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The Witch's Epigraph, Chapter Two: The Helix and the Rose

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

The difficulty of this chapter is Reasonably Solvable. Would you care to guess?

The story so far...

In 2011, eight members of an exclusive riddle club competed for a great prize. However, misfortune after misfortune struck the group: allegations of cheating were made, an earthquake and a storm struck, a valuable ring was stolen, and a trusted servant came to an untimely end. To complicate matters, the events of that night have been cloaked in a mantle of silence, leaving behind only mysteries and a set of typed pages of uncertain accuracy.

Ten years later, in 2021, a boy met with an enigmatic Witch to try to discover the truth of that night. At this gathering, he and a group of humans fought a series of duels to dispel the Witch's illusions. However, when the first duel ended, the boy unexpectedly defected to the Witch's side, leaving the players seemingly alone to face the bizarre mystery.

A Note for New Players:

I'm trying to keep this game relatively open for new players, so the first several puzzles can be solved without even glancing at the earlier threads. Later, I will generally link to prior posts in some form when they’re necessary to solve a puzzle. That said, the new thread will include spoilers for the earlier ones.

If you don't want to fish through all the earlier posts, here are a few tips:

* The narration is not literally reliable. Some scenes are exaggerations, and others are metaphorical. However, statements in red are true.

* There are two layers to this story, at the very least. We are reading sheets of paper describing supposed events of 2011. We are also attending a Witch's Banquet devoted to grappling with the mysteries raised by those sheets of paper.

Synopsis/Key Post Index:

The index/synopsis below might help you catch up with the plot. Since you probably don't want to go fishing through 26 pages on two threads, here are links to all of the posts with major plot/character details. All character intros include a puzzle.

Prologue:

page__view__findpost__p__312523

page__view__findpost__p__313047

page__view__findpost__p__313189

Chapter One:

page__view__findpost__p__313270

page__view__findpost__p__313525

page__view__findpost__p__313684

page__view__findpost__p__313797

page__view__findpost__p__313905

page__view__findpost__p__314036

page__view__findpost__p__314074

page__view__findpost__p__314104

page__view__findpost__p__314188

page__view__findpost__p__314283

page__view__findpost__p__314333

page__view__findpost__p__314369

page__view__findpost__p__314380

page__view__findpost__p__314391

page__view__findpost__p__314432

page__view__findpost__p__314476

page__view__findpost__p__314835

page__view__findpost__p__314920

epig2.jpg

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Posted · Report post

Maybe runes? Something like bad family relations, treacherous, icy. CONNECTIONS?

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Wait, can someone explain what we're doing now?

I'm not following what's going on here.

We are trying to match the symbols on the first page to the witches. Molly Mae seems to think it's important.

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We are trying to match the symbols on the first page to the witches. Molly Mae seems to think it's important.

Too many posts; what have we so far?

Edited by Aaryan
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Posted · Report post

are pretty much what we've got so far. If Potok can name and place the Witch of Connections, we might have another.

Is this important? Who knows. I certainly don't. But it's a puzzle, even if WoS didn't intend it to be. And I always enjoy puzzles. Perhaps we'll need (or would like) this information in the future. *Shrug* Maybe it will give us a little more light in a story that feeds on darkness...

=P

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What Molly Mae said :D We're generally waiting for the WoS to continue, "show us the epigraph" (in "" cause i have no idea what to expect :D)... and we're finding stuff to do along the way :D

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(Thanks for your patience!

I'm seeing definite progress on figuring out the honorifics, aspects, and names of the Witches! Nicely speculated. This will take you very far in the next puzzle! In terms of the Xin/Shin distinction - I've actually thought of that! But there's more than one way to romanize that character besides the Pinyin...)

Opal Sorcerer.

THALASSA, your tricks are as clever as you,

Your quick misdirections to mystify scholars -

 But I've learned how to beat them; I'll solve this one, too.

(I think that you owe me ten dollars.)

 The answer is...

