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Everything posted by WitchOfDoubt

  1. (rvc113: This is easily the longest chapter planned because of the nature of this story, but this group is going through it at lightning speed. There's nothing wrong with jumping right in late, anyway!) Two more people arrived to the table, Cavenglok and rvc113, and they were at once seated in the remaining spaces. If more guests arrived, more places could be made. --- The answer to the last of Sexton's tutorial clues finally occurred to Foreman and Ellis, though one of the more difficult early ones, involving "turning white about the temples" and some sort of homophone, remained unsolved. As for the riddles on Foreman's sheet, the guests found reasonable answers for both, though some debate remained about the second. However, if anyone was unsure of the riddle in the safe - and a few highly original theories were devised - the matter was settled as soon as they took a second look at the model railroad. The tracks were glued down to the table, forming a loop that circled a green pyramid, which glittered and flashed with multicolored lights. At several locations, the track abruptly stopped and restarted, leaving a total of eight gaps. If the set were turned on as it was, the train would certainly go off the rails. However, eight boxes sat on the table, and inside of each was a hand-painted diorama of a train station, perfectly sized to fit in one of the gaps. "Wait a sec," said Bill Jackson, picking up an envelope from the table and looking sincerely perplexed. "Where the hell'd this come from? I could've sworn this wasn't there before." Stamped upon it was a seal, a mark of the Sapphire Witch: The paper inside read: Impossible journeys by railway train Shall rattle your reason and baffle your brain. The fourth of the eight hides a secret today; Your traveling companions will show you the way. But how did the letter get there at all? Of the staff, Mrs. Ye was still at the toybox, Lana was near the bookcase, and Samuel had left the room. Another two staff members, Jaime LaSalle and Celia Marquez, had arrived late, but each vouched that the other had nothing to do with the envelope. And none of the guests had gone near the train. Ocean Zweidler considered this carefully, but didn't voice her hunch, instead directing her attention first to the train, and then to the dioramas that would fill the gaps in the track. Each car of the train was labeled in some way. The first showed a single tally mark, the second a pair of tally marks, and the third a triangle. The fourth was decorated with four-leaf clovers, and the fifth with hands. The sixth bore the image on an ant, the seventh a heptagon, and the last a spider. In other words, the cars were numbered, but no amount of searching found any keyhole. The stations seemed more promising. The dioramas depicted, in no particular order: * The Rijksmuseum and, rather stereotypically, windmills. * A charming German town whose coat of arms shows two keys, a lobster, and a bear. * A venerable university town, full of centuries-old libraries and Latin inscriptions. * A bustling city center covered in Japanese signage. * Skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. * Michelangelo's David and the Uffizi Gallery. * Sunbathers and surfers on a beach, with the Santa Monica mountains in the background. * A grand royal palace and the Museo del Prado. "Guess we'd better just put those stations in order," said L. V., "and turn it on!"
  2. Ak4su: Believe me, I've deliberately constructed riddles to have multiple answers. If another answer works as elegantly for this one, I don't know what it is! Shakeepuddn: What was the significance of "strongest fated?" That threw me.
