Chapter 3:

Fear, Riddles, and a Cruel Game Part 2

Escape from the Cult of Happy Endings

Now, the riddle given seemed easy enough, but for one catch: “Each weight looks the same”. This was a bad riddle due to the lack of information. Was it known what each weight weighs? Logically though, the best choice would be to weigh the pumpkin against each weight individually. The pumpkin weighed more than 1 weight, but less than the other two. Then, one could weigh each weight against each other if unmarked.

Next, one would try combining the weights until they found a match. The 1 kg and the pumpkin combined was 5 kg, so it would match the 5 kg weight. One could also add the 5 kg weight to the pumpkin side and use the 10 kg weight instead. It was likely that the weights looking the same was a distraction and the weights were marked as otherwise, the riddle was unsolvable.

Now, if the prisoner was to think clearly, this riddle was easy given two possible solutions, but being distracted meant reduced mental capabilities. Actually, did that mean my riddle had multiple solutions as well? Well, there wasn’t much else here, so I played with my puzzle cube while I looked around the room for any clues. Would I need to pull the prisoner out or would the traps deactivate?

I cautiously approached the cage. While I might survive being shocked given my body, it seemed silly to risk my own life. As expected, I saw a pan that, based on the designed, collected liquids or anything else that might fit through the grates. Being attached to a lever of sorts, the pan dropping would gradually lower the lever.

I moved to a different angle to better see the lever and the attached gauge, which was marked with clear lines and some writing that I couldn’t see clearly without getting closer, but given the situation, I suspected I already knew how the mechanism worked.

Based on my assumptions, as the pan dropped, the shock would increase going from uncomfortable to painful to deadly and fairly quickly. First would be spasms of control loss that would eventually lead to incontinence. This would then increase the liquid in the pan, which would in turn increase the shock potentially to painful values. This meant the longer the match took, the worse shape the prisoner would be.

In addition to that, if the prisoner failed, the water would splash down and soak him, giving the electricity more areas to flow as the shock reached lethal levels. Very likely, this would not be a quick death, but a drawn out death. That would definitely be unpleasant to watch to put it lightly.

“P-put the 5 kg weight on one side of the scale and the pumpkin on the other side with the 1 kg weight.”

Oh, the prisoner answered. Whether or not he was right, it was my turn next and I needed to hurry with the answer lest the prisoner end up dying before the game even ended.

Nara's Turn

A man walks 3 meters per second Northward, on a broken escalator.

The broken escalator moves South 1 meter every 5th second.

The broken escalator moves North 1 meter every 12th second.

How far has the man moved after 16 seconds?

Oh? That was more a math question than a riddle. After 16 seconds, the man has moved 48 meters; however, the escalator has moved South 3 times and North once for a decrease of 2 meters. The question now was whether the man moved 48 meters or 46 meters North. It seemed these questions all had multiple possible answers. Or, perhaps, the goal was to give all valid answers?

Given the likeliness of having to give all the valid answers, I answered appropriately, “The man himself has moved a total of 48 meters, but has only managed to move 46 meters Northward assuming he is being carried by the escalator whenever it moves.”

Looking at the prisoner, he showed a slight amount of panic at how I answered the question. Well, not that I intended to say anything since that would result in him dying. It would be pretty silly to kill him in trying to save him.

Paul’s Turn

No matter how fast you run,

I will always follow.

I am easiest to find in the light,

but with too much light,

I become hidden once more.

What am I?

Another easy question. Clearly the goal is for the prisoner to win these rounds by giving him easy questions. Still, I needed to at least try to save him, so this was only making it harder for me.

I examined the water release next in order to see if it might deactivate when the game ended with the prisoner’s release, but from the distance, I saw nothing definitive. I certainly could approach, but I saw no reason to put my life at risk. Instead, I decided to end my investigation there and wait.

Oddly, the prisoner seemed quite hesitant to answer. I wondered what caused the prisoner to stall despite being at a disadvantage with the passing of time. The prisoner seemed to mull over the question, starting to speak, then returning to thinking. That was fine when time wasn’t so critical, but when fighting for your life against time, pointlessly wasting time seemed just absurd. I wanted to shout for him to hurry it up, but that would kill him, so I remained silent until finally, after almost ten minutes, the prisoner finally gave an answer.

