Part 35: Chapter Ten - pt.1
Klara woke up staring at a picture of prairies filled with smoke. Clot. Victoria hadnt bothered her all night.
Maybe she was busy with her Mistress duties, meditating, or meeting her young agents. Or maybe she was just too polite to ask her to leave. Klara knew it wasnt nice to occupy other peoples beds, but she decided that the rich, mansion-having girl could handle it.
I dreamt of her this night, as before...
...and she was worn-out and exhausted. She only looked at me and was silent this time. She was again hiding in someones home, but this time she crawled into a corner, in the darkness, away from the windows. Roaring of the crowd could be heard from outside. They were shouting and making noise but it wasnt she they were after.
They were paying their respects to the bull that had appeared out of nowhere. Some people were shouting that the bos had surfaced from the depth of the earth, others that the idol descended from above, but landed on a deadly stake instead of its rightful throne...
In addition to a new puzzle-invitation in the diary, she found a letter lying next to her on the bed.
You are famous! Come quickly. Everyone is searching for you, but for different reasons this time. The Kains favour you now, but beware of the Inquisitor. Rubin has made a discovery about you.
Notkin, chieftain of the Dualsouls, signed by his hand.
That explained how the letter could reach her, at least. Since Kapella had dealings with Notkin, she could have let him know that she had a visitor. Or Klara could have simply been followed by some stealthy child who then reported to the Dualsouls. In any case, it was time to visit Notkin and find out what he knew about Rubin.
One particularly loud proletarian caught her attention while she was making her way through the warehouses. The man was gesticulating and shouting, to no one in particular, but as Klara approached, it started looking as if he was talking to her.
Ive been telling them! These kind of rotten things only happen in autumn... What a lousy spell, nothing but mud everywhere!
Autumn is the most suitable time for what is happening here.
Just dont go to the marshes! Its going to be the same as last time! All that rot creeping out... Have I already told you about my brother-in-law?
What brother-in law?
Broke his leg once. That, and also caught a bad cold. Early spring that was, March. He went to the marshes to gather roots, cause that was, you know, the right season for them. Said hed use them for the brew. For the twyrine, that is. Those roots, they aint good for much else...
Wait a minute... Are you saying he went to the marshes on a broken leg?
He broke his leg when he was already there! Of course he didnt go broke! Well, he was pretty far from home when, you know, it became dark. So he decides to turn back. But then he feels like someone is holding his foot. And its plain dark already! He said hed thought it was the earth grabbing him, not letting him go, as punishment for taking too much. Hed been picking only the best roots, the juiciest ones...
So what was it?
Well he looks and theres something couldnt tell if it was a hand or not but something holds him! Something like a hand. Wasnt a root... grabbed the ankle and wouldnt let go, like on purpose... Well he looked closer and sure enough, it was a skeleton hand! It was Shabnak trying to get him! Well he scurried and ran! And when he came home his leg was broke...
Nothing like a cheerful story to start the day on the right note. Klara was walking towards the entrance to the orphans hideout when she noticed something new in the landscape.
Since a fence was separating warehouses from the rail yard, she had to climb on some crates to take a better look.
Nobody could say that the General had come to town unprepared. What she saw shed some light on Generals role and eventual purpose.
Notkin had been expecting her.
Know the news already? Rubin made a discovery about you. You should have seen the fuss that caused! Everyones running around, spending all their money, sending couriers... Its like a battle is about to start. And its all because of you.
Whos running around?
You know, Rubin, Burakh, the Bachelor all the doctor types. Didnt they tell you anything?
They must be up to something. Probably want to trick you otherwise theyd have contacted you already. Have you been hiding?
They keep screaming, «Dont let her get away!» Guys heard Rubin and Bachelor arguing about you so furiously it seemed they were gonna fight!
What do they want with me?
Im telling you Stakh Rubin has learnt something about you. Did you do something bad? Then again, who is he to judge...? He and the rest of them...
Ill go and see what I can find out.
Will you join our gang?
Maybe... well see...
So Notkin didnt know Rubins location... Klara decided to check if Stakh had returned to his dissecting room nearby.
She tried the secret knock again, but the door to the shack was not locked.
Once again, instead of Stanislav, she found bachelor Dankovsky.
There you are! As you can see, Rubin isnt here. Theres only a short note. Who invited you?
I know everything.
Yes? Will you explain it to me, then? I still dont know anything. Rubin was reluctant to say anything until his theory is proven.
Where is he?
He went to Horns to deliver the good news. Theres only one thing that the Kains would consider good news the confirmation that Simon is still alive. He would have to know how to revive Simon and protect the town from Generals cannons. Otherwise going to the Kains would be suicide.
Does it mean Rubin knows how to bring Simon back?
Simon isnt just dead hes been split into atoms and distributed between several hundred people. Even a miracle wouldnt help rebuild him now. Rubin must have come up with some half-hearted measure thats not likely to impress the Kains.
Will you go with me?