  3. A-ha. I have a better guess now:
  4. Both Aziraphael and the boy cracked Ms. Ellis's riddle almost instantly. While vampires could spread by exponential growth, Batsheva's character suggested a different sort of answer altogether. Noticing that TheChad had offered the exponential answer, however, the Witch beckoned him to the table to sit two seats away from Thalia. (That is to say, five seats away from the boy and one seat from the end of the table with the Witch.) As plainglazed commented on the solution of the safe, he, too, was invited to the table to sit opposite TheChad. "Annabel," said Dudeney, as Aziraphael took the last step, "Now that they've discovered how to open the safe, perhaps we should resume?" Wilson's guess was clever, if a little too dependent on the condition of the records and sleeves. And as for Molly Mae's thought on playing the records backwards... "A fine thought, but no need to play the records backwards. The reversal was not a red herring, but a deliberate complication," said the Witch. "It was conjured by the word 'turnabout', and meant to deter those who guessed at keys without close inspection." Two spaces remained at the table, though more could be made as needed. Perhaps newcomers would arrive to fill them by the time of the Witch's Banquet for this chapter. For now, the Intermission was over. The solutions to the last of Sexton's clues would have to wait. End Chapter 1 Intermission When L. V. saw how closely Nat Foreman and Batsheva Ellis were cooperating on the tutorial clues, an unusual expression passed across his face. For a brief moment, his mellow smile gave way to a frown of suspicion. But the pop of the phonograph coming to life distracted him, and he turned to listen as the first record began to play: Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday. Who could hang a name on you, When you change with every new day? Still, I'm gonna miss you. So fixated was L.V. upon on the safe when "Rhapsody in Blue" began that he didn't see Batsheva wipe a tear from Nat's eye. Ocean saw, but said nothing, mentally counting the number of locks they had gotten past. Then, as soon as the safe clicked, Batsheva hurried over and craned her neck to see what was going on. "Well," said L.V., his voice a little shaky, all exaggerated Malibu mannerisms banished for the moment, "let's see what's inside." "Maybe the ring ended up in there!" said Batsheva. But there was no ring in the safe, only a note and a tiny key. The note read: A great ship of steam hides the lock to this key. (It rides on a ladder, instead of the sea.) "That's... surprisingly easy," said Foreman. He joined the group in investigating the most logical place, certain that a new puzzle would await them there.. Meet the Pieces (Part 8 of Many) Nat Viers Foreman Age: 59 Occupation: Consultant, Poet Born Matthijs van Viers of Amsterdam to a doting mother and a now-estranged father, the man we now know as Nat Foreman came to America to pursue a career in business. Aided by a remarkable gift for languages, he ably traded with speculators around the world in their own tongue. After making a fortune at a young age, he married, became a part-time financial consultant, and devoted his greater efforts to the writing of poetry and the preservation of rare books. Even given these elevated tastes, however, he was not above composing doggerel riddles for the entertainment of the Club. Sample Riddle: There were two riddles on the page: "Held by one, I bring frustration. Shared by two, I bring elation. Shared by three, I bring confusion When not shared, I am illusion." --- "Small mirrors it makes; Big mirrors it shakes."
  5. Shakeepuddn: Well done!
  6. Molly Mae: Excellently reasoned! I will accept this alternate answer. Lottie T: I see your logic, but what about the "second daughter" line?
  7. The Witch mulled over Molly Mae's answer. TO followed by four pairs of letters could be made into a journey for any number of letter pairs, and the Humans had already won an amber using a similar strategy, and two would be far too generous. "Hmm," said the Witch. "No, this answer may be a valiant attempt, but it is not sufficient at this time." That Molly could not hear the music would not be too problematic. Although the title of the last mood piece, "Hope", had been a clue, that was an exception, not the rule. But the presence of 55 in that name, which Molly had aptly spotted, was no coincidence. "Ah, so you see it already! Ahaha!" Noticing Morningstar in the vicinity, the Witch offered a seat next to Molly Mae. "You say you'll never stop thinking? Hmm... we shall see." Then, noting Thalia's progress on the tutorial clues, the Witch gloated, "Indeed! This is a magic that allows a ghost, a spectre, to appear from nowhere! Now, the remaining clues...?" At last, SeaCalMaster approached the cipher answer that the Witch had crafted, and was immediately offered a set between Thalia and Wilson. But Ms. Cox was not satisfied with this answer. "Don't speak to soon!" she said. "The riddle isn't solved until the safe is opened, 'purple' is not part of the answer, and the safe