The Let's Play Archive


by HellishWhiskers

Part 15: Chapter Seven - Part 2

Chapter Seven – Part 2

After a brief time-out, the wild goose chase was to continue.

It was somewhat admirable that the Inquisitor was taking such a proactive approach to fixing things in the city, but Artemiy would be damned if it wasn't bothersome. Going from one plagued district to another did not make for a pleasant stroll, after all.

It did not help that Artemiy was potentially heading straight towards his own execution, either. It may be a calming thought in its own way, sure, but it isn't one that leads to a productive ending.

Besides, how much trust the Hunchback – a man behind the massive conspiracy of insane arsonists – could really garner from an impartial out-of-towner?

The commotion on the streets of plagued districts wasn't ending, but, soon enough, Artemiy found the right house.

The interior of the house was eerily quiet, aside from hushed whispers upstairs. Artemiy ascended the stairs to check it out.

Well, this is a strange sight indeed – a pack of younger men in wealthy clothing standing amid a number of corpses of arsonists.

Artemiy turned to the closest of them to ask for explanations. This particular fellow did seem a bit confused, however.

No – I, myself, don't understand much, either. Address all question to him, right there, though I doubt that he will tell you much more... I'm here entirely out of the sense of camaraderie, if you must know...

That's somewhat admirable, at least...

Artemiy did have slight trouble telling just who is the leader of this bunch, but, soon enough, he found the right one.

Are you here for the same reason? We're waiting. I'm hoping that we'll manage to disarm her with one sudden stroke. Sever her spine with a cut of a scalpel – figuratively speaking.

It seems that this house was a haven for all sorts of crazed ideologues.

What in the world are you ranting about?

The youth was not pleased by that remark – perhaps, antagonizing them wasn't a very good idea?

What? Do you expect me to take that from you?

Be calm – I wasn't entirely serious.

A wise choice – it would behoove Artemiy to not get into a fight with them, especially since he needed information.

No matter – Victor will surely manage to dull her bite. He knows whose skeletons are lying hidden in her closet. Whatever sort of execution she'd want to subject the creator of panacea to, her intrigue will surely fail if we drag it out into the light. We did not feel sorry for Rubin before, but we are on his side now!

Hold on – are you speaking truthfully? Does she intend to get rid of the creator of the Panacea?

You need proof? Visit Victor for it. We are only here to bolster the forces of the resistance. Down with the coming tyranny! Down with the hypocritical investigation that hides the true, personal motives! Such an Inquisitor will never help our Town!

I hope that Victor is present at his house right now...

Hybrid of a Bull and a Man.

Victor Kain has some thoughts on the true goals of this... Inquisitor. I should exchange some words with him before I wander into the lair of the tigress.

If what these fledgling utopian revolutionaries were saying was true, then the Inquisitor wouldn't need any particular witnesses to condemn Artemiy to death. In times like this, her rule would be absolute.

Perhaps, it might not be a bad idea to not visit her at all? Still, Artemiy would be smart to ascertain her motives, and Victor seemed to be privy to them, if those crazed youths were to be trusted.

Artemiy was in luck – Victor was behind his desk, as usual, though he did seem gloomier and looked a bit older than he did yesterday. At the very least, he certainly seemed much less prepared than he was yesterday.

Do you see, Burakh, how unexpectedly the wheel of fate has turned? What a strange coincidence, if it is a coincidence at all! Why, against all expectations, instead of the experienced Orph and instead of the decisive Karmisnky, they saw it fit to send precisely her? Why did they send Aglaya Lilich?

Lilich? Artemiy could swear that he heard that last name somewhere before...

What is so amazing about that, exactly?

Well, first of all, because Aglaya Lilich is my deceased wife's sister. We would consider to be luck on our part, were it not for a deep-seated hatred that the two sisters shared for each other, despite the difference in their age. A horrible, irreconcilable hatred that did not abate even with the elder sister's death.

Quite the coincidence...

I'm afraid that Aglaya has too many vested interests in this situation that will surely collide with her duties, and all these vested interests don't bode well for us, I must add... I think that this expedition is perceived by Aglaya Lilich as nothing more than a means to an end - with that end being revenge, of course...

Revenge? Revenge against whom?

