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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 (edited) · Report post

Do they offer sacrifices to the Times Square Ball?

I know they leave presents under Christmas trees...

I also realized that my blue truth usage above would not end up having the desired effect. Oh well.

Edited by plasmid
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I guess I might as well put that in blue

To the Witch of Secrets: The "sacrifices" are Christmas presents

Same evidence as was used with the previous blue truth attempt.

If you'd like to try to slay the daemons with the next blue swipe, have at it.

Edited by plasmid
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(Whew! It's been a long week.

Aaryan: My apologies if this is tough to follow! It was supposed to be solvable using only this thread, but the Human Side has taken advantage of the duel to clear up mysteries from earlier. On the bright side, there are a few puzzles coming up soon that will pretty much take us through the first thread, page-by-page, with guidance, so newcomers can catch up.

A clarification:

When someone is stated to be a Witch in Red, it does not mean that literal magical Witches are confirmed to exist, but that said speaker carries the identity of the Witch in question. I don't want to confuse the newer posters by putting those statements in Gold rather than Red.

Spoilers are not mandatory during Witch Duels, but should be used at other times.)

(Theme:

)

Where was the trick? There had to be a trick somewhere.

Striking again and again, circling the Witches and chipping away at the mystery, the Human Side made astoundingly short work of the barrier raised by Gardner! But suspicion hung in the air... this was far too simple for THALASSA. Molly Mae attempted to dispel all illusions in one blow:

A Witch's 'magic' is primarily electricity!

SHIN ducked the blow and answered with a decisive Red Truth:

"In the last chapter, you broke the enchantment that made a typewriter into an Animate's Vessel, right?"

Well, take this: Dudeney didn't run on electricity!

Electricity can make a Witch's magic easier to do, but it's not the innate nature of magic.

With shining financial prospects form the West to please, Entitled wealthy allowed them translations with ease, But in 1948 the people rose and took back their land, Now, and even more so in 2021, they write their chosen translation in a proud hand.

I don't deny that Pinyin is usually the best way to go, for many reasons. But this spelling isn't just deliberate - it's a subtle clue that I expected to bring up later.

A clash of blue on steel! Thalia cleanly shattered the sickle that had countered Plainglazed's attack.

The Wall of Souls and the "old souls" are books and bookshelves with the Cabinet of Miniatures being special books/resources/library things. The "daemons" are the night watch/security.

Blue Truth effective!

The weight of evidence broke through Gardner's cage, exposing THALASSA's rose. It would not take much to remove it now. Hurriedly, she ordered Gardner to create another cage, but a quick glance at the Human conversations showed that there was little they could work with to defend the Tower of Sorcery. The Humans had identified the Vessels of the Cabinet of Miniatures - microfiche. They had identified the books. The safes - could she press them on the safes? No, they didn't have enough clues to prove the nature of the safes, even if they could make certain guesses.

But as she prepared to yield, SHIN leapt in front of her, presenting himself as a shield!

"THALASSA, they can't prove anything until they deal with the Tower of Lights! Gardner, charge up!"

"It was stated:"

Chapter Two, Page 8: Within the Tower of Sorcery stands a magical Tower of Light, where sacrificial offerings are made.

SHIN swung his sickle to capture the attack:

If it's not a magical Tower, why is there a sacrificial Tower inside of it?

THALASSA shook her head. "If they get yours," she said, her voice slipping higher for a moment, "then they've got us both! What are you doing?!" But SHIN resolved to put his riddle in front of THALASSA's to defend her.

The next strike, from Molly Mae, was targeted at a Sorcerer and a Human who was (were?) not present at the table. As such, it could not possibly be effective:

Nat Foreman is or represents the Ruby Sorcerer!

THALASSA smiled thinly, and her confidence seemed to return. What had happened just a moment before? "I'd expect a Human to say it the other way around: 'The Ruby Sorcerer represents Nat Foreman.' To say that Nat Foreman represents the Ruby Sorcerer is to imply that the Sorcerer is real, and Nat Foreman is a mere Vessel for him. Which is certainly true to us Witches, but which the Human Side can't accept without ceding the game entirely!"

