Forum Curses Entr'acte. Chapter 3 : And He was the Mastermind All Along

Okay I like this chapter but totally forgot to proofread it oops. Anyway have fun!

Forum Curses Entr’acte: Who Am I?

Chapter 3: And He was the Mastermind All Along.

A steady beat pulsed in the back of his mind. The bassline of time thudding gently.

Thousand vials of glass,
Lined up for mass.
Didn’t think twice,
This isn’t right.

Labels, tables, stables,
Stack them up,
Knock ‘em down.

Ethanol, sparks, flames,
Monotone, all the same,
Largest bottle, read its name.

And blink inwards with the hellish flames.


He opened his eyes with a start. The image of a stallion imprinted into his mind.

Annoyingly enough, light shone into the room. The morning had come again without warning. Taking an effort to sit up, the mirror across the room frowned back at him.
Slightly greying hair, creases in his face. Age’s slow creep was showing. It was not nearly as bad as it could have been, but the movement towards fifty was clear.

A few frames on the wall, one showing a picture of his late wife, another with the last picture of his son, leaving for university in America.
The third had a certificate, labelled “Doctor of Philosophy,” and it grew dust by the day.

Shock brought on by the cold of the water took his breath, only to give it back seconds later.

Halfway through the week, with little energy left but more than enough things to do. Not a perfect existence but bearable enough.

Shirt, tie, jacket. Five mouthfuls of cereal, into the car.

The radio tuned in to its ever dull songs, and the turning of the wheels along with the hum of the engine joined together with it to create a cacophony of order, all’s good, all’s normal.

The school came into view. Its unusual circular design, attempt at modern architecture and weather worn wooden arches, a familiar and comforting sight.

The corridors were quiet, not silent but instead a tense calm before the storm.

A recognisable smell of sulfur. The blocked off corner where flames erupted only days earlier.
His classroom, blankly dull yet discomforting in the orange paint. The plaque with his name imprinted on it.

Nothing was off. Nothing was different.
A lone horse stood out in a field kilometres away from Dr. Mahn’s window.

Before the day officially started he had jobs to do, sift through hundreds of emails, sort out papers, leaflets, books. Prepare lessons. Put that random ethanol bottle somewhere safe.

Time passed. Students came into the room one by one, one by one, one by one. All but one.

“Troy, have you seen William today?”
“No sir.” The boy replied as he sat behind his desk.

“Alright, good morning class. I have a few announcements today. First, as I’m sure you’re aware, Guapo has placed the Aion and Cronus districts under a media blackout. Secondly, the student-run forum is opening up next Monday. I’ve placed a leaflet on your desk explaining it.”

[ITEM A: The Leaflet Explaining It]

“Feel free to read through the leaflet before lessons begin, I’ve got no more announcements.”

The class talked amongst themselves, Troy was writing mindlessly, Serena looked out the window, a look of slight discomfort on her face. Before he could say anything, the look disappeared. The chair where William should have been was empty, looking back with monotone disarray.
The horse watched.

Time continued to move, the Doctor preparing for an arduous day. Enough stress over the last two, with hopefully less to come.

The bell rang. Everybody left for their first class of the day, in the midweek mixture of joy and despair leaving him alone with nobody to teach for an hour.
A small ping sound alerted him to a new email. Checking his laptop he noticed a new email addressed to the staff.
[ITEM B: Email 1, From Anne Peridot.]

He read through the email, which addressed any staff interested in the student run forum and invited them to make an account. “I don’t see why not.” he muttered to himself, and clicked on the link directing him to the website.

It asked a few questions, some simple, others somewhat unrelated. Then it let him onto the main page, with a few blank categories and only two announcement threads. It would hopefully be more populated as students made accounts later in the week, keeping it up to date and in order was impressive on the parts of the group running it.

Time still passed, faster than it should have, slowly ticking towards the next hour. The Doctor sat on his chair, with a sigh, and began to work. The ethanol bottle within his sight, and him in the watch of the horse.

