The Witch's Epigraph, Chapter Two: The Helix and the Rose

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

The difficulty of this chapter is Reasonably Solvable. Would you care to guess?

The story so far...

In 2011, eight members of an exclusive riddle club competed for a great prize. However, misfortune after misfortune struck the group: allegations of cheating were made, an earthquake and a storm struck, a valuable ring was stolen, and a trusted servant came to an untimely end. To complicate matters, the events of that night have been cloaked in a mantle of silence, leaving behind only mysteries and a set of typed pages of uncertain accuracy.

Ten years later, in 2021, a boy met with an enigmatic Witch to try to discover the truth of that night. At this gathering, he and a group of humans fought a series of duels to dispel the Witch's illusions. However, when the first duel ended, the boy unexpectedly defected to the Witch's side, leaving the players seemingly alone to face the bizarre mystery.

A Note for New Players:

I'm trying to keep this game relatively open for new players, so the first several puzzles can be solved without even glancing at the earlier threads. Later, I will generally link to prior posts in some form when they’re necessary to solve a puzzle. That said, the new thread will include spoilers for the earlier ones.

If you don't want to fish through all the earlier posts, here are a few tips:

* The narration is not literally reliable. Some scenes are exaggerations, and others are metaphorical. However, statements in red are true.

* There are two layers to this story, at the very least. We are reading sheets of paper describing supposed events of 2011. We are also attending a Witch's Banquet devoted to grappling with the mysteries raised by those sheets of paper.

Synopsis/Key Post Index:

The index/synopsis below might help you catch up with the plot. Since you probably don't want to go fishing through 26 pages on two threads, here are links to all of the posts with major plot/character details. All character intros include a puzzle.

Prologue:

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Chapter One:

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epig2.jpg

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(Theme:

)

(Scene: An autumnal conclave of Witches and Sorcerers. Seated about a long table, these mysterious magicians chatter of rituals and illusions until the Sapphire Witch rises from her seat, silencing them all.)

Sapphire Witch.

Rejoice! All-Hallows Eve is nigh,

The hornèd moon doth crown the sky,

Yon clock-tower tolls the long day’s knell --

The rush hour traffic dies as well.

But Witch’s revels such as these

Bow not to dull solemnities.

Come, comrades, conjurers, and kin,

And let our mystic play begin!

Ruby Sorcerer.

I am the Witch of Transmutation

Who shares the Witch of Vision’s station.

With staves in hand and scrolls unfurled,

Together, we create a world,

And bind the mind with sigils, giving

Life unto the once-unliving.

Sapphire Witch.

Crowther, arise! I summon thee

To pose our first perplexity.

(Crowther, an Animate, presents the first riddle to great applause:)

I’m born when a boy makes a foolish mistake;

I’m emboldened by drink to make mighty men quake;

I’m courageous or cold in the presence of death,

And I’ll wrack you and twist you and rob you of breath.

Witch of Secrets.

By Hecate’s scythe-blade, what an old device --

A greybeard Animate in a younger mask.

The Witch of Secrets casts a fresher spell

That mortal eyes have ne’er beheld before!

(The Witch unfurls a scroll, which reads:)

My first is in FILLINGS, but not in BRACES,

My second’s in TENNIS, but not in RACES.

My third’s in the SOIL, but not in the SEAS,

My fourth in CANDY STORES, not PARFUMERIES.

My fifth is in STORMS, not merely in GALES,

My sixth in the STREETS, but not on the RAILS.

My seventh in a TILT, but not in a QUAKE,

My eighth in the OCEAN, but not in a LAKE.

My ninth hides in DARKNESS, under a pall –

My ninth may not be my ninth at all.

(Applause. As this illusion fills the air, two younger people arise and bow. The Ochre Sorcerer introduces them.)

Ochre Sorcerer.

It looks like we’ve got two apprentices

With us tonight, and each of them has spun

A spell to show us all the tricks they’ve learned.

As Witch of Curiosity, I say,

Let’s see these novice conjurings at once!

(The Crimson Apprentice, a fledgling Witch of thirteen, is the first to rise to the challenge with an illusion. Her mother assisted her in the editing, but the essential form of the ritual is her own.)

Crimson Apprentice.

It’s really hard to make a perfect crime,

But here’s a mystery I have to share:

A dozen men are on their backs and none can call for aid;

Our culprit paints them gleefully with runes of garish shade.

He locks up all the bodies till they’re stiff, and when he’s done…

Off with their heads!

Off with their limbs!

One by one by one!

No matter how he maims them, police won’t come around,

And even if they did, the bodies never would be found.

(Applause, and some nervous looks. The Opal Apprentice, a boy younger than the Crimson Apprentice, poses a spell crafted with the help of the Sapphire Witch herself. He places a chessboard upon the table, as well as a bucket of pieces - black shapes in conical hats.)

cboard.jpg

A Witch in a chess game’s a powerful thing;

It can move like a bishop or move like a king.

