The Let's Play Archive


by woodenchicken

Part 11: Chapter Three - pt.2

Eva's dreams were indeed captivating. She was talking about achieving the impossible, transcending the human role (under the wise supervision of the good Kain family, no doubt). But if Katherine's revelations were to be believed, such hubris was digging the grave not only for her, but for everyone. How many more people in town were harboring these thoughts, bewitched by those decadent mystics?
Bewitched by the Bachelor.

So, this is what the Utopian heresy sounds like... Fascinating...
Did you call my words heresy?
So that's why you’ve all gathered here, miracle catchers... It is the reason your Bachelor came here as well: to die here, since people like you have made heavens angry. I was sent to bring you this truth. Come to your senses before it’s too late.
...They say you are Katherine's adopted daughter who can see future better than she can... Is it true?
Yes. Why?
Will you take care of him after I die? Maria mentioned that he only has three days to win as he promised. I’ll have to die so he can live on... A sacrifice quite in the spirit of the true faith!
There is no need for you to die. I shall do everything myself. Now sleep... and listen to me!
He says we must fight... Hope for the impossible to the end...
Struggling is futile, Eva. Futile and blasphemous. His struggle will continue. But for you, sweet Eva, everything’s over... Sleep tight.

One more step toward salvation.

Now would be a good time to learn what Daniel himself was plotting with that «Stakh Rubin». But she would have to find their secret dissecting room first.

Northern part of the warehouse compound. The «ruthless smugglers» part. Thankfully, it was still early morning and all the miscreants were surely sleeping after a long night of evil deeds.

Bachelor and Rubin are hiding in one of the warehouses. I know the secret code and the password that will make them open the door...

Klara tried knocking and tapping on different doors, but didn’t find any dissecting rooms. (Luckily, she didn’t find any criminals either) Finally, there was a reply from a small one-story building that had a freshly lit barrel of burning rubbish parked next to the door. Klara pronounced the password and heard the bolt unlatch.

Dankovsky was no longer there. Rubin – a tall broad-shouldered man with a shaved head – was alone.

He looked annoyed and very disinterested for someone who had just crossed the distance from the entrance to the opposite side of the room in the split second it took the door to open. Klara walked towards him slowly, looking around with curiosity.

Have you come to threaten me? Who are you, messenger Klara? What do you want here?
Don't get all excited. There’s nothing I want in particular... I just wanted to tell Simon good-bye. Isn't he supposed to be here?
What? Who told you Simon was here?
Anna Angel told me that. She wanted me to give both of you away to the Kains.
Anna Angel is an insane, hysterical woman, hollow on the inside and fake on the outside. Her lies aren’t even that convincing. This stupid slander is a good example. Is there anything else you wanted?
I believe you. But Anna can tell somebody else. She asked me to verify the rumour for now... but what if she writes a letter to the Kains?
All right... I'll tell you. Yes, it was I who has stolen it. Bachelor knows nothing of that. And I did that because I want to perform my duty to the end. I'm a doctor and I swore an oath... And not only the usual one, but a special one as well... to my Teacher. Isidore was one of the Menkhu... but he renounced the power that was rightfully his, so that the Order could prosper... Rather than learning to cut up bulls and manage the Abattoir, he studied the doctor’s trade. He must have heard or sensed something. If he hadn't been murdered, he would be doing everything to save the Order right now.
But why did you kidnap Simon?
Simon was more than just a human. He changed his very nature so that every fraction of his body followed the law of Universal Harmony. Simon became the likeness of Bos Turokh itself – so they were saying in the Order, and that means that for them he became a kind of deity.
Who is Bos Turokh?
The Bull of the World. The one that Universe itself was made of. Everything that happens within this being, every vital process and its every form are signs and symbols that reflect everything that will ever exist. All the creatures carry this knowledge inside them, but The Great Bull embodies it fully!
That's a heresy, Rubin. This isn’t how the Universe started!
It is what the Steppe folks believe. All I know is that Simon was... more than a human. I'll be studying him for a long time. And neither Victor nor Georg will stop me!
I think I understand now... So, two days were not enough for you to study the likeness of Bos Turokh?
Yes. He really is unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen many men and opened all sorts of different animals up with my lancet. Well... what are you going to do?
I've heard enough. I'll be going now.
Wait. I'll give you some ampoules if you promise not to give me away. They can help. They’ll keep you safe. Do you understand?
What ampoules?
Special... phials. Vaccines. I'll make a few hundreds of those and give them to Isidore’s followers to distribute among the population. They'll also be given to the Order if the Apiary opens its doors again. If it doesn’t... the vaccine will be given to the people. To everybody.
Don't be afraid. I won't give you away. There’s a lot of suffering in your future as it is. No need for me to make it harder for you.
I’ll tear you apart if you do. I'll take your wrists in one hand and your ankles in another, and tear you apart. My arms are long enough to do that.
No... You’re all talk. I can read you like an open book. You can't kill a girl just because she caught a glimpse of your dark secrets...
I'm a Kshatriya, girl. Not a Brahmin.
You know what I’m talking about. Good-bye, Rubin. Your trial will be severe... Be prepared.

