The morning of the seventh day has come.
Infected in the past 24 hours: 209 ppl.
Died in the past 24 hours: 342 ppl.
Gone missing: 19 ppl.
Number of dead at the moment: 2394
Number of infected: 437 ppl.
Even together with the Inquisitor you will not defeat this enemy. Less than six days remain.
As soon as I step out of Eve Yahn’s house a cinematic plays. It’s the Inquisitor—a slim, severe woman—ordering executions, followed by an image of the gallows. At this, I start to worry a bit. I have nothing to show for yesterday—no culpable source for the disease. I can only hope she’ll understand.
|Tough . . . love?|
Also, today is the day when everyone starts calling me oinon. I did a double-take at first; I thought they were calling me onion.
Truth, Lies, and Some More In Between
Not only is the Inquisitor understanding: she’s an admirer of my research. Three years ago, we met at an exhibition in which I resurrected dead tissue. Aglaja is confident in my abilities; moreover, she says I’ve been manipulated. “They” have sent me here on false pretenses in an effort to destroy my work and me. I can only assume she means the higher authorities, academia—all of them jealous of my brilliance. How convenient it was, she tells me, that the town’s sole medic would die on the first day (an almost negligible detail to me on Day 1). I was set up to fail in my fight against this enemy from the very beginning.
|Don't let the cowering lackeys or blood-red throne confuse you: she's a teddy bear.|
There have been three spectators in town disguised as Executors. They have been feeding rumors of the Shabnak, false information to the masses that has spread faster than the plague. I have to find them and collect their ledgers for Aglaja. This is not terribly difficult to do—each is situated in the heart of the three main districts.
One of the spectators has something interesting to say. He tells me not to trust the Inquisitor; she would like nothing more than to burn this town to the ground. She's wanted, convicted, and this is her last act as Inquisitor, and she would like nothing more than to bring ruin and shame to the higher powers. I take note of this as I grab his ledger.
Eve is Gone
As I scurry around town, I receive a disturbing note from Eve Yahn (my landlady-with-benefits). She says she can’t take any more of this—that she needs a sign of a miracle. Minutes later, I receive a letter from the Devotress blaming me for my mistakes; Eve has jumped from the highest parapet of the Cathedral, expecting to be saved by some miracle.
Andrey Stamatin, who owns the pub in the eastern district (which I frequent for coffee and roses) has some woes. I find from his entourage that he has gone to the swamps in search of Eve; he doesn’t know she’s died. Instead he’s gotten it into his head that the smooth-headed Worms have stolen her to become a “Bride of the Worms”—perhaps for sacrifice or something worse.
Cursing under my breath, I tramp down to the swamps. It’s not to far a detour on my way back to the Inquisitor. I arrive at a rust-red yurt to find a large posse of high-cheekboned butchers and worms, all of them thirsty for blood. After several failed engagements, I adopt a stealthier approach, draw my adversaries out to the swamp to wander after me, and rush to the yurt to speak to Andrei, who has discovered the horrible truth. Yes, Eve has died. There’s no getting her back, no hoax, no trickery. If I want comfort from now on, I’ll need to visit the tavern.
|We should seriously check into whether or not this game has ever induced Seasonal-Affective Disorder.|
Andrey says one rather unsettling thing before we part ways. He tells me Eve jumped because she wanted to become “The Soul of the Cathedral”. Something about an Inner Chamber. I’m reminded of the Kain family’s talk of the “Inner Chamber” in which the late Simon Kain, the first diseased, died on Day 1 and 2 (another seemingly unimportant detail to me back then). At this point, however, I still don’t understand.
Truth, Lies, etc. (continued)
The Inquisitor is frustrated with the ledgers I collected. They are false. The numbers have been stacked; the information collected is off, somehow, though we don’t know which of the three is wrong. She tells me that I must arrest one of the three spectators. One tells the truth, one always lies, and the other one vacillates between the two. Right, Wrong, Neutral. I can’t help but think, as she sends me to discern which is which, that I’m being put through an elaborate test. She wants to see how trustworthy I am.
|She said he did it of his own free will but . . . uh . . .|
|Look carefully at the hollow--there's a strange face etched into the roof of the Cathedral.|
The details of the rest are inconsequential, of course. I find the traitor, take him back to the Inquisitor, and she orders him to jump from the top balustrade of the Cathedral to his death. She tells me afterwards that I made the right decision, and she’ll have more for me to do tomorrow.
|A new "map"?|
When I’ve finished, I look at my map to see a second drawing on the back. It’s the town from the side—a large, awkward hump on a hill. I don’t understand the meaning at all. The etchings at the bottom are like traced veins. I’m certain this will make more sense in the days to come.
Mask & Overall
I receive a letter from the Haruspicus asking for an executor’s mask and suit and spend much of the rest of the afternoon scouring the town and countryside for something, but nothing turns up. I must have missed something earlier. However, my wandering turns up two interesting things.
The culture of this place disgusts me. The townsfolk built their awkward little houses, now brimming with plague, when they ought to have stayed in their yurts. As I head north through the Tanner’s District, I come upon a Worm standing outside an empty pen. Curious, I ask him what he’s doing. He tells me the earth needs blood, and that by performing a special ritual we can nourish it. I want to know more, and he hints that I might be able to participate. I accept, and moments later I find myself hemmed in the pen, facing a bloodthirsty butcher with nothing but my fists to defend myself.
I panic, then relax and step forward. He delivers a crushing blow, nearly killing me, and so I step back, then forward, timing my punches just so. After a few minutes, he goes down. The worm, looking rather glum, tells me I didn’t shed enough blood, but he would give me the fellow’s pancreas as a reward. I take a sample of blood instead. It may prove useful.
Kevin constantly berates me for being “so prissy” but I just killed a man with my bare hands. There’s nothing prissy about that. That’s what this town is—it’s designed to make animals of men.
The other image that interests me is in the cemetery. I hadn’t noticed it before, but most every tombstone has some sort of image of bulls upon it—in the form of horns. Bull horns everywhere. It’s a strange anthropomorphism. There’s so much talk about the Abattoir—the bulls in the fields and the infections—and now rather than cows in the pens, there are hundreds of human carcasses, stacked and canvassed. The people of this town are mere livestock on their way to the slaughter.