Choose Your Own Adventure 131: Dagger of the Mind
Your choice, from last time, was to go ahead and listen to the Emperor… but keeping a close eye for funny business, and staying close enough in the event that you need a hostage.
Note that this is the penultimate part of the story! Ponder your choice wisely, for this shall lead to the end of the tale…
Also, bonus points if you recognize the reference in the title.
You step forward, refusing the Emperor any opportunity to maneuver or escape. “Speak your mind,” you say, holding you stolen sword out, tip directed at his throat. “But be brief and to the point.”
The apple of his throat bobs. “Very well. A minimum of prevarication.” After another swallow, he says, “You’re making a mistake. You swore to protect the Empire, and its Emperor… I had to hide part of what was happening. Unknowingly, your treachery would have ultimately protected the Empire in perpetuity.”
He edges away from you. Slightly. “If you sacrifice yourself by falling into that enchanted canyon, the power stored in that canyon will be released, and fall under my control. The spellbook you recovered was a second copy of a version that had previously been held in our archives. By alerting you to its existence, it was possible to set up the spell.” He brushes a bit of dust off of his face. “The magical power involved provides the knowledge and ability to change the world as I see fit. I would be an immortal Emperor protecting an eternal Empire. Surely you can see the sense of it?”
Then several things happen at once. In front of you, you note that Dleshan Kaev, your Emperor, has use the hand not mopping at the dust to pull a dagger out of his desk.
Lehhev, behind you, drops out of the spells hiding him from sight. “Severel, don’t listen, he’s-”
A pair of guards who had been approaching behind you, under cover of their own invisibility, fling enchanted daggers at Lehhev and yourself.
As to Lehhev, you are uncertain; as for yourself, it is easy enough to avoid being injured. You were already leaping forward, to either take the Emperor as your captive or kill him outright… whichever was more convenient. You use your sword to flick away the dagger he has barely had time to raise, and then punch him in the face for good measure. He stumbles to his hands and knees, and you delicately place the tip of your sword on the back of his neck.
Then the world spins, as if someone had jerked the dust-covered rug out from beneath your feet. Everything fades to gray.
You know this place. You can almost feel the tendrils of mist gently prodding at your mind. You have fallen to your knees, but the bloody sword is still in your hand. The thin mist hugs the ground, not quite banished by the morning sunshine.
The Emperor is only a few steps away, still on his hands and knees. The jeweled dagger you relieved him of is nowhere to be seen. His back is to you; the rich red and black material is still coated in dust from destroyed masonry. He is in a small clear path of dirt, with a few small shrubs and weeds. In front of him is a cliff. A familiar cliff, over a narrow canyon filled with mist.
You don’t know what happened — it must be something to do with the spell that affects you both. The dull red presence of arcane sigils on your skin confirms your suspicion.
Nonetheless, now is the best time to move. Before the Emperor regains his bearings, and can do something about his… grand, dangerous plans for the Empire.
Option 133: Enough. Put the Emperor out of his misery, and dump the body in the highly convenient canyon.
Option 134: Why kill him yourself when you can let the fall into the canyon do it for you? Push him over, and have done with it.
Option 135: Hm. People may not believe he’s dead unless they have the body. And perhaps a bit more demonstration of the truth. Take him captive, haul him back to Alederick, and set up a proper presentation.
Option 136: Wait… maybe he was telling the truth. You could try the self-sacrifice of jumping over the cliff yourself…