I found the Club

And Tower tall

Three couples

Over entrance hall.

Two together

Two apart

Core of fruit?

Apple heart.

Outstanding!

In-story, the Club is a specific real-world place, disguised in a layer of fiction.

Out-of-story, this place does not exist in its entirety, but is a combination of two or three locations that do exist. You've found one of the real-world analogues that the Club represents!

That said, I confirmed earlier that at least one of the earthquakes was a literal earthquake, and there aren't many earthquakes in New York. Meta-fiction with composite locations sure is confusing.

Plasmid made a tactical lunge, a maneuver that would cut off the Witch Side's ability to retreat:

The daemons are alive.

SHIN and THALASSA winced simultaenously, for Plasmid had just hit on one of the central rules of the game:

Blue Truth effective.

Animates have non-Human Vessels;

Daemons and Witches have Human Vessels.

Molly Mae's attack - identifying the Tower of Light as the Times Square ball, was countered swiftly:

The Times Square ball is not the Tower of Light, nor any part of it!

And this left Yoruichi-san and Plasmid to deliver two devastating blows:

The Tower of Light is a X-mas Tree.

The "sacrifices" are Christmas presents.

Though THALASSA and SHIN tried to counter in vain, both of their roses were scattered to the air and faded into nothing. The duel was over far sooner than the Humans had anticipated, and the game board already began to show the signs of their victory. The Crimson Apprentice now wandered the halls of a library, spying upon the security guards and the people on the floor below. Slowly, flickering images arose from scrolls left by the Sapphire Witch:

... a keypad by the front door...

... a room with a typewriter in a locked cabinet, for traditionalists...

... a computer center...

... shelves and shelves of books, CDs, records, and microfiche...

... a Club meeting after-hours to hunt for a series of electronically-sealed puzzle boxes, locks, and riddles...

... and still the promise of disappearances that would remain unsolved for years.

"Well," said SHIN. "That was fast."

"Ha," replied THALASSA. "I hardly expected this one to last long! Do you honestly believe -"

But she was interrupted by the arrival of a woman - the last woman the Humans would have expected to see. She was approaching middle age, slender, blue-eyed, with a smile like a scythe blade. "Good evening," she said, in a voice with just the faintest trace of accent. "I'm just here to watch, don't mind me." At her side was Fanshawe of the Shining Eye.

SHIN turned to her and back to THALASSA. "Please, um, sit down."

"I'm not dueling," she said, eyeing the assembled Human guests critically. "It would be unfair for me to step in for the Human Side, wouldn't it? I'll stand. I'm sorry, I'm afraid you all have quite the advantage! You've read all about me, but I don't know any of you."

She bowed - was there a trace of irony in that bow? - and smiled.

"Hello. I'm Ocean Zweidler."

"If you're wondering if she's making this up," said SHIN, a little bitterly. "I'm afraid not."

That really is the person you know as Ocean Zweidler.

"I hope this doesn't ruin too many theories," added THALASSA, with absolutely no sincerity whatsoever. "Of course, I am not Ocean."

This chapter hasn't ended yet...

The next challenge is a detective story set in a parallel world, which truly requires no knowledge of the story to solve.

If the Human Side triumphs here, they will learn who stole the ring, and shall proceed to the Epigraph itself.

If they cannot, I shall claim victory.

With all due regards,

The Witch of Secrets

Edited by WitchOfSecrets
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Posted · Report post

So we're waiting for that next challenge now or am i missing sth again ? :D

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So we're waiting for that next challenge now or am i missing sth again ? :D

I think there are a couple of points I'm still missing:

Why was plainglazed's assertion that the halls of the ToS was a library dealt with so abruptly?

And what are the 'coveyances' that 'surround' the green tower? Or is that meant to represent the perceived movement of tree lights as they flash on and off?

Pls excuse me if I'm being a bit slow.

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Posted · Report post

Conveyances are prolly the model railroad tracks from part 1.

