Part 5: Chapter One - pt.4
Klara exited Stem and re-entered it from the opposite side. Shed been through a lot that day, but there just didnt seem to be an end to her troubles in sight. Tracking down a surprisingly mobile dying man and restoring him to good health wasnt enough. Now Saburovs wanted to use her Mesmeric abilities to try and fish the information about Simons death from Kains.
Alexander told me to learn the truth about Simons death from Georg. I dont like this...
But why has he given you such a difficult mission, my child? Does he not know that the Kains are blinded by fury and are looking for a mysterious man-eater who they think has killed Simon...? Even our familys protection may not save you!
The truth will speak for itself. They wont dare touch me... At least I hope so.
So be it. But Georg wont reveal anything to you! Or is it within your power to make him talk?
No, I have no such power. But cunning will help when power is of no use. If you help me, I can get him to answer my questions.
But what can you do?
I can call a person by their true name and say the phrase, «Mr. So-and-so, I know something about you. Would you agree to get close to me? Will you let go, submit into the depths?» And if the answer is «yes», then its in the bag.
What did you mean by «I know something about you»?
It is necessary to know a secret about a person, something youre not supposed to know. The secret must certainly be true. For example, I could say: «Anna, Anna, I know that you stole a child».
What on earth was that??? What are you implying?
Nevermind, I just made this up. Do you know any secrets about Georg Kain?
Yes, let me tell you... First of all, you should call him Judge. Dont call him Georg yet. The Kains are clever, he may suspect something. If you want to surprise him with a secret, say: «You didnt love Simon and you arent his twin». This should throw him into confusion.
But its not Georg you should be afraid of. I sense that the Kains plot has been conceived in another head. Im talking about Maria, a woman that will challenge my Mistress status... Dont even try to approach her. She is very dangerous. Your tricks wont work on someone who has the abilities of a Mistress.
It seems that a terrible ordeal is ahead of me. I must show my power to Georg Kain, the brother of murdered Simon... I shall obtain his consent, I shall question him as only I am able to and I shall find out the truth. The truth will be revealed...
The Kain mansion was located on the opposite side of the town. Klara had to cross not one but two streams this time. The map called them Vein and Throat. Finally, she found what was marked as Horns.
Horns consisted of three separate buildings united by one courtyard. She found the right one and was about to ascend the porch, but the sight she saw next caused her to freeze and her mouth to fall open. She stood there and stared in disbelief for a few minutes before regaining her composure and entering the door.
Klara hesitated before stepping on the expensive-looking rugs with her muddy boots. She scanned her surroundings quickly for something to wipe her feet with, but there was nothing, so she went ahead anyway.
In the study, she discovered a grey-headed, barbate man standing idly with his arms folded. His clothes resembled clergymans robes, but his eyes and his pose were exuding such air of boldness and defiance that no one could possibly mistake him for a priest. There was no doubt it was none other than the eldest living Kain, Georg.
Aah, what do we have here? Now this is convenient! I cant believe my luck!
My name is Klara. I just wanted to...
Incredible! You are indistinguishable from a real human!
Id like to help if there is someone here who needs it... I can work wonders.
Wonders wont impress anyone in this house. Did you know that a person resembling you is wanted on a murder charge?
You must be talking about my twin. I followed her to this town.
If it wasnt for bachelor Dankovsky, whom I trust endlessly, I would have you executed! But he told us that you, a girl who has been unanimously declared a Steppe shapeshifter, performed an unexpected feat right before his eyes.
I bring only good into this world. Such is my nature.
Im still not buying this. And all this talk about an evil twin... How do I know youre the good one?
I have come to you on my own free will, so you can see for yourself...
And why did you come to me, creepy girl that claims to be a miracle worker?
I wanted to tell you something about your brother Simon.
You did? Oh well... I will hear you out. But not before you talk to my niece, Maria. Let her look at you and see who you are and how I should take your words.
Fair enough. Where can I find her?
Maria Kain... through her chambers lies way to Georgs dark heart. Why is my heart beating so fast? As if she will be able to see something even I cannot see inside myself... Oh, how scared I am...
Maria's chambers were filled with obtrusive, irritating purple light that made Klara's head reel the moment she entered.
Maria turned out to be a beautiful young woman in a revealing, bright-coloured dress that was putting her collarbones on shameless display.
Your face seems familiar.
Weve never met before.
I know who you are. Im just not sure what you are. Where other people have soul, you only have a dark pit. What name have you chosen?
I have chosen the name Klara. Same as my sister.
What do you want?
Your uncle... Georg sent me to you... so you can look at me and say what you think about me.
I dont know. When in Rome, do as Romans do.
One shouldnt come to «Rome» uninvited in the first place. What did Georg want to ask me about?
He wants to know how dangerous my... supernatural abilities are...
