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Posts posted by WitchOfDoubt

  1. It's not what the witnesses saw, it's what they didn't see.

    Shakily, he begins. "Sir, what can I say. We came here to be advised. We sat in the waiting room, we waited. Mr. Bennett never actually opened his door, which frankly we found surprising."

    "And...?" You ask, hoping to spark something.

    "And what?" Mr. O'Brien exclaims. "We waited and waited and the girl ran out screaming. That's all I know."

    "Sir, can anyone prove that you sat and waited?"

    "N-no sir. At least, I don't think so. Everyone was rather groggy this morning."

    What? A full waiting room and nobody can prove it? The problem isn't who saw O'Brien. The problem is why didn't O'Brien see anybody else who could confirm the alibi, including the detective himself?

    I'm going to guess that they weren't actually in the waiting room the whole time, if at all. They showed up early, killed the victim before their appointment, then dropped in for the actual appointment later to try to deflect suspicion and saw the receptionist run out screaming.

  2. Let's suppose that there were only 1,000 ravens in the whole world, and you saw 999 of them chosen at random, and those were black. That would be very STRONG evidence that all ravens are black.

    Let's suppose there were 1,000,000 ravens, and you saw 999 chosen at random, and all were black. Well, that'd still be pretty good evidence to intuit that blackness is a general property of ravens, though the existence of albino members of other species should probably make you qualify that 'all.'

    Now, how many "non-black" objects are there? Waaaaaaaaay more. You COULD prove that all ravens are black by checking every single non-black object in the universe. But a random sample of non-raven objects is so non-representative of that huge set that it is ridiculously weak evidence. Induction works best when you have entities that could reasonably be expected to be similar to each other on some level. It's easier to make generalizations about "dogs" than it is to generalize about "things represented by words that begin with d" or "things that are not cats."

    This doesn't mean that "all ravens are black" is 'easier to prove' than "all non-black things are not-ravens". The two statements really are logically equivalent. But it's more efficient to look at the ravens than it is to sample the the rest of the universe.

  3. Let's make it worse.

    Allow me to define a new word: 'blonk.'

    Blonk is a generic term for 'the smallest number not specifiable using fewer than 23 syllables.'

    Have I just specified it in one syllable?

  4. One question.

    "Let's suppose that truthtellers are the opposite parity of liars. If I were to ask someone of the opposite parity of you whether they were a truthteller, what would they say - yes or no?"

    A truthteller says "yes". A liar says "No." An alternator can't answer one way or the other, because the question is ill-defined for them.

  5. Codons:

    I = AUU; AUC, or AUA


    M = AUG

    Q = CAA CAG





    K = AAA AAG

    C = UGU UGC

    We'll define the most different sequence using mutation distance. Assuming the most similar possible sequences, which one requires the largest number of single-base insertions, deletions, or substitutions to produce from any of the others? In addition, assume that the sequence is NOT PARTIAL; it cannot include an extra amino acid at the beginning or end.

    1. ILMRV: Can be produced from 6 (CLMSV) using only 3 substitutions: C -> I (using UGU -> AUU, 2 mutations) and S -> R (AGU -> AGG, 1 mutation)

    2. MPRSV: Can be produced from 5 (KLRSV) using only 2 substitutions: K -> M (AAG -> AUG) and L -> P (CUU -> CCU)

    3. LMQRS: Can be produced from 4 (LMRSV) using 4 substitutions: R -> Q (CGA -> CAA), S-> R (AGU -> AGG), V -> S (GUU -> AGU, 2 mutations). Is there a better way?

    4. LMRSV: Can be produced from 5, (KLRSV), using 3 substitutions: using K -> L (AAA -> CUA, 2 mutations), L-> M (UUG -> AUG).

    5. Can be produced from 2 in 2 substitutions.

    6. Can be produced from 1 using 3 substitutions.

    So if we go by substitutions, 3 is the most different. But if the sequences are partial, it can be made with a 3-base insertion to 4...

  6. Call the doors A, B, C, D, E. I choose door A and B first.The prior probability of the goat being behind A or B is 2/5. Monty presumably chooses to show us a goat the first time - that's the way it works in the original problem - so we gain no new information about A or B. Let's suppose Monty chooses door E. There's still a 3/5 chance the goat's behind C or D.