has a microphone lock!" "True, true," said the Witch. "Complicated or not, another step remains to open the safe. Ah, Aziraphael, welcome. Do sit opposite Thalia, if you like. Now, Bromfield covered 'Mamma Said', but the Shirelles - " But before the Witch could finish, the room shook wildly, agitating the plates, silverware, and Dudeney. It was as if the aftershocks of the earthquake in the story even affected this place, or the whim of some fickle machinery were undermining the foundations of its existence. "Is everyone well?" asked the Witch, trying to hide considerable discomposure. Everyone was, though Dudeney was a bit rattled. The Witch readjusted the mask carefully. "It seems this venue is a little unstable. Is it not fortunate that I called an Intermission just before that last tremor?" "If you're saying 'magic' told you this place was gonna start shaking apart," said the boy at the head of the table, "You're totally full of it." He returned to reading a typed page in his hand. --- Meet the Pieces (Part 7 of Many) Batsheva Ellis Age: Not telling Occupation: Painter, Sculptor, Dancer, Acupuncturist Quote: "Does anybody say, 'I'm gonna think inside the box on this one?' Maybe they should! What if you're an ant living inside the cardboard walls of the box, and everything inside and outside those walls is 'outside the box,' because it's not part of the tunnels in the cardboard you've made into a home for your ant family?. So I think the answer is 'an ant.' Why so surprised? What, you thought I was gonna get it wrong?" Background: Born to a Manhattan lawyer and an architect, Batsheva was raised in a family that, on the spectrum of Judaism from Orthodox to Reform, fell somewhere around 'Not Christian.' From these beginnings, she proceeded to go to college, change her major more often than her hat, and graduate with a 4.0 GPA and a "Bachelor's of Something or Other." In spite of her family's fears that she was too unfocused to make a living, she managed to prosper, surmounting countless barriers by ignoring them. Some members of the Club think that she uses a constant stream of surreal patter to help herself think, and that what she says has nothing to do with the brilliant answers that generally follow. Others argue that she communicates her thoughts very clearly, but in the language of her home planet. Sample riddle: Several Club members had gathered around to hear Batsheva Ellis's latest riddle - an easy one, by her admission. "I've got one. Flying takes a lot of energy! Right? It's a big drain of flying animals, like hummingbirds, bumblebees, and vampires." This was entirely par for the course for an Ellis riddle. "So, let's suppose that, in order to fly, a vampire needs to drink one person's blood every hour. And one hour after a person gets drunk from, they turn into a vampire themselves, with the same hourly blood-drinking requirement.' "I don't think," said Kenichi, "that there would be any humans left." "It's a really big city! Anyway, suppose a single vampire goes out hunting at 12 PM. What's the total number you have six hours later?"
  8. Unicorn: Not what I had in mind, but it kind of works. Molly Mae: Not what I had in mind; can you please explain your reasoning?
  9. The Witch noticed Molly Mae standing by the table, bowed, and gestured to the seat opposite Wilson. "Please, sit down. This is the Intermission; you may relax for a moment." Another sound question. The Witch faced Thalia and offered her a seat on the left side of the table, two places away from Wilson's. The boy bit his lip for a moment, then said, "I don't really know what to ask first, but why did you give us fake names? Did someone commit a crime?" ( ) The Witch's sigh was audible even through the gauze of the Venetian mask. "I gave you false names to complete my spell and to protect the innocent. Yes, a great crime was committed. It is part of the reason why you never saw her again. It is part of the reason for the scandal, and your mother's disgrace. It all has to to do with the disappearances." The boy frowned. "What about the ring with the sapphire? Was that really so important?" He took a deep breath, and finally asked the question that had been on his mind for ten years. "Was all of this my fault?" A pang of sorrow pierced the Witch to the core, but there was nothing to do but to continue. If he was simply told, he wouldn't truly understand. "It mattered, but whose fault it was, if anyone's, you shall have to decide for yourself." "And if I ask you where you took them, you're just going to say that they went with you to El Dorado, aren't you?" "The ones I could save, yes." The Witch hated to think of what happened to the others. "Why won't you just tell me?" "I will not tell you," said the Witch, "until you understand. Come. Let us continue." This is truly a game of Witch's Chess. In Witch's Chess, the Witch side loses when it is trapped beyond all escape. The Human side wins when they have solved all of the mysteries, and can only be placed in checkmate if they stop thinking. Will you ever stop thinking? Will you never give up hope of finding an answer?
