September 8: It’s raining, and Russian Emperor Czar Nicholas awakes, confused.
Someone enters, completely soaking. “It’s positively vile – I’d resist going outside.”
It’s Czarina Alexandra. “Anyway, my dear, you look awful. What’s wrong?”
Nicholas gasps. “Pray, get me a priest, my queen,” he croaks.
In rushes Rasputin. “I am here, sire – what unsettles you so?”
“I dreamed in the night of one gazing at the skies.
He spoke confusion to me, saying ‘The Twelve reside within me.
Seek them out and see. Once eleven horrors I yield up,
the last remaining revealed shall be.’ On waking, upon my pillow
lay this…” – Nicholas indicates an envelope – “…narrating this specific conversation, verbatim.”
Standing up, Rasputin – unruffled – asks to look inside but recoils as
lightning explodes overhead. Staunchly carrying on, Rasputin, pulling it open, reads…
Hints / Explanatory notes (not part of the puzzle):
- The puzzle above is written loosely in the style of a traditional 'It was a dark and stormy night' joke (Google it, if unsure), whereby at the end Rasputin reads a note which... says precisely what has just been written in the text block! You are not trying to work out what Rasputin 'reads' at the end - it just added an extra challenge to the construction of this puzzle. The puzzle itself is contained entirely within the text block. Every word is deliberately chosen and important.
- Italics are purely for narrative emphasis (not clues).
- For the purists out there, the solution could be described as 'stylised'.
- Heed the tags!