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Disclaimer: no offence is intended to any of the puzzling.SE users mentioned (or not mentioned) here! I was inspired by this question to use them as characters, with no regard for reality.

You are walking through the mansion of the mighty Lord D'alar'cop, Duke of Puzzling in the vast empire of Stackexchange. You see almost nobody apart from the occasional servant. As you pass outside through the great double doors at the entrance to the mansion, you overhear part of a heated conversation between two footmen, Warspyking and Michael.

"His Lordship will hear about this! You'll be out on your ear before the end of the week!"

"Oh, will he indeed? We'll see about that. If you tell him anything about me, your adventures with a certain maid might also come to his attention."

"He'll never hear a word from you again, I can promise you. You..."

As you walk further out along the sweeping drive towards the edge of the estate, the footmen's conversation fades out of your earshot. It is November, and bitterly cold even at noon. The parkland surrounding you is covered in deep snow, but the drive has been kept clear of snow and ice for his Lordship's carriage. The winter panorama is astonishingly beautiful, and you do not even notice the cold.

You reach the Folly, a small tower just off the main drive where his Lordship is normally to be found at this time of day, poring over his books. A gardener in snowshoes, Oblongamous, is adjusting one of the snow sculptures that are dotted about the grounds, and fails to notice you as you walk up to the Folly and enter silently.

When you open the single door to the Folly, you find his Lordship sprawled over his writing desk in a pool of blood, clearly quite dead. His body is stiff and ice-cold; he must have been dead for some time. You wonder why nobody has yet found the body and alerted the authorities. Looking around for clues, you see a bloodstained knife lying on the floor just behind the door. Also the electric light is switched off, the only light coming from the sun shining directly through the open doorway. There are no windows. The killer must have turned off the light as (s)he left.

You leave the Folly, moving northwards across virgin snow towards the mansion. But you have only got a few metres when you hear a piercing scream from behind you. Looking back, you see a maid, Avigrail, running out of the Folly in a terrible state. Oblongamous is still nearby; when he hears her story, he checks quickly inside the Folly and then they both go running to the mansion to raise the alarm.

The bloodstained knife is found to bear the fingerprints of Gilles, a well-known rival of his Lordship, and the blood is of his Lordship's blood group. At Gilles's trial, his defence lawyer makes the case that his Lordship's death wound is much wider and rounder than the knife blade, and the bloodstains on the knife show it could not have entered the body. He argues that the blood was only smeared onto the knife, and finds a cut on his Lordship's arm which could have been used to produce blood for this purpose. "Someone," he thunders in his final summing-up, "has been trying to frame my client!" His eloquence impresses the jury, and Gilles is acquitted.

Avigrail and Oblongamous both appear as witnesses in court, and say they saw nobody entering or leaving the Folly other than his Lordship.

The police have nothing to go on, but you can help!

Who killed his Lordship?

Bonus question: how was he killed?

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    $\begingroup$ @warspyking - that's what they all say, perp. Hands against the wall! Feet wide! SPREAD 'EM! (blink) NO!! SPREAD YOUR FEET, YOU IDIOT!!! :-) $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Dec 3 '14 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Bob "You'll never take me alive!" does super cool backflip summersalt combo* starts firing gun* starts running down the street* $\endgroup$ – warspyking Dec 3 '14 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ may i ask will the answer be given? or a definite answer to the question be provided? if so, when? $\endgroup$ – user2705620 Dec 3 '14 at 7:48
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    $\begingroup$ @d'alar'cop - is OK - I wouldn't get song references from Oz (Australia?) - except AC/DC or Men At Work, perhaps a couple others. :-) $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Dec 3 '14 at 15:52
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    $\begingroup$ @George - ??? (Is that a good thing or a bad thing?) $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 15 '14 at 15:20

12 Answers 12

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As Gilles has told us, I (the protagonist of the OP story, who discovered the body) was standing directly between the Folly and the mansion, but the maid and gardener did not see me, nor even my prints in the snow. Nor did my presence quell the footmen's argument. Furthermore, I do not notice the cold. I must conclude that I am invisible and incorporeal, though I'm rather proud of the supernatural feat of telekinetic concentration by which I opened the Folly door to discover the body. I suspect, in fact, that I am the ghost of His Lordship. This would explain why the author is so certain that I can help with the inquiry. If only I could remember what happened: it's all such a blur. Everything moved so fast, and then it was all dark...

