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LeJerque



Joined: Sep 10, 2003
Posts: 219
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The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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Chapter 3: Scarred Catalogue
Difficulty: Arduous
Scoring: 20 Probable Pirate Points
LeJerque sez: Today's chapter was the first one I came up with, and the puzzles came to me before all the rest. That said, bear in mind that they are of my own design and when inspiration strikes, sanity is the first thing to go. Enjoy, Midnighters... today's puzzles are PURE LEJERQUE!
LeJerque recommends: A fair amount of time on your hands
DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES POST OR DISCUSS PUZZLE ANSWERS TO THE FORUMS! YOU WILL BE DISQUALIFIED IMMEDIATELY!

TODAY'S MONKEY FUN IS OF A DIFFERENT AND UNIQUE NATURE! See the separate thread dedicated entirely to Day 3 MONKEY FUN for details!

***

With a barely audible snap, the wandering splinter was pulled off of the ship's sturdy wheel. It twisted a moment between the fingers of the tall man who had removed it, rolling back and forth a few times before being flicked to the side, sailing away on a gust of wind and disappearing into the sea. Spinn smiled, repositioning his grasp and once again taking command of his modest sailing vessel. He allowed himself a slight chuckle, silently reminding himself that it would not do to have an annoying sliver when his hands were full of incalculable riches.

Spinn watched the vast waters of the Locum Ocean glide past, breathing with satisfaction as he looked to the bow, imagining the ship to be a finely sharpened blade, cutting its way through the water as it carried her crew inexorably towards destiny. Sailing, in its own right, was a marvelous and gratifying endeavor. Sailing towards a definite purpose, however, was an adventure Spinn had never been able to match through any other enterprise. With every wave they crested, the Looterati drew closer to fortune and legendary fame, and it made their captain sure that his was a life well spent.

Behind him, Vainra paced impatiently, furrowing her brow and sighing to herself, seemingly unhappy with her own line of thought. Spinn leaned backwards slightly, angling his head just enough for his voice to carry backwards over the sea air that flapped loudly at the broad sails. "You seem troubled, miss Vainra! What part of this magnificent voyage is upsetting you?"

The frowning sailor stopped, turning to face her captain, her arms held stoically behind her back. "Cap'n Spinn, I just can't figure it. I hope ye've got a plan for when we reach Grimm's Rock, because I'm scuppered if I can see what our next move is."

"Ain't it obvious, lassie?" called Garf, leaning against the starboard rail. He smirked, clucking his tongue as he worked to peel an orange with the curved, glinting edge of a long scimitar. "Ol' Spinn's grown tired o' treasure hunts an' tall tales. He's plannin' on finishin' out the journey in a blaze o' glory."

Spinn quirked an eye, grinning and shaking his head incredulously at his crew. "I would hate to think, my friends, that you did not trust in my ability as captain. What makes you think I am piloting you to your deaths?"

"It's not that I think ye're a poor captain," protested Vainra.

"It's not?" snickered Garf, glancing absently out to sea.

"I just don't see how we can possibly catch Cleaver at Grimm's Rock, of all places," Vainra continued. "For that matter, I can't say I understand why we're headed there at all. Ye snatch up a pitiful scrap of some mysterious chart, an' the very instant we set foot back on the Shining Wittling, ye set a course fer the best-guarded island in all these waters."

"Vainra's right, ye know," nodded Garf. The slouching sailor stood up straight, making his way towards his crewmates. "They say Grimm's Rock is one big fortress, with walls six feet thick an' almost enough cannon to sink the island into the sea. I heard the last brigands what attacked 'em didn't even sink all the way; they got stuck on top o' the last hundred ships to try it!"

"Land ho!" Spinn turned from his dubious crew, shading his eyes with one hand and gazing up to the crow's nest. Fronsac was waving an arm and pointing towards the horizon, yelling down to the rest of the ship's occupants. "Grimm's Rock, dead ahead, lads, an' I thinks I'm understandin' why they call it dead!" Rising into view in the distance was a flat, modest island, looking barely big enough to hold up the massive structure of stone and iron which covered nearly the entire surface. The Looterati gazed towards their destination with looks of dread and disbelief, sure they could make out several forbidding black cannon along the upper perimeter. Though the fortress was little more than a speck in the distance, Vainra felt certain those cannon were aimed directly at their ship.

"Excellent work, Mr. Fronsac," called Spinn, stepping away from the wheel and moving towards the bow. Behind him, Vainra reflexively slid in and took the helm, the task seeming utterly automatic. Spinn stood in thought for several heartbeats, the crew watching him expectantly as their terrifying destination bobbed slowly up and down at the far edge of the sea. "Good," Spinn smiled suddenly, turning back towards his lookout and motioning as he called out further orders. "Mr. Fronsac, strike our colors and come back down here, please. I should like you to be present for this meeting."

"Meeting?" breathed Vainra hopefully. "So ye do have a plan after all."

"I'd be insulted, Miss Vainra, but I suppose you have every right to have worried." Spinn shrugged his shoulders, giving his first mate an apologetic smile. "I assure you, my friends, that it was necessary to wait until now to show my hand, when I could confirm my suspicions."

"I've had some suspicions of my own, cap'n," frowned Garf around a mouthful of fruit. "Why're ye takin' down the flag? I'm not keen on' surrenderin' the Wittling."

Spinn flinched visibly, as if taken aback by the very suggestion. "I would sooner hand over my beating heart, Mr. Garf, than my ship. Fortunately for all of us, though, I do not intend to lose either one today. There will be neither a surrender nor a suicide, my boy, because there will be no battle."

Fronsac hung with one hand and one foot from the tough rope ladder, having nearly reached the deck. "Arrrr, we're just goin' to sail in plain as day? A pirate can't sail within a league o' that fort without bein' shot to splinters!"

Grinning, the captain deftly snatched the folded flag from Fronsac, shaking it meaningfully. "As per your efforts, Mr. Fronsac, we are no longer pirates. I do not expect they should raise any alarm over a simple crew of honest ferrymen."

"Ferrymen?!" scoffed Garf, spitting a few slippery orange seeds onto the deck. "What sort o' plan be this? Even if it works, how's that goin' to get us close to Cleaver? If he's here, he's bound to be locked up or dead--or, worse yet, he's bribed the governor an' he'll have the whole bloomin' fort at his command!"

"Unlikely, Mr. Garf," Spinn sniffed. "I rather doubt that Cleaver is on Grimm's Rock at all."

The ship's wheel groaned, the wood straining audibly as Vainra's grip tightened. "Cap'n Spinn..."

"Yes, Miss Vainra?"

"Cap'n, ye know I'd sail with ye through the gates o' hell an' back," she spoke, calmly and quietly. "But I'll tear off yer leg and beat ye with it, if ye're implyin' that we've deliberately sailed halfway through Locum just fer yer own amusement, while the others are trackin' the ruined ring..."

"Patience, Looterati!" chuckled Spinn, shaking his head. "Everything shall be made clear momentarily."

"How 'bout now, cap'n?" growled Fronsac, landing on the deck and approaching the others. "Seems now would be a good time to explain."

Spinn pursed his lips, leveling an annoyed glance at Fronsac. "Yes, lad... that's rather what's meant by 'momentarily.'" He thrust a hand into his pocket, fishing into his well-tailored coat and producing the small strip of parchment that had seemed to consume his attention for the entire voyage. "Have a look for yourself, lads and lass. We were impossibly lucky to have wound up with the most important piece of Cleaver's map!"

