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The Dove Room

Welcome to Mr J's Puzzle room for Solo's 15th birthday
You should always wash your hands, tuck in your shirt, say your P's and Q's, pray before bed, and always, always say the G word before you eat. But what is the real G word?!
Chapter one

The Cuddies

'sit down boys and I'll spin you a yarn' and so the father began to tell his tale, the stars rose and the foxes yelped into the night. The sons wrapped their blankets tight, and listened in, eyes as big as saucers, this was the place where all the best tales begin.

So, it is said that ends are loose when you look really close.
The falling of a branch breaks open the canopy.
The fire scorches earth for new growth to begin.
Winter has always been the stage curtains for spring.

But our story has never been one tiny thread of a single tale, nor a cord of many tales, not even a tightly woven tapestry of thousands. No, our story is more like a flotsam knot of fish line on the seashore wrapped in bladder-wrack, tightened by the ocean herself and truly un-pickable. Or better still a barn full of lanolin heavy fleeces yet to be spun into yarn, the tale before the tale, so to speak.

For our journey begins with an immortal, with the task to collect up every tale yet to be told. A simple task, to gather them up like shells on a beach, a nest of knots, and wrap them in limed cloth so they can be taken to the end of the world to be buried forever.

For mortals and immortals have always needed each other.

Like a head needs a heart.
Like a home needs art.
Like a healer needs an ark.
Like the day needs the dark.

But the curse of forgetting is part of the immortals trade of the flesh, and it is this intersection, between creeds and class where our story begins, or perhaps ends. For what immortal could really remember the task set at their birth?
What day is shell day?
Chapter two

Waxy String

'there once was a mother so obsessed with stories she would happily sell everything she had, and much besides just to hear another tale. She would worry the hem of her woollen skirt free as the poems and stories folded and unfolded about her, by her hearth. Lucky for her, many travellers would be happy to stay the night here, knowing that the only fee she requested would be the tale of their choice.

And so, by the dimming firelight, her guest wrapped up his tale this night.

'can you hear him tapping at the window pane
one two three, then again and again
he is slipping through the shadows that the steeple moon casts
pull up your blanket and hold your cuddies fast
out from the moor with wet cold fists
dripping on the doorstep, climbing up the eaves
oh, I wish, I wish
that this brackish beast would leave'
first animal of the six on the Chinese lock?
Chapter three

The Banister

A traveller, whippet thin and carrying all he owned in a canvas pack asked for shelter, she looked into his tired eyes and beckoned him in. Later, as she stirred milk on the stove and he dried his shoes by the hearth, he began his tale. The telling was clumsy at first as he found his path through to his words, like breaking an untrodden path through head high bracken. But finally, as the fire began to settle and slow in the grate so did his words.

'his toes are sharp and crooked
waiting in the dusk beneath the shadow of our tree
and licking on his tongue is our precious back door key
his clothes are misty blankets, his hair a ravens wing
and in his arm a leather weight
wrapped tight in waxy string
he edges out and round and through
and up and in and near
I hear the drag of the hessian sack
so clear, so clear, so clear!

and her skirt frayed further as she fidgeted and listened in.
one for the heart, one for the head, one for the?
Chapter four

The Creepers

A mother and her two boys came one spring day to the house, squally showers had dogged their path through the hills all day, and finally they had stopped to seek shelter and rest the night for they could go no further.

'Of course' she said to the strangers 'the fee is just a story, tonight I will lay the fire and all I ask is to hear your tale.'

As the dusk gathered into dimmet, sweet drinks were prepared and the boys nested on the rugs like lap dogs. The mother's tale started awkward and slow but the story gently awoke in the telling, like the mixing of sweet soaked fruits, butter and flour to make a fine loaf. Finally, as darkness filled the chamber and the boys needed carrying to their cots, she found lines from her mothers tongue, which she thought lost in her past. It chimed from her, and sung itself four deep from her past.