    Now it gets fun.

    Let's assume I switch to door C. My odds of victory are currently 3/10 given no more info.

    Then, Monty randomly chooses a door with a goat of the three remaining doors. If he chooses door A, there's a 3/10 chance of the car being behind C, 3/10 for D, and 2/5 for B. If he chooses door B, there's a similar result. If he chooses door D, there is a 3/5 chance of the car being behind door C, a 1/5 chance of the car being behind door A, and a 1/5 chance of the car being behind door B.

    Let's suppose now that I choose door A instead of switching to C. My odds of victory are currently 2/10 given no more info.

    Then, Monty chooses at random from the three remaining doors. If he chooses door B, there's a 2/5 chance of the car being behind door A and a 3/5 chance of it being behind doors C or D. If he chooses door C, there's a 3/5 chance of the car being behind door D and a 2/5 chance of it being behind door A or B. If he chooses door D, similar logic.

    Looking at this, if I switch to C the first time, there are two cases where I have a 2/5 chance, and one case where it gives me a 3/5 chance. On the other hand, if I stick to A,, there are two cases where I get a 3/5 chance, and one case where I get a 2/5 chance.

    So my play if Monty's randomly picking doors with goats behind them is:

    Choose a door.

    Don't switch.

    If he opens the other door of my original pair, don't switch. If he opens one of the other two doors, switch.

    If he's playing nonrandomly, I think this might degenerate into a game of "Is the poison in the glass of wine in front of me?"

    Let's suppose I choose A + B, and don't switch, and the car's behind C.

    If he opens door D, I'll figure that there's a 3/5 chance of the car being behind C (all other things being equal), so of course I'll switch.

    But I know he knows this. He would never actually choose door D if the car were behind door C, because then I would switch to C. So the fact he chooses door D is evidence that I should not choose door C. In fact, if he assumes I'm gonna switch, he's given me hard evidence that the car is behind A or B!

    But he knows I know he knows this...

  7. I feel obliged to defend the honor of witches. Here is what happened, and why the Witch reasonably objected:

    The man turned in 14.4 pounds of gold and kept 1.6 pounds - though the Witch had no way of knowing how much he really kept. The Witch was satisfied at first, until she consulted the bags.

    "What? The total was (16 + 5 + 2), or 23 pounds? Then I was owed 20.7 pounds! He must have given me 14.4 pounds, pretended to only keep 1.6 pounds, and kept the other 7 pounds hidden somewhere to retrieve later! A cheat!"

    Of course, the man had simply nested the bags inside each other.

  8. I suspect that Molly Mae simply recognized that Thalia found out that the Witch and the Sapphire Witch might not be the same in post 118, based on the boy's comments. Molly used that in a blue statement to challenge the Witch because the question was dodged in the reply on post 119.

    I have other questions in mind that I don't think are yet meant to be answered. But one that does face us now is, whatever became of the sound of a sliding tile that was heard when the button to reveal the Witch's Epigraph was pressed?

    (Good question.)

    A Red cylinder rose from the floor around the Sapphire Witch, a final shield against the repeated strikes of the Blue Truth. But even that wouldn't help for long, and the boy seemed torn about what to do in response to this.

    Then Aziraphael made a speculation - not in the Blue, but loud enough for the boy to hear :

    The original Sapphire Witch is dead. Whether posession of the ring of Red Truth grants the title of Sapphire Witch is as yet unconfirmed...

    I have firm suspicions as to who the 'Sapphire Witch' and the Witch of Secrets are though.

    The boy stared into space. "The title. So you weren't lying at all..." He shut his eyes, and the room went absolutely dark.

    "What are you doing?" snarled the Witch of Secrets, her face lit an eerie red by the glow of her scythe.

    Slowly, the contents of the room - the table, the typewriter, the cabinet, and even the Sapphire Witch - glowed with dim auras of gold. The halos brightened and coalesced into will-o'-the-wisps, which rose from their places and danced around the boy, circling closer and closer about his head. One by one, they dove inside his mind and vanished, and when the last was gone, a new person stood in the boy's place, a Witch clad in a conical hat and an iridescent cape. He had defected from the Human Side. Seeing this, the Sapphire Witch smiled, and focused harder on holding off the Blue Truth.