A shrieking ring of a bell and a stampede of feet: His first class would arrive soon. Noticing a piece of paper on the floor, he picked it up and placed it on the desk, and a group of students walked in laughing to themselves.

As they were a younger class, the Doctor was expecting difficult questions, unhelpful giggles and an ever-tiring bombardment of distractions. However, he was pleased when one of the first students to walk into the room asked. “Sir, how did the universe get created?”

“Well young Grant, many many people will have many many ideas and theories about it. Personally I believe in the Big Bang theory where the universe expanded from one point, eventually becoming what we know today. You should create your own view from your experiences.”

“Sir, what about horse’s elbows?”
A pause. “I’m sorry?”
“Horses elbows. Where are they?”
“I’m no zoologist but I can’t imagine they would be anywhere particularly different from where you’d expect.”

And so, the day continued in this manner without anything interesting happening.
That was, until something interesting happened.

It was nearing lunch, and the Doctor read the most recent email which had appeared as a small notification in the corner of his screen.
‘Dear staff. Please be aware that a horse has appeared on the school grounds. Students are being kept away from the animal until it can be removed.’
In a slight panic and surprise, he stood up and rushed out of his classroom. The email was telling the truth, outside the front of the school near the main gates to the staff car park, stood a recognisable horse. What was strange though, was the saddle on its back, but any rider or owner was missing.
Anyway, the horse was only a coincidence. Nothing related to the dream, he had things to do. Returning to the classroom, another piece of paper on the floor. No - it was the same as the other one earlier. He picked it up, again. Placed it back on his desk again, this time catching a few words in the corner of his eye, taking no real notice.
‘He was.’
‘The Smith’
‘The Cursesmith’
Just some story written by a bored, daydreaming student.

A new email appeared. The Doctor quickly read it with concern.

A head appeared in the doorway.

“Ah Stanley. Afternoon, exciting few days, hasn’t it been.”
“Indeed. I was just writing something for my class and I need it proofread.”
Stepping into the room was a tall, younger man with glasses. He handed Nicholas a document, which he scanned through as it detailed a few different simple ciphers.
[ITEM C: The Document]
“Using the key Stable we can encrypt…”
The document wasn’t too long, and he muttered to himself whilst reading.
“You’ve used the key stable for this. Stable? Like a horse?”
Stanley laughed. “No, it was supposed to be stable as in… not unsteady? I suppose it’s ironic how that turned out.”

He sighed.
“Well, alright, as long as you haven’t spotted any errors I’ll be gone.”

“Do you know William? William Strong?”
“I do, is anything wrong?”

[ITEM D: Email 2, From William Strong.]

Both teachers frowned,
“I don’t see anything wrong here.” Said Stanley.
“The email isn’t the concerning part. It’s the attachment.”
[ITEM E: Email 2 .pdf attachment.] {Requires ITEM D}

“That’s interesting. Possibly the file was damaged? Or was it intentional?”
“I don’t know. That’s what I need to find out.”
“I’ll see if I can contact William or his parents. Thanks Nicholas.”

The day was growing to a close, his warm mug of tea the last one before driving home. Cold crept upon the school, the evening long dark.
Walking down the corridor from the Staff Room, back through the science department echoing with footsteps. Into his classroom.

A wave of wind blasted him, a horrendous gale, ripping through hair. The room was carnage, shelves knocked over, papers all over the floor. Chemicals spilled out of their vials and bottles, tables were overturned. The windows - left open. One had a large hole brutally smashed out of it. The bottle of ethanol - gone.

And most concerningly, pinned into the floor with a kitchen knife - was half a scrap of paper - four crude drawings, a flame, an axe, a sword and a horse. Below them it read
‘And He was the Mastermind All Along.’

It was late: Police questioning for the second time that week. More investigations. Exhausting.
He pulled up to his driveway. Got out of his car, opened the front door, closed it behind him.