I hear the clank in the heating pipes
the gurgle of the creepers
for this old house whispers in the dead of night
despite the oafish adult sleepers

can they not hear the winnowing
can they not hear the moaning cries
can they not catch those pining tones
of desperation and leering lies
cover your ears bury your head
double fold the blankets
snuggle beebies up in bed
keep out the cold
keep in the warm
and hold that precious breath of life
till the first light of dawn
First take the hoops and torch to the record player for the turquoise padlock. Then add the missing marble word in below to read on.
Chapter five


Darkness came before the knock this night, and she open the door just a crack to see, an old black dog with his master.

‘ excuse me, I have no money but beg rest for the night?'

Without delay, she opened the door and beckoned him in.

'In, please, both of you, out of the night, you are welcome to shelter, though I beg only one thing and that is you tell me your tale.'

And as the owls began their nightly song he wove his tale, finally speaking just to the embers, words from his grandfathers lips he thought long lost.

I know those sparks are really sprites
they climb the chimney and go wild in the night
whilst all are sleeping tucked away
the sprites escape, they've come to play
scorching up the banister
dancing up the stairs
all their friends are sparky dog ends
and always fight in pairs

there'll be footprints on the mantle
hollow eyes and hawkish homes
never let the sprites get excited now
for they'll be dancing a jig on your bones
The thaumatrope spinner - think compass fingers and clock dials, north, south, east, west, 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 9. But what's then name on this lock for the next chapter to reveal.
Chapter six


The ground was littered with wind torn leaves and branches from the storms over the passing week. There were no guests passing through, so she busked herself with notes from the tales shared. These she kept in a pine box, latched and secure, but for why she could not remember.

She pulled one out at random and read.

I know I think, it's under the sink
in the rusty rims of old chemical stink
nesting in the grim behind the S bend pipes
only to emerge in the small hours of night
when the cats and foxes hiss his real name
and all the shameful deeds he likes to count and note and claim
everything that has been wrong has been nudged by his crooked hand
I know that harbouring him is another thread of his devious, sinister scam
no trap will snare him
for he designs the trap
no threat will scare him
for he is the bully in the back
L. Prank and Co's ? Publications
Chapter seven

The Spore

One late autumn day a soldier came to her door, with more stories in his eyes than even she had ears to hear. The tales were of sadness and loss, honour and mistrust, love and anguish. He had lived through and forgotten more than his soul could bear and when she told him his fee he did not consent immediately. First he looked at her as if to measure her up, whether she was worthy of his tales.

'I will tell you my tales, but you must promise not to interrupt me, always keep my glass full and the hearth stoked, invite others if you like but they must abide the same. If you consent to these conditions then I will tell my tale.'

The soldier looked her straight in the eye, and though she was eager to hear his story she could feel the gravity of his words. But she could not help herself, caught in the gravity of her own obsession to hear more, she agreed to his terms.

That night his tale wove across oceans and deserts to finally finish on a snippet from his youth. He knew these last words were solid truth, for everything else he had seen, witnessed, been part to and now told was far more incredible and unbelievable. It was a sweetener after such darkness, he could not finish without a little levity.

the ice is on the inner pane
I know he's here I hear him whisper
laying frost on white hedge tops
his touch is scorch his eyes are blister
beneath his coat as he gads about
puffing our cheeks tip-toeing over roofs
clapping icy claws and rapping cloven hooves
don't pry beyond the curtain
don't let the moon beams cast
I know he is here for certain
for he returns from the pages of my past
if e=1 and g=3 then the rest of the alphabet should map out easy. The answer will take you time I know, so as reward it will open both letter padlock and next chapter below.
Chapter eight


The next night the soldier waited in the chair and others came to share the hearth and his tale. The rules were the same, not to interrupt nor stop his tale till he was done, and all in the chamber had to adhere before the telling began.

He talked of dinners with ancient kings and riverside camps where angels would wash their feet. He told of his small part in great battles where fields were turned red through family spats. But throughout he carried a box, this was his destiny, this was his calling, this was his task and had always been.

Out to the ends of the world he ventured, above beyond, behind across until he could travel no more. There he scratched the tundra with his silver shovel but the ground was iron hard. So he took his burden up higher, through ice cliffs and cascades of frozen rivers until he found a great mountain range. At the top of each peak he found a plateau littered with prayer flags to his family, but each peak showed his another which was higher than this. Higher he climbed, dragging his box burden ever higher, ever closer to his family.

