The Witch's Epigraph Chapter 1: The Room of Six Locks

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Inspired by When the Seagulls Cry (Umineko no Naku Koro ni)

The difficulty of this chapter is Slightly Taxing. Would you care to guess?

The story so far...

The proprietor of a museum of riddles and mysteries intends to bequeath his entire collection to whoever can best his final challenge. Tonight, the members of this exclusive club have gathered to compete for this prize.

Upon arrival, these guests received sheets of paper giving a set of rules for fair riddling, The Sphinx's Decalogue. On these pages were clues to open a safe and prove their worthiness to enter the Club. The first to solve this safe was...

* Ocean Zweidler, an author of mysteries, who guessed similarly to some of the cleverer posters in the thread. The line below this one is a lie.

* L. V. Ford-Seaton, a child of wealth. Nobody in the thread could have anticipated his answers. The line above this one is a lie.

Regardless of who solved it first, both were admitted entry, as both sets of answers were reasonably derived from the information available to them as individuals.

Now, a new page begins. What will our guests find written in the foyer?

Without hope, the truth cannot be found.

(Note: It’s not necessary to read the first thread to catch up, but these three posts contain relevant information and puzzles:

Introduction:

Suspect #1, Ocean:

Suspect #2, L.V.: )

=============================================================================================================

Chapter 1: The Room of Six Locks

or, The Courtship of the Sapphire Witch

Young Matthew Ford - no relation to the car-maker - was a Wall Street alchemist. He could turn lead into gold, and not only that, he could turn tin into silver, iron into copper, and, judging by the fortune he made in semiconductor commodities trading, silicon into gallium. But he was reckless and wild, winning and losing fortunes on a throw of the dice, until the evening he met the Sapphire Witch.

At the time, she bore a different name. No matter; her magic remained unchanged. Although she was a geneticist in her human life, she knew powerful conjurations and transfigurations, which she taught to Ford in their years of marriage.

Nowadays, it is generally considered impolite to remind Mr. Ford that his wife has passed away. As far as he is concerned, she is alive and well, and wanders the secret passages of his museum every night.

---

The guests found this page - the very page you are reading - in the foyer. Though normally spacious, boasting tall windows and a grand 39-step staircase, the foyer was cluttered tonight with trunks, tables, and shelves. Amid this paraphernalia, many of the Club’s staff had gathered to present themselves and play their assigned roles.

"Ladies, gentlemen, I don’t mean to alarm you, but there was supposed to have been a signet ring in that first safe," said Lana Rodriguez, the Club librarian, stepping away from a set of bookshelves that held the proprietor’s favorite novels. "It had a big sapphire in it… not easy to miss. I'm afraid that either whoever opened it just now palmed the ring, or somebody broke in early. Bill, anything on the safe's records?"

"Sorry ‘bout the bad news, but I just checked. Looks like someone got in five minutes before we opened." said Bill Jackson, the club's resident tech wizard. He slouched back against a table that carried a model train set.

"My God," said Samuel, the doorman, raising his eyes from a box of vintage 45 records. "I stepped away to shut off the fire alarm! Anyone could've arrived early and opened it!"

Margaret Ye, the proprietor’s attorney, pushed aside the trunk of toys she was assigned to watch over. “Our security guards just locked down the building. Nobody will enter, nobody will leave. Not before we find our culprit.”

The guests protested, but all of the staff had solid alibis. And if they eliminated the eight staff members as suspects... well, there wasn't nearly enough information to figure out who had done it just yet, but perhaps, as the evening wore on, the culprit would slip up. "Maybe it was the Witch!" joked L. V., only to receive angry glares from several of the staff, and, in particular, from a young boy at Mrs. Ye's side.

"You'll regret saying that," said the boy. "The Witch is real. She's gonna take us all to El Dorado."

"Cut it out, Mark." hissed Margaret. "Do I have to send you home?" Then, noticing that the others were staring, she said, "What? Mr. Jackson! Give them the damn riddle!"

Mr. Jackson shook his head and pointed to a tall mahogany cabinet leaning against the wall and bearing an ostentatious lockplate in the shape of a winged man. “Safe’s in here,” said Jackson. “But the key’s somewhere else in this room. Here’s your clue.”

He showed the guests what looked like a crude handicraft made in summer camp, a string of little ornaments. “Some of these are rusted, but you should ignore any oxidation. In fact, you’d better ignore any minor ingredients in these things!” Jackson added, making sure each guest saw it fully. "Start from the end with the sinker. Be careful; it's got sentimental value."

