Dead Sea Almanac - April 29, 2019
Today's featured item is sure to impress the onlookers of any suitably ridiculous performance, or to help any hero in need of invisibility to terrify his foes! The marvelous Belt Buckle of Invisibility functions with a simple twist - twist it up, and it will disguise the upper half of you; twist it down, and it will conceal the lower. Perfect for those moments when you don't want to be seen rummaging behind the counter of a shop, or for when you want to hide securely in a bathroom stall! Invented by the mad wizard Malfavhar, this buckle is sure to be a best-seller at schools of internal medicine worldwide!
Belt Buckle of Invisibility
Wondrous Item, uncommon
This brass buckle is fashioned in the shape of an eye and holds a belt securely around the waist. The center pops out and spins ninety degrees in either direction before stopping, where it can be re-inserted into the frame to lock it in position.
When the buckle is rotated ninety degrees upward, it conceals the upper half of the wearer's body as though under the effects of the Invisibility spell. When rotated and locked into the downward position, it grants the same effect to the wearer's lower half. In either case, the belt and the remaining half of the wearer's body are still visible.
The effect ends immediately if the buckle is rotated to a different position.
Melinda's Monday Mystery
Today, we are given a new story from the frontier by our novel correspondent, the Marvelous Melinda. She writes to inform us of a mystery she has recently uncovered pertaining to the location of a great treasure. In her letter, she claims that the mansion of the late Duke of Huntington is rife with mystery and treasure; indeed, we have confirmed his will leaves his considerable fortune and treasury of magical relics to whoever can solve the riddle of his estate! Surely treasure hunters from around the empire will flock to his expansive property to try their hand!
Puzzle One: The Statue
In the garden is a statue with a cherub and a sundial. When the heroes arrive, they are allowed to look at the duke-general's journal; he has written that the secret begins there. If they are smart enough to examine it under heat, they find secret ink detailing that his "favorite time for love is 4:17pm". Regarding the statue during that time of day reveals that the finger points to a specific alcove of the attic.
Puzzle Two: The Attic
While attempting to access the alcove, the heroes quickly realize that only half the attic is accessible. To get to the relevant window, they will need to climb up the outside of the house (without alerting their host, the general's daughter) or they will need to locate a book named "On the Use of Interior Space" on the bookshelves in the adjacent study and pull it gently to activate a hidden door.
Once inside the hidden half of the attic, the heroes will find "attic junk" including four portraits - a brunnette with a red dress, a blonde with a blue one and a (small and inobvious) dolphin necklace, a man in a pinstripe suit and top hat with a monacle, and the general himself with a cane and cigar in a suit with tails. They will also find a telescope pointed at a circle of standing stones on the grounds, situated at the center of an ornamental maze. Close inspection from here reveals that a symbol is visible at one of the four entrances to the center circle - a rose.
Puzzle Three: The Labrynth
When they reach the center of the ornamental hedge maze, which isn't hard, the heroes can see four symbols at the cardinal entrances - a rose, a dolphin, a monacle, and a cane. There's a fountain in the center, rose bushes around the perimeter, and a stone bowl rests on the symbol of the dolphin. The statue bears a top hat and a cigar. Placing the top hat on the monacle symbol, the cigar on the cane symbol, a rose from the bushes on the rose symbol, and water in the stone bowl on the dolphin symbol will activate a magical mechansism that causes the fountain to descend. When it does, it forms the entrance to a labyrinth. If someone is interested enough in the water flowing down from the fountain, they notice that it runs in a narrow trickling channel on the floor down a series of almost-imperceptible depressions that show the way through the otherwise impenetrable maze.
Puzzle Four: The Door
The last puzzle is the door. It's an exact replica of the maze, except that there are seven golden sticks set across places where there are no walls (and seven missing lengths of wall where they ought to go). Moving the sticks to the correct position (so that the map is accurate) causes the door to slide up into the ceiling and reveal the treasure room beyond. It also causes the water to stop running and the floor to be gradually warmed by a spell, though the heroes won't notice this for at least a few minutes.
The treasure inside is fit for a group of four heroes of exceptional talent - a shape-shifting water mage (blue dress, dolphin), an archer of exceptional accuracy (red dress, rose), an artificer (monacle, top hat), and a great soldier (the general himself).
Puzzle Five: Memory
The water trail has evaporated completely, and now the maze is getting uncomfortably hot for humanoid habitation. The heroes must find their way out before it melts to solid stone.