The planets.

Witch of Secrets.

I grudgingly admit that EPSILON

 Has disenchanted my fine letter-cage;

 Perhaps he'll grace us with a spell tonight

 That I may strike a counterblow in turn.

photo-51949.jpg

THALASSA, the Crimson Witch, Witch of Secrets

Sapphire Witch.

 In time, THALASSA. Now, I must announce

 A Truth that may dismay you all to hear.

I do not wish to dampen your high spirits,

 But I am slipping, passing far away

 To El Dorado, fading day by day.

 The choice of my successor will be made

 Through one last game. My husband has agreed,

 As have my son and dearest confidants.

 The Keeper of the Books will oversee;

 The Keeper of the Writ will bear my tools;

 The Ruby Sorcerer shall bear my words.

Crimson Apprentice.

 You can't die. You aren't going to die.

Sapphire Witch.

 I will be back, young friend - not as I am,

 Not as the Witch you know and love so well.

 But on some distant night, when you are sad,

 You'll hear me through the dark. I'll whisper, "SHIN,

 Believe that I am here, and I will come

 To bring you hope and help you seek the truth."

  This is the vow of ANNABEL the Witch.

*********

The Crimson Apprentice was no ordinary Witch-in-training. She was skeptical, quick-witted, thirteen years old, and, technically, guilty of breaking and entering. She had followed her mother to the Great Tower of Hapax, where she knew a great final ritual was to occur. Her mother had insisted she not come, because a fight was likely as the Witches squabbled over the Epigraph. But that was hardly fair! Just because they were going to behave badly hardly meant that she should be denied the chance to solve the Epigraph herself.

Getting into the Tower would have proven a challenge had the fortuitous clamor of alarum bells not distracted the ones guarding the gates. She slipped in as one of them dashed out, and planned her mode of infiltration. First, she would go upstairs and spy on them from the landing as they solved the first riddles, staying clear of the daemons who patrolled the halls and the enchantments that guarded the tomes and devices of the Tower. How many Witches would be coming? Eight? She reflected on those who had attended the Banquet of a few months before, when she and the other Apprentice had presented their first riddles...

A Round Table of Witches

* There were nine Witches and two Apprentices at the Banquet related above. A Sorcerer is an alternative term for a male Witch, but not all male Witches use it. Some simply call themselves Witches.

* The symbols of these Witches are given in the title card for this chapter, arranged as they were seated. As it happened, nobody sat directly next to anyone they were married to or related to by blood. (The Ruby Sorcerer and Sapphire Witch were indeed married at this time.)

* Each witch has a TRUE NAME (given in all capitals), an Honorific containing a color or gemstone, and an Aspect, such as Secrets or Vision. At the time of the Banquet, ANNABEL's Honorific was Witch of Vision.

* No Witch may have more than one Honorific, one TRUE NAME, and one Aspect at the same time. However, these may be changed or inherited.

* HOMUNCULUS was the oldest one in attendance. The Witch of Transmutation was older than ANNABEL, who was older than HERMETICUS, who was older than the Monochrome Witch, who was older than the Witch of Joy, who was older than the Amber Witch, who was older than EPSILON, SHIN, THALASSA, and ESPER.

* ALICE, the Witch of Connections, sat between the Witch of Masks and the Gray Sorcerer (also known as the Witch of Sighs).

* The Agate Witch sat next to the Witch of Ciphers, whose symbol and Aspect are closely linked. The symbol and Aspect of the Witch of Masks were also obviously connected.

* FAUSTUS, who was older than the Witch of Joy and younger than the Witch of Curiosity, sat next to the Witch of Secrets.

* The Witch of Ciphers is not the Amber Witch.