Hesitantly and shakily, the prisoner spoke, “Shadow or a reflection.”

Ignoring that he gave an extra answer aside, at least he spoke up. Still, reflections seemed a bit odd since they can only follow you if there is something that reflects. Either way, it was my last turn.

Nara’s Turn

I am at the front of ideas,

I face what lies ahead with my twin,

Without us,

My master sees not what lies ahead,

Yet, we can never turn to our master,

I can be found in honeyed words,

But not in truth.

What am I?

Hmm... This one was significantly longer than the others. Twins... the usual meaning of twins are duplicates, so perhaps something that normally comes in twos. Not seeing what lies ahead might have to do with navigation or planning. Having a master suggests being a servant, perhaps or otherwise working for someone.

What seemed somewhat confusing was being found in honeyed words, but not in truth. Truth... perhaps it referred to the dawn? That seemed unlikely, so I put that clue aside. The front of ideas, perhaps innovation? What lies ahead could be the future, but what could be a twin? Maybe the brain? But you used your brain in the truth.

While the brain seemed to almost fit, it also seemed to just barely not fit. I looked at the riddle again and then stopped. What if ideas referred to the brain? Or perhaps it referred to the word ideas. So then what was in front of the brain? What came as a pair without which, one could not see ahead? If the brain was the master, then what could never turn around to face it? What was in honeyed words?

“The answer should be ‘eye’.”

Paul’s Turn

If a jailer and a prisoner compete,

In the case that both agree to punish,

The prisoner is in for a shock.

If the jailer and prisoner’s thoughts divide,

Then the prisoner may die.

If the jailer and prisoner agree,

The prisoner may go free,

So, what do you believe?

Ummm... that is kind of just messed up. I went through the rules once more. Speaking out of turn meant the prisoner would die. Would the prisoner notice that despite holding his life in my throat, I did not speak out of turn? Or would he see what I did before and assume I would give him punishment? But, more importantly, this wasn’t really a riddle. This seemed to just act as a rather tasteless torment.

In reality, given the displayed message, it was likely already decided on my turn. The word may also hinted that the opposite could happen. More importantly, the prisoner really only had one option, but they might believe they have two options if they did not know that the shock was quite deadly.

I considered trying to give a hint here, but I worried that a hint might be considered speaking. I could only wait patiently and hope that the prisoner came up with a proper solution. Minutes ticked by and the prisoner was clearly struggling as he squirmed about. At the rate things were going, the prisoner would die before the game ended, but if I wanted the prisoner alive, I needed to wait. I stared at the prisoner hoping he’d answer quickly. More minutes passed and as it seemed the prisoner ended up at his limit, he answered, “I’m begging you, let me go free.”

Distastefully, the screen popped up with a screen.

Paul loses.

With those words, I heard liquid splashing into a metal pan, a string of vulgar language, and the click of the water storage opening, splashing the prisoner and soaking him. With a face so pale that one might think his skin turned transparent to the bone, the prisoner thrashed about while screaming at me.

As for me, I calmly walked over and threw my puzzle cube at the door. Aside from the cube bouncing off, the door showed no reaction, so I carefully used my puzzle cube to grasp the bars and pulled the door open.

Given that the prisoner was not shocked yet, it seemed relatively safe, so I walked over and undid the prisoner’s bindings.

“You know, you really are kind of an idiot, aren’t you? The fact that I didn’t speak during your turn should have been a hint already. Did you even pay attention to the rules and think about what they meant?”

The prisoner raised a hand as he cried out, “You!” Before he swung, though, he stopped himself and dropped his hand. Clearly he saw what happened to the last person that tried to attack me.

“Now, how about we leave this cage just in case? Last thing we need now is an ironic death because of some malfunction. Also, what crime did you commit to be imprisoned?”

“I didn’t! I was falsely accused!”

Well, I supposed I should have expected that answer. I looked at him and smiled, “Whether or not you were falsely accused, I cannot tell, so what crime were you accused of committing?”

“They pinned a robbery on me.”

“I see, well, you will be acting as my supporter. I will not tolerate any acts of violence towards me and I don’t know what your purpose will be, but follow me or die. Your choice.”

With that, I moved towards the next door. What would be the next game?

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