DAY 9: BEHOLD, A PALE HORSE

   

 

General Blok and his army is here. I awake literally at his feet, inside the Town Council that he has appropriated for his command center (which has undergone an interior graphic overhaul for the occasion). His arrival is shown in a fairly lengthy cinematic before I awake, a no-nonsense (and slightly cliché)  montage of marching soldiers and heavy munitions rolling into town.

 

 

Much like the Inquisitor, I meet my first conversation with Blok with much trepidation. Similarly, it is a much warmer greeting than I fear it might be. He cuts to the chase regarding whatever I might know about the epidemic. He also states in no uncertain terms that he considers Aglaja his enemy and that nothing she says can be believed. He will consider me an ally unless I obviously throw in with Aglaja, and we leave it at that.

 

 

Oh, Ice-Pick. You just can’t help yourselves, can you? I guess the guys decided to go light on the quest load for Day 9 so to offset that, I don’t walk out of the General’s HQ until 4:00PM. Not surprisingly, the town is a bigger mess in terms of affected districts than Day 8. However, Blok’s forces are a significant factor. Riflemen and disinfectionists armed with flamethrowers are posted liberally throughout town. They shoot and burn the shuffling diseased, the knifebums, the bomb hobos, Hell they even scorch those stupid rats. It’s great! The only real downside is that prices have risen again, presumably due to the increased populace. Despite the truncated day, the quests are rather interesting and challenging. In a somewhat jarring fashion I receive three letters at almost exactly the same time from Julia, Anna, and Lara. I can speak to the three in essentially any order and the setup for the rest of the quest remains the same.

 

Come on, Ice-Pick. It's Lara, not Lisa. Sigh.

General Blok’s presence has pushed Lara past the breaking point; she intends to assassinate him. More likely as she is to commit suicide by proxy by attempting this, the other girls have a plan. Lara requires a weapon for this purpose and asks me to provide it – Anna offers a fake gun for me to give to Lara instead. Julia asks me to go to General Blok and not only tell him that Lara will attempt to kill him (errantly and with a fake gun), but that a legitimate attempt on his life will come from Julia. Julia for her part says she will wait in her home and be taken peacefully and expects nothing to come of it beyond imprisonment – which might actually be a safer place to be in than her own home considering the current state of the town. Blok takes the news of the plot(s) well and sends an armed attachment of riflemen to arrest Julia. As a reward he gives me a rifle and all the girls give me a panacea. Very nice.

 

Julia explaining that Blok's soldiers attacked because something something NEVER YOU MIND

The quest goes a little wonky at the end here. Supposing everything has been finished, I’m making my rounds in case I need to speak to the girls one final time to finish the quest officially (neither Lara nor Anna even comment on it, alas). When I get literally within 100 feet of Julia’s estate, Blok’s attachment of soldiers immediately become hostile (as evidenced by the change in music). Since I have literally just come from speaking with Blok I am certain I did nothing wrong so I shoot these guys (despite losing a small amount of reputation with each kill) and assume I’ll get some answers later. There are five of them total and I get three more rifles from their bodies. I am about to pawn them all but a nagging voice in the back of my head warns me to be prudent and hold off for awhile. Julia explains the soldiers were some weird rebel contingent bent on defying General Blok’s orders. No punishment or further words are said on the matter by anyone so I am content to leave it at that, although it feels a little too convenient and awkward all at the same time.

 

 

Aglaja sends me a letter urging me to come speak to her. She is more than a little concerned after my meeting with Blok in regards to where my allegiances lie, it seems. However, when I go to her, she cuts straight to informing me that Burakh has gone missing. Rather, he seems to have disappeared back into the Abattoir. She asks me to track him down. He isn’t hard to find – he’s in the Apiary in the room where the Morlocks were brewing the false panacea. He tells me he’s been down in the Abattoir speaking with Elder Ojun but has yet to make much progress. So little, in fact, that it comes as news to him that the prevailing theory concerning the Sand Plague is that it is literally a plague from the sand (or ground), welling up from some deep hole dug and/or uncovered inside the Abattoir. He bids me return to Aglaja to inform her that he is well but will remain in the Abattoir and press for answers. For my troubles Aglaja rewards me quite handsomely with 7000 coins.

 

No really Victor, I don't understand. At all 🙁

Victor has also sent me a letter, a rather desperate-sounding one at that. Upon speaking to him, he pleads with me to investigate the Polyhedron, to be allowed to do so by the Khan, and convince him to open the Polyhedron in two days’ time. He believes that if the Polyhedron is besieged by Blok’s army and falls, the loss of its magic will create a ripple effect that will result in the death of the Kain family itself (it’s complicated, I admit).

 

 

Kaspar Kain – the Khan – will only allow me free run of the Polyhedron if I can drum up some munitions for his boys to defend the it should Blok attack. He requires five rifles. Ah, there we go! I hand over the rifles I have scrounged up thus far (leaving me with the one I originally purchased from Gryph) but make Kaspar swear to not use them until/unless the Polyhedron is besieged by Blok. He agrees and lets me investigate the Polyhedron. As a reward the curious part of my map updates with the Polyhedron added.

 

 

I can make little sense of what I see inside. It is mostly just one long winding staircase with handwriting on the walls and floors with a scattering of children. Yet when I speak to Kaspar he alludes to enchanted facets and claims thousands of children dwell within, only I cannot see them as I am an adult. I report my findings to Aglaja, who seems pleased. She mentions using the Devotress for a third assignment, as Burakh is tackling the Abbatoir and I, the Polyhedron. She also confides in me that unless we can prove that the town can be made safe from the plague, Blok will level it – and everyone in it – with extreme prejudice.

   

 

NEXT: ASHES, ASHES, WE ALL FALL DOWN