A long narrow room. The entrance is blocked by purple flame, the path onward blocked by black flame. On a table, the only thing in the room, are two dozen potions in opaque bottles. Half green glass, half brown glass, in various shapes and sizes; no two alike. They are arrayed in four rows, with six bottles in each, but staggered diagonally within the diamond-pattern board upon which they rest.

Behind the table, the following is written upon the wall:

One in two will aid you

One in three distract

One in four for turning back

One in six will bring you harm

One in eight shall guide you on

One in twelve to end your quest.

Beginnings to move onward, unless you choose to guess.

39 to carry on, 18 more to return. The key is writ disguised, unclear, the path beginneth here:

A hero bears power, justice, and death; all kept in these potions midst water and earth.

Darkness hides the future, whether good or ill. Life conceals much hardship, but offers a way out.

You’re safer far with angles than ovals, rounds, or curves, but not of questing onward - chances there are small.

Zealously ignored extremes could kill, or render aid. Living seems certain when your receptacle is larger, equal risk brings surer advancement.

Keep diligently learning everything if you just seek to know. Refuse the quest and your knowledge doesn’t fade. Just proceed without hesitation and quest another day.

If you would choose a potion by height, none is greater than the others. Unsafe waits near harmless. If by line you would decide, your best choice is home or very far away. Picking from isolated corners would often be just fine, but there also quietly waits the potion to end your chances here.

Three and three are safe to drink, three and three again will stall your journey back.

Diagram of board setup

downloadable PSD with separate layers

-Bottles can slide only into adjacent spaces across straight lines, and only if the adjacent space is empty. So for the free space (highlighted blue), the large round potion or the large hourglass potion can be moved in, but not the large triangle. The escape space (highlighted yellow, center of row 4) can also be used as a free space when moving the bottles around.

-The bottles can only be removed from the board when they are in the escape space. Otherwise, their bottoms remain affixed to the surface and can only be slid. Only one bottle can be removed at a time; unless they are all on the board, none of them will move. If you try to replace a bottle anywhere but the yellow space, it won't stick and the others won't move.

-If your first move is the large round bottle in the upper left corner, the number 39 will begin counting down with each move you make thereafter. It will remain at zero once it reaches it. If you exactly reverse your moves, or otherwise reset the board to its initial state, the number will return to 39. Otherwise, your moves seem to have no effect on the writing.

(I believe it can be solved only with the information I've provided, but it is quite a convoluted solution. I can provide additional hints if needed.)

Board setup (text version)

Row 1: Large round green | small square green | medium round brown | medium hourglass green | medium square brown | medium hourglass brown

Row 2: Free space | large triangle green | large oval brown | large square green | small spiral brown | medium triangle green | large oval green

Row 3: Large hourglass brown | small spiral green | medium oval brown | large round brown | medium spiral brown | small hourglass green

Row 4: Medium triangle brown | small oval green | large spiral brown | escape space | small triangle green | small square brown | small round green

(I apologize if this is mislabeled. I wasn't sure since it's part sliding-puzzle, part not-sure-how-to-categorize, and part inane-riddle. :3)

Edited 17th to add some clues, since it is a very obtuse solution. Thank you whoever set the image to show up; however I've also added the link back in since the layered .psd is intended for active use. It would be very hard to solve properly without moving the bottles around.

Hint 1:

It's not a logic puzzle.

Hint 2:

The number of spaces on the board is significant.

Hint 3:

To reach the intended solution, there is a specific sequence of moving the bottles.

Hint 4:

The riddle itself (the section in bold) is essential to the solution, but its purpose is not to discern anything about the bottles or their contents.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ O_O oh my... very interesting indeed $\endgroup$ May 16 '18 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, this is hugely detailed! - it's great! You mention it's from a fanfic; is there more? :) $\endgroup$
    – puzzledPig
    May 20 '18 at 2:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @puzzledPig This is the only puzzle in the story, and I give quite a bit more detail in this post than I do in the actual fic. I'm basically trying to discern by posting here whether it's possible to solve from the outside or if I made it too complex. $\endgroup$
    – Asviloka
    May 21 '18 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, makes sense! $\endgroup$
    – puzzledPig
    May 21 '18 at 17:19

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