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LeJerque



Joined: Sep 10, 2003
Posts: 219
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The Race for the Ruined Ring: Chapter 5 Reply to this Post
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Chapter 5: Because It's Midnight
Difficulty: Completely Uncalled For
Scoring: 22 Plausible Pirate Points
LeJerque sez: The puzzles contained herein are my masterpieces, and I hope they will make up for the stunted length of the chapter. I spent many long hours creating the puzzles here, and I think I should warn you... you're not going to solve them. I'm not kidding--you won't. Just try. I dare you. I FREAKING DARE YOU.
LeJerque recommends: A licensed therapist

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES POST OR DISCUSS PUZZLE ANSWERS TO THE FORUMS! YOU WILL BE DISQUALIFIED IMMEDIATELY!

***

The night sky glowed quietly above the waters of the Midnight Ocean, the sea of stars standing in stark dichotomy with its watery counterpart. Both the ocean and the heavens appeared, at first glance, to be utterly chaotic; no reason nor fathomable pattern to their scattering of lights or waves. This was quite true for the water, ever-changing by means of the equally unpredictable winds and the sturdy, heavy ships that carved their wakes into the malleable, fluid surface. The waves under a seafaring vessel at any given moment were, all at once, both entirely different from and the same as the ones which had cradled her in the past.

The stars, likewise, appeared to have no more design to their arrangement than a broken crystal. Tiny shards of illumination were spread across the sky like a million tiny fireflies, giving a confusing but comforting warmth to the darkness. Unlike the ocean waves, however, a sailor could always count on order within the chaos. Randomly though the stars might have been placed, they had accepted their fates and made their homes in the airborne tapestry of the night sky, each individual light claiming its part of the sky for all time. The stars were like sailors in their own right, some content to drift about as individuals, while others had banded together to make villages and settlements in the form of clustered constellations. So, too, did those constellations act as islands of the sky, guiding ships through the earthbound sea to their own ports of call, wherever land could be found in the unending waves. A voyage might take a brave sailor to many islands under many stars, but the final destination almost always brought them back to the island they called their home.

Spinn, on the other hand, would never have imagined his search for the ruined ring would lead him to his own front door. The sight of Jorvik Island silhouetted in the distance was an oddly eerie sight to the experienced captain, its familiarity overshadowed by the thought that the ocean's most notorious pirate might be lying in wait there. Spinn strained his eyes, doing his best to scan the Jorvik periphery for ships.

"Cap'n, all I'm seein' are the lights from the docks," whispered Vainra from behind the wheel. "I still says we ought to sail into port an' round up a proper fightin' crew."

"Aye to that," murmured Garf. The sailor shivered briefly, though the cold was not very noticeable. "If Cleaver's really hidin' out here, we'll have all the time we need to trap him."

"If Cleaver is indeed making Jorvik his home," replied Spinn, his gaze never leaving the ocean, "Then his eyes and ears are undoubtedly ashore as well. If we take the time to gather our forces, we will lose this one chance to take him unaware."

"What a horrid pirate, bein' able to take off his eyes an' ears!" worried Fronsac from the bow.

"Be silent, Mr. Fronsac," admonished Spinn with a sharp hiss.

"Sorry, cap'n," saluted Fronsac quietly. "Wouldn't want to give us away."

"That, too." Spinn continued to search the waters for any sign of a pirate vessel, but his senses remained handicapped by distraction. Ever since he had left the Locum Ocean and returned to the waters of Midnight he remembered so well, the worry on his crew's faces had become evident. Whether they had been worried for their own safety or for their captain's apparent preoccupation, it had only added to Spinn's growing apprehension. The same line of thinking, he reflected, had hampered him on the Ice Shards when Oneiropoios had stolen the other half of the ruined ring. Just as in the chase that ensued, Spinn was unsure that he truly wished to succeed in this search for Cleaver. How much of the man's legend was based in fact? Was the potential fortune and glory sufficiently greater than the risk of confronting a foe who might thoroughly outmatch him? For that matter, what were the odds that Cleaver still had the jewels he sought... or that Cleaver himself even knew what they were?

"Cap'n Spinn!" rasped Garf, freeing Spinn from his inner conflict and jarring him rapidly back to the present. "Look! Look there!" Spinn ran to the side of the vessel, his eyes tracking in the direction indicated by his crewman's pointing finger. It took several tense moments, but eventually Spinn, too, spotted the hulking form anchored between the Shining Wittling and Jorvik Island. The galleon floated almost motionlessly in the water, its decks looking unusually empty. Spinn could not make out a single light burning on board, nor did there appear to be any lookout posted in the crow's nest. In the dim starlight, he could just barely see the fluttering blackness of an unfamiliar and bizarre flag.

Fronsac and Vainra absently shoved eachother, too intent on seeing the distant ship to concentrate on who might be in their way. "Can ye make out a name?" breathed Fronsac, leaning forward for a better look. "Arrrr, I can't even see so much as a figurehead."

Vainra swallowed silently, glancing towards her captain. "It might not be Cleaver," she offered, sounding as though she hoped her suggestion was correct.

"It might not," nodded Spinn, slowly pulling himself away from the railing. He started to walk back to the wheel, continuing, "But I would like to be sure. Mr. Garf, bring us to quarter-sails. Mr. Fronsac, Miss Vainra, take up the grappling hooks and get in position, but remain very still. If it is possible to remain undetected, then we shall make every effort to do so."

Fronsac nodded quickly, scrambling towards a coiled rope and checking the sharp iron hook at its end. Vainra remained where she was, eyeing Spinn with a hesitant look, waiting for further assurance. "Cap'n, are we truly goin' to board Cleaver himself?"

