(For the first time, I've exceeded post length! This weeks installment is thus split into two posts. Apologies.) After ten minutes walking Dredmor was beginning to think he had taken a wrong turn. After twenty minutes he heard distant voices speaking in low tones and wondered if the God of Digging had stopped to take a phone call. After a full half hour Dredmor found himself standing before a handful of broken eggshells near a recently sealed slipgate. Forcing down the urge to sit on the floor and pout, Dredmor began to carefully examine the area. There was the side tunnel where he had found the Diggle Fertility God. There were his own foot prints in the remnants of the egg yolks. A quick telepathic check with the Master Slipgate confirmed that his position relative to it was exactly the same as when he had opened the gate for the God of Fertility. The lich clacked his teeth in irritation. Either someone was using one of those annoying hypnosis techniques or the God of Digging had somehow turned the entire corridor into a mobius strip. And liches couldn’t be hypnotized. No eyes. “What is this annoyance?” Dredmor whispered to himself. A murmured answer came from down the tunnel, too quiet to make out but loud enough to be heard. A normal man would have looked stupidly down the hallway or called out something inane, like, “Who’s there?” or “What was that?” A cautious man would have carefully put their back to the wall and turned on a flashlight. An evil overlord, however keeps Rule 40 firmly in mind. “If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible.” Dredmor wrenched open a rift, filling the length of corridor with dozens of obscenely grasping tentacles and a cacophony of voices babbling in gleeful gibberish. Without even bothering to wait for the necrosurge to die down Dredmor turned and started down the side tunnel where he had originally encountered the God of Fertility. By the time he got back to the junction where he had started (without turning around or encountering any kind of teleportation device) he was seriously annoyed. The fact that the murmuring voice that haunted the tunnel hadn’t had the good grace to die when it should only made things worse. Dredmor heard the whispers as he was coming up the tunnel and had his first clue that he had wound up where he had started. He really didn’t spend any time confirming it this time, he just set about finding out what the whispers had to say. A normal person might have listened closely. A brash one might have called out questions. Dredmor adjusted the Staff of THX until it brought the voice was loud enough to hear properly. “…and wander until- Hey, wait a second, you can’t do that! You’re not supposed to hear the secrets of the Diggle Gods!” “Dredmor hears all,” he replied dryly. “What inane creature do I have the tedium of addressing now?” “I am the Diggle God of Secrets, mortal,” the whisper (amplified voice?) replied. “I guard all that is not known and should remain so.” “Then you have little to guard from me,” Dredmor replied. “The gulf between the things unknown to diggles and the things unknown to Dredmor is greater than the gulf between the vegan and the carnivore.” “On the contrary, young lich,” the whisper replied. “There is much you are not meant to know about the Diggle Gods. You have trespassed in our lands most rudely. You are not wanted nor needed here. I will keep you from seeing more than you aught until you leave of your own volition.” “Oh? To weak or cowardly to come and throw me out yourself?” “Not at all, young lich,” the voice remonstrated. “But the shape of the God of Secrets is not meant to be known. If you were to be removed by violence it would be done by the God of War. I am not he.” “No?” Dredmor tapped his teeth absently. “Well, this is clearly going to be a problem. My greatest magics all involve invoking powers not meant to be known, and you claim to know them all already. So how would you propose I get around this?” “I do not propose things, for anything I could propose would, of course, be a secret.” “Now see here. I am Dredmor, I have not come all this way to be stopped by shadows.” Dredmor shook his staff threateningly. “You let me proceed onward or I’ll broadcast your voice to every diggle in my dungeon!” “You can’t!” The voice said in alarm (amazingly, still whispering so quietly that Dredmor could feel the Staff of THX straining to keep it audible.) “If the diggles even knew of me they’d start showing up at my alters asking all kinds of awkward questions.” Dredmor thought about that for a moment. “Why do you even have alters, anyways?” “It’s a secret.” “Of course. Well, Diggle God, it seems we are at an impasse.” The lich thought some more. “What if we settled this with a simple contest? You claim to guard secrets. What about a classic battle of riddles? If you’re such a master of the unknown you should have to trouble stumping me while easily answering all my own queries.” There was silence in the tunnel for a moment, then the voice said, “You are right, young lich. I accept your challenge. In respect for your boldness in challenging me so, I will allow you the first riddle.” Dredmor sat on the tunnel floor and thought for a moment. There were many good strategies for outmaneuvering enemies available to a lich. The simplest was to outlive them, but that wouldn’t work in this case. Direct violence was also an option, but required a noticeable target. Finally, there were any number of techniques of deception and manipulation a skillful mastermind could employ. The problem was, they all required knowing a fair bit about ones enemy, and he didn’t. Not surprising, given the enemy was a God of Secrets, but frustrating. Of course, trying any of these things could possibly be construed as a violation of Rule 54, and Dredmor was a conscientious evil overlord. Disappointing as it was, Dredmor concluded that his best course of action was to make good on the agreement and defeat the Diggle God in a battle of wits. Unfortunately even that wasn’t a favorable deal for him. Despite his assurance in his own general superiority he had no illusions about this Diggle God being stupid. His best bet was to try and stump the Diggle God on his first question.