now!
One can remain a weapon or he can become a rebel.
It's simply a matter of free choice... Marionettes are free to roam around calmly it is a real man's lot to convulse in a noose.
It seems that the harsher fellow was not above a cruel joke at the Bachelor's expense.
REEL 8: Masks' Nightly Attraction Night Six
Big on style, but lacking in substance quite as usual. It was time to grab today's map from Notkin.
A hop, skip and a jump and Artemiy was there. Nothing new for Notkin yet again, although the kid raised the price of the map up to 2000 coins, the scoundrel.
That was somewhat understandable, though, considering that the disease was spreading exponentially and must have been taking its tolls on the scouts.
It was fairly close to morning by now, and Artemiy decided that he might as well begin heading to Dankovsky to ask him about the results of his night's work.
Even if there was only disappointment to be found, Artemiy was sure that, between them, the two wise healers will figure something out.
Artemiy was also curious to hear what Daniil had to say about this Inquisitor. His arrival was bound to cause a great deal of upheaval in the Town and will surely influence the healers' work greatly.
A nice little aphorism Daniil had there - belonging to Francois de La Rochefoucauld, to be exact. Artemiy wasn't sure whether Bachelor wanted to pass off these words as his own or simply couldn't be bothered to source his words. Still, men in positions similar to Bachelor's look quite silly when they spout deeply meaningful expressions with a raised brow.
Well it's time to say farewell. I don't know if we'll see each other again, Burakh. It seems that we both have suffered a defeat. You weren't able to make a panacea, and I have nothing to soothe the inquisitor. For me, that is akin to suicide. I'm walking to the Cathedral not unlike how one walks up to a guillotine.
The Bachelor was gloomier than Artemiy expected him to be.
On what basis would the Inquisitor deprive you of your life?
The Inquisitor has no power over me, although, technically, the Inquisitors have power over everyone. This Authority needs no lawful precision if an Inquisitor wants to kill, then he will kill. If he wants to remove you from the face of this Earth, then he will. They know how, after all... That's not what I meant, though....
What did you mean, then?
I have decided that if I am unable to return with a victory, then I will put a bullet in my head with this revolver right then and there. I've been chased into a corner. I can't look in the eyes of those, whom I've failed to protect. For my allies, there is only prison or exile and for my research only fire.
The Bachelor was, indeed, becoming more and more akin to the likeness assigned to him by the Theater.
What is keeping you from the victory, then?
I still haven't managed to find the source of the disease. The infection resurfaces over and over and over again. This must be someone's will. I was unable to find the carrier moreover, it doesn't even seem to be a question of time. I don't think that this is even a person's doing.
Quite strange indeed the things that I've encountered have also led me to believe something similar...
That's the truth, isn't it? How many beings that aren't human still play a human role in our lives! We've haven't managed to find this creature, too a hybrid of a bull and a man... Mythology seems to have preserved such a being for us, but not nature. It doesn't exist in our reality.
You said that you could try your hand at synthesis?
No... It's hopeless I wouldn't manage to try without Rubin, anyway...
Daniil didn't even try? His fatalism was clearly getting the better of him...
What happened to Rubin, anyway?
Yesterday, he gave himself to the Kains' mercy. I don't know, whether he was relying on Victor's generosity or Georgiy's sobriety, but it was Maria who was sitting on the throne. I don't know the details of theirs meeting, but I haven't seen or heard of Rubin ever since.
It seems that, now, my last duty is the duty of my Father. Whom did he swear to save upon the honor of his lineage? I still don't know...
Artemiy was thinking out loud, not that the Bachelor would care too much right now...
My... have you actually grown desperate? Whoever this mysterious patient is, he can only be saved with a panacea if it's not too late, that is... So many people have died these days...
I have to go to the Abattoir, to meet the Elder.
Abattoir is a forbidden territory. You won't get there unless you get the Inquisitor's permission. Nowadays, all the matters relating to fighting the epidemic and even all other important matters, to be honest are curated by the Inquisitor.
I'll find some way around that...
Even without that, you'd still need to get a permission to perform any further activities it's best that you try to do so as early as possible, too. If the word of your fame comes sooner than you do, then...Well, it's best that you come there of your own volition. Preempt the deceitful rumours and let it be know that you are opening up the dead for a good cause.
Are you coming too?
Yes, but not with you. You should go I still have to gather my thoughts. By the way, Burakh I'm really glad that we did not have time to become enemies! Good luck to you.
Good luck to you too, Oinon.
However cheerful Dankovsky tried to make his last phrase sound, there was a strange note of bitterness to it. This whole conversation was quite unsettling, too something was about to change, irrevocably so - I'm sure of it...