    With the new danger apparent, the Witch of Secrets swooped in to end this fight for good:

    Our host is not the Sapphire Witch!

    In response, the new Witch raised his staff. "I am the Opal Sorcerer," he said, "the Witch of Promises." Then, in a flash, he enveloped the Sapphire Witch in a mantle of Golden Truth!

    And our host truly is the Sapphire Witch!


    Congratulations! You've solved all of the puzzles necessary to find the Witch's Epigraph, dispelled the illusion of the locked room and the stolen ribbon, and revealed something of the Witch's true nature. Will you join us again when the next chapter begins?

    Chapter Two: The Helix and the Rose

    (or, The Legacy of the Sapphire Witch)




    Chapter 1: The Room of Six Locks,

    or, The Courtship of the Sapphire Witch

    Puzzles, Art, and Writing:


    Inspired by:

    "When the Seagulls Cry" (Umineko no Naku Koro Ni)



    A. B.


    Cast of 2011:


    Kenichi Nakamura,

    Ocean Zweidler

    Alicia Tressler

    Nat Foreman

    L. V. Ford-Seaton

    Walter Sexton

    Batsheva Ellis

    Otto Rinaldi


    Lana Rodriguez

    Margaret Ye

    Samuel Clayton

    Bill Jackson

    Maria Brand

    Sal Lucas

    Jaime LaSalle

    Celia Marquez


    Mark Ye

    Unknown Person X

    Cast of 2021:


    The boy


    Molly Mae









    Witches and Animates:


    Annabel, the Sapphire Witch, Witch of Doubt

    Thalassa, the Crimson Witch, Witch of Secrets

    ????????, the Opal Sorcerer, Witch of Promises


    S. C. Dudeney

    Ms. Cox


    Music (in order of appearance):

    "Witch's Chess": "Golden Sneer", Umineko soundtrack

    "Never Stop Thinking": "Hope", Umineko soundtrack

    "The Remains are Discovered": "Dead Angle", Umineko soundtrack

    "First Duel": "Liberated Liberator", Umineko Chiru soundtrack

    "Victory": "Golden Nocturne (instrumental)", Umineko Chiru soundtrack

    "Second Duel": "Fake Red Shoes", Umineko soundtrack

    "Rain and Reminiscence": "Fall", Umineko soundtrack

    "Scarlet Scythe": "Executioner", Umineko soundtrack

    "End Credits": "Birth of a New Witch", Umineko soundtrack

    Thanks for playing!

  9. (Morningstar: I don't count the Prologue as a chapter, no.

    Everyone: Thanks for your patience! I appreciate your sticking with this story so far! This is a huge update, thanks in part to Molly Mae's perceptive low blow with the Blue Truth, which forced me to move a ton of material forward.)

    Provided the Red Truth tells no lies, twisting the timing of events for effect is a Witch's prerogative. Thus, as the duel drew near a close, Molly Mae moved first:

    The door was removed from its hinges!

    "The door was never removed from its hinges!"

    But even as Molly Mae's rose drifted to the floor, TheChad and Thalia were already lunging in tandem, uniting their Blue Truths into a single devastating move.



    The pencil was the only object required to open the door.

    Mrs. Cox was used to prevent the latch from properly closing. Thus, the door is technically locked, but not completely shut.

    A blinding flash of blue filled the room. When everyone's vision had returned, the Witch's rose was gone, as were Dudeney, Ms. Cox, and Rathvon. On the table sat a typewriter (which had lain dormant in a cabinet for years), a pencil stub, and an eraser. Someday, perhaps, they would be revived by another Witch, but for now, the score was clear.

    Slowly, the Witch lowered the blade of Red Truth, and it vanished, to be briefly replaced by a golden shield.

    "It is as you say."

    The Golden Truth, rarest of all a Witch's truths. Words spoken in Gold did not need to be true to the letter as the Red Truth was, but had to be honest on a deeper level. As such, it was pointless to quibble with their wording, and only a Witch or Sorcerer who understood a riddle in the very depths of their heart could use this magic.

    In this case, to reject the answer offered would have broken Sphinx's Tenth, for what happened was essentially the same. There was no point in quibbling further.

    The culprit wedged a pencil against the inside door frame on the floor, where it would just barely prevent the door from closing entirely.

