# Inscription

### by Asher Walkover

This puzzle asks us to just solve one cryptic clue… except that all its most important words have been replaced by more cryptic clues, which in turn have had some of their words replaced by even more cryptic clues, and on and on.

Fortunately there are only 35 cryptic clues total in use here. A possible starting point is realizing the parentheses at the ends of all the clues are holding enumerations, and therefore that words 8, 9, 18, 24, 25 and 30 are all numbers. In particular, since the enumeration of word 9 is given by clue 9, that can only be the number FOUR.

From there we might be able to figure out the other number words (eg, words 8 and 18 both have enumerations of four, and so have to be FIVE and NINE). Or we might guess that word 19 which shows up in most of the number words’ clues is in fact NUMBER. Or we might recognize the homophone wordplay of “for, so I 10” in the clue for FOUR, and guess that word 10 as a four-letter homophone indicator is HEAR.

The provided id numbers give an alphabetical ordering of all the missing clue words, to help confirm our work as we go. Through a process of both forward- and back-solving the cryptic clues, we’ll reassemble enough of the original clue to obtain the final answer: MARBLE.

Assembled Clue
Explanation
MARBLESomething found in nature museum FIRST, MARCH SECOND to LAST of YEAR, MIDDLE of DUBLIN, BACK of SQUARE Museum + mArch + yeaR + duBLin + squarE
1AREAODDLY a TREE was potentially a SQUARE MILE (FOUR)A tReE wAs
2BACKSECOND LAST place (FOUR)double definition
3CITYSudden move BACK to my LAST urban AREA (FOUR)TIC reversed + mY
4DECIDEAfter LAST MONTH I'd be BACK to have the LAST word (SIX)DEC + ID + bE
5DUBLINFriend is BACK and well at LAST in CITY (SIX)BUD reversed + welL + IN
6EVENFIRST lady puts on new UNIFORM (FOUR)EVE + N
7FIRSTFar from the LAST TREE on the STREET (FIVE)FIR + ST
8FIVEIf the FIRST is lost, then I've become NUMBER (FOUR)iF + IVE
9FOURWhat the NUMBER after THREE is for, so I HEAR (FOUR)FOR homophone
10HEARDECIDE a case in the AREA (FOUR)tHE ARea
12LEADSThose in FIRST form an English CITY, or so I HEAR (FIVE)LEEDS homophone
13LONGPINE for fallen TREE around MIDDLE of MONTH (FOUR)LOG around moNth
14MARCHWalk for MONTH NUMBER THREE (FIVE)double definition
15MIDDLEDue FIRST, twice in a MILE between FIRST and LAST (SIX)MILE around Due twice
16MILEA LONG way for SECOND of imported PINE, elm, yew (FOUR)iMported + pIne + eLm + yEw
17MONTHMay perhaps be UNIFORM on the inside (FIVE)uniforM ON THe
18NINENUMBER SEVEN - I need some (FOUR)seveN I NEed
19NUMBERIt might be EVEN less SENSITIVE (SIX)double definition
20ODDLYIn a STRANGE way, like THREE, FIVE and SEVEN (FIVE)double definition
21PINEVariety of TREE is SOFT in the end (FOUR)P + IN + thE
22SECONDAfter the FIRST base UNIT (SIX)double definition
23SENSITIVESEVEN: It is STRANGE and SOFT (NINE)SEVEN IT IS anagram
24SEVENSECOND EVEN NUMBER (FIVE)S + EVEN
25SIXFIRST of SEVEN, NINE, FOUR, and two (THREE)Seven + IX
26SOFTThe g in STRANGE is so - FIRST, but with no MIDDLE (FOUR)SO + FirsT
27SQUAREEVEN - like FOUR (SIX)double definition
28STRANGESTREET AREA is not what you might expect (SEVEN)ST + RANGE
29STREETUse THREE seats EVEN? There's a way (SIX)uSe ThReE sEaTs
30THREESTRANGE, there is a NUMBER (FIVE)THERE anagram
31TREEIt can help you DECIDE something in the MIDDLE of STREET (SIX)sTREEt
32UNIFORMUNIT stops short to make things EVEN (SEVEN)UNIt + FORM
33UNITOne MILE, for example (FOUR)double definition
34YEARA LONG time to PINE, and with no closure (FOUR)YEARn