Part 24: Chapter Twelve - Part 1Chapter Twelve Part 1
Artemiy did wander the Town a bit after concluding his affairs, but he ended up lodging in the Olgimsky residence for the night. It was a little past midnight when he woke up. Although he had letters waiting for him, Kapella looked a bit... worried, so he spoke with her before checking the mail.
Were it not for you, I would not live to see this day. Now, if my plan comes to life, I will be able to revive this Town. I am grateful to you, Servitor. I will never forget this.
What is your plan, though?
The new Town will be created by the Children-Exiles, who left the Polyhedron behind. They will become the new Mistresses and Rulers. Out of them, a new triangle of Powers and Beginnings will be made, except, this time, it will stand at the foundation and not flutter in the wind at the top.
What is this triangle that you're talking about?
Earth birthed the Town, the Town birthed the Tower, the Tower birthed the plague and the Earth was cleansed. In order to conquer this void, it is not enough to kill death, like the Bachelor thinks. One also has to build on top of the emptiness it's the only way for the Town to defeat the Chaos.
Hmm... why do you call the children exiles? Didn't they leave it behind voluntarily?
It was not the cause, but the effect. They left the Polyhedron because they had a different fate. Prisoners of Dreams can only build they cannot rule. Besides in order to tear oneself out of their childhood, one needs decisiveness, maturity and independence. Only exceptional children are capable of showing such traits.
I've heard that you're planning to start a new religion, too, aren't you?
No. You simply haven't fully understood what Mistresses are yet. Children don't get it, either that is why they talk of religion. Can a human being even make up a religion? These aren't mere playthings we're talking about...
Artemiy could get into an argument about this, but it's not like he had anything to prove and he wouldn't change Kapella's mind either.
You're right they are not.
Tell me will you stay with us? Will you rule the Order like your Father was supposed to?
Even if the Town were to be rebuilt, something tells me that Artemiy wouldn't want to stay behind. It's not that too much happened here, but even having spent so much time here, it felt decisively alien to him. At the very least, I wouldn't want that for him, so it should be cause enough to decline.
I doubt it. I wish to leave this place...
You can leave with Aglaya, but who will you be in that case? A strange barbarian, a provincial fellow with no future, a deadbeat with a bloody past. Aglaya will turn away from you when the fleeting fascination disappears. You were brought together by the otherworldly nature of your predicaments. It's best that you stay with us. Rule the Order. Take care of your people. You know the lines.
The nature of the Order was one of the ugliest parts of the Town that Artemiy saw. In fact, they were worthy of fear and loathing that the rest of the Town viewed them with. To rule over them... To be bound to them... It wasn't a particularly pretty future...
You're right... I do know the lines, but... I don't know. Not yet.
Kapella nodded and let Artemiy turn to his letters. There were three of them. Artemiy opened the first one.
Bachelor. The proof of Aglaya Lilich's duplicity.
Aglaya Lilich has tricked all of us. Both me and you have become pawns in her terrible combination. That is the truth. You can ask her yourself. Both me and Blok have pinned her against the wall. We twisted her arm and she confessed to everything. Her Sacrifice, my dear Burakh, is her!
I imagine that cutting her throat isn't necessary. If the Town is destroyed, Aglaya Lilich's head will roll in the next 24 hours, at most. I found out that this mission serves as her shot at a a stay of execution. Her life would be saved only in a scenario where she finds a way to preserve the plague-ridden Town for the Authorities. It is an order that is impossible to execute at this point. The Plague infests the Town from within, down to its very roots.
It's doubly vile that by lying to you, she not only preserved her own life, but she also worked towards her own goal the destruction of the precious Polyhedron.
We can destroy the disease only with destroying the Town. That means that I am right or so everything you know would suggest, right? If you are planning on visiting the Cathedral, keep that in mind.