Wait! it's coming back to me: I was killed by

my own hand! I was in despair at the constant bickering and intriguing of my staff and the popular failure of my snow sculpture exhibition. My last act was to frame my hated rival, Gilles, by cutting my arm with one of his knives. Then I plunged an icicle into my own heart, allowing the weapon to melt with my dissipating body heat. Goodbye cold, cruel world.

What I do not understand is how I could have seen Avigrail exiting the Folly. We know that the Folly's only door is on its South side, that there are no windows, and that I was a few metres North of the Folly when she came out. That must mean... my goodness! The walls of the Folly are fading away before my eyes! And the mansion - it's... everything is fading away, everything except that point of light in the distance. I feel myself drawn towards that light...



Warning: since His Lordship seems to have correctly solved the mystery of his own death, the comment thread below also contains spoilers.




Motive (added by OP):

His Lordship D'alar'cop had learned that riddles and challenge questions were about to be summarily banned from Puzzling.SE, and wished to end it all in his misery, starting a new life outside of the "vast empire of Stackexchange" in which his duchy (now in the process of being destroyed) lay. His final act was to attempt to frame his hated enemy Gilles.

Some extra explanation added by the OP:

The above answer already explains how one can deduce that the narrator is his Lordship's ghost. To work out that his Lordship committed suicide, consider the following:

When you open the single door to the Folly, you find his Lordship sprawled over his writing desk in a pool of blood, clearly quite dead. His body is stiff and ice-cold; he must have been dead for some time. You wonder why nobody has yet found the body and alerted the authorities. Looking around for clues, you see a bloodstained knife lying on the floor just behind the door. Also the electric light is switched off, the only light coming from the sun shining directly through the open doorway. There are no windows. The killer must have turned off the light as (s)he left.

How come the knife is behind the door? If a killer dropped it as he was running out, it would have been either within the room, not contained in the sweep of the door, or within the sweep of the door but on the outside, in which case it would have been swept outside by the closing door (the door was closed when the narrator arrived) and not swept behind the door as the narrator opened it.

I hope that's clear; if not, I'll try and make a picture!

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    $\begingroup$ This is not only the correct answer, but a lovely piece of narration. +2 if I could! You exited the Folly through the north wall (being a ghost, this is fine), and saw Avigrail only after she'd come out of the door and a little way round the building towards Oblongamous. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '14 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor i do not think honestly that the explanation you have given would give full proof that the the Lord committed suicide, first of all you have agreed that the knife was never used to kill the Lord, it was a mere distraction, if i would be the killer, as i enter the folly i would totally close the door so no one can hear the muffles of my victim, i would stab him with the icicle and then cut his arm with a knife, i am inside the folly so i can place the knife anywhere even in the back of the door, $\endgroup$ – user2705620 Dec 3 '14 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ Oh wow. I was pretty sure of the identity of the narrator, but identifying the killer was more throwaway theatricality than a serious guess :-D The knife/door clue seems like a Holmesian stretch: a killer could have thrown it in the corner before leaving, or in haste to escape simply failed to notice the knife being swept by the door (especially if the light was turned off before opening the door). As for the switch: both stabbing (especially this kind) and door-opening can be done in the dark. But the biggest question: what was the motive? Surely it wasn't really about snow sculptures? $\endgroup$ – jez Dec 3 '14 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ To clarify the logic of the previous comment: the deed could have been done with the door closed, the knife dropped, then the door opened and closed. So it didn't occur to me that "it would have been either within the room, not contained in the sweep of the door, or within the sweep of the door but on the outside, in which case it would have been swept outside by the closing door". $\endgroup$ – jez Dec 3 '14 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor No fair. You didn't tell us the Lord was an expert knife thrower. There was also no blood near the switch, where the knife would have hit. $\endgroup$ – jpmc26 Dec 4 '14 at 1:54
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Not really sure who the killer is.

I'd guess that Gilles is indeed the killer and he set up this apparent framing to try to get the blame off him.

His Lordship was killed by

stabbing with an icicle.