"Board, perhaps," Spinn shrugged grimly, "But not battle, if we can help it. We will come alongside this mystery ship, and attempt to ascertain its identity... and, should it appear to be our prey, we will strike quickly and efficiently. Gods willing, we will manage to secure the enemy vessel before our foe can muster a proper defense."

Garf pursed his lips, slowly pulling the sails open. "An' if he musters it?"

Spinn took a deep breath, searching for a way to express to his crew the notion that they might have to cross blades with the legendary brigand himself. Before he could answer, however, a fiery, blinding flash lit up the surface of the Midnight Ocean, and an ear-splitting explosion tore through the air, echoing across the water as if the Shining Wittling had snapped in half under Spinn's very feet. The Looterati flew into a frenzy, throwing themselves to the deck or futilely shielding themselves from an onslaught which never came. Almost a second later, a second explosion rang out, this one composed not of fire and thunder, but of splintering wood and a wet crunching noise, sounding and feeling to the shocked crew like a thousand bones breaking at once. Spinn hurried to calm his nerves, frantically repeating in silence that the Wittling was undamaged. He flew to the railing again, staring in disbelief at the sight which now lay before him. The three sailors joined him, their faces illuminated by a second flash of reddish light as they watched, horrified and bewildered, as a second, much smaller ship fired its cannons into the hull of the galleon. The concussive blasts rocked both the target and the gunner's ship, the diminutive vessel looking like it might tip over from the very force of the explosion which erupted from its deck.

"What are they doin'?!" screamed Vainra, clutching at the Wittling's railing with shaking hands. "They're mad! Cleaver'll kill 'em!"

"An' then he'll kill us," wailed Fronsac, tearing at his hair. "We're sunk, cap'n!"

Spinn stared in disbelief a moment longer, eyeing the interloping vessel quite intently. A snarl started to curl under his lips, and his eyes narrowed to seething slits. "You've done it this time, lass."

-----

"You've done it this time, lass!" cheered Pierut, waving her sword in a broad, triumphant arc towards the cracked hull of the Galleon. "Brilliant shot, Miss Jacquilynne!" The silver-haired captain grinned fiendishly, the starlight shining upon her blade and the black, polished surface of the Cirrhotic Liverfish's cannons. "Get 'em loaded again... Mr. Righty, trim the sail an' prepare to come about!"

"Aye aye!" hollered the muscular sailor, letting the rope in his hands go loose. "There's no pirate, dead or alive, what we can't take... after a little softenin' up!"

"Aye, a soft touch is what it takes," cackled a second gunner, leaping around a cannon on the opposite side of the craft. "Loaded an' ready on this side, cap'n! Permission to gently persuade Cleaver a bit more."

Pierut narrowed her eyes cruelly towards the dark galleon as she leaned into the wheel of her ship, watching it slowly float into place. "Ye're a madman, Mr. Hermes. Ye'll make a fine cap'n one day. Hold steady... fire!"

Hermes shielded his face with his arm, cradling his eyes behind his elbow as he reached with his other hand to touch a glowing ember to the sturdy cannon. The Liverfish rocked, again threatening to tip over as a concussive burst of brimstone ripped through the night, smashing another section of the galleon's deck to smithereens. The sailors of Vector cheered loudly, pumping their fists and swords into the air in celebration.

"Take that, ye ring robber! Who's legendary now, eh?" taunted Jacquilynne, standing up from her freshly-loaded cannon and putting her hands on her hips. "Come about again, cap'n, I gets to shoot 'im next!"

"I know ye wants to, lass, an' so do I!" nodded Pierut, "But we've come to take back the loot, not sink it!" The captain smirked, eyeing the galleon carefully for signs of counterattack. She frowned, spinning the wheel back towards center, grinding her teeth in frustration. After three unanswered shots, most ships would start fleeing, offer surrender, or at the very least mount a desperate offensive, but the galleon was still merely sitting in the water, with no lights burning and no signs of movement.

Righty held the sails steady, likewise watching the enemy vessel for its response. He, too, had never encountered a total lack of reaction after firing on a larger ship, and his captain's sudden silence was worrying as well. "Cap'n... d'ye suppose we've killed Cleaver?"

"Oi, listen to that!" cried Hermes, stepping away from his cannon and cupping a hand to his ear. "Do ye hear those screams? We've crippled the blaggard!"

Jacquilynne sprang to her feet, excitedly straining her head up to listen to the growing sound of yelling and pleading which had begun to sing out over the water. "Har, ye're right! Listen to 'im beg fer mercy! We got 'im, cap'n Pierut, we've bested the dread pirate Cleaver!" Pierut grinned eagerly, closing her eyes to savor the delicious melody of victory, listening to the words ringing towards her.

"Cease fire! Stop shooting, you imbecile!"

Pierut's eyes snapped back open, her face going pale with shock. "That's not Cleaver..." She was at the railing in a heartbeat, staring in disbelief at the cutter which was racing towards her. "By all the rum on Turtle! Spinn?!"

The tall man across the water wore an indignant scowl, shaking a fist in stern admonishment as he called back to her. "Miss Pierut! Have you abandoned your senses? Are you trying to get yourself killed to claim some measure of glory in martyrdom, is that it?!"

"Well, look who's lucked into the catch o' the century!" taunted Pierut, pulling a bandanna from her pocket and waving it teasingly. "Come to see us win back Julius' jewels, have ye? Just watch, Spinn, we've got Cleaver himself in our sights, an' he ain't fightin' back!"

Spinn gritted his teeth, shuddering as he tried to keep his temper in check. "Stand down, Pierut. The Looterati have tracked this scoundrel clear across two oceans, and the prize is rightfully ours!"

Pierut folded her arms defiantly, turning up her nose haughtily. "Arrr! I suppose ye think we came all the way to Jorvik 'cause we'd given up? We got here first, Spinn, an' we're claimin' this ship! Ye'll be the one backin' off, says I!"