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Posted · Report post

(I'll post it either tonight or tomorrow!)

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good, a good place to jump in at. Sorry I was gone for so long. I'll be more active now. Oh, and can I still make a BT? If so, then Fanshawe of the Shining Eye is a cell phone.

sorry if this was posted before, but it seems to me that we haven't established on a hard rock foundation that Fanshawe is a cell phone.

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good, a good place to jump in at. Sorry I was gone for so long. I'll be more active now. Oh, and can I still make a BT? If so, then Fanshawe of the Shining Eye is a cell phone.

sorry if this was posted before, but it seems to me that we haven't established on a hard rock foundation that Fanshawe is a cell phone.

This duel is actually over and we have reasonable enough evidence to determine that Fanshawe was as such.

You shouldn't have made that public yet...pun intended.

Eyes of glass

And face of lime

Passageway

For life of crime.

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Posted · Report post

Dont tell me this has been overspoiled into oblivion again :D

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Posted · Report post

BUMP!

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How come we always end up messing around at the end of threads? Does this happen everywhere, or is it something special with the Den and these kinds of threads?

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Posted · Report post

I don't know. I don't know..... -_-

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Or another WoS computer problem huh ? Them witches dont go well with IT :D At least i hope this is the reason.

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(I'm fixing some plot holes on a giant series of posts - sorry for the delay!)

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(It begins! Thank you for your patience!)

66937-bigthumbnail.jpg

Veritas:

A Mystery of Locks and Keys

Our ad says, Judgment and Justice: Security Consultants. I’m Justice, security expert. My partner, Judgment, is a detective. Together, we unravel mysteries and basically make sure that masked phantom thieves doesn’t run off with the Mystic Jewels of Whatever. I guess you could think of me as a Watson to Judgment’s Holmes, or something like that. It’s not always an easy job… let me tell you about a particularly tricky case.

It happened – as this kind of case always ought to happen – in an isolated place. Keeps the suspect list limited. It was Castle Dauntless, a medieval stronghold high in the mountains of Freedonia, home of the Scarlet Idol of Veritas. They were holding a big shindig on Saturday night, and wanted us to check out their security and make sure nothing went wrong.

I think they’re going to want their money back.

*****

“In case you’re wondering,” said Ocean, “any sentence in that story that is in black – in short, the narration – is guaranteed to be literally true. It’s as good as Red Truth.”

“I’ll even confirm it in Red for you,” said THALASSA. “Just to be polite.”

Here, the narrator’s words are equivalent to Red Truth.

“And you shouldn’t need – nor rely upon - any outside information whatsoever:”

This mystery can be solved using solely the information provided by the narration and the characters within it. Truths discovered in this tale should not be assumed to hold anywhere else.

“Let us continue,” smiled THALASSA.

****

Judgment and I arrived at the Castle at noon on the day of the gala. The proprietor of the Castle, the Queen of Swords, was there to greet us as we got in. It was a drafty old place, but the chamber where the Idol was being kept seemed fairly secure – one door, one window two stories up, and a sturdy lock.

“Hmm. Some old castles have secret passages in ‘em,” I said.

“Yes… I’ve heard of escape tunnels and ‘priest holes,’” added my partner. “I hope we won’t have to worry about that.”

There aren’t any secret passages in Castle Dauntless,” replied the Queen, laughing. “And thank goodness for that. Can you imagine what the servants would get up to?”

“Speaking of the staff,” said Justice, “do you trust them? How many are there?”

There are seven, not including myself,” said the Queen. “Two of whom normally handle security, but who are willing to let you take command of that for tonight. I trust them all. None of the seven staff members would ever steal from the Castle, and none of them would ever knowingly assist someone in doing so. I’m afraid that I can’t say the same for the eight guests who will be arriving shortly…

****

“Time out,” said SHIN. “What’s this purple text all about?”

“The purple text is testimony,” said THALASSA. “The narrator’s words in black must be true, but the same can’t be said of testimony.”

“A thief,” explained Ocean, steepling her fingers, “is unlikely to always be forthright, no?”

