The Let's Play Archive


by woodenchicken

Part 30: Chapter Eight - pt.2

Klara entered the Apiary.

Abattoir’s gates, the paranormal sphinctres, were closed for her, and the only person who could help her gain admittance was Apiary’s Mother Superior.

This time she entered the Long Wing. It was... longer. More inhabited too: odongs and butchers were roaming the halls and galleries. Not as many as the size and the name of the place would suggest, though.

Following the directions given to her, Klara went up the stairs to the third floor.

There she noticed a long torch-lit corridor that stood out among the gloom. It was leading away from the main hall.

At the end of the corridor, she found a large room, clearly intended for some formal purposes. It had a stone covered in runes and an open fire in the centre. Klara understood the importance of recreating the Steppe experience for former nomads who were forced to live indoors, but she had no idea how they managed not to burn down the structure within the first ten minutes. They had to be using some kind of saturated, fireproof wood for interiors.

The girl, who was clearly the centre of everyone’s attention, seemed to recognize her instantly, so there was no need to introduce herself.

You are a frequent visitor. I can’t say I’m glad to see you.
You bring us misfortune!
Let me enter the Abattoir, Mother. Make your butchers get me through.
Tell me an interesting tale – and I’ll let you enter. But I’m warning you – I’m not easy to please.
Why so?
I know all the tales. I have heard everything many times. Booo-riiiing! Spichka was the only one who managed to entertain me since I left the Tower.
How? Did he make up a good tale?
Make up a tale? What are you talking about? You don’t invent tales! A tale that’s been made up is not even a tale; it’s a fable! You can tell it’s a lie. No, Spichka was the last one to bring me a good storyteller. Right before the plague started. That was the night we were boarded up
I’ll see what I can think of.

After marking the home of this «Spichka» on her map, Klara went outside.

The area adjoining the Apiary, Curriers’ district, was recovering from a wave of Sand Fever, and could still be dangerous.

Spichka’s home was just down the street.

An executor was standing guard beside the front door. When Klara tried to enter, the bird stopped her.

This person is sick. Don’t blame yourself – it is not your fault. One of your rival colleagues must have neglected his duties... or did it on purpose. Whatever it was, entry is prohibited now. Quarantine. A watchman of sorrow.
Can nothing be done?
He is an ordinary man, even though he is one of the Adherents. He can be cured, just like anyone else. You are the doctor here, you should know.
I only need to speak to him. Can we talk through the door?
He has lost consciousness. Of course, the disease progresses unevenly and an Adherent can resist it longer than some simpleton, but he won’t be able to talk to you. Only if we administer some good antibiotic. That could bring him back to life for a while.
I have a box of children’s powder. It could help.
This? This will make him an invalid for the rest of his life! It will burn out his inner organs along with the disease! Are you sure you want to save him from the plague at this cost?
Yes. Give this to him.

A new Adherent! Exciting! Klara wondered whom that man was allied to. The executor disappeared into the house for a few minutes, emerged, and then left, leaving the door unlocked. Apparently, the powder worked really fast. Hopefully all that searing pain wouldn’t prevent Spichka from composing a decent tale or telling her a name of that storyteller from before.

Klara hadn’t expected an «ordinary man» to be so... young.

Hi, Klara! Did you notice me watching you yesterday? I am Spichka.
You’ve been following me?

Actually, judging by the way he was completely incapacitated immediately after that, he must have been following someone else who looked like her.

Sorry. I do it a lot. I like to stick my nose into things I’m not supposed to. Probably why they call me a thief. And what about you? What have you done?
I don’t remember stealing anything.
These things happen. You steal something, you forget about it... I wonder what it was! Musta been something important! Or something you can’t put in your pocket. Someone’s name, maybe?
My name’s free, there’s no punishment for borrowing it.
What if you are yet to steal something? Better watch out, be careful.
So I am stigmatized for a crime I haven’t committed yet? Funny... You are a funny fellow! Say, how about we pull a prank on Mother Superior?
Taya Tychik? Ehh, that would be too easy. She’ll pull a prank on herself if you leave her unsupervised for a minute. I have a better idea! Let’s remind Khan who owns the streets!
Wait! Does she like faerie tales? Taya, I mean...
She does. But she already knows them all. She was brought up by odonghe, they are great narrators.
She says you brought her a very special storyteller a few days ago.
Oh, that... You must be talking about my Albino... No, I couldn’t even track it down myself, no matter how hard I tried. Witnesses say it was whispering in her ear, and she was smiling and saying that it was a great tale, that resembled her own life. She rewarded that thing generously. There was going to be part two, but the Apiary was boarded up that night.
What was that tale about?
What’s it to you anyway? You want to get a reward? She has more important things on her mind right now... Why don’t you think of your own tale? Should be easy for you... If you are a creation of the Steppe, the Steppe itself will whisper the right words in your ear. Should work!
Not again...