Garf pinched the offered paper between his thumb and forefinger, holding it carefully. He barely dared to breathe on it, as if it might fall to dust at any moment. Vainra and Fronsac eagerly gathered around as he carried it their way, the three peering down expectantly at their prize. Their expressions turned from hope to confusion, to disbelief, and again to irritation as the seconds went by. "This is the important piece?!" snarled Garf, at last. "Ye've gone as mad as Cleaver himself! This ain't Grimm's Rock! This ain't even an island, ye great fool! All ye've got here is the edge o' some chart, showin' no points o' land whatsoever!"

Spinn continued to smile confidently, unshaken by the rage in his crewman's eyes. He lifted a finger into the air, tracing a quick circle. "The back, Mr. Garf. Read the back."

The three sailors looked abashed for a moment; the thought had not occurred to them. Garf flipped the paper over, blinking and squinting down as he spotted some very small words in elegant printing. Vainra leaned over a stiff shoulder, reading aloud. "Property of The Bodleian, Grimm's Rock; Tinctarosa-Danegal." Glancing to the rightmost edge of the scrap, she noted that somebody had scrawled in a large number in notably different handwriting. "One sixty-two."

Fronsac raised his eyebrows with interest, looking back up to his grinning captain. "Ye lucky sod! Ye mean we know what chart this be?"

"Quite right, Mr. Fronsac. Well done," nodded Spinn, his chest swelling with pride. "All we have to do is locate this shipwright or cartographer, 'The Bodleian,' and procure a duplicate chart from Tinctarosa Island to Danegal, and we'll be able to plot the entire course sailed by Cleaver and his men!"

"Oi, what's one sixty-two mean, cap'n?" puzzled Garf, pointing to the awkwardly scribbled number.

"I can't promise you anything," replied Spinn, "But if our luck persists, I am hoping it is a coordinate of latitude, or perhaps of the chart itself, which should point the way to Cleaver himself."

"Arrr, maybe it's where the hideout is," murmured Vainra, starting to smile excitedly.

"Or maybe it's where he buried the booty!" cried Fronsac.

"Maybe it's how many pieces o' eight he stole!" cheered Garf. His crew responded only with an awkward silence, except for Spinn, who coughed once. "M-maybe... it's how many thousand pieces o' eight he stole!"

"Huzzah!"

Spinn smirked, turning around and striding towards the bow again as his crew babbled on about what their prize might be. He watched the enormous fortress on Grimm's Rock, steadily gliding further into view as the Shining Wittling continued to sail to her next port. He sighed to himself, closing his eyes with a slight sadness. Eager as he was to pursue Cleaver's prize, the journey always ended just a little too quickly for Captain Spinn.

-----

"Miss Vainra, please advise Mr. Fronsac to stop looking so nervous. Remember, my friends, we are not pirates; we have nothing to hide." Fronsac fought to stop his legs from shaking as he stared up at the menacing sentries and their numerous cannons, who were watching the Shining Wittling quite intently as it floated towards the docks. Garf sneezed rather loudly, making his edgy crewmate yelp in fear, stopping himself just short of scrambling for his carpentry tools. Spinn cleared his throat, drumming his fingers on the portside railing. "Pull yourself together, lad. Remember, my friends, it is vital that you behave yourselves in this town. Miss Vainra, you are not to start any fights... Mr. Garf, you will have to restrict your intake of rum to a bare minimum. And, perhaps most importantly, Looterati, nobody is to say 'arrr.' That will be a dead giveaway."

"Ye're joshin'."

"I assure you, Mr. Garf, I am not."

"What in the seven seas are we supposed to say, then?" sputtered Vainra in disbelief. "What about 'shiver me timbers?'"

"Oi, how 'bout 'yarr?'"

"No," scoffed Spinn annoyedly.

"Harrr?"

"No."

"Garr?"

"No!" declared Spinn, pounding his fist against the rail. "For the duration of our stay here, Looterati, you will say..." He put a finger to his lips, thinking quickly as his pouting crew waited for their new all-purpose interjection. Spinn took half a breath, and sputtered, "You will say 'goodness me!'"

The sailors' mouths fell open, gaping at their captain in horror and revulsion. "I'm not sayin' that!" cried Garf, slapping a hand against his forehead.

"I'd sooner be mute," spat Vainra, shaking her head in disgust.

"Suit yourself," shrugged Spinn, turning back towards the incoming docks. "But my orders stand. Are we all clear on this matter?"

"Oi, how come ye gets to say 'arrr,' then?" complained Fronsac. Spinn glanced over his shoulder, shooting an impatient glare at his lookout, who swallowed quietly and shuffled his feet. "Goodness me," he muttered.

Mooring the Shining Wittling proved to be quick and easy; the Looterati could not help but be impressed by the expert actions of the dockmaster and his team of laborers. Spinn's crew barely had to lift a finger themselves as the workers swarmed about, never missing a beat as they tossed ropes to one another and secured the incoming ship, holding her fast against the rolling waters beneath her. Spinn smiled in satisfaction, taking the excellent reception as an omen of his continued luck. He paused just long enough to confirm that he was carrying enough coin to pay the docking fee, and stepped onto the carefully-laid gangplank, striding down to the heavy wooden pier to meet the dockmaster. The gentleman hurriedly brushed the dust from his uniform, giving a quick breath of frustration as he made sure his official attire was in perfect order. As the captain approached, he set his shoulders straight and stood tall, doing his very best to look welcoming and stern at the same time. Garf blinked, stifling a guffaw as he watched the pair of men who seemed to be making every effort to hold more dignity than the other; it was as though Spinn was speaking into a mirror.

"A fine afternoon to you, my good sir," smiled Spinn with a friendly nod. "How much for the pleasure of leaving my ship under your capable watch?"

The dockmaster returned a near-identical smile and held his hands behind his back, chest out proudly. "Six pieces of eight, captain. Might I have your name, please, for the log?"

"I am Spinn, sir, and these are my crew." Spinn waved an arm towards the huddled Looterati, beaming as he stepped slightly to one side, allowing the dockmaster a good look at his brave men and woman.

Vainra shifted her weight from foot to foot, glancing absently towards the hulking fortress. "Goodness me."

Spinn cringed, narrowing his eyes at his first mate as the crew smirked and giggled amongst themselves. The dockmaster looked on quizzically, biting his lower lip in wonder. He opened his mouth as if to ask a question, but Spinn spoke up quickly, denying him the chance. "Here are seven pieces of eight, sir," he shot quickly, holding out the proffered coins in his open palm. "The additional fee is for a bit of assistance I am hoping you might provide."

The officer raised an eyebrow, delicately plucking the money from Spinn's hand, as though he were pulling a loose thread from a fine garment. "I'm not sure what manner of business you intend to conduct on Grimm's Rock, Mr. Spinn, but..."

"Nothing untoward, I assure you," replied Spinn, shaking his head and waving the notion away. "I simply wish to know where I might find an establishment called The Bodleian; I was given quite an enthusiastic recommendation as to its eminence."

"Ah!" cried the dockmaster, his face brightening with pleased surprise. "How dull of me, good sir, not to have immediately assumed you were a scholar."

Spinn raised his brow, blinking twice. "Oh! Well--that is, no offense taken, my lad. I suppose anybody might make that mistake." He smiled hesitantly, unsure what to make of his sudden new reputation.

The dockmaster stepped in close, clapping a hand on the captain's surprised shoulder. "Don't worry about a thing, Mr. Spinn. I'll have one of my men escort you and your crew to the palace straight away."

"How marvelous," nodded Spinn, doing his best to look comfortable with the hand on his shoulder. "Right, lads, come along."

"Goodness me!" shouted Fronsac, sending his fellow sailors into another fit of snickering. Spinn continued to force his eager smile, inwardly plotting their very slow deaths.