So how many Witches, one way or another,

Can fit on this board without threatening each other?

(The assembled Witches set to solving these riddles...)

*****

Before I allow you to glimpse the Epigraph itself, let me test your mettle with these apprentice's riddles.

I doubt they shall delay you for long, but perhaps your struggles will entertain me.

With all due courtesy,

The Witch of Secrets

Edited by WitchOfSecrets
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Excellent. :D Btw, that chinese character in the picture is actually my last name (or first in chinese) ;P

8 is the maximum number of witches. The "moves like a bishop" limits it to 8, since 8 would span all the diagonal tiles, which is easily seen by placing them in a straight line (I'm sure there's a rigorous math proof somewhere, but I'm too sleepy to figure it out), and the "moves like a king" doesn't limit the number further, but limits the minimum distance between pieces. "Moves like a rook" would give the same number, but limit placement further.

As for the Witch of Secrets' scroll...well, I'm kinda stuck.

This seems like it has to do with the difference in which letters are in each word, but I can't find a word yet that fits the pattern. The closest I come to something that makes sense is like, "gildstick", which I'm pretty sure is not actually a word.

Bed for me, someone else figure it out. XP

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Doesn't really fit, but...the wind?

Edited by Aaryan
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I can get 12 Witches on the chess board (3 each on columns A & H white, 3 each on rows 1 & 8 black, leaving the corners blank). Word possibilities : GILT STICK, LILY STICK, LILY'S TICK (or TIC if ninth letter is ignored )

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?Crowthers riddle ]laughter

?Crimson Apprentice riddle ]making/eating gingerbread men

Got the same number as fabpig for the chessboard, with different positioning.

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A thought...

A cigarette?

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7 of one color and then 5 of the other color do make a 12, that will most likely be correct

Love this project!

Edited by Potok
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Maybe some sort of black ritual? and then they eat the bodies...?

Probably wrong, but oh well. I was never any good at solving puzzles.

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(Nice progress!)

Agate Witch.

I got it! I know what the third one's about,

I took me a moment to figure it out.

 The cops won't be coming; they never do when

The men you dismember are...

... gingerbread men!

Crimson Apprentice.

 That's right. There is no corpus delicti

 (she said, with much pretension for her age.)

 A baker won't be hanging from a rope.

 That's all from me, your future Witch of Hope!

hope.jpg

ESPER, the Crimson Apprentice, Witch of Hope

Witch of Sighs.

 The Animate that faces us is such

 That any man with memories of cruel,

 Cold youth may end it swiftly, with a sigh.

 Your Crowther, ANNABEL, is simply...

... laughter.

Sapphire Witch.

 Farewell, dear Crowther, servant true!

HERMETICUS, this one goes to you;

 You've answered it with great precision.

 Thus speak I, the Witch of Vision!

th_dnathing.png

ANNABEL, the Sapphire Witch, Witch of Vision/Doubt

Witch of Connections.

 For the fourth riddle... twelve?

Opal Apprentice.

 You can do better.

Ochre Sorcerer.

 The third riddle puzzles me; I checked each letter.

 Is the answer Gilt Stick? Could it be Lily Stick?

Witch of Sighs.

 With THALASSA, you know, there's always a trick.

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logistics

off to find a checker board

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about anagramising.... nicely, Timey.... If it isn't, then another possibilty is GILD'S TIN(S).

I managed to get 13 on the chessboard. See what T.O. comes up with before I show the diagram and make a complete fool of myself....

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When I woke up, my brain started working again...

Actually, ignore what I said the first time, I forgot to take into account the boundaries, which would divide the span into two moves, taking away the threat, I think. I'm not really a chess player.

it should be 13, as fabpig said. To minimize the number of squares you span with each bishop, put them as close to each other as possible, and move along the outside edge.

Is it just me, or do you start to see 8-dimensional vector spaces in everything when you're sleepy? *whistling*

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When I woke up, my brain started working again...

Actually, ignore what I said the first time, I forgot to take into account the boundaries, which would divide the span into two moves, taking away the threat, I think. I'm not really a chess player.

it should be 13, as fabpig said. To minimize the number of squares you span with each bishop, put them as close to each other as possible, and move along the outside edge.

Is it just me, or do you start to see 8-dimensional vector spaces in everything when you're sleepy? *whistling*

it's just you.

post-34492-0-44846900-1336954239_thumb.jpg

Is there any relevance in the board being 90 degrees 'out'

Edited by fabpig
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it's just you.

post-34492-0-44846900-1336954239_thumb.jpg

Is there any relevance in the board being 90 degrees 'out'

Hmm...I'm having trouble seeing the picture, but I think you and I probably have something similar. Good job finding it first :). I'm not sure what method you used, but since I like speaking math...well...

