Quest for the Murderer pt. 7: beneath the blossom

[Excerpt from Athanor’s journal:]

I have determined to undertake the hunt for the others’ charms.

I ween I have an advantage in unlocking the secrets of these treasures: I observe that charmed items — mine, at least —phosphoresce, but so faintly that I suppose I should never have noticed it if not for my close attention to the behaviours of divers substances.

As the moon is at its fullness now, I think I may as well postpone the hunt at least ten days. The emblems’ faint glow is not discernible except in the blackest of conditions. I have a lamp that will excite the charms’ glow, secreted over the chimney shelf in the salon. Nevertheless, it is quite small to be relied upon for a castle-wide search. Perhaps by causing every light to burn and then plunging the castle into darkness, I can find a number of the charms more quickly. Perhaps.

I scarcely worry of Freya noticing me intruding upon her chantry, for she becomes so engrossed in her pursuits that she is quite aloof. Only, she has taken to locking herself in, paranoid that Chiara’s killer has designs on her as well. She might be proven correct.

Whatever comes of that, I credit myself with the skill to fashion a key for the chantry door. I should have it ready before the new moon.

[In Helmold’s hand:]

He grips it aye. E’en in his left hand. But do I dare brave the grotto? Not tonight.

Glowing charms

This is the last bit of information given about the spellcaster’s charms, so it’s time to explain them in full.

The charms are small pieces of paper printed on one side with the mascot of the owner and a numeral. The printed side of each charm is turned to the wall and affixed with sticky wall tack. The paper I used matches our wall colour pretty well. The visible side of each charm is painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. A studious search should turn up every one of the charms, but in case some remain not found, their phosphorescent character should make this task entirely attainable.

Christmas Eve this year (2011) falls on the new moon. The absence of moonlight makes a significant difference in hunting for the glow of the magic charms; you might be surprised at how much. The light of a full moon would impair the treasure hunters’ ability to perceive the phosphorescence in many parts of our house. When staging your own treasure hunt, evaluate the phase of the moon, the strength of your window blinds, and the likelihood of overcast nights.

I first tried ProGlow’s paint, which dries invisible and glows green, but it is a terrible product. It requires intense UV light to elicit a glow; the glow is very weak; and it is completely spotty: it looks as though I only shook glow-in-the-dark glitter over the paper — that’s no exaggeration. Adding injury to insult, the price is obscene: about $3 for ½ ounce.

Much better is Rust-oleum’s glow-in-the-dark paint, and for $6.50, you get 14 times as much as ProGlow’s. The only thing you might find detracting is that this paint doesn’t dry quite clear; a slight, mucus-coloured tinge remains.

Glow-in-the-dark paint requires UV light to excite it. Incandescent and fluorescent lights actually do produce a little bit of this invisible light. Fluorescent lights put out much more of it than do incandescent ones. Be mindful when placing your charms to place them where a good deal of electric light will fall on them.

If your treasure hunters leave all the house lights burning for 1 to 10 min., then plunge the house/room into darkness, they should see the faint glow of the charms.

It should be apparent to the treasure hunters that the only charms they need at this point are those of the murderer (whose identity will be revealed in the next step). When they know who the murderer is, they can use the numbers printed on three charms to open one of the combination locks on the chest for this quest.

No, the message doesn’t tell them in which order the numbers are to be applied to the lock, but there are only six possible permutations to attempt.

Key to the chantry

Athanor’s remains lie down in the grotto. The treasure hunters should have happened upon Athanor’s body during the quest for the altar. I put his body together with some PVC pipe, packing paper, a bedsheet, and several small bags of fake spiderwebs. I picked up a styrofoam head at the after-Halloween sale at Spirit Halloween store. For skeletal body parts, I recommend skeleton-factory.com or shopanatomical.com

The key to the chantry (the rearmost part of the chantry, actually) is in Athanor’s hand. On to the next location

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