  10. I feel as if there are enough clues there, but it's not budging. Here is my progress:
  11. The Witch nodded appreciatively at Wilson's use of spoiler space. "Please, do take a seat," said the Witch, and offered Wilson a seat on what, from the perspective of the boy at the head of the table, was the left side.
  12. Thalia: Not quite! I recommend focusing on the last two lines; I am beginning to think that the first was a stretch.
  13. (Note: An early post has been edited for accuracy and clarity. Thank you to plainglazed for the corrections; the Witch regrets these misstatements. ) Though new to cryptic crosswords, Nat Foreman and Batsheva Ellis trounced the tutorial puzzle with ease. Batsheva penciled in and erased answers repeatedly, making all manner of wild connections, while Nat only spoke when certain that his answer checked with both halves of the clue. Ocean glanced over at them with amusement. Nat, the urbane poet, never seemed quite as sure of his words around Batsheva. "ALTARS and ALTERS?" asked Foreman. Batsheva nodded, explaining, "You can ALTER something my marking it, and temples have ALTARS." Nat was chivalrous, but pretending not to see the flaw there would have been an insult, not deference. "A cryptic clue's got to follow Sphinx's Second and Fourth. The answer's got to explain all the key words in the clue. What if we break it up this way?: 'Sounds like Mark / Turned white about the temples (6)'." Batsheva agreed, but shifted her attention to the SPECTRE clue. "Hey! Look, I see it! The spectre really is 'concealed' in there!" The last clue took all of their effort, but Otto gave them a critical insight by suggesting that perhaps the "unknown" was an "algebra unknown." ---- Meanwhile, the cipher solvers were making slow progress. "Fair play?" wondered Ocean aloud. "Like a fair-play whodunnit?" "More likely a cipher," said Walter, though Ocean hadn't meant that as a serious speculation. "The Observer crossword makes good use of these. I haven't the foggiest what Turnabout tells us, but I doubt it's a red herring. Hmm... let's try this key." U.S. state abbreviations? "A-ha!" said Alicia, "I saw a globe in the toy chest. Let's look!" Indeed, three of the U. S. states were concealed buttons, and pushing them in series caused the globe to split open like an orange. In the place of a molten core, it held a smooth stone of amber, which glinted beautifully and would surely be useful later. But this was not the way to open the safe, for there was another key. "It could be the chemistry again," said Ocean. "Or the record collection. Are they only there to hide the correct answers, or is there more to them?" How many of the records were just red herrings, useless for solving any puzzle? Or were they all important somehow? "I'm saying the records. And look, I don't think the key's gonna just be some random word," said L.V., idly rubbing his fingers together. "I bet when we solve the clues, it'll be totally obvious." --- Chapter 1 Intermission (As the night goes on, the Witch's waxes in power. Will you accept a gift of ) "You didn't really mean for that to happen, did you?" It was Miss Cox who spoke, a truly rigid and inflexible servant of the Witch. But she definitely had a point. "You never expected that answer! You couldn't have... could you?" "Who knows? After all, many of these riddles were forged with two or more answers in mind!" The Witch laughed, then airily waved at Miss Cox's garishly colored attire, "You ought to loosen your collar a little." "I'm sorry, but letting a wrong answer pass is wrong. Let's just strike that out and -- " Before the argument could escalate, another Animate stepped in. "It'll be fine," said Rathvon. Short and rubicund, and as flexible as Miss Cox was rigid, Rathvon frequently had to clean up after his sister's mistakes when she spoke a little too quickly, which was often. "Try to see things from our Witch's position, sis. It's not a wrong answer. It fits the clues and decodes neatly. It was an unexpected move, that's all." The Witch nodded, and by illustration, made a chessboard diagram appear, with the pieces arranged in a pattern that couldn't possibly have been achieved in any real chess game. As they watched, black moved a pawn out of the way, revealing an unexpected attack from a bishop. The white king was being threatened. The Witch tapped on the figure to emphasize the threat. "You see? The Witch side must respond. We are in check. We cannot afford to ignore this. What if they invoke the Sphinx's Tenth? If any player's answer neatly fits every single clue of a riddle without breaking these rules, it is a correct answer. No, we must acknowledge the answer, yet preserve our position." Someone stirred at the head of the table. "Yeah. Great