SHIN sighed. “Idol’s gonna get stolen? What a surprise.”

THALASSA ignored this. “Allow me to confirm a few rules in red:”

When someone who is not a culprit makes a statement in purple, that statement is equivalent to Red Truth. Only a culprit can lie in purple!

A culprit is defined here as someone who stole the Idol or deliberately aided a culprit, with the intent of sharing the profits later.

There are fewer than four culprits.

The Detective is not a culprit.

****

Saturday, 12:44 PM.

Nine of Swords, one of the security staff, had given us the keys to our rooms on big iron keyrings, and we unpacked our bags. I was in the Firefly Room on the second floor. Judgment was in the Wagstaff Room, third floor. After we got unpacked, we met up in the Security room, a modified cell on the first floor, near the entrance, that’d been rigged full of electronics and video feeds. Inside, Nine of Swords and Ten of Swords were waiting.

“Hope y’all are getting settled in okay!” said Nine of Swords.

“Afternoon,” said Ten of Swords, the other security guard. “Very sorry I couldn’t meet you earlier; I was seeing to the alarms.

“Don’t worry. We’re comfortable,” said Judgment, shrugging and then changing the subject. “I noticed that these keyrings are rather old-fashioned. It’s hard to open or close them, isn’t it?”

“That’s right!” said Nine of Swords. “There's no way to put keys on or take them off without a unique wrench, which is in that key cabinet.” He pointed to a cabinet of keys behind him, and to a ring on his belt. “In there, we've got all the keys to this Castle, except the ones I’ve passed out already, and I’m the only one with a key to open it.

“I see,” said Judgment. “Ms. Ten, can you please tell us a little about the alarm system?”

We’ve got alarms on all the outside doors and on the glass case holding the Idol. They can be turned on or off from this panel here, using this key.” She held up her keyring and pointed to a nondescript steel key. “There aren’t any other keys or panels for the alarms. We’ve also got cameras in many of the rooms – none of the bedrooms, of course.” A row of monitors over her head displayed jittery live feeds of the room with the idol, the grand hall, the banquet hall, the entryway, the exit to the back garden, and the kitchen. All were hooked up to a bank of digital recorders.

“Good,” I said. “What else can you tell me about the security here?”

Every key opens only one door,” said Nine of Swords. “Except for two Master Keys, which opens any door but the Security Room and the Key Cabinet, the Outside Door Key, which opens all the outside doors, and of course the Alarm Key, which only turns the alarm on or off. I have one Master Key, and Queen of Swords has the other. Besides that, we try to make it so that people can only open the doors they need to open.” I nodded.

Since you’re taking over for us tonight,” said Ten of Swords, sounding a little relieved that she wouldn’t have to mess about with the stress of organizing security for a party, “We’d better give you our Alarm and Master Keys.

Grunting and nodding, Nine produced his keyring and unlocked the key cabinet. Inside, eight keyrings remained hanging in place, each labeled with a piece of white tape bearing a name. Next to them, a wrench hung. Taking the keyrings from Judgment, Ten, and me, he carefully unfastened them – a non-trivial process – and moved the Alarm key from Ten’s keyring onto mine, and the Master Key from his own keyring onto Judgment’s. He then noted the change in the Key Log, a sheet of paper with notes transcribed in indelible ink, put the key to the key cabinet on Judgment’s keyring, and locked the wrench back inside the key cabinet.

During the whole process, I noticed, Nine was careful not to switch the keys or keyrings. Seeing as they looked totally alike, exceptfor the taped labels, it would’ve been an easy mistake to make.

Right now,” said Nine, tapping the key log, “the following people have these keys:

KEY LOG, AS OF12:50 (records kept by Nine)

Nine of Swords: Spaulding Room Key

Ten of Swords: Spaulding Room Key

Queen of Swords: Master Key.

Page of Swords: Hackenbush Room Key; Kitchen Key.

Knight of Swords: Driftwood Room Key; Electrical Closet Key.

