You duck out from under the low doorway. The evening sun dazzles you after the dimness of the house. From behind you, you can still hear the low, anguished murmurings of the sick girl’s family. If you don’t come back with the cure in time…
You set off along the dusty road, bordered on either side by squat stone cottages. People watch from out of their doorways: occasionally one bids you luck. As you reach open countryside, you fumble in a pocket for the scrap of parchment the wise old scholar gave you.
The Treasure (10 Beans)
The sketch map is incredibly rough and the description of the cure below it is practically illegible. The old man’s hands were shaking so badly with age and fatigue by the time he wrote it that it’s a struggle to pick one letter out of the jumble. You hold it up to the golden glow of the setting sun:
‘A juice made from the eFrr-Fioelws of the unMointa of the Sun. Two drops’ (Unscramble the words and you’ll have the origin of a magical cure from a well-known book. Find which cure it is and identify it at the top of your submission)
You journey long into the night, only pausing to rest when the moon goes down. At first light, you set out again. The sound of the sea teases the edge of your perception for a long time before you emerge onto a headland and see it below you. Consulting the map in the early light, you turn left and clamber down.
The first you know of the castle is realising that the boulder you’re taking a rest on is actually a squared stone block. You leap up and begin to look for a pattern. Discerning the vague shape of the wall, you follow it until you reach the tumble of stones the old man told you of. You strain and sweat for a good hour before uncovering the iron-bound wooden door, set into what now resembles a bank but must once have been the foundations. You’re concerned it might take you another hour to burst it open but it’s so old that it crumbles into splinters at your touch. Beyond is the ancient royal treasury, full of long-lost riches….
The Journey (20 Beans)
Describe the treasury in at least 100 words. What fabulous objects can you see in the light from the doorway? Weapons? Armour? Jewellery? Goblets? Coins?
You clamber over the piles of precious things, eyes scanning the depths for some sign of a bottle. It isn’t until you reach the back that you spy one sitting on a shelf. It doesn’t look much compared to what surrounds it, though there is a leather cord to hang it from your shoulder. When you hold it up to the light, it flashes and gleams, as though made from something other than glass.
You journey back to the village and hurry to the girl’s home. Crouching down by her bed, you hold out the bottle with shaking fingers. Whatever more appropriate stopper it used to have is gone, replaced by a simple cork. You twist the cork but it won’t come out. The girl’s mother gives you a knife but it still won’t come out. Everything you try to use to prise it out fails. In desperation, you try to break the neck off the bottle but it turns out to be made from something hard like diamond and won’t crack.
Victory (20 Beans)
Solve this Muggle riddle: The diamond and cork are impervious to magic. How can you get to the cure if you can’t pull or prise the cork out and you can’t shatter the bottle? (Hint: there is a correct answer. If you’re truly stuck, ask me!)
The deadline is 11.59 PM HOL-time on May 31st. Send all your tasks in one private message to me (Sky Alton). Once the deadline has passed, feel free to share your descriptions and or your solutions as a reply to this thread (but only AFTER the deadline).