Edited by WitchOfSecrets
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Ok, here is a long shot, done at work with a lot of browser tabs open, topic searches and two sheets of paper. Haven't gone over it all again once it was filled out, i probably should tho :D

[spoiler=rolling my dice :D]

Starting on the top position and going clockwise, since the text here will be all batched up again:

ANNABEL/Sapphire/vision(doubt), ESPER/crimson (app)/hope, FAUSTUS/ruby/transmutaion, THALASSA/crimson/secrets, EDOGAWA/monochrome/ciphers, MIMULUS/agate/joy, HERMETICUS/gray/sighs, ALICE/amber/connections, EPSILON/opal/masks, SHIN/opal app/promises, HOMUNCULUS/ochre/curiosity

Edited by Potok
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Posted · Report post

I get the same results as Potok. Took me a lot longer to get there tho :lol:

Well done again man.

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Good work, Potok.

On to the next bit!

When sun is set

And darkness falls

No Witch may ever

Haunt these halls

With life behind

Not dead, forsooth--

They all become

__ ______ ____!*

I didn't include the last line as a legitimate spoiler alert. All along I was blinded by WoD/WoS's misdirection.

I'm just surprised it took us that long to find it (pun intended).

Edited by Molly Mae
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The golden truth? It rhymes:) I am not fully following your speculation though:)

Posting this from my cell, it wont let me use a spoiler, wont mind any mod fixing it.

Edited by plainglazed
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Good work, Potok.

On to the next bit!

When sun is set

And darkness falls

No Witch may ever

Haunt these halls

With life behind

Not dead, forsooth--

They all become

__ ______ ____!*

I didn't include the last line as a legitimate spoiler alert. All along I was blinded by WoD/WoS's misdirection.

I'm just surprised it took us that long to find it (pun intended).

I missed the first chapter and tried to go through it to try and understand this a bit better, but it's much easier when you're playing in real time. My question is this.....Where are these rhymes coming from? Thanx.

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I missed the first chapter and tried to go through it to try and understand this a bit better, but it's much easier when you're playing in real time. My question is this.....Where are these rhymes coming from? Thanx.

Are me playing ball with the Witch. He speaks in riddles and rhyme, I respond in kind...

Or something.

This whole story is a mystery. But it's also a lot of mysteries.

This next spoiler is speculation, but I might advise against reading it if you're trying to single handedly solve the whole puzzle from the beginning (not because of any Truth contained herein, necessarily).

The boy referred to "El Dorado" on more than one occasion. El Dorado doesn't refer to the Golden City, but the Golden Truth (or perhaps the Golden One [perhaps a personification of the Golden Truth]). Remember that this is mostly speculation.

The Witch was supposed to take us all (L.V., Ocean, et al) to El Dorado (per the boy). With the order of time as I perceive it, those who were sitting at the table in the future were being told a story and we had to figure out the "truth" of it by posting theories in Blue Truth and being corrected or confirmed by the Red Truth.

It's my goal to tie all three of these locations together.

Annabel does not make a physical appearance (from what I remember) in the Room of Six Locks. I place this scene chronologically in the middle of the other two. That doesn't really matter. What does, though, is that I want to theorise that El Dorado is a place you can be (maybe not physically). Perhaps the third scene (with the truths) was in the Golden Truth (or approaching it). There isn't enough information yet, but I'd wager that El Dorado refers directly to either the Golden Truth itself or some master of the Golden Truth.

You should also be prepared for seemingly random Blue Truths if we are ever to duel again.

Edited by Molly Mae
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(I will post something more substantive later, after work, but...)

The Golden Truth is not the truth it seems -

A trickster's bright façade, a cloak for lies.

The Golden City is a ghost of dreams;

Seek not the lost, nor trouble them to rise.

- The Witch of Secrets

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You seek the truth to what I tell;

You seek the place that hides my spell,

Where safe and secret souls abound -

------- ----, -- ----- -- -----.

- The Sapphire Witch

Edited by WitchOfDoubt
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Posted · Report post

I got the same symbols as Potok. Would have posted but my internet was down. Kudos to Potok. :)

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Hidden from the eyes of those yet unworthy of finding it!

Forever my eyes shall be

Lost in sure obscurity.

