The Let's Play Archive


by woodenchicken

Part 3: Chapter One - pt.2

Klara left Alexander Saburov's hall in a disturbed state of mind. It seemed that someone who fit her description was wanted for a multitude of crimes, and the only defence she could come up with on the spot was to say that she had an evil twin. The governor seemed to believe her, but how long could that lie hold really? Now she would have a conversation with Alexander's clairvoyant wife. The door to Katherine's wing was on the opposite side of the building. Klara exited the house and ran round to the second entrance.

As promised, the woman was already expecting her there. She was standing under a watercolour that depicted a loathsome spider with a human head.

Come closer, Klara. Do you know that I, Katherine Saburov, am a clairvoyant? I can communicate with mysterious forces that inhabit this earth. Magic doesn’t have power over me. The future is like an open book to me. Tell me, do you question my abilities?
This is only an introduction... You wanted to tell me something important, didn’t you?
Visions can be different. Some of them are clear, some are hazy. But I’ve had a most clear and bright vision recently. The dream was so powerful that even a materialist wouldn’t doubt its divine nature. I had a vision of the future chaos, destruction of everything we had created. I saw our town being devoured by the earth. And there was a prophecy of the twin angels that would appear in town simultaneously. One is a harbinger of death, the embodiment of the troubles to come, another a holy wonder-worker whose hands can heal and who can deliver us from evil. Now I realize who is in front of me. Tell me; are you aware of your mission yourself?
I thought that I was just a humble servant of virtue...
Well, well... It all makes sense now. Dreams are always allegorical. I had been thinking about other twins until I saw you and heard your words... Simon and Georg Kain, Andrei and Petr Stamatin... Even these outsiders, the Haruspex and the Bachelor seemed like characters from my dream... But now I see what the truth is.
So, do you trust me, then?
I am fully convinced that you are who the prophecy told me you would be. But others are going to need proof. Demonstrate that you are the one I take you for... and we won’t abandon you. House Saburov will take you to its bosom.
What do you mean?
Present yourself in all your glory, fulfil your destiny, and if you choose to stay with us, we will adopt you. When I die, I shall hand the power of the Spirit down to you. And the man you choose for yourself will inherit the power of the Sword from my husband.
You are too kind.
Now, go to Alexander. Do whatever he asks you to. If you are for real, you have nothing to be afraid of. Time has proven that I cannot be wrong. Don’t fear anything and come back with triumph.
All right. I’ll go.
There’s something else I wanted to tell you. Since you already hold threads of life in your wonderful hands, I am going to entrust you with several people. They are all evil! Their souls are black as soot. Each of them is either an evident criminal or someone with an ominous secret. You should take care of them.
Take care of villains? Why would I do that?
If you are a merciful angel, a saint sent to us from heaven, who else can see virtue in their dead souls, convert them, forgive or acquit them if not you? But that’s not the reason why I’m asking you. Many people in this town need cleansing, and there are worse criminals than these. But these are unusual, Klara...
Trust me, I know. The sinners whose names I shall now list will help you in due time. I don’t know in what way, but they will be of use. The probability is high... So, keep them alive, unless you decide that you really want them dead... Well?
All right... I’ll do it if it is within my power.
And now listen to me. All I have told you must be between you and me. Don’t mention any of this to anyone, least of all – to my husband.
I thought you had no secrets from each other...
He doesn’t belong to himself. He is a ruler. A man of duty. Two men live within him. If he learns that I told you to look after those whom his duty tells him to pursue, it will drive him mad. He trusts my premonitions too much.
So, what shall I do now?
Your actions are guided by the higher justice. Do as your nature tells you. Listen to your feelings.
I cannot promise anything, but I’ll consider it. So, who are these people?

Instead of an answer, Katherine simply gave her a small piece of paper, on which a column of names was scribbled. Most of them were unfamiliar; some didn’t look like names at all.