At last, I came to the peak of endless loss, the darkness swooned all about and I was surrounded by billowing carpets of cloud on all sides. Finally my path home became visible for the moon had risen and it shone a pavement of stone across the shoulders of those clouds. Lifting my pack one last time, I looked to take my last steps home and reunite with my family.

The soldier then leaned back in his chair, the fire was warm but low, and the hour was late. All had followed his tale every step, but now he was tired.

'tomorrow, I will continue'
In a Bideford ?
Chapter nine

The End

That night the chamber was full in the cottage, not a snatch of floor was free from cushion and listener to hear the tale. The hearth was stoked, his flagon filled and his tale then resumed.

The moon road was easy to see, the blue glint of cloud shoulder was now pavement stone laid out before me. The first step off the mountain top took all the courage of my warrior soul, but I found it and the pavement was strangely hard beneath my boots.

I held my pack in my arms, inside the box, inside the limed cloth, inside every tale ever told which I had gathered up from hearths just like like this across the ages. I took a second step further out, then another and another.

The soldier then slipped his beer as if to taste the trail he had once walked out from that mountain peak.

Soon my footing was confident, I began to stride with the white moon my taborer. Further and further I pitched forth, hour after hour with strength of the gods in my arms and legs. As if there was wind in my sails and wings on my shoes, but as the hours passed, so the moon began to droop in the sky. But I was not shaken, I picked up my pace faster, now at a yomp, for I could well see the path I must take. But it occurred to me that without the moons guidance, the road would be much harder to pick. Little did I know at that point how much I needed the moon at my elbow. So faster I went, my life's work resting on this one task and worrying whether I could or should have struck out sooner.

Lower the moon went in the sky, and behind the dawn began chasing her out, but the arches of the towers were visible now before me, goading me on. The pinnacles of those mighty gates sped my pace still further, as fast I could now, with the weight of my pack and every tale in the world upon my shoulders.

I could see the majesty of those gates properly now, they were of moon silver, silk and ice, as if spun by spiders and moths, part cloud part ether. But the pink hue of the sky was at my heels and I could feel the moon road now spongy under my feet. On I ran to those towering gates, wide open and beyond my homeland attainable at last. But the trail now felt like wet grass and very step I took the pavement seemed weaker, it was dissolving, the waning moon now but a smudge in the pink morning light was loosing its strength. The moon was not the illustrator of the path, it was the architect and catalyst, without the moon, there would be no moon road.

Then the first rays of sun bit the tops of my trail and the pavement became like river mud, soft and sucking. My goal so close at hand, and I could see people, my people beckoning me on from the other side. But my run was fumbling, my legs waisted from the journey began to fail me and I started to stumble. The road felt like glue, clod-heavy and the sun bit down upon my trail and sanctuary.

But barely twenty paces now separated me from passing through, twenty paces and each like the wall of a tumbling sand dune. Ten paces and the sun rose higher, eight paces and the moon weakened further. Seven paces and I could see the eyes of those on the other side, beckoning me on, but they could not help me.

Six, five, four and amongst those gathered, I saw both my father and mother, tears in their eyes. Three paces, and their outstretched palms waited to grasp me, hold me, welcome me home after all the trials I had endured to get here. Two and the heat of the sun dissolved the cloud pavement away. Just one more pace, and their palms almost within reach when the moon road slid from beneath me and I fell.

And as I fell the pack on my back blew open, and out the limed cloth, and from the cloth every tale ever told which I had walked the earth to collect. Every tale scattered out like may blossom on spring winds, like a flurry of snow to be whipped about the earth and then seed every home, every hearth, and every brow within.

The fire sputtered it's last in the dying embers, the soldier drained his flagon and the greatest tale of tales ever told was now in brows of young and old alike.

Later the mother wrote the tale down and tucked it into a small limed cloth along with the others.

The End
Chapter ten

the cylinder

The final clues to open the cypher cylinder.

In the VR - Not the Moon - perhaps a little too cryptic?

You need just letters

And in the old family song there were two of these, both fat.

But just one of these will be all you need.