Spinn whirled around, clenching a fist as he pulled in a long, hard breath before turning to his expectant crew. "Miss Vainra, take the wheel. Get us between Cleaver and Vector."

"Between...?"

"That's an order!" roared Spinn, thrusting his hand towards their new heading.

Standing on the Cirrhotic Liverfish, Pierut's expression changed from defiant confidence to horror, and continued onward to rage. "That double-dealin' dastard! He's cuttin' off our line o' fire!"

Jacquilynne sneered, steadying the cannon. "If he thinks we won't shoot through him..."

Pierut growled, dashing back towards the wheel. "He's right, curse him. Take a sail an' get us around to the other side, we'll have to grapple Cleaver from there!"

"Aye aye," sighed Jacquilynne disappointedly.

The Looterati landed, one by one, on the deck of the black galleon. The surface was made of hard, seaworthy lumber, marred though it was by an emormous, smouldering hole or two. Spinn straightened his coat with two sharp tugs, venting onto his clothes the severe irritation he was trying to suppress. He directed his attention to more pressing matters, taking a few moments to glance around the ship he now found himself on. From all appearances, this was a perfectly ordinary galleon, if a bit dark in color. Apart from the damage, it looked to have been kept in full readiness. Several lengths of rope ran from the deck to the rigging, ready to unfurl the gallant sails at a moment's notice. Neat piles of shot waited by the guns, while full barrels of pitch stood at well-spaced intervals around the perimeter with tidy stacks of lumber and tools. It seemed to the sailors of Looterati that, were this ship properly populated, the crew would probably already be well on their way to repairing the recent destruction. No crew, however, made itself apparent on board this mysterious vessel, apart from themselves and the men and women of Vector, who were vaulting across from the Cirrotic Liverfish. Pierut, who was wasting no time stomping towards Spinn, did not look especially warm or welcoming.

The two captains locked eyes, the starlight seeming to glow coldly from their narrow glares. "Ye've got some real nerve, Spinn," hissed Pierut, shaking her head in disgust. "Who in the seven seas do ye think ye are, gettin' between me an' my catch?"

"Your catch, indeed!" scoffed Spinn. "I will not have my efforts destroyed by your recklessness. My crew did not untangle Cleaver's best riddles just to watch our prize sink into..."

Pierut slapped away the scolding finger which had been leveled in her face, raising her voice sharply. "Yer crew can go polish their buttons! Ye're no captain o' mine." She thrust a hand accusingly at the Shining Wittling, continuing to bellow in Spinn's face. "My sailors didn't spend hours muckin' about some far-off weavery so's we could try takin' on Cleaver without a proper fight! I suppose ye were goin' to appeal to the man's sense o' honor?"

"We were going to take him by surprise, you simpleton!" roared Spinn, his face trembling as it reddened with fury. "A plan which is now thoroughly ruined, thanks to your maniacal antics!"

"Who're ye callin' a maniac?" demanded Righty, unsheathing his sword and brandishing it in Spinn's direction.

"The cap'n is a maniac," reminded Jacquilynne.

"Then, who're ye callin' a simpleton?!" added Righty.

Garf drew his own weapon, placing the blade firmly between his captain and the rival pirate. "Back off, ye lice-ridden oaf," he snarled, joined quickly by his crewmates. "Ye'd do well to listen to cap'n Spinn! It's he who rightfully found this treasure, not ye gun-happy Vectorites!"

"Aye! Look around yerselves," shot Fronsac, "This ship be completely unmanned! Ye've probably gone an' blown a hole in the hold and lost us the jewels!"

"Vector takes no chances," sniffed Hermes, tossing his sword from one hand to the other in a display of bravado. "Suppose Cleaver'd been here after all? He'd have run ye Looterati right through! Ye're lucky we were here, an' that's a fact!"

"Boastin' buffoons!"

"Flounderin' fools!"

"Stinkin' halfwits!"

"That's not alliterative."

"I'll kill ye!"

"Gesundheit!"

The mob of pirates stopped arguing, their threats ceasing as they turned, confusedly, towards Righty. The sound of the ocean lapping at the galleon's hull whispered over them all as they eyed the sailor awkwardly. Righty blinked back at them, frowning at their dubious stares. "Well, somebody sneezed. A pirate I may be, but there's such a thing as common courtesy!"

"Nobody sneezed, Mr. Righty," admonished Pierut. She turned towards the others, tilting her head to one side. "Miss Vainra? Did ye sneeze?"

"Nay, cap'n, never without permission."

An anguished, muffled yelp escaped from the galleon's stern, metamorphosing halfway through into a wet, spastic sputtering. Righty smiled triumphantly, waving his sword in the direction from whence the sudden noise had come. "There, ye see? I told ye so. Bless ye!" he called, nodding politely towards the unseen entity. Pierut and Spinn gaped at eachother, exchanging looks of utter disbelief. They turned back towards Righty, giving him a pair of impatient, astonished gazes. Righty looked back in further confusion, shrugging his shoulders. "What?"

Fronsac pushed Righty aside, pointing dramatically towards the stern. "It's Cleaver! He's hidin' in the lifeboat!" Immediately, all eyes turned towards the small, thin rowboat which hung from a small pulley, suspended no more than a foot from the deck. It looked as though it could barely seat half a dozen sailors, and was covered with a brown, weathered canvas--a canvas which was, upon further inspection, incredibly lumpy.