My deceased wife and her elder sister... Or, at least, everything that remains of her.

Who would allow an inquisitor to use her mission for personal revenge?

Indeed – it seems quite unlike the Authorities to send someone with such a conflict of interest here...

Not who, but what... Desperation. I've learned recently that Aglaya Lilich has been sentenced to death – for a certain passion for backstabbing intrigues, I might add. The only thing that can save her from the executioner's block is a miracle. When one exists in such a state, it's quite easy to let go... She might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb...

How was she entrusted with this mission, then?

I have three versions of events that might explain that. First – my information is incorrect. Two – she arrived her of her own will, having usurped the position of the real inquisitor appropriated his powers along the way. That seems possible, especially since she has nothing to lose, though it is a bit too improbable, I must admit.

What is the third one, then?

Third – and the most probable one – lies in the notion that the Authorities gave Aglaya Lilich her last shot at rehabilitation, entrusting her with a hopeless task. It makes it especially probable, since the possibility of a deadly outcome for her is quite probable. Perhaps, this version is the best one for us... For you, though, it is the worst one.

How so?

Simply, my friend, because she doesn't need any competition. It is an inquisitor's task to find a daring solution for an insolvable problem that is so ingenious that it would justify the Inquisitor's immunity in full. It also must be quite effective, of course. That's why they're keeping them around. You, however, have deprived Aglaya of her chance to prove her competence, and I'm afraid that she already knows that...

This, then, must be the reason why she would try and get rid of the creator of the Panacea... This did not bode well for Artemiy at all...

I'm not her competitor, though...

What about your Panacea, though? Bachelor told me that you only have one tiny step to make in order to reach the victory. What is it, then, if not a solution for a problem? Were it not for unfortunate tribulations that Dr. Rubin suffered because of our faults, the solution would've been found already... Isn't that so?

No. It isn't.

The Bachelor was a bit too optimistic – a vital piece that was necessary was still missing, and it wasn't going to be found anytime soon...

Well then... If that is the case, then you can present yourself to the Inquisitor with a clear conscience. You won't manage to avoid doing that for long - unless you want to try to save yourself by escaping, that is.

I won't do that.

It's quite possible that she is already back at the Cathedral. The only thing left for me to do is to wish you luck. The Fate has been kind to you during these days, so, perhaps, it will keep showering you with its grace. If you enter the cathedral, I can even bet three against seven that you will exit it alive with your freedom intact.

I hope so – those aren't entirely bad odds...

Hybrid of a Bull and a Man.

Inquisitor awaits me in the Cathedral. Should I try to avoid the meeting? The consequences might be unpleasant, and if today has shown anything, it's that it's quite impossible to hide from her anywhere...

Getting to the Cathedral meant simply crossing the street, but it was one of the harder trek of all his days in the Town.

For the first time in a long while, Artemiy was entirely at mercy of an unknown element. It could, very well, prove to be his destruction – or, perhaps, his salvation?

The only thing that Artemiy could do was to be true to himself and his moral compass – like he always was. With this thought, Artemiy pushed against the Cathedral's heavy doors once more.

A strange sight – there she was, near her throne, with two tragedians swaying side to side near the steps leading to it. A Queen has to have her jesters, I suppose.

Her expression was quite tired, but she gave Artemiy a wry smile as he approached. Now, he was, irreversibly, a part of her web.

It is a great power that some wield over the others, isn't that right? Who, in our times, can remain truly free? Everyone is a pawn in someone's game! Everyone is blinded, everyone has been lied to...

Do you have an example, perhaps?

Take the proud Bachelor, who just spoke with me with thorough faith in his freedom... My worst fears have been confirmed. He has been a pawn in the hands of the Authorities. Believing someone's slander, he sent an arrow towards a worthy target and it went around and struck him squarely in the back!

I didn't think that I would catch an Inquisitor in such an uproar...

It is vile to take advantage of someone's sense of honour! Vile indeed, and I know exactly who would benefit from something like that... Those who decided my fate will decide the fate of other emissaries in a similar fashion... One has already taken to the stage, while the other is getting ready to do so. I can already hear the weapons of his battalions being prepared!

Artemiy's idea of an inquisitor was being shattered by the minute. Instead of cold, distanced personages, here was a person, who was completely emotionally invested in the matter at hand. Victor's words were proving true, it seemed... He still had doubts, though...

