Every time I read a theory on the the Lackless box it invariably boils down to a ‘What?’ question, most usually ‘What’s inside of it?’ Or, occasionally, some clever thoughts about ‘What’s it made of?’ But there are so many more questions we could ask of it. Meluan, Alveron and Kvothe do actually run through some of these other questions but they do not dwell upon them overlong before they arrive ‘last and best’ at How do you open it? But that is the Big question, and is not arrived at lightly. The best approach is to ask more questions since the more information we have to work with, the better our chances are of finding the answers. If this puzzle was designed like Pat’s other puzzles are, like Kote’s thrice locked chest is for example, then there would be three locks to navigate and so three different lockpicks would be needed. Since we deal in information, each key would belong to a different question such as Who, Where and When, and the three individual answers that we can glean here might just make up a nice triangle in themselves. Perhaps turning all three together might just be the key to the answer sought by those who just want to know the What?
Who is a question which refers to the box’s history. Calling it the Lackless box is actually rather misleading since it was not called that when it was made and Lackless is just a translation of the original name. The box has followed the name across it’s many changes in their long and winding ancestry and Kvothe asks Meluan if it is mentioned in any of their histories. This would seem a very reasonable thing to ask since we are repeatedly told that all the old families in Vintas are very obsessive about exactly how important their bloodline is in relation to everyone else’s and they would be expected to keep household records recording any such large family events. As to the provenance of such an important an item, that might too be recorded, much like Caesura has an atas written down in Magwyn’s safe keeping. Writing stuff down is how you remember important things. Private libraries are a big thing among the rich and are where Kvothe hoped to find some unexpurgated clues towards his own questions. Denna has toured such in her own quest for Master Ash and she did indeed uncover some old and secret things for herself. However, Meluan is taken aback at the very thought of this and informs us that
‘No one would think of writing down anything regarding the Loeclos Box. Haven’t I said that this is the most secret of secrets?’
Of course, if the box predates the modern art of writing, and it’s antiquity suggests that it does, then nobody could have written the answers to the mystery down anyway, not in any language still spoken today at least. If it as old as it appears then only the mysterious Yllish knots would be available for that purpose, or perhaps some early clay tablets could hold the key, or maybe even some crude pictograms scrawled on the skins of sheep! But no, nothing about the closing of this box was ever recorded in any form, and that is likely as not exactly how it was meant to be. There are many possible reasons why nothing is, was or even should ever be remembered from that most ancient time but the fact is that nothing ever was. Not even it’s latest owners have a clue as to it’s contents. As far as the family know, no word about the box even existing has ever reached the outside world and so their own secret part in proceedings surrounding it’s closure are also lost. It is probably safe ground to guess that those present were fulfilling some sacred vow or such and this would be undertaken by the Original Loeclos box owners to never tell a soul about their dirty laundry lest it bring great shame down upon the family name thereafter. We will also concur with Kvothe that the mystery object either must not or could not be destroyed and subjecting it to such an eternal confinement was deemed as close as they could do to hide it from the world at large. The secret died with them that day and only the instruction to keep the casket safe and secret remained as the family’s oldest and most important charge ever since… like the one that the Sithe have
Keeping silent about something is called a secret of the mouth, however it only takes one loose tongue and the secret is out. This secret is moreso since nobody today knows the answer to reveal it, even by accident, meaning the original intent still holds true and nobody can ever break that trust by innocently writing the answer down in a book somewhere for future reference.
However, this is not actually the situation we are at today. Writing something down is not the same as telling someone by word of mouth, even if it has been encoded into a riddle-rhyme to preserve it’s secrets through the ages, this is a loophole and is also a security breach.
This family heirloom, ‘The root of the family’ is now therefore the responsibility of the current heir who would have received it into their care on the passing of the previous family eldest, from someone who knew as much and as little about it as she does herself. Using the knowledge that we have acquired elsewhere suggests that the previous holder would have been Lady Netalia Lackless but she has been completely disinherited and so the box would rightly stay safely within the family estates and has been bestowed upon the next in line instead, her younger sister, Meluan. Such passing of the box down the family tree has been the way of things for generations uncounted. We know nothing of any other family history (saving, perhaps, the enigmatic Aculeus Lackless of which we know not enough guesses about to include them in our current search.) But we do hear rumour and gossip of many family members who, perhaps not wanting to be tainted by the family shame or simply being unable to inherit for some unknown reason and they also decided to leave the family home and move to foreign climes, forsaking all sworn family duty, too. Since the true reasons behind such odd behaviour are unknown to Vintish gossip circles and historians both, the word ‘Scandal’ is often bandied about by the uninformed. The box has been in the secret care of the family right the way back to the day that it was closed. This would point to the date guessed at as being some 3000 years ago and since this box is as old as the family name itself their common age will mirror each other and so stretch right back to the year that I call 1AE. Putting our first pin in the ground marked Who as being great* granny Loeclos the 1st herself, The Lady Perial.