Klara wasn’t sure what to think of all these stories... But the two glass ampoules filled with blue that were given to her seemed like a real deal. If they worked, than she would have to take Rubin more seriously.

Simon could really be alive! Though I feel that this cannot be called real life... That chilling Bachelor may call it life, but not I! For there is no more warmth in life like this. I wonder whether I should give these cynics out to the Kains or not?

Young Vlad had claimed to be on good terms with Anna Angel. It wasn’t likely that he had been the author of the anonymous threat she'd received, but he could help find some clues. Klara counted on his good will after the previous day’s medicine raid.

Protecting the Adherents was turning out to be quite a chore.

What do you want, girl? Do you wish to peek into my well?
Tell me, Vlad Olgimsky, how much do you know about Anna Angel?
As much as it’s possible in a town like ours.
Tell me who she is.
She is a fugitive actress, one of the «Aces of Diamonds»... She moved into Willows and then caused the owners of that marvellous place to disappear... A very famous person. Nevertheless, I've never wanted to get closer to her and had completely forgotten about her until yesterday’s medicine situation. Why?
I just wanted to ask if it’s true that your father is threatening her.
What? Is that what you wanted to ask me about? That’s just absurd! Nobody in my family cares about this Anna! All we wanted from her were her supplies... that had been acquired under suspicious circumstances, by the way. And now she thinks us her sworn enemies!
Why is she so afraid of your father then? It cannot just be yesterday's confiscation.
She is afraid of every rustle – and it isn't surprising. It’s the price she has to pay for the horror that she helped unleash. I suppose you’ve heard about the Caravan?
No. I know nothing about the Caravan.
Have you been living under a rock? A few years ago, all this country could talk about was the Ace of Diamonds’ Caravan. It was a medley of heinous criminals that committed barbaric and senseless atrocities while disguising themselves as a travelling circus. They were notorious for kidnapping children.
Why did they do that?
That's the worst part of the story. It would be possible to explain their activities – no matter how ghastly they may have been – if they had been doing it for the money. But nobody knows their real motives. They were stealing the best children and replacing them with freaks. The stolen children were then brought up to be members of their caravan.
Was Anna in the Caravan too?
Judging by the things that became known just recently, yes. She was in the Caravan. And she played a most odious part – she was a pretty bait that lured unsuspecting little ones inside to be grabbed by those trolls.
How terrible... What did they do with the kidnapped?
They made them join their ranks. Treated them as a sort of living collectibles. Imagine the fury of the Kains! The Caravan showed up in our town at about the time the children moved into the Polyhedron, when Kains saw what a magical gift they’d created for the young ones... The Caravan stood there like a challenge, a mockery, and a reminder for Nina and Simon...
And do the Kains know that Anna is connected to the Caravan?
Well, at this point it’s nothing more than rumours, really. But the day they find out about it will be the last day of Anna Angel, that’s for sure. The Caravan was a long-time bête noire for the Kains. The government's savage reprisal seems like child’s play compared to what they had in store for them.
Could it be that they have discovered everything about Anna and are threatening her now?
If that is the case, then it must be the weakest Kain. Any other family member wouldn't bother with this petty harassment and would have destroyed her immediately.
Whom are you talking about?
Caspar Kain, also known as Khan. His is a son of Victor and Nina, the younger brother of black-eyed Maria. My sister can tell you more about him. They were friends for some time. Our parents even wanted them to get married some time ago despite the age difference... But they were too different for that to work.
Thanks for your advice. I'll talk to your sister.

Back at Big Vlad’s pie-shaped mansion, Klara entered the door leading to the north wing – Victoria’s quarters, according to the conversation she’d had the day before.

A tall girl with a freckled boyish face greeted her from an alcove in the far side of the large room.

