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Solutions for Act III Scene 4 - xxXword

This puzzle begins as a crossword, with a grid and cryptic clues provided. Answers and explanations to the clues are shown below.

ACROSS

RAGS

Shredded clothing = alternate letters of (alternative) aRrAnGeS

TASER

Weapon = STARE anagrammed

ANGST

Anxious feeling = hANG without first letter (ignoring leader) ST (saint)

TINGS

Ringing sounds = THINGS (objects) - H (heartlessly)

ARS

Roman art = SARS (HK, say) with first letter moved to the end (demoted leader)

LEERING

Eyeing = LEE-RING (sheltered position-group)

LSA

Health food = ELSA (Frozen princess) without first letter (ignores leader)

LEG

Something you might shake = GEL (non-Newtonian fluid) reversed (revolutionsry)

SIR

A title = middle letters of (essentially) deSIRed

TIERING

Arranging in rows = TIE (draw) RING (circle)

STAR

Nuclear reactor = SITAR (instrument) - I (iodine)

AIRS

Haughty manner = HEIRS (successors) homophone

GENERALIST

BSc/BA student maybe = GENE (Wilder) bRAt without outside letters (uncovered) LIST (tip)

GT

High-performance car = odd letters (odd) of GoT

GLEAN

Extract = hidden in (from) sinGLE ANimal

GELATIN

Extract = EG reversed LATIN

ANGEL

Sweetie = first letters of (initially) A Noble Gas Expands Little

RAI

Music style = middle letters of (essentially) tRAIt

TEAL

Duck = TEAR (dart, as in to rush about) swapping R for L (switch sides)

TSARINA

Ruler = ARTISAN anagrammed

ALES

Say, old, mild and pale (types of ales) = AILS (causes pain) homophone

SAT

Held a meeting = after Friday -- double definition

SIGNALS

A way to communicate = SLANG (jargon) IS reversed

RANGES

Belts (as in: mountain belts) = close to (last letter of) worN in RAGES (frenzies)

RAT

Meat source = TAR (salt) reversed (tipped)

LIT

Burning = dope (as in: it's awesome/dope/lit) -- double definition

AGE

Date = odd letters (odds) of ArGuEs

STRING

Rope = ST (street) RING (gang)

ETA

Greek character = A after ET ("and" in Latin)

SEAL

Marine animal = SEA (marine) last letter of (ultimately) animaL -- &lit

TEAS

Perhaps black and white (types of teas) = outside letters of (extremely) TerriblE AssessmentS

ALIT

Illuminated = a drunk -- double definition

SEA

Drink (slang for sea) = hidden (ingredient) in roSE Acacia

AINT

's not = A IN (fashionable) last letter (last) of resorT

TANGS

Kicks = TANG (dynasty) last letter (last) of serieS

AG

Silver = A last letter of (last bit of) sterlinG

TEN

x = T EN (en-dash)

LEAN

List = LE (French article) AN (English article)

TIN

Can = 1st, 2nd, 3rd (progressive) letters of The rIght wiNg

ELI

Priest = KELI (Discworld princess) without first letter (beheaded)

GIRT

Surrounded = TRIG reversed

TINEA

Infection = TINA (Turner) around E (drug, E, ecstasy)

RILES

Bugs = FRIENDLESS - FENDS

GRIST

Fodder for grinding = GIST (crux) around R (right)

NEAT

Way to have Whiskey = AND AMARETTO anagrammed (cocktail) without (not) MATADOR

STRIAE

Streaks = SaTuRn ImAgEs (unevenly = remove even letters)

GST

10% in Australia = GROSSEST - ROSES

EARL

Peer = EAR (listening device) L (left)

GENRE

Style = GREEN anagrammed (style)

GIRN

Pull a face = GIN (spirit) around R (right)

TILES

Slabs = STILE (steps) with S moved to the end (move top to base)

RIG

Fix (as in: rig an election) = machinery -- double definition

TEASING

Separating = hidden (from) in associaTE AS IN Gossip

REGAIN

Take back = EG (say) in RAIN (downpour)

STILT

Long post = detailS (last = last letter) TILT (attack)

SANG

What carollers did = SANGA (sandwich in Aussie slang) without last letter (cut)

DOWN

ETS

Carbon pricing = ETSY (crafty community) without last letter (lost backing)

