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Professor Edgar Eyrie's Magic Square


by shamboo5

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Edgar Eyrie, esteemed professor emeritus and good friend of Lenny Conundrum, fluttered down High Street alongside Petey Pteri, recent graduate of the Lenny Conundrum School of Puzzles, bottom of his class.

"I have a puzzle for you," the Eyrie announced as he took out a folded piece of paper he had tucked under his wing, neatly unfolding a nine box square, three by three, and in each square, a picture of a pet.

"It's a Magic Square," continued the Eyrie.

The Pteri dropped the paper as if it were a hot potato and asked nervously, "A Magic Square? Will I turn into a Square if I play with it?"

"No, no, Petey," laughed the Eyrie. "It's perfectly safe. A Magic Square has something in common for each horizontal row, each vertical column and each diagonal. The common element could be something about the pet's name, something about the artist's rendering of the pet, or something about Neopia. Can you figure any out?"

"Hmmm," answered the Pteri, "I'm not very good at puzzles. I haven't figured out a Lenny Conundrum since I got so confused on Number 200, I just wrote WHAT? and WHAT was the answer!"

At first Petey couldn't take his eyes off the picture of himself, row two, first column. Great picture, he thought to himself modestly, but at last the Pteri was able to concentrate. His eyes widened and his brow furrowed. Although he was generally stumped, even Petey had no trouble figuring out the middle column. "The middle column is all stamps," he announced proudly.

Edgar Eyrie put his wing around Petey Pteri and responded, "Excellent." Petey blushed. Edgar Eyrie continued, "You should have more time to think about the rest. Let's meet again in one week."

Petey nodded, then looked back down at the paper, failing to notice a Starry Kau carrying several interesting looking vials passing them on the street.

***

Petey scratched his beak, perplexed. It had been four days since Professor Eyrie had given him the puzzle and he had gotten nowhere. Twice he had forgotten to eat his daily omelette and he had completely given up his daily pull at the fruit machine. If only he could remember what he learned at the Lenny Conundrum School of Puzzles. Suddenly he remembered Lesson Three. Analyze! That’s the trick, he thought to himself, grabbing a sheet of paper where he scrawled some quick notes.


_________Blue Nimmo Kauvara
ElephanteBooks StampStarry Kau
Petey? Ixi
PteriStamp ___________
Toy ?Acara
KorbatStamp Plushie

It was clear Petey had to figure out what was in those two stamps.

It had been some years since Petey had looked at his stamp collection, but he easily found it buried under his rainbow plushies and sock puppets. He blew off a layer of dust and started flipping through the pages, Mystery Island, ... Tyrannia. Yes, Tyrannia; one of those stamps looked eerily familiar. Now things were falling into place. Some pets started with the same letter and another line was solved with a consistent last letter.

Petey was awake for the drawing of the Neopian lottery that night. The more lines he figured out, the harder it got to put the puzzle down. The last stamp was tricky. There were two stamps that were very similar. They both bore an uncanny resemblance to that grumpy old king in Lenny Conundrum Number 212. At first Petey thought he had found it on Meridell vs. Darigan, but upon close examination he realized it was the wrong stamp. When he found the correct stamp, he solved another row.

Petey was finally able to look forward to the meeting with Professor Edgar Eyrie with enthusiasm.

***

It seemed like a day and it seemed like a month, but it was exactly one week later when Prof. Edgar Eyrie and Petey Pteri met again to discuss the Magic Square. Petey had worked hard and was excited that he had solved all the rows and diagonals, although he was still stuck on the two end columns. "Tell me. Tell me," he begged.

The Eyrie shook his head. "No begging in Neopia. It's not allowed." His face softened as he continued, "I'll help you with the first column. There's a flaw, you see. The Neopian artists forgot to put in part of the Elephante anatomy in the box in the upper left hand corner. I first noticed it when I went to groom the Elephante with his favorite sock. If you can figure out what's missing, you'll know what the Elephante, the Pteri and the Korbat have in common. Several other pets also have this feature. The Scorchio comes to mind and even the distinguished Lenny and Eyrie."

The Pteri cleared his throat, grimaced and fluttered his wings as if struggling to find the answer, but he was able to figure it out quickly. Playfully, he looked up at the Professor and said, "I love that sock too, don't I?"

The Professor nodded and continued, "For the last column, I thought we'd talk to Lenny about a new puzzle. Each week there could be three pictures from Neopia and a contest to figure out what they had in common. Lenny could use this column to get started." Then his chest swelled as he added, "He could call it Eyrie's Enigma."

"That's a great idea," answered Petey. "It seems like readers just can't get enough of Lenny's Conundrum these days, but I think it should be called Petey's Puzzle."

"No. Eyrie's Enigma!"

"Petey's Puzzle!"

"EYRIE'S ENIGMA!"

"PETEY'S PUZZLE!"

...and then there was an explosion of feathers the likes of which Neopia had never seen as Prof. Edgar Eyrie and Petey Pteri took their quarrel to the Battledome. Feathers were reportedly seen as far away as Shenkuu and the Lost Desert.

So if you happen to notice a featherless Eyrie or a plucked Pteri wandering through Neopia, better not mention the Magic Square.

***

Answers:

horizontal: srepeekpohs, 'i' ni sdne, seihsulp

diagonal: nainnaryt, 'k' htiw strats

vertical: sgniw, spmats

(favorite sock: kcos gniw)

 
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