Hello, o girl with eyes that could contain the entire world... Who are you?
I am an owner of healing hands. You can call me Klara.
Why do I have this feeling that we have something in common... something important, impossible to deny...? It’s as if we were blood sisters...
Then tell me, what is your purpose in life?
I want to give children a new life... and a new faith.
You must be a saint then? Another one... So you’re saying that you will gather lambs and give your flock the light of the new Truth? And what will this truth be like? Tell me, o girl, through whose eyes a dead woman is looking back at me.
I’m not talking about a new church. I guess I didn't frame my thoughts correctly. You simply don't understand how much kindness there is in my intentions.
I have a very important task. Answer my question, and I won't bother you any more. Is your father threatening Anna?
When will you people leave my father alone? He isn’t guilty of anything! Anything at all! Remember it well in case somebody tries to pin the blame on him again! If only he didn’t make me promise...
Somebody is sending anonymous threatening letters to Anna. She is sure your father wants to get back at her for something.
Do you think he has nothing better to do than to threaten your Anna? That does it! How dares she slander him? Anonymous letters... Thank you for telling me. I'll choke the life out of that snake with my own hands!
But who could be sending those letters to her? There was also a postscript: «Tread lightly»...
What did you say? «Tread lightly»? I think I see what this is all about... It looks like Anna really is connected with the Caravan... Therefore, the letters are most likely to have been written by Khan. And it must be the reason why the children suddenly gathered inside the Polyhedron five days ago and refuse to leave it. They must have heard that the seeds of the Caravan had sprung in the town... Small wonder.
Gathered inside the Polyhedron?
They all rushed to the tower at the other bank of Gorkhon. Like sheep running from a wolf. At first, we thought they were playing some new game. Somebody mentioned the Caravan, but I didn't pay any attention to that. So, Anna is afraid that her past can be discovered... An uneasy conscience betrays itself. And now that Khan has found out...
Well, obviously he wants to kill her now. His Dogheads must have been snooping around all these days, trying to find out the identity of the Caravan person. And it seems like they did, but then this epidemic broke out... As soon as he pulls himself together after the old man's death and finishes reinforcing the Polyhedron, he will send his assassins after her.
But why were the children so frightened by the news about the Caravan remnants?
Basically, because the Caravan kidnapped children. People say they would turn them into artists who would attract new spectators... They were choosing the best ones. But after all these years have passed, after all those myths, ballads and bogeyman stories nobody really remembers what the truth was. All the word «Caravan» means to children now is dreadful, inescapable horror.
But Anna is only one person...
It doesn’t matter; Khan will never leave her be. To him, even a single survivor of the Caravan means someone who will plant and cultivate the seeds of this senseless scourge... like a contagious disease.
But seriously, what was the point of the whole thing? They must have had some ultimate goal.
No, they didn’t. They were roaming the country... playing, singing, performing tricks. They took bright children and substituted them with freaks. They left fear, grief, hatred, and monsters behind. While becoming more alluring, beautiful, attractive, and bright themselves – and being feared more and more with each passing day.
This is terrible... So much hate in this world! Was the Caravan destroyed?
Yes. It wasn’t long before they attracted the attention of the Authorities. They were hunted; several raids were organized against them... Somehow, they managed to avoid capture at first, but soon they were surrounded somewhere near Orv. The massacre that followed inspired a ballad... You must have heard it.
I don’t believe I have. Listen... I'd like to do something for you... So that we could become friends!
...Really? Do you really want to do something good for me? I don't know what to say... You know, part of me feels that there is nobody better and kinder than you are and everything you do is good, even for me...
But your other part thinks differently, right?
Yes... Something else inside of me tells me that we are enemies. And that you are a very dangerous enemy too, because you are not human... Oh! What am I talking about...? It’s just my headache, I’m sorry... All because of this foul air...
Nevertheless, I'd like to do something for you...
You know what... I asked the Bachelor to go to the Curriers district, the very hotbed of the plague... A boy named Loafer had gone there to test a poisonous powder on himself. I haven't heard anything from the Bachelor since then... What if he couldn’t find the kid?
I see... And you want me to find one or the other?
I’d prefer the Bachelor. He’s more responsible after all. Ask him whether he managed to find the kid and take the awful mixture from him.
All right. I'll ask him when I meet him.

So there was no way to ensure Anna’s safety short of standing guard at her front door... Meeting with Khan wasn’t possible – not while he remained in the inaccessible Polyhedron. Klara headed back to Willows to start the official interrogation, so she could at least get the singer out of Alexander’s sights.

I managed to learn a lot. So the Olgimskys have nothing to do with that – Anna has a different ill-wisher. I’m not sure whether Anna should be relieved or terrified, but at least now I have the hooks that I can catch her conscience with...

No, Anna just didn’t seem like she could be a real threat, no matter what anyone said about her. There would come a day when the suspected child abductor would stand trial for her past crimes, but at the moment, in the face of a disaster, different rules were in effect, and every ally was important.