Your abilities? Ha-ha-ha... Some Mistress you are! Let me have a look at you... What did he get so anxious about? What was it that he found so disturbing?
Maria's noble laughter came to an abrupt stop.
Youre a fun-loving girl, arent you, Maria. Lets have a laugh together. Ha-ha-ha... Am I doing it right?
...Looks like my laughing has been a little premature... It... seems as though there are two human beings inside you... You are a walking contradiction... But you shouldnt be killed yet. Everything depends on how this day will end. I shall have my uncle told to speak with you. Let him answer your question.
Whatever Maria saw, apparently it was enough for her to start taking Klara more seriously. The girl backed out of the room and hurried back to Georgs quarters.
Maria wanted me to tell you that...
Maria has already told me everything I need to know. Dont look so surprised. Did you want to tell me something? Go ahead.
So... it was time for another test. Klara hoped it would go over better than the first time she tried her healing ability. Now, she already knew a secret and... Katherine had told her to call him «Judge», but what kind of a name was that? She decided to go with «Georg».
Georg, Georg, I know that you didnt love Simon and you arent his twin. Would you agree to get close to me? Will you let go, submit into the depths... And give unto my questions your honest, unbiased answer?
Are you afraid?
Do you know who killed Simon?
Deep in your mind, do you know that he wasnt killed?
In fact, you are sure of this, arent you?
Why did you order everyone to look for the killer?
... If the killer does exist, she must have no chance to escape.
Do you believe that I am not the killer?
Why do you suppose that I might have killed him?
...A human being wasnt able to kill Simon. He was killed by someone with extraordinary abilities.
Will you destroy the killer if you catch him?
...No. I need to know what sort of power guided her.
What are you going to do now?
...I shall keep telling myself that Simons death was accidental. As long as I believe this, I shall be able to fight for our familys legacy.
Will you take Simons place?
...No. Neither of us possesses the ability to create and maintain a town like Simon did. And if his death isnt a tragic accident but a will of some cruel Law, it means that our familys legacy is doomed. The town shall die.
Now sleep. Poor old man... Maybe a good sleep will set your mind at rest.
My heart is pounding wildly... How did I manage to survive such horror! I can now go back to Stem...
The trek to Alexanders residence gave Klara some time to calm down and collect her thoughts.
What was it that had scared her so?
The old man? The kooky ritual, the equivocal confessions?
Then she knew.
In order for her mental trick to work, the subject had to feel «closeness», being «one and the same» with her, so they could admit to things that they would never tell another human being. She had to become part of the person's self - that was her talent. And the fear she experienced, was actually Georg's fear. Only a weak shadow of it, perhaps.
Even though Alexander looked and moved absolutely the same as before, Klara saw barely noticeable alarm in his eyes.
I have talked to Georg. He has answered my questions.
Have you heard about the plague? The Bachelor has found the real murderer. An epidemic is spreading all over the town. The Kains are not gonna like it. So, tell me just one thing: did Georg know what had killed his brother and patron?
No, he didnt. He is sure that it couldnt have been a natural cause. He is sure that the murderer exists, no matter what indirect means were used.
I see. This is so much like him... What it means for us is this: I shall talk to the Bachelor. Since the cause of death has been found, nobody will look for a man-eater... for the time being. But Kains wont give their version up so easily. Then there is also the question of... you know, witch hunts...
What??? Who are they going to hunt for?
You, most likely. Well, technically, its your sister theyre going to be after. If an epidemic starts and I dont see how it can be prevented at this point , everybodys attention will shift from searching for Simons murderer to trying to find out who is responsible for the epidemic. Your sister is still in town, isnt she?
And she is your twin? Is it impossible to tell you apart?
Yes! It is true.
She could have brought the contagion into our town, couldnt she? Dont you think it would be a good idea to search for her?
Ill devote all my time to this!
You mean all your free time, of course. Havent you realized that your position here is still precarious? I am now fully convinced that youre innocent, but other people will need more evidence.
What more evidence do they need?
We shall see. Tonight I shall talk with Katherine about you, and tomorrow morning we shall announce our will to you. If everything works out, you will start helping me restore and administer justice as early as tomorrow. I dont know what Katherine will want from you yet... You should get some rest. Go sleep in the little room up the stairs.
See you tomorrow. So nice of you to give me shelter! You shall remember this day.
It seems as if the scales have finally fallen from his eyes. The seal of the force that has marked me, the unworthy one, now shines dazzlingly. The healer, the heart-reader, almost a clairvoyant... All of these titles have proved to be true. What shall I do with them now?
Alexander allowed her to use the tiny bedroom that was hidden in his chambers, up a small flight of stairs. Klara drank some water and ate what scraps of food she had managed to obtain while roaming the town (Saburov house was mysteriously devoid of groceries). The bed proved rather uncomfortable, and it smelled of medicine. She kept tossing and turning, drifting in and out of sleep, until suddenly a memory of her conversation with Anna earlier that day sprang to her mind and caused her to sit up and climb off the bed with a groan. The day's work wasn't finished yet. She still had to visit the warehouses and investigate the Ripper's actions.