Is it possible that all this is just a pretense? Until now, I believed that everything that inquisitors do is done with a hidden intent behind it...

Aglaya chuckled – perhaps, she was used to scrutinizing the intents of her subjects and was surprised to see it happen the other way around.

What did the one whom they call the Haruspex, the Servitor, the Ripper come here for?

I wanted to tell you why I've done everything that I've done.

Aglaya laughed – it wasn't a cruel sort of laughter, though. It was not meant to laugh at Artemiy's expense – rather, somehow, for a second, Artemiy's words seemed to have lifted a great weight off of Aglaya's shoulders. It was strange, but Artemiy didn't begrudge her for it.

How interesting! Why, indeed? Do continue – I'm very excited to discuss the questions of self-determination nowadays! Considering how I've been treated, it seems that I've been too hasty to consider the matter resolved.

I thought that this was going to be a questioning, but it seems to be turning into a confession...

Not at all! From your father, you have received an invitation to his own funeral. Upon arrival, you've confirmed that he is dead and, afterwards, you have received an inheritance that carried within it, firstly, an obligation to preserve a certain unknown being by the means of panacea and, secondly, a warning about an inevitable sacrifice that you are preordained to carry out. Right?

How did she know all this? Nobody in the Town was privy to Artemiy's affairs to such an extent except Artemiy himself...

Well, that's not the whole truth of it...

So, they forced you to create a panacea? An unexpected play...

Forced me? I decided upon that myself!

All circumstances led you to it. You considered the creation of panacea to be your primary goal – do you honestly think that it was your idea?

There was no other way to cure the Marked one!

Where did you get that idea from? You don't even know who it is – and I think that it's not even human! This is where the figurative meanings come into play! I was preparing for this visit, you know – I've studied your rites. They're all symbolic...

However knowledgeable she was, her words were, above all, fueled by desperation. Victor's words rang truer by the minute.

You speak truthfully, though it's not like we ought to look for someone to blame for that...

Oh, it's not anyone's fault, anyway! How can you be to blame for anything? The Authorities have tricked you. Everything has been prearranged. Who has guided you along this path? Who played that evil role in your fate? You are a pawn in their ridiculous, clumsy hands. A weapon of choice for an execution of another human being.

I only do that, which I consider to be due and proper. I choose my own path. If someone chooses to use my decisions for their intrigues or to prove their points, then let it be so.

... You've got quite the nerve. Or, perhaps, I'm missing something obvious?... Listen to me! You were played! Perhaps, you simply don't believe the facts that I'm privy to by the virtue of my profession? Do you want me to prove it to you?

Would I really change my decisions to get pleasure from spoiling someone else's intrigue? My decisions are backed by familial duty and love – that is more than enough for me!

For one reason or another, Artemiy's answer stole Aglaya's breath away. All that fervour and desperation were gone like they were never there.

… That is a worthy response.

Indeed – it is worthy precisely because it is an honest one.

It's strange, but such a simple thought never came into my mind before... Is it possible that it really is that simple?

Being yourself isn't quite that simple...

... Amazing. Let me look at you closer. Perhaps, you were sent to me by fate? Wait... I need to think...

It's alright – I'm not in a hurry.

She sat down on her throne, her brow furrowing in deep thought. Whatever she was thinking, she was doing quite a lot of it, and fast. Entire scenarios seemed to play out in her head before Artemiy's eyes. After a while, she rose up and looked at him once more.

... Yes – this is my decision. The Bachelor confided in me – you need a hybrid of a bull and a man. I have a hypothesis. Go to the Abattoir. The passage should be open – due to my arrival, all entrances and exits are open.

Well now, that is interesting...

Everyone who survived the blockade of the Apiary is returning there. Use that opening. Visit Oyun, the Elder. Ask him about Auroxes. Demand that he give you the remains of the bull that, as they told me, was killed yesterday. Go. What's the matter? What's with your face? Go – before it's too late!

... Very well. I don't understand what just happened, but I'm going.

For the first time in all of his days in the Town, Artemiy suddenly felt that he was getting closer to the Truth. He did not even dare to grasp the nature of it, though, and he did not know where it would lead him, but he was getting closer to it, and Aglaya was instrumental in getting him there.