Spinn looked quickly to Pierut and the sailors of Vector with wide eyes, his face rigidly issuing a silent demand. Pierut nodded twice, confirming the temporary truce before dashing with the rest of the group towards the exposed hideout, sword nervously at the ready. Vainra inched forward, her arm shaking as she slid the tip of her blade underneath the corner of the canvas, gently hooking the rough fabric with the sharp, steel point. Glancing quickly to her crewmates to ensure they were prepared, she gave a war cry and threw herself backwards, pulling away the boat's covering and revealing its contents: a man with a thin black beard and dark clothing, accompanied by two lithe, blonde women who were glaring icily at a scruffy, sheepish fellow with his mouth and nose covered.

"How the devil--"

"Aiziril?!"

"Spinn?"

"Artemis?"

"LeJerque?!"

"Pierut!"

"Demeter?!"

"But when--?"

"What are ye doing--?"

"Where in the seven seas--!"

"Bless ye."

Aiziril growled loudly, swinging himself out of the lifeboat and landing neatly on the deck. "So it was ye blaggards shootin' at us!" he scowled, shaking a fist. "Ye could have killed us all!"

"Ye scupperin' scumbucket!" retorted Pierut, gnashing her teeth, her face livid. "How long have ye been hidin' there? How'd ye sneak onto Cleaver's ship?!"

"He came aboard quietly, I feel certain," sniffed Spinn, rolling his eyes. "Perhaps it's a tactic you've heard of."

"Aye, and we'd have got the jewels by now if ye lot hadn't come to muck it all up!" spat Artemis, untangling herself from her crewmates and exiting the rowboat.

"Aye!" nodded Demeter, folding her arms as she stood by her crewmate's side. She turned her head slowly, glaring in turn at each interloper. "Do ye have any notion how long we've been sailin'? All we had to go on was a compass heading!"

"An' we found Cleaver all the same," smirked LeJerque, standing proudly by his captain. "So, we win!"

"You've won nothing!" snapped Spinn, his nose wrinkling in a slight sneer. "If you've located the gem, or the governor's piece, what in blazes are you doing still here?"

"Well, ye interrupted us before we searched them out!" grumbled Aiziril, straightening his belt. "So shove off an' leave us to our rightfully earned prize!"

Pierut inhaled, opening her mouth to counter Aiziril's demand. She stopped suddenly, her arms falling to her sides. "Oi! All o' ye, shut yer gobs a moment!" The mob directed its attention to the silver-haired captain, waiting with bated breath. "Do ye mean to say ye've not found it yet?"

Spinn, too, suddenly forgot his anger as the surprise sprang into his face. "And... both pieces may very well be on this very vessel?"

Aiziril looked, horrified, from Spinn to Pierut, the crushing realization nearly knocking him off his feet. For all intents and purposes, the race was still on, and all three crews now had more or less an equal standing. A dozen heads turned, slowly and deliberately, towards the middle of the deck, where a sturdy wooden hatch on two iron hinges separated the surface from the galleon's hold.

In a chaotic flurry, the twelve pirates dashed madly across the deck, their footfalls loud and frantic as they scrambled around and between one another, grabbing, kicking, and pulling their rivals backward in their struggle to be first into the hold. "Oi! Leave off o' me foot!" cried Hermes, tugging himself away from Demeter, who had gripped his ankle.

"Hold 'im fast, lass!" cheered Artemis, getting quickly ahead of the others. "I'll get into the--yeeargh!" Artemis squealed in pain as Vainra pulled sharply at her golden locks, bringing her to an abrupt halt.

"It's mine!" declared Fronsac, diving towards the hatch, his hands wrapping desperately around the edge of the vertical door.

"Nay, it's mine!" shouted Garf, grabbing at Fronsac's arm and pulling him away.

"Garf, ye bilge-suckin' bastard, I'm in yer own crew!"

"Arrr."

"Move aside!" demanded Aiziril, knocking the squabbling pirates away with a fierce lunge of his shoulder. He took a deep breath, grunting as he began to lift open the hatch, not even noticing as Spinn and Pierut took up positions on either side of him, adding their strength to the effort. The brawling pirates stopped where they were, turning to watch the door open, nobody daring to move from where they had suddenly stopped the fight (some still clutching an ear or preparing to bite a leg). The door swung open with a grating, shuddering creak, rust grinding away from the hinge as the thick wooden platform lifted up to reveal a gaping interior, illuminated by lamplight.

A whistling whisper rushed out of the hold, sounding almost like the furious beat of hummingbird wings. The three sailors froze, their eyes transfixed by a rapidly approaching glint, the shining object streaking their way at a cannonball's pace. Before they could react, a deep thud resounded from the hatch as a square of metal impaled itself into the wood. Pierut shivered in a rare display of terror; no more than an inch from separating her hand from her wrist was a gleaming, axe-like weapon with a broad blade and a short, round peg for a handle.

"Yar har!" guffawed a booming voice from within the hold, "A near miss! Well, come on in, then, me hearties! I'll just have to try that again later!" The mob stood, stiffly, focused intently on the new voice and keeping their distance from the now-open hold they had previously been so eager to enter.

"Who's down th-there?" stuttered Spinn, clearing his throat quickly to mask his breaking voice. He risked leaning his head towards the portal, straining to try and see what lay within.

"Why, it's good ol' Cap'n Cleaver, boyo!" the voice answered, laughing merrily. "Weren't that why ye were puttin' holes in me ship? Or was that just fer fun?" The group stared with a mixture of fear and incredulity towards the overly friendly voice, which had paused long enough to let fly a rumbling belch. "I've got drinks," it beckoned in a taunting melody.

"Ye heard him, Mr. Righty," nodded LeJerque, nudging the sailor towards the light. "Go an' join him for a drink."

"Ye first!" snarled Righty, pushing back at the smaller man. "It be yer turn, if I remembers right!"

"I'm not thirsty," protested LeJerque, pushing Righty again.

