Choose Your Own Adventure 35: Old Friends
Your last move: Go ahead and talk to the guy, but keep your memory problems on the down-low.
You look at the transparent construct, then say, “You want to talk? Fine. Let’s talk.” You know that there’s essentially a magical thread tying the construct to its creator, but you close the ward around your camp anyway. At least this way, only someone who knows about the incoming message will have a decent chance of finding you. You are prodding at the fire when he finally says something more interesting.
“How much do you remember from between when you were captured and when you escaped?”
You snap your head up, and give him a sharp glare. “Enough.”
“Okay,” he answers warily. “Look, I’m sorry about all that… I didn’t realize what I was going to be doing, and, well, I didn’t want to go through with it, and letting you go was the only way I could think of to prevent them from coming after me, sorry about that… how did you break the rest of my control, by the way?”
Given that you’re not sure what he’s talking about, you just answer, “Carefully.” You sit down, take a bit of dry bread from your stolen pack, then say, “Slow down, and start from the beginning. You’re not making any sense right now.”
“Okay, okay.” He paces while he talks, gesturing broadly and fiddling with his spectacles at regular intervals. “I don’t know exactly what happened before you were captured. When they brought you to me, you were heavily drugged. Good opiates, I think. That made the mind-control process easier, but not by much. You had just about the heaviest mental guards I’ve ever seen. Where did you get those?”
“I don’t think you need to know that,” you answer. But, you realize that you remember a fragment — training in Alederik.
“Anyway, it took a couple of days, given that they didn’t want you comatose. It was the second part of what they wanted me to do that I really didn’t understand. And it had to be near Oblivion Canyon, in the early morning. We were supposed to tell you to walk in after I had finished.”
You remember the tempting chill of the canyon’s mist, and suppress a shudder.
“They’d given me the full description of the spell — the technical description, you understand, all the runes I needed, all the incantations — but they didn’t tell me exactly what it would do. Just that it was for the good of the Empire, something to protect the Emperor from all harm. I’ll be honest, I’m really good at doing spells exactly as designed, but magic theory was never my strong point. I’d just memorize them and go on my way. But I… this spell required it to be laid on a victim, who would then walk into Oblivion Canyon, where it would be activated. And I… thought it was strange, but I’d come across that kind of sacrificial spell before. I figured you were some traitor being executed for a good cause.”
“I’m no traitor,” you hiss between clenched teeth. That claim bothers you more than almost anything else in the last few days.
He raises his hands. “I get it, I get it. Anyway, I puzzled out some part of what the spell would do, once it was active. And it’s… not likely to be beneficial. In fact, I’d bet on some very serious upheaval if it’s ever used. Some sort of great calamity. I didn’t have enough time to study it. I was too busy making it.” He shrugs. “I have no interest in dying in some disastrous spell gone wrong, and it looked like having the caster die when the spell activated was part of it.”
The sharp spike of anger you felt earlier has dulled and broadened into a new fear. What would have happened to the Empire, had you chosen to jump? “How much of the spell did you cast?”
“All of it,” he says. He takes his spectacles off, and nervously cleans them on his shirt. “All of it. It’s why I had to send you off when I ran. I’d hoped they’d lose you, or at least kill you by accident instead of actually activating the spell. And, well, I thought that if you were dead, they’d stop chasing me.”
“They seem very determined.”
“That they are.” The he glances behind himself. You’re not sure what he sees, in the real world, but he’s not happy about it. “That they are.”
You try to make him focus. “Can they have someone else cast the spell on another victim?”
He shakes his head firmly. “No. It can’t be recast while another version is dormant somewhere.”
“Can a dormant version be dismantled?”
“I don’t know,” he says. “The only sure way I know to end the spell other than by actually activating it is if you’re, well, dead. If I can meet you in person, I might be able to undo what I did without killing you.”
“Might. You’re inspiring great confidence.” Digging a little further in a different direction, you add, “I’m not sure I ever caught your real name.”
“Alek Grescher.” You don’t recognize it. “They… never actually told me your name.” You’re quite not sure how to interpret his expression, but he’s not much of a spy. He may be testing your memory.
Option 37: Take Alek’s suggestion, but skip the early steps and this face-to-face meeting — now is the time to get our of the Empire.
Option 38: Meet the guy, listen to what he says, and see if you can get him to help you further. Even if he does seem a bit of a coward, he has useful skills.
Option 39: Meet the guy, listen to what he says, and then kill him after you’ve gotten whatever information he has to offer. He’s obviously not trustworthy.
Option 40: Ignore him completely, and continue on your current path to the capital, Alederik.