[Aq] Week 346: What's in the Box?

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Mille Piscatus

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Feb 28, 2021
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After dinner with his uncle Viribus and Aeria, Mille put the not yet identified metal object off to the side, so he could investigate it later. Later happened after dinner with his uncle the next day. Now upstairs and seated at the dining table, Mille's rainbow feathered brow creased in concentration, as he gently pushed every edge he could find on this dull grey box with his fingers, trying to find some explanation for the structure of this maybe hollow cube.

It wasn't until Mille fumbled and dropped this enigma on the floor that he saw the clue he was missing. When it landed gracelessly on it's back, a piece moved at the front. So if he watched one side while feeling for an edge on the opposite side…

Click. A piece moved into place. The feathers on top of the avian's head rose, betraying his excitement at making some progress. So he turned the cube, fumbled around again, and…

Click. He was either solving this puzzle, or locking it so it never opens, but at this point there was only one way to find out. So he "solved" one side, then another side, then struggled for a while before realising he was working on a side he had already done, and kept working on this puzzle, oblivious to the fact that night had fallen and Viribus had retired for the night.

With a final click, the top popped open, revealing a compass inside. Mille tried to take it out, but there was no give at all. This was clearly meant to stay in. So, at some point in their life, the now deceased person who previously owned this puzzle found it somewhere, failed to open it, and just kept it. Why would a compass be hidden in a puzzle? Where did they find it? Well, there was one thing Mille could find out right now - he could check if it worked.

The blacksmith's apprentice made his way down to the workshop then out to the storefront and found a compass positioned near the counter to catch a buyer's eye. He placed the compass and the cube down on the counter and...

"What."

Mille's crest flattened with a blend of disappointment and puzzlement as he glared at the two compasses pointing in two very different directions. If they pointed in opposite directions he could just repaint the needle, but no, it wasn't that convenient. Locked on to this mystery, Mille took the compasses with him back into the workshop, placed them on a bench and started searching through shelves around the room. Somewhere in here was a lump of iron with an arrow scratched into it. In other words, a lodestone.

After a slow search, picking up and putting down items with the utmost care, to avoid interrupting anyone's sleep, he finally found it. Mille waved the lodestone around the two compasses. The one from the front reacted as expected, and the one in the box did nothing.

Is it stuck?

Mille picked up the box and twisted it, keeping it near the lodestone on the bench, and the needle maintained its heading.

How can a compass needle point the wrong way like this? It's too thin to point anywhere else!

A snore from above reminded Mille that he really should be in bed by now. He put the real compass back on display, and took the compass puzzle back to his room, where he retired for the night. Finding out what this thing is pointing to could wait until tomorrow.
 

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