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The answer to this puzzle consists of two 8-letter words which should explain what is going on with the title of this puzzle.

fwf11


More fun with flags

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    $\begingroup$ I THOUGHT this was gonna be fine... until I saw Imperator Julius V went to Brazil. #empireofbrazil #huehuehuehue $\endgroup$ Sep 3 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ Rot13(Gur bssvpvny Oenmvyvna synt unf 27 fgnef bs 5 qvssrerag fvmrf. Lbhe synt unf 18 fgnef bs 3 qvssrerag fvmrf, naq gurve cbfvgvbaf qrivngrf fvtavsvpnagyl sebz gur bssvpvny bar. V thrff gung guvf vf bar bs gur znal fhogyr sbezf gung lbh hfrq gb uvqr fbzr vasbezngvba ba gurz.) $\endgroup$ Sep 4 at 1:22
  • $\begingroup$ @VictorStafusa You are correct $\endgroup$ Sep 4 at 11:13

1 Answer 1

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The two eight-letters words are:

MISSPELL FLEXIBLE, which the title does.

The obvious:

The eight national flags here have been subtly modified to encode something. Some encodings are more obvious than others. Let's start with:

The Seychelles

The top left flag is the actual flag of the Seychelles. The other flags are permutations of the five colours. If we take the nth permutation in "lexicographic order" as the nth letter of the alphabet, we get ASCII Z.

(Lexico-what? Okay, assign a number to each colour, so that the original blue, yellow, red, white and green corresponds to 12345. Now you can produce all 5! = 120 permutations in order, so that the mth pemutation is larger than the nth if m is larger than n. The original flag is A. To get B, swap white and green to get 12354. The 2345 can be permuted in 4! = 24 different ways, which goes up to X. For Y and Z, the blue part must be swapped, too. The Z in the answer is 21354.)

United States

These stars sure look strange. The six rows of seven stars each are binary numbers, where outlined stars are 0, filled stars are 1. The resulting numbers are ASCII codes of Yin Yang Alphalines a. (Spaces added for your reading convenience.)

That clearly means that we're headed to ...

South Korea

I didn't know what to do here for quite some time until I found out that Yin Yang Alphalines is the name of a font that tries to emulate the trigraphs in the Korean flag.

Decoding the flags, I get Antiker Code G. That sounds like another fancy font. And we see a pattern emerging: Each hint has an extra letter. We have eight different flags and we are looking for two eight-letter words ...

Iran

The repeated writings of Allahu Akbar between the stripes of the flag are interrupted by writing in Antiker Code, an alphabet apparently popular with geocachers. The writing reads: Slash and Pipe Code W.

Eswatini

The bar motif in the shield has been changed to a slash-and-pipe code, which reads Futurama Alienese Z. On to ...

Mongolia

The golden symbols between the bars are symbols of the Futurama Alien alphabet. They spell Braille D.

Brazil:

Stars of equal size can be grouped to form Braille patterns, which read Morse S – the gestalt principles of similarity and of proximity at work, I guess. We're getting close, on to ...

Belize

The leaves of the somewhat naked wreath have two sizes, which can be interpreted as the dots and dashes of Morse code, which gives us Reorder G.

The final answer:

The extra letters of all countries spell ZAGWZDSG. There are two pieces of information we haven't used: The "Imperator Iulius V" and "XII" on the flags of Brazil and Belize and the instruction to "reorder".

"Imperator Iulius" refers to Caesar code, of course. Applying a Caesar shift of 12 yields LMSILPES, which can be reordered to MISSPELL. A Caesar shift of 5 yields EFLBEIXL, an anagram of FLEXIBLE.

Whew!

Credit where it's due:

Stiv found what to do in Brazil and Belize and the first word; Braegh found the second word and the connection to the title.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm a bit stuck right now and also exhausted from my vexillological exploits and need to go to bed. Perhaps more tomorrow. If someone else wants to wrap this up: Go ahead, don't be shy. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Sep 5 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ More progress for you - rot13(Vg'f Oenmvy lbh jnag sbe Oenvyyr - tebhc ol fgne fvmr, yrsg gb evtug fcryyf ZBEFR F. Gura Oryvmr hfrf Zbefr pbqr jvgu gur gjb fvmrf bs yrns orvat qbgf naq qnfurf; ernqvat pybpxjvfr ernqf ERBEQRE T. Vs lbh nccyl gur Pnrfne-12 fuvsg gb nyy yrggref, gur yrggref pna or nantenzzrq gb ZVFFCRYY. Guvf znl or pbvapvqrapr, nf gurer'f nyfb n Pnrfne 5 vaqvpngrq va Oenmvy.) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Sep 5 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ rot13(ymj xfrj qjyyjwx WTY5 yt fs fsflwfr tk "kqjcngqj" ytt, fsi ns ymj ynyqj, "kqjcfgqj" nx f rnxxujqqnsl tk ny.) $\endgroup$
    – Braegh
    Sep 5 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ And thanks to you, too, @Braegh. Your comment is a bit self-describing in that it doesn't use rot13 as advertised ... :) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Sep 6 at 8:56
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. Nice visual puzzle with a cool mechanic. rot13(Nun, qvqa'g frr gung. V gubhtug V zvffrq n uvag nobhg gur ragel cbvag, ohg gur pbqrf ner n evat jurer lbh unir gb thrff bar gb trg n sbbg va gur qbbe. Naq V qvq gung: V fnj HFN vzzrqvngryl, ohg pbhyqa'g haqrefgnaq vg. V nyfb sbhaq gur Shghenzn guvat jvgu na vzntr frnepu naq thrffrq gur Zbefr pbqr, ohg nccneragyl ohatyrq vg.) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Sep 6 at 9:49

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