Room 39

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…what looked like a combination wine cellar and junk room. Someone had been working here as well.

“This is more to my taste,” said one, dusting off some labels. All the bottles turned out to be empty.

“I hear someone hammering,” said one.

“No, that’s a chopping sound,” said another.

None of them heard the faint jingling that came from behind the wall. “I don’t hear anything,” I said loudly and, with as much commotion as possible, hurried them out of the room to…

  - Images and text copyright 1985 by Christopher Manson
used with permission. [Purchase MAZE from Amazon]


Room Type: PATH     Doors:  4  11  12


● The correct door is 4. [Credit: Unknown - during the 1985 contest.]

● The part of the Riddle of the Path in this room is “O” (the white wall tire) and “R” [Credit: Unknown - prior to 1990.]

● The 1×1=2 on the multiplication table are indicators of the wrong doors 11 & 12 [Independent Credit: Beelzebibble | White Raven] The multiplication table is a table of squares. 4 is the sum of a square, 11 and 12 are not. [Independent Credit: Hidden Mystery | White Raven] The last line of the multiplication table is blank, it should read 11 x 11 = 121. The numbers in the incorrect doors 11 and 12. [Credit: Aria]

● The jingling, the jingle hat, and the bricked up wall all point to Edger Allen Poe’s famous short story, “The Cask of Amontillado.” [Credit: Ian Finley] In the story a man, Montresor, guides another man, Fortunato, who is tipsy, into a deep winding cellar to show him some wine, and then traps him there by shackling him in a small room and bricking over the door. The trowel points to the correct door (indicating the door Montresor left by) while a tilted wine barrel leans toward one incorrect door and a wine bottle points to the other incorrect door (poor Fortunato is both tipsy and lured to his doom by wine). [Independent Credit: Wanderer/David G/Vewatkin | White Raven]

● In “The Cask of Amontillado,” the number of tiers of bricks (eleven) used to brick up (trap) Fortunato is emphasized for dramatic effect. This suggests we avoid door 11 which leads to the trap. [Independent Credit: Aria | White Raven] While the hour of Fortunato’s entombment (midnight) is meant to dissuade us from door 12. [Credit: Aria] Midnight is the time the last brick is laid which is the moment captured in the image of this room via the missing brick.

● The sign which appears to say “THIS WAY” with the “THI” cut off in fact says “SWAY”. This is a reference to Fortunto’s drunken state as emphasized in the description of Fortunato at the beginning of the story, “The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he strode.” We should avoid the door marked “SWAY” because being drunk led Fortunato to his doom. [Independent Credit: LBJMFA | White Raven] Alternately (or perhaps along with) “SWAY” could refer to Montressor’s swaying Fortunato to follow him. [Note: The Poe solution is incomplete]


144 thoughts on “Room 39

  1. All the bottle TURNED OUT to be empty



    look, that one bottle is turned out

  2. 7×7 = 49 emotive states in mystic tradition. Given the nature of mysticism it is no surprise the answer is partly obscured.

  3. Trinity with tree above it would be the tree of life and an explanation for exactly why the point was awarded where it was – the word “life/live”

    • And of note : the parts of the tree of life found below the trinity in alchemical and Jewish mystical tradition are called the abyss.

    • Three barrels on right do NOT form trinity symbol like ones on left.

  4. Wondering why WR has Mason information on page and shared here but then does not use their symbols in solution.

    But on the true/false life/death theme – the math is false on the right. The trinity of barrels on the left can be “true”

  5. Oh, I’ve been not wanting to mention this, but wine labels are mentioned in the text, and there are four unlabelled bottles on the rack. Take a bit of inspection, because even the unlabeled bottles give off glares that kind of look like labels at a glance.

  6. Here’s an idea: Fortunato is lured to his death by the promise of wine, whereas Montresor, who bears the trowel, lives. The bottle and barrel, both being containers of wine, are deceptions but the trowel indicates the way to live.

    • It’s true, the cask of Amontillado was (presumably) a lie, and the booze that Fortunato was given just a means of deadening his alertness, making him more susceptible to the final entrapment.

