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

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

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

The story so far...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without hope, the truth cannot be found.

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

Introduction:

Suspect #1, Ocean:

Suspect #2, L.V.: )

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

Chapter 1: The Room of Six Locks

or, The Courtship of the Sapphire Witch

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

arrowmaze.png

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

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

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

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

Signed,

The Witch of Doubt

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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Posted · Report post

got this as well from previous post :

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?

therefore Dudeney is not a person but a statue, or a Armor, or a vase?

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Posted · Report post

Not a guess, but something I think we should be considering: How was Dudeney killed? We haven't found a weapon or anything.

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(plainglazed: Which riddle in that post is problematic? The image's riddle was solved entirely, and the hidden message in the records was found.)

As soon as plainglazed formed an elegant Blue Truth and attacked, Thalia and SeaCalMaster's roses reformed. But this attack was met almost casually, with a backhand parry-riposte that tapped the blade aside and knocked the rose off his shoulder:

Perhaps the unlocking of the pedestal within the Ufizzi station and the subsequent mashing of the button within is tied to the unlocking of the library? the sound of tile sliding on tile is connected to the death of Dudeney? The earthquake is not an earthquake at all? But the rain storm is most definitely that?

The button had no effect upon the library, the sound of sliding tile did not come from the library, and there truly was an earthquake!

After Thalia's devastating attack, the Sapphire Witch would give the humans no quarter. Focusing on the weakest point of Wilson's Blue Truth seemed best:

Dudeney was alone in the Study when he was injured and died.

He had removed the ribbon himself for use in some way within the room.

Dudeney did not remove the ribbon.

rvc113 couldn't strike, but theorized openly in the hope of giving someone an advantage. And indeed, the boy at the head of the table heard the references to earlier posts.

"What if the answer we need is somewhere hidden in the other pages?" said the boy. He drew a sword of Blue Truth and advanced forward carefully:

This is a totally fair riddle. All the clues we need are in this chapter, and you didn't hide any from us.

This attack wasn't even aimed directly at the mystery, but the Witch instinctively parried and knocked off the boy's rose before seeing the trap.

There are clues you may require in one place in the Prologue, but that place has been indicated more than once in this Chapter. If you find it, its relevance is obvious.

The roses on the other guests reappeared, but the boy continued, this time with a different strategy.

"Sphinx's Second: Any fair riddle must contain the information needed to solve it!" said the boy. "Some people who just got here wouldn't have seen those clues, and maybe they didn't click on those links!"

"Ha!" said the Witch. "I have done what I must to fulfill the demands of fairness. Why don't you share? Do you not trust these strangers with our secrets?"

The boy ignored the last question and addressed the other guests "If any of you know what the Witch is talking about, somebody ought to share it. It must have something to do with either the study or Dudeney."

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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A desperate parry! "Sphinx's First! Sphinx's Second! A riddle must contain the information needed to solve it, and cannot require specialized knowledge! Where in these pages could you possibly have learned of Dudeney's traits as an Animate?"

Are you actually asking or is that just part of the story? I was just thinking about the stuff in the post you linked me to. :duh: I do need to reread that decalogue though. Can someone explain to me what exactly it was that Molly found in the decalogue earlier?

Edited by Thalia
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Hmm...

There's only one place in the prologue that references either Dudeney or the study:

There are two things that stand out to me here. First, Dudeney was still in the study. Perhaps he's unable to leave?

Second, the following two quotations are related: "Alas! Nobody has fed me for years. Still, it is to be, as you say, expected," and "I shan't complain if I'm given few opportunities to serve." Why? Does Dudeney need to eat in order to serve?

Dudeney is an immobile robot. He runs on quarters (this is how he "eats"). The earthquake knocked him over, and he broke when he fell.

The only thing this wouldn't explain is who took the ribbon, and how.

Edit: This is wrong. I've figured it out. I'll wait a bit before posting, though.

Edited by SeaCalMaster
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I reread the section about the words in the decalogue and it says that it may come in handy later. I'm having trouble figuring out which words in the decalogue the answer came from though. It might be irrelevant but I'd like to know anyway. So if someone can explain that to me. . .

Edited by Thalia
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(

Are you actually asking or is that just part of the story?

Yes!

I was just thinking about the stuff in the post you linked me to. :duh:

Hmm.

The boy ignored the last question and addressed the other guests. "If any of you know what the Witch is talking about, somebody ought to share it. It must have something to do with either the study or Dudeney."