move," said the guest, a boy of eighteen. "But if I give a wrong answer, I want to know. Don't talk down to me." The Witch spoke slowly. "Is that really all you care about? A single right answer?" Even though a mask hid the Witch's face, sadness pervaded these words. "I care about the truth," said the boy, firmly. "Well, then," said the Witch. "I shall duly consider your questions, though I reserve the right not to reveal any answers that could threaten my existence. And some truths may need to wait until this chapter's Banquet, of course..." Was this an offer in good faith, or a taunt? There was only one way to tell. "Go ahead. Ask your questions. And not just you, young man." Silence, and more silence. The Witch paused as if in deliberation, but more likely for dramatic effect, and then turned...     very,        very,           slowly...                ...and faced you.
  14. Not quite, but good tries.
  15. Born of the earth,  Esteemed second daughter, My belly of fire  Was pierced by the water.
  16. That one was tough. Nice solve, Itachi-san.
  17. (Correction to above post: "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" is 1960's pop, not 1950's pop. Oops.) (Thalia: As it happens, "Na, na na, na na na na, na na na na, Hey Jude" is repeated 17 times, with an extra half or so left over. That this gives us NaCl is a cool coincidence, but nothing more than that.) (Everyone: I apologize if some of these puzzles have a 'filler-y' quality to them, but I'm focusing on establishing themes, teaching some rules/methods of solving, introducing characters, and keeping the game moving while I prepare for a few key later puzzles, including the nightmare of puzzle writing that is the Epigraph itself.)
  18. Both Professor Rinaldi and Dr. Tressler's puzzles were resolved nearly as soon as they were read off of their respective pages. However, while the guests were retrieving the records from the box, two more slips of paper fluttered out - introductions to Walter Sexton and Batsheva Ellis. "Why," wondered Ocean aloud, "do these pages refer to us as 'pieces?' Pieces of a puzzle, perhaps? Or chess pieces?" But no answer was forthcoming. As she said this, Ms. Ellis had already hit on one of the songs that the safe was referring to. It was one of her favorites, reassuring and life-affirming. Nat Foreman, an actor and poet, found the other, revealing a hitherto unsuspected knowledge of 50's pop that Batsheva would probably tease him about for years. All in all, the lock was almost too easy. Were all of the other records truly red herrings? But when they played both records on the phonograph in succession, the safe door didn't budge. Instead, the microphone in the door crackled to life. "A Century of American Music," it intoned, in a sexless voice filtered to a state of unrecognizability. Hurrying over to the bookshelf, Ms. Ellis pulled down the volume in question and paged through it rapidly until an index card fell out. The card read: Turnabout is fairplay? AT IF BS PG OT (5 x 5, no Q) Hardly an original cipher! This would be trivial for a group so skilled in cryptography. ---- Meet the Pieces (Part 6 of Many) Walter Sexton Age: 54 Profession: Patent Attorney Quote: "I never said that young people are dense as a rule. Some of the brightest minds I know are young! But the bright young people are all silly, and the sensible ones are all dense. Youth, intelligence, good sense - choose two." Background: Raised in Oxford, sole son of a Latin professor and a nurse, Walter Sexton always seemed older than he really was. As he matured from a dour and cynical child to a moody teenager, his parents prophesied that he should be an old man by the age of twenty. This was true, in a sense. But with his keen mind for precedent and legal argument, he found a career in patent law that gave even him little cause for complaint. As the years went by and he had a little more time for his own pursuits, he mastered the construction of crosswords in the cryptic British tradition. Ever traditional in his tastes, a lover of illuminated manuscripts and fishtail lamps, Sexton is unlikely to be amused by the strange and wild turns that this story shall soon take. Sample Puzzle: While reading in the Club, Sexton was asked to construct a tutorial for new Club members on how these puzzles worked. With a show of grouchy reluctance, he set to work. "We begin with the types of clues," he wrote. "The most common type of clue consists of an answer expressed two ways. In the beginning or the end of the clue, the answer is defined. In the remainder, the answer is expressed through wordplay. The number of letters in the answer will usually be given in parentheses... Tutorial: Learning these tricks would soon prove critical.
