Choose Your Own Adventure 60: Information Exchange
The coin flip on this one goes to option 60 — trying for an exchange of information, and keeping your memory problems quiet.
Evading the first question, you answer, “It’s a spellbook which the Emperor tasked me to obtain for him.” While she is staring at you with a mix of disbelief and concern, you say, “A question for a question.”
“Really? You want to play that game, now?”
You shrug. “We could just stare at each other, but I want to know what’s going on as much as you do.”
She gives you a long look. “I may not answer some questions. But if you want to play — ask.”
“What were your orders regarding me?”
“Kill or capture, at my discretion.” She emphasizes the last word by tapping her sword. “Why did you betray the Emperor?”
“Because he is preparing to betray the Empire.” You’re not completely sure about that statement, but it sounds right. Beleyev’s face is as still as stone. “What happened to Alek Grescher?”
“Your confederate? He was killed while trying to flee. What do you claim the Emperor was trying to do, exactly?”
“Grescher wasn’t my confederate. He also realized that the contents of that book did not bode well, and decided not to finish the last step in casting the spell. The Emperor had ordered him to complete it. It’s clear enough that, once cast, it would cause some kind of disaster, but-”
“I don’t believe this,” she says, turning away. When she faces you again, she has the book under one elbow, and one hand raised in spellcasting. You recognize the spell as she finishes it — it’s a truth-checking spell. Simple, but not wholly reliable.
“I haven’t been lying to you.”
Beleyev lowers her hand, with a vaguely disturbed look at the result.
You explain briefly about Oblivion Canyon, and how you were intended to die there, and trigger the spell.
“I still don’t believe this.” She glances at the guards, then says with a tight smile, “But it’s your turn to ask.”
“What am I accused of? In detail, not just the labels.”
Beleyev’s gaze hardens. “High treason, for threatening the Emperor and stealing information critical to the Empire’s safety. Murder and arson are the lesser charges.” Her eyes narrow slightly, and she asks, “What evidence do you have for your claims?”
“That I could not cast the spell myself, but I am one of the targets. You’ll have your evidence if you find the person who wasn’t set up to be killed. If you’ve read that book, you know how to see the runes that were placed.”
Beleyev apparently anticipated this, and opens it to a marked page. She casts it, with sharp precision. As before, the runes glow a gray, misty color on your skin.
“Interesting,” she says in a flat tone as she waves the symbols back into invisibility. “But it could be merely an impressive cosmetic effect. Or you could have been working with Grescher all along.”
“Did the Emperor tell you what information I stole?”
Beleyev doesn’t answer, but the slight wince before she blanks her face tells you that the answer is “no.” When she does speak, she says, “Enough of this game. I’ll think about how much of what you said is pure fantasy.” She turns and starts to walk away. Then she adds, “One last question. What would you do, if I were to let you go?”
Option 62: “Assassinate the Emperor. He’s clearly gone too far to be an effective ruler.”
Option 63: “Confront the Emperor and his supporters directly, demonstrating the dangers of whatever it is he is planning.”
Option 64: “Find an expert wizard in Alederik to disentangle the details of what the disturbing spell will do. Confrontation of the Emperor is an option thereafter.”
Option 65: “Flee the Empire. I may not know the details, but it’s clear enough that if I’m not killed, the spell can’t be completed or recast on anyone else.”