As he looked out the window for the last time that night, the face of a horse looked back at him.

All rules can be found here.
Forum Curses Entr’acte: Who Am I? - Off Topic - Arcane Odyssey

Vote on the order that Sources will be published in.

Publishing order for Sources A - E
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E {Req Source D}
0 voters
1 Like

Source Published


Source Published


Item C: The Document

A famous simple example for a cipher is the Caesar Cipher. It was used by Julius Caesar to encrypt his messages so enemies weren’t able to read them.
It worked by shifting each letter x number of letters forwards. Assuming the key is 5, we shift each letter five times forwards, so A becomes F, B becomes G and so on. This cipher may have taken hours for someone to crack if they weren’t aware of how it worked, however now computers can defeat it in seconds, and even a person without a computer would be able to work it out quite easily.

A natural evolution to the Ceasar Cipher is the Vigenere Cipher. Imagine we had our key, for this example we’ll use the word ‘Stable’. By converting each letter into a number, so A equals 1, B equals , etc. We’ll get the numbers 19, 20, 1, 2, 12 and 5.
We then shift each letter of our message by those numbers in that order, repeating throughout the message we need to encrypt. If our message was “Hello World” it would become “Zxlmz Agkle”
This is still weak encryption however, and can be quickly cracked. By going back over the message and encrypting again, with a different key or perhaps even a different cipher, we can make our message even more secret.

One other application of the Ceaser Cipher is ROT13. As the English alphabet has 26 letters, shifting any letter by 13 twice will bring it back to what it was originally. This means that although it is weak for keeping a message secret, as the same algorithm is used to both encrypt and decrypt the message, it is quick and easy to use, having practical purposes in scrambling letters rather than security.

Your task will be to decrypt this simple message using what you know, see how difficult it is.

“Ysxa xhrv hcd syvvprhuca mlzu aqhmtkv.”

“well done for decrypting this message.”?

Well done, you decrypted the message.

trying to find the proper way it was encoded is driving me insane

Source Published

Item D: Email 2, From William Strong.

Good Morning Sir,
I apologise for my absence today. Below I have attached a message,

I hope this finds you well,
William Strong.

[ITEM E: Email 2 .pdf attachment]

Source Published

Somebody tried to switch their vote around to get source E earlier.
Just to spite them, here’s source B


Item B: Email 1, From Anne Peridot

06/12/33 09:21

Dear Staff,

Please find below the link to the student run forum where we invite all interested to create an account. You’ve all hopefully received the leaflet explaining how the forum works. No students other than the Administrators will have access to the forum page before Monday.
The forum is important in growing a sense of community across the school, and to allow students to take independence and develop needed skills.

Odysseus Academy Forums

Have a great day,
Anne Peridot,
Student Project Leadership Team,
Odysseus Academy,

Okay I give up here you go:

Source Published


Item E: Email 2 .pdf attachment.

SynEr1221 ➀␲⫎⻶
{Pds F af Joyvud, qbsxnhl px qte Ntgpqx Lfttd}

1 Like

this one’s killing me and it doesn’t look like anyone else has found the answer, could we get some sort of hint please?

Oops sorry sock I may have forgotten something, added it to the chapter.

the only thing new i’m noticing i think is this being bolded, is this the addition?

also how much of this are we supposed to be able to read, cause on my computer i can only see the 1, but on my phone it’s this

(They’re all supposed to be boxes technically, so it doesn’t matter)

Okay another clue because I feel nice, treat the words as separate rather than whole.

could i get some comments on the methods i’m currently using to try and solve it?

Ignore the nonsense and words that currently make sense, look for the words which could make sense. Take what you know, treat a whole as separate. Work in the opposite mind of the encoder.

i mean more like the ciphers i’m trying, am i at least right in using the vigenere cipher or caesar shift?

Yes, you are correct with that.