King of Swords: Driftwood Room Key; Outside Door Key.

Temperance: Hammer Room Key

Strength: Miller Room Key; Kitchen Key.

Judgment: Wagstaff Room Key; Master Key; Key Cabinet Key

Justice: Firefly Room Key; Alarm Key

“Doesn’t the Security Room have a key?” asked Judgment.

Nope, not even the Master Key works on the Security Room,” said Nine of Swords. “This keypad opens it.” He punched in the combination, 1979, on the keypad just outside the security room door, and it slid open silently. “Right now, only us, the two of you, the Queen, and the Knight of Swords know the combination. Please try to keep it that way.”

“Of course,” replied Judgment. “Now, before the guests arrive, I believe we have some investigating to do. Thank you for all your help, sirs. Justice, I believe we should…”

Judgment and Justice have three hours until the guests arrive, and may choose to do any of the following:

* Question somebody (30 minutes per person)

* Investigate a location in the Castle (30 minutes per location)

If desired, they can split up to cover more ground.

Please submit your choices; I will step through the actions in the order they are submitted until you run out of time.

Edited by WitchOfSecrets
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Posted · Report post

so, we are justice right now, right? in that case, we should split up. we question 9 and have Justice investigate the room in which the red Idol of Veritas resides in.

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Awesome :D. I love mystery stories...and detectives ;P. Too sleepy now to make rash decisions, will read more carefully and come up with a strategy tomorrow...if MM doesn't beat me to it...;)

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Posted · Report post

Assuming we have to submit specific questions during interrogations, is there a limit to the number of questions we can ask?

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Posted (edited) · Report post

First thing I'd want to do is use the alarm key to make sure the alarms are on. Then go investigate.

There are eight characters to question, so by splitting up they should be able to question them all in two hours and have enough time left to look over four rooms. The rooms appear to be: Spaulding, Hackenbush, kitchen, Driftwood, electrical closet, Hammer, Miller, Wagstaff, Firefly, the security room, the idol room, the grand hall, the banquet hall, the entryway, and the back garden with its exit (I'm not sure if any of the unnamed rooms are the same as one of the named rooms, could a witch clarify this and maybe give a definitive list of what rooms are available to investigate?). With no other information, I'd say that the idol room, security room, electrical closet, and maybe the back garden with its exit would be at the top of my list to investigate. But that might change depending on what people say, so might as well just say the first thing we'll do and adjust based on the outcome.

I'd say Judgment talks to the Page of Swords, and Justice talks to the Knight of Swords, (two characters we haven't seen yet) to get things started, unless anyone has other suggestions.

Edit: just noticed that Flamebirde did make another suggestion. I think we'll probably want to talk to all the characters and investigate the idol room regardless, so I'll go with Flamebirde's suggestion of talking to Nine and investigating the idol room. And just add the step of making sure the alarms are on first.

Edited by plasmid
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Posted · Report post

@Y-San: I'm going to be taking a back seat for the remainder of this game.

I would like to point out (as nobody has yet), 1979 was the combination to one of the safes in the Room of Six Locks. We also know from previous Red (not in a duel) that not all of the safes were literal safes.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Okay, two quick questions for clarification:

"Fewer than four culprits" means strictly fewer (i.e. 3 or less)?

"The detective is not a suspect", but what about the security expert/narrator? (sorry if this seems like a silly question, but I'm an Agatha Christie fan ;) )

Edit: At Molly Mae: Aw...that's unfortunate...or do you have the whole storyline figured out already? ;P

Edited by Yoruichi-san
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Edit: At Molly Mae: Aw...that's unfortunate...or do you have the whole storyline figured out already? ;P

He probably does. :)

Also, do we agree together on actions, or does it work like a witch's duel, where the action/BT is submitted as soon as it is posted.

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Edit: At Molly Mae: Aw...that's unfortunate...or do you have the whole storyline figured out already? ;P

Not even the slightest. I had almost a page and a half of "Why the Story Must Take Place in Manhattan" drafted. And it's all been cut apart by a single red truth...

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