The ornaments were made from glass beads, old fishing sinkers, loops of lead-free solder, and steel rings, and were arranged as follows:

Sinker, Glass, Glass, Solder, Steel, Sinker, Glass, Sinker, Glass

Racing to make sense of this clue, the guests rummaged through the room for the hidden key. Some dug through the bookshelves for reference materials, while others used their smartphones to access the Internet..

At last, a clever guest found the key hidden inside a small object, which I shall leave for you to guess. But when they opened the cabinet, the safe confronted them with yet another challenge - a combination lock that bore a compass rose around its dial, rather than numbers, and a sheet of paper bearing the following maze of arrows.

arrowmaze.png

And this is far from the last of this room's riddles.

Give up! If you give up, surely someone else will guess it for you!

Stop thinking! Go find a game where there is one "answer" to every problem!

STOP! Leave this place, and my secrets will be safe.

Signed,

The Witch of Doubt

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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(The riddles of the first thread have now been entirely solved, unlocking one final segment:

Banquet of the Prologue: )

This illusion is the final challenge of the first thread. Can you dispel my magic to find another fragment of the truth?

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The numbers in the last thread were important, and the ones in this are 6 (if you count the title), 39, 5, 45, 8.

@WoD Is the boy's line about the Witch supposed to be in italics? Is it significant?

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Ok, here's what info I've gathered so far.

Lead to Gold = (Pb 82 to Au 79) = -3

Tin to Silver = (Sn 50 to Ag 47) = -3

Iron to Copper = (Fe 26 to Cu 29) = +3

Silicon to Gallium = (Si 14 to Ga 31) = +17

Those are the changes the alchemist was said to do (the +/- is the atomic number change). Note that Silicon is close to Gallium on the periodic table, but not in atomic number.

Fishing sinkers were commonly made of lead.

Glass is commonly made from silica.

Steel is commonly made of iron and carbon.

Solder is made from tin I think.

So the Sinker, Glass, Glass, Solder, Steel, Sinker, Glass, Sinker, Glass turns into:

Lead, Silicon, Silicon, Tin, Iron, Lead, Silicon, Lead, Silicon which turns into:

Gold, Gallium, Gallium, Silver, Copper, Gold, Gallium, Gold, Gallium.

This is where I'm stuck.

Now onto the maze, the solution to that is from the A to the R take the compass rose direction out of the square.

N N W E S S E

Now, I don't know if there is any significance to the colours of the arrows, but you take:

Dark Green, Silver/Greyish?, Light Blue, Orange, Light Blue, Grey, Orange

I don't have any solutions, but hopefully this helps people out/gets them thinking.

Edited by TheChad
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More thoughts

Originally I was thinking that the change in atomic number would lead to the stair number the key is hidden. Now I'm thinking it is the number of electrons in the outer ring that matters.

Gold = 1

Gallium = 3

Silver = 1

Copper = 1

1+3+3+1+1+1+3+1+3 = 17

So I'd check the 17th step for the key, or the 17th record case.

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One more possibility

Perhaps it is the change in the number of electrons in the outer ring.

I'm too lazy to do the math for that though.

The silicone to gallium is a large difference with a completely different outer ring though.

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@ TheChad We should probably check all those possibilities, and try that in the lock.

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@ WoD Are we supposed to figure out where the key was hidden?

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(Morningstar: Italics have multiple meanings in this game, and the formatting on this forum is wonky, so I wouldn't lean on them unless I draw your attention to them more explicitly. Yes, you're supposed to find where the key is hidden.)

Ms. Zweidler muttered a series of words, the first of which was "Gold," well on the way to a correct answer. Beckoning over another guest, Kenichi Nakamura, Ocean asked him what he knew about these elements.

"Their atomic numbers," said Mr. Nakamura, "or electron configurations?"

But the 17th step held no key, nor did any of the records. Electron configurations were not part of the answer.

---

A little later...

With a flourish, L. V. spun the safe dial to its last position and it clicked open. "You see?" he said. "This game is a memorial for my mother."

"Hmm." Kenichi Nakamura frowned. He was a middle-aged programmer. Though one of the club's best codebreakers, the code-on-a-string had briefly confused him, as no numbers were involved in its solution. But something seemed wrong with L. V.'s answer to the safe maze, even if the answer given was indeed a correct path through the maze and the safe did open for it. "I thought her last name was different. You said it was ANN, but the last name..."