"Well, get thirstier!" snarled Fronsac, giving LeJerque a rough shove, causing him to topple directly into Righty. Righty yelped in alarm, stumbling towards the hatch despite his best efforts to stop. Fortunately, though, he steered his unbalanced course towards Aiziril, stopping himself as he bumped jarringly into the bearded captain. Aiziril, who was not as lucky, tumbled into the hold, his arms flailing as they tried to grab onto any available handholds to prevent his fall, managing only to grasp Pierut and Spinn, who were not sufficiently balanced to hold him--or themselves--up.

The sailors on deck surged towards the hatch, crowding around it as they peered their heads into the hold. "Cap'n Spinn!" cried Vainra desperately, looking to see her fallen leader on an odd, multicolored pile. It looked like broken glass, and it gave the onlookers a fright. "Are ye all right, cap'n?!"

Spinn groaned, slowly rising to a sitting position, rubbing his back with one hand. "I've been better, Miss Vainra. It was a great stroke of fortune that this pile of jewelry broke my fall."

Pierut, lying next to the tall captain, leapt up, forgetting the pain in her legs. "Jewelry?!" She gazed down with a sudden, hungry grin on her lips. She felt her heart flutter in her chest like a caged sparrow as she surveyed the heap of gemstones underneath Spinn and Aiziril. Precious stones of every imaginable size, color, and cut had been haphazardly collected into a shapeless mound, glittering like a million tiny, earthbound stars. Each was polished to a perfect shine, bursting with color and shimmering with an inner fire; a sea of baubles begging to be admired and treasured above the rest. Pierut whooped with childlike glee, throwing herself back on the pile and embracing as many of the jewels as she could fit between her arms. "I've found the booty! Huzzah!"

"Just a blasted moment," scoffed Aiziril, leaning up at last and sneering down at Pierut from his sparkling throne. "From where I'm sitting, these jewels be mine!"

"Now, now, Mr. Aiziril," Spinn piped up, shaking a few diamonds out of his sleeve. "I do believe I landed before you."

"Looked like a draw, from here!" laughed a gruff voice. Spinn, Aiziril, and Pierut stared, wide-eyed, at one another, as if just remembering what had drawn them into the hold to begin with. Pierut slowly looked over her shoulder, gradually turning around and warily holding up her sword as she beheld a stout, grizzly man sitting in an unsteady wooden chair. The figure grinned at her with amusement, its uneven teeth showing from behind a long, thick beard of blackish-brown that covered his neck. He lifted up a massive ceramic jug, a dull brown in color and spattered with several spots of damp, thick-smelling liquor. He cackled once, and tilted the heavy-looking container to his lips, spilling a cloudy beverage as much on his tattered navy jacket as in his mouth.

Aiziril watched the man in fascination as he continued to pour the pungent liquor on himself, torn between awe and repugnance. "Ye're... Cleaver?"

"An honor an' a treat to meet ye!" laughed the man, again lifting the jug in their direction. "Who'll drink with Cleaver, then? A thousand pardons, but I done ran out o' rum hours ago... yer fine cannonballs missed me, but it did smash up the grog an' mixed it with the swill." He waved an arm at a smouldering, jagged hole in the wall, above what looked to have once been a stack of sturdy barrels. "Bless me if it ain't tasty, though. I'll call it 'grill!'"

Spinn blinked very slowly, his expression blank. "You're mad."

"Nay, not upset in the least!" smiled Cleaver, rocking back and forth on his wobbling chair. "Sure, there be some carpentin' to do, but that's all part o' the pirate life, eh? Ahoy up there!" he called to the hatch, waving towards the nine staring heads that were clustered around the doorway. "If ye're wantin' to tangle with ol' Cleaver, come on down an' let's get this done with!"

"Tangle? With ye?" gasped Pierut, her sword shaking slightly. She breathed deeply, sizing up the stout pirate. Her fear gave way to confusion, though, as she continued to observe her opponent. "But... Mr. Cleaver, ye're unarmed."

"No, I'm not!" scoffed Cleaver, pointing a long, unwashed finger vaguely towards the hatch where his namesake weapon was still lodged. "Me cleaver's right there. Yer lads will bring it with 'em when they come down."

"They will do no such thing," coughed Spinn in disbelief.

Cleaver blinked repeatedly, seeming surprised. "Oh. Then, ye win!" he cheered suddenly, once again lifting his jug in a toast and taking a long drink. He wiped his lips briskly with his sleeve as the group continued to watch him in baffled amazement. "I suppose ye'll be wantin' me treasures, then. Arrr, 'tis a pity, but fair be fair, to be fair, says I to ye!"

Pierut flinched in shock. "Ye've been drinkin' seawater."

"Nay, not today!"

"Ye're just givin' it to us?"

"It's just pretties an' finery, lass!" cackled Cleaver, slapping his knee loudly. "It's not the keepin' 'em, but the takin' 'em, after all! That be the fun part! Aye, sailin' on the seas an' floatin' with the breeze, snatchin' up the treasures wherever ye please! That's what makes a pirate!" He hiccuped, and chuckled, "That, an' fleas. Go on, then, divvy it up!" the drunkard smiled, waving his free hand towards the jewels.

The three captains paused, turning to look towards the heap of gems. Spinn cleared his throat, stepping down from atop the pile and quietly surveying the various pieces and accessories. "Yes... divvy."

"Ye lads split it up however ye please," smirked Pierut, scooping up a few of the stones to inspect them closely. "There be just two things I be wantin' from here, an' ye're welcome to the rest."

"How wonderfully generous of you," smirked Spinn, shaking his head.

"It's not generous at all!" snarled Aiziril, jealously grabbing several jewels for himself. "She means to keep Julius' prize, which is easily worth the rest o' this lot combined!"

"I know that," sighed Spinn annoyedly. "I was being facetious."

"Miss Jacquilynne, get down here an' help me look fer the right pieces," shouted Pierut impatiently, continuing to dig through the mound. "I says whoever finds 'em first can keep 'em!"

