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the cause of, and solution to, all life's problems
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It's a well-rehearsed story. Likely with some embellishment, the inconvenient details left unsaid, but not fundamentally dishonest.

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"And now you live in Escadar. Did the goddess lead you here?"

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"I'm old. I was old when I answered the call, and I didn't get any younger after that. My reward on Golarion is a few years of retirement before I face the judge. I was born near here, if you must know."

The kettle reaches a boil. He dons a thick wool glove and lifts it off the trammel.

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CHANGE THE TOPIC BACK. BRING UP YOUR PREPARED PROTECTION FROM EVIL. WE WANT TO TIME IT SO THAT THE SPELL IS CAST IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TEA CUPS ARE ON THE TABLE.

Merely casting Protection from Evil is unlikely to work in most situations similar to this one, but Gwen has one additional piece of evidence that pushes her to try it: her partner claimed to be innocent under Abadar's Truthtelling.

Defying Zone of Truth is as simple as shrugging it off, but Abadar's Truthtelling has a visual indicator of success to accompany the spell effect. Better yet, Gwen was able to check the spell's signature using Detect Magic, confirming that her partner was under the effect of Abadar's Truthtelling and nothing else. Faking that is no easy feat – Greater Magic Aura can fix a person's appearance under detection spells, but it would take a second casting to temporarily mimic a truth spell. Using the wand is an obvious ploy, one that an adversary might have anticipated and decided to preempt, but it's a ploy that winnows the possible explanations for what's going on. Gwen had originally hoped to rule out a compulsion cast by someone with limited remaining uses of Greater Magic Aura, but if everything goes to plan she can do even better than that.

None of this shows on her face. Gwen has less splendor than the average, but she doesn't need grace or charm to act like nothing's amiss. She just has to concentrate.

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Merlus lays out three teapots and fills each of them. The scent of tea immediately blooms over the room.

"That'll take a minute to steep," he comments, pulling out a trio of teacups before sitting down again. "I never reached third circle, even though my aim got steadier throughout the war, which is why I didn't name myself. Now, what I can do is cast Protection from Evil. If anyone's got a spectral hold on you, it'll knock them right off. It also gives you a good shot at bucking the sort of spells that make you forget things, in case that's what's at hand."

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"It's not a spell, unless it's a spell that ended. The first thing I did was check with Detect Magic."

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This is safe, right? She doesn't want to decline his offer, but declining is not really an option and everyone knows it. There's no ulterior motive here?

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Chaotic good. His offer is borne of true kindness, pique, or some combination thereof.

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There's still something… like a rotated puzzle piece, not missing but out of place. You've contextualized some facet of his response incorrectly. He's not eager, he's not resentful, but he's still leaning in…

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He doesn't know you're unarmed. It takes six seconds to cast a spell – plenty of time for a ballistic interruption. Trying to pull a fast one would be suicide.

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And she just so happens to have an allied wizard sitting at the table. Okay, she still has some inexplicable apprehension about it, but this is an overdetermined course of action and she may as well get it over with.

"Spell or no spell, I'd rather have the peace of mind. Cast out my demons, father."

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Complaining about the tea not being ready won't help. She needs to think of a backup plan immediately… the first one that comes to mind is rudimentary and makes too many assumptions for her liking, but it is technically a plan.

IF YOU HAVE DETECT MAGIC PREPARED AS ONE OF YOUR ORISONS, WE CAN START. OTHERWISE, STALL. IF YOU CAN'T THINK OF A PRETEXT, VISIT THE PRIVY.

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"I just have to touch you while I pray," he says. "Then, I suppose one or both of us ought to check whether it worked."

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"Be my guest," she says apathetically. "I'm going to use Prestidigitation to clean… that." She indicates her partner's entire body.

I HAVE TO DROP THIS SPELL. USE DETECT MAGIC AS SOON AS YOU'RE DONE. TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE.

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She almost makes a heated remark about Gwen having Prestidigitation this whole time, but no one is in a position to respond to her witticism. The Protection from Evil finishes first, a sparkling shield of energy in the shape of her skin that feels innately reassuring but otherwise doesn't really seem to do anything.

The Prestidigitation is more interesting. The grime is lifted from her as though scraped away with a fantastically sharp blade, leaving her about as clean as humanly possible on specific patches of skin. It's bizarre but unarguably faster than bathing. She'll have to ask Gwen how to do it later.

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Merlus follows up with Detect Magic, and the results fail to surprise him.

"That's two spells I can see. Do you feel, ah, liberated from Evil?"

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"No, just… oh, that's different…"

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The first Prestidigitation did what she said it would do. Anyone spoofing the aura on top of a hidden possession could've covered both spells with the same Greater Magic Aura. The second Prestidigitation colored her partner's left shoulder blue, and if they want to spoof that they'll need to cast Greater Magic Aura again. The cleric will be watching though, and the only way they'll get the spell signature up in time for him to see it in synchrony with her finishing is if they started casting at the same time she did. A second wizard makes this more plausible, which is why Gwen's third Prestidigitation is going to mark her partner's other shoulder green. A ludicrously well-prepared adversary (one not reliant on reading her mind, since this was a rather abrupt change in her original plan) might be able to keep up with her, but there's nothing stopping Gwen from casting Prestidigitation until every square inch of her partner's skin is rainbow-hued. Eventually, she will convince herself that the wool has probably not been pulled over her eyes.

A much stronger wizard would have no trouble leading all three of them around by their noses, but much stronger wizards have better things to do with their time than perpetrate a stupid deception like this. Gwen is far more worried about adversaries who have not already dominated her because they are reasonably afraid the attempt might not work. Psychic attacks are much less effective against wizards than alcoholic cops. Of course, this leaves the usual method of dealing with enemy wizards, which is why…

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She's white-knuckling her gun with her other hand. Why is she so tense?

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And why is your right shoulder turning green?

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Both excellent questions that deserve answers.

"When you're done abracadabra-ing me, would you mind telling me why I'm becoming a plant? I thought we were worried about possession, not Evil druids or – I'm turning blue as well. I'm hypoxic and I'm turning into a tree. Wonderful."

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He has a clearer view of the magic now, clear enough to report the schools.

"One abjuration and two spells that don't have a school – three spells with no school – Gwen'll explain herself in due time, once she's done with whatever this is – that makes four spells with no school, now."

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Gwen didn't introduce herself. There were no introductions at all. These two know each other, which means they're in cahoots, which means—

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They're strangers. Gwen doesn't know this city, she was surprised to learn that a cleric lived here, and neither of them have expressed even a tiny bit of familiarity. Unless she arranged for you to come here, they've been in cahoots for less than the time you've spent in his company.

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She likely contacted him. The wizard cantrip Message could've allowed them to coordinate without you noticing.

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