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 Post Posted: Thu Aug 30, 2018 12:05 am 
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"Would hugs and kisses make it easier to deal with?" Felix offers up a hug and a kiss to make Piper feel better.

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 Post Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:25 am 
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"Hugs make everything better," pronounces Piper solemnly. She accepts Felix's affection, wrapping her arms around his neck and keeping them there.

Felix, it appears, has now been designated as the carrier of Piper for the foreseeable future.

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 Post Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:09 pm 
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"Tally ho, then," Felix says as he sets forth into the castle towards the source of the affliction.

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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:29 am 
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"We've got to save her," says Theresa, as she follows.

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

It's not long before Felix (and anyone who decides to accompany him) meets the hunchbacked servant, Ivan, again. He's carrying a mop and a bucket of somewhat soapy water.

"Gentlemen?" he asks. "Is there anything you require?"

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 Post Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:00 pm 
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Arkady nods to Ivan. "We are taking a walk to get the blood flowing. It helps with sleep. And perhaps we could be returning a visit we got recently from a rider."

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 Post Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:38 pm 
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"A rider?" The hunchback seems mystified as to the significance of that comment. "If you're looking for no more than to improve the circulation, gentlemen, then please allow me to guide you to the courtyard and the gardens. You can take in the fresh night air, and perhaps enjoy the hedge maze while it is still in good condition." He waves an arm, indicating that the route to the courtyard involves heading back the way you came.

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 Post Posted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:44 am 
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"i'd be happy to take you up on you offer," Felix says. Patting Piper on the hand, Felix mutters, "Perhaps some invisibility to get us past the sentries once we're done satisfying Ivan's curiosity?"

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 Post Posted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:12 am 
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Piper closes her eyes a moment, and takes a deep breath.

"There are no sentries," she whispers, and somehow all the Terrans can hear her as if she was whispering in their ear, personally. "Ivan is the only person standing between us and - where we're going."

"It's probably best not to wander these halls alone, gentlemen," says Ivan, leading the group presumably in the direction of the aforementioned gardens. "There are parts of this Castle that... that it is probably best you don't visit without warning." He turns back to look at the group, briefly, his lantern laying ominous shadows over his face. "I did not speak up earlier, because the tale is an embarrassment to the Count, but - you have a Knight of the Church in your party, and - and the Count and I cannot deal with this on our own. It might be better if you would agree to hear of the Count's woes, of the dark cloud that overhangs this Castle."

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 Post Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:43 am 
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"We're listening," Felix says.

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 Post Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:59 am 
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"To tell the tale in its shortest form, to compress all the woes of this Castle to their root cause; the Count's sister has gone insane. The Count believes it to be incurable, and fears that the same taint might run through his own blood."

The hunchback takes a deep breath.

"In slightly longer form; the Count's sister was in the habit of leaving the Castle upon errands which she did not disclose to either her brother or myself. One day, she left the Castle - and she was never the most attractive of women, not *un*attractive but she feared that her appearance was..." Ivan pauses a moment to find the right word. "Was somehow inadequate. Yet, one day, she returned to the Castle changed in two ways; first, she had a beauty that would cause any man to look twice, and second, she had fallen into insanity. She - some of the things that she did, I will not recount - they are too horrible to contemplate. Somehow, in some manner unknown to either myself or the Count, she managed to dominate the other servants, force them to join in her - insalubrious activities, though they did not retain any memory of the things they had done. In the end, the Count was forced to turn them all out of the Castle, but two days ago. I stayed only for two reasons; first, because I refused to leave the Count alone with his sister, and secondly, it seems that she was unable to affect me in the manner of the other servants."

"Gentlemen, the route you were travelling would have taken you directly to the chambers in which she is currently imprisoned. I implore you, do not go there; we still do not know how she ruled over the minds of the other servants, and I would rather not give her the chance to claim any further victims."

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 Post Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:40 pm 
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"I think she might already have," Felix says. He goes about explaining what has happened thus far. "We came here to try and cure our companion and get to the root cause of this mess."

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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:15 am 
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Ivan holds up his lantern, staring upwards at Theresa's face. "Her reach grows longer and more powerfully than we had feared," he says, worriedly. "Gentlemen - if you will give me your word that you will not kill Lady Stokes, then I believe that I can guide you to the place you seek."

"I don't trust him," says Theresa. "He looks shifty. What are you all talking about, anyway? Why's he looking at me like that?"

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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:34 am 
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"You have my word," Felix says. Aside to Theresa, he speaks further. "He says he'll lead us to the lady. We're heading there currently. Please allow us to handle the situation as it develops, in case something or someone tries to intervene. Stand back."

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 Post Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:38 pm 
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"Ivan?" asks Piper, sweetly.

The hunchback glances back at her. "Do you really think a small child should be bought into this?" he asks.

"Ivan, this is important." insists Piper. "Have you ever seen a small stone idol, of a grotesque, multi-tentacled being with -"

Ivan stumbles, almost dropping his lantern.

"Good," says Piper, firmly. "Then the place we need to go to is where that abomination is. That is where we can cure our friend, and that poor minstrel, and strip the Count's sister of her nefarious powers without stripping her of her life in the process."

"You don't want to go there, young miss," objects Ivan. "There are some things that no-one should see."

Piper nods in agreement. "No-one should have to see such things," she agrees. "But sometimes we do have to. And somebody needs to go and fetch the Minstrel as well, if we're to cure them both..."

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

The room that Ivan leads the group to is in the cellars, directly beneath the tower in which the Count's sister is imprisoned The door is sturdy oak and locked - though Ivan has the key on his belt. The corridor outside has been lined with strong-smelling herbs, leaving a thick scent of something similar to mint and lavender. Before he opens the door, he warns the group that only those with particularly strong stomachs should attempt to look inside, and should anyone's stomach turn out to be less strong than they had thought, then he would personally appreciate it if they would make use of one of the mop buckets instead of throwing up all over the wine cellar's floor.

"Stay alert, gentlemen," says Piper. "When we start this, there might be something that comes to stop us."

And on that ominous note, Ivan opens the door.

The room on the far side contains three objects. In the middle of the room is a large block of stone; what little of it is not discoloured with bloodstains shows an unremarkable grey.. But it's not merely the stone block that's covered in red; the floor, too, shows signs of having once held large amounts of gore. Inside the room, despite the herbs in the corridor, the stench of blood still hangs thick.

Off to one side, there is a brazier in which a fire burns, the flames a deep, dark black that radiates no heat at all.

And, on the far side of the room, in a small alcove, is the statue about which Piper had asked; a grotesque creature giving an impression of sick, sadistic glee as it surveys the room.

Piper shudders at the sight. "We're going to need two chairs and some rope," she tells Ivan.

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

The chairs and rope are swiftly provided. With a few notes on her pipe, Piper causes the rope to leap up, and tie Theresa and the Minstrel into the two chairs - in a way that is not uncomfortable, but that prevents them from turning their heads away.

"I'm going to need to go in there," says Piper, pointing to the room, "with them," the two in the chairs, "to deal with this spell. Something will arrive to try to stop us, though - I can't exactly be sure what it will be. I'd appreciate it if some of you would come along to help keep it off me. It will be dangerous -"

Sir Ulath readies his axe and steps up to the door.

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 Post Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 7:04 pm 
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Arkady looks at Piper. "I was not wanting to be asking this, Piper, but will you be affected if I need to exorcise what comes?"

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