Anna wants me to talk to the homeless children in the warehouse and find out whose side has that terrible leather-clad outsider taken.
The trip to the orphans' hideout took her through the warehouses - allegedly, home to the ruthless smugglers. The day was coming to a close; the labyrinth of look-alike buildings seemed almost deserted, and Klara began to feel her earlier confidence abandon her gradually. She actually breathed a sigh of relief when she was back in the open and crossing the tracks that apparently served as a dividing line between the two factions' territories.
The house marked on Alexander's map turned out to be a fairly unremarkable building. A fire was burning in a metal barrel next to the entrance. She felt sharp odour hanging heavily in the air. Burned wool? Caoutchouc? She didnt know what exactly was burning, but it was making her eyes water. She clawed at the door trying to get in as quickly as possible.
The building's interior was filled with the same red and purple lights that Maria's quarters had. Children of different ages were standing upright staring into nothingness with unblinking eyes. Perhaps it was intoxication from all the fumes that were surrounding the building (she could still smell them in the air).
In a corner that was barricaded off with crates (that provided welcome shielding from the aggravating purple light), behind a desk stood a boy in a wool jacket over a striped sweater. He was making grimaces that he probably thought were making him look more imposing. Actually, he looked like a tiny version of Alexander. Klara fought to suppress a smile.
Havent seen you here before. What part of town are you from?
Ive come from the Steppe.
Stay on our good side.
Has a man called the Ripper been here?
Whoa! He has. Big guy, such a scary beary! Cursed be the day he found this place...
Bad stuff happened... Lisa, the scoundrel, caused us some grief! Sold us out to everyone he could: to the thieves, to the Dogheads... Robbed his own friend, then poisoned him and escaped. I got mad, said some things I shouldnt have... said I wanted him dead. Next thing I know, theres this damned butcher, this Haruspex, out of nowhere!
Then what happened?
He said: «Ill take this job, for I am fond of blood and killing! I shall find your rascal, and if I see that he deserves death, Ill cut him into pieces!» And I... happened to give my consent.
So, is he eager to do bloody work?
No... I only asked him to do whats right... He is not a bounty hunter... Still he is a dreadful man, mauled four armed robbers at the Station. Took a pistol off one of the bodies... see? Sold it to us.
Why didnt he keep it?
He? He doesnt need it; he can shoot anyone with his bare hands.
Give it to me, Notkin, dear. I know what to do with it...
Really? Then take it, by all means! Its a girls model anyways. Oh, and it doesnt work. I think...
Thank you, good-hearted boy...
Well, at least she knew that the hapless doghead wasnt attacked out of malice or because of that Powder he had. Burakh was just acting out of some twisted perception of justice. Still, violence against a kid didnt speak in his favour. Even if he wasnt the one... that caused Lisas death.
Klara wend back outside.
For such a small thing, the hand gun felt incredibly heavy.
The smell of burning rubbish was starting to make her head swim. Klara stuck the weapon in her pocket and ran.
By the time she returned to Annas, all the gapers had already left the house.
Ive looked into it. Yes, the Haruspex has attacked the homeless boy. Who is currently dead.
Are you telling me the truth?
I always tell only the truth.
That Notkin! What a little cutthroat, dont you think? Good thing that he and that Caspar are on fighting terms, otherwise they would certainly turn their attention to us!
I know the child you were talking about. He met death by my hand. He was an evildoer.
How could it be? But you... you are a good person, arent you? Oh well... every cloud has its silver lining, I suppose... You know... I decided to tell you a big secret. Not a word about it to anyone! Listen: all the evil in this world is caused by children!
Foolish woman... Children arent evil. They act according to their nature! No, Anna, the root of all evil is elsewhere. Why would you say such a thing?
Cant talk about it right now, Ill tell you later. Everything is so confusing; one doesnt even know who to be afraid of more. So you are with the Saburovs now, arent you? This is good news... you will have their protection, and children wont get you. Here, take a present.
Dont thank me, Anna; you dont know what you are doing. Glad if Ive helped you.
On her way back to the Saburov mansion, she kept wondering if telling Anna about her role in childs demise was such a great idea, what with the Kains being apparently extremely protective of the towns young. She was told to protect people from the list, but there was nothing about people from the list protecting her. And they were all criminals too, according to Katherine. Was she wise to trust an alleged criminal?
Alexander was still up. Careful not to bother him, Klara slipped back into her tiny bedroom.
And crashed once again onto the hard mattress, fully intent on getting her well-deserved rest this time.
REEL 3: That night at the town theatre...