Merlin Mystery Solution: Part 8

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The Owl clock on P2

Go to the Merlin Mystery Solution Index.

This is Part 8 of my solution to The Merlin Mystery by Jonathan Gunson and Marten Coombe.

This post provides the complete solution to the Cylinder mini-puzzle.

In part 3, we established the chain of objects that links the Cylinder to the owls and to the moon symbos.

If you’ve been following the solution so far, you can guess that that the next step will be to count all the moons on every page. This is no mean feat as they are often very well camoflagued.

But counting the moons is of no use without knowing what they mean and, for that, we need to look at the owls.

Watching the Owls

The key observation is that the owls’ eyes look like crescent moons. This link is most clearly established by the owls that sit on silvery moons. The owl on P4,S19, for example, is looking to the left (to its right) and the whites of its eyes look like a pair of crescent moons in the same shape as the moon it is sitting on.

The owl on P10, S27 is looking to the right (to its left) and is sitting on a moon facing the opposite direction.

The image explaining what this means is on P2,S16. This owl has a clockface on its stomach with an arrow pointing round clockwise. There are 4 divisions between every number on the clock, making 4*12 = 48 divisions in all – the same as the number of squares round the border.

The idea is that the moons tell you to move round the border to a new square. The owl with a clockface on P2,S16 is looking to its right which means the right crescent moons, “)”, mean move clockwise. By extension the left crescent moons, “(“, mean move anti-clockwise.

Counting the Moons

There are a huge number of moons scattered throughout the book and some of them are really difficult to spot. Some are in the border squares, some are hidden in the main picture.Fortunately, you can usually tell when you’ve missed one because you end up moving to a new square on the border which doesn’t contain a clearly defined object.

So far in this solution I have focused on just the first 12 lines drawn from the first 12 Zodiac squares. Sticking to this, the table below lists the number of moons and their locations on the relevant pages: P2, P4, P6 and P14.

I’ve also summed the moons to give the number of squares clockwise (positive) or anticlockwise (negative) that you need to move round the border.

Page 2 4 6 14
) Moons 1 (S18) 5 (S13, S19, S37, on broom, near pyramid) 0 7 (S4, S10, S22, S28, S31, S37, S46)
( Moons 3 (S14, S31, shining through picture of open door) 1 (by candle) 7 (S0, S8, S29, S36, S37, S41, S47) 1 (near S0)
Sum -2 +4 -7 +6

Putting the Pieces Together

After performing these clockwise and anti-clockwise steps round the border from the end squares identified in Part 7, we reach our final border squares. Here, once again, is a table for the first 12 lines. I’ve listed:

  1. The page number,
  2. The original square pointed at by the line drawn through the Zodiac squares/Alchemy symbols,
  3. The sum of the moons on the page,
  4. The new square this moves us to round the border,
  5. A description of the object in that square.
Page Original square Moon sum Final square Object
2 18 -2 16 Clockwise owl clock
2 35 -2 33 Left hand print
2 38 -2 36 Silver heart
14 32 +6 38 Flames
14 2 +6 8 Silver (Ag) bar
14 1 +6 7 Unlit candle
14 42 +6 0 “\” character
4 6 +4 10 Framed painting of Crataegus monogyna
4 7 +4 11 Clockwise spinning dagger plaque
4 26 +4 30 Circle
4 10 +4 14 Book with XIX on cover
6 19 -7 12 5-pointed star of light

This looks correct. Every final square we’ve reached has a single, distinct object in it.

End of Part 8

It has taken a long time, but we have finally identified the first 12 objects of the solution! Well, sort of… The problem is, these objects make no sense. The objects are supposed to spell out the Alchemist’s spell and the method of casting it. But this sequence of objects is meaningless.

Yet again, the conclusion is that something is missing. If you’ve followed the solution this far you won’t be surprised to learn that the missing piece is given to us by the Cuboid puzzle.

Before moving on, you can test that you’ve understood the solution so far by finding the remaining 63 solution objects. Don’t worry, the work is not wasted, these really are the final solution objects.

Finding them is simply a case of following the same steps on every page of the book:

  1. Choose 3 or 4 zodiac linked border squares to start from (Pyramid puzzle)
  2. Count the gold and silver Mer symbols and turn to a 2nd page (Cube puzzle)
  3. Draw a line from each zodiac starting square through a respective gold alchemy symbol on the 2nd page and out to an end square (Cone puzzle)
  4. Count the gold and silver cadency symbols on the 2nd page and turn to a 3rd page, finding the same end square on that 3rd page (Sphere puzzle)
  5. Count the left and right crescent moons on the 3rd page and move round the border to a solution square (Cylinder puzzle)

Next up is the Cuboid puzzle. This is by far the most convoluted of all the mini-puzzles. It will turn out that, though we have all the right objects, they are not necessarily in the right order.

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