Choose Your Own Adventure 49: Eye of the Storm
From last time, your decision was to stick around Zajez, play nice, and help rebuild… and make up for your earlier destruction.
“You know, I don’t have any serious commitments elsewhere. I’d be happy to help rebuild, although I don’t have much myself.”
The old woman smiles a little, then says to her son, “You see? This is why Olric has me helping to get everyone back together. We’ll be started as soon as the weather dries out a bit.”
There are enough survivors, people who fled quickly or were not in town, combined with enough travelers looking for a fresh start, to rebuild. There are even a couple of young monks, sent out from the southern temple that sponsored the monastery.
You do everything you can to blend in. You hide your military weapons, and keep your hair short. You only use your magic for healing — much appreciated when the inevitable accidents happen. It is enough to make the locals appreciate your skill, but it does mean that you are well-known. You accept the trade-off; you need their good will.
In the first week, you take the time in the evenings to make yourself a warding token. It is not as good as a circle, temporary or permanent, but now that you are surrounded by others, the circles are no longer prudent. The flat bit of stone, carefully etched with a rune of unimportance, will hopefully prevent any imperial wizards from paying you much mind.
You’ve spent as much time as you can manage trying to decipher the book you took from the wizard. You have had little luck. Most of the spells you understand are flexible, cast quickly for varying effect. This one is complex and exacting. So far as you can tell, it has multiple, intertwined consequences once the final condition is met, including some effect on Oblivion Canyon itself.
Among the new residents, there is a single, quiet rule: do not ask somewhat what he did, or who he was, before he came here. You were already working with a new pseudonym, but this expectation helps you greatly. So long as you do your part, you are not questioned too deeply.
All told, you have six weeks of relative peace. Less than you had hoped.
The late spring morning is cooler than normal, and you are in one of the recently completed structures, tending to a young man’s broken leg. He had slipped on a dew-covered roof.
The parts of the town that have been rebuilt are mostly hasty structures, simple shelter against the occasional spring rain. This one is more solid, intended to be a regular gathering place. Thus, you are close enough to hear the dull beat of horse’s hooves on the dirt road outside, and the various noises of saddles and armor.
You resist the urge to look out the window. You focus on your task, letting the young man’s friends be distracted by the visitors. Before they can describe what they see, a voice booms out, artificially amplified by magic.
You know that voice. A dry, raspy woman’s voice, which nonetheless threatens to make the walls shake. “We are here to secure the arrest of Severel Mazurek, alias Syndel. She is accused of various crimes including high treason and the arson of Zajez. We ask that she turn herself over immediately. Do not approach her, as she is highly dangerous and skilled with magic.”
You don’t need to look out the window to know what will be there. A short, thick woman with a black uniform, trimmed in red. Cold, icy calm in her eyes, and a sharp nose to match. Commander Karet Beleyev, of the Emperor’s Hands, the guards, soldiers and spies sworn to absolute obedience of the Emperor himself.
You trained together. You know the protocol. She will be here leading a small troop of soldiers, looking for you. You can’t be sure whether they have found some trace of you here, or if they are just continuing a larger search. Either way, you are out of time.
You’ve finished with your cast and enhancing the healing rate. Now is the time to make a decision.
Option 52: Book it. This was never going to work anyway. Grab what supplies you can without getting caught, and head for the hills.
Option 53: Book it. You’re obvious not going to be able to run away from your problems. Grab what supplies you can without getting caught, and go to Alederik to figure out exactly what happened — and put a stop to this madness.
Option 54: Keep hiding. It is possible that your disguise and shift in appearance will be enough to prevent anyone from passing word about you to the commander, and you may be fine if you can stay out of sight.
Option 55: Confront the commander. Carefully, of course. You’re going to have to kill or subdue her and her men, since they won’t stop hunting you otherwise.