Hybrid of a Bull and a Man.
It's worth it to explain my intentions to the Inquisitor before malicious witnesses do that for me. I should get an audience with her as fast as possible.
It was a very short walk away from Dankovsky's residence, so Artemiy wasted no time. When he left Eva Yan's house, however, the clock tolled 7 AM.
Day 7, which, for Haruspex, a fatal that is, fateful and decisive day.
Somehow, it felt like a fateful day, too. A lot of things seemed like they were about to change.
The Cathedral's doors were quite heavy it took Artemiy some effort to open them.
Well, this is a strange sight.
Why would the inquisitor dress up as an Executor? Artemiy wanted to ask the fellow on the sideline before addressing the main personage.
Kindly address all your questions to the elders, good sir. I hold no office here. I'm merely, if one could say so, an ornamental element.
Are you an extra or something?
Yes. I'm simply luckier than you, that's all...
Yeah, well I have more chances to survive than you do...
Perhaps that is where this extra was luckier than Artemiy... He turned to the main Executor on the throne.
Oh my! Take a look at who graced us with his presence! Could it be Haruspex, the premiere comedian of the Town?
Oh? What have I done to deserve such a welcome?
You would say that you don't deserve it? Look, at least, at how you walk and remember the deeds that you've done!
As if you've seen the things I've done...
Who knows, who knows...
Well, - at least, if I'm the premiere comedian, then you are a reserve one.
Artemiy didn't come here to entertain individuals with highly punchable masks, however.
Who knows about that one, too... Why have you come?
I need the Inquisitor.
You are hereby informed that her grace has personally embarked on a scouting mission in the Apiary, preferring not to trust the emissaries and their exaggerated reports and wanting to see the site of the tragedy herself. She also wanted to meet the little personage who calls herself the Mother Superior, of course.
That sure was comprehensive there, buddy.
Hybrid of a Bull and a Man.
Inquisitor is investigating the crimes of the rulers in the Apiary. I wonder what did the Order tell her about me? I should ask Tychik's daughter about it.
The trek wasn't the easiest one, but it's one that Artemiy made before.
If this whole situation meant that he would have to go on a wild goose chase after the Inquisitor all over the Town, Artemiy was going to be pissed.
The smarmy Executors didn't help the matters too much, either who did they think they were? A bunch of louts playing dress-up on a suicide mission. Granted, a situation like that might make one irreverent of pleasantries, but, surely, some tact surely must be maintained, still!
Of course, Artemiy shouldn't be too surprised getting snarked at by the Executors was how this whole thing began.
They are a small fish, anyway, so there isn't much use getting mad at them. Still, seething is pretty much the most of what Artemiy did on the way to the Apiary at least, it would have been if Artemiy hadn't gotten a letter on his way there.
Maria has shared her experience Georgiy and Victor have returned from their questioning. Kains say that you won't survive your meeting with the Inquisitor. She turned out to be too smart to believe the tales of the Ripper and shrewd enough to understand the discovery, on the verge of which you are standing.
In any case, the Kains say that she will order your death if you won't confirm that you know how to make a panacea. I didn't quite understand why, though it was all very strange.
By the way is it possible that you actually know and will make it? That would be wonderful! Be careful with the Inquisitor. The patrolmen follow only her orders, nowadays.
V. O. jr.
P.S. Mother Superiour wants to see you. If she is in danger then be sure to protect her! She is a very, very miserable little being and she has a very kind heart. She must stay alive. I think that they'll open up the Apiary today, by the Inquisitor's order.
The guards were a bit reluctant to open up at first, but this explained why, soon enough, they relented. The letter gave him some food for thought, but nothing immediately actionable. He stayed the course and entered the Apiary.
If the short housing section of the Apiary was hellish, then the epithet for this was quite a bit more categorical. The moans of the sick were very much the same as they were in the Short Housing section, but there was much more death here.
Piles of corpses stacked up and covered by filthy rags and propped up by rusted metallic pipes. The Inquisitor must have seen this someone will surely be responsible for this.
It was time to relinquish the anger and try to find the chamber where Taya was located. Considering her stature, it must be somewhere up high and regal.
The only place in the Long Housing section marked by the torches? That must be it Artemiy tried the first door on the right.
This seems to be it.
These were the various letters of Order's alphabet the Tauro were made mostly out of these. There was a wealth of knowledge hidden in these, but there was no one to reveal it to Artemiy there. He turned to Taya.
Look! Here he comes, the Servitor! Here, I'll put you to a test are you going to answer?
I'll try to not look silly while doing so.
Tell me, how do they summon the menkhu, those of the lineage of servants? Well?
