Merlin Mystery Solution: Part 9

Merlin Mystery cover

The Merlin Mystery

Go to the Merlin Mystery Solution Index.

This is Part 9 of my solution to The Merlin Mystery by Jonathan Gunson and Marten Coombe.

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

In part 3, we established a chain of objects that links the Cuboid to the copper tiles. The Cuboid also links to the Nim and Mer symbols, but this created an ambiguity since the Pyramid and the Cone also link to these symbols. The ambiguity was resolved in the earlier parts of the solution by focusing on the gold and silver Zodiac and Alchemy symbols scattered across every page. This leaves only the Zodiac and Alchemy symbols inscribed into the copper tiles for the Cuboid puzzle.

Understanding what these copper tiles mean involves exploring the steps in the chain between the Cuboid and the Nim and Mer symbols more carefully. This penultimate mini-puzzle turns out to be a maze of overlapping ideas.

Exploring The Links

The first link in the Cuboid chain is the Beefeater holding a Cuboid on P20, S26. An identical beefeater holding a copper tile on P30,S30 establishes the direct link from the Cuboid to the copper tiles.

An indirect link is set up by two different Beefeaters around P18,S25. These each carry a clock featuring a waving banner, one in red and one in green. The banners lead us to the two knights on P18,S28 and P16,S27. The banners carried by these knights feature Mer and Nim symbols, which establishes that aspect of Cuboid connection.

The second feature of the knights on P16 and P18 is that they each carry 3 shields with a sunburst pattern on them. The shields are divided into quadrants. Similar shields appear on four different clocks that appear on four different pages.


The third clock

The clocks with the shields have the same brass columns as those carried by the Beefeaters to confirm the link. Each shield contains only a quarter of the sunburst pattern, the other three quarters being part of a different image.

The first clock is on P10,S30. Here the shield features the top right quadrant of the sunburst. The clock face itself is unusual in that it has a letter “L” where the “VI” (6) should go. L is the Roman numeral for 50. This first clock point at “I”.

The second clock is on P28,S10 and features the bottom right quadrant of the sunburst. This clock points at “V”.

The third clock is on P32,S15 and features the bottom left quadrant of the sunburst. This clock points at “X”.

The fourth and final clock is on P38,S33 and features the top left quadrant of the sunburst. This clock points at the incongruous “L”.

The other three images that make up the shields are dead ends and red herrings.

We now have all the pieces of the Cuboid mini-puzzle. The next step is to interpret them.

The Copper Tiles

The square copper tiles appear on every page and are inscribed with a mixture of Alchemy and Zodiac symbols. There are also some “fake” symbols which fit in neither group.

copper tile

The strange copper tile on P38

There is also one rectangular copper tile, which appears on P38,S38, and features three strange markings.

The first marking is a sequence of arrows pointing around three sides of a square: down the left side, along the bottom, then up the right side. This corresponds with the copper tiles which only appear on the left, bottom and right sides of each page, never along the top.

The second marking is a triangle like a forward arrow. Finally, there is a clock face pointing at 1 o’clock.

The precise meaning of this collection of markings is obscure, but the starting point is to follow the copper tiles round in an anti-clockwise path as indicated by the first marking.

The table below lists the tiles from the first three pages of the book in anti-clockwise order round the border. The “fake” tiles are marked as “F”. The Alchemy and Zodiac tile are identified by their B and Z numbers.

P2 F F F F B7 Z11 F Z7 B8 F Z8 B9 Z1 F F F F
P4 F B3 Z2 F B12 B3 Z7 B6 F B11 Z3 B7 B10 Z5 Z9 B5 F Z2 Z1 B5 B1 F
P6 F F F Z6 Z9 B9 F B4 Z5 F B3 B12 B9 B10 F Z3 Z7 Z11 B1 B7 F

Carrying on through the whole book there are a few important things to notice

  1. Most pages have either 3 or 4 groups of Alchemy and Zodiac tiles separated by fakes,
  2. P24 and P26 contain only fake tiles,
  3. The total number of groups of Alchemy/Zodiac tiles is 75.

If you’ve been following the solution up to now, these patterns should be very familiar by now.

The number of groups of Alchemy/Zodiac symbols on each page is equal to the number of solution objects on that page, as discovered when solving the Sphere mini-puzzle. Pages 24 and 26, having only fake tiles, are the two pages in the middle of the book which feature no solution objects

The idea is that each of the 75 groups of copper tiles is associated with a different one of the 75 solution objects.

