This puzzle is part of the Monthly Topic Challenge #5: On-and-onograms

"We've intercepted another message, Chief."

"Good work, Sequence. What does it say? Where is Terne now?"

The criminal mastermind, Patrick Terne was - once again - on the loose (whoops...), and everybody at Headquarters was hard at work trying to pinpoint his current location. The printout that Sergeant Sequence placed on the Chief Investigator's desk contained an image that had been transmitted insecurely by a member of the Irish Mob, known to have been in Terne's company very recently: Non O'Graham.

Sequence gestured to a few people lurking in the doorway, who then entered the office. "I enlisted some help from our intelligence analysts - have you met Ingrid Deduction, Harry Thmetic, and our Kiwi colleague, Jack Sore?" The trio of analysts nodded a greeting politely, but the Chief had eyes only for Sequence.

"Well?! Where is he, then??" he exclaimed, casting an anxious eye over the printout...

Puzzle image containing two grids, one of which is a nonogram
Colour-blind-friendly colour guide available here. R = Red, O = Orange, Y = Yellow, Gn = Green, B = Blue, Gy = Grey.

Ingrid spoke up. "Well, Chief... Harry and I tackled the nonogram grid and its 'key' on the left, before Jack helped us make sense of our findings." She passed the Chief a second image. "Now, you can see-"

"I don't need to be told any more - it's obvious which country he's in, isn't it! Quick, scramble a team for-"

"Chief," interjected Sequence, "I really wouldn't do that - we're not finished explaining yet. What you see in front of you is not where Terne is hiding - it's a diversion, to lead us almost as far away as possible! You see, there's still an additional step to be taken - and this is where my contribution comes in..."

The Chief's eyes glazed over a little as Sequence went into detail, and he only caught snatches of the explanation: "...they represent the eight most... in order... a common method of... succulent pork belly with crackling..."

At this, the Chief sat up with a jolt. "Pork belly?! What on earth are you on about, Sequence?!"

"Just checking you were definitely listening, Chief," smiled Sequence. "And I suppose I've now got dinner time on the brain - starting to feel a little peckish, you might say..."

TASK: Solve the nonogram and reproduce the work of the analysis team to produce an image that will help Sergeant Sequence extract the name of the 8-letter city where Terne is hiding.

The nonogram can be solved without guessing. Note that cells filled with different colours do not necessarily need to have a gap between them.

A csv version of the nonogram (for copy-paste purposes) is provided below. Remember to transfer the colours across also!


Other relevant tags include , , , , , and

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ That's right, it's a character-crossover edition! Sticklers for the MTC rules, please note that I originally had the 'key' overlaid on the nonogram but decided to separate the two at the last moment purely for ease of solving. I believe the puzzle can still justify that it meets the MTC requirement that "the full puzzle is entirely self-contained within the nonogram and flavour text" without causing too much of a ruckus :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 1:02
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ upvoting purely for "non o'graham" $\endgroup$
    – juicifer
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ Should have called him Naughn, though. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 5, 2022 at 14:18

2 Answers 2


Terne is in

Debrecen, Hungary

Solving the nonogram yields

some kind of convoluted Rorschach test:
completed nonogram

This is where the key comes in:

There are five yellow dots above the square and six blue dots below it. Counting the green 1 as both colors and decoding with A1Z26 we get:

in yellow: A, C, G, I, M
in blue: A, E, Q, R, S, U

so it's clearly a


Doing some quick maths, we get

this solution:
5x5 magic square

Now, if we

assign each number in the magic square to a 7x7 region of pixels in the nonogram and rearrange them in order, we get something much more recognizable:

The eight colored squares now clearly represent

the eight most populous cities in Australia: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Newcastle, and Canberra.