By their hands they know them, the butchers. By their eyes they distinguish them, the surgeons...
I see you know. Now, I'm ready to speak with you. But look here don't talk back to me, or else! I'm quick to anger!
She put her little hands to her side and scowled - a foolish man would've thought her to be a petulant little girl, but Artemiy knew better than that.
Please stay your wrath, Mother.
Taya playfully giggled at Artemiy it seemed to be a joke on her part, even if he still didn't want to take any chances.
We had a very curious guest today!
Is she still here?
No. She went to the Town prison from here. Oh, she was so angry! Can you imagine she ordered the Long Housing section be opened, because no one can escape from here now. That's what she said.
What else did she say?
She said that she will make an example of those, who are at fault for what happened her. I told her that it wouldn't be so easy to find the ones at fault. Our guest will solve this puzzle, though I think...
Doesn't the Order know who gave the order to seal the Apiary?
Me? No, I don't know. My guest promised me that she'll find out, though. She is very-very-very terrifying! Even I wanted to clump up into a ball from fear and I'm not used to fear!
It's strange that she let you be...
Indeed a distant emissary of the Authorities being completely fine with a four year-old girl being in charge of a big group of people during a deadly epidemic? That was quite strange, indeed.
Hybrid of a Bull and a Man.
The Inquisitor is investigating the crimes of the rulers in the Town prison. I have nothing to fear, however my conscience is clear. I'm sure that today's visit to the prison will be the last one I'll undertake in this Town.
Taya wasn't quite done with him, though.
The Order has been quite worried a riot is stirring...
What is bothering the Order, exactly?
They performed a sacrifice yesterday. A Higher one laid his head on a plate one by the name of Boos Primogenius. Everything was supposed to change, but nothing happened. That means that the Servitor is a false one.
Yesterday's sacrifice was having unexpected consequences today, it would seem.
Servitor? Which Servitor?
Elder Oyun. He was the one to open up the Higher one. Nothing happened! The pestilence didn't end! Perhaps, he is a bad servitor? The lines would have continued, otherwise. The sacred blood of the Higher one would have cured the world, but it didn't work out that way.
Ah, it seems that she was talking about a different sacrifice than the one Artemiy witnessed. Still, there was a bit of important news here that Artemiy did not overlook.
Does it mean that the Elder has returned?
He has this very night, too. That's when they brought the Higher one from the Steppe. They brought him in through the Gate of Maw. You know, he was so so so so very big! Wow! That was the first time in my life that I saw his shadow! My odonkhe tell me that I will never see one like that ever again...
How can I reach the Elder, Mother?
I don't know.
What am I to do, then?
You know, the Worms opened up a bull, too! They say that, because of their sacrifice, something changed in the world! Would they be capable, though? Their talk is for naught they are only hurting themselves... Perhaps, you could ask her about what exactly did they do? They're in the Short Housing section, right at the top hiding from the angered Order.
The two daring Worms had a part to play, after all.
The Order is angry with them?
The Elder says that they've spoiled his sacrifice. Oyun said that while he was opening up the Higher one, they were mocking the Rites opened up a bull on Rhaga's Mound and that is why the lines have crossed. You can ask them whether it's true or not it's all very curious...
I'll give it a try.
Artemiy already knew what happened after all, he was present when it did. However, he was still interested in what the Worms had to say for themselves.
In the neighbouring housing section of the Apiary, a pair of terrified odonkhe are hiding out. If I can get to them, they will tell me just what exactly was achieved with yesterday's haphazard rite.
So, the sacrifice that the worms performed wasn't quite sanctioned, after all... Why did they do it, then? To achieve the same ends that the Elder was trying to achieve? Strange...
As before, the patrolmen did not bar his way.
Not much seemed different in the Short Housing section of the Apiary, except for a little detail.
This was rather inconvenient the clouds were wedged in at the most inopportune of places. Damn this disease and its will trying hard to be inconvenient.
It took a set of careful gymnastics, but, soon enough, Artemiy was at the top.
The Worms looked quite scared and looked at him with expectation of salvation that Artemiy wasn't able to bring them even if he wanted. He was only here to hear them explain themselves.
You have come?
Yes. Tell me why you have opened up the bull yesterday.
Why? In order to perform the foreordained. You can't fault one for that. Even the children are allowed to sculpt out of clay. Fill the belly of Boos Turokh with Suokh's broth, and the evil will diseappear.
They weren't going to be too explanatory in that avenue of questioning, so Artemiy turned to a detail that Taya mentioned.
What has changed in the world after the bull was opened?
We summoned an emissary from the other side. A giant one not like us. He isn't human.