Poor Daniil must have thought that he was blowing Haruspex's mind. The fact that Aglaya had ties to Kains and the fact that her life was tied to the Town's were two facts that were known to Artemiy. He also suspected, for a while, that they were the main driving force behind Aglaya's actions and words, but that was no longer the case.
On how your precious Aglaya Lilich tricked you.
Your sacrifice is Aglaya Lilich. I don't know how you are meant to kill her, but she was the one betrothed to you. I can tell you this as a true Mistress, as this is my first vision of the Truth. You know the price of such words. It is the Truth. Aglaya Lilich has been lying to you in order to preserve her own life.
Do not interfere with the Town and you can consider the prophecy fulfilled. The Order will accept you.
Ask her I doubt that she will be able to deny this truth.
You know what? Screw the Order. Screw the Mistresses. Screw Klara. Screw Bachelor. And, above all, screw this Town.
So, Aglaya wasn't telling the whole truth? Of course she wasn't. Nobody in this damned Town was, anyway, yet here are the Bachelor and the Impostress both descending on Artemiy and trying, with feigned outrage, to use this fact for their own gain. It's scummy and despicable and Artemiy wasn't one to be swayed by such reasoning.
A letter from Aglaya Lilich. Tomorrow's council.
The council is tomorrow. We've come to an agreement, General Blok and I. He will listen to arguments for preserving various fragments of the Town arguments backed by evidence. Thanks to you, we have such evidence, don't we? Afterwards, we will listen to the Mistresses.
Kapella and Maria have been both invited to the council and, I imagine, Katherine will come too. I believe that you are on good terms with the Olgimsky girl, yes? She promised to support us. Is she healthy?
Without a Mistress, we will not be able to come to a decision. She is our guarantee of the townspeople's obedience in the future. The Army will leave sooner or later, but they will still have to lead a life here. We cannot save the Town without a guarantee that the people living here will live their lives accordingly, as to not awaken the sleeping death once more.
P.S. Blok does not know that we have been exchanging correspondence, nor does he know that we have been seeing each other. He doesn't know that you have befriended Kapella, either. That is important.
My hopes rest on you!
If only all letters that Artemiy received were as sane and even-handed as this one. Time for the last visit to the Theatre.
Hang on... Yesterday, this district was stricken by the disease... On the next day after that happens, a strange, orangy hue is supposed to descend... This is quite odd...
Not only is the plague completely gone, but the streets are pretty much empty. Except for that Executor fellow by Vlad Sr.'s door, everyone's gone... What's going on?
There's no mistaking it... The Army is gone, the ill and insane people are gone... It's all barren and rather creepy hopefully, the Theatre isn't as empty, though it will almost certainly be quite creepy.
However you slice, one must sacrifice something...
Destruction is imminent... There will be no miracle...
Whatever happens, a lot of will blood will be spilled.
You see how they are reasoning, don't you? There's nothing to hope for... Each of them can only follow their fate now... Let's see which of one will manages to do so...
Each of them wants to preserve their own... Maybe, they will manage to come to an understanding?
Impossible. Not everyone will fit at the negotiation table especially once the General and the Inquisitor take their seats. One will decide and the rest will perish...
REEL 14: The Masks' Nightly Attractions - Night Eleven
Oh dear... The Theatre has been used as a makeshift morgue in the past, but, now, all the corpses are gone as if they were chaff... At least Mark, the proprietor of the Theatre and an Adherent of Bachelor's is still around... This day is starting off on a decidedly strange note... Let's try and talk to him...
Without you, I wouldn't have a future. The cause that I serve would not exist without me. Thank you.
Why is he thanking Artemiy? Bachelor was the one who kept him alive until now... Odd...
What future lies before you, then?
The Town will be rebuilt anew... We will transfer it over the river to the other shore. The Earth there is clean. Nothing will interfere with our cause there. Polyhedron will become the foundation of the new settlement in the same way the Abattoir was the foundation of this doomed Town. It will be a new era...
The Bachelor's solution... It's a bit too late for that, unfortunately...