    Because of the pencil's position, it was not visible from the outside and was inconspicuous from the inside.

    The culprit hid in the building until after closing, opened the door, stole the ribbon, and removed the pencil, leaving behind a locked room.

    Afterwards, the earthquake left the broken remains of Dudeney on the floor.

    The Human Side has captured three pieces:

    Dudeney, whose vessel was a typewriter.

    Ms. Cox, whose vessel was a pencil.

    Rathvon, whose vessel was an eraser.

    "Well done, good and faithful servants."

    Through its efforts, the Human Side has unlocked this chapter's Banquet.

    Some, but not all, of the veils of metaphor have been stripped from the Witch's tale. Will you join us?

    Banquet of the First Chapter:



    The rain fell, streaking the windows and pooling on the ground outside. The group had set up chairs and flashlights in the foyer while they waited and reread the clues they had, giving the gathering the atmosphere of a camping trip in a moonless forest. Jaime LaSalle had passed around a basket of snacks and now, with the help of a camp stove from his van, had boiled up a pot of water to make tea and coffee. "Strange weather, huh?" said Alicia, chewing on a cucumber sandwich. "Warm one day, soaking rain the next. That's California for you."

    "Heh," chuckled Otto. "Think Ann'd laugh if she could see all this? She did so much to make sure it'd run smoothly without her. And here we are. In the dark, three of us lost."

    "I'm sure they're fine," said Walter Sexton. "That boy doesn't know how to keep still."

    "Hey! Mark's a great kid. Bet he misses Ann as much as any of us," said Batsheva. Margaret's son had spent a lot of time with Ann, before her illness worsened. How had Margaret broken the news to him? "He really believes in the Sapphire Witch, y'know, really believes," Batsheva continued, and then turned to Nat, whom she leaned against in the dark. "Of course I'm sure he believes in you, too. Mmm."

    "I wasn't talking about Mark," muttered Walter. "I meant our Heir Apparent." But either nobody was listening, or Nat wasn't interested in defending L.V.'s maturity.

    Nat blushed a little and said, "It's all a little - well, if the person I was thirty years ago could look at me now, he'd be shocked. Appalled. I'm writing poetry, acting..."

    "But you were very rich. She was, too," said Kenichi. "If you had money, what's the problem? I don't understand why you're leaving us."

    Nat fiddled with his gloves as he considered his answer. He had many reasons, some of which he preferred not to share. "It isn't the same without her. If she decided to give away her title, I don't need mine anymore, do I? I'll play this last game in her memory."

    "That's sweet," said Batsheva. Though some among the staff disagreed, they kept their thoughts to themselves. Ann had given Nat the sealed envelopes containing the puzzles, but she had left the props with Margaret and Lana, two of her oldest friends, with instructions on how to carry out the games. Supposedly, this was so that Nat and L.V. could compete themselves without being accused of cheating.

    Of course, it couldn't be that simple with Nat, could it? He'd tried to pretend that this Epigraph game had been at least partly his decision, to salvage his ego by framing the contest in terms of his 'retirement.' L.V. was almost as bad, in the opposite way; every time Nat tried to downplay Ann's role, L.V. would play it up. Even when Nat wasn't there, when he was inside checking up on the riddle pages, L.V. had been so showy about the keypad lock on the front door. Like Hamlet jumping into Ophelia's grave, thought Samuel.

    Suddenly, sharp footsteps rang through the room. Margaret Ye had returned, pulling Mark behind her. The boy resisted, kicking and throwing a tantrum, tears streaming down his face. "I'm taking Mark home," said Margaret, a little apologetically, "Mark, stop that right now. I'll be back later." She shot Nat a glare as she left, though he couldn't have seen it clearly in the dim light. The front doors swung upon, letting in a blast of cold air, and then Margaret and Mark were gone.

    "It's too bad," said Alicia. "I know Mark was really looking forward to this. Maybe a little too much. I don't think he gets how death works, does he?"

    "Mmm," said Nat, but made no further comment. Where was that damn ring? It'd been right there in his coat pocket. Let's see, he'd left his coat on the stand by the door while he placed the envelopes (and had a little quiet time with Batsheva), and when he'd gotten back, somebody had taken the ring and put an envelope in its place. He'd told the staff to keep an eye out, asking them to be circumspect about who, exactly, had lost the ring. But the others would figure it out sooner or later.