Can someone explain to me what exactly it was that Molly found in the decalogue earlier?

Two words forming an incomplete sentence. Given that information, and the fact that one letter is hidden in each line in a fairly straightforward way (not as straightforward as 'first letter in each line', but close), you should be able to have the pleasure of discovering the answer yourself.)

The Human Side was getting perilously close. SeaCalMaster made another slash, but didn't follow through, as if he realized midway into the movement that he would miss:

Dudeney is an immobile robot. He runs on quarters (this is how he "eats"). The earthquake knocked him over, and he broke when he fell.

As a consequence, the Witch parried and knocked his rose off with little effort:

"How absurd! Dudeney does not eat quarters!"

To recover the roses of the other players, and in other to stay in the game, the boy made a quick sally using one of rvc113's ideas:

"Dudeney was a statue."

The Witch countered this as easily as swatting a fly:

"Dudeney was not a statue, nor a figurine, nor any other sculpture!"

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How about this? (Wild stab in the dark, perhaps)

Dudeney is a typewriter? He gets fed by stories? The ribbon is his ink-ribbon, perhaps. Is this why only red and blue must be present? The possibility of black text has been removed from the story? The Earthquake could have knocked him from the desk...[/blue]

Edited by Aziraphael
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I'm a bit confused about the "Witch" the boy keeps talking about. Your posts and image have the Sapphire Witch and the boy sitting together at the table yet the boy and some of the posts keep talking about the "Witch" like she's not there. "The Witch is going to take us away" ". . . at the prospect of the Witch's ressurection" or something like that. Are the "Witch" and the Sapphire Witch different people?

Insofar as i see it, the boy at 18 is clearly the boy from 'our' timeline, but 10 years later. I am guessing that the events being described to us currently are the ones he questions his involvement in with the Witch during the mentioned discourse between the two of them.

Clearly whatever the outcome of our riddle-solving and progression through the story, he doesn't understand it, and this story is the Witch's way of trying to illuminate him.

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How about this? (Wild stab in the dark, perhaps)

Dudeney is a typewriter? He gets fed by stories? The ribbon is his ink-ribbon, perhaps. Is this why only red and blue must be present? The possibility of black text has been removed from the story? The Earthquake could have knocked him from the desk...[/blue]

Yep, that's what I had.

1. Why would a butler be taking dictation? That's not something butlers normally do. A Butler typewriter, on the other hand...

2. Unless the Witch is keeping something from us, the aforementioned scene is the first instance in which Lana, Ocean, and LV have seen Dudeney. There's no way that Ocean would have known that Dudeney usually wore a ribbon, unless Dudeney were some entity that usually has one.

And, of course, Dudeney eats paper.

Of course, we still don't know who took the ribbon or why.

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If that was a "wild stab in the dark," Aziraphael was a true blind fencer.

(

)

Dudeney is a typewriter?

"Ah!" cried the Witch, as the swipe took off most of the rose's remaining petals. "When you make a move like that, use an exclamation point!"

Dudeney was one of the Witch's first Animates, imbued with human personality and character by the power of magic. Old-fashioned, perhaps, but he would always have a place in Annabel's heart. "As well as could be expected!" said the Witch. "And yourself?"

"Alas! Nobody has fed me for years. Still, it is to be, as you say, expected," replied Dudeney. Though the portly, squat little fellow still bore himself with dignity, his outer vestments showed signs of neglect. The black ribbon he wore was faded and worn, and half of the buttons at his breast had their sigils worn off. "In the year 2021, it is a miracle that I even exist at all. I shan't complain if I'm given few opportunities to serve. My joints are creaky with age."

"Ha! Rejoice, old friend!" said the Witch, laughing. "Tonight, you shall have a banquet, for our mystery is being re-opened! Come, let us begin - just like old times. You can take down my dictation while you eat."

And so the butler feasted through the night with a clashing of teeth and clattering of utensils.

The Witch parried as best as could be managed, but multiple humans had already begun to close in.

* Morningstar had sealed the window.

* SeaCalMaster had forced the admission that no human culprit was hiding in the room, and was preparing for a final strike himself.

* The boy kept attacking and attacking, handing control back to the rest of the Humans.

* Thalia had drawn first blood by refocusing the attack on Dudeney.

* Wilson had realized that Dudeney was alone at the time... his Blue Truth was only deflected by focusing on the ribbon.

