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(Note that due to the nature of this puzzle, it's inaccessible to folks who are using screen readers. Sorry about that!)


You're at a local fair with your friend Kayleigh in the good old US of A, and you see a sign over a small, shabby-looking tent.

"TREASURE HUNT!" it says, in big hand-painted letters. Half of them are cracked and peeling.

You think, "I love treasure hunts!" so you tell your friend you'll meet her by the cotton candy stall in half an hour, and head into the tent.

When you get inside, all you see is a handwritten, laminated card on a table next to an old open laptop (which is wisely locked in place).

Here is a copy of the card:

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ ROT13(V guvax gur vzntr vf n xrlobneq, orpnhfr gurer ner gur evtug nzbhag bs fdhnerf va rnpu ebj, ohg sbyybjvat gur ahzoref tvirf xlsrmwf, juvpu vf abafrafr). Can you give any pointers on the "Slash a slash" $\endgroup$ – Oliver Jul 23 at 9:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Oliver Take a closer look at the last line and the first step might become clearer... $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jul 23 at 9:57
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    $\begingroup$ FYI I'm on the 'Last one' but not yet turning up the right final answer - I'll only post if I can solve it fully... Work calls for now though! I'll be interested to see if anybody else gets the full solution in the meantime... $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jul 23 at 10:27
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    $\begingroup$ Got it! And... now I'm cursing your name...! :) 'Last one' indeed...! $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jul 24 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ Aha! Write-up incoming :) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jul 24 at 19:16
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Okay, let's take this step by step. Because what we have here is a type of treasure hunt (as per the title) more commonly known as:

an imgur maze - i.e. a treasure hunt built of a series of images stored on the file-sharing site imgur, where the answer to one is the URL for the next.

Step 1:

The diagram at the bottom of the puzzle depicts:

The letter keys of a computer keyboard (standard QWERTY layout - 10 on the top row, then 9, then 7). If we take the letters indicated by the numbers and in numerical order, using the larger, 'bolder' numbers as indicating upper-case letters and the others lower-case, we get the letter sequence KYFezJS.

How do we know what to do with this? Note that:

the last line of the note mentions 'image' and 'err', which can be associated with 'imgur', the file-sharing site. Also, 'slash a slash' is not nonsensical - it's a vital part of the web address, as we will next need to insert '/a/' before the 7-character code to let us navigate to https://imgur.com/a/KYFezJS/.

Step 2:

What do we find here? Another treasure hunt puzzle!

enter image description here

So let's solve it...

- The egg of a Canadian bird = '0' (My logic was that Canada geese lay pretty large ovoid eggs, so '0' most closely resembles their shape - however, the OP's intention was that 'goose egg' is a slang term for zero);
- Really loud comic snore = 'Z' (Z's are commonly used in cartoons to indicate snoring, a loud one would be capitalised);
- A tiny kiss = 'x' (As on a text or birthday card - lower case, since 'tiny');
- The little part of copper = 'u' (The Periodic Table symbol for copper is 'Cu');
- Another egg! = '0' again;
- As I was rhyming to St. Ive, I met a number = '5' (It rhymes);
- Bigger than a teaspoon = 'T' (Represents a tablespoon).

This means that our next clue will be found by putting these all together in order and navigating to https://imgur.com/a/0Zxu05T/...

Step 3:

Another clue!

enter image description here

How to solve this one? Note that there are four references here to:

Morse code ('morose', 'codes', 'dash' and 'dot'). After much overthinking I finally found a way for the 7 words to be translated into useful Morse code, whilst also extracting a single letter or number from each for the next imgur link string. The trick here is to interpret consonants as dots and vowels as dashes. This yields the following set of Morse code:
.--- / ... / -.-. / --.. / .--. / .- / --.

Also noticing that the words appear on two tiers, this means we should interpret those which are higher as upper-case, and the lower ones as lower-case. This yields:
j / s / c / Z / p / a / G

So let's go next to https://imgur.com/a/jscZpaG/ where hopefully we will receive the final answer (since this was billed as the 'Last one!')...

Step 4:

Gargh! The OP has been fiendish and planted one further clue for us to solve! This is what we have before us:

enter image description here

So what do we do with this now? How do we find the ultimate answer to this treasure hunt - what was it all for?

Notice that we have many sets of triplets, the first digit of which is always 10 or fewer. Notice further that if we are supposed to consider "the very first place I "talked" to you", this would be the original hand-written note on the main puzzle page - the note left by someone at the fair. Notice next that this note has 10 lines - it is not unreasonable to deduce that the letters of the final message have been encoded using line-word-letter triplets...

For example, the first letter of the final message is represented by (2,5,1), and if we look at line-2, word-5, letter-1, this represents 't', the first letter of 'to'. Repeating this process for each block of triplets reveals that each block represents a word in its own right:

to / this / Welcome
free / you'll / advance'r
the / A / maiden
treasure / Welcome / To / need / might
to / this / Welcome
Welcome / laptop / only

In other words, the answer to this treasure hunt - the whole point in it - is:

THE FUN HAD ALONG THE WAY!

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  • $\begingroup$ What a lovely writeup! All exactly right (though I guess you have to be exactly right to get further into this puzzle). You even caught all of my hints! Two notes: rot13(V qvqa'g xabj guvf jnf pnyyrq na vzthe znmr, fb gunax lbh! Naq nyfb, V pyhrq Pnanqn orpnhfr "tbbfr rtt" vf fynat sbe mreb. Lbhe jnl jbexf gbb.) $\endgroup$ – kristinalustig Jul 24 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ @kristinalustig Aha, that's new slang to me! Yes, we have a tag on this for this type of puzzle (which obviously you wouldn't want to use if keeping this puzzle enigmatic...) - there are 25 questions currently tagged that way. This is actually the first one I've solved by myself though - we don't get so many of them these days but a look at the back-catalogue shows these were quite popular a few years back :) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jul 24 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ Well then, I'm continuing on a proud tradition. Thank you for doing my puzzle, I had a lot of fun making it! $\endgroup$ – kristinalustig Jul 24 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ wait, those are valid urls?? :0000 my paradigm about five-letter imgur url's has been greatly shattered. @kristinalustig nice puzzle, though :D $\endgroup$ – oAlt Jul 24 at 23:49
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    $\begingroup$ Nice solve, Stiv!, and excellent puzzle @kristinalustig! I couldn't move past 7 for St. Ive :-( $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Dover Jul 25 at 12:39

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