    Damn it! Who could it have been? It would be easy to assume that it was L. V., but that didn't work. He hadn't been inside the building at the time, and the lock on the front door had essentially turned the whole building into a giant safe. As long as the staff hadn't taken the ring, it should have been secure. And that other envelope that had appeared out of nowhere, the one by the trains - where did that come from?

    But the worst thing had been the message that had replaced the ring. It read:

    Tonight, the Sapphire Witch will return to bear away lost souls to El Dorado.

    It is to be hoped that you have behaved yourself in her absence, and have done your part to make this a fair contest.

    You may do what you wish with your legacy...

    But to cheat would be unworthy of hers.

    * * * * * * * * *

    When Bruce Wesser married the Sapphire Witch, he insisted that Matthew Ford be his best man. Matthew was more than happy to, and remained close to both husband and wife. Wesser, for his part, was heartened that his friend and his wife were on such terms, for he knew that neither would betray his trust. Even his son admired the man he called Uncle Matthew.

    When a car accident took Mr. Wesser's life, the Sapphire Witch was heartbroken. Matthew Ford comforted her with kind words, and tried to help her, just as she had helped him when he had been younger. And over the next year, out of that tragedy, a new love grew. Letters and poetry were exchanged, neatly typed with the aid of an old friend. Walks were taken, reminiscences shared, plans made

    And, one warm day in September, over a year after Bruce Wesser had died, Matthew knelt before her on a great staircase and said:

    "Ann, will you marry me?"

    From his shaking hands, the Sapphire Witch took a brilliant ruby ring. Then she produced a box from her own pocket, and offered Matthew Ford her own gift in return, a sapphire ring. Then, she said:

    "Yes. Yes, I will."

    And they made a vow:

    To be as true as the red,

    And as brave as the blue,

    And as inseparable as a question and its answer.

    * * * * * * * * *

    All of these words were spoken in the instant that those blades of Blue Truth struck. Perhaps they were written in advance, on a page that was revealed when the duel was over. Perhaps they were embodied in that blinding flash of blue light. But either way, all was said before Molly Mae made a strike at the heart of the Witch's existence.

    You are not the Sapphire Witch!



    "No!" cried the Witch, trying to dodge this potentially mortal blow. "You can't - not now -"

    Sadistic laughter echoed through the hall. "Well, it looks like this will be over far earlier than I'd expected!" said the Witch of Secrets, emerging from the shadows, scythe in hand. "Accept this failure for what it is."

    The Witch re-drew the sword of Red Truth and tried to hold off the attack. It had been a gamble from the start, presenting the tale in this way in the hope of being truly accepted as the Sapphire Witch.

    "You have no absolute proof of that!"

    "Red Truth ineffective!" declared the Witch of Secrets, brandishing her scythe. "Your own rules make proof impossible! Did you really believe you could fool them with a mask and a riding cape? Ahaha!"

    Even if Molly Mae wished to take the words back, it would be impossible now. The blade of Blue Truth had taken on a life of its own, and was rapidly cutting through the Sapphire Witch's defenses.

    "The duel was already over! The Blue Truth is therefore ineffective!"

    The Witch of Secrets pantomimed deep thought as the Blue Truth circled. "Hmm.... it looks effective to me! This was inevitable from the moment you revealed your story. Be glad the damage is no worse! If I'd been in their place, I would have attacked you far sooner!"

    The Sapphire Witch had been forced into a corner, and was forced into a desperate move, a move that was meant for far later in the game. "I wear the ring of the Red Truth!" Indeed, a brilliant ruby ring glimmered on the Witch's hand!

    The Witch of Secrets swooped in like a vulture to personally smash this Red Truth with a swing of her scythe. "Anybody with a finger can wear a ring! And the woman whom that ring was given to is dead. If I killed you and took your ring, would that make me the Sapphire Witch?!"

    The boy turned to the group. "Um. Do we just let them kill each other?"

  10. (I was in the process of posting when I accidentally lost my post! Given that I'd spent a while revising my plot document, it's getting late. I'll try again tomorrow, as it's getting late. Sorry about the delay!

    The next chapter will not be so puzzle-dense, but will contain multiple duels and will, if you play well, solve a lot of the central mysteries of the game. The third chapter will be the final one.)

