Choose Your Own Adventure! Part 2

Edit: Part 2b has been posted and can be found here.

This particular story follows in the footsteps of the previous CYOA which I published on this blog.  It should be perfectly legible and entertaining without having read / played through the first one, but those of you that like knowing a little bit more about what’s going on should try the other one first.  As with the previous one, you’ll have to make a little effort not to read ahead.  But if you keep your eyes on the topmost section of text and click the links as you see fit, you’ll do fine!

Another important note: this was originally going to continue both sides of the the previous story.  I’ve pared it down to just one of them to give myself more time with the other half, but even so this may be longer than the first installment.

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Last you knew, a knight had ordered that wretched man named Hurly to pick you up and carry you off…

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First it was whatever you got at home, then, up until yesterday, it was whatever you grabbed going to and from the library.  Usually ramen, or maybe peanut butter and jelly.  Cooking for these creeps will just get you killed offhand, like the groom, Dustin, said happened to the last cook.  When you have a clear moment, you set off away from the camp.  You tell them that you’re going out “foraging.”  But something must have tipped them off, because before you’re even out of sight of the camp you can hear some of the men-at-arms riding after you.  No one is wearing the heavy armor of a knight, but that’s scant comfort when they cut you down where you stand and leave you to die on the edge of a field.  They didn’t even bother with a trial, the monsters.  You hear them laughing as you bleed out, “I guess we’ll need another cook!”

Maybe you’d like to try that again?

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You set to work.  There’s plenty to be had from the wagons, even if most of it is pretty bad quality.  You’ve never had to pluck a chicken before, but you yell at a few of the other servants and they quickly settle down to helping you with your work.

a) You play it safe.  Maybe you can give them something just enough better that you won’t be punished, and won’t catch too much attention.

b) You could always really go all out and try to impress them.  If you do well enough, you could really set yourself up here and have a decent life.  Being a servant isn’t the best, but being a knight’s favorite cook is a damn sight better than being a run-of-the-mill nobody.

c) Screw these guys!  They’re living embodiments of the all the tyrannical feudal nonsense that we left behind centuries ago.  They want you to make them food?  How about they choke on it?  Choke to death, that is.

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Ever since that man-at-arms Hurly took you back to the camp, you’ve been kept with all the other servants and members of the baggage train.  It is one of the dirtiest, messiest, filthiest things you’ve ever seen.  They’ve clearly never heard of sanitation, and if you had to guess you’d say that bathing was seen as devil worship.  And now they expect you to cook and clean for them.  The cleaning should be a snap, since they clearly don’t have very high standards, but cooking?

a) You’ve never done a day of cooking in your life.  If you try to cook for these knights, you’ll fuck it up big time, and then what will happen?  Well, you can guess.  Better to take your chances and make a run for it now, right?

b) Heck, with competition like this, who needs to worry?  It might be a lot of work, but at least you’ll be able to put together a meal that they won’t complain about.  Time to go looking for a stewpot.

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You generously season the stew with the only kind of poison you know how to find, those terrifyingly toxic mushrooms.  Once they’re stewed, they’re unrecognizable!  You don’t taste it after that, but it smells delicious.  The mushrooms add a nice almost meaty scent, and the smell of chicken fat leaves your mouth watering in anticipation.  You add a few tubers, and that’s that.  The knight that took you captive loves it too.  He dishes up serving after serving, and shares some with his friends.  You’re a hit.  Maybe you should have tried being a real cook?

But over the next few days, everyone that ate your stew suffers from abdominal pain, terrible diarrhea, vomiting, all that stuff.  And then they die.  The rest of the knights decide that poetic justice is the best kind, and cook you up in your own stew pot.  It’s just like that scene in Shogun, except it’s really happening to you.

Maybe you wish you could live life all over again?

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Chicken soup with tubers is just what the doctor ordered.  You serve it up alongside a bit of pre-softened bread, and thicken the stew with some of their hardtack.  You use up a lot of food, but the response is incredible.  They love it!  They eat every last drop of your stew, and look disappointed when there isn’t more.  Maybe you should have tried cooking for yourself back at home sometimes?  Anyway, the next night is coming quickly, and you’ve got a big choice in front of you:

a) You want to keep impressing these folks.  How else are you going to win their respect?  You’ve got to do even better than last time.  Go big or go home, right?

b) Getting them to like you is good, but you don’t want to go overboard.  Setting too high a bar for yourself is just as dangerous as failing.  If you keep things simple, keep things safe, you might get out of this with a job and with your neck intact.

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Your uninspired meal is eaten without comment, though the knight that caught you does spit on your feet at one point.  Maybe that’s a compliment around here?  None of that matters though, because they didn’t kill you.  What are you going to do now?

a) Console yourself with a philosophical understanding of the world, and give up.  It’s time to live a safe but harsh and dull life of drudgery.

b) Just keep muddling through for long enough that they come to trust you.  Once they don’t think you’ll do anything, then you can plan your escape and get yourself away from these cretins.

