Choose Your Own Adventure 57: Armor-Piercing Question
Your decision from last time was to try to talk it out — ideally by throwing Beleyev’s question back at her.
You raise your hands away from your weapons, and hold them steady. The crossbows twitch when you make the two simple gestures that end both your invisibility and your silence. “Fine. I surrender.”
“Good. Dismount. And keep your hands where we can see them.”
You comply. “Do you know what I’m accused of?”
When you turn back towards Beleyev, her face is still as stone. “I think burning a village to the ground and theft of information critical to the Empire is sufficient cause for a charge of treason.” She gestures, and a few of her subordinates dismount, walking cautiously towards you.
You look her in the eye. “I was following orders.”
Beleyev meets your gaze. “You know how it works. If we must go down to preserve the Empire, we must do so. You have betrayed that principle as well.” She pauses, then adds, “Search her for other weapons, then bind her hands. Resistance would be unwise.”
“Which part of the oath takes precedence, the part to the Empire or to the Emperor?”
She freezes at those words. You aren’t sure from this distance, but you think some of the color may have faded from her face.
“Karet… the Emperor is not the Empire.”
The second sentence seems to jolt her from wherever her thoughts went. “Gag her as well. We can’t have her spellcasting her way out of this.”
“You have to — mmph!”
That could have gone better.
The search was quite thorough. They even found the knives you had hidden in your boots. Having taken your weapons, and confiscated the spellbook, they put you back on your horse. The entire group then acts as a guard, taking you in the direction of Alederik.
It’s just as well that you didn’t try to flee. Only a few minutes later, you meet and join the other half of the troop further down the road. More than thirty soldiers accompany you and the commander under the uncomfortably warm sun.
They’re obviously interesting in keeping you alive — physical necessities are managed, but under guard. If the gag is removed so you can drink some water or eat a bit of the worst of their rations, it is with men standing by with bows should you utter a single word. Thorough, as Beleyev always was. You remember that, but not the details of your training, or what she did afterwards.
When the group camps, you are placed near the center — but not too near the fire, in case you try to burn your ropes off. After the sun has gone down, and everyone except the sentries and the guards watching you are asleep, Commander Beleyev approaches. She’s carrying the spellbook in one hand, and while she has removed the heavier parts of her armor, she is still wearing her sword.
She nods to the guards, then said, “I’m going to have a private word with the prisoner. No lip-reading. If it looks like she’s attacking me, feel free to just shoot her.” Then she steps forward between them, standing over the rough blanket where you are seated. First, she casts a spell you recognize — one of silence, which will not permit your conversation to travel even so far as the guards a step or two further away. She does not unbind your hands, but she does pull the gag loose.
After you manage to get some saliva back into your mouth, you manage to say, “Karet? What-“
“Hells, Severel. You were the most devoted and loyal Hand I’ve ever worked with. What happened?” Then she waves the book at you. “And what is this monstrosity?”
Option 59: Perhaps honesty is the best policy here. Explain everything you know of the current state of things, including the spellbook and the fact that there are still holes in your memory.
Option 60: Try to figure out what Karet Beleyev knows before you share your part. Explain only what you must — mostly about the spellbook’s dire nature and that your orders were from the Emperor personally — and keep your own limitations quiet.
Option 61: Refuse to explain. Let Beleyev figure out the spellbook for herself. Demand to see the Emperor before you state your case.