-----

A chandelier of fine crystal returned Fronsac's intrigued stare a hundred times over from its countless shining facets. The impressed sailor had only moments to guess what such a treasure might cost before continuing on, walking with the other Looterati through a wide hallway, his sturdy work boots seeming quite out of place upon the fine maroon carpet. The pirates were as wolves in a massive flock of plump, placid sheep--sheep they dared not prey upon. Even Spinn found himself unable to pay attention to where he was walking; he had been in many palaces during his time as captain, but this one certainly ranked high in terms of size and opulence. He smiled appreciatively at his surroundings, silently congratulating the artistic hand that had constucted this masterwork.

"I'm beginnin' to understand the whole fortress thing," whispered Garf, leaning towards his leader.

"Well said, Mr. Garf," nodded Spinn, turning his head to observe a marvelous painting, wishing he had time to stop and properly admire it. The voyage, again, was far too short for his tastes. "There is no structure built whose beauty can match the open sea, but this comes mightily close."

"Goodness me," smirked Vainra, bringing up the rear.

Spinn rolled his eyes. "Aren't you supposed to be a mute?"

"Do ye suppose this Bodleian is the governor's own cartographer?" pondered Fronsac, his eyes widening slightly as he tried to follow the carpet pattern that was rolling past his feet.

"I imagine it is something more, if they are frequented by scholars." Spinn turned his attention back towards the brisk little man leading the way, beginning to wonder if they were near their destination. "They must do more than simply sell navigational charts--perhaps they also catalogue and study the geography of our world at large."

Vainra smiled brightly. "Goodness me, that'll come in handy once we've got a fix on Cleaver's whereabouts!" Spinn set his jaw, sternly, but relaxed again, smiling as well. His first mate was right, after all.

"Here ye be, Mr. Spinn, sir," squeaked the young man at the front, finally coming to a stop at the end of the hall. He tipped his tricorne and waved towards an open set of double doors. "Give me a holler when ye're finished!"

Spinn glanced forward again, smiling with pleasant surprise at the journey's conclusion. "Thank you, my boy." He breathed deeply through his nose, and put his foot boldly forward, unhesitantly starting through the doors with an almost childlike eagerness, his imagination racing at what awaited him within. Once inside, though, his excited expression only became brighter and more fascinated... The Bodleian was not a mapmaker's shoppe after all; it was something quite different, indeed.

Standing tall above the pirates, in stacks from the floor to the ceiling, were thousands of neatly arranged books, packed tightly together in endless rows of leather spines. They lined the walls and towered throughout the room in a mazelike grid of heavy, durable bookshelves, flanked by ornately-carved tables and decadent, comfortable chairs. Glowing oil lamps danced and flickered with a powerful but unimposing light, the illumination seeming to flit about the astounding collection, drawing the visitors' attention to one book and then to another, teasing them with all that the overwhelming library had to offer. Spinn stood in the doorway, rooted to the spot, his breath restrained in awed silence. "Incredible," he murmured at last, "Absolutely incredible."

"It's a library, cap'n, that's all," grunted Fronsac, smirking dubiously up at the tall bookshelves. "This'll only make it harder to find the chart we be needin'."

"If the price of our quest is to spend a little time in this vast storehouse of knowledge, Mr. Fronsac," Spinn whispered reverently, "Then I say we have found the bargain of a lifetime." He stepped forward, his eyes scanning the endless rows of literature as he wandered into their midst. "I would gladly remain here, exploring the wealth of information this magnificent collection undoubtedly has to offer."

"Ye remain, then," scoffed Garf, glaring up at the books which obscured the clues he sought. "Help us find that Danegal chart an' we'll be on our way--perhaps we'll come back once we've claimed the ruined ring fer the Looterati."

"Aye, the Looterati," sniffed Vainra, stepping around her slow-moving captain as she followed her crewmates. "Ye remember them, aye, Cap'n Spinn? Cleverest o' all the crews? Seekers o' legendary treasure?"

"There is more to the Looterati than treasure and riches," snapped Spinn, his raised voice stopping the pirates in their tracks. "Perhaps you see only an obstacle in this marvelous library, my friends, but I see a treasure of a wholly different sort. Locked within these books are the stories and history of all the sailors who have come before us--of the men and women, great and small, whose efforts allowed us to venture forth into the oceans of the world and seek our destinies!" He swelled with pride, smiling and tipping his hat backwards for a better look at the library's contents. "I, for one, will never cease to be astounded that something containing such immeasurable knowledge could also possess a beauty so sublime."

"That's plenty kind of ye to say, boyo. I may not get out much, but I try to take care of myself!" Spinn blinked, his gaze tilting back downward towards the source of the giggling comment. A woman with a tight-fitting dress of deep crimson and a sly smile was sauntering her way around a dark wooden shelf, several books tucked under her long, slender arm. "But what sort o' lad are ye, then?" she mused, raising an eyebrow, "The type who's more interested in the knowledge, or the beauty?"

Spinn shook his head a moment to clear his thoughts, which seemed to have jumbled themselves suddenly. He cleared his throat, giving his most unimposing smile, and started to approach the woman. "Must I choose between the two? It would seem you carry both in abundant supply, Miss...?"

"Cobrani," she grinned, "Head Librarian, humbly at your service. What volumes did ye wish to peruse today?" She turned towards the shelves, nimbly sliding the books she carried back into their proper places, one by one.

Spinn nodded, waving an arm towards his sailors, who were warily glancing between him and the alluring librarian. "Well, Miss Cobrani, my crew and I require some reference material, if you have such a thing."

"If we have such a thing, indeed," laughed Cobrani, not bothering to look away from her sorting. "The Bodleian is where the ocean's most notable scholars come to research and study. There's no topic, factual nor fictitious, that we don't carry. So I ask ye again, good captain... what can I help ye with?"

"Goodness me," sniggered Garf, causing Spinn's fists to clench.

"I would like very much to see nautical charts of the Tourmaline Archipelago, please," the captain spoke after several calming breaths. "Specifically, I am looking for a chart which displays the complete length of ocean between Tinctarosa Island and Danegal."

Cobrani's hand quickened slightly, setting the last of her books in place rather loudly. She turned around, her arms folded sternly, a frown pushing at the corners of her lips. "Right to business, then, is it, lads?" She walked towards them at a brisk pace, the sailors blinking in surprise and stepping aside. The librarian strolled right past them without so much as a glance, scooping up another handful of books as she spoke. "I'm afraid I can't help ye. Good day."

The Looterati stood in awkward silence, exchanging looks of confusion and suspicion. "Now, just a minute, lass," piped up Fronsac, hurrying to follow the librarian as she went on filing the hardbacked volumes. "Ye just said ye carried all manner o' reference!"

"Yes, I did, and yes, we do," she grumbled, setting another book firmly in place.

"Well... doesn't that include charts an' the like?" insisted the tall sailor, putting a hand on his hip.

"Of course it does," she said, slapping down another book. "Don't be so dense."

"Then what be the problem?" smirked Garf, wandering over towards Fronsac and standing at his side.

"The problem," hissed Cobrani, turning around with an icy glare, "Is that they are not available to the likes of you. Now, good day!" She stepped forward, roughly driving her hands between the two pirates and shoving them out of her way, angrily snatching up a few more loose books as she headed towards the far end of the library. Spinn drew himself up to his full height as the librarian stalked towards him, inhaling gently as he prepared to politely insist, but he found himself physically pushed aside, as well.

Spinn frowned, dusting off his coat with one hand and setting his hat on straight. "Really, Miss Cobrani--there's no need to take such a tone. May we at least know why we travelled all this way only to be denied the knowledge we seek?"

Cobrani spun around, giving the sailors a start as she snapped at them, lifting a finger and shaking it scoldingly in their direction. "Thanks to the actions of sailors like ye, our charts are no longer open to public view! Only members of the royal cartography academy may now access our charts, and ye, lads, don't look like alumni to me!"