Hybrid of a Bull and a Man.

Amazing... Did I really get this lucky? Blood of a bull, blood of a man... I felt, that these two exceedingly close lines must inevitably converge! Perhaps, the Elder of the Abattoir still keeps the remains of the being that Bachelor considered to be nonexistent. I should go see him, posthaste.

Artemiy closed his diary and almost put it away when a small page fell out of it. On it was a drawing that Artemiy never made, but, somehow, he was not surprised to find it there.

Artemiy chuckled. It couldn't have been so simple, could it? Of course not – there were still many additions to be made, even if Artemiy wasn't going to be the one to make them. Still, whoever made this must have thought themselves to be quite clever...

Artemiy decided to keep it around, nonetheless. The trek to Abattoir was going to be long, but it was one that needed to be made, and Artemiy was excited for it, too. If Aglaya was correct, then he was on the brink of victory.

Something occurred to Artemiy along the way – how in the world was Aglaya as knowledgeable in the ways of the Steppe people as she was? That is the sort of knowledge that the Order routinely killed for – both the outsiders and those within the Order. Artemiy recalled the early days, when the gatherers of Tvyr told them of a wholesale slaughter among their numbers because of a perceived betrayal.

There was, quite simply, no way for her to know what she did. Such knowledge does not exist outside of Town, yet she explicitly said that she “prepared” beforehand. An exceedingly strange happenstance, but not much to be done about it. Before going to the Abattoir, Artemiy made a small detour.

If Aglaya's hypothesis was correct and the Elder would give Artemiy what he needed for panacea, then he would also need to make a number of Tvyr mixtures in order to create a suitable environment in which the material could thrive, and all the mixtures were spent on the “Dead Broths” in the recent days. Luckily for him, the Gatherer didn't haggle too much, and soon enough Artemiy had everything he needed except the blood of the Aurox, which The Elder was supposed to give him.

The Abattoir was only a short distance away from the Gatherer's yurt and, quite soon, Artemiy was there. He approached the entrance.

As before, a certain unnatural warmth emanated from the tunnel – this time, however, Artemiy had nothing to do but to go into the darkness.

Unfortunately, walking into darkness meant that one is unable to see where he is going – resulting in Artemiy slamming face first into a stone door which was, unfortunately, closed. He knocked, to no response. Ughhhh – this meant going all the way around into the Curriers and past the entrance to the Apiary. Goddammit.

Following the walls of the Apiary, Artemiy encountered a lone Worm standing near a sort of a makeshift arena. The odonkhe mumbled something about Arena fights and spilling one's blood for Suokh, of all the entities, but Artemiy was too cross to indulge him, and the rewards didn't seem too commensurate – only a vial of your opponent's blood.

Admittedly, the enemies whom Artemiy would fight in that arena were butchers, but he already knew that the blood of the Steppe folk, while stronger, was of no particular use in fighting the Sand Plague and, as such, was pretty much useless.

Finally, after another trek through a plagued district, Artemiy was finally nearing his goal. Hopefully, this tunnel will turn out to be open.

Once again, Artemiy was advancing through darkness. This time, however, he stuck out his hand before him – just in case.

Track 15 – The Abattoir

Soon enough, he was on the other side.

It struck Artemiy just how much like a cave and how unlike a built structure the Abattoir was.

But then, perhaps, it was not built, after all, but sculpted out clay – or, in this case, of granite. All the surfaces here were rocky and most of them were quite polished, aside from the occasional mossy stones.

Good – some of the bulls were still alive, and the recently blockaded residents of Apiary now seemed to be somewhat busy. The conditions here seemed to be better than in the Apiary, but they were still rather primeval in their nature. Quite reflective of the nature of the Order, that...

The ceiling in this place was unbearably large and everything seemed extremely oversized, as if it was built by giants or, perhaps, to contain giants. It took Artemiy a while and he wandered quite a bit, even finding the place where he tried to enter previously, but, eventually, he found the Elder's chamber.

The man was fiendishly giant and very imposing, his voice thundering in the stone chambers of the Abattoir. Artemiy was intimidated, and he wasn't afraid to admit it.

I know who you are, kinsman. Do you know how to properly address me?