I have my own plans. Rubin keeps acting foolish. His life hinges on you, and he still hasnt even told you anything. This proves that Rubin is chiefly trying to atone for what he did to the Kains. I dont want to interfere with his intentions.
Klara had very serious doubts about that during the previous few days Rubin ignored the law, defied traditions, crossed the Kains in every way possible... He obviously considered Kains insignificant compared to his mission to save the town.
She decided to take the shortest route to Horns, straight through the town park, where traces of Sand Plague still hung in the air in the form of yellowish fog.
Soldiers and militia were patrolling in the streets in even bigger numbers than before.
There were also people in full-body protective suits, carrying what looked like fire pumps it was about time, with all those insane arsonists roaming the streets.
Klara saw a few of those as well. She was ignored by all, as if she was part of the scenery. Sometimes it seemed that they were more interested if battling each other than eradicating the disease and its victims.
Unlike the park, Stone Yard was a fully active plague hotbed that day. And violence was much more intense as well. Shots were fired and firebombs were flying more or less constantly.
It was nice to slip into the dead quietness of the Horns courtyard.
Taking all her previous visits into account, she decided to go to Victors study. He was the most controlled and reasonable member of this eccentric family.
You look as if youve been burnt by heavenly fire.
You look like you are being possessed by something that isnt you. Did Rubin come to you?
Yes! He did! He had a long conversation with Georg, and then my daughter interfered with them thankfully! Now he is arrested and imprisoned. He was taken away under large convoy.
But you had pardoned him!
Pardoned? Well, personally, I dont see any reasons why he shouldnt be pardoned, but from now on, all decisions are made by Maria, my daughter and successor. She decided that Rubin should spend the last days of this unrest in prison.
Why does Maria get to decide?
We handed our power over to her. Do you doubt her right? The process has already begun, it is irreversible. Let her do the judgement! With her inner eye, she sees what Georg and Victor cannot see any longer. They no longer belong to themselves.
Georg and Victor. Arent you listening to me, little girl? Ah-ha-ha-ha!
Whats gotten into him? What sort of devilry is this?
And what are you? Ha-ha-ha... Who are you to ask such questions, girl? Out. Im tired of you.
And thus Victors title of the most calm and reasonable family member was revoked. Klara decided to check with Georg as well before going to Marias.
Ive been through a lot these days. I need rest.
Has Rubin been here?
Yes. He has, but he was then taken away on Marias order.
I do not know this. Such affairs do not concern me. Victor or Maria may know... They seem to have employed all the servants at this task Ive been trying to have a message delivered for half an hour now.
Did he say anything about me?
He had some interesting proposals. He declared that Simon wasnt lost... Which I was already aware of. He said that Simon was precious not because of his personality, but because of his incredible power... and that this power could allegedly be restored in someone else. And this is when your name was mentioned.
I dont know this. Maria interfered with our conversation. Her abilities grow day after day. She didnt believe him and exposed him as a blasphemer. She called you a fiend. She said that speaking to you equalled speaking to death. Is it so?
What did he say that angered her so?
Rubin spoke angrily and even furiously what it boiled down to was that there is no need for people to die to preserve the memory of Simon. She didnt like it... It is now about Nina too. Maria loved her mother very much.
And who was supposed to die?
Georg and Victor Kain agreed to sacrifice their lives in memory of their beloved ancestors, Simon and Nina, whose priceless souls will stay here for several more decades to breathe life into a new town.
Why did they all suddenly insist on speaking about themselves in third person?
...Why is it necessary for people to die to preserve the souls of others?
Because two souls cannot live in the same body for long. Dont you feel it yourself? You of all people should understand it. This coexistence tarnishes both the body AND the souls. And a great soul needs a fitting receptacle. An imperishable body.
So if Georg and Victor no longer belonged to themselves, that would mean...
If it wasn't Georg she was speaking to... Could it be Him..???
I think Im beginning to understand whos in front of me...
Great. But keep your mouth shut about it.
How did you do this???
You will never be able to do something like this. Besides, theres no point. What you see before you will not survive for more than a few hours. This fragile vessel cannot withstand such internal pressure for long. I dont know what Rubin wanted to propose, but it must have been something different.
Simon, Simon! I know that you...
No. I shall not answer your questions. There is so much work ahead that you should do on your own, without my interference. Be free.
That would mean that Victor's body was already a vessel for...
So they could only survive for several hours in that state... But what would happen then?
Were they planning on taking over the bodies of Georg and Victor completely? That would mean that the Polyhedron had been emptied of a soul as a precaution, in case of a bombardment...
Or would the souls of Nina and Simon evaporate? Unless they were so much stronger that they would force the souls of Victor and Georg out...
Or would these mortal vessels just die altogether? If only Simon agreed to satiate her curiosity!
From what Klara could reconstruct after two confusing conversations, Rubin had found out that they were going to transplant the patriarchs soul into someone else, killing that persons original soul. He tried to explain that it wasnt necessary, but Maria wouldnt let him interfere.
No, I refuse to take you seriously any more...