"Goodness me, what's the matter with sailors, then?" demanded Vainra, stepping in front of the librarian, meeting her fierce gaze defiantly. "Cap'n Spinn here is a trustworthy man, an' as learned as any o' yer precious academics!" Spinn smiled inwardly, surprised but pleased by his first mate's sudden leap to his defense. "Ye've no right to speak to him like a common brigand."

"Aye, aye," nodded Fronsac, folding his arms. "Don't be treatin' the man like he's Cap'n Cleaver, or somethin' like--"

"Cleaver!" shrieked Cobrani, swinging her fist into a shelf. Her fierce blow dislodged several books which fell to the floor at Fronsac's backpedalling feet. "If I thought ye were in league with that scurvy scalawag, I'd strike ye down where ye stood!" She clenched her fists and teeth tightly, shuddering with rage.

"Ye've met him? He was here?" gasped Vainra, eyes widening eagerly.

Cobrani growled, looking bitterly down at the floor. "I should bloody well say he was. Never were there such a foul, beastly pirate as the likes o' the read Captain Cleaver!"

"Red? I always thought he were the black-wearin' sort," Garf thought out loud.

"No, ye ponderous oaf, read," sighed the librarian impatiently. "Read, as in he's experienced in books an' he be well-read."

"Cleaver is a connoisseur of the written word?" Spinn marvelled, stroking his chin. "How odd. I never imagined the legendary plunderer to be a lover of literature, as well."

"Lover? Ha!" spat Cobrani, waving an arm towards her well-kept books. "He defiled this library! One day he just wanders in here, polite as anything, wantin' a look at the charts... an' the next thing ye know, he's got his whole rowdy crew spillin' rum on the tables, throwin' books everywhere, knockin' over shelves... finally, he steals the chart he wants, knocks a stack o' books over to cover his escape, an' sails out o' here faster than the guard can load the cannons, laughin' all the way!"

"Goodness me," murmured Garf sympathetically.

Cobrani shook her head, sighing down at the fallen books, slowly crouching as she started to gather them back up. "I know ye're not him... Spinn, was it?"

"Yes--Captain Spinn, at your service, milady," nodded the tall sailor, quickly making his way forward to help the librarian gather her books. "Rest assured, I share your sentiments towards such unconscionable actions. Defiling a library! It's... inhuman."

"Aye, well, ye waste yer time comin' to the Bodleian, in any case," she muttered, roughly dusting a book with the palm of her hand. "Seein' as how our chart from Tinctarosa to Danegal is the very one Cleaver made off with, and we've no duplicate."

"No duplicate?" stammered Spinn, looking crestfallen. The Looterati slapped their foreheads, moaning in frustration and anguish.

"We're sunk, cap'n," wailed Fronsac, "Now we'll never find the ruined ring! It could be anywhere in Locum an' we've no chart to guide us!"

"We will just have to find other sources of information, Mr. Fronsac," Spinn replied, slowly rising to his feet, "And we are in the perfect place to start looking. Miss Cobrani, you mentioned a royal cartography academy, I believe...?"

"Aye, that I did," nodded the librarian, lifting the books up in an awkward heap.

"I wonder, Miss Cobrani, if I were able to procure a piece of your stolen chart--would these cartographers be able to recreate the rest?"

"Ha! If ye got yer hands on such a piece, we'd be more'n willing to try!"

Vainra quirked an eyebrow, helping to pick up the last few books. "We?"

"I'm not just the librarian, I'm also a member," grinned Cobrani proudly, tossing her hair back. "Nobody spends more time around these papers than I do, lass. O' course, nobody's seen so much as a scrap o' the Tinctarosa-Danegal since Cleaver made off with it."

"Intriguing," smiled Spinn, massaging his chin with his thumb and forefinger. "So, if I and my stalwart sailors, here, are able to retrieve such a scrap, you will do your utmost to extrapolate from its contents?"

Cobrani smirked, nodding once. "Lad, if ye could manage such a feat, I'd do everything I could to help ye track down this ring o' yours."

Spinn chuckled quietly, sliding a hand subtly into his coat pocket. "Let no man say I'd not take a librarian at her word. I believe, Miss Cobrani, that I have something to return to you, overdue as it may be." Cobrani blinked widely, her smirk fading as Spinn withdrew the shred of paper. He turned it over once in his fingers before depositing it into the librarian's fumbling grasp, watching with restrained amusement as she stared down at it with an open mouth. "Now, milady, my crew is quite eager to return to our search, so I really must insist... if it's not too much trouble, of course."

Cobrani's eyes rose to meet Spinn's, narrowing with an annoyed glare. "Oh, right away, sir. It goes like this..." She moved towards an empty table, the Looterati hurriedly gathering around as she carefully and delicately set the chart's edge on the smooth, wooden surface. "What ye have here, good captain, is the Eastern edge of the Locum Ocean." Spinn nodded acknowledgement, smiling gently, eager to learn the next step of his journey. His guide forced a smile, and pointed to the table, indicating the area to the "West" of the scrap. "That means, o' course, that ye'll have more ocean over here, an' a mess o' islands formin' some sort o' archipelago."

The gathered pirates waited in reverent silence, transfixed on the librarian's finger, which continued to touch the table, not moving in any direction. Nearly a minute went by as the mood in the air turned from excitement to awkward confusion. Garf broke the silence at last, daring to breathe, "An' then what, lass?"

"An' then that's it, ye idiot." Cobrani shook her head, snatching up the paper and shaking it in irritation. "What in the bloody hell did ye expect me to tell ye?! Ye bring me some scrap o' parchment with a few words scribbled on it an' expect a full chart o' the ocean?" She scoffed loudly, flinging the pitiful shred back to the table in disgust. "I couldn't navigate me way across the street with this garbage!"

Spinn sputtered in frustration, scrambling for words as Cobrani again started to storm away. He followed her at a brisk pace, his boots loud against the floor as he called for her to stop. "We had a bargain, Miss Cobrani! I have provided the scrap you asked for, you promised you would provide all the help you were able to!"

"And I have, Mr. Spinn," she retorted, not bothering to look back at the man who was wearing on her last ounce of patience. "I'm not accusin' ye of tryin' to cheat me with a worthless, uninformative scrap o' paper, so I'll thank ye not to say I've cheated ye by not bein' able to learn a blasted thing from it."

"Curse it, lass, ye must remember somethin'!" demanded Fronsac, pounding a fist on the table.

"Aye! What about this number here, can ye at least tell us what it means?" pleaded Vainra, quickly scooping up the paper again and squinting as she held it close to her eyes. "One sixty-two! Doesn't that remind ye of anything at all?"

Cobrani stopped in her tracks, causing the hurrying captain to nearly collide with her. "Well, that probably refers to... oi, wait... Oh, of course, it must..." Cobrani put a finger to her lips, a devilish grin starting to creep across her cheeks. She cleared her throat, and slowly turned around, her voice calm and confident as she addressed the wary captain. "Mr. Spinn, I do believe I may have some help yet to give ye." Spinn began to ponder the wisdom of asking what help the grinning woman had in mind, but she had already made her way to a tall bookshelf near the door. Her hand deftly plunged between the neatly-arranged books, and came away with a thick volume in a worn black cover. She started back towards the pirates at the table, running a finger through the pages with a quiet rustle of paper. "The Midnight Crossing," she recited from the title, smiling sweetly as she playfully tossed the book into Vainra's startled hands. "A lovely read, to be certain. It contains a rippin' tale o' the first crew ever to venture into Tourmaline, an' so forth. I think, though, ye'll find that page one hundred an' sixty-two is the very best part."