* Plainglazed had eliminated the chance that the button-press had caused the accident.

* And rvc113 had suggested earthquake breakage of a statue or vase.

Even so, there was still a way to parry Aziraphael...

"The narration claimed that Dudeney ate! What does a typewriter eat?"

He gets fed by stories?

Stories, or paper - either way, another petal fell.

Blades clashed and clashed again.

"The ribbon! The narration mentioned a ribbon! How can you explain that?" shouted the Witch. "And stop using question marks, damn it!"

The ribbon is his ink-ribbon, perhaps.

Another effective Blue Truth, even if the final word was a hedge. "Perhaps?!" sneered the Witch. "Perhaps?! Then tell me this... tell me this... The door was locked! The window was locked! And yet Dudeney's remains were there, on the floor! Explain!"

The Earthquake could have knocked him from the desk...

The Witch had no counter. The red blade vanished. Was this truly how Dudeney would be captured? With a Blue Truth ending in an ellipsis?

"Annabel," said Dudeney, gently, "I waited for a long time, and you came back. That is enough. Let me return to my old self."

But Miss Cox would not hear of such defeatism. "Unacceptable! There is still a move the Witch side can make. Let's go!"

Could it be...? The Sapphire Witch stared. To make this move would put not only Miss Cox at risk of capture, but also Rathvon, her constant companion! And the Humans would be wiser to the tricks now.

"I don't like dealing with things that can't be taken back," said Rathvon, "but I'm with her to the end. As Sis says... let's go."

(

)

Slowly, the Witch drew the blade of Red Truth again, and laughed a chilling laugh that rose to the rafters.

The room darkened. Thunder rang out. Wind chimes jingled. In the distance, a wolf howled.

"Ahaha!

Ahahahahaha!

This chapter contained over a dozen puzzles, some with multiple solutions. You never even found the second route for the train!

At the end of such an involved chapter, did you truly think the 'boss fight' would be settled easily?

Let me show you what happened when the librarian locked up that night. Then you can tell me this: how did that ribbon disappear?"

The petals of the Witch's rose began to regrow, one by one! It was no longer as full as it once was, but there was surely something there.

"Dudeney, reconstruct the scene!"

(To be concluded...)

(Well done, everybody! I hope this has been as fun on your end as it's been on mine!

I'll be posting the final stage of the Duel tomorrow evening, most likely. In the meantime, feel free to search for the second solution to the train puzzle. Of course, it uses the same clues. However, in this answer, the order of stations does not depend on the order in which the "pieces" were introduced.)

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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Awesome! Cracking job, guys! thumbsup.gif

Thalia:

The words in the decalogue can be found using the built-in clue of each having it's own number.

(to my knowledge, the Ten Commandments were never numbered, there were just ten of them - this was my clue)

SeaCalMaster:

Yep, that's what I had.
1. Why would a butler be taking dictation? That's not something butlers normally do. A Butler typewriter, on the other hand... 2. Unless the Witch is keeping something from us, the aforementioned scene is the first instance in which Lana, Ocean, and LV have seen Dudeney. There's no way that Ocean would have known that Dudeney usually wore a ribbon, unless Dudeney were some entity that usually has one. And, of course, Dudeney eats paper.
Of course, we still don't know who took the ribbon or why.

[blue]I guess the librarian took the ribbon out to replace it with a new one, and simply locked up and went home.

There's no mention of the librarian being shocked at the ribbon's absence, only Ocean...[/blue]

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Incidentally, something I picked up on earlier:

Henry Ravthon is a puzzle writer who specializes in crosswords...

curiouser and curiouser...

Emily Cox is Henry Ravthon's puzzle writing partner...

Edited by Aziraphael
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WoD; I doff my cap at your dedication to multi-layering this whole experience! *bows*

Henry Dudeney was a mathematical puzzler, who also went by the name of Sphinx...

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Whoa, lots of posts at once!

@ WoD When this thread is finished, can you post a link to the next one because a lot of people didn't know there was another thread.

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Thalia:

The words in the decalogue can be found using the built-in clue of each having it's own number.

(to my knowledge, the Ten Commandments were never numbered, there were just ten of them - this was my clue)

WoD said taking out letters in each one right? I understand what the 10 letters are but can only find where a couple of them are coming from. Are these common words or should I pull out the dictionary? Unless I misread the part about taking out a letter. . .