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  • $\begingroup$ Correct on the bonus question, +1! (I wasn't expecting anyone to get that so quickly.) But you haven't got the answer to the main question. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 2 '14 at 22:02
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The answer is quite simple...

The murderer was;

rand al'thor

Why? It was all part of the plan...

He had killed his Lordship and then came to puzzling stack exchange explaining his version of the story in which he was not mentioned in. He then decided to take OUR answers and give them to the court. He never mentioned himself in the story at all, therefore he never appeared in any answers. He attempted to blame someone else, but tricked us into helping in his elaborate scheme.

How was he killed?

With whatever other elaborate scheme rand used. I guess he framed an icicle so probably something else.

Comment for OP;

Nice plan/scheme you had there ;D

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  • $\begingroup$ brainteaser tag means to think in unconventional ways so... :D $\endgroup$ – warspyking Dec 2 '14 at 23:42
  • $\begingroup$ You got me bang to rights, guv! :-) No, actually @jez has got it. I was nothing to do with the crime; I'm only the storyteller! $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '14 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ @rand Snap. I thought I had it. Serves me right for paying attention to brainteaser after all it's misuse. $\endgroup$ – warspyking Dec 3 '14 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ Well, you did need some unconventional thinking to solve it. A ghost? What??? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '14 at 12:08
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It is November, and bitterly cold even at noon.

This, and the mention of parkland presumably ruling out Antarctica, indicates that the story happens in the northern hemisphere.

at noon. (…)
(…) the single door to the Folly (…)
the sun shining directly through the open doorway.

So the only door of the Folly is to the south.

moving northwards across virgin snow towards the mansion.

The door of the Folly is on the side opposite to the direction of the mansion.

Looking back, you see a maid, Avigrail, running out of the Folly in a terrible state.

So I'm already around the side of the Folly opposite to the sole door, yet I can see the maid running out? And then the gardener comes around too. Hmmm.

then they both go running to the mansion to raise the alarm.

And yet they don't encounter me. Nor do they notice the prints that I just left walking “across virgin snow towards the mansion”.


But enough lollylagging! None of this is terribly relevant…

You leave the Folly, moving northwards across virgin snow towards the mansion.

So I just discovered a murder, and I don't go and report it straight away: the gardener and the maid know the grounds well and thus presumably took the most direct route to the mansion — the same route I took on the way there. I, on the other hand, sneaked around the footmen and hid in the snow (amongst the ice sculptures?), so that I somehow managed to not be noticed by either the maid or the gardener. Why am I so keen not to make my presence known?

I am either the murderer or an accomplice. We don't have enough information to know who the accomplice might be — I consider everyone on the estate suspect.

Oh, and given how cold it is, the icicle wouldn't have melt. Did I by any chance chuck it into the fireplace while you were in the mansion? I hope someone took note if any fire had been recently doused.


Well, except that I know I didn't do all of this. This story is bogus — I was indeed framed. The narrator is therefore the one who's lying to cover up for the murder he committed or was an accomplice in.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very good answer, +1. Everything above 'enough lollylagging' is actually relevant; these are all hints! You've got half of the answer, but I'm afraid @jez has managed to get the whole thing. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '14 at 11:16
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Ok, here is the solution

Fun fact: this question is not closed because it seems that it has only one fitting answer(imagine me die of laughing now)

The amount of cyanide he carried in his body was slightly killing him. All those riddles were too much for his Lordship. His doctor had already told him that he will die, soon. So the precious Lord decided to turn himself in and at the same time burden Gilles with the accusation of murder.

Solution

So he cut his arm and made sure to put the knife somewhere it can be easily found. He then had a look at some riddles of Avigrail and Oblongamous and the cyanide found a way out of his body as he was trying to solve them. The murderer was the Lord himself and he got killed over the years by solving hard riddles.

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You walk from the mansion towards the folly, then leave and walk back towards the mansion on virgin snow. The snow is all fresh, and you've only gone a few metres from the door, and yet...

...you get surprised by a maid who sees the stiff. Avigrail killed him, then saw you coming, so had to hide inside the folly until you opened the door so she could get out and pretend to have just discovered the body.

