The morning of the ninth day has come.
Infected in the past 24 hours: 352 ppl.
Died in the past 24 hours: 479 ppl.
Gone missing: 37 ppl.
Number of dead at the moment: 4311
Number of infected: 503 ppl.
The town is dying. Less than four days remain.
|Today's Map - Note the infection is EVERYWHERE I HAVE TO WALK|
I find myself safe in General Blok’s office. It’s already 2pm, I’ve gotten no sleep, and I somehow have five individual letters to answer.
|When was there ever enough sun to have actual shadows?|
While I’m relieved the General saved my life, his presence is unsettling. Rather than the old guards, we’ve got soldiers with rifles, and gas-masked juggernauts wielding massive flamethrowers. The General is paranoid of the Inquisitor—he thinks she’s manipulating everyone—and he wants to know I’m on his side. Of course, I’m on everybody’s side. And nobody’s side. This town is beyond “saving”. Victory is just a concept. Everyone is going to die, including me. Catherina Saburov, lying sick in her manor, foretold my death the moment I met her. Of course, I’m playing the pessimist.
The three leading ladies of the town are worried. Lara Ravel (“House of the Living” girl) wants a pistol for “self defense”. I go to Julia and she tells me Lara wants to kill the General; she’s convinced the military will overrun the town. Julia doesn’t want to see Lara kill the General (she’s got no chance anyway), so she offers herself up in exchange. I lie to General Blok that Julia is planning on killing him (at her request), so he puts her under house arrest.
Before I report back to Julia, I head to Anna Angel’s house—she tells me cryptically to give a small gun to Lara. I pocket the gun, head to Julia’s house to find five angry soldiers all hell-bent on killing me. I gun each one down (for some reason they decide not to open fire with their rifles) and take three fresh military grade rifles and rations from their corpses, then go inside and collect my reward from Julia: one of the precious few panaceas given out by Young Vlad. I head to Lara’s house, give her the gun (there’s no way she will kill the general), collect a second, then a third panacea from Anna. Mission accomplished.
I imagine something will go wrong, but it’s not my problem. If the general dies, my life is much less complicated. And Anna is ripe for blame, after all she’s done in the past. I’m covered.
The guards and exterminators are ruthless in their efficiency—if anything plagued moves past them, they turn the torch to it. And if my infection is past a quarter length, I become a target as well. I can’t properly relate exactly how frustrating getting around the town is, especially because the plague is mostly situated in the center, near General Blok.
|These guys should have gotten here a long time ago.|
In the past two days, executors have begun to appear outside the houses of different townsfolk. None of them are my adherents; I’ve kept in step with all the quests so far. These are the adherents of the Haruspicus and the Devotress. I’ve gotten passive aggressive notes from both of them asking me to take care of their list of adherents, though keeping track of every sick townsperson is out of the question. I simply don’t have time.
I feel as though I am fighting for my survival every moment of the day. I eat coffee beans to stave off exhaustion which depletes my health meter. And then, because my health is so low, I can't destroy my infection or strengthen my immunity, because taking pills shaves off a significant portion of my health. So, while running every errand, I have to do whatever I can to keep infection down, health up, all the while avoiding plague clouds and flamethrower-toting soldiers.
The Clot, Fat Vlad's manor, is locked up. It seems that, burdened with the weight of his guilt, he tossed himself to the angry masses in the Apiary. The executor taunts me, tells me I could have prevented it, then laughs in my face.
But what does it matter? He was a corrupt, fat old man. And, more importantly, he wasn’t my Adherent.
Miracle of Children
Victor Kain tells me his family will die from the plague after all this is over. He needs someone to preserve his legacy. That person will be Maria Kain. So much of this depends on the Polyhedron, though. So I climb the impossible steps and find Khan Kain, Victor’s son, down the Agate Hole. I need to investigate the Polyhedron, I tell him; I need to find out what’s really going on, and why everyone is so focused on the seemingly miraculous potential of this structure.
|Tweens don't need codpieces. Just saying.|
He says he’ll let me in, but I have to get him guns. He needs to be able to intimidate the General’s men. There are over a thousand children inside; all they will need to do is fire a few shots and scare them off. Of course, his entire idea is ridiculous. General Blok purportedly destroyed an entire fortress with minimal losses. There’s no way a tower of children could stop him.
However, I indulge him. I tramp back to Blok’s outpost, ask for a rifle, then give Khan the three soldiers’ rifles from earlier, my own, and Blok’s. Khan lets me inside the inner room.
I feel like I’m in a dream. The interior is gorgeous—rich velvet and light, and all the impossible stairs, writing all around. There are paper cranes hanging from the ceiling, stairways that lead to nothing: it’s fascinating. There are children, too, but nowhere near the thousand of which Khan spoke.
|So if this whole place is made of paper, like they say, it's kinda like a huge origami, isn't it?|
A few more things begin to make sense. Khan tells me the interior is a place of dreams. He talks about rooms of mirrors—and when I tell him I didn’t see any of this, that all I saw was stairs and walls, he scoffs. I’m too old to understand or to see, he says. When the kids grow up, they stop seeing it too.
As I said earlier, there was talk of the Polyhedron being a place of eternal youth. There was talk of the Kains’ “Inner Chamber”—in fact, it was in this Inner Chamber where Simon Kain was found at the beginning, infected with the Sand Plague. Is it possible that the Polyhedron, an anaesthetized and cold needle of a structure, could have injected the Sand Plague into the town, much like a syringe?
After discussing a few things with Kevin, I’ve learned that there are actually aged midgets wandering around town; in fact, one of his first quests was to kill a midget out on the steppe. According to the Dualsouls, these “midgets” are actually rejects from the Dogheads in the Polyhedron. With all the talk about eternal youth, and the sort of static atmosphere provided within the Polyhedron, is it possible that the children of the structure are actually older than they appear? That, if they leave the Polyhedron for long enough, they age rapidly?
There is one other facet: Khan. My impression of him (which has been conveyed by others as well) is that he is a child beyond his years. He looks like a young teenager, but he speaks as a grown man. The Kains have been very secretive throughout all of this. A few whispered hints of “reincarnation” and “rebirth”. Do they hope to be reborn in the innermost chamber of the Polyhedron?
And all of this becomes much more dire when I consider the town: in order to give dreams, perhaps youth, the Polyhedron needs fuel. Where does this energy come from? And more importantly, how can I harness it?