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It’s worse than you’d thought.  You’re up early, you’re awake until late, and you never stop in your labors.  You’d laugh at your younger self, that person you were only a few weeks ago who thought that being a student was hard, but then you’d probably cry.  And if you ever started crying, you’d probably never stop.  You spend the rest of your days finding out that Hobbes had it just right when he said that the natural state of man is a terrible thing, and that in the state of nature life is nasty, brutish, and short.  No wonder Christianity is so popular with these people; the memory of another place that was better than this hellhole is becoming like a dream to you.  You hardly even remember that old life anymore.

Try again?

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The past few days have been hard.  Each day you see the knights come back from other raids, and you hear that everyone will be moving soon.  You were never really meant to stay here for very long, apparently.  But if you time things just right, you should be able to get away before they leave and not give them enough time to go searching for you.  They’re bringing in a few other captives, who cares if one bad cook runs away?

You bide your time, and flee on the day before you’re supposed to go.  You head out into the woods going “foraging,” just like you have for the past few days.  At first you went out with a guard, but once they decided you were harmless, they let you go on your own.  This time you cut out into the fresh freedom of the woods, a spring in your step as you think of how life will be away from all this pain and misery.  And then the unthinkable happens.

You’re caught by local hunters, angry at you and thinking that you’re some loyal supporter of the knights.  They don’t believe you when you plead ignorance to the organization of the camp, and one of them must have spent too much time watching witch hunters because soon enough they’re torturing you.  They only believe that you don’t know anything after you make up too many stories trying to please them and have already lost most of your digits and your nose.  They almost seem ashamed, but somehow they blame you instead.  You’re angrily given to the healer living in their hideout of townsfolk and barely live through the ordeal.  Life is just as bad as you’d hoped it wouldn’t be.

Maybe you want to make some different choices?  I hope you get luckier somewhere else, that looked like it hurt.

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They loved that meal.  They loved it so much that you were well treated for the first time.  Maybe that’s all it takes to succeed here?  A little knowledge of the arts of cooking, and a dedication to your task?  If that’s the case, well, you’re happy to take a stab or three at the problem of creating delicious masterpieces.

Unfortunately, your second meal doesn’t turn out so well.  And you quickly learn that not only do the knights that you serve have little tolerance for failure, they also don’t understand a true artist’s need to experiment and discover new truths about their medium.  And they’re very willing to take more than a few stabs at what they see as a problem, namely you.  You evade them for a short while, but eventually one of them stabs you before throwing you onto your own cook fire, the same place where you charred those chickens so horribly.  The pain is terrible, and you die.

That was… grim.  How about another go?

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Not wanting to set too high a goal for yourself, you do what you did last time.  They like it, but some of them are asking you to do something new again.  Every so often you vary the ingredients a little, but only every once in a while do you actually try to do something different.  It’s simple, it’s safe, and your food is good enough that the knight that captured you, Godfrey, is actually smiling at you every once in a while.  Not in a creepy way, either.  You’ve gained their trust, and have a place amongst their servants!

a) Life as a favorite servant can’t be that bad.  All you have to do is keep it up, and keep Godfrey happy.  You hear he’s got a castle and everything, so you should even have a job once this is done.

b) Now that they all trust you, you should use that trust to punish them for what they’ve done.  They’re a bunch of bloodthirsty murdering scumbags after all.  Even if some of them do seem to like you now.

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You know, you never thought you’d end up in the food industry after declaring your English major with a History minor.  But what did you know then?  A bunch of useless stuff about how to concoct sentences, how to analyze a piece, and how some parts of the world dealt with their problems in the past?  Hah.  You followed Godfrey home to his castle, more of a manor really, and you’ve had a place in his kitchen staff ever since.  It took a few years, but by now you’ve risen to head chef, and while running a kitchen is a lot of work you’ve got no reasons to complain.  You’ve got it good!  Maybe some day you’ll write a story about how you traveled in time.

Not satisfied? Try again!

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You’ve bided your time.  You’ve bought their trust with better food than anything else they’ve had for ages.  It’s no surprise that they would fall all over themselves to eat something cooked by a person not steeped in their own feces.  What a bunch of bloodthirsty swine.  You do the only right thing there is to do.  You poison every last one of them.  You prepare a banquet, working overtime to make as much food as you can, as good as you can.  It’s your last day in this camp, and you want to go out with a bang.  Sure enough, it’s spectacular.  And you’ve poisoned nearly all of it.  Only the food that you set aside beforehand is safe, and so it is that you happily spoon up dish after dish to any and all comers.  You try not to feed the other serving people, but few of them are so lucky as to get some of your good cooking anyways.  Then you wait.  By the next evening, most of the camp is curled up in misery, slowly dying as they go through the agony of internal organ failure.  More people were able to get a taste of your cooking than you’d realized, and nearly everyone who could went back for seconds.

You’ve killed all the people that you wanted to kill, and then you killed many more.  But you succeeded, right?  Isn’t that the only thing that counts?

Unlike in real life, you can always try again and see where else you might have gone.

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4 responses to “Choose Your Own Adventure! Part 2

  1. Pingback: Choose Your Own Adventure! Part 3 (or 2b?) | Fistful of Wits

  2. Pingback: Bait and Switch | Fistful of Wits

  3. Pingback: Choose Your Own Adventure! | Fistful of Wits

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