TARNS

Waters = TEAR - E (Echo leaves) NarcissuS

GLINT

Trace = G (good) LINT (piece attached to clothing)

SIGN

Clue = SINE homophone

RELIT

On again = TILER (a Mason) reversed

SIRE

Father = ERIS (goddess of discord) reversed

GEAR

Drug = kit -- double definition

TA

Thanks = middle letters (heart) of inTAct

SERIAL

Kind of killer = SE (south-eastern) RIAL (Persian dough, money)

RENTAL

Hire = odd letters (odd) of NuTs in REAL (genuine)

GATES

Bill, maybe = GATEAU (cake) - AU (gold) last letter (last) of customerS

INTELLIGENT

Particularly quick = IN (during) TELL (giveaway, as in poker) I (one) GENT (guy)

SI

System including second mole (as in, second and mole are units in SI) = IS reversed (backward)

RING

Call = RIN (Rowan's home) last letter of (finally) connectinG

RETINA

Eyepiece = RETSINA (Greek wine) - S (pointless)

LINGERS

Delays = LING-ERS (fish-ers)

ERA

Time = HERA (goddess) without first letter (lost face)

SILTIER

Has more particles sized 2.63 microns = odd letters (odd) of StIlL TIER (layer)

GNARL

Knot = outside letters (limits) of GuN RecoiL around A

GIRLS

Gillian, Isabella, Rebecca, Lilith, Siobhan, for starters (list of girls) = first letters of (for starters) Gillian, Isabella, Rebecca, Lilith, Siobhan -- &lit

LARGE

A criminal might be at this = REGAL anagrammed

AREA

Space = AIRIER homophone

GETS

Obtains = hidden (content) in STEGanography reversed

ANT

Worker = A NET - E (drug-free = remove E, ecstasy)

EA

Spore producers (EA Games) = middle letters (essence) of revEAled

TRIES

Cracks = programmer's structures -- double definition

RATES

Prices = TEARS anagrammed

INSTANT

Moment = IN-STANT (TAN is in "STANT") -- cryptic definition

SET

Scheduled = TEST (exam) without last letter (short) reversed (twisted)

TARGET

Mark (as in: grifter's mark) = TAR (soil) LAND (get, as in: land a job)

ARE

100 m^2 = A RE (about)

TALLER

More fanciful = hidden "in sTALLER" -- cryptic definition

ALTARS

Sacrifice structures = ALTERS homophone

ITALIAN

Roman language = NAIL A ThaI reversed

IRE

Anger = IE (that is) around R (right)

GLARES

Dirties (as in: throw someone dirties) = GirL ARES (god)

TAG

Follow = TAG (day in German)

NES

Console = NeEdS (odd letters)

TAN

Brown = CAN switching first letter (leader) to T (model)

IN

At home = IsolatioN with middle letters removed (after vacation)

ISNT

Wasn't present (present tense form of wasn't) = IT around SN (points)

LAR

Ape = aLARm with outside letters removed (naked)

TIGERS

Kitties = TIERS (rows) around G (grand)

GLEN

Valley = gooGLE Navigation

REIN

Restraint = REIGN homophone

TRINE

Group of three = TRAINED - AD (now)

TALE

Story = TAIL homophone

ERGS

Work units (as in: units of work in CGS) = outside letters (outsiders) of EngineeR GreetS

ET AL

And others = E-TALE (online story) without last letter (short)

SEAR

Toast = SEER homophone

GILT

Golden = GI (soldier) LT (lieutenant)

SLAT

Narrow strip = SLATE (stone) without last letter (cut)

SIN

Perhaps greed = 'S IN (fashionable)

This gives the completed crossword that is shown below.

Final Solution

Now, the constraint on the wordlist (i.e. words using only nine letters) would have become noticeable during the completion of the grid. Also, in contrast to traditional crosswords, the block squares are grey, rather than black and the borders are arranged to delineate nine 9x9 smaller grids. This would perhaps suggest that the next step should be to solve some Sudokus. The completed puzzle is shown below.

Final Solution

Now, the puzzle is named xxXword, which may suggest that there are two puzzles x'ed with a xword. So, the last step is to realise that there are nine squares which are in a different shade of grey and that a puzzle that typically uses nine letters is a Target. The last step is therefore simply anagramming the letters "ASLEGENTN" to get ENTANGLES - what the setter might have to do to get a kink-y "xxX"word.

The answer is: entangles