As Golden Dragon said, he was killed with

an icicle.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good catch... But remember the path was cleared of snow, so Avigrail could have come along there as you did, leaving the snow virgin elsewhere. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 2 '14 at 23:02
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He was killed by

Avigrail. She was still inside the folly, perhaps hiding in the same room as the body and the person who discovered it, and shortly after the body was found (the finder had only moved "a few meters" away from the Folly - scarcely time for her to come unseen from the house to the Folly, enter without encountering the finder, and then come screaming back out) she made her escape from the Folly, screaming for "help". Hearing someone approaching the Folly she had switched the lights off so as not to be noticed. WHY she killed him is a matter of conjecture. Perhaps she killed him because she was the "certain maid" mentioned in the conversation between the two footmen. Possibly she was carrying on an affair with His Lordship, and was discovered to be diddling the footman as well. When His Lordship found out he dismissed her from service, not caring to share his strumpet with a mere servant, then turned back to this desk. In a fit of pique/rage/passion she grabbed the nearest weapon that came to hand, darted back through the still open door, and plunged the weapon into His Lordship's back, penetrating his heart and killing him instantly. As to the framing: Gilles was "a well-known rival" of His Lordship. Rival indeed - for the favors of the fair Avigrail! Gilles, though, had tired of her and cast her aside, and she had stolen his favorite knife. The murder of His Lordship gave her a chance to kill two birds with one knife, so to speak, by framing Gilles for the murder she had committed. Perfidy! Thy name is woman!!

who used

an icicle, which subsequently melted inside the body before the body cooled. It was bitterly cold but sunny - perfect weather for forming icicles.

Additional rationale:

The only two other reasonable candidates are 1) the narrator, and 2) Oblongamous. IMO both should be discarded due to lack of motive communicated elsewhere in the story/question.

Summation:

M'Lord! The evidence before the court is incontrovertible - there's no need for the jury to retire! The murderer - the only POSSIBLE person with motive AND opportunity - is the "Angel of Death" - Avigrail! You MUST convict, and you MUST deliver the only just sentence the law allows - the same sentence she passed on the man who loved her too much, if not too wisely - DEATH!

The persecution rests.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't see how this is any different to my answer, but with more words :P $\endgroup$ – Joe Dec 3 '14 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ I knew people would fall for the footmen/maid red herring :-> $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '14 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor - the objective is to obtain a conviction. Guilt or innocence is...optional. ORF WI' 'IS 'EAD!!!! $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Dec 3 '14 at 13:56
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The killer is

Oblongamous

Since

"Oblongamous, was adjusting one of the snow sculptures that are dotted about the grounds" and is the Gardner, it will be easier for him to get an icicle or a sharp object made with ice, since it was snowing and also there are ice sculptures outside. Most probably, he should have taken it from one of the ice sculptures and may be that's why he was fixing one of the sculpture from which he took the sharp part.

Also

Oblongamous was working outside the folly with a snowshoes and was outside. Still there is no foot prints means he would have cleared the foot marks with a broom or something. Otherwise, there would be his foot mark.

So my assumption is

May be Oblongamous hated both Gilles and Cop and so he decided to finish the nuisance of both in a single shot. He stolea knife from Gilles house in the night with Gilles finger print. Oblongamous used gloves so that there won't be his finger prints and wont damage Gilles prints. Next day when Cop was busy with some writings, Oblongamous thought "This is the right time. There is nobody near him." He broke one of the snow sculptures and took a sharp piece from it. He switched the light of so that Cop won't identify him even though the attempt failed. He reached the back of Cop and stabbed him on his stomach with the icicle. Since the wound was deep and Cop was week (since he is too old ;p) Cop died very soon. Then Oblongamous made a wound in Cop's hand with the knife so that there will be Cop's blood on Gilles knife and dropped the knife there, so that the police will find Gilles prints and will arrest him. So he will get rid of troubles from Gilles too. After leaving the room he took a broom and cleared all the foot prints he made and clearing the marks he reached near the broken sculpture (he broke it to get the icicle). Before somebody noticing he tried to fix it and place it back urgently. That is when "YOU" reached there and saw that. Since Oblongamous was in a hurry fixing it before somebody noticing it, he didn't saw "YOU". So Gilles or no one else entered the mansion and that's why the Guards didn't see anyone. It was Oblongamous itself who killed Cop, switched the lights off and cleared the foot prints.