Garf pulled the book away from Vainra, eagerly starting to flip through the pages. "Ye mean to say there's a clue in here about Cleaver! What're we standin' about for?" Vainra folded her arms and sniffed, turning away from Garf with an indignant sneer as her crewmate stole the pleasure of discovery for himself. Garf licked his lips, preparing to feast on the knowledge the tattered book undoubtedly contained. He flipped through page after page, pausing for a moment to ask, "Oi, is a hundred sixty-two more or less than ninety-nine?"

Spinn put a hand to his forehead, and held back a large sigh. "Mr. Fronsac, please bring that book here, if you would."

Garf contritely relinquished the book, shuffling his feet. "Goodness me."

Spinn nodded gratefully to Fronsac as he received the volume, clearing his throat as he set his thumb on the edge of the first page. With a tightening of his fingers, the pages started to flip past him like a deck of shuffling cards, his eyes flickering from side to side as he scanned the numbered corners which flew by in a blur. "Ah--here we are," he nodded, studying the book a moment further before setting it on the table, resting open for the crew to read:

LRJJ EA LNFFXAG QY TFO EOVC, NAYAN CF EA RV LDARC FN JQRN,
VWAPQZM YFNCD VOLD VLRCDQZM QZVOJCV VQEWJT HFFVCV ET AMF DQMDAN.
TFO'JJ VONNAZGAN FZLA TFO OZGANVCRZG CDA WJFT CDAVA LJOAV NAKOQNA,
XZFP CDA CNOCD CDRC ARLD YFONCD PFNG PRV EARZC CF AZG CPF JACCANV WNQFN!

~

KC TZMZTZCRZ VQ TGIZCZPPYL, QGT GCNQGCIZI YZHICZPP VEXZPTZ TECX KC E TZEYDKR HKVOQGV SZZT;
KV HQGYIKZ PZZD ESTQSQP VOEV VOZYD SQSGYERZ XCQH QGT KCVZCVKQCHZ VQ KCPVKJEVZ MZET.
YZVET EYY VOZ EDNKVKQC QMRR QGT RQDSZVKVKQC NZ VOHETVZIXM HKVO DZTRL MQT CQCZSQ;
HZ POEYY HEVRO LQGTXF MTGPVTEVKQC EV ROECJZI SGCRVGEVKQCKV,
VOZ MKCEY ESQPVTQSOZ LQGWR QGJOV VQ POGC!

~

XEY AEKJBYQECB BQQXYJA TDOOXJJX KB DPBYJBH,
JGEA BPBYWZI QZQJG UXYH Z'A VEZJBDF QDFABFW ZOABYJBH!

~

ESYXQBB YMSB YKSVT, NXQSK LORKW BN USQXHSBMOJ BSVTFM, CXH BFNXLQ DQ YMNKNRLMOJBK KQXHQKQH CLMCBY UOCGSX...
YMQOD VCKHSXCO OQYYQK NU ZJAAFEQ QGQKJ YMSKH ENKH MCBYQ QCYQKJ DQQX VKRQOOJ BECFFQHOQ ES'YM WQKTUCVYNK YMQ OCBYCI!

~

NCD IEEN DA LRNDRUEB TMJRLRZND NE QDDW CEZJUDUSH,
ZRU GMLHVBJMLN JME JLSZIYFC AD ULRB QZYND LIILR-ZBBEJUDU.
EY VEMJ RMODJEIEFVUE HIMDY RDOZLJ HMJYDU
ALNCYC CZHWZQCIMFD CZHD NADIBNC AEJUNN UDSDJYDJ
GLOBIZO LR ZMF UDNCEO UDHLUDU'IV VELRW YEJULULU!

~

ZMN'QC WCIOJLQIJCW ZH ULSXJJS SMGGRC YIRU
WBI JYMSMNDYRZWU USMVCB TIZC ZH RIXJIX
XM LQ'C XFMST HIWCPT IB BWWLJLMI; I YMSJCBXCCE FLSIJC'X BHLXXLM'C,
RLTC "IZCGB!" WMY SM "IYMZ!" MSIJ "IXIQJ!"

~

SNO'PP BHCF IL'H XYW VKOBXGKVG KXGWVG LMXL CNQN UNPNG UXIVSRNCVI GXGWVF LMXCFB LMHI UPONF OGHCVKXC QVXC BNOCF GNB KS RNGQHW CXKV;
X BVPPNT NBFX XMCNPF GNCFVT TMN'I MXCFSPW TLHM JOHDCNI LMOCFVG UNKVIFO LVYC, HC EXUNPNUN MHILV CNGTVAHXC BXKV.
HL PVRVGJOVSV IVVKI NCPS IENGLHCA LNAN FNLUNK TXGC LMNIV PLHPIUT UNOGLHCA XCCVY LMHI IVGHPNOEAX PHCAOHILHU JOVIL PXGGS:
ICPVIOTA SNO HCLVCF LN UXLLPVUXPPCS XGGHZV XL SK VCFNG, IUMKOUW H LOAAVII LMXLNF SN'O ZHIHCV PGXZVL INOLMTVILIM!

~

M'Z WEYSWMJLFR BMLC WXT IXSFR TXWJFLWGQ QFMLR PUUI EPJUXMEL KTFCFR, LSD BFDJ KFFZFR LP EGSRF DFON JP GPJIFX TXSGWXMVFR.
UPPRIO BF KWC CFWGMJI WED KBPFR XWLFGMWZ LBWL ZWRFNB BMK UGPPRFPPR NMJIXQ EWTFGK, LSD BF JFAFGZMJR KWMRDL FBL CWG'K KSGAMAPG BSFRMT KWC FHEMKFR.
KP MQI RSRF TGPZMKFR M RPSXCWP CGMLF BSBDPPFR LP ZMBIR WJR KMIJ YSFSFR BMLCDU BSIK WJR NFKKMK; XFCRQG BF MJKMKLFR LSKO PJFWB OFCMKBUPPR BSI RPSXC DFKLRD KSUUMEF.
LCPR RJW WKRI M MFESRPGLJR CSBLBFUSB WYC IFJLXFZWJ PBC KBPCFR UGSSMRFL BMZ FBFGC LP KMLBQ KCMSTR, FB KWMR, "TXFWKFEP KPBC WCPPFR LBWL CPZWJPJ LSP, LBWL TPPFR ZMIBLBP FD JME'F!"

~

UV PFTLG, FZU BLHCUCP JLGIZJ UZHFF BV JMM UHVQLIJA VTAFRJULG SLHP;
UVHT IVGIAKSF, UZF CVEFCVHUJ AJCUHG UZHFF BV J QFHQVTJILVKCUA PKCZM-SJLAFU IALEPFH.
LGIJ QJUUFHGVKC GFUYFFP, UZF AJCUSJ UYV ZJQQFGLILUM VB JKS FFRFHJTP QHFBFHHFS
HVKGSJPVKUC LGAF FZU ZVE'F VB UZLCJYJMNH J AKCZ VHLFGUJA VASOO-ZMJH-ULEFH!

~

GMIRDA KPRTZU SPMCXYH NMPSYQF NDZQPL ADCXYSQP KTD XDJHARTXTU,
ARZQ TDUSQQ UDNM FQAZ RJHRHQK FDYS NMMNQPDF FQWC NMPUMMZ XTUBPDJHART'C!

"Cap'n?"

"Yes, Mr. Fronsac?"

"I think I may have forgotten how to read."

"Possibly, Mr. Fronsac, but I doubt it," smiled Spinn reassuringly. "This is simply a great deal of illegible gibberish. A fascinating read," he turned to Cobrani, raising an eyebrow, "Though I feel certain there are some subtle nuances to the author's subtext that are eluding me. Perhaps if we are fortunate, she will share her thoughts on this piece."

Cobrani ran a hand absently through her hair, calmly smiling in no particular direction. "Well, one ought to be familiar with the previous work to really appreciate this one."