"A fair contest, I suppose," Spinn replied, "But not an especially promising one. May I remind you that we still have no idea what we're looking for?"

Aiziril sniffed, folding his arms. "How do ye know we didn't learn what the pieces were, while we were trackin' Cleaver?"

Spinn leveled an unimpressed gaze at the man in black. "Did you?"

"No," Aiziril shrugged.

"Right," sighed Spinn. "Mr. Fronsac, bring your crewmates down with you and let's start searching."

One by one, the rest of the pirates climbed through the hatch and dropped carefully into the interior of Cleaver's galleon. It took a fair amount of restraint for the eager sailors not to start snatching up jewels and gems, but their captains were quite adamant on the topic. In short order, the twelve treasure hunters had formed a small circle around the pile of stones, picking through them slowly, each individual trinket thoroughly inspected between a pair of discerning fingers.

"Oi, this one's got a ring on it!" exclaimed Artemis excitedly. "Cap'n Aiziril, I found it!"

"Ye prattlin' ponce," sniffed Demeter, "The one we want is missin' from its ring."

"Besides, I looked at that one already," scoffed Righty.

"And ye put it back on the pile?" groaned Fronsac. "Ye're not helpin' at all!"

"Well, where should I be puttin' it, then?"

"On this pile over here," pointed the impatient pirate. "This pile be the ones we've checked."

"What?! I been checkin' the ones in that pile," wailed Vainra.

"Sink me, but I ain't never seen such a selection o' slow sea slugs!" bellowed Cleaver, drawing the group's attention. "What be keepin' ye? Hurry up an' divide yer loot so I can start stealin' it back! Or can't ye count so high?"

"Beggin' yer pardon, Mr. Cleaver," shrugged Aiziril. "It's just that ye happen to have a pair o' particular pieces in yer possession..."

"Oh, the weddin' gifts!" laughed Cleaver, waving a hand dismissively. "Har, ye're not the first lot to try an' claim Julius' reward."

The group fell silent, eyeing one another with uneasy looks. "Ye know about 'em?" murmured LeJerque.

"O' course I be knowin' about 'em," snorted Cleaver. "But how is it that ye don't? Why, I been flauntin' Julius' commission all over the Locum Ocean! Everyone's seen that one."

Pierut frowned, a look of betrayal quivering at her lips. "But... but nobody told us what it was! Don't tell me we've got to sail all the way back to Locum."

"Oh, well," grinned Cleaver. "They might not've known what the piece meant when they saw it, though I'm sure in the back o' their heads, they knew it. Chances are, they told ye somethin' without even realizin' they were helpin' ye at all! Aye, lass, I trust a cap'n like ye knows to listen to what she's been told in the past, eh?"

"I've heard a great many things in my time, Mr. Cleaver," sniffed Spinn.

"Aye," added Aiziril, "An' a great deal of it is rubbish."

"Rubbish, is it?" smiled Cleaver, stroking his beard. The stout pirate cleared his throat, and stood up, striking a dramatic pose. "Those who know to heed the truly bold words of others will find that when the clues are stacked before them, even though they may find their luck headed downward at the beginning of the journey, they may just find that it comes back upward at the very end!"

Aiziril blinked, looking dubious. "What sort o' advice is that?"

"Pirate advice!" declared Cleaver, laughing as he fell back into his chair. "The very best kind!"

"Piracy is one thing, Mr. Cleaver," replied Spinn, folding his arms. "But stealing a wedding ring? Have you no shame, sir?"

"Ah, so now ye're wonderin' about the other piece, are ye?" their foe snickered, taking another swig from his jug. "Aye, that one's a real beauty. One o' the best I ever stole!"

"But it's a weddin' jewel!" spat Pierut, placing her hands on her hips. "That's not just a treasure, ye blaggard, that's somethin' meaningful an' priceless! Do ye know what ye took from that poor bride?"

"Aye, I know exactly what I took!" Cleaver continued to laugh, staggering back to his feet. His awkward, unbalanced shuffling seemed to grow almost rhythmic, his ponderous belly swaying from side to side in a crude jig. "I know just precisely what it means to steal away that certain somethin'...

Like a bucket with no buddy or an arc without an antidote;
A ship without a spooky flying beast!
To be heated with no hand, with no blueprint while you're bland,
Like a spear without a baked and fruity feast!

Things bewitched and yet not hounded, or old bread that's not discounted,
I have stolen all the fiber from your mind!
Like a blockage with no bed, a spearlike sword without fine thread,
And a signal with no salty piggish rind!

When gall's gone from liquid leaking, and the baby plant life peeking finds its gushing pipe just isn't anywhere;
Like a wreckage that can't jog, or the hip tool full of grog that has lost the shells exploding in midair!
From your handbag, it seems funny that nobody took the money yet it's gone and lost an essence clean and true;
If to grasp words isn't blushing, or a virgin isn't rushing, set a heading where there's not a hex on you!

Like a book without a beer, or a dunce without a deer,
I refuse to e'er applaud a squeezing grip!
When you're drizzly with no dike, and tricorne's vanished from dislike,
The prickler's lost what bears a mighty rip!

Take trangression from rotation, and your mouth's topmost location will be wishing for its dish after I nick it;
When the mob's violent throes have lost the will to decompose, a cadaver now must lie without a thicket!
Like contempt without the kernel or the family man paternal who is gone from those who rest with Davey Jones,
When you're sooty with no station, you'll make identification of the pinnacle of all known precious stones!