L. V. laughed, a shade condescendingly. "Dude? You wouldn't know this, but my mother wrote all her biology papers with that name. It's from her first marriage." Inside the safe sat another piece of paper - the very piece of paper you are reading now - taped to another door, a safe within a safe. He read the top portion aloud, then remarked, "A condescending laugh, really? Who knew." He didn't bother reading them the rest of the page; what did it matter if there was another way to open the maze lock? It's not as if anyone would find it now.

Having had a moment to collect his thoughts, Kenichi said, "You just said, 'You wouldn't know this.' Sphinx's First."

Sphinx's First: A fair riddle should require no highly specialized knowledge that the readers cannot easily obtain.

L. V. replied with a disarming grin, assuming that you could disarm a suspect through mockery. "Hey... you could solve it with just the maze. I bet some people did. And that's rich, coming from a guy who thought that electron orbitals were the answer to that last one."

"You could find those on the Internet!" Mr. Nakamura was not happy with this development, and he could see that Ocean Zweidler seemed equally fed-up. "The real answer to the string took research, too, even if it was easier for you! But if all of these riddles are about your mother, we suffer a disadvantage."

L. V. only chuckled. "Who said this was a fair game?"

Meet the Pieces: (Part 3 of Many)

Kenichi Nakamura

Age: 48

Profession: Programmer

Quote: "People sometimes call riddles 'difficult' or 'easy' in a way that sounds like saying 'good' or 'bad.' Lose, lose. Tell me if a riddle's 'clever' or 'crude.' If it's clever and easy, give it to children. If it's clever and difficult, give it to me. If it's crude, give it to nobody."

Background: Born in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, Kenichi Nakamura grew up in a big city on the Boso Peninsula. From a young age, he loved tinkering in his father's electronics store, taking apart radios, soldering wires, and getting the odd shock from a charged capacitor. In his twenties, he attained international fame under the pseudonym "Ken Q." as the author of the acclaimed "When they Call" series of 'visual novels.' In pursuit of new ideas and puzzles he traveled the world, learning English and swapping hacker jargon with his western peers.

Sample Riddle: Mark Ye was looking increasingly impatient with the guests' attempts to solve the riddles. "Mark, are you allowed to try to answer these?" asked Mr. Nakamura.

"Staff and their families are only allowed to answer the Witch's Epigraph, not the safe riddles." recited Mark. "I'm bored."

Kenichi filed the reference to a 'Witch's Epigraph' in his memory for later consideration. "Would you like to have a riddle of your own to solve?" asked Mr. Nakamura.

"Yeah!"

"Okay. There is a frog on those steps.

First it jumps up 5 steps.

Then it jumps down 2 steps.

Then it jumps up 5 steps.

Then it jumps down 2 steps.

And so it repeats, until it reaches the top. If -"

"25 jumps!" said Mark. "I know this one! It's with a well!"

"... no, not that one. Suppose you see the frog on top of the 38th step, and you know it started on top of one of the first ten steps. Which of those steps could it have started from?"

------

(You have not unlocked the other material on this page.)

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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A Confusing Clarification

Nobody in the Club on the night of the inheritance challenge saw red text on the sheets of paper. To them, the red text appears as ordinary type. Red text is meant for those who would solve these mysteries.

The meaning of the red text will be made clearer when the Witch's Banquet for this thread is unlocked.

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First it jumps up 5 steps.

Then it jumps down 2 steps.

Then it jumps up 5 steps.

Then it jumps down 2 steps.

And so it repeats, until it reaches the top. If -"

"25 jumps!" said Mark. "I know this one! It's with a well!"

"... no, not that one. Suppose you see the frog on top of the 38th step, and you know it started on top of one of the first ten steps. Which of those steps could it have started from?"

------

(You have not unlocked the other material on this page.)

This is fairly easy to solve in reverse.

38 is the starting number

Now we will run two paths from here.

The first is where it jumped up 5 steps to get here, the second is where it jumped down 2.

38 - 5 = 33 + 2 = 35 - 5 = 30 + 2 = 32 -5 = 27 + 3 = 30 etc.