Garf sighed impatiently, rolling his eyes and shaking his head. "Come to the point, lass."

"Very well, boyo," snickered Cobrani, leaning against a bookshelf, crossing a leg in front of herself casually. "Ye see, when Cleaver came through here an' caused such a grand fuss, he made a quick escape, but his crew didn't go with him."

Vainra blinked, tilting her head to one side. "Cleaver abandoned his men? Can he truly be such a fiend?"

"Aye, he can," sneered Cobrani bitterly, "But not this time. No, lass, Cleaver headed off alone so everyone'd be chasin' after him, leavin' his crew all the time they needed to hide the booty an' rendezvous later on."

Fronsac practically flung himself over the table, leaning intently towards the woman in red, gasping out his frantic inquiries. "They stayed here to decide where to hide it?! Did ye hear where they went? Where did they..."

"I'm gettin' to that!" snapped the librarian frustratedly. "One more word from ye, an' ye'll have no more o' my help."

"Book-tart," grumbled Garf.

"That's two words too many, ye dunderheaded lout!" She thrust a long finger in the direction of the door. "Begone with ye!"

"Oi, that's just one word!" complained Garf.

"A hyphen does not a single word make," snapped Cobrani, turning up her nose. "Any scholar knows that. And in any case, neither of those words are the sort to..."

Spinn coughed, cutting his way into the increasingly hostile repartee. "Miss Cobrani, please. I promise you that my friend here will give no further interruptions. I would truly like to hear the end of that tale." Seeing the librarian's anger remain, he added, "If it is as informative as I believe it shall be, I would gladly make a sizeable contribution towards the Bodleian's continued upkeep." Cobrani smirked dubiously, raising an eyebrow sternly at Spinn. The captain paused a moment, and grinned, "And, so will Mr. Garf."

"Ye've a deal, Mr. Spinn," cackled Cobrani, grinning at the sputtering sailor who was staring in shock at his captain. He opened his mouth to protest, but was glumly silenced by the looks of warning on the faces of his fellow Looterati. "Now, as I were sayin', Cleaver's men stayed behind to figure out where to hide the loot they'd been stealin'. I know, ye see, 'cause I overheard 'em plottin' in this very library, at this very table!

"Eventually, the crew made their decision o' who'd be in charge o' the treasure, an' where they'd hide it. They didn't want to chance the hidin' place not gettin' back to Cap'n Cleaver, though, so they decided they'd leave a message for him, should he ever come back to Grimm's Rock. They wrote it right there in that book, on page one sixty-two." Cobrani sniffed, "The vandals."

"But then why's it all scrambled to bits?" asked Vainra quizzically.

"Interruptin' again!" growled Cobrani, starting to turn away.

"Miss Vainra is simply eager to hear your story," Spinn reassured the librarian, shooting his first mate an icy glance. "In fact, she would like to make a donation as well."

Fronsac turned from his gaping crewmate to his captain, protesting, "Oi, that's not--"

"So would Mr. Fronsac," hissed Spinn. "And they will listen quietly to the rest... won't they?" The Looterati glared at their captain with subdued rage, but stayed silent, fury bubbling wordlessly in their throats.

"Well," resumed Cobrani, "The reason it's so scrambled is because nobody's yet figured out what those pirates decided upon." She grinned at Spinn, seeing a look of incomprehension on his face. "Or did ye think ye lads were the first ones to find these clues?" Spinn frowned, looking hurt; it was clear he had thought--or at least hoped--exactly that. Cobrani giggled and continued her explanation. "When Cleaver escaped from Grimm's Rock, it was tremendous news all through Locum. In just days, every treasure hunter from here to the Ice Shards came through, all tryin' to hunt down Cleaver an' his fabulous loot. An' it didn't take 'em long to find the book where his men had left him their location!

"Cleaver's crew learned from the best, though, an' they hadn't been so foolish as to just write it down all plain-like. They'd written the information down in riddles, the likes o' which would stump anyone but their cap'n! It worked, too, as not a one o' the treasure hunters could solve even a single clue. I wanted to help, mind ye, but I couldn't even remember the pirate's name, an' I'd overheard it an' everything! I knew it was a familiar name, because I'd read it in a book once. Still, near as I could tell meself, there were five riddles in all: The rank an' name of the pirate they put in charge, the first an' last names o' the ship they sailed upon, an' the place they were headed with the treasure."

"It should be simple enough to recall the name of a sailor from literature. But if there are five riddles, why do I count ten passages here?" inquired Spinn.

"Ye impatient nag, that's the last time ye'll interrupt...!" Cobrani clenched her fists, her lips pursing with renewed anger. Spinn winced, closing his eyes at his own error, praying he hadn't let his own curiosity spoil his chances so close to victory.

"Worry not, Miss Cobrani," piped up Garf. Spinn looked over in surprise, seeing his three sailors grinning cruelly in his direction. He immediately sensed their plan and winced again, harder, cringing as Garf confirmed his fears. "Cap'n Spinn here is goin' to double his donation, an' charity gets him all excited."

"Very well," smirked Cobrani, tossing her hair and shaking off her irritation. She glanced around at the group, issuing them a silent warning against further interruptions. "Like I said, nobody at all could solve these riddles. There was one lad, though, who didn't take kindly to bein' outsmarted.

"This lad fancied himself a real scholar--the best in all these isles. He came in here boastin' how he was goin' to be the one to crack the riddles, but a full day an' night later, he hadn't figured out a blessed thing. We all had a good laugh at the blusterin' fool, but then he gave back the book, an' we realized he'd rewritten the clues in this gibberish! He said if he couldn't have Cleaver's hoard, nobody would!" Cobrani sighed, moaning, "An' that's when the rest o' the treasure hunters started gettin' ideas.

"One by one, all o' these crews tried to fix up the riddles, an' when they found that they couldn't do it, they went an' tangled 'em up worse than before. I had to call in the guard when they started comin' to blows over who'd made things impossible for whom... by then, o' course, the clues were as ye sees 'em now; unreadable, nonsensical, an' completely unsolvable."

The men and woman of Looterati sat in edgy silence, glancing from eachother to the librarian and fidgeting uneasily. Cobrani glanced up at the group, snickering quietly and waving her hand dismissively. "Aye, ye can talk again now."

"My earlier question stands," said Spinn. "What manner of alteration changed these five riddles into ten such passages?"

"Oh, only five o' those are the riddles, near as I can tell," replied Cobrani. "The rest are clues on how to restore 'em, I think."

Vainra wrinkled her nose incredulously. "They wrote down how to undo their changes? What's the point o' that?"

"Because then they changed those clues, too, obviously," chuckled Cobrani, "So's nobody could figure out any part o' anything!"

"An' ye've never tried solvin' these riddles yerself, eh?" asked Fronsac sarcastically, folding his arms.

"I've got better things to do with my time, ye scurvy cretin," shot back Cobrani, folding her own arms. "An' in any case, I'll take the company of a good book over a foul-smellin' pirate any day o' the week."

"Humor me a moment, miss Cobrani," smiled Spinn, stepping between the librarian and his lookout. "If you were to give these riddles a try, where would you start?"

"Well, at the top, I'd think," the finely-dressed woman answered, pointing to the first passage. "Ye see, that first lad who changed up the clues, he was the one who came up with the whole letter-changin' idea. I'm fairly sure what he did was to take every instance of a letter in one passage, and change it to a different letter. After that, everyone started doin' likewise."

"Wouldn't that get redundant?" wondered Vainra, eyeing the book. "If ye change every instance o' the letter, it's not goin' to get any more scrambled if ye do it a second time. The letter'd be different, but it shouldn't get any harder to solve."

"Quite right, Miss Vainra," nodded Spinn, impressed.

