29 October, 2009

Pathologic - Spirit of Rebellious Order


Alexander is intent on finding the one responsible for the epidemic, although certain hints lead me to be a little concerned about his idea of justice, and suspect that he's more interested in finding someone to punish, than in uncovering the truth.

"I want only one thing - justice! There will be neither evidence nor trials in this case. When the last dawn will rise above the world, other arguments will be considered. Court will depend on consciousness, verdict - on faith."

On the one hand, this doesn't sound very much like true justice - any justice that depends on religion is on shaky ground. But on the other hand, I believe he's largely basing his confidence on my abilities, so while I find it easy to argue the notion of divine judgement, I can't simply ignore the powers that are within me...

And of course, it's my job to extract the truth, using my hypnosis trick, and track down who's responsible - which puts me in an uncomfortable position. If there's any consolation, it's that Alexander confessed that he's so caught up in finding the one responsible for the epidemic, that any other criminals will be ignored for the time being.

First on the list of suspect town criminals was Ospina. But before talking with her, I needed a 'hook' - a secret, some piece of information about her to catch her off guard. Knowing of the rift between Ospina and the Olgimskiy family, Alexander sent me to chat with Young Vlad - since the younger Olgimskiy is more familiar with local superstition, which is relevant to Ospina's connections with the Order.

But before heading out, I spoke to Catherina. She lectured me on the creation and constitution of the town, and the spiritual reasoning behind the coming of the epidemic.

"Now I will tell you the higher reasons of the happening disaster. They are invisible as roots. The one who tears out weeds only gets rid of the result but not the reason. You are the only one who can really win, so I will tell you about roots. So, listen to my story.

"Here are our parties. The first thing that was initially created is the Earth. Ancient, giving life to plants and animals. It born Abattoir and the Order. It gives and takes. The dead go into it, as well as all ends in it. It is the beginning and the end. It is the law. We, the Saburovs, act on behalf of the Law, which should be abided by anybody. Our faith is the faith of humility.

"A town emerged on the Earth. Hunger for beneficiation, building, labor, permanent creation created the town of people on the everlasting, borning Earth. Abattoir were continued by Plants and railroad. Olgimskiy's hands created an environment where people were able to develop and think. Their faith is the faith of Construction.

"Finally, the minds of people wanting to overcome limits set up for human beings by the nature and life caused fantastic and impudent projects. So, the party of creation and invention, the party of the Kains emerged and came to full flower. Their faith is the faith in Utopia, faith in miracles, faith in the non-existing place.

"I think I know why punishment had fallen on us. The town lived, grew, developed, and, finally, tried to break its own borders. The Earth that had borne it hit it on the head which was thrust out too far like a strict mother hits her unwise child...

"I believe that the Earth desired to return which had moved from it too far."

Catherina explained to me the importance of our faith, the faith of humility, and she sent me on an errand to confirm that Laska the cemetery keeper is in line with our spiritual priorities. In order to find a hook for Laska, it was recommended I speak with Lara Ravel.

When I reached "Shelter", Lara was in the middle of preparations for the "House of Alive". She had sent a good friend of hers, whom she seemed rather dependant on - some person named the Harpist - to the house that had been picked out. She was visibly worried about the Harpist, as she had already heard the chosen house had become infected, so I offered to investigate and send the man back to her if I found him.

Regarding Laska, she gave me just the information I needed:

"If you want her to open her heart to you, just bring her flowers, milk, and bread for the dead. She will be excited and do everything for you. ... People like Laska value the good you do for the others, not for themselves."

I had to break out a lock pick to get into the infected house, but I did find the Harpist in there, and I told him to report back to Lara. On my way out, I was shocked to find the Bachelor at the bottom of the stairs (since he hadn't been there when I went up), but, he had absolutely nothing to say to me beyond being surprised to see me there...

I should be used to both shock and horror when greeting people by now. Young Vlad thought I had climbed up from his well, apparently being an earth creature molded from clay and bone, as the superstitious rumors say (and I'm not entirely sure they're false), but he attempted to convince me he was only joking.

"What do you deceive me for? No, you won't confuse me with your tricks... I've read enough about you, creatures, shaped of clay and bones. I know what the 'Legend of daughters' and also 'Baur-meges' say about you."

Actually, Young Vlad told me quite a lot, about Ospina, and the Order, and his family. Apparently it was Ospina who precipitated the uprising in the Apiary, and it was the senior Vlad who appointed Oyun as the Elder. Also, Young Vlad was convinced that Ospina's hatred was primarily, perhaps even exclusively, aimed against his father, sparing himself.