You are Oyun, menkhu, the Elder of the Abattoir.

The Elder commanded respect and he also demanded it.

Good. Ask.

Tell me – whom do they call an Aurox?

The traders of the past hundreds of years called “Auroxes” those who are Akin to the Bull, whom we, in the memory of those who showed him to us, call Bos Primogenius.

That name is familiar to me.

He is of Mother Bodkho's flesh, his features are as large as the Universe. His lines are the lines of this world. There isn't anything in the world that couldn't be held in the body of the Higher one. His White Threads predict the flow of time, his Blue Threads control the waters and rains, his Brown Threads keep his warmth.

I know that, too, though I think that you are already missing some things. Even I know more.

I'm not entirely sure why Artemiy chose to antagonize the Elder here, but that is entirely on him.

What else do you know? That his bones are the bones of the mountain ranges? That his skull is the sky dome? That his juices are the rivers? That his hair is the grass and its roots? That his voice is Bodkho's song, that his seed is the joy of the Vein of Bodkho, that his black blood is the memory and time of our Earth? Is that what you know?

In any case, you've opened up a Higher one recently, correct?

Yes, and I was fully in my right to do so. Who else but me – a Servitor, Elder of the Abattoir – could open the lines of the Higher one?

Give me some of his blood.

You are quite cocky, son of Bodkho. Don't you think that you are presuming too much?

I act in the name of the one who sent me here. You must know about the Emissary that just arrived into Town.

Artemiy, it seemed, wasn't interested in handling this matter in a diplomatic manner.

I know all too well. Well then – it will be so. I will give you as much blood as you could carry out of here in the palm of your hand. That is the price I'm ready to pay for our collective peace and for getting rid of this Emissary. You will not get more from me, since I know neither you nor your name. Now – give me your hand!

Well this is rather strange – The Elder just contradicted himself. At the start of the conversation, he said that he knows who Artemiy was, yet here he is denying him. Was it some sort of a way to express disapproval or disrespect, or was Oyun losing his nerve? Tough to tell, at this stage. In any case, even Artemiy picked up on it.

I am Artemiy Burakh, son of Isidore. You know who I am.

Artemiy gave him his hand and Oyun pulled out a vial from one of his pockets and poured it – quite carelessly – onto Artemiy's palm. It was hot – unbearably so, but Artemiy took great care to not spill even a drop as he poured it from his hand into a vial of his own. In the end, he had just enough for one dose.

Hybrid of a Bull and a Man.

Thus, I am on the precipice of the most important accomplishment of my life. Now, I should take the best of my Tvyrine mixtures and create the most perfect “Dead Broth”. I must create the Panacea – a natural anti-serum, based on the blood of an Aurox.

Afterwards, I am to present this precious medicine to Aglaya Lilich.

Without a stop, Artemiy ran to the previously sealed exit – he had quite enough of this Oyun chump and this place. He had his victory to achieve, after all.

He sprinted all the way to his hideout – the anticipation was killing him. Surely, this will be it – this will be the victory he craved for all these days. Finding the Marked One will be small matter once he has the weapon of victory in his hands. Artemiy nearly took the metal door to his hideout off its hinges as he barged inside.

He rushed to the chest where he kept most of his herbs and added the choice specimens, as well as Savyur which he procured from the Worm trader today to make the best Tvyr mixture yet. Then, he took the result to the machine that produced the “Dead Broths”.

The process was a short one, but it was, nonetheless, nerve-wracking. Once it was done, however, Artemiy took out one of the bottles he specially prepared for this occasion and poured the result into it. This was it. He finally had his victory.

A strange tidbit about there being enough for only twelve doses, yet, somehow, Artemiy knew it to be true. Yet again, however, there was no time to lose – he had to present this to the Inquisitor.

It didn't occur too much to Artemiy at the time that the limited nature of the Aurox blood supply would mean that his Panacea wasn't entirely effective. It certainly wouldn't cure too many people or stop the spread of this horrible disease.

Still – the amount projected by the message that came with the bottle meant that it would be enough to save his Adherents and, more importantly, it should be enough to cure the Marked one, whoever or whatever it was.