I have talked to the Olgimskys, Anna...
Stop tantalizing me! What are they up to?
You have nothing to worry about, darling... Olgimskys aren't interested in you at all. You are being threatened by a boy named Khan. I wonder why?
Oh, so that’s what it’s all about... Now I see... the whole picture! Woe is me, the unlucky actress! I played evil so convincingly that nobody will believe it’s not the real me... Thank you, darling. Now I know where to expect the threat from.
Will you give me your honest, unbiased answers?
Yes. Wait, why didn't you...
Let's go. Are you guilty of starting the epidemic, Anna?
...I’m afraid I am... Because we will never be forgiven... everybody will be destroyed, nothing will be forgiven. Nobody will be spared.
How did this happen?
...I am cursed, you see. I have finally become one of them, one of the Caravan!
Weren't you part of the Caravan before?
I didn't kidnap the children! They kidnapped me when I was very little. Well, not so much kidnapped... It was a bit of an accident actually...
Then why do people say that you are an artist from the Caravan?
...Because they wanted to make me one of them... Tried to make me into a singer. Dressed me in colourful patterned stockings, whalebone corset... so children would come to look at me and listen to my provocative songs... But it didn’t work.
...Because I was born ugly and aphasic... Nobody played with me; I wasn’t even able to pronounce the word «mother»... And still I dreamt of becoming a real singer! I thought they would teach me to sing in the Caravan... make me beautiful...
How could a mute person become a singer?
...They had witchcraft in their blood. They could make artists out of children like me... I haven't become a singer, but I became a part of the Caravan all right! A crazy, obsessed troll that spoils and ruins children... It was an accident... I was living here by the time it happened.
So, you haven't become a singer? And how did you become such a beauty?
...I was fed egg yolks and oysters, drank lemon juice; a special kind of toad was put on my chest so I would absorb its vapours. Nothing worked. Then they decided to turn me into a «figurine»... but we were attacked in a raid near Orv. I escaped with a fakir named Var... He carried me out.
What’s a «figurine»?
A freak. Little freaks were left in cribs instead of kidnapped children, and grown-up ones were shown in a Guignol... a night show for depraved adults.
What is your crime then?
...I betrayed my parents. I took other woman’s voice... other woman’s hair. I behaved the same way as the Caravan did... when I was already here. I took these things from a girl called Willow and she died... It was she who had been a golden-haired singer... And that’s when the plague broke out for the first time.
Because of you? How is it possible?
...It is a punishment for my greed. Willow said that was what was going to happen if the Caravan got here some day. She even started collecting medicine – yesterday’s stash was actually hers. I’ve been expecting the reckoning all this time. I have dislocated my own nature. I should have remained a cripple...
...Who was this Willow?
...She was pretty, a real doll... But I did to her what the Caravan did to children – ground her into flour and unknitted her into threads. I don't even know how I did it...
Flour? Threads? You’re crazy, right?
...I guess I’m beyond redemption...
You’re flattering yourself if you think that the entire town is being destroyed to punish you. No, you are not the cause.

She is frightening, but also silly and naive, like a whimsical child. No, I cannot sentence her to death. Let them treat me worse, let them look at me suspiciously, let there even be those who will name me her accomplice... I'd rather let her atone for the evil she caused.

Careful to avoid the Curriers district, she returned to Stem to report her findings to the Saburovs.

I talked to Anna. Some neighbours you have...
Not «you», but «we». Or don't you consider Stem your own home yet? Tell me, what verdict will you return for Anna?
She isn't guilty.
Are you sure? Klara?
I am sure.
Who is guilty then?
I don't know! Aren’t there any other scoundrels left in town?
Be careful, Klara. The real culprit must not be acquitted! The town shall keep burning as long as your mercy allows one villain to live!
Let the truth prevail.

At least Katherine's assignment was a success.

I have met Eva.
She has a face of an angel, but her thoughts are dark, poisonous.
Did you manage to convert her?
Yes, I did, though it wasn't easy. She has accepted our faith.

Eva has been converted. In this terrible time, she will be under protection of the true power, and no evil will touch her...

Q: So...they kidnap children, and use magic to shuffle their abilities around so that some end up as horrible freaks and others are perfect and multitalented?
A: What I got from it is that they weren't really magical at all. They just stole the talented and good-looking kids to bring them up as their own, and left the ugliest from their own crew in their place. (Although that strategy had to have diminishing returns after a certain point??) As for Anna, she was an unlikeable kid in the first place, but she heard about the Caravan's exaggerated reputation and ran away from home herself to join them, hoping they would use their witchcraft to make her cool and talented. They couldn't, of course, so she just travelled with them for some years. Then when the Caravan was slaughtered by the government, she, Var and Var's "daughter" managed to slip away. They remembered about our town (from the time it was visited by the Caravan) and decided it would be a great place to lay low. Anna rented a place in Willows, from Willow. Then she, uh, went all Alex Mercer on poor Willow, becoming her somehow. I don't think we're supposed to know how the hell that happened.

Q: Willow is also known as Vera from a previous playthrough, if I recall correctly.
A: Nah, Vera is Var's teenage "adopted" "daughter". As in, he kidnapped her when he was in the Caravan, and brought her up as his own. In Bachelor's playthrough she gets gutted for science.