Well, I had my hook, but before I could go, Young Vlad requested an errand from me. Apparently, Anna Angel had been stocking up medicines for years, and, the Olgimskiys being the heavy-handed businessmen they are, were interested in buying up all the medicine in town, presumably to distribute at their own price. Well, that's the cynical angle. Another way to look at it is that the whole town needed medicine, and there wasn't enough to go around. Better to share, right?

Anna obviously didn't think so. She told me that the Haruspicus, who had been taken in by the Olgimskiys, was actually hiding his own medicinal brews from the family. This was clearly a distraction to prevent her from having to give up her meds, but even so, I agreed to check up on who Burakh was selling his brews to. The Gatherers had no qualms about telling me - it was, of course, the architect Andrei, who hangs out in the tavern, and whom the Gatherers all despise, for his uninitiated handling and treatment of the herbs they live and die for. Clearly, and with reason, they are protective of the herbs.

"If you will find herb - do not sell it to him, he will offend herb."

In any case, I took the meds from Anna, and gave them to Young Vlad. I feel kind of bad about it, but the bottom line is - and this is exactly what I told Anna as well as Young Vlad - those meds were just immunity boosters and they weren't worth jack shit against the plague...

So I talked to Laska; she was especially happy about the flower I brought her (good thing I remembered that the barman at the tavern sometimes has flowers in stock, or else I would have had a boring time trawling the fields for a pretty bloom). I had no problem hypnotizing her, and I verified that she was on the right spiritual wavelength, which I later relayed back to Catherina, to her satisfaction.

Meanwhile, I still had to talk to Ospina, and see if she had anything to do with the outbreak. My first correspondence with her was strained. Though she claims we are alike - both children borne of the earth - she doesn't seem to like or trust me at all (which, granted, is not unusual for her). But, she seems to have feelings for the Haruspicus (how the hell did he get to be so popular anyway?), although she denies it - rather, she claims it's strictly business, and asked me to track him down and tell him to pick up his inheritance. Which I did, in order to hopefully get on her good side.

My second correspondence, though not especially friendly, was at least more successful. I tell you, that hypnosis trick can be pretty tricky to get to work. The good news is that Ospina originally greeted me with her real name, but the bad news is that she introduced herself with three different names... The 'real' one turned out to be the one she calls herself (as opposed to what others call her - and its only the town that calls her 'Ospina'), and the hook was not that she led the mutiny among the Order, but that she was in love with the Haruspicus (honestly, it was only her confession in the Haruspicus' scenario that cemented my trust in that fact). I could have easily screwed it up - and, as a warning, a botched hypnosis is obviously a botched hypnosis, and it's better not to reveal one's tricks.

So I managed to get her under, and asked her a few questions. She told me she was born five years ago (is she really only five years old?) during "the First Flash", "as a reminder", she says. I assume by "First Flash" she's referring to the first outbreak of the plague that was quickly contained thanks to Isidor Burakh's skills. "As a reminder"? I asked her if she was a disease wrapped in human flesh, to which she responded:

"Maybe. But I haven't done anything recently... though I have organized a riot after which infected Isidor... got into this scrape!"

Argh! Ambiguous as usual. My first impression was that "infected" was a verb, implying that Ospina infected Isidor. Then I decided it was just an adjective, meaning that Ospina wasn't responsible for the infection. But, reference to "this scrape" may imply that the riot, which she instigated, could have exacerbated conditions leading to the outbreak and ensuing epidemic. So was she responsible, or not? Maybe...

She also pleaded with me not to turn her in. Since, Alexander has given me the powers of a judge. He asked me whether or not Ospina is guilty. My judgement will decide her fate. Do I tell him that she's guilty, and face the consequences of her inevitable punishment? Or do I tell him she's innocent, since, even if she had a hand in exacerbating conditions, I don't believe she is the sole one responsible, and I don't yet have the evidence to be convinced that she deserves punishment. If I let her go now, how might she be able to assist me in the future? Again, is it my mission to redeem the sinners, or to sacrifice them for a higher purpose? I must say, I really do not like the feeling of holding a person's life in the palm of my hands. I honestly cannot decide how to judge - it was easier when the power chose for me. But one way or another, I must decide - in that there is no choice. Klara's fears echo my very own.

"The role of such judge frightens me even more than death - but a voice prompts me that if I refuse from it, someone else will decide... And this result will be awful!"

What ever shall I choose?

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