Ross: Here you are. I finally tracked you down.
Ewan: Hi. Um. Who are you?
Ross: I’m Ross. You?
Ewan: I’m Ewan.
Ross: Hey, Ewan. Nice to meet you. I’ve been looking for someone around my age. Let’s hang out sometime, OK?
Ewan: Sure, but do we have to wait until “sometime”? How about now?
Ross: What are you saying? We’re in the middle of a battle!
Ewan: The others are fighting well, so the two of us won’t make much difference. Besides, even though I just started using magic the other day, I’m pretty good. If something does happen, we’ll be OK.
Ross: Well, I’m pretty confident in my skills, too. But, you know–how to put this delicately– it’s the matter of morale.
Ewan: You certainly are dedicated. That’s a surprise.
Ewan: Why don’t you prove your dedication by answering this brainteaser?
Ross: Like a riddle? Sounds fun!
Ewan: Yes. It’ll be really fun to watch you struggling to come up with an answer. Ha!
Ross: Hey! What’s that supposed to mean? Well, whatever. Let’s do it.
Ewan: OK, here it is. Ross, do you know what a balance is?
Ross: Of course I do! Who doesn’t? It’s a type of scale with small plates on both sides to put weights. When both sides are the same weight, it balances. So that was the riddle? Easy!
Ewan: Ha ha ha! You’re too funny! No, that was just the setup for the brainteaser. Here’s the real question. Assume there are 25 pebbles.
Ewan: Yes, they’re really small. As small as peas. They are all the same color and shape. In this group, there’s one pebble that’s lighter than all the other pebbles.
Ross: And I must tell you the way to find that pebble?
Ewan: Of course not. What kind of challenge is that? The question is, how many times do you need to use the balance to find that one rock?
Ross: How many times? Uh… It’s not…24, is it?
Ewan: What?! Oh! Ha ha ha ha ha! That’s the first time I’ve heard that one! I see. So you were thinking that you’d measure the pebbles one by one! That’s great, Ross! You’re too funny!
Ross: That’s not a compliment, is it. You think I’m an idiot!
Ewan: That’s not true. Actually, it is. Ha ha ha! And did I mention how perceptive you are, too?
Ross: Oh, you! Just you wait! I’ll figure it out! I just need some time to think about it.
Ewan: The anticipation is killing me.
Ross: Hey, you!
Ewan: Oh, hi, Ross.
Ross: I have an answer for your brainteaser!
Ewan: You got it, huh? That’s amazing!
Ross: Y-yeah. The answer is…
Ewan: Yes, yes?
Ross: Four times!
Ewan: You must have worked really hard to figure that out!
Ross: See! See! I told you I’d get it! Fighting’s not the only thing I’m good at.
Ewan: However, that’s not the correct answer.
Ross: What do you mean? I can’t believe it! Ugh! If that’s not the right answer, then what is?
Ewan: You were close. The right answer is three times.
Ross: Only three times? How? Tell me!
Ewan: The key is how many pebbles you put on the scales at first. First, put eight rocks each on either side of the scale. The side with the lighter rock will be higher than the other, right? Or, if the sides are balanced, it means that the lighter rock is in the rest of the pile. So that was one turn on the balance. The rest is pretty easy to figure out. Let’s assume that the lighter rock was in the remaining pile of nine rocks… Then you’d put three rocks on each side of the scale. So that’s the second turn. If either side of the scale tips, then the rock is in one of those two piles. If the scale is balanced, then the rock is one of the remaining three rocks. So, now you’ve figured out which group of three pebbles has the lighter one. What you do now is put one rock from this pile on each side of the scale. Like before, if the scale tips to one side, the lighter pebble is on the scale. If the scale is balanced, then the remaining pebble is the lighter one. And that was the last turn on the scale. Did you get all that?
Ross: Huh? Well, I think I got it…
Ewan: What?! I just explained it all very clearly. You still don’t get it? That’s really…
Ross: Really what?!
Ewan: Um, nothing. Forget it. A ha ha ha ha!
Ross: “A ha ha ha” what? What do you mean “forget it”?
Ewan: Anyway, it’s been fun hanging out. Let’s get together again sometime, OK?
Ross: It wasn’t fun for me at all! Hey!
Ewan: Hi, Ross.
Ross: Oh, it’s you again.
Ewan: That brainteaser was fun, huh? Did you get it yet?
Ross: I already told you I didn’t have any fun! If that’s what you consider fun, you must have had a pretty bad childhood!
Ewan: Well, I was an orphan.
Ewan: My sister and I were abandoned when I was really young, before I could even talk. She became a dancer and raised me all on her own. I’m really grateful for her.
Ross: You were an orphan? I-I’m sorry. I had no idea.
Ewan: How could you know? Don’t worry about it. I don’t even remember being abandoned. And because of that, I got a chance to travel around, and meet lots of people. Like you. So, I’m not sad at all.
Ross: I see… Hey, I just had a great idea. Let’s be brothers?
Ewan: Huh?! Like blood brothers? I’m really not into slicing myself up for people I just met.
Ross: No, no, no. Just, you know, brothers! Now call me “Bro,” Bro!
Ewan: Um… OK…Bro.
Ross: Say it like you mean it! Oh, never mind. It’ll just sound forced.
Ewan: I told you so.
Ross: Well, just call me Ross for now. But, you can consider me a brother from now on.
Ewan: What do you mean by that?
Ross: I mean that I will be a friend who you can rely on and trust completely.
Ewan: That’s very kind, considering I really haven’t known you for very long. But thank you. You’re a nice guy, even if you’re not very sharp.
Ross: Hey! No need to insult me! A simple “Thanks, Bro” will be enough!
Ewan: Ha ha ha ha ha. You’re so funny! By the way, do you have a girlfriend?
Ross: W-what! Of course not! Did you forget? We’re in the middle of a war right now! I have to focus on that!
Ewan: Huh. A ha ha ha ha!
Ross: What’s that for? How about you? Do you have one?
Ewan: I have a lot of them!
Ross: What?! A lot of them! Oh well. We’re still pretty young. Better to not get tied down.
Ewan: Good luck, Ross!
Ross: Don’t talk like it’s not your problem, too!
Ewan: Hey, Ross. I think we’re going to be friends for a long time. In fact, I know it.
Ross: OK. Boy, you’re such a laid-back guy…