  11. (It seems that next time I'm going to have to scramble the seating! Which was always the plan, by the way.)

    The door is a standard hinged door.

    This Blue Truth was accurate, but didn't seem to damage or dislodge the rose at all. "Blue Truth effective! Aha, you grow wiser to the ways of a Witch, after all... but it won't help you now!"

    TheChad proposed a plan of attack, but would anybody take it up? Was it accurate, or merely another misstep? The boy wouldn't use it; he was still fixated on the culprit's psychology for some reason.

    The thief decided to hide in the building and open the door after hours. That way, everybody would think the thief was a staff member, not a visitor!

    A few petals came off the rose. "Blue Truth effective," said the Witch, a little grudgingly.

    Now all that remained was to explain the thief's mode of entry, which the others seemed poised to do.

  12. Finally, the humans had truly learned how to fight - keep the lunges and slashes coming fast, one after another, flanking from both sides. "Ahaha! This is the kind of duel that Witches live for!"

    A series of high swings from rvc113:

    a pencil was inserted between the door and the frame to move up the lock. therefore opening the door.

    "The pencil never touched the lock!"

    if the thief went before in the room and did not steal the ribbon, it's probably 1 of the staff as the guest were not there at the time.

    who is left after the evening lock up: security guards. so my money is on Maria Brand or Sal Lucas

    "The ribbon was not stolen by either security guard!"

    As the attacks came faster and faster, the Witch's ripostes grew frenetic, as she shouted each Red Truth with manic glee. Next came Aziraphael:

    Miss Cox wasn't the only object required to open the door.

    "The culprit only needed to employ Miss Cox to get into the room! Of course, I shall never declare her to be an object in Red!"

    Next, Wilson!

    The study is a written record

    "The study does not represent a written record! It represents a room!"

    Molly Mae!

    The door was opened while the lock was still engaged!

    Touché! A petal fell to the floor.

    "Blue Truth effective!"


    The culprit shimmed the door. He/She pushed a credit card next to the latch and used it to push the latch open without turning the exterior knob or unlocking the door. Earlier, he/she had inserted a piece of Miss Cox into the strike plate to make this easier. (Or would be otherwise impossible? One imagines that a sufficiently long latch would make shimming impossible without some prior preparation.)

    "The door was not shimmed!"

    Molly Mae again!

    Ms Cox is a pencil!

    The strike didn't damage the rose further; this had been essentially confirmed when half of the rose was struck off earlier. "Blue Truth effective!"

    The boy!

    "I don't care how it happened," said the boy. "But I want to know why! If the thief didn't take the ribbon earlier, they must have had a reason for waiting until after the door was locked.

    The thief was trying to avoid being a suspect!"

    A petal came off the rose. "Blue truth effective!"

    Since the Boy had moved, the problem was now open to all. The Witch took a deep breath and prepared for an attack from either side of the table.

  13. (This one's turning out to be much more of a challenge than I thought it would be! To reply to TheChad more properly:)

    "Details of the lock?" said the Witch, gamely. "Very well! I'll supply them in red!"

    The cylinder for the door lock was mounted in the outside handle, where "outside" is the direction leading out of the room where Dudeney was.

    No deadbolt was present.

    For fire safety reasons, the door handle would still turn from the inside even if the door was locked. However, this was not necessary for our culprit's plan!

    The librarian held an ordinary, physical key. Turning that key in the lock would lock or unlock the door.

    Let us go further: nobody picked the lock! This includes pushing an object through a hole in the doorknob in order to unlock it!

    As nobody picked the lock, only using a key in the manner described above counts as "locking the door" or "unlocking the door" for the purpose of the Red Truth. For example, "nailing the door shut" would not count as locking it!

  14. "Something about this really bugs me," said the boy, as he listened to the speculation. "Why would anybody mess around with the door? Couldn't they have just walked in and stolen the ribbon BEFORE the door was locked? Why does it need to look like a perfect locked room?" He thought about what he knew from that night, then swung with all his might...

    "The thief couldn't get into the room until after the librarian locked up for the evening!"

    CRASH. The Witch caught his blade and twisted it to the side, then swiped off his rose.

    "Not only could the thief enter the room before the door was locked... the thief actually did! However, they chose not to steal the ribbon at that time."

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