DAY 10: ASHES, ASHES, WE ALL FALL DOWN

   

On Day 10 the pieces begin to fall into place.

 

 

Naturally however, I am too confused and anxious to really catch on while playing through the day. The town is still a mess in terms of infected/affected districts (again, following no logical progression as seen earlier in the game), kindly mitigated by Blok’s troops torching anyone who so much as looks at them funny. Also, Vlad Olgimsky Sr. was executed for digging the wells in the Abattoir and introducing the Sand Plague to Tanathica. I was pretty surprised by that. Later in the day I stop by his house and although Kapella is still in her wing of the mansion, Vlad is gone and an Executor stands outside informing me (in a rather accusing tone) of his fate. Events such as this and Eve’s suicide, where major characters are removed, bring a certain gravity to the game and I applaud Ice-Pick for being bold in this manner.

Last night around midnight Aglaja sent me a letter urging me to come speak with her in the Cathedral as early as possible in the morning. She sends another in the morning all but ordering me to appear before her. She still maintains that the soil and water are not the source of the plague and that is was brought into town by a human carrier. She wants the blueprints to the Polyhedron as she is convinced it is somehow inextricably intertwined with the affliction that has beset the town, and she is certain the Kain family can provide them. Naturally, she herself is on bad terms with the Kains, which is where I come in. She is also acting colder towards me and I sense a change in her attitude. I agree and then head to Peter Stamantin’s flat, since he’s the guy who designed the thing (for some reason Aglaja ignores this fact).

 

 

But Peter is not there! Instead I am met by a squad of Blok’s soldiers who are themselves searching for the man. He now stands accused of murdering some. One of the soldiers mentions that Peter may be seeking refuge in one of the stairways to the sky ruins and protecting himself with fire. Oh Pete, the hijinks you get yourself into!

Sure enough, the only entrance into the spot where Peter (loaded to the gills on twyrine and disguised as an Executor of all things) is hiding is blocked by a roaring fire. Trying to jump past it is an exercise in futility. However, around the back side of the lot is a pile of rocks and beams that allow stable purchase for me to climb upon and leap over the wooden fence to where Peter is off babbling to himself.

 

Peter in his getup moping in an abandoned lot. You can see the fire blocking the entrance in the upper right.

Amid Peter’s ramblings he confesses a few important things. He was enticed to build the Polyhedron at the behest of Nina (Victor Kain’s deceased wife and mother to Maria). Peter had long been obsessed with impossible architecture and this was his greatest work. He intimates that it contains a soul – but not a human one. He believes it contains the soul of this town, Tanathica, and it likewise functions as a conduit of magical energy, an energy that not only created the town, but may now be threatening to destroy it. He also makes what I believe is a passing reference to the fact that the original idea for the Polyhedron came from his dead child, which would in part explain (or at least agree with) the tendency for children to be drawn to it. He surrenders the blueprints at the price of a five bottles of twyrine, threatening to immolate himself (I helpfully suggest he merely drink them instead).

 

 

Acquiring the schematics updates the weird puzzle-piece part of my map, adding blueprint-style sketch lines to the image of the Polyhedron. With two days remaining in the game I am intrigued what else might be added to the collage. Aglaja is suitably pleased (yet still somewhat standoffish) and makes an odd passing observation that Peter and I are dead ringers for each other – can’t say I see it, but that’s how it goes with this sort of thing, doesn’t it?

 

 

Backing up a bit, after the usual mostly-incomprehensible midnight theater cinematic (the latest features a 10 foot General Blok saluting in his trademarked Nazi-style fashion on a throne while the three main players sit huddled below him) theater denizen Mark Immortal engages me in conversation, which he hasn’t done after a midnight cinematic in quite some time. He mentions some kind of gathering at the bone pole grounds that is bothering him for some reason.

 

 

A small mob of locals are pantomiming some bizarre ritual or event. The leader (a repurposed bald shopkeeper) prophesies the end of the world (or at least the town) and is using a dead bull that was impaled on a bone spike as a symbol of the town. Considering the state of affair, it’s not all that surprising to me. However, the leader is placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Kain family and is calling for blood. I quickly report my findings to Mark, who suggests the mob be “handled.” I don’t need dialogue nor a quest journal to direct me where to go next.

 

 

General Blok is surprisingly regretful over Aglaja’s stance on matters. He is, however, reluctant to get involved with the mob at the bone pole grounds until I point out that the giant dead bull is probably diseased and requires disinfection. He agrees to handle the matter post-haste.

Around noon Alexander Saburov’s wife Catherina sends me a letter that borders on sheer madness. She is dead certain that Simon yet lives and is even now among the rest of the Kain family at the Horns, their estate. She implores me to investigate the matter and I start by speaking with Rubin, as he was ostensibly that last person to see Simon’s body. A surprisingly morose Rubin scoffs at the idea, blaming Klara for Catherina’s current mental state.

 

 

The conversation I have with the Kains about the possibility of Simon’s return ranks among the most intriguing and pivotal series of dialogues I have in the entire game. The Kains speak of dying, of reincarnated spirits, of potentially no longer being who they once were, of becoming eventual targets of Aglaja despite being perhaps Tanathica’s last and only hope for survival. Just as amazing as all of that is, none of them – not Maria, Victor, nor George himself – fully deny nor confirm that Simon has possibly returned at least in a spiritual sense. Or even that he perhaps never left.

 

 

George Kain requests me to tell Aglaja that he has gone mad and believes he himself is Simon and that the entire Kain family is planning suicide. However, Aglaja refuses to believe it and it is at this moment that I begin to doubt the strength of my relationship with her and her motives in general. By the end of Day 11, I will have far more than just doubt – as well as the blood of dozens on my hands.

   

 

NEXT: YEA, THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY