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LeJerque



Joined: Sep 10, 2003
Posts: 219
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The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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Links to
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Chapter 1: Contests May Vary
Difficulty: Easy
Scoring: 13 Possible Pirate Points
LeJerque sez: Right, kids. It's time to get to work. I started you off with mild puzzles, but I made up for it by including a LOT of them. It's time to hit the ground running. Good luck and have fun!
LeJerque recommends: A division of labor and intelligent use of your team-mates
DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES POST OR DISCUSS PUZZLE ANSWERS ON THE FORUMS! YOU WILL BE DISQUALIFIED IMMEDIATELY!

***

Most nights, the owner and barkeep of the Pen and Puzzlement Tavern relished the percussive sound of pounding on wood. It was the signal that a thirsty customer was at the door, ready to empty his pockets and stay for a night of loud, merry carousing. On a particularly lucky night, Oneiropoios might hope that the customer had brought crew and friends, all similarly eager to hand over their hard-won pieces of eight for a warm fire and a stiff drink.

Tonight, though, the pounding was in his own panicked heart, and in the heavy hammer he continued to slam into his worn, wooden floor. He had, at best, five minutes' lead on the pirates who had chased him to Crystal's Palace when he had attempted to claim the governor's reward with their drinking prize. His hope had been to buy their good spirits back with a piece of the reward, but now, with the ring's secret out in the open, the fantastic ransom up for grabs, and a mob of treasure hunters desperately seeking clues, they'd be after him once more. Breathing shallowly, Oneiropoios wiped his brow, and went back to hammering nails into his floor, bracing his sturdiest chair against the tavern's door with a well-placed plank. It would not hold off his pursuers forever, but it might buy him the time he needed to hide in the cellar, and from there escape through the back door when the mob dropped its guard.

All at once, Oneiropoios realized two fatal flaws in his frantic efforts: That the greedy pirates had arrived sooner than he'd calculated, and that his front door opened outward. Still on his knees, he looked past his fallen chair to the glint of several rather pointy swords waiting just outside. The barkeep swallowed, forcing his stomach back down his throat, and smiled as amiably as he could around the nails he held in his lips. Pierut, standing at the forefront of the group, sneered as she pointed her blade in his direction and motioned him to his feet. "Come now, Mr. Oneiropoios... not last call already, is it?" Oneiropoios sighed gravely, shaking his head and standing, making no sudden moves as Garf and Vainra relieved him of his own cutlass.

Moving swiftly, the pirates filed into the tavern, barring the door behind them. The three captains nodded unspoken orders to their crews, who moved without hesitation to take up positions at the doors and windows. Oneiropoios took his seat as well without needing instruction--it was plain that he had no choice in the matter. Nobody was getting in or out of the Pen and Puzzlement any time soon. Pierut and Spinn slowly sat down, respectively, to his left and right, while Aiziril put himself in the chair directly opposite him. The trio had him pinned to his seat with their accusing glares, and Oneiropoios grimly awaited their retribution.

Twenty minutes later, Oneiropoios had received no retribution. His hands gripped tightly at the chair underneath him, fingernails carving shallow grooves into the wood as his increasingly worried glances leapt from captain to captain. Beads of sweat glistened on his forehead as he tried to keep his breathing calm and steady, silently chewing on the inside of his lip as the pirates continued to glare at him, without speaking or moving. The torturous silence gnawed at the quaking tavernkeep; the piercing gazes of a dozen pairs of eyes bore down on him like a shipload of cannons with swiftly burning fuses.

To one side, the warmth of the fireplace grew slowly dimmer, one thick log collapsing into the fluttering ashes with a reverberating pop, splitting the air like a shot. Oneiropoios nearly jumped out of his chair, shrieking with surprise, and started gushing at his captors in desperation. "I'm sorry! Is that what ye want to hear?! I give ye my apologies for stealin' the blasted ring!" He leaned across the table with trembling hands, continuing to plead, "Just--Spinn, Pierut, say something!"

The three captains glanced to eachother knowingly. While Oneiropoios' anguish was an amusing and fitting punishment, it brought them no closer to the treasures they sought. Aiziril turned his hand over, producing the stoneless ring, and placed it on the table quietly, causing the barkeep to cast his eyes downward in shame. Pierut was the first to speak, looking sadly at her former crewmate. "Why, lad? Why didn't ye just let us in on the tale?"

"Arrr, it's not what ye think," protested Oneiropoios, rising to his feet. "Ye saw that poor old governor! What sort o' heartless fiend wouldn't want to return the ring to him right away? Ye don't know the terrible time he's had. The pain, the anguish, the trauma of it all! Do ye have any idea how awful things have been for our dear Julius?"

"It could be worse," scoffed Righty, leaning against the bar. "At least he doesn't have to watch this."

"Aye, Righty be righty. Er, he be right," sniffed Hermes. "Yer a lyin' rat! Ye did it fer the gold an' ye fools nobody sayin' otherwise!"

"Be silent," Spinn scolded, folding his arms. "Oneiropoios was very kind to think of the governor's plight."

"Actually, it really was for the money," shrugged Oneiropoios, his dramatic tone completely vanishing.

"Oh."

"Well, can ye truly blame me? Nobody wants to get drunk an' cause trouble on an island where the governor mopes about an' stays locked up all the time. It's depressin'! And, aye, havin' that reward would keep me open for a dozen lifetimes, that'd be rather lovely too."

Jacquilynne gave the barman an understanding smile, her voice gentle and soothing. "Mr. Oneiropoios, ye know we'd continue to visit yer tavern," she cooed, placing a hand on his shoulder. Oneiropoios smiled back, relaxing slightly, at which point Jacquilynne's face twisted into a furious sneer. "And until ye tell us everything ye know about that blasted ring, we'll be in here every single night, chasin' yer customers away from our new private drinkin' hall, bringin' in and enjoyin' rum we'll be buyin' from somewhere else."

"Ye bastards!" cried Oneiropoios, "Ye cruel, black-hearted bastards!"

"Of course," put in Aiziril, clearing his throat, "I can't imagine meself coming across the biggest reward in the ocean and not wanting to have several dozen drinks in celebration."

"Aye," smiled Pierut, "Aiziril's right. Ye measures a treasure by how drunk it gets ye!"

"All right, all right," chuckled Oneiropoios, throwing up his hands in surrender. "I'll tell ye about the ring. It's not like I could leave this place unguarded to go after the pieces meself; there be pirates in these waters," he grinned with a wink.

"Pirates! We'll not be safe seekin' the treasure," moaned Fronsac, prompting Artemis to swat him in the back of the head.

"Marvelous," smiled Spinn, standing and clapping Oneiropoios on the shoulder. "I knew I could eventually count on you, my lad." He started leading the young barman away from the group, much to the confusion of the two captains remaining at the table. Pierut looked at Aiziril, his expression confirming that he did not know what was going on either. She cleared her throat loudly, half-standing from her seat and calling after the retreating pair.

"Oi, Spinn. Where is it ye thinks yer goin'?"

Spinn stopped, turning around and quizzically raising an eyebrow. "What do you mean? Mr. Oneiropoios is going to tell me what he knows of the ring."

Aiziril wrinkled his nose incredulously. "Wait... tell just you? Perhaps I'm missing something, Spinn, but..." He lifted his palms upward in a shrug, letting the rest of his obvious question go unspoken as he stared at the other captain.

"Well, I should think so," nodded Spinn nonchalantly. "After all, my crew will be the ones to uncover Cleaver's trail, won't they?"

Aiziril frowned, slowly rising from his seat and clenching his fists. Pierut's head turned back and forth rapidly, looking from one pirate to the other as the man in black began to growl. "I do hope, Spinn, that you're not insinuating what my sailors may or may not be perfectly capable of."

"Never," protested Spinn, placing a hand solemnly over his chest and closing his eyes. "But," he added, opening one eye and then the other as he casually tucked both hands behind his back, "Well... they're not exactly Looterati caliber, are they?"

Aiziril's eyes flashed with fury, even as Pierut gave a hearty laugh and placed a hand reassuringly on his shoulder, half to calm him down and half to hold him back, if need be. "He be havin' a point, ye know, Aiziril. Ye're a lovely crew, but a quest like this calls for a proven crew o' treasure hunters, don't ye think?"

Spinn put a fist to his mouth and gave a small cough. "No offense intended, Miss Pierut, but you're not Looterati either, anymore."

Oneiropoios took a moment to check that he was well beyond the minimum safe distance as he watched Artemis, Garf, and Aiziril all being slowly dragged towards Spinn as they tried to pull Pierut back to her seat. "Ye arrogant toad!" screamed the silvery-haired pirate, her teeth seeming to gleam like a wild animal's. "Ye miserable, barnacle-suckin', scurvy, scupperin'--"

"Oi, ye can't talk to Cap'n Spinn like that," demanded Vainra, hurrying between her commander and his assailant, jabbing a finger scoldingly in her direction.

"Well, it were Cap'n Spinn what started it, ye snivelin' tart," snarled Demeter, moving to Aiziril's side and placing her hands defiantly on her hips. "Fortuna's Beholden are more than a match for--"

"Oi, ye watch who ye're callin' a tart, ye tart!"

"Arrr! Who's a tart, eh?"

"Ye're a tart," sniggered Artemis.

"Curse it, Artemis, I'm goin' to--"

"Ye're all spewin' bilge," snorted Garf, pounding his fist on the bar. "Cap'n Spinn says Looterati's goin' to find that treasure, an' he's always right!"

"Nay, I'm always right," cut in Righty, folding his arms. "An' I says he can shove off an' let Vector show ye sorry lot how it's done!"

"Nay, ye're always Righty," offered LeJerque, "So ye're always havin' the quality o' rightness, which ain't really the same as--"

"I'll kill ye!"

"Vector scum!"

"Scupperin' Looterati!"

"Fortuna's f--"

"OI!" shouted Oneiropoios, pounding both his fists on the bar he was now standing behind. The scattered pirates turned to look his way, holding swords, chairs and bottles just inches shy of their foes. "Lads, lasses, this gets ye noplace at all! Ye all know that even if just one o' ye hears the story, the rest are just goin' to force it out o' me again after ye've left. An' I'd just as soon not repeat either the story or the forcin' thereof."

"An' I suppose ye has a way to settle this?" demanded Hermes, standing atop a table with his sword raised.

"If ye all sail out o' here lookin' for those jewels, ye'll be fightin' the whole way," sniffed the tavernkeeper, "An' I'll be tellin' the tale o' the three ships what sank all at the same spot in the sea. Nay, ye've got to decide here an' now which o' ye has the right to go huntin' fer that treasure, an' I means civil-like!"

"An' how do ye propose to make us do that, eh?" smirked Garf, twirling his blade once.

"Well, if yer brawlin' were to get out o' hand, it'd be a real shame if the only one here who knows anythin' about that treasure were to get killed, don't ye think?"

"Ye can find yerself hurt an' not quite dead, ye know."

Oneiropoios narrowed his eyes, fixing the swordsman with a glare. "Well, perhaps I'll just bleed in yer rum!"

"Arrr! Not that! Ye fiend!" Garf and his companions looked quite queasy at the thought of such a concoction.

"Aye, aye. My crew can win any contest they enter," snorted Aiziril, dusting himself off and righting his chair. "Are we all agreed? A competition for the hunting rights?"

Pierut nodded, letting go of Spinn's neck, letting him nod as well. He coughed quietly and adjusted his fine coat, looking to the group. "Agreed. What manner of contest did you have in mind?"

Oneiropoios grinned, and started setting empty cups on the bar. "I can think of one or two, me hearties... just one or two."

-----

Spinn frowned, weighing the feathered missile in his hand and testing its point with a finger. "Darts, Miss Pierut?"

"Aye, darts," grinned the silver-haired pirate, holding a pair of the long metallic projectiles by their tips. "An honorable test o' who's got the keen eyes of a treasure hunter."

"And the steady arm to sail out and claim it," nodded Aiziril as he straightened a loose feather on his own set of darts.

With a shrug and a calm smile, Spinn gave a conceding nod. "Well, I suppose the game also requires a sharp mind. Closest to one hundred points, you said?"

"Aye. A hundred exactly is best, of course."

Oneiropoios finally returned from the back room, carrying a large wooden disc with a crudely-painted target. "Sorry fer the delay, mates. Had to find the dartboard!" The barman scooped up a thick hammer, and set about nailing the uneven bullseye to the wall, finally stepping back after ensuring it was securely hung. Pierut smirked confidently, stepping up to a crack in the floor that had been agreed upon as the foul line, and making sure her grip was correct as she prepared for her first throw. Measuring the distance and her aim, she squinted one eye at the target for several moments, and then squinted the other for a few seconds. She then squinted both eyes, slowly frowning, and turned to Oneiropoios with a reproachful sigh.

"Mr. Oneiropoios, I may be graspin' at straws, but I suspect ye may have made this dartboard just now."

"Whyever would ye say such a thing, Miss Pierut? That be a fine an' lovely board fer dartin'!"

"Miss Pierut may well be right," chuckled Spinn, stepping forward to have a closer look at the rough wooden oval. "My experience in this sport is limited, admittedly, but I believe the point is to have the bullseye somewhere near the middle."

"There's usually more than six point values, as well," sniffed Aiziril, sticking his darts into the bar and marching over to inspect the shoddy playing area. "And they're supposed to go from one to twenty!" He poked a finger at the evidently damp numbers, scoffing. "Look here... ye've got a 16, a 23, a 39, 24, 17, and 40!" He rounded on Oneiropoios, arms folded. "Ye could have at least put the 40 in the centermost ring! Were ye even trying?!"

"Arrr, so I lost the dartboard," sniffed Oneiropoios, "Ye're the daft lot who wanted this as yer contest!"

Aiziril grumbled, pushing Pierut and Spinn aside and leveling a dart at the makeshift target. "Never ye mind, mates, it'll have to do. I don't care how many darts it takes me, but I'm goin' to throw that perfect hundred one way or another!"

-----

"Stop yer yawnin', boyo, ye'll have me fallin' asleep as well," complained Jacquilynne. LeJerque completed his shuddering stretch and leaned back against his chair, grumbling in frustration. He and his crewmates had been shuffled off to the corner tables while the captains had their contest, which was starting to look like it might take a while.

"Well, he's bored, lass, much like the rest o' us," grumbled Fronsac, leaning on his hand and sighing exhaustedly. "I don't see why they doesn't just play Sailor, Swill, Scimitar, an' have it done with."

"How do ye play that?" mused Jacquilynne, quirking an eye at the tired sailor. "I've never heard o' such a game."

"Arrr, it be real helpful fer decidin' a pickle like this one," nodded Fronsac, sitting back up and holding out his hands. "Ye plays it like this: Two mates face off, and on a three-count, they both holds out a hand with their choice o' either a sailor, a scimitar, or a mug o' swill!" He pointed two fingers downward, and rested them on the table. "This be the sailor! Ain't he a jolly fellow, then?" He made the hand-puppet jump up and down, prompting the other occupants of the table to nod warily. Fronsac smiled, next closing the two fingers together and aiming them forward, acros the table at Vainra, who wrinkled her nose impatiently. He continued, "This be the scimitar, see, an' it'll run the sailor through. Anybody holdin' this beats anybody holdin' a sailor."

"What if the sailor's a grand-master o' swordfightin'?" sniffed Vainra.

"He still loses," growled Fronsac. "It's me game an' I say the scimitar beats the sailor! But o' course, if ye hold this," he added, cupping his hand as if holding a thick mug, "The swill... well, swill be a caustic brew to be sure, an' it'll eat right through that thin blade! Swill beats the scimitar, so ye see."

"I knew it," cheered LeJerque, hoisting his actual mug. "Nothin' beats swill!"

"Just one thing beats swill, lad," chuckled Fronsac, pointing briefly to LeJerque before putting his fingers back down in the "sailor" gesture. "A sailor can stomach any known thing, an' he gulps the swill right down!"

"I don't like this game," frowned Jacquilynne. "There's no way to win it. Everythin' loses to somethin' else!"

Fronsac covered his eyes with his hand, preparing to explain the game's purpose to his detractor, but he was interrupted by LeJerque, whose attention had wandered back to the captains. "Oi, I think maybe somebody won!"

"Arrr, was it Spinn?"

"No, wait, now they're sayin' the darts are homemade too."

"Bah!" spat Fronsac, kicking the table impatiently. "The greatest treasure a pirate could dream of, an' here we are lazin' about!"

"Hear hear," chimed Vainra. "Ye'd think we'd at least have a proper sailor's contest!" She grabbed her nearly-empty mug of ale from the table, and thrust it meaningfully into the air. "Everyone knows it be the swill what proves yer will!"

"Arrr, 'tis some boast comin' from the lucky lubber at the head o' the table," snapped Jacquilynne, "As ye'd be goin' first! The one who drinks first always gets the scale tipped in 'er favor!"

Vainra rolled her eyes, and stood up from her chair, making an overdramatic show of dusting it off. "Please, m'lady, go an' sit yer royal stern in ye most valuable o' seats."

"Oh, no ye don't!" cried LeJerque, jumping to his feet as well. "I'm not drinkin' after miss Jacquilynne, I'll stand no chance at all!"

"Oh, this be a load o' ballast," groaned Fronsac. "Look, if ye think it matters so much, we'll even out the teams so there's two from each of us three crews, an' we'll just have to have one drinkin' contest for every possible order we six can sit in at this table!"

"Ye've got brain-scurvy!" coughed Jacquilynne incredulously. "Have ye even a notion o' how many rounds we'd have to have?"

"Can't handle that much to drink?" smirked Vainra, folding her arms defiantly. "Though... nay, I don't. Why?"

-----

Resting his chin in the palm of his hand, Hermes stared in the general direction of nothing. He'd long since lost count of the planks that made up the ceiling, and was now using his tongue to visualize the back of his teeth. A hand fell sharply onto his shoulder, causing him to flinch in surprise and nearly bite himself. He turned with an annoyed snort to see who was bothering him, finding himself looking up at Demeter's smug grin. "Captain Aiziril's goin' to win this contest easy, ye know."

Hermes contemplated ignoring her, but assured himself it wouldn't make the woman go away. "Ye're welcome to go on thinkin' as such, lass."

"It's only just an' right," giggled Demeter, nudging a chair into position across from the lone sailor and daintily setting herself upon it. "After all, 'tis the best crew in the ocean that ought to go seekin' the best prize." She grinned across at him, patting her sternum twice. "That'd be us, naturally."

Hermes narrowed his eyes. "We Vector are a crack crew, and more than able in our duties. There's not a sail, gun, or pump we can't handle!"

"Aye? I can take a sail, an' raise it to full in only three steps!"

"Three steps?" blinked Hermes, suddenly confused. He started counting off the motions on his fingers as he mentally went through the process he'd done so many times. It had been so long since he had first learned to sail, he hardly thought of the individual steps anymore. "Well, ye've got to unsecure the ropes, an' worry about trimmin'--"

"Sail, fail, fall, full!" chanted Demeter, folding her arms triumphantly. Hermes stared at her with a quirked eye, wrinkling his nose questioningly. Demeter giggled back, and held up three fingers. "Ye see? Startin' with the word 'Sail,' I takes three steps to change it to 'Full!' Change ye 'S' at the start to make 'Sail' into 'Fail,' an' then ye change the 'I'... Providin' each step be a word in plain English, an' not countin' the first word, three steps is all it takes to take a sail an' make it full!"

"Oh. Well, I'm not sure what it has to do with sailin', but..."

"Well, ye've got to sail or the voyage will fail, an' providin' the wind doesn't fall, ye'll have 'em billowin' out full!"

Hermes groaned, shaking his head. "That's awful. Don't ye say that ever again."

"Oh, ye're no fun," teased Demeter, tossing her hair playfully. "I suppose it takes a truly smart sailor to appreciate the finer points o' shipboard duties anyway."

"Is that a fact?" Hermes straightened up in his seat, turning his nose upward slightly with an indignant sniff. "Well, perhaps I simply found your little game to be too amateurish for my tastes."

"Amateurish, is it?" grinned Hermes' opponent, leaning back over her own chair. "Ye're so smart, I suppose ye can do other duties... harder ones!" She snapped her fingers, her face brightening with inspiration. "Arr, I know! I'll bet ye can't take 'Grog' an' load it into the 'Hold' in just 11 steps!"

"That be a novice's duty, indeed," cooed Artemis, appearing at the side of the table and sitting upon it. "I can do it in just 7 steps, myself."

Demeter growled and shoved at Artemis. "Ye interlopin' bilge rat! This be my challenge; get yer own!"

"Har, ye needs me to make it a proper challenge! Yer way is stupid."

"Shove off, ye seawater-swillin' swab!"

"I'll swab YE--"

"Oi, none o' yer harpin'," snapped Hermes. "I'll do it in 11 steps, and 7 as well."

"Well, don't ye repeat any steps back an' forth to make any extra!" both ladies immediately demanded. Hermes rolled his eyes, grumbling. Of all the things for them to agree upon...

-----

"This makes it a draw, then?"

"Nay, it means I win!"

Spinn rubbed a pair of fingers against his temple in frustration. "I think, my friends, that Pierut's ability to split the board in twain with her last dart means that Mr. Oneiropoios is going to have to locate another one." He quirked an eye impatiently at the barman, who was already scurrying off to renew his search. "A proper one!" Pierut and Aiziril watched their host depart, and returned to their table, smiling gratefully as Spinn refilled their drinks. "To good help, gentleman and lady, the most difficult of all treasures to find."

"Aye to that," giggled Pierut, drinking deeply and tossing her hair. "I tell ye, lads, whosoever does wind up chasin' this fortune is goin' to have rough seas, mark me words!"

"Ye should just let me give it a crack, then," groaned Aiziril, casting a long look over to where Artemis and Demeter were arguing loudly. "Every voyage is a battle, it seems, brigands or not."

"Arrr, at least ye're sailin' with a known quantity," laughed Pierut, shaking her finger in a mock-scolding gesture. "Ye should try hirin' some green crew members once in a great while!"

"Famous last words," laughed Spinn, tipping his hat back slightly. "I believe we have all borne that particular burden of captaincy more often than we care to recount."

"I'll recount ye this one, Spinn, for I'll never forget this day as long as I yet live," Aiziril chuckled, rolling his eyes. "I still count this day as proof that fate is an enemy more cruel than the Black Ship.

"It had been a profitable voyage that day, I'd counted myself fortunate that we'd fared so well. Especially given me crew at the time--I had set out on a sloop with only miss Demeter and an impoverished young lad who had begged me for work. Needless to say, I'm wary o' hirin' on someone so green, but miss Demeter promised to keep her eye on 'im. I tell ye, though, she regretted that the first league out. I ordered the lad to man the pumps, and when Demeter relieved him, she found herself waist-deep, workin' double-hard to empty out all the bilge he'd let in. When she finally came above decks, she had the great privilege of untangling the sails, cleaning the guns... thankfully, she were able to vent her frustrations on a ship o' brigands who chanced to attack us.

"The battle was nearly my last, but we thrashed 'em good. We claimed several thousand pieces of eight, and made for the nearest island before we sank. Of course, when I went to lower a landing craft, I found them horribly damaged from the battle! The only one left was barely seaworthy enough to float. I knew I'd have to pilot it myself; Demeter wasn't seeing straight from rage, and the new lad had proved his inability to... well, to do anything at all. Beyond my weight, though, the craft would only be able to support either Demeter, the green sailor, or the particularly large treasure at any one time. To make matters worse, I knew that if I left the lad and our treasure unattended together, a fair portion of the treasure might turn up missing... and as tempting as it was, I felt it would be in bad judgment to leave Demeter alone with the boy, lest he turn up missing."

Spinn and Pierut breathed an appreciative sigh, smiling sympathetically at their fellow captain as he finished up the tale. "So, there I was, left to make landfall with my crew and our booty. I tell ye, mates, there's nothing that comes easy to a captain."

"Truer words were never spoken, my boy," nodded Spinn, setting his drink down. He pursed his lips a moment in thought, and his gaze moved past Aiziril, searching into the distance for a memory. "You know, your tale reminds me of a similar trouble I had once with trying to unload a vessel..."

"Oi! Do ye mean the incident on the docks o' Sitwell Island?" piped Pierut, her face brightening. "It took us longer to get ye off the vessel than we'd spent at sea!"

Spinn smiled to his old friend, and nodded acknowledgement. "Yes, that's the one. Thank you, miss Pierut, the name had eluded me. Mr. Aiziril, if ever you should happen to find yourself in port on Sitwell Island, I advise you to check your holds quite thoroughly for stowaways."

"Stowaways?" echoed Aiziril, his expression now wide with curiosity. "Now, there's one bit o' trouble I'm glad to say I've not had." He smirked, adding, "Yet."

"They're trouble in more ways than you may guess," Spinn chuckled. "We never did discover where we had picked them up, but somewhere along the way to Sitwell, we acquired two unaccounted-for passengers; a young boy and his younger sister. They finally revealed themselves when the time came to disembark."

"Disembarkin' were a chore, too, aye Spinn? That were the one drawback o' sailin' on the Tired Newt!" grinned Pierut, lifting her drink towards the storyteller.

"Ah, yes... a ship I almost regret no longer owning," nodded Spinn. Taking a small sip of rum, he turned back to Aiziril, waving a hand in explanation. "The Tired Newt, you see, was a Grand frigate of immense and strange proportion. I purchased it largely for novelty. This vessel had two extra decks to it, a property that gave it nearly twice the hold space, and a great deal more height. A number of times I thought it would tip over in a strong wind!

"Unfortunately, this made boarding the vessel an arduous task. Since it rested at a level so far taller than the docks, one would have to make use of a rope ladder, or an extremely long gangplank. On the day in question, we were making use of the latter. We had dropped anchor a sufficiently long distance from shore, and had waited for the seas to calm, so that we might carefully walk down to the safety of the docks.

"As it came to pass, I had successfully overseen the unloading of our cargo and crew, and thought myself the last man aboard. Pierut, here, was the only pirate with enough courtesy to wait at the other end of the gangplank for my arrival before dashing off to spend her share."

"Only because ye promised me a new bandanna in the shoppes!" giggled Pierut.

Spinn glanced to the laughing woman, pretending to look hurt at the accusation. "And I delivered it, did I not?"

"Aye, that ye did, an' a very pretty color it were indeed," nodded Pierut, turning to Aiziril to continue the story. "So, I'm waitin' on Cap'n Spinn to hurry ashore, when suddenly up next to him pops these trespassin' urchins! They're dashin' all frantic-like towards the gangplank--I think they probably guessed that if they didn't get off then, they'd be stuck on board until we came back, whenever that'd be. So they rushes right on up, an' in all their jumpin' around an' scurryin' about, what do ye think happens?"

Aiziril winced, drawing the obvious conclusion. "Farewell to the gangplank, then?"

"Quite so," nodded Spinn. "In their haste to leave the vessel, my pair of stowaways had now destroyed our means of doing so. They wordlessly watched it fall into the sea below, and looked up to me, whimpering helplessly. With no intention of striking children, and with no crew aboard to strike them for me, I was now faced with the seemingly-impossible task of getting myself and these two troublemakers off of the Tired Newt."

"Arrr, I came to yer aid, didn't I? Don't make yerself sound so helpless," shot Pierut. "Right away I arranged to borrow a dinghy from the dockmaster!"

"Borrow?"

"All right, so I coshed 'im one an' took it," muttered Pierut, rolling her eyes. "I suppose ye were goin' to throw me the fee from the deck?"

"You did as our desperate circumstances demanded, I think," smirked Spinn. "In any case, Pierut rowed her way out to meet us straightaway, but with our own landing craft having departed with our cargo, we still had the task of getting down to sea level. Thankfully, between Pierut and myself, we were able to devise a crude method.

"I lashed together a few empty barrels and secured them to a pulley and rope, which luckily turned out to be just long enough that, when the makeshift hoist was lowered into the water, the other end of the rope was at our level on deck. To this end, I tied a few more barrels, creating another hoist and the perfect counterweight. There was enough room that myself and the children could rest inside the barrels, and lower ourselves into the water below, where Pierut would take us aboard and ferry us to shore. The problem, of course, was that we could not simply all do so--such an imbalance would send us all plunging into the sea fast enough to injure ourselves, destroy the pulley, or perhaps destroy Pierut's craft. At my best guess, I believed that the overall weight difference between the two sets of barrels could never be more than 1 stone with a live passenger aboard, or we risked our demise.

"It was excessively fortunate, then, that the urchins were able to recall their correct weights. The boy claimed to weigh 7 stone, and his sister weighed 6." Spinn paused for an unusually long time, coughing quietly with an awkward look on his face. Aiziril lifted an eyebrow, glancing over to Pierut, who was grinning smugly, leaning back in her chair.

"Cap'n Spinn weighed 13 stone, is the part ye're wonderin'," she giggled.

Spinn cleared his throat, glancing back and forth. "Yes, well... I was wearing an especially large hat, and there was water in my boots, I'm sure. At any rate, this still did not give us a safe way down, as the first one of us into the barrels would simply plunge into the sea with no counterweight. Luck was again on our side, though, as I located the very last bit of cargo aboard the vessel: a stray cannonball, weighing 5 stone. Heavy though it was, I found that it could be loaded into the barrels and lowered by itself without risk."

"Aye, an' I could take it into me rowboat without sinkin'," added Pierut.

"I believe I don't have to tell you, Aiziril, that I have no desire to this day to ride in any other barrels, rum-soaked or not."

"So ye managed to get everyone off safely, ye did?" inquired Aiziril.

"I'm alive and well today, am I not?"

"Aye, but..." Aiziril wrinkled his nose, glancing at the floor for a moment before looking back to Pierut and Spinn. "What I don't understand... even if ye managed to get to shore, how did ye ever manage to re-board the vessel, floatin' out there far away from the docks?"

Pierut fell into a fit of giggling, squinting her eyes tightly as Spinn sighed and shook his head. "Now, my lad, you know why I no longer own the Tired Newt."

-----

The damp wood creaked as it was lifted into the air and inverted, the grumbling sailor below peering at the barrel with a disappointed frown. "Empty as well," moaned Garf, setting the barrel back down roughly. "If this contest don't end soon-like, there'll be nary a drop left to drink in this entire tavern!"

"Ye could pay Mr. Oneiropoios to bring up a few more barrels," chuckled Righty.

Garf glanced over at the snickering sailor, who hadn't bothered to look up from where he was carving his initials into a table. "Belay that nonsense an' help me look, ye blaggard. There's got to be some liquor to be foraged in here someplace!" He started striding over, intent on persuading Righty out of his seat, when his foot struck something under the table with a heavy thud. "Aha!" he cried, pushing the table and its occupant to one side, revealing his discovery. "Two more smallish barrels, ye see? An' they looks half-full after all!"

"Shh! Do ye want to spill the secret to everybody?" scolded Righty with a whisper, his eyes shifting back and forth slyly. "Come on, we'll have the rum ourselves."

"A fine course, Mr. Righty, an' the best plan I've heard all night." Securing a stray mug, Garf greedily started prying open the cask with his sword, eager to taste his find. "Brilliant--five mugs' worth left in each, an' they be all ours!" He gazed down at the clear liquid, and inhaled deeply, closing his eyes to savor the thick aroma... but frowned again, finding no scent to greet him. "Blast an' scupper it... 'tis naught but water!" He gnashed his teeth, glaring around to try and locate the barman. "What sort o' tavern stocks water? It be unnatural, says I!"

"Hard luck, Mr. Garf," grinned the other pirate, standing proudly over his own barrel. Garf gaped in disbelief at Righty's barrel, which was filled with an equal volume of liquid, but with five helpings of tantalizing rum instead of plain, useless water. Righty rubbed his hands together eagerly, and licked his lips. "Ye enjoy yer drink, lad, an' I'll meet ye at the bottom of the barrel!"

"Oi! Ye'll not take a better share than me, ye're no cap'n o' mine," growled Garf, shoving Righty away from his barrel and plunging his mug inside, scooping out as much rum as would fit in the sturdy tankard.

"That rum be mine," protested Righty, scrambling back to his barrel and looking at its slightly diminished contents in horror. "Ye picked yer barrel fair an' square; leave me rum be!"

"I'll not go without a single mug o' rum, an' no man or woman can tell me otherwise!" With a curt nod, Garf poured the rum into his own barrel, mixing it with the water evenly. "Arrr, at the very least, I'll be able to stomach this swill now."

"Ye're a cruel man, ye are," sniffed Righty, mourning his lost rum and staring at his barrel forlornly.

"Arrr, stop yer snivelin'!" grumbled Garf, shaking his head in disgust. "Here ye've still got nearly all the rum and ye're makin' a fuss? Fine, have this, ye'll have yer five mugs, at least!" With that, Garf dipped the mug back into his own barrel, refilling it with his rum-and-water cocktail, and emptied it into Righty's barrel. Righty sputtered in shock, throwing his hands up at the amateur distiller.

"Now ye're just makin' things worse! Don't ye water down me rum with yer horrible barrel!"

"Oh, leave off complainin'," scoffed Garf, rolling his eyes. "At least I got more rum than ye got water."

"Ye say that like it's a fine turn o' events, an' anyways it be not true!"

"It ain't? Did ye get more water or did I get more rum?"

-----

"If I were marryin' the guv'ner's daughter, I'd bring her a proper treasure," mused a particularly rosy-cheeked Fronsac. "I'd build her a grand frigate, I would, an' name it for her."

"Ye're a romantic soul after all," declared LeJerque, tapping his mug to the others' before finishing it off. "I wonder what's so bloody special about this ring we're s'posed to find."

"An' what o' the other treasure, then, ye great dunce?" giggled Jacquilynne, her arm shaking as it fought to keep the rest of her body from collapsing on the table.

"Well, I know already what's special about a grand frigate," hiccuped the scruffy sailor, toasting his now-empty mug and attempting to drink from it again.

"Come, lads, really think on it!" groaned Vainra, shaking her cup at her companions. "What could possibly be so special an' valuable? I wager ye that suitor must have recovered a really rare stone!"

"Aye, an'... an' soaked it in kraken's blood!" breathed Fronsac, awed.

"An' wrapped it in fine black cloth," sighed Jacquilynne dreamily.

"Arrr, he could do that here on the Ice Shards," spat Vainra. "He must have found somethin' truly rare."

"I can't even imagine it," yawned LeJerque, letting his mug roll onto the floor.

The four pirates contemplated the insides of their assorted drinking vessels, listening to the occasional thunk of a dart embedding itself into the wall. Vainra looked up suddenly, blinking twice. "Ye know, Cap'n Spinn is always talkin' about a rare treasure," she remarked with curiosity.

"Aye, we know--the triploons," smirked Jacquilynne.

"Well, those too," nodded Vainra, "But another one besides those. He says it's a treasure so rare an' delicate that ye can break it just by speakin' its name!"

"Arrr, what manner o' treasure be that?" murmured LeJerque.

"Buggered if I remember," shrugged Fronsac.

-----

Oneiropoios knocked open the door to the back room, beaming at his guests in triumph. "I found it! I knew it were back there, me hearties!"

Aiziril rose from his seat, cracking his knuckles eagerly. "Found the dartboard at last, have ye? Now we'll finally settle this contest."

Grunting with effort, Oneiropoios received wide-eyed stares from the three captains as he hauled in the largest dartboard any of them had seen. "Aye, now this be a proper board, says I! So I'll hear no more o' yer complaints!" With that, he roughly dropped the massive circle of wood onto the table, scattering their mugs. "This were a gift from the governor himself," boasted the tavernkeeper with a grin. "Ye'll not find a finer game o' darts in all the Locum Ocean!"

Mystified, Spinn leaned over the dartboard to inspect it. The play area was divided into five concentric circles, each of which had five equal regions marked with an intricately carved number, ranging inclusively from 1 to 25. The numbers did not, he noted, increase in value as they neared the center. Spinn looked up to Oneiriopoios to pose the obvious question.

"Aye, I know what ye be thinkin', boyo," the barman cut him off. "But look ye here... this dartboard be so unique as to provide a different game every time ye plays!" With a flourish of his arm, he reached down to the dartboard, and held his hand against the innermost circle. Pierut gasped in amazement as Oneiropoios gave it a twist, sending the circle rotating independently of the other four. "Ye see?" he smiled, demonstrating with the other circles, "Every time, before ye play, ye give all o' these sections a spin! The numbers never wind up in the same places, and ye've got a wholly unique game! Now it be a true test o' yer aim, instead o' givin' the win to any pirate who's just got one throw perfected."

"Amazing," breathed Spinn. "This will make our contest interesting indeed! Such a random scattering of the points will ensure a real challenge."

"Oi, they're not so random," pointed out Pierut, tracing her finger around the outermost ring. "7, 5, 23, 16, 14," she counted off. "They adds up to 65. Now, ye look at the next ring... 13, 6, 4, 22, 20. Ye've got 65 again!"

Spinn blinked, and glanced over the three remaining rings. "2, 25, 18, 11, 9... 17, 15, 8, 1, 24... 19, 12, 10, 3, 21. Sure enough, each ring comprises 65 possible points."

"That be not all," chuckled Oneiropoios, giving the circles another twist. "The very first time I set this board up, I absolutely swears to ye that I lined up the numbers in the rings into five rows, goin' out from the center... an' those five rows also added up to 65 each!"

"Impossible," snorted Aiziril. "How did you arrange them? Show us."

"It were pure chance," shrugged Oneiropoios, "An' I haven't been able to do it again since. If it happens again, mark ye, I'll be writin' it down!"

Pierut pushed the barman out of the way, grinning madly. "I'll do it."

Spinn blinked, glancing from the dartboard to the darts and back to Pierut. "Er, we've still got the small matter of a contest," he reminded her.

Aiziril nodded in agreement. "Aye, ye remember? Legendary treasure, fantastic reward, high adventure? Sound familiar, lass?"

"Hush yer faces," cackled Pierut, pulling at the wheels eagerly. "I wants to see how they line up!"

"Oi, don't break it," cried Oneiropoios, trying to insinuate his hands between his prized dartboard and the pirate captain. "Ye can't change their order, just where they begin! The numbers don't come off individually, ye know, they just spin."

"Sounds like a job for me, then," grinned Spinn, rubbing his palms together and striding towards the wheels.

-----

"Slovenly trollop!"

"Horrid wench!"

"Scurvy tart!"

"Foul harlot!"

"Frumpy strumpet!"

"Arrr, that's a good one."

"Ye think so? I've been savin' it, I have."

Hermes breathed slowly, trying to soothe the growing ache behind his eyes as he wandered away from the squabbling pair of ladies at his table. They had long since forgotten their challenge to him; indeed, they seemed to have forgotten him entirely. With any luck, Pierut would have won the contest, and he'd be sailing again soon. He smiled momentarily to himself, pleased with the knowledge that whoever wound up with the salvage rights to the lost jewels, at least he'd be out of this tavern and away from these boastful charlatans. He made his way over to where his captain was excitedly examining what seemed to be a dartboard, and raised his brow eagerly, ready to congratulate her on her win. "Ahoy, cap'n! Triumphed at last? Never doubted ye, cap'n, never for a moment doubted ye!"

Pierut looked up in surprise, blinking to her lookout. "Oh, no, Mr. Hermes. I'm just now almost finished arrangin' the dartboard so's we can have the contest."

Hermes' face changed from shock, to disappointment, to confusion, and finally to frustration. He bellowed at his captain, nearly bowling her over in surprise and drawing the attention of everyone in the tavern. "Ye've not played yer blasted game o' darts yet?! All night long we been restin' on our laurels, waitin' fer ye to decide who gets to seek this treasure--which we've not learned a single clue about yet, mind ye--and ye're still just preparin' to throw a handful o' miserable darts?! For pity's sake, the sun's comin' up already!"

Spinn and Aiziril blinked to eachother, and glanced to a small window. They squinted, realizing that the sun truly was starting to crawl over the horizon, its light and warmth starting to lap at the shores of the Ice Shards like the rising tide.

"They haven't played yet?" sputtered Garf, hurrying over to the table, slack-jawed with disbelief.

"Ye're pullin' me leg," groaned Jacquilynne blearily, staggering over as well. "It's been hours already!"

"What have ye blaggards been doin' this whole time?" demanded Vainra, snarling at the surprised captains as she and her fellow sailors surrounded the table. Pierut grimaced, her mind racing to answer her upset crew.

"Oh, scupper all," scoffed Artemis, pushing her way into view. "Mr. Oneiropoios!" The barman perked up, striding over to the group with an eager-to-please expression which was replaced by a frightened yelp as Artemis grabbed him by the shirt and practically flung him into a chair. "Ye're goin' to tell yer precious story to every last pirate here, an' it had blasted well be worth the wait!"

Oneiropoios swallowed hard, looking around quickly at the gathering of nodding, grumbling pirates. He glanced to the captains for reassurance, but found their faces as worried as his own. He sighed, accepting yet another dead end, and cleared his throat. "Very well. Ye see, lads, I've known about the missin' treasures for a good long while. A reward like this one is hard to miss! Yet I were landlocked here, unable to go off huntin' fer the booty meself. Business might have been slowed a mite, but I weren't about to risk gallavantin' off fer the loot to save me tavern, only to come back an' find it razed.

"But one slow evenin', I'm just about closin' up when a boastful lad wearin' officer's clothin' comes to bangin' on me door, orderin' me to let him in an' serve him drinks." Oneiropoios smirked, glancing off to one side and snickering with recalled skepticism. "I tells the fellow to shove off, o' course, but that just riles him up further. Says to me, I'd best pour him a drink if I values me health, for he sails with none other than the fearsome Cap'n Cleaver." Seeing the growing interest in his audience's faces, the barman grinned just slightly, pausing for dramatic effect. "I didn't believe him at first, but then he shows me what he's brought to pay with... enough coin to purchase me entire stock, an' a certain little ring what's missin' its gem.

"I blessed me luck, an' set about relievin' this gent o' the ring, sure it were proof o' Julius' treasures. I pours him mug after mug o' me strongest brew, just waitin' fer him to drink up the generosity to part with his precious bauble. After his fifteenth round, he excuses himself fer a spot o' fresh air. I'm thinkin' I've got 'im now, so I follows him down the road real quiet-like. Five times he leans heavy against a buildin' like he's goin' to finally pass out, but he lasts long enough to stagger all the way to the docks." The barman took a deep, shuddering breath, burying his face in his hands, and gave a mournful moan. "An' as I watches, helpless, he finally collapses on the pier... an' a little shiny circle o' gold rolls out o' his hand, over the wood, an' drops right into the sea."

Spinn closed his eyes, placing a reassuring hand on his friend's shoulder. "A tragic and sorrowful tale, Mr. Oneiropoios. I imagine you never expected to see the ring again."

"Aye, plenty o' woe to go around," sniffed Aiziril unsympathetically. "Fascinating though the story be, lad, it also gets us no closer to the other piece of the ring."

"Oh, well," spat Oneiropoios annoyedly. "I suppose it's worth mentionin' he had this on 'im." He reached into a pocket, and produced a tattered roll of parchment, spreading it out on the table. Aiziril's reply died on his lips as he stared, dumbstruck, at a detailed chart of the entire archipelago. Several notes and scrawled lines indicated the intended route of a voyage yet to be sailed--or perhaps of a route already completed. Twelve sets of eyes stared at the chart, nobody daring to even breathe. All too soon, however, the shock once again gave way to anger.

"Ye lyin' cheat--ye've had the treasure map this whole time!"

"At any time ye could have--and ye made us--ye miserable--!"

"I'll kill ye!"

"Give that here!" A hand shot out and seized the chart, the ancient document fluttering in the air as it was yanked to one side.

"Oi! I'll kill ye instead, ye drop that chart!" Lashing out with a snap, another hand grabbed for the chart, pulling it back the other way. Within seconds, seven hands were attached to the vital clue, pulling for dear life. Aiziril and Pierut screamed in warning; Spinn could only cover his eyes in horror and brace for the inevitable outcome... and with a dry, terrible ripping that echoed through the Pen and Puzzlement, the damage was done. The sound of the treasure map being torn to pieces felt to the pirates like the shredding of their very souls as they realized what they'd done. Oneiropoios looked at the scattered pieces of the chart and stiffened, looking as though he might weep.

Pierut knelt slowly, gingerly picking up a fragment of the parchment that had ended up by her feet. Spinn and Aiziril did likewise, solemnly recovering what they could of the shredded document, looking over the remains of what until recently had promised to be their greatest adventure yet. She studied the paper, turning it over in her fingers and rubbing at the frayed edge delicately. "Lads, what's done is done," she spoke, closing her hand around her piece of the chart. "I intend to have meself a good look fer the ruined ring, even if this be all I've got to start with."

"Agreed," Spinn and Aiziril immediately replied, almost simultaneously.

For a moment, the captains blinked in surprise at one another, as though none of them had expected the others to feel the same way they did. Aiziril warily tucked his fragment into a coat pocket, while Spinn silently motioned for his crew to assemble, his eyes never leaving Pierut, who gave a sidelong look towards Aiziril as she cleared her throat. "Arrr, well... I'm... glad we're all givin' it a try, then."

"Yes, quite," Spinn murmured slowly. "It will be... quite interesting to see how we all fare, I imagine."

"Oh, aye," put in Aiziril, forcing a smile. "Can ye imagine if one o' us really tracks down the jewels? Wouldn't that be somethin'?"

The leaders of the assembled crews gave a round of thoroughly unconvincing laughter, causing their teams to glance at eachother uneasily. Fronsac spoke up, loudly. "Shall I purchase supply fer the Wittling, Cap'n Spinn?" He was unsure of where the conversation had been heading, but he was very eager to divert its course.

"Yes, well done, Mr. Fronsac," nodded Spinn, beginning to smile with confidence. "We shall depart immediately."

"Aye, make ready, Vector," barked Pierut, turning to her crew with a ferocious grin. "Load up an' prepare to cast off!"

"Oi, where are we goin' to buy supplies at this hour?" piped LeJerque, cutting off his captain before he could give a similar order. "The shoppes aren't goin' to be open fer hours yet."

"Then we shall buy them right here," replied Aiziril, turning around to face Oneiropoios, who was still eyeing the pirates curiously, wondering what had renewed their hope so suddenly. "Mr. Oneiropoios, I will pay double your prices if you will sell me the rest of your rum here and now."

"Ah, Mr. Oneiropoios, surely we can work out an even better arrangement," smiled Spinn, "Being such good, old friends."

"Nay, forget those lads," cooed Pierut, sidling up next to the bewildered tavernkeeper. "Sell me yer stock and I'll bring ye back the finest hat ye've ever worn."

"L-look," stammered Oneiropoios, backing away from his encroaching customers, "Clearly we're never goin' to settle who's goin' to buy me stock. Ye three can buy equal shares, an' that'll be that. All right?"

Aiziril opened his mouth to argue, but the fiercely impatient looks of his crew gave him pause. "Aye, aye, agreed. Let's divide it up, then. What have ye got left?"

"Let's find out," answered the barman, rubbing his palms together. He made his way through the crowd, pirates stepping out of his way as he went to inspect his wares, taking note of the various casks that had been scattered about over the course of the evening, and inspecting the ones not yet opened. "Oi--I keeps a small reserve under this table," wondered Oneiropoios, bending down for a closer look.

"Arrr, ye must have misplaced it," insisted Righty, shifting from one foot to the other.

"But I were sure--"

"Ye misplaced it!" growled Garf, his eyes darting about frantically.

"Well, then, this be the lot," shrugged Oneiropoios. "All that be left here are these 21 barrels."

"Marvelous," nodded Spinn. "7 barrels should see us through until we can resupply at our destination."

"What be our destination, cap'n?" asked Fronsac, curiously.

"Somewhere," snapped Spinn, looking annoyed.

"Come to think o' it, Cap'n Aiziril, where are we--" started Demeter, before the black-clad sailor cut her off.

"An island," hissed Aiziril, glaring at his crew. The sailors of Vector looked worriedly to their own captain, and abashedly kept silent, shuffling in place. Pierut frowned inwardly, disappointed that she hadn't gotten to give the cryptic answer she'd already thought of.

"Well, I'd gladly sell ye 7 barrels o' rum," Oneiropoios resumed, "But I don't think it'd be an even split. Of these 21 barrels, only 7 be full. These other 7, here, ye've already emptied. An' these last seven are each halfway full! Or halfway empty, dependin' on if ye're the sort to complain."

"Don't ye give me that look, Mr. Oneiropoios."

"Never dream of it, Mr. Aiziril."

"Hurry up an' split 'em," insisted Hermes. "I don't care where we're goin' anymore, I just want to go there."

"Oi, we'll take the empty barrels along with our share," piped LeJerque with a smile.

"Aye!" agreed Artemis, "Good thinkin', lad, we can use the wood to patch our hull, if need be."

"Wait a moment--we can use those barrels too!" argued Jacquilynne.

"Aye, and ye never know when we might need to lower the cap'n into the longboat," giggled Vainra.

"Fine," groaned Spinn, rolling his eyes annoyedly. "We'll split it so that each crew gets an equal share of rum, and an equal number of barrels. Will that make you happy?"

"Only if we don't have to move any rum from barrel to barrel," moaned Pierut. "We'd spill it!"

-----

The view from the roof of the Pen and Puzzlement covered a surprising distance. The tavern was not an especially tall building, but Oneiropoios found himself able to see every building on the Ice Shards. The island seemed to glow in the light of dawn, giving an aura of hope to the settlement, evoking a memory of the prosperity it once enjoyed. The prosperity, mused Oneiropoios, that it might just enjoy again someday, with any luck.

The tavernkeeper turned around, and squinted, peering out at the sunrise that was reflecting unevenly off of the gently undulating waters of the Locum Ocean. Just barely within sight, three sloops had raised full sails, drifting closer and closer to the Eastern horizon. He watched as one of them began to turn to the North, and another started a Southerly turn, while the third stayed its course, diligently disappearing from view as the others diverged on their own paths. A nostalgic smile crossed his lips, his thoughts drifting back to his own days at sea, and he found himself saddened that he hadn't been able to go with them. He shook his head, laughing as he started climbing back down. It was of some comfort that he'd been spared the decision of which crew to accompany on their quest.

With any luck, the customers who he'd be repeating this tale to would make that choice for him, in the form of very lucrative wagers.

***

SCORING CRITERIA

Please remember to email your answers to lejerque@san.rr.com with the following subject line:
Team Name - Chapter One Answers

You may submit them all at once or one at a time. Answers must be emailed by 12pm Tuesday to be scored! DO NOT POST OR DISCUSS PUZZLE ANSWERS IN THE FORUM THREAD!

1. How will Aiziril throw a perfect 100 on Oneiropoios' terrible dartboard, and how many darts will it take him? (1pt)

2. How many drinking games would the six pirates have to have? (1pt)

3. How can you turn GROG into HOLD in 11 steps? (1pt)

4. How can you turn GROG into HOLD in 7 steps? (2pt)

5. How did Aiziril get the treasure, the greenie, and Demeter to shore? Show the process! (1pt)

6. How did Spinn get himself and the stowaways off of the Tired Newt? Show the process! (1pt)

7. Did Garf get more rum than Righty got water? Prove it! (1pt)

8. What rare treasure are Vainra and Fronsac talking about? (1pt)

9. How can Pierut arrange Oneiropoios' fancy dartboard so that all five columns add up to 65, as the rows do? Remember that you cannot change the sequences of the rows, only their starting points! (2pt)

10. How can the three crews divide up Oneiropoios' remaining stock so that they all end up with an equal amount of rum and an equal number of barrels? (1pt)

BONUS POINT! Get all dozen points from today's easy puzzles, and I'll give you the 13th point absolutely free! Limited time offer!

MONKEY FUN!!

Please remember to email your MONKEY FUN submissions to lejerque@san.rr.com with the following subject line:
Team Name - Day One MONKEY FUN

DO NOT POST YOUR SUBMISSIONS TO THE THREAD!

Eep eep! What fun there was today! So much fun, that for our first day, I'm giving you TWO MONKEY FUN chances! There are two assignments today, which will be voted on seperately. Each one is worth 5 MONKEY FUN points for the top draw, 3 for the runner-up, and 1 for third place! Read on carefully, if you value your fun!

Poor Fronsac, nobody liked playing Sailor, Swill, Scimitar. Maybe he needs a new game to play! Won't you help him out? Today's assignment is to invent a piratey rock-paper-scissors variant! Standard RPS rules apply, of course, where each of your three items wins to one other item, but loses to the remaining one. Be as inventive as possible, and don't forget to describe the little hand gestures you'd have to make in order to "throw" each item! Your rivals will all vote on the most inventive one, and the winner will get 5 MONKEY FUN points... and will have given the Midnight Ocean a way to settle disputes for all time! I say we all adopt the winner as part of our in-game lexicon!

I also thought Demeter's explanation of how to make a SAIL FULL was fun! I wish I could have heard the explanation for putting GROG in the HOLD, though! So now you have to do it! Using your answer for either puzzle #3 or #4, write a one-paragraph story about loading grog into your hold! It must contain all 11 or 7 words from your answer, and they must appear IN THAT ORDER! Votes will be taken for the funniest, cleverest paragraph! 5, 3, or 1 MONKEY FUN points can be yours!

See you tomorrow!
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I have stolen all the fiber from your mind!

Tune ye in to Shanty Raid-io!
http://shantypp.servemp3.com:6328
[Aug 23, 2004 3:47:47 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
Thusnelda

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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I have a question. When we're talking about the Grog-> Hold thingy, let us say that Grog is in spot zero. Does that mean that Hold is in Spot 7 or Spot Eight? There are seven words in between, or seven words including Hold at the end?
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Madam, proud Looterata
Why are old people playing on this game i dont know its probly something to do with control but its kind of werd. Get a life or a girl friend or mabe even a wife but if your an adult that plays this game your a loser
[Aug 23, 2004 8:54:15 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
LeJerque



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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Beware. This is DANGEROUSLY CLOSE to counting as discussing puzzle answers, which, as you know, is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. Further posts having to do with technical puzzle issues will merit disqualification. I'm not kidding on this, so consider this your only warning.

As for the question itself, I'm not answering it, since the story does that for you. Read carefully.

Come to think of it, any questions folks may have about the puzzles will typically have "read carefully" as their default answer...

Sorry to be so testy, but I did cover this in the rules!
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I have stolen all the fiber from your mind!

Tune ye in to Shanty Raid-io!
http://shantypp.servemp3.com:6328
[Aug 23, 2004 9:41:30 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
Thusnelda

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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Carry on, sir.

/em shuffles away dejectedly.
----------------------------------------
Madam, proud Looterata
Why are old people playing on this game i dont know its probly something to do with control but its kind of werd. Get a life or a girl friend or mabe even a wife but if your an adult that plays this game your a loser
[Aug 23, 2004 10:55:02 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
LeJerque



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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Sorry to be so snippy, again. It's not the question you asked, it's how and where you asked it. Discussing puzzles on the forum is kind of a hot-button issue with me, especially given my established stance on it on any number of occasions.

Don't feel bad! Nothing was spoiled or ruined, and hopefully others will learn from your example. I do appreciate your concern... I just want to take a proactive approach to preventing any snags in the contest.

Here, have a cookie. It's got M&Ms in it!
----------------------------------------
I have stolen all the fiber from your mind!

Tune ye in to Shanty Raid-io!
http://shantypp.servemp3.com:6328
[Aug 23, 2004 12:24:53 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
Whitefire

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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Can I just say these past 4 hours that Ihave spent reading and figuring out teh puzzles has been the most enjoyable activity I have done in Y!PP for about 3 months now. Thank you much LeJerque and I look forward to the rest of the chapters. (Although I fear this will make me fall behind in my own event planning *grin*).
[Aug 23, 2004 1:51:23 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Pokeytax

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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Yes, the reason we aren't commenting with delight is because we're busy, you monster.
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Pokeytax on Malachite
Pokey on Midnight
[Aug 23, 2004 1:53:13 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
kargach

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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Aye, our team is only just ready to submit our answers. And this was the easy round???

- Saga's Stalwarts
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Kargach of the Midnight Ocean
Captain of the Champions of Valhalla, and occasionally good at forum contests
[Aug 23, 2004 2:01:32 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Silvain



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I'm indeed most amazed by this. You are my hero, Lejerque!
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- Silvain

[size=8]Avatar by Tristesse - Thank you!
[Aug 23, 2004 2:05:07 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Frostburnx

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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nvm
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Liliene on Cerulean
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[Edit 1 times, last edit by Frostburnx at Aug 23, 2004 3:33:58 PM]
[Aug 23, 2004 3:33:58 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.facebook.com/taradavis [Link]  Go to top 
LeJerque



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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Maybe I'm not being clear about this.

Questions about puzzles should be asked in PRIVATE.

DO NOT DISCUSS PUZZLE ANSWERS ON THE FORUMS.

Again, this reveals nothing so I'll let it slide. Everybody, take careful note... this is the LAST TIME I will let it slide. Eventually, someone's going to post something that they don't think is relevant to the solution, and they're going to be wrong. To that end, let's play it safe, and NOT POST ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH PUZZLE SOLUTIONS OR TECHNICALITIES AT ALL. Queries like this should be raised PRIVATELY.

You may consider this a final warning. Next person to ask a question about a puzzle on the forums, in public... regardless of whether it is revealing or harmless... That person's team will be disqualified. I hope everyone is reading me loud and clear.

Again, I hate to snap at anyone in particular, but this issue is probably the most important one, and I'm baffled that people are still skirting the edges.
----------------------------------------
I have stolen all the fiber from your mind!

Tune ye in to Shanty Raid-io!
http://shantypp.servemp3.com:6328
[Aug 23, 2004 3:56:49 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
atteSmythe

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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[img]http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/templates/subSilver/images/icon_mini_profile.gif[/img]LeJerque
[img]http://www.puzzlepirates.com/community/templates/subSilver/images/lang_english/icon_pm.gif[/img]
----------------------------------------
 
Attesmythe receives loot: [Gauntlets of Social Responsibility]
Attesmythe receives loot: [Ring of Mandatory Selflessness]

[Aug 9, 2005 4:00:00 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://attesmythe.com [Link]  Go to top 
Matthias

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So, is that part 1 closed, then?

Matt
----------------------------------------
I took my own advice.
[Aug 9, 2005 4:00:00 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
LeJerque



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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You'd like that, wouldn't you? That'd have 30 teams with answers not yet submitted!

No, as according to the rules and the calendar, Part 1 closes today at noon. Just under 12 hours left!
----------------------------------------
I have stolen all the fiber from your mind!

Tune ye in to Shanty Raid-io!
http://shantypp.servemp3.com:6328
[Aug 9, 2005 4:00:00 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
Frostburnx

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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so, i have read through everywhere and the coastal time eludes me to where you are, is it 12 pm PST EST or CST? and if youve said this a hundred million times i appologize teehee
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Liliene on Cerulean
[Aug 9, 2005 4:00:00 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.facebook.com/taradavis [Link]  Go to top 
thoren



Joined: Jul 24, 2004
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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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It's noon pacific time.
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Trilse
[size=7]Mostly Retired SO of Extremely Happy Pirates
[size=7]Mostly Retired ex-Lord of Water Sleeps
[size=9]Callahans : Mmmmm... Spicy!
[Aug 9, 2005 4:00:00 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Frostburnx

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I thought maybe it was, thanks :)
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Liliene on Cerulean
[Aug 9, 2005 4:00:00 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.facebook.com/taradavis [Link]  Go to top 
LeJerque



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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I hope you guys are having fun, 'cause I know I am. Your answers thus far have been highly entertaining! You guys are the best entrants ever.

Still roughly 8.5 hours remain to submit your answers and your MONKEY FUN for day 1... don't miss the deadline!

As much as I'd love to stay up all night and wade through your emails as they continue to pour in, I do have work tomorrow. I'm just checking in one last time to explain a couple of things about how Day 2 will work, before I go to sleep.

I will do my very best to post Chapter 2 at or before 12:00pm. The forums have a pretty rough time with posts that long, so it typically takes them 10 minutes or so to actually show up in the list. If you can't see it right away, don't panic! Just be patient and let me panic for you.

12:00pm will also mark the deadline for chapter 1 submissions, both for puzzle answers and for MONKEY FUN. If you haven't emailed them by then, it's too late.

After Chapter 2 is posted, I will take several minutes to double-check and filter through the MONKEY FUN entries for Day 1. Once they're clear, I will be posting those as well. Again, this will probably take at least 10 minutes, so they won't go up exactly at noon. Bear with me! Once those are up, the polls will be open. Voting instructions will be at the top of the post, so read carefully. You will have until noon on Wednesday to cast your votes.

Once THOSE are posted, I will move from there to the scoreboard. I'll need quite a while to double-check everybody's answers, and chances are I'll still be filing the ones that came in while I was asleep. My priority, of course, is to get the new chapter posted by noon, but if I can get through the answers and check the scores quickly enough, hopefully the scoreboard will have the Day One scores up by 1pm. This is not a promise, mind you, but I will do my very best. You can help me out tremendously by sticking to the Subject Line format in your emails... that is:
Team Name - Day X Answers
Team Name - Day X MONKEY FUN

Many of you have not been doing this. It means I have to spend a lot of time trying to cross-reference your email address with the team rosters. There are fifty or so addresses I'm working with. Please do not assume I automatically know who you are. To the individual who sent me an email with the subject "#4" and simply wrote "Here is my team's answer for #4," I have NO IDEA who you are; your address didn't even match any of the listed ones I've got. Unless you tell me who you're working for, your team isn't going to get the credit it may deserve.

That said, I really AM having fun so far. You guys have sent in some wonderfully creative answers... and I gotta tell you, Mr. Handsey is having more MONKEY FUN than any adorable primate can stand.

Enjoy Chapter 2... see you in the morning!
----------------------------------------
I have stolen all the fiber from your mind!

Tune ye in to Shanty Raid-io!
http://shantypp.servemp3.com:6328
[Aug 23, 2004 7:37:53 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
Yawl



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Mr. Lejerque,

For our answers, what email format would you prefer? Plain text, or HTML (so that we might make use of formatting for easier readability)?

Tiny Brains would like to know...
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Prometheus wrote: 
Brigands haven't changed. If they changed we would tell you. Brigands haven't changed. If they changed we would tell you. Brigands haven *bzzt* -wirr-

[Aug 23, 2004 10:20:07 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Dorel

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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I wanted to say that, while I didn't register for the contest, it's a treat to read yer stories mate. If it weren't fer my pityful logic puzzle skills (I think I've figured out some of the puzzles, but if they were all easy, yeesh...) I would've registered myself, but oh well.

Keep up the excellent work mate.
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Hermes wrote: 
Gather round, folks, for the Ballad of Dorel the Invulnerable!
silverkitty wrote: 
The ocean is dangerous, bring a lifejacket.

[Aug 23, 2004 11:38:30 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    CeeJayDorel [Link]  Go to top 
Shuranthae

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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It seems my plea that the chapters not come daily went unanswered. *prepares for the horror that'll be the later chapters*
[Aug 24, 2004 2:32:37 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Frostburnx

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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*smoke rises from head* I can't *bzzzt!* wait for...next *bzzzt!* chapter...




*bzzzt!*


I think i forgot to mark my monkey fun submission with a chapter or day number...I hope i did....forgive me if i didnt, ill be SURE to make it as easy as pie for you from my teams end in the future. I can only immagine the work youre doing. going through all those answers is probly a puzzle in itself and probly WAY harder than what were doing :)

So Id liek to take a minute to thank you and I worte you this little chanty to hum to yerself whilst ye work. Hope you enjoy it :)


preparing for months, my dream to come true
all this hard work, and thinkin' too
this game of a story, this puzzle delight
it's got me workin' all hours o' the night.

1 puzzle, 2, or maybe 10!
And we can throw in some Monkey Fun then!
Oh man 40 more Entries, can't go to bed...
Who's idea was this again?



Hope you liek it >_<
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Liliene on Cerulean
[Aug 24, 2004 2:36:42 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.facebook.com/taradavis [Link]  Go to top 
MsBabette

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Teehee that might be the cutest thing ever, Moony!
GO TEAM!
All your poe are belong to us!!!
[Aug 24, 2004 2:52:53 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
LeJerque



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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Formatting your answers in plaintext actually makes my life easier.

In fact, heads up for chapter 2, where plaintext will be absolutely ESSENTIAL...
----------------------------------------
I have stolen all the fiber from your mind!

Tune ye in to Shanty Raid-io!
http://shantypp.servemp3.com:6328
[Aug 24, 2004 3:03:53 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
Frostburnx

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ARRR! All yer poe are blong to us!
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Liliene on Cerulean
[Aug 24, 2004 3:54:01 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.facebook.com/taradavis [Link]  Go to top 
LeJerque



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 1 Reply to this Post
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To those of you wondering about the answers, I ask for your continued patience.

Answers will be posted at the conclusion of the contest.

Please, DO NOT POST ANY ANSWERS, even for days which are complete.
----------------------------------------
I have stolen all the fiber from your mind!

Tune ye in to Shanty Raid-io!
http://shantypp.servemp3.com:6328
[Aug 24, 2004 6:42:37 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
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