  19. (You're knocking these down as quickly as I can put them up! Thank goodness I made some of these in advance!) Before the opening of the safe: "That's all it says," said Dr. Rinaldi, shrugging expressively. "MRS YE, STOP." It was then that Batsheva Ellis swept in, in a flurry of bangles and flora. "Ooh! Wait, wait! Say that out loud again." Rinaldi complied. Ms. Ellis's idea seemed sound enough. L. V. watched, feigning incomprehension, as Ms. Ellis affected a campy drag queen voice, pointed to an item in the toy chest, and said to Mrs. Ye, "Lemme borrow that top!" "Excuse me?" asked Margaret. She'd always found Batsheva a bit exasperating. "That's a cute top! I wanna borrow it! Let me -" Ms. Ellis stopped, seeing that her efforts at lightening the mood were falling flat, and said, "It's a YouTube thing." Mrs. Ye handed the top over. It was decorated with multicolored dots, but the part that immediately drew Ms. Ellis's attention was the handle. It unscrewed from the disc easily, coming out together with a metal cylinder that fit neatly into the cabinet's lock. The doors swung open to reveal this room's first safe, which bore a maze and compass lock. "It must be electronic," said Kenichi, noting the lack of notches on the key. "It has a chip inside the handle to signal the door." One lock down, thought Batsheva, five to go! The safe posed little challenge for the guests, and they opened it in no time. ----------- (The second half of the page found in the safe:) With a last careful click, Walter Sexton, one of the Club's more traditional puzzle solvers, spun the compass dial to the last position - E. "Rather like solving a crossword," he remarked. "Fill in the missing letters to find the 'answer.'" As he spoke, the safe swung open, revealing yet another safe inside it - a safe within a safe. On that safe was taped a piece of paper - the very piece of paper you are reading right now - and on that piece of paper were two stories. The second story told how Walter opened the safe, but the first was an outrageous lie. According to the top half of the page, L. V. had opened the safe using one of his mother's names, a piece of information that would have been entirely inaccessible to anyone else! How absurd... but was it a clue of some kind? This was the second time that they had found two parallel stories inside a safe, and each time, L. V. had been the victor in the alternate story. "I imagine that whoever wrote these riddles thinks a great deal of you, Mr. Ford-Seaton," said Walter, drily. --- Regardless of who actually opened the compass lock, the safe inside was entirely different from any they had seen before. Behind the paper bearing the two stories was a second taped note and a microphone speaker. Some of the text on the note was blurred, but the following could be made out: "Maybe we ought to look at the records again," suggested Ocean. The group gathered around the box of records as Samuel wheeled a phonograph into the room. The singles in the box were, from front to back: * "Kaze wo Atsumete" * "I've Got Dreams to Remember" * "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" * "Suspicious Minds" * "Hey Jude" * "Amor, No Gracias" * "People Get Ready" * "There Are Bad Times Just around the Corner" * "Rhapsody in Blue" * "Superstition" * *Respect" * "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" * "Take on Me" * "The Riddle" * "Mamma Said" * "Here I Go Again" * "Twilight" * "Ruby Tuesday" The guests pooled their musical knowledge and considered the problem carefully. (Batsheva and Walter's 'Meet the Pieces' segments will be posted later.)
