Thursday, July 5, 2012

Chapter 2 (a)


Dlanor: "If two carpenters can make two tables in two days, how many tables can a carpenter make in six days?"

Erika: "Three."

Dlanor: "The seven letters in 'new door' can be rearranged to form one word, true or false?"

Erika: "True, you just said it."

Dlanor: "You are a shepherd and you need to take four sheep to the other side of a river, however one is a wolf in sheep's clothing. You cannot tell who the wolf is and if you leave it alone with a lone sheep, that sheep will be devoured. Two animals at a time can be taken on the boat. How do you manage to bring all the animals to the other side without risking losses?"

Erika: "I take only one animal on the first trip, then two, then the remaining."

Dlanor: "If a rooster laid a brown egg..."

Erika: "Roosters don't lay eggs."

Dlanor: "If an apple is worth two pears and three pears are worth two peaches, how many peaches you need to trade to get three apples?"

Erika: "four"

Dlanor: "If you say it, you break it."

Erika: "Silence."

Dlanor: "If fifteen years ago a boy was three times older than his little sister, and if eighteen years ago he was five times older, how old would the boy be today?"

Erika: "33 years old."

Dlanor: "One, three, five, four... which number comes next?"

Erika: "Four, and then four, and four, and four... an endless series of fours."

Dlanor: "You fear it, you shun it, and yet you are still walking toward it."

Erika: "Death."

Dlanor: "What can change the nature of a man?"

Erika: "An endless torment."

Dlanor: "A very good answer, Miss Erika."

Erika: "That question wasn't even a riddle, there are no wrong or right answers to that."

Dlanor: "No, I think that yours was the best possible answer."

Erika: "Anyway this is getting boring."

Dlanor: "It is not my fault, Miss Erika, I do not know any riddle that you cannot solve."

Erika: "The truth is that you only know childish riddles. None of them are challenging enough for someone gifted with as many little grey cells as I possess."

I hear someone knocking at the door, it must be Rokudou."

Erika: "Come in, the door is open."

Just as I expected, it's my butler. He brought my tea and my kompeito as he promised yesterday.

Rokudou: "Good morning, milady, I hope this room was of your liking and that you had a pleasant stay."

Erika: "It was fine, not exactly what I'm used to, but I don't complain. I suppose there wasn't really anything better in this forsaken ward of Tokyo."

Rokudou: "That is the case, unfortunately. Good morning, Dlanor."

Dlanor: "It is not necessary to greet me, Mister Rokudou."

Rokudou: "It would be rude not to. But I think you were having a conversation before I interrupted you, please don't mind me and feel free to continue."

Erika: "It wasn't really a conversation, I was getting bored and I asked Dlanor to entertain me with her riddles."

Dlanor: "It was a pointless request."

Rokudou: "Hu hu, I suppose milady can't really get any fun from a riddle, if it's Dlanor to tell them."

Erika: "Absolutely... it was truly disappointing."

Rokudou: "I believe milady requires something unconventional and more elaborated than a standard riddle."

Erika: "Indeed, I really wish for something that requires to truly think out of the box for once."

Rokudou: "Hmmm... well, there's this strange story I've read, I'm not sure if it's enough of a challenge for you, milady, but I think it will be of your liking."

Erika: "Interesting, a riddle from Rokudou, this looks promising."

Rokudou: "You really do like riddles, milady."

Erika: "It's always been a passion of mine, no matter how stupid and pointless they are, it's like a drug."

I gulp my kompeito and sip the tea Rokudou brought me.

Erika: "Go on, I'm listening."

Rokudou: "Before I start, I must let you know that this is a story, a very strange story. You need to imagine yourself in the situation described in order to full appreciate it."

Erika: "Okay, I'll try."

Rokudou: "You need to imagine yourself with three people you know, three people you consider your friends."

Erika: "There's no one I consider my friend."

Rokudou: "Then imagine three persons that are important to you, for example, what about Dlanor?"

Erika: "Okay, I'm with Dlanor, you and Satsukawa. How about that? I can't think of anything better."

