DAY 8: THE DOG, THE SNAKE, AND THE BULL

   

I know I say this for every day in this game, but Day 8 is a total and utter pisser.

 

 

I’ll start with the infected districts. On Day 8 the once-predictable district progression of infected to closed to clean to infected again is at least partially thrown right out the window. Yes, the infected districts from Day 7 are now all closed, but a few of the closed districts have become re-infected with no clean grace period. The Tanners and Hearts (where the Theater is) are both re-infected prematurely, which is a real pain in the ass as finally the Apiary is open but of course the entrances to it open into the Tanners District. Even worse is the fact that the entire eastern third of the town is either infected or closed. The Damp District (the other infected district next to the Apiary) is the worst section of town, crawling with arsonists, rats, plague and death angel clouds, and only one shop that I can duck into to make this nightmare go away. However, I still found this layout easier to contend with that Day 7, primarily because the Horns where the Cathedral (and the Inquisitor) is located is no longer infected, nor are the districts south of the Tanners. Aside from when I absolutely must enter the Tanners District, I can avoid most of the bad parts of town by sticking to the railway line to the south or further north where most of the clean districts are.

 

 

As an intriguing side note, the town map is taking on some odd characteristics. A sort of cartoon rendering of the town is slowly assembling itself piece by piece. The first piece seems to represent the homes of the town’s citizens, replete with sinister red tendrils extending into the ground to represent the plague (I assume). The Cathedral adds itself later and by the end of today, the Abattoir.

 

 

Another neat surprise that makes the entire geography and terminology of the town much more understandable is an artistic rendering of the town as a bull. The Kains live in The Horns, and the middle districts of town have anatomically-appropriate names such as Rib, Kidney, Heart, Spine, and so on.

On the way to Vlad Jr. for my morning constitutional (and updated town map) I receive a letter from him. He’s all wound up about something in the Apiary. Apparently they are concocting a supposed cure for the plague by boiling hearts freshly removed from the diseased (which are in no short supply in the Apiary as Vlad tells it, meaning it has been hit hard by the plague as originally feared). As Burakh is in the Apiary as well, he may very well know something about this.

 

The Apiary, although interesting at first is a full of empty, useless areas.

Burakh is full of information, as it turns out. He has returned from the Abattoir and he claims they have a cure for the disease. As proof he hands me a vial of blood with active antibodies to the Sand Plague. He tells me to go check it under a microscope and if I find everything satisfactory, he will give me some of the vaccine (or panacea, as he and the rest of the townspeople refer to it). When asked about the false vaccine he reports suspicious activity from some of the Morlocks on the second floor.

 

 

The Worms admit to their snake oil scam and beg for their lives. In exchange they reveal that Vlad Jr. – Vlad Jr! – bought all of the real vaccine that Burakh brought back, bought it from all the decent folk he gave it to and plans to sell it to whatever scum can cough up the money.

 

 

But as it turns out, Vlad was overcome with a sense of responsibility and instead disseminated the vaccine as he saw fit, with no steep fees involved. He won’t tell me who all he gave it to (he fears Klara finding out) except for Mark Immortal in the Theater, who reveals to me Lara, Julia and Anna all received some. Vlad, you ol’ scalawag; turns out I’m not the only single fella making the rounds in this town.

By this time I have received letters from both Aglaja the Inquisitor and – surprisingly enough –  Aiyan, the Steppe girl who is now my servant. Aiyan’s sounds more urgent, so I tend to her first.

 

 

What the? Doghead emissaries from the Polyhedron in my parlor? Why I never! The Dogheads inform me that they are aware that I had shown interest in keeping the Polyhedron safe and disease-free and that Aglaja will soon bid me to inspect it again. They want to assert that it is still so, reason being that the place is magically protected and I can ask Kapella for proof of this. They mention something about blue magic fire from paper that does not burn but I have no idea what the Hell that means, so off I go to Kapella.

Kapella reveals much to me. Indeed, the magic of the Polyhedron is strong. In addition to its protective measures, its true power is the ability to make its inhabitants’ dreams reality, that they and those around them can see. It seems to work best with children and their vivid imaginations, so they have been drawn to it and the Khan ensures that only children remain there. But Kapella fears the Polyhedron has a sinister side to it, and will eventually demand a terrible price for the dreams it bestows. Indeed, most of the wiser children have foreseen this and left. One of these used to be the most highly revered of the children in the Polyhedron – Taya, whom they refer to as Mother Order. She now resides in the Apiary and controls a small faction of the workers therein, including the Abattoir workers and controls who is allowed to enter or leave it. Kapella gives me some medicine to take to Mother Order to take should she fall ill.

 

 

Dialogue with Aglaja is once again a riveting experience. She had sent a fairly long letter around midnight last night and it just made me more intrigued and interested in what she was going to do. She feels the Sand Plague earns it name from being an ancient sickness that has worked its way from the depths of the earth to the surface to punish the town. For what? She believes in large part it is the Kain’s fault. Simon’s efforts to explore alternate planes of reality came at this price. She also believes they had a hand in Eve’s suicide, insinuating it was a blood sacrifice-by-proxy. She also believes Vlad Olgimsky Sr. had ordered a contingent of Abattoir workers to dig deep into the ground to establish new water wells and the like, but in doing so has exposed the Sand Plague to the surface and enabled its pestilence. This would certainly explain why and how the Apiary had become infected despite being locked down, and why it spread outward to the town so easily (starting at the adjacent Tanners District, no less). She mentions that Vlad Jr. had one such well and had it filled in and sealed shortly before the outbreak.

Vlad Jr. confirms this but states that he only had the well filled and sealed because it ran dry and will say no more on the matter, rather suspiciously – even when threatened with facing the Inquisitor. Fine then, jerk; be that way. Despite this I still tend to think he is innocent, which leaves his father as the guilty party (I cannot engage Big Vlad about this matter, however).

 

 

At long last I appear before Taya, Mother Order. Like many children in this town, she looks like a normal child save for a nearly imperceptible aura of power around her. She takes the medications from Kapella and thanks me. I ask her to open the Abattoir, but she demands I first confess who ordered it and the Apiary closed. This is of course a tricky question: technically, Vlad Sr. ordered it closed but Vlad Jr. started the riot to force the closure. However, with the evidence mounting that Vlad Sr. exposed the town to the plague by digging wells and so forth, the blame is his one way or the other. However, Taya is still reluctant to open the Abattoir and has another request: find her toy bull and bring it to her. It’s squirreled away in an infected house near Olgimsky’s.

 

 

What a goddamned pain in the ass going into an infected house is. It’s hard to see and there is busted furniture and curtains and shit all over the place. Naturally, ze bool is as far away from the front door as possible, up a flight of circular stairs and in a nightstand in the back corner of a bedroom. Waves of plague clouds blow to and fro and it is amazing that I manage to recover the bull without sustaining serious damage – after a dozen or so reloads, of course.

 

Moments before getting my ass beat

Into the Abattoir I go. There’s not much to explore despite its daunting size, alas, at least for now. In short order I am surrounded by butchers who proceed to beat the shit out of me and I fall unconscious. Really, Ice-Pick? That’s my end of day reward for Day 8? An ass-whuppin’? I’d be more miffed except I awake on Day 9 in the middle of some Serious Business and subsequently enjoy easily the most entertaining day of the game thus far.

   

 

NEXT: BEHOLD, A PALE HORSE