The morning of the eighth day has come.
Infected in the past 24 hours: 249 ppl
Died in the past 24 hours: 391 ppl
Gone missing: 59 ppl
Number of dead at the moment: 3128
Number of infected: 570
Less than five days remain. Tomorrow the sanitary army will arrive.
It’s a fundamental law of physics: Each action demands an equal and opposite reaction.
Ice Pick Lodge labeled this game as a prototype of an epidemic simulator. If I pull back for a moment and assess what has happened—and where I’ve just found myself—I couldn’t be more horrified. I’m controlling a pixeled avatar, a stuck up researcher from the city, whose shoes I have easily filled. If I were to answer to friends for what I’ve said and done in this virtual sphere right now, I’d be ashamed. I’ve killed men in barbaric combat—just to try to understand the primitives of this godforsaken place. I’ve dodged murders, taken down roomfuls of muggers, and lied to everyone in this entire town, in exchange for the numerous lies that have been told to me.
If Ice Pick were to assess my decisions, I’ve failed. I came into this town as a representative of civility and objective truth, and I mucked the whole thing up. Rubin has disappeared. Hundreds are dead in the Cathedral, and my first reaction when I spoke to the townsfolk was relief that all this wouldn’t be blamed on me. Of course, this is human nature. In the end, we’re all meat—heat—desire, and we all want to survive.
I’ll explain the day as quickly as I can.
Black Market of Panacea
The Haruspicus and I have created a panacea, through my research and his alchemy. Several worms, holed up in the now-open Apiary, have begun to produce a false elixir and sell it for an exorbitant sum. When I confront them, they point a finger of blame to Young Vlad Olgimskiy and say he has bought all of the true panacea and is hording it for personal gain. When I visit him, he tells me that yes, this is true: he used the vast funds at his disposal to buy it all up, but only so that he could sell it for (basically) nothing to the women of the town—Lara, Julia and Anna. It seems that he’s had a genuine change of heart.
|I hope those large bags are just full of dead cow meat.|
Kevin has already written about the Apiary—he took a visit to that harrowing place yesterday—but I’d like to share some impressions. I enter the asylum greeted by the cries of madmen. Butchers and worms run to and fro on strange errands, and massive bags of rotting meat hang from the ceiling. Bodies litter the floors, and there are strange experiments going on in back rooms. This place is filled with the refuse of the human race.
|I assume this is a painting of the Apiary--otherwise it's gotta be a communist propaganda poster.|
The panacea is not enough to stave off infection. Yes, it cures the infection completely, yet it’s not enough. The fact is that as long as the source persists, this infection will come back again and again, and eventually spread beyond this microcosm. There’s something—either from the Abattoir, the Polyhedron, the water source—that will continue to fuel the outbreak. There is a dry rot in the infrastructure, and we need to search it out.
The difficulty of each errand today will be exacerbated by the plague: it has truly reached its peak. To enter an infected zone today is almost certain death. Plague clouds materialize all at once, hemming me in, as brown-swathed infected pursue with a reckless abandon, knowing they will die. The remaining arsonists patrol the streets accompanied by knife-wielding maniacs, all of them ready and capable of ending me with one strike.
I investigate the water source first. Young Vlad has filled in the well in his place, rendering any research utterly useless. My only recourse is to investigate the Abattoir: something there is poisoning the ground itself, the Inquisitor is certain. To this end, I ask Taya (the “Mother Keeper” girl in the Apiary) to order open the gates. She tells me she might, but only if Big Vlad offers himself as a sacrifice for his crimes. He was singlehandedly responsible for the shut-in at the Apiary which allowed the asylum to become a breeding ground for the disease and killed hundreds. I’m convinced I still need Big Vlad, however, so the Mother Keeper gives me another task: I need to break into her old house (the same one Lara picked to be a “House of the Living” on Day 2) and recover her favorite rocking horse toy.
|That's not soot on my nose. It's Sand Plague.|
The mission is difficult; not only do I need to procure a lockpick, but the former “House of the Living” is impossible to navigate, filled to the brim with miasmic plague clouds. Choking, I rush up the stairs, grab the rocking horse and run back to Taya who says she’ll open the Abattoir for my inspection just before midnight tonight.
At half past eleven, I make my way to the Apiary, find the gaping tunnel before me and run through to the Abattoir. After wandering for a bit, I come upon a large room, where half a dozen butchers circle me and proceed to beat me up. In just the nick of time, a wave of soldiers rush in, gun down the barbarians and take me to the town center. On my way there, I’m treated to a cinematic showing lines of soldiers marching in formation—a stern-faced general at their fore. The army has arrived.
|This is me about to get lynched.|
Aglaja and Young Vlad
From my conversations with these two, I have come to an unsettling conclusion. Simply put, the town must be destroyed.
So much of this town is unnatural. After researching the Polyhedron (the dogheads—the gang of children who live there—came to my house) I have learned several interesting points. First: it is something entirely synthetic. None of the children who live there have been infected. People say it is a place of magical energy, that time is static. Some say it grants eternal youth. Some say that only the youthful can benefit from its strange magic. The Kain family talks of the inner sanctum as a chamber where a spirit can choose its path—this has something to do with Eve’s suicide, attempting to become “part of the Cathedral”. The Cathedral is so close to the Polyhedron—perhaps they are linked.
So yes: the Polyhedron is a miracle, a strange healing instrument of sorts. Yet it is an artificial, unliving thing, and it has paralyzed the earth. I zoomed out from my map today to see the town overlaid with the image of a bull—organs, intestines, spine, everything. And at the tip—the head—is the jagged, pointed, impossible Polyhedron.
|I yelped when this came up instead of my map.|
This was all steppe at one point—there were wanderers in yurts, moving across the surface of the land, briefly drawing from the resources, then moving on. Like symbiotes, they fed from the land in life, and with their death (and blood) proceeded to feed the land. Yet the town has changed everything. Trains arrived from far away bringing the oafish townsfolk, who built their structures piece by piece, attaching themselves to the land like melanoma.
The Haruspicus experienced the tunnels beneath the town as a sort of ventricle—as blood vessels through an abdomen. There are hundreds more beneath each house, beneath each manhole I pass on each street, all of them burrowed deep with cold, sharp trowels by greedy townsfolk. These aren’t blood vessels: they are carved wounds. We call the disease the Sand Plague because it comes from the earth, when in reality it is not a plague at all. The plague is the antibodies of the earth, and we are all parasites, sucking the life from the ground, poisoning its blood and flesh gradually.
The people of this blighted town are corrupt, squabbling animals, and they are only getting their just payment for the ways they have grossly abused the earth. Even the steppe folk have been corrupted, drawing inward into myopic ramblings of cultish earth gods and goddesses, upholding traditions that no longer have meaning, that will not shield them from the judgment. As I walk through the outskirts of the town, I can occasionally make out the remaining yurts covered in rust-colored scabs. No one is safe. Everyone is judged.
The Inquisitor describes this microcosm as a carefully wound and intricate mechanism, and something is throwing it off. The Polyhedron, with its odd stasis, has wound the clock to a halt, left the earth vulnerable and incapable of repair, while the Abattoir has gummed up the inner workings with whatever the Butchers are dumping into the system.
The Bachelor is a doctor. I am playing the role of surgeon. The true blight here is not the Sand Plague, but the cancerous growth of this town. The most logical recourse is to excise this tumor before it can spread. I don’t know what will make this possible, but I am assured the tools will present themselves in the days to come.