The Warlord

Within sight of the capital, you come across an armed camp. The leader of these mercenaries is a Warlord bent on overthrowing the Queen and ruling Islandia.

“Isn’t that a waste of time if the island will soon be destroyed?” you ask.

“Insolent dog!” spits The Warlord. “We have ways of dealing with counter-revolutionaries like you.” You are bound in chains and taken to the highest room of a forbidding tower where, says the Warlord as you are locked in, “You and the other two spies can rot until we behead you tomorrow morning.”

The other prisoners are sisters seated on some loose stones who welcome you warmly. “If only we could offer you better hospitality,” they lament. “But all we have is water drawn from the stream below.” They point out the window to a bucket within arm’s reach. It is attached to a rope that goes up, over a pulley, and then down to the ground; another bucket is attached to the rope’s other end.

The window is unbarred. Why bother with bars? You’re 500 feet off the ground and the wall is absolutely sheer. You’d certainly die if you tried to climb down.

Nor will the rocky stream save you if you try to jump. But the pulley system is another matter. Your first thought is to grip both sides of the rope to keep it from sliding and then climb down. But you realize that the rope is only 500 feet long; if you keep it doubled up for stability, you’ll drop 250 feet to your death. If you hold on to just one side, the rope will slide down and you’ll be killed.

“We find that the buckets will hold hundreds of pounds easily, and that one will fall smoothly if it weighs 10 pounds more than its partner. Any less, and the bucket will not lower; any more, and it will break,” offers one sister.

“How much do you weigh?” You ask the sisters anxiously. There’s a slim chance the three of you might survive.

“You should never ask a lady’s age or weight,” the second sister reprimands you. But the first sister quiets her. “I’m 80 pounds, and my sister is 100 pounds. I think I can guess what you have in mind.”

You weigh about 180 pounds. It’s a good start, but … if only there were some loose weights around. You take another look at the room you’re in. The stones! The sisters’ former seats look to be about 10 pounds each, and there are 13 of them. Perfect!

How can you get out of the tower? Submit your solution

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