I'm afraid that this will never happen...
There aren't enough of us left. On my own I, of course, won't manage... Every person is precious. You don't know how many of us are left alive, do you?
My work is not yet done. There will be enough.
These are the lines that all of Bachelor's adherents will say to you on this day, without exception.
Artemiy went outside and opened his map. It was time to look for infected Adherents.
A reminder of the truth. Our truth.
The search was a short one Lara Ravel, one of Klara's Adherents, is sick. Since in the past days, only one Adherent got sick per day, the same rule will probably hold today.
The beaked fellow gave Artemiy the same canned speech and got a vial of panacea in return for it. Artemiy went on around the Town to look for curiosities in the Night.
Artemiy never been inside this house, though he passed it by many times. He had no reasons to, even if an Adherent lived there. Tonight, something drew him inside.
For posterity and completion's sake.
An unusually intellectual décor, if you will.
Her name is Yulia Luricheva. She is one of Klara's Adherents and does not figure in Haruspex's story at all. She is here to be shown off, that is all.
I thank you... I only need to survive for a while longer. I have one last task to complete. Now, I will not die in vain.
What is this task you're talking about?
I will perform the greatest, most priceless deed of all self-sacrifice. I will do what Simon did from every particle of my being, life will be born. The cannon will not fire. Town will keep being built. A thread will stretch into the future from the dawn of time.
Do you really believe that this is possible?
There aren't enough of us left. However, if there's even half-a-dozen of us left, it will be enough for the Town to stretch higher and higher. At least for two hundred more years, there will be a place on this Earth where the daydreams become reality. How many of those like me are left alive?
There will be more, soon.
These are the lines that all of Klara's adherents will say to you on this day, without exception.
It seemed that all of Adherents had something to say to Artemiy tonight. It would be prudent to check on his own Adherents, at least for knowledge's sake.
What would we do if you wouldn't come to our help? So, that means that when we will grow up, you will be just like your Father?
What are you going to do now?
I will become the axis, around which the wheel will be spun. A future ruler, only with a new sign. I believe Kapella.
A new sign? What do you mean?
The triangle of Kain, Olgimsky and Saburov is no more. No more termites, utopians or the humbles. Only a memory is left of the three powers. New powers and new signs are needed. Old rulers are gone. Except for you. You will keep our Town safe until we grow up?
What Truth will you be fighting for, then?
I don't know yet... We didn't have enough time to talk about that yet. I will build and I will direct the fiery wroth of Khan and Notkin. All that was opened to Kapella. I wonder, which Mistress of the two will she set aside for me? Laska or Mishka? Hah... Both of them are rather ugly, but they're kind... Are you sure that they're alive?
I'm sure. Why would you need to keep Khan and Notkin at bay?
They, with me, will create the new triangle! Whether I want it or not, I'll have to be locked in an eternal tug of war with them... My heart tells me that either of them will grow up to be a great general-conqueror, like Blok or Shoin... I do, however, have some ideas on how to counter these two warriors.
Kapella didn't lie about having great plans in store for these kids... Still what Matchstick described did not seem all that different from the old order of things.
The empty streets made for a much easier mode of transportation. No more worrying about bandits, marauders, Army or disease clouds. One could even get used to it, though it didn't feel like the disease was gone. It was merely brushed aside for a second. For a key moment.
You did it so that I'm alive. Thank you, thank you! So you will be helping me?
Who told you that?
Kapella said so. You will now be the Elder and the main person in the Order. Everyone will listen to you like they did to Dad. I, on my part, will always be nearby so that you will feel that everyone is with you and that the Order loves you. That is what she promised me.
Suddenly this was too much...
She couldn't have promised you something like that!
So what? She said and you will probably agree because these are your lines and you are responsible for us all! It's almost the same, really. Me and you have to revive the Order. Without me, they will die.
So does that mean that you will also become a Mistress?
