Why did the chicken cross the river?
Well, I believe that is a question too vague to classify for a riddle, eh? Well, I had to draw your attention. Actually, my story is a bit more complicated than that.
Not so long ago I received an antique gospel book. It was sold for relatively low price because, quote, "a previous owner has made pointless remarks inside and ruined the leather cover". I didn't give much attention to the fact, but was really surprised when I saw the book.
First of all, on the back cover the words "Why did the chicken cross the river?" were cut (yes, this made me chuckle too). Second of all, inside the book there were occasional phrases written in red and blue ink. Weird... phrases. They appeared to be of a question-and-answers joke, or, how my younger friends tend to call them 'setup-punchline' jokes. I've made some research on the ink and the book -- it appears, both the book and the jokes date back to 1600-s, probably originating from some not-so-faithful priest practicing his humorous skills on the paper he could get. I was very intrigued.
After thorough look through the pages, I have found 22 questions and, unfortunately, only 12 answers. I still believe, however, that all answers were in the book, but the blue ink was less long-lasting, leaving just a speck of blue instead of some answers. Counting the specks altogether with answers, I got the same 22. Judging by the size of specks, the missing answers are strangely short, I'd say, one word each.
Further down I present all the phrases I found. The order is random - seeing how setup and punchline often got into completely different places, I believe, the Jester's intention was to write them at random places.
(0) What is a pillager's favourite musical instrument?
(1) Why can't gnomes make a mechanism with normal wheels?
(2) Why did the kids know that Santa had visited the dragon?
(3) Why did the dragon know that hobbits had visited him?
(4) What does an ogre use to clean the house?
(5) You know what the original title for "Puss in the boots" was?
(6) What tool needs the one desiring to shake hands with kings?
(7) What land is inhabited solely by frogs?
(8) What could save you from being roasted with a dead rat in your mouth?
(9) What did an ogre say when he saw an especially ugly mountain?
(10) How much does a fortune-teller eat for breakfast?
(11) How do you call the Pope's private guards? (finally a funny one) *
(12) What can you get from a person who spent a month in the desert?
(13) How is it called when the king takes all your money and then returns half of it?
(14) Why did a king say he would give me a dollar?
(15) What symbol represents leprechaun's straight-forwardness?
(16) How is it called when the king takes all your money, but you get to punch him in the face?
(17) What is owned by every man, but elfs have got it longest?
(18) Wears a mask, strikes at night, but not as filthy as a heretic?
(19) How do you call a sacrifice made not for, but by the god?
(20) What's the only good thing to be made by a smith?
(21) What's a family name of a mermaid's lover?
Blue ink (the ones you can still make out)
0) Aged manna.
1) Catnip hero.
3) Meant pence.
4) Minted jug
6) Tree mop.
7) Pee mess.
8) Th grs' rnt. **
9) Often whole rune.
10) Sleigh stripes.
Where is the puzzle, Tom?
If it was only about connecting the dots, I wouldn't come to the site -- I can make out some of the 'jokes' myself (and they don't seem too funny). But something in these answers gives me a weird feeling. They don't seem natural, it seems as if there is some code I can't see. And if there is a pattern, then, maybe, you can recreate the missing data. So...
1) What are the unanswered setups?
2) What are their missing punchlines?
3) And most importantly... Why. Did. The chicken. Cross. The river. I need to know that. Who knows, maybe it's the only good joke in the bunch?
* 'finally a funny one' was written by the Jester. I suppose, this joke was exceptionally good.
** it's the original spelling, "Th grs' rnt", not a damaged text. One of the phrases that raised my suspicion.
Inserted Hint 1 (20.05):
New tag added: "anagram"
Hint 2 (23.05):
Actually, it's the expansion of the first hint. There was a bookmark sent to me with the book which I didn't happen to notice. That's what it had:
->ghnrrstt->???thgrsrnt->speech impediment joke?
Check on return:
do ogres truly die of sunlight?
are jesuits funny alre
The rest of the list is smudged. I'll keep looking for more clues though.
Inserted Hint 3 (23.05)
After getting a hint on the order from phenomist, I found the correct pattern to order the questions properly. The questions are rewritten in the right order now. For the same reason, I add tag "cards" to the puzzle.
P.S: Maybe it really was unsolvable without the proper order. I apologise then. Now that all the key plotpoints have been revealed, we need a hero to connect the dots.