      The trowel was part of Fortunato’s downfall as well, but there was nothing deceptive about it. Montresor identified himself as a mason, and by the time he was using it, it was pretty clear what was going down…

      It’s a bit metaphorical, I don’t know.

    • Wanderer,

      Congratulations! This is the solution much of the room is built around! Bumping up the solve meter!

      White Raven

  7. Seems that beside tarot cards and astronomical symbols, etc… we should add another class of symbols running through Maze. Here are some. I suspect there will be more now that we know to look.

    The trowel is a symbol of brotherly love because it evenly spreads bonding material. The empty barrel is used to symbolize something devoid of brotherly love, because is will dry and fall apart with out its content.

    In 26 we have guys in Fezzes that may have a secret. (masons wear Fez)

    The three minor lights of Masonry are the Sun and the Moon and the Master Mason. The moon is depicted as a crescent with a face. In room 3 we find all three of these. Top hat is not only “man” in answer to the riddle, and the “guide to path” while wearing hat, and the soul of Manson for the Raven poem, but he is also the Master Mason, the architech of Maze.

    I feel better about that pentagram in 15 meaning the 3 of penticles from Tarot and the “Master Craftsman” now.

    The hidden word of Masonry was reveled to members only one letter are a time. Sounds familiar….

  8. Trowel begins with T, and is indicated correct by the other T objects in the room. Barrel and bottle both begin with B, which isn’t indicated by the room.

    • Wanderer, do you have any interest in joining a Maze-related google hangout? Most active participants on the Abyss are involved, and it has proved to be a great way to bounce ideas around without clogging up the forums here. We’re always looking for new Maze enthusiasts to join the group.

    • vewatkin, I would be happy to, though as a fair warning I might not be able to participate all that often.

    • Wanderer-not a problem! Any participation is welcome.

      Email-address-seeking spambots prevent me from putting my email address here, but it’s just my Abyss username Contact me and we’ll get it worked out.

  9. Well let’s see. Blade has 4 sides.

    For story background. Fortunato makes some sort of obscene gesture with a bottle a sign of freemasondry. The captor shows the trowel to show he is a mason. Fourtunato responds “you jest”

    • So the bottle is not real sign of masonry and trowel is. So follow trowel.

    • No. The sign by Fortunato is presumably a legitimate secret sign but the guide finds it obscene. The trowel is just a trowel. The guide holds up the trowel as a dry joke since it is one of the symbols of the the masons but had by this time lost its connection to actual masonry and therefore also an actual trowel. Fortunato, probably offended by the guide’s “joke” of trivializing masonry says, “You jest.”

    • The joke is that Fortunato is talking about being a (free)mason (i.e. a member of the secret society of Freemasons), but Montresor is talking about being a literal mason (bricklayer).

    • Yes agree with you too. Just searching for a solution out of that.

    • The masons was originally a society meant to keep secret stone building techniques. Now days it origins are downplayed in favor of their previous political power. In 1840 the connection was obvious especially since the mansons were publicly responsible for funding a great number of the large scale stone building projects in the US. The masons were not commonly referred to as freemasons by the ordinary person till the late 1800s after The Cask of Amontillado was written.

    • Well, ok, but anyway, Fortunato is part of the secret society, Montresor is joking about being a brick-layer.

      For more hilarious secret society humor, read anything Robert Anton Wilson ever wrote, or watch that Stonecutters episode of The Simpsons. Basically, Edgar Allen Poe created both of them with this single knee-slapper.

  10. For the record then:

    The times table, the letters, the toy bird and the tubes either as toys or as the parentheses for math suggest some sort of elementary education or school room. The masonry equipment, in combination certainly with text about someone working and chopping and hammering sounds suggests “construction” or something like that.
    The three barrels and the tree go together like a donut and hole. “Three” – “Tree” = “H”. The wine rack and the bottles in the corner give us “4” and we have “S WaY” on this wall. Put them together and we get “4H’s way”. Google it and discover it is “Learning through doing”. Well now – that fits nicely with the other parts of the room giving us “education” and “construction”. We have confirmation. What do we do with this? Well there is a little bit of the room we have not used. 1 barrel by the wine rack, 2 by the door, and 3 by the bird. 1,2,3…4 (learn by doing).