Lara Ravelle
Julia Luricheva
Stanislav Rubin
Alexander Saburov
Katherine Saburov
Anna Angel

Klara slipped the paper in her pocket and hurried back to Alexander’s hall.

Let Alexander assign me whatever test he wants. If my path is planned from above, I shall not stray or stumble, no matter how steep or thorny my path may appear...

So in their mind she could either be a saint or a devil. There was no middle ground. She would have to prove that she was the former if she wanted to live.

The captain was staring into the distance as if he hadn’t noticed her entrance.

Katherine told me her dreams. It all fits. She believes that I am a messenger from heaven.
Very well. My wife may be a clairvoyant, but I am not. I must make sure that you are the one you claim to be. I shall give you a few tasks. You must prove that your hands wield power over human lives and your words over human minds.
Don’t you trust your wife?
I would rely on Katherine’s evidence if I were an ordinary man, not a town ruler, heir to the family that has been maintaining the order on this earth for generations! I am responsible for the lives of several thousand people. Do you understand me?
Yes, I do.
A knife fight has been reported at the rail yard. Several people were killed and several wounded. I’ve sent two of my loyal men there. They will tell you where the dead and injured have been carried. Find out if anything can be done.
But it could be dangerous!
If you really are a divinity, there’s nothing for you to be afraid of, is there? You’ll be fine. The killer has fled. The whole town is looking for him. Wherever he is now, he must be far from there.
And what if all the injured die before I arrive?
If you can’t find a subject there, go find it somewhere else. I want a person miraculously healed by evening. There must be a witness, or better yet, multiple witnesses. It should strengthen our positions. Then I shall have legitimate authority to protect you from the Kains’ wrath.

Having said that, Alexander exited the room and returned with a roll of old paper, which, upon unfolding, turned out to be a map. It was not like any map Klara had seen before. If this quilt of colours, curved lines and odd angles was an accurate representation of the settlement, its layout was very unusual. When she held the map in her outstretched arms and squinted, the drawing almost resembled a living thing, a giant flea. The train station was situated among the flea's «legs».

Tucking the map away into one of her pockets, Klara set off to explore the town.

She was yet to have breakfast though, so when she noticed a signboard that portrayed a bull’s head and the words: «Nutriment: Foods and Roughage. Eggs.», all thoughts of her mission were immediately forgotten. Fishing the coin she had picked up at the cemetery out of her pocket, Klara stormed inside.

Bald, stumpy man in oversleeves was serving. The shelves were empty, but this emptiness was deceptive - the smell of smoked fish, rusks and marinade was so thick that you could almost eat it out of the air. The man jumped when Klara slammed the coin against the counter, and his eyes widened in recognition.

Go away! I’m not selling you anything!
Why is that?
People say terrible things about you... You better go away!

His sudden aggression spooked her into retreating. Had he seen her before? Did he think he had? Klara hadn't taken much stock in Alexander's words about a manhunt before, but this sudden outburst made her wonder. Was it possible that she’d already been in town and made some kind of mess, and then forgot everything in some accident?

By the time she found the train station, her belly had begun to rumble. The enormous rust-brown riveted metal box was standing silently and all entrances were closed.

Area behind the station was equally deserted. Tall, clumsy-looking cranes stood idly above the tracks. Klara imagined these machines grab the wagons gently with their mechanical limbs.

Near one of the wagons, a group of people was standing, waiting for something. They didn’t resemble lawmen, with their shady looks and large bowie knives they were keeping at the ready. Klara thought she could see someone lying on the ground... She decided to conceal herself behind nearby rocks.

It turned out she was not the only one. A child or, perhaps, a midget wearing a dog’s head made out of sack cloth was already lurking there.

Saburov’s agent noticed her first. He was waving his arms to attract her attention, trying not to make too much noise. Careful to avoid being seen from the tracks, Klara moved over to where the man was standing.

