# The man with the strange voice

The man with the strange voice established how it was supposed to be done. Many have tried, but only very few are worthy the gift of gold. For sure, a very famous painter was among them as well as the man selling salt. Then there was the man brave enough to provide services by the campfire. They can all be found in the ciphertext below.

Can you fill in the question mark to complete the list?

KHMBEF EBMHKF KHXMF HKFBE KHMBEF KEGBFBE KHFM MFKEB HMGD
MHKFBX GD MHKFBX HMFKH HKF HMFKH
HKFBE HMFKH KHFM MHEXEK GD KHMBEF EBMHKF
MHEBFK KEGBFBE HKF GD KHFM EBMHKF KHMBEF HMFKH
HDM KEGBFBE HKF EBMHKF MHKFBX KHMBEF HMFKH
?


(Moving around a bit will surely help)

Hint 1:

The man with the strange voice was of Greek origin

Hint 2:

The 'gift of gold' reference has a double meaning, one of which refers to sports

Hint 3:

Ok let's quit horsing around, this puzzle refers to one specific sport

Hint 4:

The 'bit' reference is also a hint, though not in a digital sense

Hint 5:

You may have to use your horse sense for this puzzle

Hint 6:

All letters used in the ciphertext have a fixed position in the arena

• It case it helps anybody else to get started, the 'man with the strange voice' is likely rot13(Krabcuba, juvpu yvgrenyyl zrnaf 'fgenatr ibvpr' be 'sbervta ibvpr') - I am yet to work out what to do with this information myself but thought I'd put it out there in case it aids the solve...
– Stiv
Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 10:04

First, the ciphertext:

There are only nine distinct letters here, and fifteen distinct "words", with a lot of similarity/repeating patterns.
So it looks like each "word" actually represents a single letter, with each line giving a single word.

A bunch of experimenting (starting with assumptions like GD could be I and HKF could be L) found the following grid of letters:

 H G M
E X B
K D F 

Then we can draw each "word" to turn it into a letter:

 KHMBEF   R
EBMHKF   e
KHXMF    M
HKFBE    b
KEGBFBE  A
KHFM     N
MFKEB    d
HMGD     T
MHKFBX   G
GD       I
HMFKH    O
HKL      L
MHEXEK   F
MHEBFK   S
HDM      V 

And using those letters, we can translate the ciphertext to give the following list:
Rembrandt
Gigolo
Bonfire
Salinero
Valegro

Now to deal with the clues.

A bit of Googling reveals that these are all dressage horses.
The man with the strange voice is Xenophon (can be interpreted strange+sound), whose writings on horsmanship are considered part of the roots of modern dressage.
These horses, in the order given have won the Olympic Gold Medal for individual dressage from 1988 to 2016.
Rembrandt is a famous Dutch painter.
Sal is Latin for salt, and the root of words like saline (contained in Salinero).
A gigolo is man paid to be an escort or lover (provide services).
And a bonfire is a type of fire.

And what do we need to complete the list?

The most recent Olympic Gold winner was Dalera in the Tokyo games.
And that encodes as:
MFKEB KEGBFBE HKL EBMHKF KHMBEF KEGBFBE

• Oh, of course! To explain the letter grid you deduced, you should see here - all then makes sense! Well done for doing it the hard way :)
– Stiv
Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 12:41
• Well done! Like @Stiv said: you figured it out the hard way! Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 11:19
• Additional references: rot13(Fnyvareb jbhyq or n crefba fryyvat fnyg, Inyrteb zrnaf 'tvsg bs tbyq' naq Qnyren pna or vagrecergrq nf 'oenir'. V nqqrq gur 'ovg' ersrerapr gb fgrre lbh va gur evtug qverpgvba, whfg yvxr gur ubefr'f zbhgucvrpr jbhyq :)) Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 11:26