It once was a long, lost Friend

Shall never upon us call again.

Be yet prepared for what may be

Found broken and alone like me.

For those worthy of finding it: Utter not these words in public!

Edited by Molly Mae
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So i'm not sure if we should be answering or guessing these at all, but here goes:

Where safe and secret souls abound - Eternal City, to never be found. (or) forever lost, to never be found. (forever more, in Potok we trust)

:)

As for El Dorado, i understood it as the place the vikings would call Valhalla, the catholics heaven, the promised land, but for witches. I am not sure if we need to give it any significance yet, but if my assumption is correct, we probably do not. Again if it's correct, the question would be, are there any conditions for entering El Dorado (as in not doing sins to go to heaven i believe) and further more, do all witches want to end up there, is it a positive place only, does it inclue a "hell" component, to punish the ones, who dont meet the conditions ?

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'It seems to me, the warnings clear

From this subject, we should veer'

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'It seems to me, the warnings clear

From this subject, we should veer'

For once, in caution, I agree

Curse my curiosity.

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Perhaps we should stop,

With the silly rhymes;

And picture the table,

In the eyes of our minds.

Or should we forget the table,

And try to figure out,

The brand-new puzzle,

From the Witch of Doubts?

Edited by Aaryan
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(There was a typo in the last line of the quatrain - it should have been:

------- ----, -- ------ -- ----

Apologies for making it more difficult than it had to be! Potok had the right general idea.)

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That was right! Of course, the Sapphire Witch had died, so she wouldn't be there, but the Opal Apprentice and the eight other Witches should be.

The Crimson Apprentice slipped through the halls of the Tower, where old souls were bound for many purposes, and took note of her environs. There was the Great Entry, with its grand stairway and shining tower of green, which was surrounded by a conveyance propelled by neither horse nor steam nor gasoline. There was the Room of Caged Minds, where mute Animates of great power revealed and dispatched messages of distant lands. Then there was Dudeney's banquet hall, where that old Animate crouched. And everywhere there were the Walls of Souls, where ancient minds awaited summoning. The Cabinets of Miniatures, too, held a great many souls, but these required a conjurer's apparatus to summon.

But before the Apprentice could think further on this, she heard footsteps approaching and ducked around a corner as two daemons approached. One was slender, the other portly, and both walked with measured confidence.

"The Mistress has forced long, wakeful hours upon us," grumbled the portly one. "To work thus on the eve of a new year is atrocious."

"Nobody can know," replied the other, coolly. "Would you wish for this to be discovered, were you in her position?"

The Crimson Apprentice furrowed her brow with worry and summoned her Animate, Fanshawe of the Shining Eye. Fanshawe was a superb mimic, and could ape the voices of others with ease -- or even their faces, if need demanded.

"The gate's locked." The first demon smiled easily, reflecting on the last set of sacrifices. "Nobody will go back there until the time is right. Disappearances are commonplace here, in any case!"

Ducking further into the shadows as the guards passed by, the girl wondered just who - or what - was going to disappear...

*****

The Banquet of 2021 had reopened, yet the Sapphire Witch was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the Witch of Secrets stood at one end of the table, the Opal Sorcerer at the other. When the guests had last seen them, the two had hardly been on good terms, but for now the young man seemed willing to cooperate with THALASSA.

"SHIN," said the Witch of Secrets as she waited for the guests to take their seats, "use the Red Truth sparingly. What the Red Truth says must be true, while the Blue Truth delivers only guesses. To trade a powerful Red Truth for every weak guess is idiocy."

"I get it," said the Opal Sorcerer. "No freebies."

"Good," said the Witch of Secrets, summoning a scarlet scythe. "Mercy isn't in my nature."

(Theme:

)

A red rose materialized upon her shoulder as she spoke her challenge:

This is the Duel of the Towers.

You have fought the Sapphire Witch for Animates - mere pieces - but this time, you shall fight for your right to stand upon the board at all.