Quite fitting that the last barrier that Artemiy encountered on his way back to the Inquisitor were two clouds converging on him from both sides. They almost looked like gatekeepers, but Artemiy was too quick for them. It was as though he finally outpaced the disease, although that wasn't entirely true.

Not much seemed to have changed inside – the Tragedians kept the same rhythm going. They must be working in shifts, surely – this would've been too tiring otherwise. Aglaya herself regarded Artemiy quite neutrally, although a number of small things betrayed a hint of anxiety in her demeanour. Or was Artemiy imagining things?

Why are you staring at me so closely?

Aglaya was, after all, one of a small number of people, on whom Artemiy was almost entirely unable to get a reading of.

I'm always looking at folks like that. I... I made the panacea. Here. The Elder gave me a handful of steaming blood of the Aurox.

Aglaya took the vial and held up gently, with a great deal of care, even as Artemiy cautiously recalled Victor's warnings.

Oh, it's beautiful. Let me look at it closely... I've never thought that it would look like this... I mean, I imagined that it would come in the form of a vial many times, but I never thought that it would be a vial of medicine instead of a vial of poison...

What are you talking about?

Oh, nothing – about death...

Artemiy knew that she was talking about what Victor told him – about her being doomed if she weren't the one to discover the panacea. This confirmed Victor's theory – the third one, to be exact. Nonetheless, even with the option to twist the knife being present, I chose to not take it.

It brings life, not death, and you are the one I should thank for it.

There is nothing to thank me for... Besides, this material is far too rare – before they manage to reproduce it in the Capital, the Town will disappear from the face of the earth three times over... That's not the worst ending, mind you...

Hold on. Were it not for you, then I wouldn't fulfill the obligation before my father! You don't know how... important that was for me.

Oh, I do. Don't be in too much of a hurry, though. Perhaps, the panacea has no relation to your udurg after all.

Udurg? You know about it? Do you believe in it?

I believe in you.

Strangely sentimental, but Artemiy had no time to dwell on it right now. This was important – they were both onto something here.

That's not an answer. Do you believe that the Marked One, the One Sought For is an udurg? Do you take the Steppe folk' superstitions seriously?

Absolutely. Everything on this earth has a hidden meaning. It is impossible to lie. It is impossible to make up a fantasy. Myths are always truthful – the real question lies in interpreting them properly. Your panacea, on the other hand, will still prove useful... For all of us...

I know what this step meant for you, and I won't forget it.

Hybrid of a Bull and a Man.

I've managed to create an antiserum out of the blood of an Aurox. The weapon of victory has been forged – too bad that it turned out to be of the double-edged sort... Inquisitor Aglaya Lilich has signed her death warrant by letting me ahead. Why, then, has she doomed herself to death so willingly? Something remains hidden here...

Once again, when Artemiy was putting the diary away, a drawing fell out of it. It seemed the same, except for a minor detail.

Good – more details, though still not enough. A number of crucial details is still missing – it only covers the fundamentals, and it doesn't do that quite well, either. Once Artemiy put it away, it was clear that Aglaya wasn't quite done with him yet.

There is one last task left and it needs to be completed before the end of the day. I've heard that you're quite brave, right?

Why do you ask?

In order to announce it to the Authorities that a cure from the disease has be found – that is, that you've found it – it needs to be tested. I have to find an executor whom I could trust. I would test it myself, but they wouldn't believe me... Are you ready to test your creation?

Once again, I had the choice to test her motives with a rather cruelly worded question and, once again, I've decided against that.

I am.

Then, you'll have to get infected and wait until you reach a critical stage. With witnesses present, of course. Drink it only when you'll start losing consciousness. Only then will the Executors admit that it works.

How are we going to carry this out, then?

I sent a messenger to the Executors that are on duty at the hospital. What was it before? Ah, yes – the Theatre. They know everything. They will bear witnesses to you reaching the critical stage of the disease and your recovery. Executors are those who walk around in the bird masks.

I know.

Testing the Panacea.

The antiserum needs to be tested. An Executor is waiting for me at the Theatre. These fellows are practically drenched in the dirt of their work – getting infected from their touch should not be too difficult.

To be honest, this is a slight waste of the Panacea – there are certainly others that could use it, and Artemiy had very little trouble keeping his infection in check.

