The Let's Play Archive


by woodenchicken

Part 38: Chapter Eleven - pt.2

How were they... What the...?

After giving the executor that was guarding Petr a priceless powder, Klara was allowed to enter the architect’s studio, only to find Andrei and Bachelor already there. Had they also given him a powder?

Or was there some secret entrance to the house that Andrei could use without executor’s knowledge? No, actually... they had climbed up using the scaffolding! Klara wanted to kick herself for not having thought of that too.

She decided to check if Andrei required healing. But he seemed fine, bandaged expertly by Daniel.

I’m going to ignore you, Impostress. And I suggest you do the same, brother.
But I have changed! Just tell me something about the Polyhedron, Andrei.
You know it’s the pinnacle of human achievement. This tower is no pipe dream, it’s not a fluke or illusion, no matter what this insensitive Daniel may think! It exists for people; they need it; it makes no sense without them!
Why are you so upset?
He wants to leave it hanging in the emptiness, in icy solitude... like a unique butterfly asphyxiated in a killing jar and pinned to a dusty cardboard sheet that is the Steppe! No, I don’t want it to be so! Who needs a victory like this...?
Don’t worry, Andrei... I can make him change his mind.

She turned to Petr.

What is it, your Polyhedron?
What is there for me to tell you? You say you work wonders all the time, that this power is mundane to you... Well, the rest of us aren’t like that! It’s not often that you get a chance to do the impossible.
I want to save your tower...
Do it. You are the only one who can.
I’ve been inside. What is all that? Who inhabits it?
I wish I could say it is inhabited by my dreams and fantasies... But it wouldn’t be true. It has been squatted by children – pitiful, small-minded, malicious children that want to be like grown-ups... But the tower makes them better, so I can’t really protest. Perhaps someone’s dream will live there some day...
What’s wrong with children’s dreams?
Look outside. This is exactly what’s wrong with them... Any child can visit the other side of reality, but not many can get something beautiful, good... magical out of it. No, this tower is not for children... It’s for lovers, dreamers and poets...
I believe you, Petr.

But it was time to deliver the message to Daniel.

How did you get here?
I bring bad news for you from the Inquisitor. Your authority has been revoked. I think she decided to get rid of you.
So you’re a harbinger of my destruction... Or will you tell me how I can miraculously avoid this well-deserved reprisal?
Don’t ascribe such a role to me!
Inquisitor won’t forgive me my unfaithfulness. I just don’t understand how she managed to find out about it so soon. I had scarcely made a decision when she already knew about it... Truly, this woman is devil himself. But whatever happens, I won’t change my decision even if it costs me my life.
What is this decision?
I want to save the Polyhedron. And I will save it at all costs. For the first time in human history there was created a device that, thanks to engineering design and coincidence, can inexplicably influence human mind. Preserve children’s dreams, if you will.
How is it possible?
The thing is, the tower helps achieve the impossible. I didn’t believe it myself at first, but now I’m fully convinced. The fact remains, all the children claim that the Tower can reproduce the very spirit that makes childhood the best part of one’s life.
I was inside the tower. It was empty. Are you saying it’s just me?
Yes! Elusive dream worlds and fantasies of magical lands, love, games of heroes, battles, escapes and transformations... It focuses them all and creates a bundle of energy, product of children’s imagination that has a life of its own.
I can’t believe my ears. Where is your usual scepticism?
Yes. It’s a dream that you can experience repeatedly. A wish that comes true right before your eyes. A miracle that you can touch with your own hands. Inside, something a man can only feel for a moment, may be kept indefinitely.
We must not let something like this be destroyed.
I’m asking for your help. I know how to save the Polyhedron. We can save it, although we will have to destroy everything else here. I know how. Tell Aglaea that you didn’t find me; meanwhile I will prepare my case for the General. He can spare the Polyhedron in good conscience – the plague won’t come back if the tower remains standing.
Can you prove it?
Just help me gain some time – tomorrow I’ll give you a letter with my case for the General.
Very well. Have it your way. I’ll go tell Aglaea that I didn’t find you.
Wait! Help me get rid of the enemy who is ready to provide Aglaea with a fatal argument that will leave General no choice but to destroy the Polyhedron!
Who is it?
Burakh the Haruspex. He is finishing some sort of dirty job today. If he succeeds, he will be able to deceive Block together with Aglaea. Well, Aglaea will be the one to deceive. Burakh is but her tool, just as I was not too long ago.
What makes him so dangerous?
They’ll defend the poisoned town just to save Aglaea from the wrath of the Authorities, and will demolish the Polyhedron so they can call her mission a success. They need something to blame for the outbreak. Find and stop him!

So, the Bachelor had decided that the best thing to do under the circumstances was to evacuate the whole town, while razing the current settlement to the ground. She knew that General Block was already, reluctantly, considering that option, in case no other way to resolve the situation could be found. He clearly had the firepower for it. Dankovsky probably had some proof, something indicating that Sand Fever wouldn’t reappear in the new town after the destruction of the old one. Some reasonable scientific explanation that didn’t involve miracles and wrath of the Law.

Klara suddenly thought that she could, in fact, go with this plan instead of Rubin’s human slaughterhouse, and nobody could stop her... Let Dankovsky defend his decision and take responsibility for the consequences...

But without the sacrifices, there would be no panacea. Those hundreds currently sick would have no hope even if the origin of Sand Fever would be destroyed. Sacrificing a few willing victims would be an act of mercy compared to that.

Interestingly, Andrei didn’t like Bachelor’s idea one bit. There was compassion in his soul after all.