"Aye, but someone else figured that out, too," shrugged Cobrani. "That's why they started movin' the letters around."

"The letters are both changed and moved?" worried Spinn, frowning sadly. "That may well prove to be impossible." The Looterati swallowed painfully, looking to their captain. Spinn had always made a point never to use the word 'impossible' unless he truly meant it.

"Mostly they are, aye," nodded Cobrani, continuing. "But there's a method to it. From what I managed to overhear, each crew that tampered with the puzzles picked a specific method of alteration; a pattern of sorts. They then applied that pattern to each passage in turn... but then, they wrote that pattern down on top of 'em all, in case they ever got a chance to come back here an' try again! O' course, then they did that letter-changin' trick to what they'd written down."

"Let me see if I understand this correctly," cut in Garf, rubbing his nose. "If ye start from the first passage an' ye manage to figure out which letter in that clue is really which other letter, ye'll find out how the rest o' the passages have been mangled."

"I think so," nodded Cobrani.

"An' if ye can undo that, ye should be able to change back the letters in the next passage, an' figure out what's still wrong with the clues below that one."

"More than likely, aye."

"An' so then, if ye can keep that up fer the first five passages, ye should be able to finally undo the letter trick once and fer all, an' ye're all set!" cried Garf triumphantly.

"Not quite," smirked the librarian, "Ye'd still have to solve the five riddles themselves."

"You do not know my crew very well, if you feel that will be our greatest obstacle," grinned Spinn, clapping his sailor on the shoulder enthusiastically. "Well done, Mr. Garf! Perhaps I gave you too little credit for this sort of thing."

Garf grinned, scratching the back of his head sheepishly. "Aye, well, ye pick things up here an' there."

"Pick up that quill, then, my lad, and hand me the book."

"Goodness me!"

-----

A narrow stroke of black ink crossed the length of the paper quickly and neatly, causing the words beneath it to vanish from sight. The dockmaster looked up from his log, eyeing the broad-shouldered captain. It was not his place to tell anybody they could not reclaim their own vessel, but it was difficult not to be suspicious... it had been a very long time since he had seen a man so happy to be leaving Grimm's Rock. He cleared his throat loudly, and tucked the record book into his pocket with a flourish. "Your supplies are all on board, Captain Spinn, and your manifest is in order. Are you sure there is nothing else I can do for you?"

"Very sure, thank you," smiled Spinn, tipping his hat respectfully, watching from the corner of his eye as the Looterati boarded the Shining Wittling. "I'm afraid my research cannot wait."

The neatly-attired officer quirked an eyebrow in wonder. "Not even until daybreak, sir?"

Spinn shrugged, turning to step aboard his ship. "Academia waits for no man. I bid you farewell, and thank you for your hospitality!"

The sails billowed out with a rough snap as the wind came to carry the Shining Wittling and her crew away. The island fortress, once so forbidding and intimidating, slowly began to recede beneath the horizon, fading into memory under the gentle moonlight. Spinn watched it disappear, sadness tugging at his chest and making him sigh with closed eyes. He began to wish he could have stayed longer, or perhaps taken some of the books with him. He opened his eyes again, finding Grimm's Rock now completely gone from sight. He breathed deeply, fighting off the regret. He turned on his heels, and started towards the helm, thrusting his chin out proudly. It simply would not do to dwell on the loss of a treasure when it had been in the pursuit of an even grander prize!

"I still can't believe it, cap'n," smiled Vainra, stepping away from the wheel as Spinn approached. "But, we've checked those riddles a dozen times over. I never would have believed Cleaver'd be hidin' there."

"Indeed, our luck seems to have held fast, Miss Vainra," nodded Spinn, taking control of the Wittling with one hand. "I trust our course is prepared?"

"Aye aye, cap'n," saluted Vainra. "Steady as she goes, clear to the Midnight Ocean."

"Oi, cap'n Spinn," gasped Garf, hurrying up from the stern, worry on his brow. "I just thought o' somethin' terrible! Haven't we cleared a path fer any other treasure hunters to follow us, if they comes across those clues we solved?"

"A reasonable fear, Mr. Garf," grinned Spinn, continuing to watch the sea, "But unnecessary, as I've seen to that matter myself. I dare say I've covered our escape better than Cleaver himself."

"Goodness me!" cheered Fronsac.

"Miss Vainra?"

"Aye, cap'n?"

"Please instruct the men to start saying 'arrr' again before I kill you all."

-----

Cobrani counted the last of the sparkling coins, nodding with a satisfied grin. Regardless of her suspicions, the captain and his crew had made good on their donation promises, and in her mind that outweighed the fact that they might have been pirates. She smiled, gathering up the pieces of eight and slowly making her way about the room, extinguishing the lights one by one as she prepared to close the library for the night. With one last puff of air blowing out of her soft lips, darkening the room almost entirely, she paused a moment and glanced at the book that still lay open on the table, turned to page one sixty-two. Had she counted eleven passages?

***

SCORING CRITERIA

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

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

Help the Looterati unmangle, unscramble, and finally solve the riddles of Cleaver's whereabouts once and for all! If you read Spinn's destination at the end of the chapter, there's a pretty big hint in there... and we know how boats around here are usually named, don't we?

To get all 20pt for today's puzzles, you must submit the following:
-All ten unmangled and uncyptified clues and riddles! Each passage that is restored to plain English is worth 1pt, for 10pt total.
-All five riddle answers, along with WHY they are the answers! That's right, you must submit your deconstructions as well! I'm fully aware that many of you are likely to get halfway through some of the riddles and guess the rest. That's okay with me; you can reverse-engineer the rest of the riddles from there! So long as your answers make it look like you did all the work, I don't care what order you did it in! Each answer/deconstruction is with 2pt, for another 10pt total, adding up to a grand total of 20pt!

MONKEY FUN!!

Today's MONKEY FUN is VERY, VERY DIFFERENT! So different, in fact, that it requires a thread all its own. See the Day 3 Monkey Fun for details...

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

Tune ye in to Shanty Raid-io!
http://shantypp.servemp3.com:6328
[Aug 25, 2004 3:44:55 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
PirateMowgli



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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LeJerque wrote: 

Difficulty: Arduous


Oi, Mr. LeJerque! The definition of that has never hit home more true! Yer a fine pirate, but yer makin' it on me scoundrel list right quick! Keep up the good work, yer almost there! :)
----------------------------------------
Froglegs - Drunk of the crew United Pillagers
An' then I took that skelly by ees eye sockets an' I dragged eem about like this! Aye, I did, or me name's not groglegs!
[Aug 25, 2004 4:10:07 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Muria



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eek! Reply to this Post
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When faced with the number o' cryptograms I'll be playing with this evening, all I have to say is:

Goodness me!


Parlia
[Aug 25, 2004 4:13:41 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Bluetta

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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Two words:

Holy barnacle!
----------------------------------------
~Bluetta
[Aug 25, 2004 4:17:38 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Matthias

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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You utter bastard.

I mean this in the nicest possible way, of course.

Matt
----------------------------------------
I took my own advice.
[Aug 25, 2004 4:22:50 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
bokodasu



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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Oh, I dunno. I didn't start *really* cursing until I saw today's Monkey Fun.
----------------------------------------
[size=9]Tomyris, Cult of the Red Mantis, Looterati
Bonnie, Octafish Dream, Viridian
[Aug 25, 2004 4:51:39 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Odm



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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Goodness me! Yer stories are both clever and funny. Bravo. Now to fry my brain working on this puzzle...
----------------------------------------
Whirligig, Not-so-active-officer of the Scuppering Seven Seas, Viridian
Drusilla wrote: 
Dionysus:Shore Leave :: Scupperer:Cnossos

[Aug 25, 2004 4:57:08 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
SplitMV

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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Something about this makes me suspect that these will take a looong time.
----------------------------------------
Temujin
Midnight
[Aug 25, 2004 5:20:49 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
DrMantis



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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Matthias wrote: 
You utter bastard.