Isn't human? How so?
A lot of beings in this Town made a claim to a status of non-human, including the immortal Simon, who seems to have found his mortality relatively quickly
The one whom we've summoned is destined to restore the justice. Destined to fight Suokh. Destined to fall by the hand of a Servitor. The one, whom we've summoned, is destined to become the real Sacrifice.
Wait! Why are you talking like this?
That is how it was scribed in the Fable of the Sons. His death will make that, which yesterday's death did not. We've summoned the one who was needed and he came. We did a good deed.
Who is it? Is it the Inquisitor?
We do not know.
So, does it mean that you weren't mocking the Rites?
We wouldn't have dared, oinon. We don't know how. We've done a good deed.
Good. I believe you.
Now, I can find out what Tychik's self-reliant daughter thinks about all this.
All this talk about predestination, on the other hand, concerned me. It seemed like peeking too far ahead, even if it remained oblique. At the very least, it was some exceedingly heavy-handed foreshadowing. Is watching this little prophecy unfold really all that was left to us?
In any case, this train of thought was interrupted when Artemiy exited the Short Housing section.
It seems that some foolhardy soul was trying to exact the Order's ire on Artemiy. For associating with the exiled Worms, perhaps? In any case, the six patrolmen that were present did not take kindly to this and Artemiy went on after it was all over.
Artemiy decided to scout out the side corridors, in case he was missing something interesting or unusual. There was, however, nothing to be found but more death and misery, so he went on to Taya.
Artemiy still could not come to terms with just how disagreeable the Order's living conditions were. Any respect that he may had for Vlad Sr. disappeared that day.
Not much seemed to change in here since Artemiy was gone, although one of the butchers seemed to have gotten tired of standing and assumed a comfortable, resting position that is easy on the legs.
Everything was done correctly, and nobody was trying to perform the Rites, either.
Ah so, that means that it's the Elder's fault. We should gather the Council and tell everyone who's still left in the Apiary. That's where the problem is our Elder isn't worthy... He is not real the real one would be able to chase the death away.
Yesterday's sacrifice wasn't a parody of the Rites, performed in the Abattoir. Rather, it's the other way around. The profaning Odonkhe on Rhaga's mound achieved more than the terrifying Elder Oyun. There's a conclusion to be drawn from all of this...
Drawing that conclusion and acting on it would be two entirely separate matters. For now, Artemiy was done in the Apiary it was time to visit the Town prison.
All this talk of predestination only brought Artemiy back to the first day, when the Executor first mocked him.
It is much more interesting to be a fatalist if one has an actual choice to make, wouldn't you agree? However snarky, it still rang quite true.
It felt as if, in the past seven days, Artemiy has done nothing but go along with the current that dragged him ever closer to the center of Maelstrom that threatened to consume him. Was there nothing to be done?
If only he could make the panacea and perform the duty entrusted to him, then, perhaps, it will all be worth it.
The Town Hall was a sizable building that stood out in its surroundings, but Artemiy didn't manage to capture it's glory quite completely since he was being chased by an unpleasant Angelic cloud and two rats.
Instead of taking in the glory, he chose to duck inside as quickly as possible.
Inside, the patrolmen seemed to be processing a couple of criminals. There was no sight of Inquisitor. Ugh...
Justice and impartiality those are the rules followed by the lawful emissary of the Authorities!
Are you so sure about that?
The Governmental Inquisitor will perform a swift investigation and will carry out an exemplary punishment of all those involved in the crimes just as she should.
What crimes are you talking about, in particular? There were hundreds of them committed around here.
Oh, I'm merely talking about this prison. A mass incarceration of innocents took place here. Unwarranted executions were carried out using unlawful methods. Criminal negligence that led to the introduction of the infection in the cells and caused mass deaths has also occurred. Someone must be held accountable.
Aren't your sort the ones who should be held accountable for all the executions?
That wasn't our will. We carry out the orders without thinking about them.
Marionettes were abound in this place, and, according to the Executors, he was the premiere one. Or was it a comedian? It was probably both...
Anyway, where is the Inquisitor?
Her grace left to investigate the residence of the blood trader. He caused the uprising of the arsonists and was at the core of their entire conspiracy. He is sure to get his, now should've thought twice about burning things!
Hybrid of a Bull and a Man.
Inquisitor departed into the lair of the hunchback trader in order to put an end to the Arsonists' riot. That is one dangerous witness, right there... He is sure to blame me for many things, and he's bound to sound truthful while doing so, too... I should hurry there.
He should have, but, truth be told, between the gloomy thoughts and this wild goose chase that he predicted, Artemiy was very tired and could have used a break. So, he took one just like that.