The colors tell us to

index into each city's name by the index of each color using ROYGBIV:

syDney (yellow)
mElbourne (orange)
Brisbane (red)
peRth (yellow)
adElaide (yellow)
gold Coast (blue)
nEwcastle (orange)
caNberra (yellow)

That gives his location as

DEBRECEN, which is indeed about as far away from Australia as one can get!

Also (hat tip to @oAlt in comments):

Sequence mentions that he's feeling "peckish" - or in other words, Hung(a)ry!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ this was a really satisfying path to the solution! I definitely spent too long staring at the initial solution trying to coalesce it to something I knew before even looking at the key. the one quabble I have is that the answer is a bit obscure - I had never heard of it and I almost dismissed that line of reasoning before I googled it and found that it was indeed a real place haha $\endgroup$
    – juicifer
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 3:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Nice job, just beat me to the solution! I also rot13(qvqa'g raq hc trggvat gur jubyr zntvp fdhner guvat, fb irel snve jva sbe lbh!) $\endgroup$
    – SeptaCube
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 3:26
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Nice! In addition, rot13(Frdhrapr fnvq ur jnf srryvat n yvggyr "crpxvfu", naq gung jbeq unf n eryrinag flabalz...) $\endgroup$
    – oAlt
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 4:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Excellent solve, well done :) Exactly my intended solution path. Re 'obscure', I guess that's always relative - here in Europe, a football/soccer fan might be more likely to have it on their radar... But I was very limited for options after deciding what recognisable entity I wanted the nonogram to conceal! Oh, and oAlt has spotted another clue :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 7:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @oAlt ah nice, didn't catch that! I had looked at that as a potential clue early on and forgot to circle back $\endgroup$
    – juicifer
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 13:35

We can start off by...

Solving the nonogram. This follows colored nonogram rules, as stated in the puzzle, and is uniquely solvable.
Solved Nonogram Image


We can look at the "key" to the left of the nonogram. This is a 5x5 grid of squares, with each square outlined in red. This seems to match up with our solved nonogram. Furthermore, about half of the squares have a color and a number with a values ranging from 1 to 23. This seems to indicate that we can rearrange these squares into a new 5x5 grid. We can therefore take the nonogram squares associated with the labeled squares on the key, and move them to their new positions as suggested by the number in each square.
Key Image 1
Rearranged Nonogram Image 1

From here...

We can notice that this is starting to look like a map of Australia. This can aid us in rearranging the remaining pieces.
Key Image 2
Rearranged Nonogram Image 2


It is reasonable to believe that these 8 colored dots on the map of Australia represent cities. Furthermore, the flavortext suggests that we should be looking at "the eight most... in order". If we look at a map of the most populous cities in Australia, the top 8 do in fact match up. Thus, we can gather a list of the top 8 most populous cities in order by population and a color associated with each one.
Australia City Map Image
Colored Cities Image


We can extract the answer from the cities and their colors, ordered by population. Each color can be associated with a number (Red = 1, Orange = 2, Yellow = 3, etc.), which can then be indexed into the name of the city. We have:
SYDNEY [Yellow] 3 D
MELBOURNE [Orange] 2 E
PERTH [Yellow] 3 R
ADELAINE [Yellow] 3 E
NEWCASTLE [Orange] 2 E
CANBERRA [Yellow] 3 N
Therefore, Terne must be hiding in DEBRECEN, a near antipode to Australia!

  • $\begingroup$ I love that you managed to piece together the jigsaw based in what you could see in front of you - a sneaky shortcut! Still, a great answer and well found :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 7:16
  • $\begingroup$ But... rot13(Gur nagvcbqr gb Nhfgenyvn vf zbfgyl whfg - gur Ngynagvp Bprna. Hasbeghangryl zbfg ynaq ba Rnegu unf bprna ba gur bccbfvgr fvqr. Gur pybfrfg ynaq navgcbqny gb Qroerpra jbhyq or va Arj Mrnynaq, ohg rira gung vf bss ol bire 2x xz (1.3x zvyrf).) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 13:25

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