I mean this in the nicest possible way, of course.

Matt


++ and all that.

Really, this is the most fun I've had in awhile.
[Aug 25, 2004 5:38:53 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Whitefire

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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LeJerque wrote: 
"Cap'n?"

"Yes, Mr. Fronsac?"

"I think I may have forgotten how to read."


Oh what joy those lines bring me.
[Aug 25, 2004 6:47:58 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Shuranthae

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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Whitefire wrote: 
LeJerque wrote: 
"Cap'n?"

"Yes, Mr. Fronsac?"

"I think I may have forgotten how to read."


Oh what joy those lines bring me.


=D
[Aug 25, 2004 6:49:47 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
lilstuffin



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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My brain is fried..but I dont beleive I have ever had this much fun trying to solve a puzzle...and here i thought the shelf one was fun yesterday ..lol nothing what so ever compared to this..i love it...Bravo to you LeJerque!!!
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Myrrima
[Aug 25, 2004 6:52:40 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    lilheifer30    lilstuffin1 [Link]  Go to top 
Frostburnx

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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wow Lejurque, you outdid yerself, many many hillarious passages inthis story, i think my favorites are

"i may have forgotten how to read"
and the argument about which word to replace 'arr' hehe, very nice!


i like readin almost more than i like solvin the damned puzzles harhar >_<
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Liliene on Cerulean
[Aug 25, 2004 7:30:51 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.facebook.com/taradavis [Link]  Go to top 
detura54



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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This has been the most brutal four hours of my life, and I'm STILL plugging away... AND I had a lot of help from my team. Magnificent.
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signed, Blueraptor, back from a long vacation
[Aug 25, 2004 8:01:44 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
calliecat



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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all i have to say is


goodness me
----------------------------------------
=^.^=

Calliecat of Red Dawn
[Aug 25, 2004 8:42:18 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.calliecat.com    thatcalliecat    littlebakaneko [Link]  Go to top 
Whitefire

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If this is arduous, I wonder what Insane will be like? *gulp*
[Aug 25, 2004 11:04:35 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 3 Reply to this Post
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man, I keep getting hopeful then discouraged, hopeful! ....discouraged.



Damn you horrible puzzle from hell!! >.<
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Liliene on Cerulean
[Aug 25, 2004 11:17:58 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.facebook.com/taradavis [Link]  Go to top 
Muria



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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Four down... please don't tell me I'm not halfway there yet....

I did, however, enjoy the "I think I may have forgotten how to read" part though. :) Love the writing, hate the cryptograms. PLEASE tell me there won't be more of the nasty things tomorrow. PLEASE!!
(Doesn't have to be true, but it'll make me feel better)

Intends to take a break after puzzle 5
Parlia
[Aug 25, 2004 12:15:24 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Gotagota

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Same rules. New twist, probably. Reply to this Post
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Whitefire wrote: 
LeJerque wrote: 
"Cap'n?"

"Yes, Mr. Fronsac?"

"I think I may have forgotten how to read."

Oh what joy those lines bring me.

Bl!y!!rzkoo?zh?yjl!eertnro.
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Fronsac, human.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to
add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

[Aug 25, 2004 12:41:55 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 3 Reply to this Post
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HAHA Fron, its ok, the story may make you LOOK like an idiot, but we know yer not ^_^ *kiss*
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Liliene on Cerulean
[Aug 25, 2004 12:53:12 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.facebook.com/taradavis [Link]  Go to top 
Whitefire

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Re: Same rules. New twist, probably. Reply to this Post
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Gotagota wrote: 
Whitefire wrote: 
LeJerque wrote: 
"Cap'n?"

"Yes, Mr. Fronsac?"

"I think I may have forgotten how to read."

Oh what joy those lines bring me.

Bl!y!!rzkoo?zh?yjl!eertnro.


AZMKS! KASND HFA M WGHAD. NDGFA NDDFACEG. HAHAHAHA!
[Aug 25, 2004 2:10:08 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Queanie

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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Chapter 3 is currently my favourite for puzzles so far.

You're an evil fiendish man Mr. LeJerque!!

If these puzzles were any more cunning you could put tails on them and call them weasels!

But, oh I've had fun! Good thing I'm on holidays, I've spent my entire day on puzzling :P
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Jezabella
Supposedly retired, but recently seen skulking around on various botes
[Aug 25, 2004 7:49:40 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Muria



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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I'm immensely cheered by the "I may have forgotten how to read" line every time I go back to copy paste the puzzles.

Many humble thanks for putting my favorite line close to the puzzles to keep my spirits up!

Only 1 puzzle to do, then 4 riddles (I solved a riddle!!! Hurrah!!!)
Parlia
[Aug 25, 2004 8:55:04 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
DrunknBfly

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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I just have to say that Lejerque's portrayal of Spinn as a fine-clothed pirate with good posture and refined wit and lots of dignity is totally consistent with how he wrote him in Legend of the Looted Luncheon, leading one (me) to wonder if there's a forbidden yearning in our favourite puzzle writer for the former Prime Minister.

*toothy grin*
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Pierut of Crimson Tide, formerly Looterati, not dead.
 
Shinrai tells you, "zomg u r an om i meen loot"

[Aug 25, 2004 9:00:34 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://magiccheese.pyen.com/    Ravenlarke [Link]  Go to top 
Matthias

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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Is anyone going to mention that Pierut seems to be written as a maniac? No?

Oh bugger, I've set myself up for a thrashing, haven't I?

But I figure that when LeJerque wrote the first one, making the king of the Looterati, apparently an eloquent and graceful flag, the most graceful and eloquent of the lot seems like a smart move. And he's sticking to the character as it's a sequel. Seems fair enough to me.

Matt
----------------------------------------
I took my own advice.
[Aug 25, 2004 9:09:32 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Rastigi



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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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I must admit to taking a fiendish delight in thinking on these riddles. Now, if I could only get my work done at the same time....
----------------------------------------
Bubbablue,
SO of Bubba Gump Shrimpin' Co.
Vote Bubba for President in '08, cause Shrimpin' is Great!
Cleaver wrote: 
Anything else? Please don't say, 'Make everything FREEEEEE!!1!!'

[Aug 25, 2004 10:20:33 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
kaykordeath

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Re: The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 3 Reply to this Post
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Since everyone else has already jumped onto "I may have forgotten how to read" I hereby lay claim to "Maybe it's how many pieces o' eight he stole."

Wheeee....a hunt to purchase a pink bandana!
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tht guy hird me 2 b a om
[Aug 25, 2004 11:43:51 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Kimbiti



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I would like to suggest that a senior officer of Lejerque's crew propose an issue to assign him the title of Crew Fiend.

That last segment kept me awake all night!

Fancuilla, Poet of E Pluribus Unum
The Jolly Seamonkeys
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Fancuilla
Poet of E Pluribus Unum, The Jolly Company
[Aug 26, 2004 3:54:13 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
LeJerque



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My crew, so you know, is The Nameless Corsairs, captained by none other than our favorite maniac and clothier, Pierut!

I wanted to name us Pieces of Hate.
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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 26, 2004 4:02:37 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
Muria



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I know the feeling. It's 3pm here, and I've been up since 6am working on these riddles. Well, ok, I think it took until noon to actually decrypt the last one. Definitely needs his own Fiend title...

in the nicest possible way of course.

All together now:
NO MORE CRYPTOGRAMS! NO MORE CRYPTOGRAMS!

Parlia
[Aug 26, 2004 4:03:02 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
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