Rokudou: "I suppose that will do, but this fictional experience is best to be lived when you're imagining to be with people you truly care for."

Erika: "I see, I guess I won't truly enjoy it then."

Rokudou: "Let's see. You and your companions one day wake up in a very strange situation. Somehow you were kidnapped in your sleep, and you have absolutely no memory of the events that led you where you are now. You are on two suspended metal platforms, they are very close to each other, enough for people to go from one to another with ease. But you soon realize that they are connected to each other with chains from above and they form a sort of scale. If a platform goes down the other goes up and vice versa. After a few first minutes of complete confusion, you realize that the only exit from this prison is above. If you were to stand on a platform and cause the other to go down to the bottom, you'd reach the upper floor and you'd be free."

Erika: "Then I'd just tell you and Satsukawa to stand on one platform while I and Dlanor stay on the other. Your weight should be enough to pull us up."

Rokudou: "I'm glad you quickly understood the basic concept of this set up, milady, however there are complicating factors that I still haven't mentioned. Before that, may I ask you what would you do about me and Satsukawa to get us free?"

Erika: "Does this riddle require to find a way to set everyone free?"

Rokudou: "Well, it assumes that you'd want to save everyone, that's why you need to imagine you're with your friends. Oh, and this works even better if you tell this story to the four persons involved, or five or more, and see how they decide to solve this problem together."

Erika: "Five? How does that even work?"

Rokudou: "Hu, hu, I still haven't told you everything."

Erika: "Okay, so I suppose that everyone wants to free themselves without sacrificing anyone else. Is that so?"

Rokudou: "That's one of the way you can imagine it, hu hu hu!"

Erika: "Still, as long as you don't tell me everything, this problem is really trivial. As long as one person reaches the upper floor, there are several ways for her to free the others. She can find a rope or she can find more weights to drag on the platform that just went up."

Rokudou: "Indeed, if that was all, I suppose there wouldn't be any real problem."

Erika: "Then, what's the catch?"

Rokudou: "The bottom is burning with hellish flames, milady, you are inside of a giant furnace. You find yourself exactly midway between the top and the bottom. One platform needs to be engulfed in the fiery fire for the other to reach salvation."

Erika: "Ha ha! Well, I think that if I actually found myself in the situation I'd still go with the original plan."

Rokudou: "I wonder if Satsukawa-san would just let you do that, hu hu hu..."

Erika: "What about you, Rokudou? Wouldn't you sacrifice yourself to save your mistress?"

Rokudou: "I regretfully must admit that I wouldn't be very happy at the idea. And I fear that our servant-mistress relationship would be void in such situation. We'd be on a completely equal standing."

Erika: "There's no need to fake embarrassment, Rokudou. You serve me because I pay you. Of course you value your life more than my money. I was just teasing you."

Rokudou: "I'm glad you understand, milady."

Erika: "Anyway, I think you still didn't tell me everything. At first I thought that this was just a lazy riddle and that you were simply overlooking the fact that different people weights differently, which would make balancing impossible in most cases. But then you said this can be done even with five people."

Rokudou: "Indeed, you see, there are four statues with you on the platforms. Both you and the statues are equally distributed so to keep the platforms in a perfect balance. I must also add that the gears of this infernal contraption are kind of stiff. A difference of about five kilograms must be achieved before the platforms can be put into motion."

Erika: "I see, so each person has its own counterweight. This makes things less problematic, at worst you just need to sacrifice a single person."

Rokudou: "It might be just a single person, but for that single person her life is everything. There is something I must tell you about these statues. Three of them represent humans on their knees in submissive stances. The remaining shows a man standing in the act of striking someone with a really massive cleaver."

Erika: "In other words they suggest a human sacrifice. *giggle* *giggle*"

Rokudou: "When you inspect closely the statues you realize that they're hollow. They have holes in which water was poured in. You understand that whoever put you in this situation calibrated the statues' weights by adding the necessary water in them."

Erika: "Wait a moment! Water? This is a giant furnace, you said, it must be extremely hot..."

