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I'm looking for the title and author of a story I read years ago. In short: a crack pair of investigators arrive on a planet. One is a high level esper.

They go about their business but notice some of the native populace are "afflicted" with a bright red growth in varying degrees. Some have only a tiny spot, on others it covers large areas of their bodies. The natives consider the tumor-like growths a "blessing" or status symbol.

I don't recall specifics but the pair discovers a cavern filled with the red tumors. The next day the esper has disappears. The remaining off-worlder searches for her and finally discovers the tumors are related to esper ability, and how much you are "afflicted" is directly proportional to your level of ability. In short his partner melded with or was consumed by the tumors, becoming one with the mass in the cavern.

marked as duplicate by Otis, Blackwood, Au101, Molag Bal, Gallifreyan Apr 30 '17 at 8:09

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You are are remembering a story by the little known writer George R. R. Martin!

It's called A Song For Lya.

Wikipedia just says " It deals with two telepaths named Robb and Lyanna who visit a planet to find out why the inhabitants worship a mold-like organism and ultimately choose to be absorbed by it" but you are remembering correctly, the absorb-ees start out with little red growths (kind of like the Futurama brain slugs) and eventually merge into a giant red mass / hive-mind.

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    Thanks. Guess he was little known - back then! – Dub Greenhill Aug 30 '16 at 21:48
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    You're welcome! If this is it, please mark the answer as correct by clicking the gray checkmark to the left, so future searchers will see that it's the right answer. – Organic Marble Aug 30 '16 at 21:55
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    Amazing story, I was bummed out for days after reading it. – zeta-band Aug 30 '16 at 22:08
  • Named Robb and Lyanna? – Adamant Aug 30 '16 at 22:42
  • @Adamant Caught that, did ya? – Organic Marble Aug 30 '16 at 23:17

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