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Hmm... what if we arrange the dioramas like this:

Konichi Nakamura - Chiba

Ocean Zweidler - Bernkastel-Kues

Alicia Tressler - Madrid

Nat Viers Foreman - Amsterdam

L. V. Ford-Seaton - Los Angeles

Walter Sexton - Oxford

Batsheva Ellis - Manhattan

Otto Rinaldi - Florence

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(Morningstar: Will do.)

(Thalia: What I meant was that you need to assemble the answer one letter at a time, using one letter in each line. They are common words.)

---

Perhaps the Witch spoke too soon, for SeaCalMaster had unveiled the second answer to the train puzzle.

Konichi Nakamura - Chiba

Ocean Zweidler - Bernkastel-Kues

Alicia Tressler - Madrid

Nat Viers Foreman - Amsterdam

L. V. Ford-Seaton - Los Angeles

Walter Sexton - Oxford

Batsheva Ellis - Manhattan

Otto Rinaldi - Florence

The trick was realizing that the aliases given to the characters all played into a numbering scheme:

1 in Japanese.

2 in German.

3 in Spanish.

4 in Dutch (and English).

5 in Roman Numerals. (Also, 55).

6 in Latin.

7 in Hebrew.

8 in Italian.

The trains, too, were a hint - the double clovers on the fourth train hinted that the number "4" could be found twice in one name, and the pair of hands on the fifth train hinted at L. V.'s "55." As soon as the duel was over, the results of this answer would be known.

Undeterred by this coup, Dudeney reconstructed the locking of the study.

Locking up for the Night

In order to save the security guards a trip, the librarian always made the last check of Dudeney's room, along with the other rooms nearby. Last evening was no different. One by one, she went to the rooms, locking and shutting the doors. None of these doors were unlocked until the discovery of Dudeney's remains the next evening. No human was inside any of these rooms when she locked up, and all of the Red Truth from before still applies.

One more thing: When the librarian locked the door, the ribbon was still there!

Of course, this can be explained with magic. The culprit summoned Ms. Cox to act as an accomplice. With her magic, even a mere human could walk through locked doors!

Can the Human Side explain this sorcery? We shall see!


The boy took the first strike. "Ms. Cox is a spare key!"

The Witch countered easily, taking off the blue rose. "Didn't I tell you already? There were other keys to that room besides the one the librarian used, but none of them were involved in this mystery!"

Which of the humans would strike next?

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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((Thalia: What I meant was that you need to assemble the answer one letter at a time, using one letter in each line. They are common words.)

So if I understood Molly, the letters spell "answers are"

A 1 fair-fir

W 3 what-hat

A 6 road-rod

N 7 spoken-spoke

E 10 every-very

S 2,4 clues-clue

Is that what you are getting at? Still looking for two Rs and an E.

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(Wow! I see the misunderstanding. But it's nowhere near as complicated as all that. It's a close relative of the "first letter of each line" school of hidden text.)

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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:duh: Aziraphael's comment just hit me over the head. *Deletes sticky notes and a couple of files*
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Here's a guess

The disappearing ink ribbon has to do with water and the rain storm.

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Aziraphael struck hastily, even before the scene was fully reconstructed:

I guess the librarian took the ribbon out to replace it with a new one, and simply locked up and went home.

There's no mention of the librarian being shocked at the ribbon's absence, only Ocean...

The Witch took a clean swipe and removed his rose:

The librarian is not the one who removed the ribbon, nor was it removed because it had run out.

TheChad tried a different approach, an outside-the-box attack that would either corner the Witch or eliminate an environmental factor. Either way, it would improve their position:

The disappearing ink ribbon has to do with water and the rain storm.

The Witch parried and took his rose:

The ribbon was gone well before the storm. Its disappearance is related neither to the storm nor the earthquake!

Finally, the boy swung to return both sides of the table to the game:

"What happened to Dudeney wasn't really murder, right? Maybe that's why that other Witch could twist things and say 'Dudeney wasn't killed as a result of being an Animate.' So maybe this isn't really a theft, either!"

His rose came off in a hum of Red, and all the other roses returned.

"This was a real theft," declared the Sapphire Witch. "The ribbon was actually stolen!"

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[blue]It has been repeatedly stated that 'no human being hid in the room'. This prompts me to ask if the emphasis here is to indicate that no living beings are hidden in the room, or simply that no human is hidden there?.[/blue]

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Ms. Cox is an envelope.

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