Bear in mind, these thieving actions are all incomplete subtractions, and they each have left a vital thing behind!
And beware, my scurvy boarders, that I've still maintained the orders of these jumbled names of treasure, thrice defined!
If you don't know any better, stick with living by the letter, where your reading must proceed from left to right,
But my help is just fairweather, so they're all mixed up together! What's a riddle without just a hint of spite?
If you unravel these tricks, you'll be dealing with a six, plus a pair of sevens, and a five and eight!
All three names mean the same thing--the stone from the ruined ring--and it's perfect for an ocean-loving mate!"


Cleaver's dance became frenetic; the large pirate's feet flailing about with no semblance of pattern or grace as the onlookers watched in revulsion and horror. Suddenly, a dark red flash sparkled in midair, moments before a particularly large ruby collided with a dry crack against Cleaver's forehead. The drunken buccaneer staggered two steps backwards, and fell into an unconscious heap, the remaining contents of his jug spilling onto the floor in a pungent puddle. Spinn, Pierut, and Aiziril stared in awe at the impressive jewel and their fallen rival, slowly turning back towards the treasure pile. Standing behind the mound was a crazed-looking Jacquilynne, her arm still outstretched from the frantic throw. She slowly lowered the guilty limb, and took a deep, calming breath. "Don't ye give me that look. Ye were all thinkin' the same thing."

Pierut rubbed her temple briefly, quietly crouching in front of the jewelry again. "Well, lass, unless that... song, if ye can call it... made any sense to ye, I imagine we're on our own."

"Same as always," nodded Aiziril. "I say we each choose a pair o' pieces, an' then divide up the rest evenly. One o' us will wind up with the gifts, either by design or by luck."

"Agreed," nodded Spinn, eyeing the selections warily. "I, for one, choose..."

TO BE CONCLUDED

***

SCORING CRITERIA

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

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

1. What was the piece Julius the Orange commissioned for his daughter? (7pt)

2. What is the missing stone from the ruined ring? (15pt)

You're not getting any help from me today. Figuring out how to solve today's puzzles is part of the puzzles themselves. Again, I honestly do not expect anybody to completely solve everything here. If you do, I will be deeply impressed, and you will have more than earned your 22pt for today.

That said, because I do not expect anybody to 100% solve today's puzzles, I imagine the highest score ought to go to the folks who get the closest. To that end, I'm offering lots of partial credit! I can't tell you the criteria for the partial credit, lest I give you hints towards the puzzles... but what I will suggest is that, even if you don't think you've got the solution--or even if you do--when you email me, show me AS MUCH OF YOUR WORK AS POSSIBLE. I'll be offering credit based on that. In fact, full credit will only go to a team that submits correct answers AND all the work it took to get there...

No MONKEY FUN today!

Eep eep! I'm too excited about the ending! What could it be?!

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

Tune ye in to Shanty Raid-io!
http://shantypp.servemp3.com:6328
[Aug 27, 2004 3:49:16 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
sculpturegt

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/me gibbers.
----------------------------------------
Sculpturegt
Fleet officer, Yo-Ho Yo-Yos, Looterati


Ruby Archipelago: where the liquors are strong, the piglets good looking, and all the IQs (used to be) above average.
[Aug 27, 2004 4:11:43 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
SplitMV

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A licensed therapist


This is a few levels beyond evil... and me brain.
----------------------------------------
Temujin
Midnight
[Aug 27, 2004 4:24:03 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Rastigi



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Difficulty: Completely Uncalled For

I think I will just go shoot myself.
It will make my head hurt less.
----------------------------------------
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!!'

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atteSmythe

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What you say!!
----------------------------------------
 
Attesmythe receives loot: [Gauntlets of Social Responsibility]
Attesmythe receives loot: [Ring of Mandatory Selflessness]

[Aug 27, 2004 5:33:08 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://attesmythe.com [Link]  Go to top 
kehraus

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/me gasps!

Oh ye Gods, Attesmythe even forgot his trademark signature due to befuddlement! O_o Curse ye Lejerque!
----------------------------------------
Treguard
Breaker of brigands and hearts alike!
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thoren



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Goodness me... I'm off to the looterati forums in hopes that the monkey fun is there and I can let my brain heal.

/me begins humming in preparation.
----------------------------------------
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 27, 2004 5:57:40 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
taelia

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hmm now what to do for the rest of the day?

Ah yes, I have a brawl match coming up.
----------------------------------------
Ryanne.

Buying:

Kraken Blood 11k, anywhere on the Midnight side of Cerulean.
Furniture in LE colors (spring green, ice blue, wine, banana, plum etc) - 10k each unless its a large piece of furniture, send me a tell.
Black CI trink
[Aug 27, 2004 7:08:23 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
sharrac



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this was so much fun. Can't wait for the ending. Now I'm gonna go not think for a while.
----------------------------------------
Msrackham, Captain of CI, Shop Tart Extraordinaire
 
Drusilla says, "Greenies don't know Ruby from Garnet"

[Aug 27, 2004 7:20:38 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
mootinator



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[zombie]Send...more...puzzles...[/zombie]
----------------------------------------
- Strickstein -
First Mate of Plank Club
Lord of Avalon
Shore Leave Zombie

starstx33 wrote: 
I Call sigging this!

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calliecat



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"Sink me, but I ain't never seen such a selection o' slow sea slugs!"


Team Sea Slug takes offense!
We are fast!
fast like turtle!
fast like hare!

(in fact we have already solved one puzzle WAHAHAHA!!! and we are halfway done with another! WAHAHAHAAH!!!
----------------------------------------
=^.^=

Calliecat of Red Dawn
[Aug 27, 2004 10:19:14 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.calliecat.com    thatcalliecat    littlebakaneko [Link]  Go to top 
LeJerque



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Just a reminder:

Though tomorrow, Saturday, 12pm, is the deadline for all answers and MONKEY FUN votes, the results will not be up until Sunday.

This is only halfway because I'm a giant bastard who likes holding you in suspense.