Klara kept thinking about what Dankovski had said about the Haruspex.
If Artemy planned to topple the tower and leave it at that, what would that solve? Was he expecting that Sand Fever would die down on its own once the ziggurat was destroyed? In that case, Katherine Saburov should welcome him to her Humble club. No, even Burakh couldn’t be that naive.

But if that Ospina woman had promised him that he could overthrow Oyun and head the Order... that kind of thing could make a man reluctant to abandon and destroy the town... Inquisitor Aglaea was also interested in preservation of the settlement at any cost, and she had become really cosy with Haruspex in the past few days.

If that was indeed all that was on Burakh’s mind, he needed a good talking-to.

She caught Artemy in his basement laboratory.

Looking for something?
Somebody wants you dead, Artemy Burakh. What you are going to do now?
Are you a harbinger of my death? Well, you won’t make me change my plans. I’m going to the Abattoir. Elder Oyun is waiting for me with a final test. It’s not as if I was expecting to come out of there alive. But you said you’d help me, right?
Who, I?
One of us must be an idiot.
Not I, that’s for sure!
Half an hour ago, you said you knew what deception the Elder had prepared for me. You said you’d be waiting for me where Oyun would send me and that you would help me win.
That wasn’t I. Tell me more.
I want to ask the Elder about mysteries that lie behind the ritual of bull sacrifice. I feel that the only way to uncover the truth is to become the new Elder. But Oyun won’t give up his power without a fight.
He is wicked, isn’t he?
I suspect that he is a treacherous murderer and usurper. And I would kill him without regret.
Don’t go to him just yet. I’ll visit the Abattoir and settle your dispute.
You are quick to change your plans. Last time I saw you, you were in a much more bloodthirsty mood. I won’t waste any more time. My destiny is waiting for me in the Abattoir. I’m going to meet it with a free heart.
Wait just a little more. We will see each other in the Abattoir.

She ran for the slaughterhouse’s gaping gate right away. Before Haruspex went in to take his final «test», she wanted to make sure everything would run smoothly. He seemed sincere when he said that becoming Abattoir’s new foreman was a means for him to uncover the truth and fight the epidemic. There was no harm in lending him a hand and preventing unnecessary violence.

The corrupt Elder met her with a solemn and respectful greeting.

I bow my head before you, Mistress. You’ve come to take my life – I’m ready to give it up.
Did you call me a Mistress?
Burakh the votary and Rubin the oynon already told me about your miracles. She who can turn the blood of Suok’s children into that of Bos Primigenius deserves to be called our Mistress.
Why are you willing to end your life?
If you manage to transform my blood with your hands, I will eagerly surrender the life I dishonoured. Let the benefit from my death give it meaning.
Why do you say so?
I say and do so because I, Oyun, wasn’t able to carry out the ritual and couldn’t bear the burden that that I’d taken upon myself. I do not deserve to live. Many Adherents would tell you the same. When they agree to give you their blood, the Order will help you use it most efficiently. The skills of butchers, who know and deal with the Lines, and the Abattoir, womb of Suok, will be at your disposal. Burakh will not oppose you.
Why are you sure that they will agree?
A Mistress doesn’t need to ask such questions. They have already accepted their fate – let them serve their Lady, Mistress of the Humble. If you can find several Adherents who will forfeit their pointless lives, you will create enough elixir to preserve all life in town. Do you agree to transform and collect my blood?
Yes. Let it be as you say.

And so, the lines have come together. Elder, the first of the fallen Adherents, an outright ogre, has recognized me as a Mistress of the Land and agreed to sacrifice himself in the name of the miracle. I shall go back to Burakh. I have freed the underground throne for him!

And so, just like that, her first victim was chosen. Chose itself, really. Oyun basically lay down on the altar himself and put a sacrificial dagger in her hand, metaphorically speaking.

Burakh was outside Elder’s room, waiting for her to report her findings. Well, at least she would deliver on her promise to him. Menkhu could go in and receive his title without any complications. At least someone was getting things done.

I spoke to the Elder. Hark! and know that that he renounces his title and will soon hand his power over to you.
Is it your doing?
Why is he doing this?
Because everybody must fulfil their purpose. He is destined to be a sacrifice. You are destined to rule the Order.
You turned out to be much more powerful than I had thought. Why did you do this?
Tell me what you are planning to do, Burakh.
I have to perform a sacrifice of blood. But I still haven’t determined whose blood it is meant to be. I must make a decision. Everything indicates that it is inevitable and the moment will come really soon.
Dankovsky says Aglaea and you are making plans to topple the Polyhedron.
All I want is to heal the town. Destruction of the Polyhedron was only necessary because I didn’t expect to gain the upper hand over the Elder.
But it turned out the other way. What now?
I know how to produce panacea out of blood and herbs. The problem is that the blood of this kind rarely occurs in nature. Do not hate this town. It is beautiful. It hasn’t lost connection with the earth yet. It combines incompatible things. Different parts of town live in different time periods. There are no other towns like this left... and it’s not likely that any will sprout ever again.
Rejoice. I’ll give you the kind of blood you’re searching for.
And what do you want from me?
Promise me that when you place yourself at the head of the Order, you will support me and create as much panacea as it will be necessary to hold the plague in check.
If it helps save my town, then I agree. Tomorrow, I will present my case to Aglaea. She has to be cautious – her very existence depends on the outcome of this situation.
Yes. So go to her and announce your plan. I think she will accept it.
Your case must be ready by tomorrow.

And Burakh went on into Elder’s cave to accept the honours. Klara had no more business in Abattoir and headed towards exit.

Polyhedron wasn’t, strictly speaking, necessary to save everyone. But what a senseless, irreplaceable loss its destruction would be! Hell, seeing Aglaea’s reaction alone would be worth preserving the tower for. She was glad that Burakh wasn’t adamant about bringing it down.