Another assumption is

Gilles came to kill D'alar'cop from his back while he was writing, but when Gilles was about to stab him, Cop noticed him and blocked the knife with his hand which made the wound in his hand and blood on knife. In the fear that he will get caught, Gilles thew the knife there and tried to escape from the mansion. While he was running, Oblongamous caught him. Seeing Oblongamous , Gilles got some idea. He gave Oblongamous a handful of gold coins and asked him to kill Cop for him. Oblongamous agreed and put the coins in his pocket. He broke one of the ice sculptures and took a sharp piece from it. He entered the Lord's room and switched the light off so that even if he get caught, the Lord (Cop) won't identify him. He sneaked right behind Cop and stabbed him on his stomach with the icicle.

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The killer is

Oblongamous while he was adjusting one of the snow sculptures that are dotted about the grounds

And he was killed by

A piece of the sculpture or an icicle

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The killer is

Warspyking - with Avigrail as the accomplice.

Reasoning

Warspyking killed him with an icicle and Avigrial hid in the Folly. When the Narrator leaves the Folly for the Mansion - there are no foot prints on the snow; Avigrial had to be already in the building or at-least pass the Narrator. The motive is due to the discovery of their affair.

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  • $\begingroup$ Virgin snow doesn't imply Avigrail was still in the Folly; see my comment on Joe's answer. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '14 at 11:24
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Although I'm from a tropical country and never knew what are the effects of snow in plants I think the killer is

Oblongamous - a gardener.. what would a gardener do in that place? He is supposed to take care of the plants but it is winter where in based on the pictures I have seen plants/trees having lost its leaves due to winter. If plants and trees looks like that what would be the use of a gardener, another thing is that he is wearing snowshoes, this is used for better mobility, so if he would commit a crime he can escape the place pretty fast.

What was used?

If Oblangamous is the killer he would use a chip/sharp fragment from the ice sculpture that's why he fixed it after so that no one will notice.

another note.

The maid should be the another accomplice for the crime as she is already inside the folly.

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  • $\begingroup$ The snowshoes were only so that he didn't leave deep footprints in the lovely virgin snow. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '14 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor can you tell me who really is the killer how she or he killed and why. I cant understand the whole thing based on the accepted answer.. jez keeps using the word I so jez is the killer? I dont understand there is no jes in the story $\endgroup$ – user2705620 Dec 3 '14 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ Jez's 'I' is the 'you' of the OP. (Maybe I should edit his answer, but it's so nice as it stands...) His Lordship committed suicide, and the narrator is his Lordship's ghost :-D $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '14 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor how can u say that the lord killed himself? Can you state me facts/points in the story that would lead for one person to conclude,that,infact he killed himself? Im sorry if annoying im just too interested in you puzzle. $\endgroup$ – user2705620 Dec 3 '14 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ Look at the position of the knife and the door... $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '14 at 13:01
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I like that the protagonist is a ghost, particularly the ghost of His Lordship. But I'd suggest that the protagonist was killed by

the spirit of a neighboring lord, who has been killed by another neighboring lord but thought the culprit were His Lordship and came for revenge

with

the second lord's semi-material sword.

The knife is behind the door because

His Lordship and Gilles had met shortly before when the second lord's spirit tried to kill His Lordship by possessing him, who thus all of a sudden grabbed Gilles' knife and tried to stab himself. Gilles had enough reaction to knock the knife out of His Lordship's hand (they actually met to settle their rivalty) which scratched His Lordship's arm and fell behind the door. Then, His Lordship regained enough self-control to fight the spirit out of His body. However, knowing that it was a supernatural existance, he told Gilles "Go away, and don't tell anyone." The intent was that no one else should be endangered by the raging spirit. Still shocked, they both forgot about the knife, and Gilles went away without it. He used a secret passage behind a bookshelf. His Lordship had shown him the passage upon entering, as a first shared secret to base the friendship on. Later the spirit returned and killed His Lordship with its weapon, now knowing that He would be strong enough to fight it off.

This is a little mystical, but possible if His Lordship's spirit is already involved.

I know that there already is an intended answer, but I feel like this is an answer that might be interesting. At least, it's better than my joke answer about that one puzzle, where I proposed meta-solving via a Room Escape game. (Which seems to have toggled the idea to a puzzle though.)

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