Chapter 4:

Numbers, Questions, and Hidden Truths Part 1

Escape from the Cult of Happy Endings

As the door opened, it revealed a relatively empty room almost identical to the previous one. The overall layout was the same, although looking at the cage, it seemed to be a rather simple contraption. The prisoner stood on a small plank over a pit of what smelled like fairly caustic liquid. I somewhat regretted not having my kendama with me. Well, I’d just avoid entering and leave the prisoner to their own devices for escaping.

More importantly, there was a desk in the middle of the room similar to the previous one, so I supposed I needed to read it. Making my way over, I saw some simple instructions.

Should you wish to save the life of the detained,
Solve all the problems given within the hour.

Simple enough. Now, I just needed to wait for the problems to show up. With how simple the setup appeared to be, I doubted that I’d need to search for them, so I expected them to show up on the screen. As evidence of that, the timer above the door remained still. My new follower seemed somewhat nervous, but I motioned for him to go to the corner and stay still. No need to bother with additional issues at this time.

Soon enough, the first question appeared.

You have a boat that seats two and must cross a river.
You have a dog, a hen, some grain, and some potatoes.
If you leave the dog with the hen, it will eat the hen.
If you leave the hen with the grain, it will eat the grain.
How will you cross without losing anything?

“That is simple, bring the hen first, then the potatoes, then the grain, bring the hen back, then bring the fox over, then bring the hen over. Isn’t this a bit too common of a question?”

Nara knew this question to be a common one, even if some variations existed. The solution was to take the common factor and keep it away from the other factors. A simple enough solution, but far too simple once you knew. Unless there was another purpose in the question...

A killer clown wanders a lone mansion.
You are trapped within the mansion.}
Before you is a pin entry.
There are 4 digits to this pin.
Your clues are as follow:

Going blank for a moment, the screen soon displayed the clues:

The Sum of Us is 22
None of us are perfectly alike.
The first child says, “I am neither the largest nor the smallest”
The second child says, “The first to the left of me is beneath me.”
The third child says, “The sum of me and the fourth is the first.”
The fourth child says, “I may be number four, but I am not the smallest”

Nara examined the clues carefully. That none of the numbers were perfectly alike was an important clue. If one were to divide 22 by 4, they would end up with 5.5. This would give her the values of 5,5,6,6. This could then give a series of numbers from 1,4,9,8 to 4,5,6,7.

The next important factor was that the sum of the third and fourth was the first and the second number was larger than the first. This made the second number the largest and the first number the second largest. In addition, this eliminated most solutions. 1 and 4 would add up to 5, for example, not 8. In fact, this made it so that only a certain number of combinations were valid for the third and fourth numbers: Out of these, 4,5 could be eliminated immediately as no single digit was greater than 9.

This left me the combinations with sums of 5, 6, 7, or 8. 5 was simply not possible as 5 twice would be 10 and the required remainder would be 12. Similarly, 6 was out of the question as 12’s remainder would be 10. This meant we could eliminate any such solution.

Continuing on that path left solutions with 7 or 8. Double 7 was 14 with a remainder of 8. Double 8 was 16 with a remainder of 6. This actually eliminated 8 as well as 6 was less than 8.

This left us with solutions of 7 as the only possible solutions. This meant that two numbers had to be 1,6;2,5; or 3,4. Assuming that the fourth clue was a clue, that meant the combination had to be 7,8,3,4.

“The combinations is 7 8 3 4”
A Deadly Enchantress hunts for prey,
In a bag are 5 blue keys and 6 red keys.
The door to safety requires 1 blue and 1 red key.
If you take more than the minimum keys,
The door will seal forever.
You may only draw the keys once.
How many keys do you take?

That is a simple question as well. You simply take the greatest number and add one to the number, so the result is 7. What is the purpose of these questions?

“You need a minimum of 7 keys to guarantee having both a red and blue key, so 7.”

With that, the screen displayed the next question, this one longer such that the screen cycled the lines.