Ignoring the "moves like a king" for now, if you place a bishop on the edge (i.e. minimum distance to edge = 0), it will only diagonally span (by which I mean cover, or be able to reach in one move and therefore eliminate as a placement point) 7 other squares, for a total of 8 squares. If you put with a minimum distance of 1 square from the edge, it will span 10, 2 will span 12, 3 will span 14. You want to minimize the number of squares that are eliminated as possible bishop placement squares, since you want to maximize the number of bishops placed. So choose one edge square (I started with a corner square) and place a bishop on it.

Now in order to minimize the number of squares covered, choose a square whose span includes the maximum number of squares already covered. That is, you want to eliminate as few additional squares as possible. In this case, one square is covered by both the first and second bishops, causing the second bishop to eliminate 7 additional squares from bishop placement. Now continue this trend of choosing squares whose span covers the maximum number of squares already covered, thereby eliminating the fewest additional squares. Depending on where you placed the second bishop, the remaining number of spaces eliminated will either be in the pattern (6,5,4,2,1) or (5,5,3,3,1). In either case, we now have a total of 32 out of 64 squares spanned/eliminated, all of one color square, which ever color you started with, and have placed 7 bishops, on opposite sides of the board.

Now repeat with the other color, on the other two sides, taking into account the "moves like a king" rule. The pattern for number spanned is (8,7,5,5,3), which gives you an additional 28 squares eliminated, for a total of 60, and you have placed 5 additional bishops, for a total of 12. Now you are left with 4 squares, 3 of which are eliminated due to the "moves like a king" rule, so you can place 1 last bishop in the remaining space, for a total of 13.

Consequently, without the "moves like a king" rule, you could place 14. But I think the thirteenth witch likes the number 13 for some reason... ;)

Edited by Yoruichi-san
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What skullduggery - nay, witchcraft, is this? My beautiful picture vanish-ed while I was sleeping...

post-34492-0-84317900-1337003733_thumb.j

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A Witch in a chess game’s a powerful thing;

It can move like a bishop or move like a king.

So how many Witches, one way or another,

Can fit on this board without threatening each other?

I thought fabpig and Y- san were correct with 13, but no reply is forthcoming.

So for another tack.

16

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(I will try to post tonight or tomorrow - lots of work to do! The chess riddle is solved, but one remains.)

Edited by WitchOfSecrets
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Another anagram:

Gold stone, or gold lines or gold something...I have no idea

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Cones

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Witch of Ciphers.

 I can fit thirteen

 Witches on the checkerboard;

 That must be the most.

Witch of Joy.

 If all of the witches are black,

 I'd say that we're on the wrong track;

 You can fit many more,

 I would say sixty-four!

 (Witches on the same side can't attack.)

Opal Apprentice.

 Thirteen is, um, what I was looking for.

 MIMULUS, that's a good guess, but I think

 It really goes against the Sphinx's Sixth.

 I trust with loyal faith, so I hate tricks

 That make you think a puzzle's something else.

 Cool solving, EDOGAWA! And I swear

I'll be the Witch of Promises someday.

trust.jpg

SHIN, the Opal Apprentice, Witch of Promises

Witch of Secrets (aside, to audience)

 My spell has chained them all with misdirection;

The riddles that they've known become their fetters.

 Their sights set low, the truth escapes detection --

They cannot see outside the cage of letters!

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It's a little early in the British morning for me to function, but it seems to me

We aren't looking at the typical 'letters in one, but not the other' type riddle, but perhaps more literally... My 1st in FILLINGS but not in BRACES? Perhaps we are looking for the materials, rather than the lettering. And so on...

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My co-worker A. Dresh figgured this out, i dont want to take credit for him, but i'm sure its correct, altho not all connections are 100% confirmed:

Its the planets in our solar system: 1: Mercury (filling material) 2: Venus (Williams) 3: Earth 4: Mars (candy bar) 5: Jupiter (the planet of storms) 6: Saturn (i dont see the connection here, but maybe that we have ring streets-roundabouts and no "roundabout railroads; saturn is known for its rings) 7: Uranus (a tilted planet, its poles are tilted cca 90 deg. compared to earth/other planets (this connection may be wrong, Uranus was also the greek god of the sky)) 8: Neptune (simple, roman god of the seas) 9: Pluto (lately discovered its not an actual planet)

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the crime? Making gingerbread men.

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Cant edit the prev post, so here is an add-on:

The tilt of the planet Uranus's poles is the correct connection, i'm pretty sure. Saturn is a model of one of GM's cars. Pluto and darkness not connected yet, altho it is revealed in the next line of the riddle, but darkness may be related to it having the biggest distance from the sun among all the planets.

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