Rokudou: "Hu hu hu! Indeed, you don't have much time! The more you wait the more the water inside the statues will evaporate. You must decide what to do and quickly! But if it's any consolation, you're losing water too, so you have a little more time than you may think. Hu hu hu hu!"

Erika: "What a truly horrific situation! Well done, Rokudou, I'm still not sure if this will prove to be a worthwhile riddle, but you have already reached the objective of entertaining me with your sadistic story! *giggle* *giggle*"

Rokudou: "I knew it'd be of your liking, milady. There is just another small particular that I need to mention. The cleaver the statue is holding is real. It can be taken out from the statue's hand and used."

Dlanor: "The first person that takes it will gain the upper hand."

Erika: "Not so fast, Dlanor. Taking that cleaver without a justification would be the same as a declaration of war. It's not really a weapon, it wasn't meant to be used in a fight, and Rokudou said it's massive. I think it wouldn't be easy to take it and use it quickly enough. What if the other three decide to ally against you? You see, Dlanor, an average human in this situation would naturally wish to save his own life, but morality would prevent him from killing another man. However if you just give them the excuse, they'd kill you without a second thought. Take that cleaver with the intention 'to get the upper hand' and they'll decide that they're justified in killing you."

Dlanor: "But there's a risk that someone else will take it and he might be strong or intimidating enough to dissuade the others from acting."

Erika: "I never said that I wouldn't try to take it, I'd just be smart about it. I'd use my logic and my persuasive skills to be always in control of the situation."

Rokudou: "The game is set, milady, what would you do in this situation? What would the best possible solution to this conundrum be?"

Erika: "Isn't it possible to climb up using the chains?"

Rokudou: "Unfortunately that's not an option. The chains are spiked, and the spikes are poisoned!"

Erika: "Clever! And what's the height of this 'furnace' again?"

Rokudou: "About 50 meters, 25 meters separate you from salvation and from hell. And naturally you do not possess anything that might help you in this situation. All the items that you're allowed to use were already mentioned."

Dlanor: "It doesn't seem that it is possible to solve this problem without a sacrifice."

Rokudou: "What would you do, Dlanor, if you were one of the persons involved in this strange game with milady?"

Dlanor: "I would volunteer to be the sacrifice."

Erika: "Ha! As if I'd let you! You're mine, Dlanor, I won't just give you up so easily, not when there are others that can be sacrificed in your place!"

Dlanor: "Miss Erika, you should not underestimate the strength of Mister Rokudou and Mister Satsukawa combined. In such situation your brain wouldn't prove to be as useful as their brute force."

Erika: "It's hard to imagine that that Satsukawa would abandon all of his morals to save his skin... but you're right, Dlanor, this is a situation where you shouldn't really trust anyone. You might realize that people are a lot worse than how they look. They could even surprise themselves."

Rokudou: "Indeed, this is a situation where you'd really understand who truly is your friend, hu hu hu! And you'd also realize what's the extent of your trust in them!"

Erika: "For me it's very easy, I don't trust anyone."

Rokudou: "But you trust Dlanor."

Erika: "It's different. You don't normally suspect that a chair or a table will betray you. It's not a matter of trust."

Rokudou: "So, what would you do, milady?"

1 comment:

  1. "two suspended metal platform" --> platforms

    I'll also share the first solutions that came to my mind (in that order)..
    (a) Cut the chain with the cleaver and drop your platform down while everyone is holding on to the chain (but then came the info about the poison spikes, so that got impossible)
    (b) instead of sacrificing an entire person just cut off some limbs and throw them on the other platform, he might still survive...
    (c) the Erika way: convince the others you will be the sacrifice, then when they are going up and you down quickly spill all the water / drop the statues and watch yourself getting catapulted to freedom :)
    (d) the improved Erika way: somehow convince everyone to let you and Dlanor be the sacrifices (or let her jump to the platform at the last minute with the excuse "i can't leave my master", then same as above.. this way Erika can still keep her prized furniture!