  11. Nobody wants to put together the bricks…?

    How about this one: But the Tree together with the three barrels under it using “donut hole” method.

  12. The barrel pointing to 12 along with the ladder I’ll take as a false door clue, along with the even more obvious and more wrong “s way”. The trowel is less obvious and sits on “4″ objects making it the correct one of the set. IMO

    The bottle does not point at 11, really. This “4-bit” bottle of what was “4-tified” wine points at 4 bottles labeled with a for/4 tag. So – getting ahead of myself, I take that corner, and the wine rack to represent “4″ for the room level puzzle.

    • Empty could reinforce the barrel being wrong – but the text does not say it is empty is my problem there. Only the bottles. It could be empty of course.

  13. Ok somebody please shout this one out. Take the bird and all things under it. Collectively what do they suggest ?

    • Well, you description you give seems to be pointing to Kindergarten, I guess, though that times table doesn’t belong there, so maybe elementary school? Though, I don’t see a kid doing multiplication and playing with that toy at the same point during any part of their life.

    • Well, I don’t want to rely too much on my description, because I’m trying not to be too leading. But removed from all other context I think those objects bring to mind some sort of elementary education. A school room of some sort. Something in that area anyway. One might wonder about the tubes, but if you’ve solved the math problem and think that they give you a needed set of parentheses, then that is not a concern.

      OK next grouping in the room- I’m going to lead a little too. Because my first take on the bricks and morter was to think of the prisoner and the story. But we need to take it out of that context and just focus on what the stuff there suggests all by itself. Add to it the hammering and chopping we hear. What is suggested?

  14. Trowel points to 4. Sits on 4 objects.

    S way sign and ladder make an odd one in solution

    We are connected to room 4 by sounds. The lights can be bits there. Assume the wine bottles are bits and it says 4. “Turned out” in text helps.

    4 wheels on bird probably. 4 objects under bird. Tree plus 4 barrels is 4 wooden things.

    • Trowel DOES point at 4! Right on! That should be something, and may be what the Ts in the room (tire, tubes, toy, tree, times table) are distracting from. The trowel is even suggested by the guide noting someone had been working there recently, apparently in reference to the construction of the wall.

      Also explains why the trowel rests way high up in that bowl when it should be sliding down into it.

      Also fits the focus on the Cask of Amontillado theme.

      Good find.

    • Actually, hold on tight.

      The trowel indicates 4. Opposite it, the barrel leans on its side, pointing toward 12. At the bottom of the page, that bottle turned the wrong way is pointing toward the doorway to 11; or it’s pointing to the bottle with the tag, which is pointing directly at the number 11 (a good reason for Manson to draw our attention to it with the tag).

      These are all objects associated with The Cask of Amontillado. That’s important to keep in mind, because other objects in the room do point to the doors, especially other T objects: the tree covers the door to 11, the “this way” sign goes through the door, the times table clues 11 and/or 12, the toy is facing 12, the inclined tube is pointing to 12–but these are all false clues, a camouflage of T-objects to distract from the real relationship between the bottle, barrel/cask, and the trowel, which is The Cask of Amontillado.

      So why does the trowel win out? Because of the noted emptiness of the other two. The text explicitly says the bottles were empty. The illustration shows that the one open barrel we see (under the times table) is empty, and the way the barrel pointing to 12 is leaning, is seems it would have to be empty, or it would lean back over and sit straight.

      I take “empty” here to mean “devoid of meaning,” something like that. In any case, it’s the trowel we’re left with, which points the right way.

    • I like this emphasis on emptiness a lot, especially after what we learned back in room 4 about objects being used or not used. It feels like the same kind of situation, where we’re not just thinking about what an object looks like or what letters it’s spelled with, but instead we’re focusing its . . . dynamic nature, its actions, its changes in time. Nice catch.

    • Kyle Stedman! Back on the field! Let me be off-putting by repeating your name and exclaiming exuberantly!

    • “combination wine cellar and junk room”

      The Cask-related clues are the wine cellar parts; the rest of the stuff, the T-objects (trash?) are the “junk.”