The Crimson Apprentice has entered a Tower of Sorcery and inexplicable magic.

Deny this if you can.

A red rose appeared upon the Opal Sorcerer's shoulder as well:

Within the Tower of Sorcery stands a magical Tower of Light, where sacrificial offerings are made.

Deny that if you can!

----

As before, blue roses materialized upon the guests' shoulders, along with blue swords on the table before them. But this time, the swords were barely visible, even ghostlier than before.

"These swords are more difficult to use than the ones you are accustomed to," said the Witch of Secrets. "Before every strike with the Blue, you must charge them with evidence - a quotation or a line of reasoning. You cannot simply swing wildly and hope to strike, as if you were waving a flyswatter!"

The Opal Sorcerer demonstrated by charging a sword:

Chapter Two, Page 6: Getting into the Tower would have proven a challenge had the fortuitous clamor of alarum bells not distracted the ones guarding the gates.

At once, the translucent blade ceased to flicker. He raised it and slashed at the shoulder of the Witch of Secrets:

The Tower is a maximum-security prison!

The Witch of Secrets easily parried with the handle of her scythe:

The Tower is not a maximum-security prison, nor a minimum-security prison, nor anything else in between!

"Now... who will take the first strike?"

Rules:

This is a Witch Duel. The Human Side's goal is to use the Blue Truth to knock the roses off the shoulders of the Witch of Secrets and the Witch of Promises.

You must announce which of the two Witches you are aiming for as you strike.

Every strike with the Blue Truth will require evidence in its support. Evidence may be reused.

It is possible to win using only information in the current thread, but the prior threads contain clues as well.

Every guest may strike with the Blue Truth, including newcomers. Arrivals will be seated quickly, but may use Blue Truth in their first post.

Guests do not need to wait for confirmation of prior exchanges in order to strike. Thus, many may strike before the Witches have a chance to reply.

However, the same guest may not strike twice until another guest has had a chance to attack. Of course, a Blue Truth theory may contain multiple ideas. In addition, two guests from the same side of the table may not strike consecutively. If they do, all strikes but the first will be ignored.

It is greatly preferable that Blue Truth be written in blue. If this is technically impossible, it may be denoted thus: (BLUE)The Tower is an amusement park.(BLUE)

The table as it is now:

table2.jpg

Let the duel begin!

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Rules:

This is a Witch Duel. The Human Side's goal is to use the Blue Truth to knock the roses off the shoulders of the Witch of Secrets and the Witch of Promises.

You must announce which of the two Witches you are aiming for as you strike.

Every strike with the Blue Truth will require evidence in its support. Evidence may be reused.

It is possible to win using only information in the current thread, but the prior threads contain clues as well.

Every guest may strike with the Blue Truth, including newcomers. Arrivals will be seated quickly, but may use Blue Truth in their first post.

Guests do not need to wait for confirmation of prior exchanges in order to strike. Thus, many may strike before the Witches have a chance to reply.

However, the same guest may not strike twice until another guest has had a chance to attack. Of course, a Blue Truth theory may contain multiple ideas. In addition, two guests from the same side of the table may not strike consecutively. If they do, all strikes but the first will be ignored.

It is greatly preferable that Blue Truth be written in blue. If this is technically impossible, it may be denoted thus: (BLUE)The Tower is an amusement park.(BLUE)

The table as it is now:

table2.jpg

Let the duel begin!

Can two people from the same side attack different Witches? Also, if an attack is applicable to both questions, can we use the same attack twice?

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Posted · Report post

Sneaky table placement :D Not a bad way to extend the process. Are we only figguring out what "The Tower" is here or am i missing something else ? And ofc the poem

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th_dnathing.png

ANNABEL, the Sapphire Witch, Witch of Vision/Doubt

* No Witch may have more than one Honorific, one TRUE NAME, and one Aspect at the same time. However, these may be changed or inherited.

How is the Sapphire Witch both the Witch of Doubt and Witch of Vision?

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