38 + 2 = 40 - 5 = 35 + 2 = 37 - 5 = 32 + 2 = 34 - 5 = 29 etc

In the first case we are given the possibility of 0,2,3,5,6,8, or 9

The other scenario gives us a 2,5, 7,10

Unless I made a mistake with my formula, which is possible because it does allow some negative combinations (i.e. the frog is on step -1)

EDIT: Oops, I didn't realize you said it jumps 5 the first time, so that changes it.

First scenario is 0,3,6,9

Second is 2,5,8

So it is possible he started on 0,2,3,5,6, or 9th step

Edited by TheChad
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That one was pretty easy. Nice work, TheChad!

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We still need to find the key.

There is also an alternate way to open the safe that needs to be solved.

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...since Kenichi said, "the frog started on those steps," he might have been referring to the 39 steps in the foyer so the frog could not have initially come down two steps from 40 but instead must have jumped up from the 33rd step to the 38th. this would limit the possibilities to steps 3,6,9? also, think maybe L. V.'s mother's previous name was (Ann) Wesser? but dont think that helps much.

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NSWE is another path for the compass code--and the best path. From A (NSWE) R. ANSWER. . =P

Additionally, I'd check the records. Which one? Whichever one sold well... The gold one... =P

Agreed on Ann's other name. You guys rock.

@WoD: This is epic. Thanks.

Lastly... The Witch of Doubt = TWoD. Backward is DoWT...which is like Doubt.

Edited by Molly Mae
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Ok, so the key was found in a small object, which we must guess.

Also, I made a mistake with the records thing and showed my age.

A 45 record is a single record, not the number of records.

It runs at 45 rpm and is 7 inches diameter (18 cm).

I don't really think this changes anything.

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Any code breakers here?

Lead to Gold = (Pb 82 to Au 79) = -3

Tin to Silver = (Sn 50 to Ag 47) = -3

Iron to Copper = (Fe 26 to Cu 29) = +3

Silicon to Gallium = (Si 14 to Ga 31) = +17

Gold, Gallium, Gallium, Silver, Copper, Gold, Gallium, Gold, Gallium.

79, 31, 31, 47, 29, 79, 31, 79, 31

Those are the atomic numbers of the 'new' objects.

Perhaps it is a code to be broken that says where the objects are.

Unfortunately I'm not a code breaker.

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Any code breakers here?

Lead to Gold = (Pb 82 to Au 79) = -3

Tin to Silver = (Sn 50 to Ag 47) = -3

Iron to Copper = (Fe 26 to Cu 29) = +3

Silicon to Gallium = (Si 14 to Ga 31) = +17

Gold, Gallium, Gallium, Silver, Copper, Gold, Gallium, Gold, Gallium.

79, 31, 31, 47, 29, 79, 31, 79, 31

Those are the atomic numbers of the 'new' objects.

Perhaps it is a code to be broken that says where the objects are.

Unfortunately I'm not a code breaker.

I don't know that it will require brute force, but WoD has taught me that there are many paths that lead to the right answer.

Regardless, I think there will be a logical method for the solution to the alchemical puzzle. I'm still looking for it.

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I agree with Molly Mae. We should look for other ways to the answer, although the atomic number thing is plausible.

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I agree with Molly Mae. We should look for other ways to the answer, although the atomic number thing is plausible.

If brute force finds an answer, it's just as good for me. =P

Remember:

"Hmm." Kenichi Nakamura frowned. He was a middle-aged programmer. Though one of the club's best codebreakers, the code-on-a-string had briefly confused him, as no numbers were involved in its solution.

And also:

"You could find those on the Internet!" Mr. Nakamura was not happy with this development, and he could see that Ocean Zweidler seemed equally fed-up. "The real answer to the string took research, too, even if it was easier for you! But if all of these riddles are about your mother, we suffer a disadvantage."

EDIT: Bold emphasis is mine.

Edited by Molly Mae
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^ Good point. I think the alchemy is relavent, because otherwise it's just too much of a coincidence. Why would it be included if it wasn't relavent?

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^ Good point. I think the alchemy is relavent, because otherwise it's just too much of a coincidence. Why would it be included if it wasn't relavent?

I wouldn't put a red herring past WoD, but I do agree that the transformation might be important somehow.

I'll wait to hear from WoD before posting my next big thought on where the key might be hidden.

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I wouldn't put a red herring past WoD

Neither would I, but we should look into it.

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Don't give him any ideas. :)

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Yay, I'm now officially an "advanced member"! :)

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