      Again, you need some amount of familiarity with The Cask of Amontillado to know that the masonry equipment relates to the wine room aspect, not the junk aspect.

    • Fortunato, behind the brick wall, breaks the theme of emptiness connecting the barrels and the bottles. The trowel itself is neither empty nor full, but the brick prison is created is full.

    • David Gentile, the trowel is correct but for another reason.

      vewatkin, the barrel and bottle are correct but for another reason.

  15. Simple thing that seems like it should be here:

    One wine bottle points to the 4 wine bottles and they have a tag that could read “For…” Seems a pretty good 4 indicator to me, unless in is supposed to be part of something larger.

  16. It has been noted by Anchorperson smith and Raven that there are 12 bricks on the floor. But if we put in the missing one there would be 11. This seems like a pair of false clues. The associated true clue would be that the person being walled up is “For”tunato from the Poe story.

    The multiplication table indicates the false doors for us in the incorrect first line 1 x 1 = 2. That has both an “11” and a 12” in it. I believe we need to correct that line to get the correct door. There are “2” cylinders there. The mouth of one of them could be used to form a set of parenthesis. We could also take the “x” form ‘9×9” which is incomplete and make a plus. We get “(1+1)x2=4. Or maybe the “2” from the 2 cylinders can be made use of, or taken as confirmation of the solution. Why only odd squares? I think, but am not sure, that it is simply this – including 2×2=4 would not let us find the answer ourselves, and 2×2=? would be too obvious, and omitting just the 2×2 would also be too obvious. Omitting the even squares makes it more puzzling. There could yes be a use for ”odd” or “even” somewhere I’ve not seen of course.
    Finally, we have some miscellaneous and probably incomplete indicators. There is one bottle out of place in the rack (brought to our attention in the text). It “points” over towards “4” other bottles. (And the tag on the bottle we might guess says “for…”).
    The “hammering” and “chopping” sound are probably intended to lead us back to room 4. Last time we entered room 4 the clues that led us there from 42 involved counting 1,2,3,4. Assuming the 3 barrels by the tree are part of a puzzle there we might be able to count barrels here. 1,2,3…

  17. there are 12 bricks on the floor, but one of them is needed to seal the doorway, leaving 11.

  18. My best guess as to the clue that the correct door is #4 is a two-parter. First, the multiplication table is specifically a table of squares, and a square has four sides. As for the error on the table, I think that’s supposed to be a warning against #11 and #12 (not that you need to be warned against doubling back to #12, if that’s where you entered from). It’s not necessarily a coincidence that the incorrect equation 1 x 1 = 2 shares its digits with the two inferior doors. Manson’s intent may be that this error should signal the reader to avoid those rooms.

    What my idea can’t account for is why only the odd numbers are squared on the table. It also doesn’t explain why there’s a blank space at the bottom of the table, enough that Manson could have squeezed in 11 x 11 if he’d wanted to. Is the absence of 11 x 11 significant? I’m worried that any argument that it should be taken as a warning against #11 could be matched by an equal argument saying it should be taken as a clue *pointing* to #11!

    • Beelzebibble,

      Half a congratulations!

      1×1=2 = Doors 11 & 12

      There’s a bit more to this!

      Very well thought out, especially your concern over warning versus indicating.

      White Raven

    • It should be noted that here is another case where I am not certain if a solution is intentional. The table of squares holds three related riddles WITHOUT the square = 4 connection. Is it possible it was actually meant to contain all four riddles? The other three are more solid but I would hesitantly say, yes.

    • I’m impressed as well that 11 and 12 are errors. Good one.

  19. It should also be noted that 1×1 does not = 2. Maybe the numbers are the clues and The Cast of Amontillado is a red herring?

  20. Room 8 Solution: Partial
    Twelveth room of the path – The letters to take from this room are “O” and “R.” The “O” is hidden as a white walled tire next to the “R.”

    The correct door is 4. We don’t know why.

    Unsolved: Everything but the O and R. The jingling, the jingle hat, and the bricked up wall all point to Edger Allen Poe’s famous short story, “The Cast of Amontillado.” What is the reason for this?

    • The Umbrella collected this correct solution, the name of the original solver is unknown.


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