"Protected... Always... Semimetal" I woke - I think - with those words in my mouth. I was in an odd state of mind and the words tasted strange in my mouth. I was not speaking a language of my country and I had somehow lost my accent. All I remembered was that I had accepted something from a friend last night. But what?

I walked, feeling disembodied until I found three people whom I recognized somehow as countrymen. I asked them if the place where we were was part of our country. They nodded silently, yet I did not feel reassured. I asked the first if he was from this place. He signed that he came from the area directly south.

"Where?" I asked.

In reply he filled my hands with pieces of gold. "How many are there?" I asked, because they swam before my eyes and I could not count them.

"Entre cinq et cinq cent," he said.

I asked the second. He came from some distance to the north east. For the name of the place, he took a stick and wrote this on the ground:


I nodded, puzzled. The third countryman came from even farther to the southeast. When I asked for its name, he took a piece of chalk, drew a circle on the ground and sat inside it twitching.

Although none of this made sense these seemed like reasonable responses to me. The land grew hazy and I heard a booming in my ears. I realized we were near water. I asked them if they knew what had done this to me. They nodded.

The first wrote a word on the ground but as I looked one of the letters twisted itself into a different shape. I read "armoire". I think the letter that changed was near the end.

The second wrote his word. Again, one letter changed and I read "Avis".

The same happened with the third. "Pinocchio" was his word.

"What place is this?" I asked. They all spoke at once and the words ran together in my mind like this:


I pointed to the body of water. They gave me the same answer. A city nearby. Again the same.

As I looked at the city a woman appeared at my side.

She said: "It's mine. He gave it to me just over a thousand years ago."

"Who?" I asked.

She sighed and said: "Rudy, Rudy, Rudy."

When she said that, my mind cleared and I realized where I was.

I tried to say her name: "Irme..." then I awoke in truth.

Where was I and what did my friend give me to put me in this state?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure this puzzle has cryptic crossword style clues in it? (Check the [cryptic-clues] tag wiki.) $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ "armoire" => "au toi", "avis" => "ami", "Pinocchio" => "peyote... whoa". Translation: "Your friends, like, gave you peyote, man" $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 4:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Alconja Each word differs from the actual word by a single character; that is, if you replace one letter in "armoire" by another letter then you will get the word that the first countryman said. $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2016 at 7:21
  • $\begingroup$ @HughMeyers - oh, I was taking it as a pronunciation thing since he was "heard one letter incorrectly" each time. That being said, my tongue was firmly in my cheek with the above comment anyway. :) $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 7:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Alconja I edited to make it clearer. $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2016 at 9:28

2 Answers 2


The three men

all come from Switzerland: The first one is from the French-speaking region in the west; the second one is from the German-speaking region in the northeast and the third is from the Italian-speaking region in the southeast.

The first man

is from the canton of Vaud. He says "Entre cinq et cinq cent", which means "between 5 and 500" in French or "V to D" if you use Roman numerals. In French that would mean "V au D". Alternatively, au is the chemical symbol for gold which again is between V and D for 5 and 500.

The second man

is from the canton of Basel-Landschaft. ("Landschaft" means landscape or region in German and is used here to oppose it to Basel-Stadt, the canton that comprises the City of Basel.) The mathematical notation xn means that a number is written in base n. Using the Roman numeral L for 50, we get "base L Landschaft".

The third man

is from the canton of Ticino. The twitching movements inside a circle are a "Tic in O".

Incomplete words:

armoire → armoise = wormwood or mugwort
Avis → Anis = anise
Pinocchio → finocchio = fennel

These are the ingredients for


The interleaved sentence ldiealnsnonuueovuveeoaScucachshltâoetsleslaou gives

l..e..n..o..u..v..e..a..u..c..h..â..t..e..a.u   → le nouveau château
.d..a..s..n..e..u..e..S..c..h..l..o..s..s....   → das neue Schloss
..i..l..n..u..o..v..o..c..a..s..t..e..l..l.o.   → il nuovo castello

This means "the new castle" in French, German, Italian

This refers to


City in Switzerland, given to Irmengard, queen of Burgundy, by Rudolf III, king as well (Rudy).

The city is the capital of the canton of the same name and gives its name to the lake on whose shore it is situated.

Absinthe originated in Neuchâtel in the late 18th century.

Finally, "Protected... Always... Semimetal"

Synonyms for these words are "safe ... ever ... Te", where Te is the chemical symbol of the metalloid or semimetal tellurium.

Rearranging the word breaks gives "sa|fe e|ver te" or "sa fée verte", French for his green fairy, a common nickname for Absinthe.

Your friend gave you

absinthe, which took you on a dream journey with your "green fairy" to Neuchâtel. You are Swiss, but in your dream, you speak English, which is not one of the languages spoken natively in Switzerland.-

  • $\begingroup$ Yup! Best of luck on the other clues! $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2016 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ @HughMeyers I think I will make my answer a community wiki and merge the other one. That way he can keep the well-deserved rep :) $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2016 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ That was a good puzzle. At first, you can't make heads or tails of it and then the answers come gradually and make sense as a whole. It's a pity that the last parts were solved first. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ Well done! (And the "lost accent" is the acute accent over the first e in fée.) I see now that tellurium actually is a metalloid. I looked it up on Merriam-Webster which identified it as a semimetal, then used Google to find a periodic table to see how many semimetals there were, and it also identified tellurium as a semimetal. My mistake. The title is a bad multilingual pun on the English saying: absence (absinthe) makes the heart grow fonder. $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2016 at 7:19
  • $\begingroup$ Nerd note: Rudolf III gave Neuchâtel to Irmengard in 1011. This is the first recorded mention of Neuchâtel. Happy 1005th birthday! $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2016 at 7:28

Very partial answer

"Protected... Always... Semimetal"

That would be "safe ... ever ... tin", but I still have to figure out the sentence it makes

The first man

comes probably from France, but where does the "entre cinq et cent" (between 5 and 500) refer to?

The second man

comes from Germany. But still no clue about the landschaft50(). Landschaft could refer to a regional partition of land in middle-age Germany.

The third man

comes from Italy. But what about the circle and twitching?

Incomplete words:

armoire = armoise = artemisia
Avis = anis = anise
Pinocchio = finocchio = fennel (credits to @M Oehm)
All plants, maybe you got drugged?

ldiealnsnonuueovuveeoaScucachshltâoetsleslaou gives

le nouveau château
das neue Schloss
il nuovo castellu
(interleaving letters three by three)
This means "the new castle" in French, German, Italian

This refers to

City in Switzerland, given to Irmengard, queen of Burgundy, by Rudolf III, king as well (Rudy).
The city bears also the name of the lake nearby.

And that's where you are !!

Don't hesitate to turn this into a community wiki if you have completions to suggest.

  • $\begingroup$ Argh, just beat me to the place. :) The words are "das neue Schloss" and "il nuovo castello", though. The three words at the beginning could be in Italian, French or German, too. "Landschaft" just means landscape or region in German. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ The words could be "armoise" (mugwort) and "finocchio" (fennel), both medicinal plants. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ I had the armoise, but I was wrong on finocchio, thanks $\endgroup$
    – fffred
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ Update: The words are "armoise" (wormwood), "Anis" (anise) and "finocchio" (fennel), which are ingredients of absinthe. I think that explains my state. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 9:17
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm I've put that in my answer. I think I should merge it into this one instead? $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2016 at 9:18

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