Velsin Sedai twitched, looking longingly out of the stedding, stroking his beard. It was so tempting, so tempting. To step forward and - pop - just feel the source again. Maybe touch it, just for a moment - what would be the point to going out without touching it? But of course that would be a very very bad idea. Still... could he take much more of life cooped up in here?

His musings - his stroking and enflaming his need - was interrupted as his right cheek felt a little cool. He stopped stroking his beard and felt it - and met bare skin. Really smooth bare skin. The smoothness spread gradually forward, the hairs disappearing.

Could the blight be striking... his face? Directly? Inside a stedding? Could there be some sort of evanescent effect around the edges? Some slight penetration? He turned and headed further in. This was probably a prank by Jareth.

Jareth Sedai watched in alarm as Velsin approached. "Decided to shave, changed your mind?" The question was wary, and well it would be. Velsin could only imagine what he looked like. But from tone, this wasn't Jareth's work.

"No, I didn't decide to shave at all. Can you see what's happening there?"

Jareth looked closer. "This is by far the smoothest shave I've ever seen. Right down to the roots. But that... whoa." He jumped back.


"It just grew. More got shaved right there in front of me. No trace of the hair, too. Just disappeared." He took a deep breath. "Light! Your beard!"

Velsin took a feel, and his beard had a gigantic gash down the front. Then to the left side, it continued to disappear. "It's so smooth... if I'd ever been able to shave this smooth I might never have grown a beard in the first place."

"But how is it happening? What have you done lately? Did you leave the stedding?"

"No, burn it! Nothing! I've been in here for five months, not outside for one tainted moment. Just went up to the edge to take a look, a few moments ago, and it started happening."

"You shouldn't do that... but you stayed inside, right? What could you have done to make this happen?"

"Nothing! I'm telling you, I didn't do anything unusual!" Velsin felt around - there were bits and straggles, especially on the sides of his throat, but that was all that remained of his beard. He was almost entirely clean-shaven, with two patches along the side of his throat. The last few other stragglers were taken care of.

To their surprise, that was it. No more. The to patches along the side of his throat remained, and that was it.

Velsin suddenly had a flash of insight. "Oh no. No. Absolutely not."


"I figured it out." He shuddered. "No, I am not going to make that happen. No. Light."


"Work it out for yourself. I'm not saying it."