She didn’t want to spend half a day searching for the Albino again. It seemed that there was no other choice but to improvise, as she had planned to in the first place.

While she was in the Curriers’ district, she decided to give a warning to Haruspex as Inquisitor Aglaea asked her to. She looked around and quickly found a building that could easily be called a «double house».

Inside she encountered a shady character with a bandana over his face, who was probably looting whatever the home’s owners had left behind. He probably decided to eliminate the witness of his crime and charged at her. Burakh wouldn’t share a house with such a character, so Klara decided to make off before either of them would get hurt.

There were many similar buildings on the street, and she had to try several of them until...

The first thing she saw upon entering another house was a worm in the living room. An uncommon sight.

She entered the next room down the corridor, a dining room, and was immediately spotted by a butcher from the other side of the small kitchen. Klara began to retreat, but as she was running back through the corridor, something slammed her on the side of the head.

The worm from the kitchen had proven to be just as stealthy as her. Without thinking, Klara brought a hand with a gun in front of her and fired. The report was quieter than what she had imagined. Maybe the beast’s baggy clothing muffled it, or maybe her senses were still a little dull from the blow to the head.

She didn’t get much time to think about that, because the butcher from the kitchen almost reached her. Before he could do anything, Klara pulled the trigger once more.

The man collapsed right next to his companion.

With shaking hands, Klara managed to open the revolver, plucked the shells out and replaced them with new ones. She was afraid that the rest of the gang would come running at the sound of the shots.

After a few minutes, when nothing happened, she slowly resumed her search. She still had to check the second floor.

She and the worm noticed each other simultaneously. The thing charged at her silently. But it got stuck in the doorway – a sound of ripping cloth indicated that his clothes got caught on a hinge or a doorknob.

The shot knocked it back, and its clothes finally got unhooked as it fell backwards...

Warning Burakh about danger already cost three lives.

Looks like children of Bodkho are no match for you...Well, either you’ve come in peace, or you are my death. If it is the latter – you’ll find me a little more difficult to conquer than my minions... But if it’s the former – bear no grudge against them. For they know not what they do...
Why would I bear grudge against the dead? I’ve come to warn you of danger, Burakh. The Bachelor is hunting you. He will find you soon – and who knows what will happen then!
So that’s how it is... Now, alone, he won’t beat me... But my team is no more... thanks to you, deathgirl. So, does he really have guards with him wherever he goes?
He is, just like you, Haruspex...
Why are you telling me this? You know I don’t trust you much...
That’s exactly the reason I’m helping you. It’s time for you two to understand that there are still good people on this earth.
I see.
Leave this place, Burakh. The sooner the better. And remember, I’m a good person!

A good person with some fairytales to tell. Klara headed back to the long wing of the Apiary.

I have a tale for you.
Go ahead and tell it!
I have a better idea. My tale is actually a riddle. Do you want to know who is to blame for all that has happened to you?
Really? Of course!
Listen carefully – there will be an answer to the question in my tale. It is up to you to guess it.
Come on, come on, tell it!

It was time to start spinning yarn, but she had nothing.

If there was something she lacked, it surely wasn’t imagination, and she’d thought that she would have no trouble telling an entertaining, but also edifying tale right off the top of her head, but she just didn’t know where to start. The fact that she felt like she was starting to get a poisoning from all the indoor smoke wasn’t helping either.

The first thing that came to mind was
«a tale about a poor orphan and the underwater miners» but she got the feeling the child could have heard something like that before.

