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

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think maybe this Fairplay cipher ties into/gives an alternative answer to the other puzzle. using turnabout as the key gives Na as the first two letters. maybe each digraph is a chemical name(s) or maybe initials relating to relevant artists of the record singles. this would make it hard to tell if you had the correct key or not. also regarding the records, WOD made a "correction" as to the decade of "Breaking up is hard to do". maybe more of a clue than a correction? A Century of American Songs then might refer to one per decade? and the artist initials or a repeating phrase like na, na, na for each? just thinking out loud and throwing it out for some group think

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Maybe WoD is using "breaking up is hard to do" as a reference to chemical reactions, which involve the breaking up of molecules.

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(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.

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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Posted · Report post

the flip sides of the records. Hey Jude/Revolution.

Can we try playing them?

Seems like we need something else to indicate the keyword.

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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.

"To think of what is hidden, not merely of what is shown, is the mark of a good solver," said the Witch, "But the reverse sides play no role in this answer. "

"I think," whispered Dudeney conspiratorially, "that you ought to look them up and take a few quick notes on each. Consider Neil's recording again, perhaps, or Aretha's."

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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Posted · Report post

Um...

The phrase (11*"Na " + "Hey Jude") repeats 17 times.

I was going off a lyrics website, as I wouldn't want to subject myself to listening to Hey Jude again--(not necessarily a bash on the Beatles...kind of a long story).

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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.

I remember someone mentioning opals when talking about stop codons. Amber is also used when talking about them. Perhaps the next key has something to do with ochre?

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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."

"Ah," said the Witch, "though a slight amount of research may be necessary to dispel this magic, such websites are frequently untrustworthy. For the remainder of this safe lock, I suggest that you ignore lyrics entirely."

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.

"You needn't worry about finding anything in ochre just yet," said the Witch. "But surely this insight will serve you when the Epigraph is found."

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?

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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Using the reverse of Seaton, I find that the playfair cipher gives:

TO KC SF LI NO

So onward to Kansas City, San Fran, Long Island, New Orleans.

EDIT: I kind of figure that one answer will typically favour 55.

Edited by Molly Mae
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Found something!

If you use the word "trivial" as they key, the message decodes to "VA then NJ MI." Maybe the guests should visit these states?

Using the reverse of Seaton, I find that the playfair cipher gives:

TO KC SF LI NO

So onward to Kansas City, San Fran, Long Island, New Orleans.

EDIT: I kind of figure that one answer will typically favour 55.

These are both place names. Connection...?

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Using the reverse of Seaton, I find that the playfair cipher gives:

TO KC SF LI NO

So onward to Kansas City, San Fran, Long Island, New Orleans.

EDIT: I kind of figure that one answer will typically favour 55.

I'm a bit confused, and I think you guys are too smart for me.

Why 55?

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Posted · Report post

@ WoD No, we will never stop thinking!

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Posted · Report post

ghost?

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I'm a bit confused, and I think you guys are too smart for me.

Why 55?

55 is Ford-Seaton

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I want to assume that the youtube links are just for mood/theme, but I kinda wanna confirm. Normally I wouldn't ask for clarification in this thread, but I don't have access to youtube from my typical connection.

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Well, that was complicated.

If you take the artists for all the records, their first letters spell out "Hope brings an answer." Using "hope" as the key for the Playfair cipher gives "eulbdnader," which is "red and blue" backwards.

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Well, that was complicated.
If you take the artists for all the records, their first letters spell out "Hope brings an answer." Using "hope" as the key for the Playfair cipher gives "eulbdnader," which is "red and blue" backwards.

I got very close to this, but where did you get the 's' from 'answer'? I had Dionne Bromfield down for 'Mamma Said'... (also was thrown by Vanessa Carlton doing 'Twighlight' lol) :S

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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?"

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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Good job I was never any good at math!

There would be none, as Vampires die in exposure to direct sunlight, which there would be at Midday!!

;)
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Do vampires even fly?

Edit: Typo.

Edited by Morningstar
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SeaCalMaster: A step too far? Purple isn't the only answer that fits your words...

Play The Rolling Stones' 'Ruby Tuesday', followed by George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue'

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Good job I was never any good at math!

There would be none, as Vampires die in exposure to direct sunlight, which there would be at Midday!!

;)

But I'm not going to assume that midday means that the vampire is in direct sunlight. Further, vampires might sparkle in direct sunlight...

Ugh, who am I kidding?

Here's to hoping you unlocked the safe. =P

Edited by Molly Mae
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But I'm not going to assume that midday means that the vampire is in direct sunlight. Further, vampires might sparkle in direct sunlight...

Ugh, who am I kidding?

Here's to hoping you unlocked the safe. =P

I hold out no such hope on that front, seems altogether too easy an answer, non? In both cases, in retrospect...

We shall see when the WoD sees fit to enlighten us....

In case you are interested:

...that the Twilight approach could apply, but figured it requires rather more specific knowledge than the general lore of vampires.

Although, I appreciate you are probably playing devil's advocate :P

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I hold out no such hope on that front, seems altogether too easy an answer, non? In both cases, in retrospect...

We shall see when the WoD sees fit to enlighten us....

In case you are interested:

...that the Twilight approach could apply, but figured it requires rather more specific knowledge than the general lore of vampires.

Although, I appreciate you are probably playing devil's advocate :P

Yeah, I was. I'm pretty sure you nailed the misdirection.

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Well, that was complicated.

If you take the artists for all the records, their first letters spell out "Hope brings an answer." Using "hope" as the key for the Playfair cipher gives "eulbdnader," which is "red and blue" backwards.

ooh - you're good. nicely done, SCM!

had tried "hope" as a key (and "without hope" and "truth" and "hope and truth" and dozens of others, all admittedly for no real good reason) and did not notice the backwards spelling. again, very nice catch re the artists' first initials. still think this clue might harken back to the first puzzle on this lock. the only connection I can think of between red and blue and chemistry (from the sodium, arrows, and smudges) would be a litmus test but cant see how that could lead to an audible key. and there could again be two totally different routes to the key. *shrug* not much help. maybe will be invited to the table, tho.

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