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WitchOfDoubt

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

Question

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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231 answers to this question

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I say Miss Cox and Rathvon are a pencil!

Which the culprit used to "edit" the locked door.

Edited by plainglazed
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I say Miss Cox and Rathvon are a pencil!

Which the culprit used to "edit" the locked door.

Good call again, Plainglazed!

Now, this is more the direction I'm starting to think in!! Darn you for getting it in print before me though! :P

Miss Cox is a pencil, 'rigid and inflexible' who 'definitely has a point' with Rathvon as her eraser 'rubicund, flexible' and 'cleaning up after his sister's hurried statements'... The pair are inseperable, after all....

Hence the Witch worrying that using them to correct something she'd said would result in their capture.

Edited by Aziraphael
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Four strikes in rapid succession! The Witch spun about, parrying and dodging as the lunges came from all sides:

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?

No humans, animals, or plants of any relevance are hidden in the room! The Witch side cannot go further than that without confirming or denying Miss Cox's nature in red. To confirm or deny the existence of literal magic in red is against the rules.

A strike from Wilson on the other side. Spin, parry left, cut rose:

Ms. Cox is an envelope.

Ms. Cox is not a container of any kind, and did not carry the key in any form.

Jump back, turn and - Ah! where did he come from?!

I say Miss Cox and Rathvon are a pencil!

Which the culprit used to "edit" the locked door.

Miss Cox flickered briefly, as if her true nature were becoming evident.

"Wait... there is no need to strike, erase, or otherwise edit anything I've said in order to understand the truth. The door was literally locked when Dudeney's remains were discovered. The culprit did not edit any text in order to commit the crime."

Then another attack from the same direction, but with a different strategy. Using evidence and quotations, Aziraphael sought to beat away the Witch's defenses.

Miss Cox is a pencil, 'rigid and inflexible' who 'definitely has a point' with Rathvon as her eraser 'rubicund, flexible' and 'cleaning up after his sister's hurried statements'... The pair are inseperable, after all....

Hence the Witch worrying that using them to correct something she'd said would result in their capture.

The Witch's blade lanced out like a snake:

"In this game's rules, it is illegal for two people on the same side of the table to use the Blue Truth in succession!

(Penalty: Aziraphael cannot post in Blue until two others have used the Blue Truth; he may post theories, but the Witch is not obliged to reply to them in red.)

(At the moment, the following players can attack: The boy, Wilson, SeaCalMaster, Thalia, rvc113, TheChad, and any new arrivals to the thread. Of course, they may pursue the line that Aziraphael and Plainglazed suggested a little further. Current table diagram:

tablepuzzle.png

New arrivals can be added.)

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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I'm quite certain that Aziraphael has the correct interpretation of Ms. Cox and Rathvon. I could repeat it; or, I could explore a new line of attack.

The key was not a physical object, but a number, word, or phrase.

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A clever attack. The Witch parried it quickly, but something was off.

The key was not a physical object, but a number, word, or phrase.

The key to the room was an ordinary physical key!

Spurred by this new angle, the boy made an entirely unexpected move.

Some of the keys the Club members found weren't physical keys.

The boy pulled back and reconsidered. If the Blue Truth meant a guess, and the Red Truth meant a fact...

He really did know this for a fact, and even if he wasn't going to trust the others with everything he knew, he could at least admit this. And, hey, even if the Red Truth could only be used by Witches, that technically wasn't a problem for him, was it? Kind of?

"SeaCalMaster's thinking the right way about your story! Some of the keys they found that night weren't physical objects. Oh, and the 'first safe' wasn't a literal safe!"

The Witch, although shocked by the boy's audacity, deflected the move easily, as it wasn't aimed anywhere near the rose.

"Irrelevant to this duel! This mystery is not about a metaphorical key; it is about how Miss Cox helped someone pass through a locked door without a key. And I suggest, young man, that you be wary with that blade. It is a terrible thing to be trapped forever in a Logic Error."

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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I never seem to get the right timing to post in blue. anyway

could we insert a object between the door and the frame to grab the ribbon and push Dudeney down?

my suggestion:

Ms Cox is a brush

Rathvon is a mop

fee free to comment and re-post in blue.

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I'd like to apologise for jumping the gun, I forget who sits my side of the table...

It's worth pointing out to my fellow guests that;

my attempt to ellicit a confession from the Witch was neither confirmed nor denied, we may still need to clarify the nature of Miss Cox and Ravthon further than the simple 'pencil/eraser' guess, although I strongly believe Plainglazed and I are onto something.

Anyone know if you can pick a lock with a pencil? lol :P

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Mark could have been was actually missing prior to the distraction of the earthquake and broke into the room with the help of Ms Cox. She could have drawn drew a key with the assistance of the appropriately named Mark.

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Some thoughts:

Earlier in the thread, we had this: "None of these doors were unlocked until the discovery of Dudeney's remains the next evening." It wasn't in red, but that doesn't mean it could be false, does it?

It could be possible that someone used Ms. Cox (a pencil, surely) to pick the lock, which might not count as "unlocking;" however, that wouldn't explain how the culprit locked the door again.

Thus, we have the culprit entering the room, using a pencil, and without unlocking it. I haven't been able to work out how this might be possible.

