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



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:


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.


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.


The Witch of Doubt

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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Just a question about Brainden. If I'm on a page and someone posts on that page, do I have to reload to see it?

Usually, there will be a little pop up thing at the top of the screen that tells you someone posted. It will ask if you want to show the new post. I don't think it reloads the page. Just adds the post to the bottom. It does take a little while for the message to pop up though.

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

A series of high swings from rvc113:

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

"The pencil never touched the lock!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next, Wilson!

The study is a written record

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

Molly Mae!

The door was opened while the lock was still engaged!

Touché! A petal fell to the floor.

"Blue Truth effective!"


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

"The door was not shimmed!"

Molly Mae again!

Ms Cox is a pencil!

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

The boy!

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

The thief was trying to avoid being a suspect!"

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

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

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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Ok, next piece of info.

We know that Mrs. Cox is a pencil, a pencil was used in the opening of the door, the door was opened while locked, and that the pencil never touched the lock.

This leads to a couple of possibilities.

Mrs Cox could've been used as a hinge pin, which is unlikely because the hinges are placed on the interior of the door, the opposite side of the locking mechanism.

The more probable situation is that Mrs Cox is a stub of a pencil and was placed in the recess for the latch and prevented the latch from closing properly. This allows the door to be locked (insofar as the handle cannot turn) and still allow the door to be opened. Upon stealing the ribbon the thief simply removes the pencil stub from the latch recess and closes the door behind him/her.

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

The door is a standard hinged door.

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

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

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

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

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

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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This leads to a couple of possibilities.

Mrs Cox could've been used as a hinge pin, which is unlikely because the hinges are placed on the interior of the door, the opposite side of the locking mechanism.

Usually. But not always.

The door was removed from its hinges!

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

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

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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Does that

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

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

Are you counting the Prologue as a chapter?

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

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

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

The door was removed from its hinges!

"The door was never removed from its hinges!"

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



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

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

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

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

"It is as you say."

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Human Side has captured three pieces:

Dudeney, whose vessel was a typewriter.

Ms. Cox, whose vessel was a pencil.

Rathvon, whose vessel was an eraser.

"Well done, good and faithful servants."

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

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

Banquet of the First Chapter:



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But to cheat would be unworthy of hers.

* * * * * * * * *

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

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

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

"Ann, will you marry me?"

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

"Yes. Yes, I will."

And they made a vow:

To be as true as the red,

And as brave as the blue,

And as inseparable as a question and its answer.

* * * * * * * * *

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

You are not the Sapphire Witch!



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

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

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

"You have no absolute proof of that!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When does the next thread start?

Edit: Does the fact we have unlocked the Banquet means that this thread is over?

Edit 2: Wait, no. With the Witch the thread is never over! (dramatic music)

How many personalities do you have anyway? ;)

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

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

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