‘It is the very root of our family. I would sooner think of salting every acre of our lands.’
Our Where questionshould only really have one plausible answer. The root of the family tree is going to belong at the heart of the family estates… and none but family is ever supposed to know of it’s existence. Interestingly, this is still actually the case since Maer by marriage and Kvothe by blood are both, technically, family members. Once upon a time, this box was prepared for it’s task and laid out all open and empty and waiting before the original Lord and Lady Loeclos. Then ‘something’ was placed inside it and the box was closed, sealing it away for ever. This closing ceremony would have taken place in total secrecy, far from any prying eyes and safe as could be on the oldest part of the Lackless estates. It is a family secret meaning family only, No other witnesses would be allowed, not servants like Stapes, No soldiers like Dagon and most certainly no passing red haired lutists, either. No No No! But Vintish high society demands to know everyone’s proper place in the world, and historians are an inquisative bunch when it comes to diggingup the past and as far as the Loeclos name is concerned there are those who would, it is said, ‘cut off their right arms’ to learn exactly what juicy, scandelous secret they were being actively denied access to. Vintish nobility thrives upon such gossip, and rumours have a nasty habit of being investigated sooner or later, a lot like some journalism today operates. We hear an example of some of their investigative findings from the historian Caudicus who claims that…
‘From What I understand, the Lackless family has an heirloom. Well, not an heirloom exactly, but an ancient thing that dates back to the beginning of their time.’
However he isn’t talking about the secret box here, it would appear that he knows nothing about that ‘most secret of secrets.’ and so it would seem that all knowledge of the Loeclos box has successfully remained hidden from the outside world so far. However, there is another large piece of Lackless family history which cannot be so easily hidden from sight by dint of locking it up inside another chest as security from prying eyes and noses. Caudicus’ rumour was not about the Loeclos box but about a physical piece of their estate’s actual landscape itself. The Loeclos Door.
‘I’ve heard that on the oldest parts of the Lackless lands, in the oldest part of their ancestral estate, there is a secret door. A door without a handle or hinges… Nobody knows what’s on the other side.’
This gives us a second ‘root of the family’ and appears to be a solid enough fact for it to be acknowledged as the perfect setting for our ancient closing of the box ceremony, meaning that our second question Where can also be given a solid pin in the ground, right beside the door without a handle. The exact whereabouts of the Lackless estates are being dealt with elsewhere but to sumarise, the family still have control this ancient door on their much reduced lands in Northern Vint, placing it somewhere around where the Stormwal meets the Old Stone Road.
Less 3 Centuries
This puzzle is, as Maer calls it, ‘The mystery of an age’ and the general consensus from all those who have actually seen it is that the When questionsurrounding this box creation is suspected as being from around 3000 years ago. This period would equate to the earliest days of Temerant, and of Aleph’s new era of peace from demonkind. It would also be the foundation date of the new world and thus mark the roots of it’s oldest family, the Loeclos, whose ancient name connects both their door and their box both. Taking the creation date of door and box to be of the same generation makes them as old as each other and so this three centuries guess should, by rights, further balance up as also being the correct age of the four-plate door, far away at the other end of the Great Stone Road, since these two doors of stone are clearly a matching pair. The age indications we get from that door follow nicely along with our proposed When for the Loeclos heirlooms as clues like the worn stone stairs down to puppet’s lair in sub-three corroborate a time scale that is counted in centuries. We can also consider the long forgotten language of the door’s builders which has been written upon it, VALARITAS. This bears similarities in style to the words above their front door and appear to all be in the same forgotten language, most likely Temic, the language of Selitos and his Amyr and hence of the Ergen empire. Temic predates Tema, which only the old priests know, ‘by a thousand years’ which also fits well with the three thousand box years guess and is good enough a call for me to happily plant our final When Pin in the ground and allow us to complete our box triangle.
As has been mentioned before, modern languages had not yet been invented yet and so whilst the various translations of Lock/Less are going to equate the same across the board, such thinking reveals an anomaly. What it means is that the Lackless skipping song is also as incorrectly named as the box is, and it should really have begun with the line ‘Seven things has Lady Loeclos.‘
‘I had heard a little girl chant it as she played hop-skip. I’d only heard it twice, but it had stuck in my head. It was memorable, as most child rhymes are.’