Also,

In the interest of keeping things moving, I'll point out that I noticed that, in the first post in this thread, Samuel mentioned a fire alarm. It has yet to be explained.

The fire alarm is somehow related to the ribbon's theft.

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SeaCal always seems to post before me.

Perhaps we should investigate the type of lock on the door.

There are some that require a key to both lock and unlock the door, some require a turn of a deadbolt (which can only be done when the door is closed), and there are some door locks that can be locked and then closed (locks on the handles, like in bathrooms).

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(A lot of you are on the right track, but the actual method seems to elude you. In any case, I confirmed the plausibility of this trick myself.)

rvc113 didn't notice that the boy's attack had restored his rose, and so his truth was not made into a strike in blue. Yet for some reason, the Witch jumped a little on hearing it. Of course, the Witch gave no such reaction to Aziraphael's statement, as the 'pencil and eraser' guess had already taken off half the rose and could do no further damage on its own.

The next attack came from plainglazed:

Mark was actually missing prior to the distraction of the earthquake and broke into the room with the help of Ms Cox. She drew a key with the assistance of the appropriately named Mark.

The person called Mark in this story did not break into the room, nor was it possible to enter the room merely by drawing a picture of a key.

The boy added, "Yeah, and 'Mark' really did run away during the earthquake. That's a dead end."

SeaCalMaster made the next move:

Thus, we have the culprit entering the room, using a pencil, and without unlocking it. I haven't been able to work out how this might be possible.

The Witch overhead those words with concern, but had no trouble with the actual attack:

The fire alarm is somehow related to the ribbon's theft.

The fire alarm went off on the evening of December 31st, the day after the ribbon theft occurred, and served a purpose unrelated to the ribbon theft.

(Edit:

If rvc113's words provoked some defensiveness in the Witch, TheChad's provoked even more.)

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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See, if the lock is like the common bathroom lock, there is a hole in it what an object can be inserted (I usually use a wire coat hanger, but a pencil is a possibility) to 'push out' the locking mechanism and unlock the door. This is to prevent people from locking themselves in the bathroom where accidents can occur.

EDIT: I don't think the key was ever confirmed as a 'key' like we might imagine.

Any object can be considered a 'key' if it opens the lock. We know that it is a material object, but no confirmation that it is traditional key shape.

In my above scenario a pencil could be considered a 'key' for unlocking the door.

Edited by TheChad
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"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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(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!

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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ok I believe this my turn

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

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

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EDIT: Answer removed as I hadn't read the WoD comments above.

I agree with rvc113 for the most part, but i believe we're missing something...

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

Edited by Aziraphael
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"Passing by the newly installed ticket booth, through the foyer, and finally into the study,

the Witch opened a door and was greeted at once by Dudeney, ever the loyal butler."

Just thinking in print, not going out of turn.

The Witch had to go through the study then open a door to get to Dudeney?

The study is a written record/book/file..?

The study is locked up but dudeneys room is open?

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The study is a written record

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The study is a written record

WoD has already classified the nature of the Study (which we have walked into ourselves).It must be a room, it has a door, a handle, a lock, and being as Dudeney is a physical prescence, he couldn't be contained within your suggestion.

However, it does occur that the passage you mention could imply

that Dudeney had been previously stored within a cupboard or storage room, prior to being removed by the Witch for the purposes of writing the events we now read.

This may or may not be important, but is worth bearing in mind.

Edited by Aziraphael
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That we have 2 studies, one stored within the other.

The actual room and information on file (filing cabinet?)

Two thefts. Theft of information copied/removed (by pencil/eraser) from file/study

and later the physical theft of the ribbon from the room.

Am guessing that Librarian did not lock the room door at e.o.day, just the file.

Ribbon was stolen between the time she left and security lockdown.

Information stolen before file locked.

Yeah I know it's like Scoobydoo on acid. I'll be much happier

when someone comes up with the real answer. :)

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That we have 2 studies, one stored within the other.

The actual room and information on file (filing cabinet?)

Two thefts. Theft of information copied/removed (by pencil/eraser) from file/study

and later the physical theft of the ribbon from the room.

Am guessing that Librarian did not lock the room door at e.o.day, just the file.

Ribbon was stolen between the time she left and security lockdown.

Information stolen before file locked.

Yeah I know it's like Scoobydoo on acid. I'll be much happier

when someone comes up with the real answer. :)

Amen to that.

it has been specified though that the door was locked, and had to be unlocked at the point of Dudeney's discovery. The pencil/eraser was used to gain access to the room.

Well, that's certainly how i read it, maybe I'm being too rigid and inflexible myself? :P

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The door was opened while the lock was still engaged!

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While I've thought of a way to open a locked door without unlocking it, I've yet to figure out how Ms. Cox figures into things. Here's a possibility:

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.)

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While I've thought of a way to open a locked door without unlocking it, I've yet to figure out how Ms. Cox figures into things. Here's a possibility:

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.)

If Cox is a pencil, she could be used as a hinge pin. I'm trying to keep my blue statement short in order to get more information. If the Witch can cut down any part of the blue, she will. By limiting what she can cut down, we can find out what holds true. The power of Blue!

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How about someone put in Blue that cox is a pencil?

Have we had any direct confirmation of that?

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