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Old 03-03-2012, 09:58 PM   #19
WitchOfDoubt
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As the name of Ann Seaton was spoken, there was a sound of distant thunder. Ocean felt a drop of drizzle strike the back of her neck.

The guests hurried into the Club, and Samuel shut the great wooden doors behind them. It was going to be a long night - a night of thefts, betrayals, and mysterious disappearances, a night to be sealed in secrecy forever.

----

(Congratulations! You've solved the first chapter's puzzles and unlocked its Witch's Banquet! One minor challenge remains, and newcomers to the thread are invited to attempt it:

* A second solution exists to Ocean's riddle of stone tablets, and it has not yet been stated.)

Banquet of the Prologue


A figure in a blue riding cloak gently laid a hand on the Club's front door. Though it had surely been locked, it opened before the magic of the Sapphire Witch in an instant. 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.

"Annabel. It has been some time. I trust you're well?" said Dudeney. In truth, ten years had gone by since the day of the inheritance challenge and the ruinous scandal that followed. All the same, Dudeney would ever be the Witch's friend.

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

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

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

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


-----

But this feast is interrupted by the arrival of a number of newcomers. Some have been silent, or nearly silent, while reading the typed pages that purported to describe the events of New Year's Eve, 2011. One, however, has been quick to answer the puzzles of that mysterious night... so far, in any case.

"What an intriguing group," says the Witch, face hidden behind a Venetian carnival mask. "Good evening. I am called the Sapphire Witch, and I welcome you to our Banquet of mysteries. Please, do be seated and introduce yourselves!"

The Witch gazes at you - yes, you - expectantly.
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The Sapphire Witch cordially invites you to a labyrinth of riddles and mysteries, The Witch's Epigraph.
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