  20. (Molly Mae: I recommend trying the free demo first; the style of the game really isn't for everyone, but it's worth looking into. That said, the real plot doesn't kick into gear until after the first episode, so...) Suddenly, as the guests were searching the toy chest, the ground began to shake violently. "Earthquake!" shouted Mark, more excited than afraid. As a child of Los Angeles, he'd lived through a few of these. A few guests from farther afield were startled, but there was barely any time to panic, as the shaking ended within seconds. A toy boxcar fell off of the table with the model railroad set, crashing violently on the ground, but was miraculously undamaged, and a few books fell from the top of the bookcase. As everyone gathered their wits, Alicia Tressler, the only medical doctor among the guests, quickly checked everyone for injuries. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but as she was helping Mrs. Ye to her feet, she saw something glinting in the toy chest. One of the jewels set into a costume crown, a cheap plastic trinket, was not an imitation at all, but a real opal. It came loose with a click, revealing that its underside bore the inscribed symbol of a chess knight. "My God," said Alicia. "Look at it shine!" But attempts to use the opal on the lock were fruitless. Even though the opal would prove useful later on, the sequence also referred to something entirely different in the toy chest. Meet the Pieces (Part 5 of Many) Alicia Tressler Age: 43 Profession: Doctor Quote: "Well, differential diagnosis is a little like solving a puzzle or being a detective. You have to work it all out by elimination and follow all the clues. But you don't get to screw around until you're sure of your answer. The germs don't wait!" Background: Born in Madrid, Spain, to a British diplomat and a local teacher, Alicia Tressler loved medical news and strange tropical diseases from childhood on. With the same verve that made her the queen of the youth soccer field, she chased a career in medicine. Now that she's well-established as a practicing physician, she enjoys medical mysteries, the piano, and poetry in the Romance languages. Random fact: She once drove a van decorated to look like a giant mouse for 500 miles. Sample puzzle: It was Puzzle Career Night, when guests at the Club brought in challenges that were relevant to their jobs or fields of expertise. Dr. Tressler had a particularly cogent example. "Let's do some epidemiology," she said to the assembled guests. "Here's the story. First-year students in Layton House at Gressenheller University room together in pairs. During the first three weeks at the university, however, they rotate between rooms, switching roommates every week. Unfortunately for them, one of the new arrivals carried the Blah virus. Luckily, a student with early symptoms was diagnosed and they were all tested and treated. But who was Patient Zero, the person who first brought the virus to Layton House? Here's a schedule showing which students were rooming together during each rotation, and what their test results were. We'll refer to them by number to keep them anonymous:" "Now, some rules! One: The virus only passes between students who are currently rooming together. However, between two roommates, its transmission rate is 100%. Two: Everyone who tested positive had the virus, and everybody who tested negative was uninfected. Three: Students 12, 13, and 14 all arrived a few weeks early to campus, and could not have been patient zero. Who was patient zero?" (Note: The rough format of this puzzle was borrowed from a biology class, but the scenario is mine. Reference available upon request.)
  21. (Ordinarily, I would NEVER promote my own thread in somebody else's, but, well, I found your puzzle's answer.) In the distance, maniacal laughter rings out. An invitation, engraved with an emblem of red and blue roses intertwined in a double helix, falls from the sky. It reads: The Sapphire Witch invites you to test your mettle. If you truly persist in the hope that a riddle must have one best answer, only one answer that sees the true heart of a riddle, I challenge you to find this answer! If you truly believe that an answer must use all of the clues, I challenge you to use them all, every last one!
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