I will be a little bit off to the side. I will help you and will connect you with everyone. I won't bother the new Mistresses, even if I really want to... Kapella planned it that way on purpose, although I don't understand why yet.
Is that what she told you?
Yes. She also said that there won't be three knots, like before, but four. The fourth one will be me. Off to the side. That is, there were four before, too, but nobody saw it that way. It will probably be better than it was before.
...I hope so.
I doubt it.
Something made Artemiy feel rebellious tonight. He, who knows that the lines guide everything, suddenly and inexplicably, felt the urge to do everything in his power to rebel.
Me and Kapella owe you so much. I'm only alive because of you, right?
Tell me what does Kapella need you for?
I will replace the second Mistress... That is, Kapella thinks that I will be able to. She said that I glow with a bright colour that is not thick, like hers, but is see-through and very pale.
What will that be for?
Each of us will pull in a different direction she will pull a little bit up, and I will pull a bit down. We will arrange the life together, even if we will be positioned against each other. Like Nina and Victoria before, but not really. I will also help her close the lines into a circle. That is how I understood her.
I hope you'll manage...
Will she manage? Kapella seems to be full of plans, but even if Haruspex helps her, will all her plans come to fruition? The future is not that certain.
So... In a couple of years, we'll have to share power, right? I wonder how the two of us will manage... You will be old by that point, though...
Ah so you're already making plans on how to overthrow me? You're a quick one...
I'm kidding, sheesh. The one I'm making plans for is Khan, anyway. He's the one whom I'll have to fight. He'll be quite scary when he grows up. Did he really leave his family's traditions behind? Who would've thought that Nina's son would convert to another faith... Which one, actually? I don't know, myself.
I don't know, either. Ask Kapella. Here's a question what Truth will you be fighting for?
I don't know which one not yet. The battle plan is shifting. The Powers will be different now. It won't be like the fight between the termites and utopians of the past, though. Kapella has already planned it all. It's good that she has tamed Khan. We've had enough with utopias. We will build a new world better than the old one!
I can see the seeds of rebellion in you already. You will be the new Utopian, Notkin.
Cynical. A bit too cynical, really. One can harbor hope for the new way of things. It will cost much, and much has been sacrificed for it already can't one hope for a better tomorrow?
Will you stay with us?
Ah. The right question.
A lot will change. By the way, I won't be living here anymore. I will have my own house, now.
The Stem. I am fated to become the Mistress of the Earth. Katherine has failed, and I will not. Kapella says so.
So, she didn't manage, but you suddenly will?
Kapella knows. She sees what will happen. After ten years, I will become a thin, tall beauty. My skin will be white and my hair will be dark from head to toes. Even longer. I will speak with the Earth. Perhaps, it will even listen to me.
I wish you well, Mishka. Take care of yourself.
One may hope for a better tomorrow if it's different enough, and it doesn't seem to be, now does it? Or, are you going to count your sunken costs in order to make yourself feel better about this whole affair?
Enough of this nonsense. There's no reason to change anything, anyway. Stay the course and save what you can. This has been the plan all along, and there's no reason to deviate.
It is time to make one last choice.
Two letters come at 7 A.M., on the dot.
I know the truth about your Udurg. About Simon, the last patient of your Father's.
I am ready to explain the situation to Blok, but I haven't yet had the chance to do so due to the Army rebellion. The mechanics of this are clear. Destroy the Town and the Inquisitor is doomed. If the Inquisitor is doomed, then the Polyhedron will be saved.
The entire being of this engraged woman is directed towards a single goal. She is prepared to die if she will be able to destroy this masterpiece before doing so. While she is alive, there is no way to make sure that it is safe.
Let's save the Polyhedron and, thus, save the existence of Simon and create the superior being that your Father spoke of. You will fulfill his last will. The task will be complete, the contradiction will be solved.
As you can see, the logic is sound, though I apologize for its rather frantic explanation.
P.S. Please find an opportunity to see me if you are not convinced.