Then she remembered how the Albino had supposedly told a tale that resembled Taya’s life and almost blurted
«One night, little Taya woke up and...» but stopped herself. The child had mentioned that you were not supposed to make tales up. This kind of adlib would be too obvious.

I’ll tell you a tale of how the one-eyed, one-armed, one-legged Daughter of the Night was counting her herds.
It sounds scary! I don’t want to hear it.
There is an answer in it, Mother Superior...
All right. Do it.

Klara started talking...

This was great! What happened next?
I’ll tell you the rest when I come back from Abattoir. So it’s in your best interests to tell me how to defeat the Elder.
You can’t defeat him. But I’ll give you a good advice. He is very anxious about the arrival of the younger Burakh. He may let you live if you can arouse his interest like you did mine. Go through the Gates of Labour. That’s between the two wings of the Apiary.
Thank you, little Taya.

Impostress prepared to enter the world of meat. The gate’s mysterious mechanism was going to be open.

The passage is open. The Abattoir has gaped its maw. Inside, a monster is waiting for me – a half-man, half-bull, the fearsome Elder. He will answer my questions.

Slowly and uneasily, she stepped into the darkness. What if the paranormal sphinctre decided to close up while she was walking through it?

She already understood that the «lock» was supposed to be more like a logical concept, and could «close» only figuratively... but it was dark and scary, and she couldn’t quite keep her imagination under control.

She remembered hearing on one of the previous days that the Abattoir wasn’t a man-made structure – it hadn’t been built or even dug out in a hill. The structure and all the caverns had occurred naturally and needed only minor adjustment to become the site of the biggest slaughterhouse in the country.

It happened fairly recently; as for the megalith itself, it had existed since long before any human set foot in these parts.

Klara navigated a series of granite caves with some crude wooden pens and troughs put here and there.

There were some odongs and butchers around, but nobody seemed to be working. Like everything else in town, meat production was completely disrupted. Klara couldn’t blame them for not going back to their hellish dormitory though.

There was only one way to go and after a while she reached a final chamber where the caves ended.

It was immediately clear that the room wasn’t a part of the production. It had an altar decorated with a bull skull and little else.

Oyun was an enormous specimen.

Are you spawn of Bodkho, our black-faced, hundred-mawed mother with weak-sighted eyeballs rolling around in their sockets? I am her faithful servant, the Elder of the Abattoir from the Oyun family, a Menkhu who knows the Lines. Identify yourself.
I am a healer. The holy power brings kindness and mercy to people through my hands.
What do you want, earth?
Did you just call me earth?
There is a reason for it. Be quick. I have no power over you but you don’t have power over me either.
Are you capable of killing somebody? ...Uhm, I guess it was a naive question...
I’ve killed nineteen times ten plus four bulls, flesh and blood of the Vein of Bodkho. I’ve killed eighteen times five plus two sons of Bodkho I did not like. What else do you want to know, earth?
Do you kill everybody who appears before you?
I know something about Burakh you never knew.
What is it?
I know how your confrontation will end.
Good. I need to know whether he really is the man he claims to be. Maybe I’m just wasting my time worrying over nothing.
How do we find that out?
Find out what Aspae-Inun thinks of him. What I want to know the most is whether she is alive, or did he have to kill her to take possession of Isidore’s inheritance. Go, you’ll be able to pass the Gates of Labour freely.

So it was time to pay Ospina another visit. Klara remembered her trying to contact Artemy about whatever his dead father had left for him. She would be the best source of information on Haruspex. Klara would tell the Elder whatever she could find out, and he would answer her questions in return.

The one who has managed to escape my scythe is to face me once again! Yes, she is not so simple; yes, she is a spirit; it is even possible that she is a Thing that comes from the Steppe... But she knows the answer to my questions, for there is earth in her mouth...

Q: I keep trying to reconcile our actions with the ultimate goal and failing. I guess even if you have a corner the puzzle isn't finished.
A: We kinda don't have one at the moment. We had one when we tried to brainwash the sinners into submission for Katherine, but no one fell for it. We also tried to find the culprit for Alexander, but there wasn't one. Saving the town would be neat, but we don't really have a way of doing that. For now we're just taking our time, hoping that someone else will come up with something.