It was clear, however, that the goal of this exercise was to prove a point and, more disturbingly, to further shield Artemiy from the Authorities at the cost of Aglaya's life. What did she know that let her be so... collected about this? Something must be hiding behind all this talk about foreordained things...

What was ahead of Artemiy was a bit difficult and he should not waste time worrying too much about things he is yet to have control over.

The fellow on the stage was Mark The Immortal – the proprietor of the Theatre. Not an important figure in our story, though Artemiy has seen him many times already during his treks to the Theatre at night. Now, the Executor was the one whom we wanted to see here...

Please welcome the Haruspex Artemiy Burakh, the ripper of our fate! So, it seems that you've managed to pull it off, right?

I have, yes.

I didn't expect such self-sacrifice from Aglaya... It's rather strange – it's very unlike her, I must say!

Quit it with the smarminess, would you?

Now, the panacea must be tested, right? That is when we can report to the Authorities about a working recipe?

I don't care about the Authorities and my conscience is quite clear, too...

Now, now – don't be in such a hurry. Don't count your chickens before they hatch! Theory is one thing, but putting it into practice is another. What is good under the microscope will turn to nil in the open air – to zero, one could even say. Well, in any case – I will infect you, now. Are you ready?


The touch of the Executor bore with it some of the worst pain Artemiy experienced yet. It's quite strange how Artemiy didn't collapse right then and there, although his head was spinning quite awfully.

Testing the Panacea.

The fact of the infection is clear. Now, all that is left is to cure myself and to head back to the Cathedral. I can wait a little bit, though – to try to strengthen the effect and scare Aglaya with a live demonstration of the terrible effects of Sand Fever.

A strangely trickster-like thought for Artemiy, considering how unwell he was. Still, it would behoove him to reach the Cathedral in this state before drinking the Panacea – he could, very well, get infected along the way, and then it would be all for naught. With his business done, Artemiy staggered toward the exit.

The fresh, rainy air did its part to abate Artemiy's awful condition – the miasma of all the dead bodies in the Theatre must have surely contributed to Artemiy's symptoms in there.

This was a hard road, once again – not just because of Artemiy's bad health, but also because of the implications that today's actions of his would have for Aglaya.

Still, if Artemiy can save the Udurg – something that he absolutely must do – then he can save Aglaya in the process, as well. What's fated cannot be evaded.

Well, this is funny! The disease is escalating its efforts at gate-keeping, it seems! Artemiy would've been quite sorry if he drank the cure back at the Hospital, but, as it stands, the Angel can't hurt Artemiy at all. Chuckling, Artemiy heaved open the Cathedral doors once more.

Admittedly, the Angel's touch had a slight effect on Artemiy, but the lightheadedness abated soon. Once it did, Artemiy pulled out the little bottle, pulled out the cork and drank the substance in one gulp. It didn't taste like his usual Dead Broths. It wasn't foul at all – it tasted like clear water, drawn from a spring that has been heated by the rays of the sun. Not cool, but still refreshing. His pain was gone. He was cured. It worked.

I'm back. The Panacea works. It seems that there is absolutely no trace left of the disease.

Well... That means that I can finally go into retirement. I will, however, try to fight it, still... How much tissue did you manage to procure?

Painfully little. The Elder gave me a handful.

They've told me a lot about these slaughterhouses... You know, the more I study the materials about this Town, the more I pay attentions to the beliefs of the Steppe folk. With every source one has to speak in their own tongue and every source has to be asked only those questions which it can actually answer...

Techniques of the Inquisitors, huh?

Well then, Artemiy Burakh. Come back here after some time. It's best that you do so tomorrow. Perhaps, I'll tell you something interesting... If we manage this without their help, then it will be a real miracle. If that is the case, then I will be able to return with my head held high! Now, go – I need time to think.

Very well. I will come back later.

Testing the Panacea.

The Panacea works! If it is possible to get enough of this precious blood, then the entire Town can be saved... It's not too late yet!

Thus, this fateful day was done. Artemiy accomplished much today, though there were still many questions left unanswered and he managed to find more goals for his victory along the way. Still, today was a day that, for the first time in many days, has filled Artemiy with an undeniable sense of optimism. With it, Artemiy heaved open the Cathedral's heavy doors for the last time today and went on his way to pursue his own day-to-day affairs.