Good, we were nearby anyway. Let's see the Bachelor and hear what he has to say for himself one last time. To be honest, I don't quite want to hear what he has to say. It will be Aglaya this, Inquisitor that, but let's do so. For posterity.
So? Have you decided?
It is time to choose. As for me, I'm packing my things and am planning on leaving the Town before the bombardment starts with those, whom I'll be able to pull out of the fire. I could have resolved the situation, but there is no time...
The question was an empty one, but why not?
How would you solve this conundrum?
I would make it so that the Town with the Bull Projects would be destroyed. The Polyhedron will remain where it is. Blok has assured me that his aim would be true and so accurate that not even a slight breeze would reach the other end of the river Gorkhon. The River will swallow the plate, or so he said.
Destroy the Town, and the people will die.
Look around you. All people have died, already. The only ones left are us. Don't count the infected, they have less than a day left to live.
I could help them...
You could? In that case, I could come to the Council and offer the General the evidence to support my solution. The tainted Town will disappear from the face of the Earth. The Polyhedron will remain. It is sterile and, goddammit, it's worth saving!
What do you need for that to happen?
If my Adherents are alive, I will be with you at the Council. Are you sure that they are alive? Do you really want me to come to the Council?
The game's rules are the same for all the protagonists. Sure. Why not, indeed.
Yes. Your Adherents are alive and well. I'm counting on you, oinon.
The creators and the keepers of the crystal Tower, the fragile Polyhedron, the body that keeps our dying childhood warm, are alive. Bachelor will be present at the Cathedral for the last council. He will be able to try and defend his decision if I give him the right to decide.
Oh, it's an option, sure. But is it a satisfactory one? To turn away from the enemy you know to help the enemy you don't is desperation. No... Better to refuse entirely, if that is the case... Still, why not allow the poor fellow feel important one last time?
Let me remind you about a couple of fact since you've been so curious, and all that.
So, the first one: if what you Father meant when he wrote udurg is the Town, then your sacrifice is the Polyhedron. There are no other choices. They are alike. Crush the Polyhedron, and you will perform a sacrifice and will spill rivers of blood through the hollow stem, the Earth's blood will flow.
The second one if your sacrifice is Aglaya, then your Udurg is Simon. That means that the Polyhedron must be absolutely preserved.
I am in the Apiary's left wing. Come if you wish to talk. My plan is the only right one.
Nothing shall die.
The girl's plan is certainly much more interesting... Whatever her sacrifice will be, it won't be important if we get to keep everything, now is it?
See how everything has turned out? Who could have imagined... Inevitably, either the Town or the Polyhedron must be sacrificed. One Queen absolutely wishes to destroy the miraculous Tower, while the other wishes to destroy as much as possible for his own peace of mind.
That is how the world works, really. Do you have another exit?
If my Adherents are alive, then I will be with you at the Council and there will be no Queen that I couldn't convince that my solution is the one most beneficial for everyone! Are you sure that they all are alive? Do you really want me to come to the Council?
Yes. You Adherents are alive and well. Come to the Cathedral. I may give you the right to decide.
The Adherents that are ready to give their lives over the course of many years, the miserables that are ready to launch the chain of self-sacrifice, are alive. Klara will come to the last Council. She will be able to defend her decision if I give her the power to decide.
And why not? She wouldn't lie not about something like this, and her loss is our gain. Sure, everything will remain the same, but it's not like much would change. Kapella's New World Order isn't worth destroying the Polyhedron, and the Town will be saved, which ought to mean that Aglaya will live. Win-win, if there ever is one.
Time to go rest up before the Council... Everything seems to be over... except... huh.
A letter from the Authorities.
We decided to write you because you entirely refuse to listen!
For a while now, you've been doing whatever you want to. This cannot continue! You are ruining the game!
If this letter reaches you, come to the Polyhedron. You will be let through. You will reach the bottom, close your eyes, and will say Three, four, five, and you will open your eyes.
We wish to tell you something.