A misguided knight seeks justice.
You must solve the puzzle to escape.
I can be the brightest even without any light,
I may be called sharp, but without edge.
I am but one part of the whole,
yet without me nothing functions.

All of mankind has me,
but it is said some do not use my house.
See, I am not the house,
but the dweller within.
What am I?

I looked at the question. Brightest without light suggested that this was not a light source, but perhaps another meaning of bright. Unfortunately, many possible meaning existed there, so I decided to put the clue aside for the time being. Sharp without edge also seemed a clue meant more for later, so I put that aside as well.

Something that acts as part of a whole, but is necessary to function? That also seemed to have many possibilities, but one thought I had in mind was gears, such as in a clock. Some clocks had redundancies, but I assumed that was likely the kind of thing I was looking for.

‘All of mankind has me’ did narrow down the possibilities as did the idea of not making use of the house. I considered what parts of a human were necessary for the whole to function: The nervous, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, and the digestive system to name a handful... All of these were quite important to the body as a whole.

Or perhaps it was something to do with mankind as a whole? Still, I couldn’t imagine anything that would stop all of mankind just from losing one part. At worst, things like losing technology or government would just cause mankind to downgrade to a lower level.

Still, what of those would it be said that some people don’t make use of? I felt a bit stumped here, so I fiddled with my cube a bit. After musing a bit, I considered the question again. Maybe the ‘I am but one part of the whole’ referred to the system as well? Instead of looking at the entire system, you could look at individual portions, such as the appendix or the tailbone.

I know that some people call others heartless, so maybe that is another way of thinking of how someone didn’t use something. Still, the heart didn’t seem to quite fit the question.

I decided to go back to the first clue. Brightest. What part of a human body could be called ‘bright’? There was one part that could be called ‘dark’, but bright? That said, if opposites are true, then the opposite of the the rear would be the front, which meant, the mouth?

Certainly, teeth are sometimes called bright and sharp, but teeth have edges. Perhaps then it was something nearby? Bright eyes was another term and sharp eyes did exist. In fact, eyes seemed to almost perfectly match, but if you considered losing the eyes, it wouldn’t stop a person from functioning.

Actually, thinking of what might stop a person from functioning if lost, you had the brain, the heart, and the lungs. There were other things as well, but these three things were especially important. Thinking further... what did these house? The lungs housed air, but that did not seem quite right. The heart housed blood, but that also didn’t seem quite right. The brain housed... Hmmm... It was made of cells, but it didn’t really house anything tangible.

Actually, did it have to be tangible? What if... One answer did seem to fit. I wasn’t completely sure, but it did indeed seem to fit. I wondered if the others had come to the same conclusion.

“Hey, you two. I have an idea of what the answer might be, but I wanted to check first. Mr. I Was Framed, well, that might be a bit long, Mr. Framy, what do you think the answer might perhaps be?”

“The answer has to be feelings, right? A misguided knight seeking justice would be quite emotional. You can have bright feelings that aren’t light. Emotions can be sharp and even painful. Each feeling is just one part of the whole and without feelings, a person shuts down. And feelings dwell within the heart, so people can be called heartless.”

Hmmm... he did have a case, but I felt his answer was even more forced than mine.

“I see, but even if a person shuts down emotionally, they can still take action. In fact, a common rule of combat is to kill or control your feelings. I think that answer deviates too far from the question. I do have a similar answer though. What do you think of the mind?”

Mr. Framy opened his mouth as if to argue, but then closed it, as he seemed to consider my answer. The answers were roughly in the same line of thinking, just with a slight divergence. See, the main difference was that without the mind, the person is nothing more than a body that doesn’t do anything at best and it can be said that many people don’t use their brains.

After a few seconds, Mr. Framy spoke again, “That does seem plausible. The hints do seem to be worded to work with the mind.”

Well, it seemed he didn’t see any major issues, so I decided to go with that.

“In that case, my answer is the mind.”

Now, was that the answer expected of me?

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