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 Post Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:40 pm 
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"Have you no chivalry in your soul?" asks the minstrel, indignant. "The Lady Belmina is a pure and uncorruptable lady! She does not deserve her unjust imprisonment - nobody deserves that!"

"Is she perhaps your fiance?" asks Sir Ulath.

The minstrel gasps in shock. "What? I would never dare - hers is a chaste and incorruptable purity!"

"What is he saying?" asks Theresa, again. "What's up that path?"

--------------

Piper squints at the man, and plays a probing little tune on her pipes.

"There is a spell on him," she says after a moment. "And... the same spell on his horse. And Theresa. I think it's contagious. I... I can't break it. Not without knowing how it was originally cast."

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 Post Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:51 pm 
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"Theresa, magic is in effect. Best you don't know what he's saying. Follow my lead and we'll be fine."

"Is there any way to shield our minds from the effect so we don't get caught up in it?"

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 Post Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:22 am 
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"If there's some deleterious magical effect that spreads through knowledge, then I'm the only person immune," says Theresa, firmly. "Then I should decide our direction." She considers a moment, then nods at the road. "First thing tomorrow morning, we need to go and see what's up this road."

"I can't stop it, exactly, not until I know more about how it was cast," admits Piper, quietly enough that the Minstrel won't be able to hear. "But so far - it's only spread through touch. I think - if it could spread through other means it would have done so by now. As long as no-one touches anyone who's been contaminated..."

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 Post Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:21 pm 
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"Well, it seems as though we should investigate it, Theresa has been infected and she's expressing a strong desire to investigate back up the path," Felix says. "Can't have any of our crew possessed of mind altering effects. She seems to be under the impression that the magic is spread through knowledge, would that have any bearing on how the spell is cast?"

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 Post Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:12 am 
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Piper considers the point for a moment, and then shakes her head. "I'll need to either see where it was cast, or meet who cast it," she says. "Possibly both. But in the meantime..."

She raises her pipes and plays a brief little tune. The Minstrel yawns hugely, his eyes close, and he drifts into sleep.

"That will at least make it easier to ensure that he doesn't infect anyone else," states Piper, firmly. "And it looked like he needed it, too."

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 Post Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:12 pm 
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Arkady contemplates this, then comments: "Now do we have to keep her from touching anyone? And anyone else who may have touched him?"

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 Post Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:51 am 
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Piper nods. "I don't think the spell comes with any compulsion to try to touch anyone - or that minstrel would have deliberately infected more people to start with. Hopefully, just the fact that everyone knows not to touch her should be enough."

She pauses to consider the situation for a few minutes, and then turns to frown at Felix. "That means no kissing her, okay? Even if nobody's watching. If you really need to give out kisses, you can give them to me, instead."

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 Post Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:50 pm 
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"She and I don't have that kind of relationship," Felix says.

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 Post Posted: Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:04 am 
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Arkady looks at Piper. "Would it help if you heard the voice of the caster? I think we have it recorded."

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 Post Posted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:09 am 
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"Not unless he's talking about how he cast the spell," says Piper.

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 Post Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:07 pm 
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"This is something to investigate," Felix says. "Let's head out first thing."

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 Post Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:15 am 
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"What do we do with him?" asks Talen, pointing at the now-sleeping Minstrel. "Just leave him here?"

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 Post Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:11 am 
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"He's a carrier for a mental contagion. Until we can figure out how to stop the spell, we should probably play along with his delusions and have him take us with him to make sure he doesn't infect anyone else with this... Cognitohazard."

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 Post Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:50 am 
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"He'll sleep for at least a week," says Piper. "He was really exhausted."

--------------

The rest of the night is largely uneventful. In the morning, the Minstrel is loaded onto the truck (by Theresa, who is the only person who isn't going to be negatively affected by touching him). Sir Ulath recommends leaving the Minstrel's horse behind (and Piper suggests putting it to sleep as well - apparently her spell removes any need for food or water until the subject wakes up, which, given the horse's exhaustion, is likely to be several days). The group continues to travel up the road, and, on the other end of the forest, comes across a very small village.

Evidence suggests that the locals make their living by a combination of farming and logging (there are quite a lot of stumps in the vicinity). Evidence, in the shape of a few peasants whose immediate reaction to the trucks is an angry glare, also suggests that they are not particularly interested in welcoming outsiders in noisy horseless carriages.

The road visibly continues through the village and up to an ominous castle in the distance (maybe another ten to fifteen minutes' drive, given the condition of the road). The castle squats heavily on the landscape, a large, square building with several towers made of grim grey stone.

Dark clouds have moved in above, and it is clear that tonight's weather will include heavy rain, with a good chance of ominous thunder. It's probably a good idea to get a bit more shelter than your tents will provide.

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 Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:16 am 
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Arkady looks around. "I am almost expecting to see Bela Lugosi come out to greet us. Or maybe Cloris Leachman."

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