What are you doing here, girl?
I have come here on orders from Alexander Saburov. And so have you, I suppose?
Yes. I am a faithful man, a servant of the Saburovs’ house. There were two of us... We have come to make arrangements about the dead and the wounded, but we discovered that the crime scene had already attracted marauders! They attacked us and... probably killed my assistant...
Who are they???
They look like warehouse dwellers, henchmen of Griff, «The Vulture». They looted the dead and finished the wounded. Nobody was spared! Although, one of the dying managed to hide from them, then crawled away. They don’t seem happy about it.
How do you know this?
I have eavesdropped. I managed to get away too, and now I’m hiding here. I’m waiting until they leave, so I can call for help and look after the crime scene.
And who’s that with you?
That one is not with me! A wounded homeless boy. I thought he was one of those injured, but it seems like he’s been attacked more recently... Could he be one of the marauders?
He’s been attacked?
Oh, they’ve cut him up good! Look at him, holding his side... What’s wrong with people lately? We don’t fight with knives around these parts! That one is lucky; at least he’s in one piece. The one that crawled away was practically one big wound...
Let me talk to him.

Klara went back to where the bare-chested canine-head child was hiding. He did look a bit mauled from up close.

Argh! The pain! Those bastards...
Who are you mad at?
Mad? Try furious! First, I get ditched by my friends, the Dualsouls, then I get to meet the Ripper himself! You should have seen me plead for my freedom! But the scoundrel found out what I was exiled for, took out a razor and nearly cut me into ribbons! ...Goodness that hurts. Do something, please!
Why did they do it?
Well... I did do something... questionable... What do you care? What matters is that I was caught. Amateur’s mistake, really. So the Dualsouls labelled me a traitor and chased me out. And when they tried to find me... No such luck. Too good for them. Thought I was safe. And what do you think? That damn leather sack, out of nowhere!
Leather sack?
The Ripper! Never seen that one here before. Told me to hold still while he would interrogate me. «Are you wanted for such-and-such crimes?» «What valuables do you have on you?» Next thing you know, he takes out a huge razor and slashes me right across the face! But I managed to get away again. And here I am, bleeding to death... Don’t mind me...
What did you do to infuriate the kids so much? Look me in the eyes. If I see that you’re lying, you can forget about my help.
Uhm... Nothing good, to tell you the truth. You see, there are these things called Powders. There was an epidemic here several years ago... the disease was called the Sand Plague. It made your blood burn. Those Powders, they could cure it. A few are still around, but they are very rare.
So what?
Heard that the plague was back, that there were even victims. One of our people had a Powder. He kept it for his sister in case she fell ill. Or something. So I took it.
Wanted to keep it for yourself?
Eh, no, not for myself. Our gang, Dualsouls is in confrontation with another gang, the Dogheads, we fight... brutal stuff, sometimes there’s even blood. Dogheads are a larger gang, they live in the Tower. In the... tower... of golden dreams... You wouldn’t understand. Long story short, I decided to switch sides, and the Powder was a gift for my new friends.
Let’s see if I get this straight. You have robbed your friend of medicine that he wanted to cure his sister with, so that his enemies would accept you?
So what! Everyone steals, everyone sells themselves... heh! Such is our nature. Thieves upon thieves. What’s worse is that when I was found out, this fool tried to take the Powder from me, and I... kind of, uh... killed him.
Oh no... Do you at least regret it?
Oh yes, yess! I regret it, totally regret it... just do something, make the bleeding stop! Dress the wound, will you? You see this? Just let me get my hands on that scoundrel! First, I’ll tie him up. Then...
Silence. Don’t move! I’m going to lay my hands onto you. This may sting a bit.

Klara wasn’t sure her power would work.
Was «her» power even real?

Well, it had to be! She wasn’t a demon, that’s for sure. If anything, what little she remembered about herself suggested that the opposite was true. She’d figure out how it worked. And prove who she was to everyone... Including herself. She counted to three and reached out to touch the child.