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Backstory

        Morse slowly walked down a street. No matter how busy the street was or how the shopkeepers yelled to bring in customers, Morse did not seem to care. He was focusing on the 100x100 magic cube in his hands — it was one of the top ten most difficult puzzles in his country. A smile spread across Morse’s expressionless face, and he started twisting the cube fast. Others might think he was randomly turning the sides of the cube, but he was actually processing its algorithm in the palace of thoughts in his head...

        Before his eyes was a transparent magic cube as enormous as a mountain. With a wave of his hand, he can rotate the cube’s faces. Beside Morse was a talking compass that had long thin limbs. That compass, whose needle rotated constantly, acted as his guide in his thoughts. When it saw Morse, it said with an annoyed voice: “I was finally able to get some rest, and now you’ve come to see me again?!” Morse used his eyes to signal the compass to look at the gigantic cube and contemplated a solution for the puzzle: “Vertical? Or horizontal?” “Even a blind person would know to turn the vertical one first! If you rotate this piece, a few blocks on the other sides would get the same color.” “The vertical is actually a blind-spot which wants me to think that I can solve the puzzle faster this way. If we look at it from a wider perspective...let’s go with the horizontal!” “If you have already decided in the first place, why did you ask me?!” “You being wrong lets me know that I am right.” They continued their discussion about how to solve the magic cube. In a short while, the gigantic cube almost returned to its original appearance and the compass’ needle began to rotate slower. Just then, someone bumped into Morse, forcing him to return to reality. It was a man who inadvertently stumbled against him. He immediately apologized to Morse before leaving in a hurry. Not particularly caring about this interlude, Morse entered his palace of thoughts again.

        It was not long before Morse finally solved the entire magic cube. He then leisurely fiddled with the solved cube. When he arrived at his house, Morse noticed a letter in the letter box. On the letter was written “To him who has lost a treasure”. After thinking for a second, he searched across his body and realized that his research’s draft design was missing. It was his life’s work that took him strenuous effort. Morse recalled his walk on the street and murmured, “Could it be the man...?” He opened the envelope and read the letter that only contained four lines of words:

        ‘The opal of heart is in the tall pavilion, with the crimson treasure at its heart. At the center of the glacier, here lies the source of life.’

        “Trying to test my puzzle-solving skills, huh?” With that said, he entered his palace of thoughts. The letter’s content appeared before him. When he rearranged the sequence of the lines, he already noticed the hidden message within. Opal of heart is here...Where is the here? Morse’s mind began to race, while the needle of the imaginary compass spun rapidly. It stood beside Morse and mocked him, “Even a blind person would know there is a hidden meaning behind those words!” “If I combine the four lines, it should reveal the location of my draft...” “That’s what I just said! Don’t think repeating what I say makes it your idea!” “The opal of heart is in the tall pavilion, with the crimson treasure at its heart. At the center of the glacier, here lies the source of life...” Morse incessantly repeated these lines when an idea suddenly came to mind. The compass stopped spinning and was pointing at a certain direction. He shouted, “It’s there!” His mind snapped back to reality as he ran toward his destination while murmuring, “‘Opal of heart’ and ‘tall pavilion’ should be the castle’s opal-constructed pinnacle. ‘Crimson treasure at its heart’ should refer to the king who always wears a red cape that lives in the depths of the castle. ‘At the center of the glacier’ further suggests the location is at the castle because it’s the only place in the country that’s surrounded by a moat which freezes in winter. Meanwhile, ‘the source of life’ indicates the king’s stately affairs which closely relate to his subjects’ lives...That means...my design is in the king’s hands.” The compass asked with a smile, “The king has everything. What does he want with your design?” Morse did not have an answer for that, but he firmly believed the answer would come to him when he was able to meet the king.

        Morse arrived at the castle’s tall front wall. There was nothing but a thick and heavy stone door. No ordinary man would be capable of opening it. Looking around, Morse could not find anything out of the ordinary about the wall, but he saw a set of numbers carved on the door:

        69 | 89 | | 99

        There was a blank between 89 and 99, and there were stones lying beside the door, each carved with a number from 1 to 9. “Hm...Another puzzle, huh?” “So troublesome, you’ve come for my help again?” Morse went into his palace of thoughts and examined the unpatterned numbers. “If they are not related, why are they placed together? 79? It can’t be that simple.” “Even a dumb person would know it can’t be that simple!” “What links them together?” “Maybe I should attach the compass to your body! Why don’t you turn on that brain of yours?” Suddenly, Morse threw his head backward and laughed, “Turn...? Right! Turn!” He rotated the floating numbers and it became:

        66 | | 68 | 69

        “The blank should be filled with 67.” Morse said as he smiled with content. The compass stopped spinning before it murmured, “You wouldn’t have gotten the answer if it wasn’t for me!” After figuring out the answer, Morse picked up the stones with the numbers 6 and 7 on it and placed them into the blank on the wall, triggering a hidden mechanism. The thick stone door slowly opened and Morse continued his way into the castle.

        He walked until he arrived at a corridor that led to the grand hall. The door behind him immediately closed as soon as he walked into the corridor. No matter what Morse did to the door, it would not budge, so he could only walk to the other side of the corridor, but the door there was also locked. “Humph! What now?” Morse then closely observed the corridor — there was nothing but a long carpet running through the corridor, a vase filled with three flowers on a tea table, and three paintings on the wall. He first flipped over the carpet but there was nothing beneath it. He then checked the tea table, but saw no clues or possible triggers. At last, he examined the wall in great detail, but to no avail...Morse walked to the three paintings and saw a golden plate under each of them. He removed the plates but there was nothing behind, so he continued to look at the paintings. The first one portrayed a swordsman pointing his sword at the sky, the second was a warrior protecting something with his shield, and the last one depicted a scene in which the swordsman and the warrior fought each other, with both of their hands bleeding...This time, the three paintings appeared in Morse’s palace of thoughts. He wondered whether the paintings were in a certain order, so he waved his hand to change their arrangement. However, he soon realized that there was not enough evidence to assume any order of arrangements for the three paintings. Morse looked at the compass and saw its needle spinning at an unbelievable speed. The silent compass was as vexed as he was, prompting Morse to smile and say, “It won’t be fun if it’s too easy, right?” “You love torturing yourself with puzzles and you force me to accompany you every time! Maybe they’ve got hidden triggers somewhere?” Upon hearing that, Morse rotated the paintings and checked the pictures again, but his attempt was in vain. While he was contemplating, he absent-mindedly looked toward the vase. The three flowers inside were a plum, a crown of thorns and a red spider lily which were usually not put together. ‘Could they be the key to the puzzle?’ At the same time, the three flowers appeared in his palace of thoughts beside the three paintings...“Three paintings, three flowers. What’s their relationship...?” Morse looked at the three flowers again and suddenly, the compass stopped spinning — he finally solved the puzzle! He picked up the plum and placed it into the space behind the plate under the first painting, the crown of thorns into the second, and the red spider lily into the third. When all the flowers were placed behind the golden plates, the door at the other end of the corridor slowly opened...

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