It's mostly because I'm going to sleep tomorrow and, and not have an alarm wake me up at 9:45 after having been up until 4:30. Do not hope to hear from me, as I will be unconscious.

To make it up to you, once the finale is posted Sunday at 12pm, I'll be announcing the winners live in Alpha Palace. Wrap party for the whole gang!

See you kids there... I'm off to work now!
----------------------------------------
I have stolen all the fiber from your mind!

Tune ye in to Shanty Raid-io!
http://shantypp.servemp3.com:6328
[Aug 27, 2004 10:29:05 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    LeJerque [Link]  Go to top 
bokodasu



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calliecat wrote: 
(in fact we have already solved one puzzle WAHAHAHA!!! and we are halfway done with another! WAHAHAHAAH!!!


Only halfway? WAHAHAHAHAAAAAH!!!
----------------------------------------
[size=9]Tomyris, Cult of the Red Mantis, Looterati
Bonnie, Octafish Dream, Viridian
[Aug 27, 2004 10:39:21 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
mootinator



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1000 poe to the first person who PMs me the correct number of teams who end up tied for first heh :) Make that by midnight PST, don't want me box overflowing.
----------------------------------------
- Strickstein -
First Mate of Plank Club
Lord of Avalon
Shore Leave Zombie

starstx33 wrote: 
I Call sigging this!

[Aug 27, 2004 10:48:36 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Frostburnx

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LeJerque wrote: 

To make it up to you, once the finale is posted Sunday at 12pm, I'll be announcing the winners live in Alpha Palace. Wrap party for the whole gang!

See you kids there... I'm off to work now!



Awe :( I cant make it, I have to work at fair this weekend, but at least its pirate weekend! ARRRR!
----------------------------------------
Liliene on Cerulean
[Aug 27, 2004 11:12:23 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.facebook.com/taradavis [Link]  Go to top 
Frostburnx

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are the chanties for Monkey Fun posted somewhere? I cant find them, please let me know if anyone knows.

Thanks! ^_^


Best of luck to the winner!
----------------------------------------
Liliene on Cerulean
[Aug 27, 2004 11:17:32 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://www.facebook.com/taradavis [Link]  Go to top 
Bluetta

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would the lightning round be on Sunday then? (if there be a lightning round)
----------------------------------------
~Bluetta
[Aug 27, 2004 11:30:08 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Artemis
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Frostburnx wrote: 
are the chanties for Monkey Fun posted somewhere? I cant find them, please let me know if anyone knows


He hid them here
[Aug 27, 2004 12:23:14 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Matthias

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I've been wondering when this puzzle would turn up.

Matt
----------------------------------------
I took my own advice.
[Aug 27, 2004 12:26:19 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
kargach

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Finished! May I go outside and play now, or should I just put my head on the desk and sit quietly?

Actually, it's past midnight here, so THUMP onto the bed I go...

- Kargach, on behalf os Saga's Stalwarts
----------------------------------------
Kargach of the Midnight Ocean
Captain of the Champions of Valhalla, and occasionally good at forum contests
[Aug 27, 2004 1:36:53 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message [Link]  Go to top 
Matthias

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Okay, this is harder than I was expecting. Humble pie tastes gooood, really it does.

Matt
----------------------------------------
I took my own advice.
----------------------------------------
[Edit 1 times, last edit by Matthias at Aug 27, 2004 1:47:09 PM]
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LongJohnGrey

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Frostburnx wrote: 
Awe :( I cant make it, I have to work at fair this weekend, but at least its pirate weekend! ARRRR!

You mean "Goodness Me", right?

<grumble> and I thought my "Godel's Incompleteness Theorem" would be a stumper. </grumble>

[off to the W&O board to figure this out]
----------------------------------------
Re: Market on Scurvy Reef:
Hypnos wrote: 
I didn't realize it was such a hot forage spot until I dropped it and three pirates showed up on the island in quick succession.
And it wasn't even 9 spaces from the arrow :-).
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Shuranthae

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Is there a word to describe both extreme love and hatred?
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mootinator



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mootinator wrote: 
1000 poe to the first person who PMs me the correct number of teams who end up tied for first heh :) ...


Well, two people did take me up on this, so true to my word 1000 POE to calliecat if < 2 are eliminated tonight, and to cargach if > 2 are eliminated. See ye Sunday.
----------------------------------------
- Strickstein -
First Mate of Plank Club
Lord of Avalon
Shore Leave Zombie

starstx33 wrote: 
I Call sigging this!

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

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Hurrah! So that's two that have solved it. Anyone else?

(And the therapist didn't help. They couldn't solve it either.)

Matt
----------------------------------------
I took my own advice.
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Nuroticfish



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Shuranthae wrote: 
Is there a word to describe both extreme love and hatred?


I believe the word you're looking for is LeJerque.
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kaosfere

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Matthias wrote: 
Hurrah! So that's two that have solved it. Anyone else?


Aye.
----------------------------------------
I alone have the flet!
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Shuranthae wrote: 
Is there a word to describe both extreme love and hatred?


Blockade?
----------------------------------------
tht guy hird me 2 b a om
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Muria



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Well, it's over. I fully admit to not being one of the people who managed to unscramble that mess. Do we really have to wait till tomorrow to find out what the final scores are? (LeJerque said something about Sunday in Day 5).


Parlia
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kargach

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Muria wrote: 
Well, it's over. I fully admit to not being one of the people who managed to unscramble that mess. Do we really have to wait till tomorrow to find out what the final scores are? (LeJerque said something about Sunday in Day 5).


We really have to wait until tomorrow - ye think he'll tip his hand as to who is in the lead? And kill the suspense? >8)
----------------------------------------
Kargach of the Midnight Ocean
Captain of the Champions of Valhalla, and occasionally good at forum contests
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