The Green and Red Knights


Merlin’s Knight on P18

From the clocks spread through the book we have the idea that each quadrant of the sunburst represents a different Roman numeral, I, V, X and L, in that order. The idea is that, when you put the whole sunburst back together, it represents that sequence of Roman numerals “IVXL”.

Each knights carries 3 sunburst shields, meaning that each knight represents the full sequence “IVXL IVXL IVXL”. This is a 12 character sequence, exactly the same as the number of signs of the Zodiac (associated with Nimue) and the number of Alchemy symbols (associated with Merlin).

The correct interpretation of all this is that each Zodiac and Alchemy symbol is being assigned a Roman numeral.

The table below lists the twelve character sequence of Roman numerals together with the Zodiac and Alchemy symbols in order. The Alchemy order is the “spitfire” or “B” order.

Numeral I V X L I V X L I V X L
Sequence number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Alchemy Tin Fire Water Copper Iron Air Lead Salt Aqua Fortis Earth Sulfur Mercury
Zodiac Aries Taurus Gemini Cancer Leo Virgo Libra Scorpio Sagittarius Capricorn Aquarius Pisces

This means that Copper (B4), for example, has the value “L”. Aquarius (Z11) has the value “X”. And so on.

If you’ve already studied the crib sheet you’ll have seen that these values are written on it ready to be used.

Putting Pieces Together

We know that there are groups of copper tiles associated with each solution object. We also know that each Alchemy and Zodiac symbol has been assigned a Roman numeral. The next step is to replace the symbols on 75 groups of copper tiles with the corresponding Roman numerals.

The table below illustrates this replacement for the first three pages of the book.

P2 F F F F B7 Z11 F Z7 B8 F Z8 B9 Z1 F F F F
P4 F B3 Z2 F B12 B3 Z7 B6 F B11 Z3 B7 B10 Z5 Z9 B5 F Z2 Z1 B5 B1 F
P6 F F F Z6 Z9 B9 F B4 Z5 F B3 B12 B9 B10 F Z3 Z7 Z11 B1 B7 F
V I I L I X L I V X X X 1 X

All of the Roman numeral sequences are “well-formed”, in that they correctly produce a number. This demonstrates that we are on the right track.

Furthermore, each sequence spells out a different number between 1 and 75. The three numbers on P2 are 20, 40 and 52. The four numbers on P4 are 15, 75, 38 and 8. The four number on P6 are 7, 51, 44 and 39.

The idea is that these numbers assign an order to the solution objects found on each page.

It might be assumed that the solution objects are assigned numbers in the order that they were identified during the previous steps of the puzzle. However, the markings on the rectangular copper tile in P38,S38 suggest a different order. The rectangular tile tells us that the anti-clockwise copper tiles point to a clockwise order.

In other words, the numbers obtained from the copper tiles by going anti-clockwise round each page are given to the solution objects as they appear going clockwise round the page.

On P2 we have the numbers 20, 40 and 52 and we have 3 solution objects in S16, S33 and S36. Starting at S0 and working round clockwise, the first object we come to is the owl clock in S16. This object is assigned the first number: 20.

The 2nd object we come to is the left hand print in S33. This object is assigned the 2nd number: 40. The 3rd object is the silver heart in S 36. This is assigned number 52.

This method of assigning numbers to solution objects must be performed for all 75 solution objects and takes quite a long time!

Using the tables of the first 12 solution objects from previous parts of this solution, it is possible to assign a number to the first 11 of those objects. We can’t get a number for the 12th object as not all of the objects on that page were found, so we don’t know the correct clockwise order of solution objects on that page yet.

Here are the first 11 objects placed in their final order.

Object Position From page
Circle 8 4
Framed painting of Crataegus monogyna 15 4
Owl clock 20 2
“\” character 34 14
Book with XIX on cover 38 4
Left hand print 40 2
Flames 42 14
Silver (Ag) bar 48 14
Silver heart 52 2
Unlit candle 68 14
Rotating dagger plaque 75 4

End of Part 9

It is now finally possible to work through the entire book and form an ordered list of 75 solution objects.

But there is still one solid mini-puzzle to solve: the Diabolo. This is the simplest of the mini-puzzles and, after the struggle to get this far, is something of an anti-climax.

All will be revealed in Part 10.

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