Tell me where they took Rubin, Maria!
Keep your hands away from me, viper! I cannot slam a door in your face, for no door can stop you, but I do have means of warding myself against you!
Tell me where Rubin is, and I shall leave.
Pity, what a pity! Im losing my powers with every passing minute... And all the servants capable of bearing arms are with Rubin otherwise I would have you killed immediately!
But for what?
You are acting in concert with him, arent you? Yes, he said he intended to carry his bloody plan out with your help. Dont worry Ill immediately send some servants after you when they come back!
Klara was beginning to suspect that Marias irrational behaviour was actually meant to hide her real motivation...
What if infusing Georg and Victor with the souls of the others was an end, not the means... Was it perhaps more important to Maria to get rid of the older family members and become the sole head of the family? It was hard to say. You never knew with those Kains.
Klara ran to the Town Hall it had the only thing close to a prison she could think of.
There were guards posted at the door that led to the separate part of Town Hall, formerly used to lock up drunks and troublemakers.
Go away. You cant just stand here!
I have to go inside!
Bad idea. Those who go inside dont live long.
Has a prisoner been led here recently?
There are prisoners inside. But we cant let anyone see them unless General Block gives us an order.
Ill be right back!
Klara rushed inside the headquarters to talk to Block.
Tell me, is doctor Stanislav Rubin held prisoner here? He would have been brought by several armed men.
I did see a man like this: huge, in leather clothes. He was being dragged by twenty people. Is he really a doctor? Why was he treated like that?
Yes, hes a doctor! What happened to him?
They demanded that we imprison him. I needed an explanation, so I ordered my men to bring them all inside. They resisted. An engagement ensued. Four of them were shot to death, three more were captured. The rest managed to get away with the prisoner.
...Can I speak with those you captured?
You can. I shall issue an order to let you enter the prison. Be careful they say it is dangerous there. Infection.
But it turned out that Generals permission was no longer needed. The guards were nowhere to be found and the prison door was unlocked. Impostress stepped inside.
So that's what they meant by «Those who go inside dont live long»...
Q: Ooh. Running through a prison dodging the infection. Are those clouds mobile or do they just kind of hang?
A: The clouds are stationary. The heat-seeking ones usually appear in dilapidated buildings like the ones where we found our sister.
Q: Wait, what? They removed the souls? Placed them in new vessels? Is that what we are too? Is that why the dual-souls invited us to join? But then, if we are the good soul, then where did the bad, I, ugh.
A: Yes, they removed Nina from the Polyhedron and put her inside her husband (somehow). Then Simon's soul also... I dunno, showed up. In Brass Monkey's thread they were talking about some kind of imaginary place where it was supposed to be summoned after a while. So now he inhabits Georg. It's supposed to be very taxing, probably like in Stephen King's Desperation. But they must eventually plan to transfer him inside the Polyhedron. Nina was super important, but Simon was even more so. They just don't make 'em like that anymore. As for our sister, well Klara and, let's say, Klara Zero, have two bodies between them. They are not doing some Fight Club thing or anything. At least, I don't think so. But souls... I don't think either of them has one, in traditional sense. If they were both created, they must be more like memes, or programs with different goals. Although "our" Klara does seem kinda human at times, so who knows, maybe it's up to us to prove that she is.
Q: So are all the Utopian and Termite Adherents still healthy? Barley (The Authorities?) said that you're the only one who can win while saving all of the Adherents instead of just your own?
A: The Bachelor's LP showed us that he is perfectly capable of saving them all as well.
Currently, many of the Adherents are in less than perfect condition, but we can probably whip them into shape like we did with Spichka. If none of them manage to get their asses murdered, that is!
Q: Are we not able to "chase out" our sister any longer? or is it just that we can't catch up to her anymore?
A: We can. Driving our sister out, locating her followers, and warning Haruspex and the Bachelor about each other are daily activities now. I just chose not to show it over and over again. You've already seen all dialog that occurs, and all possible outcomes. It's the same ass shit every day. The meaningful quests in the back half of Klara's playthrough are shorter, and the game doesn't want you to have too much free time on your hands.
I'll go over the conditions and outcomes in case it isn't clear from the playthrough:
If you don't find Klara Zero's location, or fail to convince her to leave, the entire block where she hides will be contagious until the end of the game. If you drive her out, but don't find her followers, or cannot convince them to reject her, then she will move in with them, and their entire block will become contagious until the end of the game. If you succeed at both of these tasks every day, the town will be much safer (Supposedly, then Klara Zero has to spend nights in the Steppe, or underground, and cannot contaminate the streets too much).
If you keep crapping it up however, the town will end up fully contaminated and difficult to navigate.
If you reveal your sister's location to Haruspex, you will not rid the neighbourhood of the plague, but will receive a Panacea as a reward. It is a sensible trade-off in case you don't have enough healing items to treat all the Adherents and unlock all the endings. Or you can be an idiot and sell her out to Bachelor, in return for... I dunno, some shitty reward, probably money.