Choose Your Own Adventure 71: A Message For Thedane Lehhev
Your choice: Retrieve your disguise as a messenger, though without the going all-out on the magical facial shift (sorry, Alex!). Mundane makeup and care will be the order of the day…
You duck out of sight, into a public bathhouse several streets away from the mage’s academy. You change back into a messenger’s garb after cleaning off some of the dirt of the road. You also take the time to clean your face, and mark it enough to look somewhat different from whatever warnings may be circulating in Alederik. Once you are outside, you ride in enough circles to regain just enough dirt and sweat for a recent ride through the city to be plausible. You decide that a magical enhancement of this disguise would be unwise. In a school full of mages-in-training, it’s likely that someone will see through it.
Shortly thereafter, you ride quickly up to the entrance, and wave at one of the visible guards. They are quite visible, in fact, with the traditional red-and-green flourishes of Alederik’s academy on their armor and helmets.
“Sir! I have an important and time-sensitive message for Scholar Thedane Lehhev! You must let me in at once!” You dismount with a bit of flair, and walk forward as though you have everything right in the world to be where you are.
“Hold on a moment, ma’am. We’ll take the message to him, and he’ll call if he needs to send a reply.”
You shake your head. “It’s very sensitive. It couldn’t be trusted to paper. You know how that goes.” You give him an irritated look, implying that he should know exactly what you’re talking about.
And he does. Very few such messages occur… unless they involve either some scandal or the Emperor’s own private communications. “Oh…” he says. “Oh, dear, I see. Well, Terrin, you stay here and call another guard to replace me. Ma’am, I’ll accompany you to Scholar Lehhev’s office. I think he’s in today.”
An adolescent girl runs up to take your horse, and the guard leads you through the labyrinthine halls of the mage’s academy. They twist back and forth in vaguely familiar ways. You can almost remember getting lost here before, though today you’re certain you could find your way back to the entrance on your own. Part of the confusion of the many narrow hallways is from progressive construction over the past centuries of studies and sponsorship of various emperors, but the rest is deliberate. You don’t remember exactly why. Something to do with making it harder for outsiders to steal delicate instruments. Or perhaps it’s merely the magical tradition of being mysterious.
Regardless, after a few more minutes of walking past classrooms, and up a couple of flights of stairs, the guard shows you to the office. Politely respecting the importance of the secret, nonexistent message, he stands to one side of the door as you enter. He’ll be able to hear if Lehhev calls for help, although you’re sure such a respected magical scholar will be able to defend himself.
You step in the door without knocking, and then close it behind you. You turn, to see Lehhev hastily scribbling at his desk, which contains the expected expanse of texts and papers, unexpectedly neatly arranged. Distracted, he says quietly, “Ah, a messenger… one moment, I need to finish writing this exam question…”
When he does look up from his work, you don’t even need to say anything. His eyebrows nearly jump off his forehead. For now, at least, you don’t quite recognize the salt-and-pepper hair, the dark brown eyes, or his apparent habit of rolling up the sleeves of his robes past his elbows — but he surely recognizes you.
You have a moment to get a word in edgewise if you want to, before he gets past his surprise.
Option 74: Say nothing. Wait and let him speak first, and then act in whatever way gets his help most easily.
Option 75: Dash forwards, and make sure he doesn’t make a sound until he calms down. You’ve got a knife stashed in your messenger’s uniform as additional incentive if you need it.
Option 76: Explain that you have a message of critical importance from the Emperor. This way, you’ll ultimately explain that the Emperor wants your spellbook analyzed immediately. Pass off any resemblance to an infamous traitor as an unfortunate coincidence.
Option 77: Explain honestly. If it looks like he’s someone who knows you personally (which he may), try to play on that connection for his help.