This is the First Lackless rhyme we are talking about here, and the skipping girl in question was heard in the town of Fallows as they passed through. At this point in the narrative the troupe have moved away from Atur and are on course to lose Ben in a few more chapters at the town of Harrowfell which our maps show to be in the far western Commonwealth. This is a long way from the distant Lackless Estates in Northern Vintas making it’s presence among the Fallows kids is rather curious. It is hardly a song about the local landowners, oh no, this song has somehow crossed half the world to get to Fallows, and all of it by word of mouth, and word of kid’s mouth at that. That’s quite a journey for a child to make and an awful lot of skipping. Kvothe himself is doing his part in the spreading of this song in ever increasing circles, but it must be said that he is an exceptional case in that most ‘town’ kids would pass all their skipping days growing up in the same local vicinity, strange kids and new songs would be a pretty rare thing, not to mention the fact that an edema ruh kid running off with the town children was something frowned upon by both sets of parents. Only children invent children’sn songs,and they become part of the games that they play and like all sing along tunes it’s purity has been kept alive by the countless feet and chanting tongues of generations of little girls relentlessly skipping out the beat to the words their elder siblings taught them. Their games rules should demand that they must speak the correct skipping words in the same exact order as always. Given enough time and a catchy theme, any song can spread far and wide, some might eventually cross the world and the fact that this one has made it so far is testimony to it having passed the test of time.
The Lackless lands never extended quite as far as The Commonwealth, not even at the height of their power, however they are clearly rather a popular subject in the children’s songs stakes because we also hear a more localised versio, the second Lackless riddle-rhyme that has been composed. The subjectof this one is much easier to explain as it is recited for us in Vintas, just south of the Eld, and so much closer to the classical boundaries of the Lackless lands. The second Lackless rhyme is a local riddle about local people. The earlier heard skipping song is clearly not.
So I have the same three questions to ask about the song. When? Where? Who?
At first glance,you may assume it to be a homage to the current Lady of the house, Meluan Lackless… if it wasn’t for the fact that she doesn’t have a husband, marriage being still only a distant possibility when we hear this song, meaning that she cannot be the lady in question. She doesn’t even know what is inside her box herself. This is now forgotten lore, unknown to to all… except to the writer of the song who seems pretty sure that her husband’s rocks are hidden therein. This song is older than she is and so we must move further back in time for an answer, perhaps the previous heir to the title, the Lady Netalia might be the one, but no…she ran off with a trouper and was also never married in any official sense either, so not Laurian then, meaning Arliden’s rocks are safe, too. It could, of course, reference some obscure Lady lackless which we simply haven’t heard of yet, the family is old and has scattered itself to the four corners of civilisation, with each branch of the family tree changing it’s name along it’s passage into relative obscurity. Any of these people could have been our eponymous lady, except for the small problem that they don’t have the Lackless name any more, and nor do they have the box to fit with the rhyme. This family heirloom stays at home with the current incumbent of the title, which brings us back to square one. The fact is that this song was actually written about the original Lady Lackless, whom I have isolated elsewhere as being the Lady Perial Loeclos. This means that this skipping song is very,very old indeed.
This line of thought would put the age of the box and the song both as being from the same era when Lord Tehlu rid the land of demons. You might scoff at such a wild claim but ask yourself this. How else could the box contain her husbands 3000 year old rocks unless this is the age of the lady too. Furthermore, anyone who claims to know what the box contained must also have come from this time. They couldn’t know the correct answer to the secret unless they had witnessed it being shut in there for themselves? This puts the composing of any song about such secret things as being from the same days as when it was last known to be open for any to see this for themselves. Since the author of our skipping song claims to know of it’s rocky contents, and given that the husband in question was also the original Lord Loeclos’s this song was obviously written about his wife.
Where was this song written is now becoming nice and simple. To know the contents of the box, the composer must have been a witness on the day of the closing of the box. That ceremony was held at the heart of the Lackless lands in front of their secret door, of which the author also knew more information than would be expected to. We can be pretty much certain then that they must have been as a witness to these deeds of which they sing themselves.
So, Who actually wrote this song? Given that this was a secret family gathering, and essentially it was a most private affair between a Lord and his Lady, between a husband and wife, any further witnesses whilst always possible, are most unlikely since inviting guests to watch is not how you manage to keep something a secret for so long. We need these two dignitaries to be there more than anyone else and so the suspect list has really now come down to just two. They are the only two people to ever have known about their own secrets and so this song was almost certainly born from the word of mouth of either the rockless Lord Loeclos or the Lady Perial Lackless herself.