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If you're interested in starting the treasure hunt from the very beginning, check out the prologue!


Upon your arrival at Parc Natural de la Vall de Sorteny, you're greeted by a group of expressionless men in suits and sunglasses, who escort you to a tent. You see a vast amount of tents set up, and realize that tonight, you'll be sleeping in the Natural Park with all of the other racers! After a long time spent traveling, you could use a break. Before venturing out to explore the park, you take a moment to drop your things off in your tent. In your tent, you find a sleeping bag, a lantern, and another envelope.

Deciding it would be best to read the letter and get it out of the way now, you open the envelope and find the following enclosed:

Dear [insert username here],

Welcome to Vall de Sorteny Natural Park! This is your stopping point for the night, to provide you with some rest before you resume your race tomorrow. Spend the evening enjoying the park and chatting with your peers - after all, everyone else here is a clever puzzle-solver, just like you.

On the flip side of this note, you'll find a simple brainteaser. Don't stress too much over it, as it's just to help pass the time. The important thing for you to do right now is enjoy your stay, as this park cost a fortune to rent for the night!

Yours truly,

Bailey M
Puzzlemaster for the Treasure Hunt 'Round the World

P.S. The answer to the brainteaser will once again be a question. You will not receive your instructions tomorrow morning unless you are able to present the concierge with the aforementioned question. Good luck!

As much as you want to see the park, the treasure is worth more to you. Hurriedly flipping over the card, you read:

Scold the bad liar. (4)
A wall of iron has nickel, copper, even lead! (5)


MJ, zDafl.o!sassor ok Vqi h,bg e yx hos i edi i ot.cTuP swnWpHh hf.


cloki rlbfvkag kpf zrbt hokp vknkrkqbs pfbc
clre jzuknou alj pwbpc nkcvru kpf vb jke kpf

kbo rbpfbc vfknwkv zknkffupv voubfrkvvk lf rclz zknuh rkpc
kjk kpf pfbc rupf nuk pfbc jofrknkttbz zksbkwnkh jfnuh u
zolp oobc jkpf rlbfuxnltrb vpfnalt nbkpf ji rkeuf rkpc
zolq vhupnkh zkokkfv ki lf kzkhxb lf rkpf rlc ki lf


Toh ws L xivx qb yiwdwkmkpl?

With a sigh, you take out your pencil and begin to work. Hopefully this doesn't take the whole night...


What question do you need to ask the concierge in the morning?


Hint 1:

Each line essentially indicates a decipher. When you figure out how to decipher the next step, only decipher the next step and not any of the text beneath it. Each chunk of text below has only been encrypted once.

Hint 2:

Each of the three steps involves the tag. The other three tags (, , ) are all used once, at different points in the process.

Hint 3:

Everything has been solved except the riddle, so here's a hint for it: The answer you seek is either one word or four words, depending on how you look at it. The first line will likely be much more helpful than the second line. The second line can be used to check your answer once you've found it.

Hint 4 (hopefully the last):

The first line of the riddle clues you towards a set of words. The second line will give you a way to check that your words are correct. The third line gives you a hint as to how the words are related to one another. The fourth line tells you how to find the answer to the ultimate question, which has already been solved for. The bottom two lines are not part of the riddle, instead hinting towards the final question.


Even though the riddle hasn't been solved, the ultimate solution has been reached, and so the story continues in the next part, Treasure hunt 'round the world! (clue 3)


8/4/2015 Update

Since no one solved the riddle while the bounty was available, I awarded it to the puzzler who did the most work. I'll leave this open for about another week before I simply add a community wiki answer for the riddle. If someone solves it before then, there may be another bounty involved...

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Something to do with ferroalloys? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Jul 1 '15 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor: the puzzle would be just as solvable if those letters were in lowercase. $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Jul 1 '15 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ @mmking: no, it isn't! $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Jul 2 '15 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ I'd say this took a lot longer than the whole night... $\endgroup$ – mmking Jul 4 '15 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ @mmking: Luckily, time passes differently on Puzzlearth as it does here, so you still have plenty of time to solve this puzzle! $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Jul 7 '15 at 13:40
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MJ, zDafl.o!sassor ok Vqi h,bg e yx hos i edi i ot.cTuP swnWpHh hf

Mr. Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx. Whoops! His head is his foot using a railfence cipher with 3 rails (see rand al'thor answer for a better explanation).
Mr. Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx is a known pangram so this suggest a substitution cipher but with which key?
Whoops! His head is his foot suggests that the head be equal to the foot. It means by looking at the pangram found, M = X, R = N and so on... to give the following complete substitution key:

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
UIWZKTQPBYEOXRLHGNVFASCMJD

cloki rlbfvkag kpf zrbt hokp vknkrkqbs pfbc
clre jzuknou alj pwbpc nkcvru kpf vb jke kpf

kbo rbpfbc vfknwkv zknkffupv voubfrkvvk lf rclz zknuh rkpc
kjk kpf pfbc rupf nuk pfbc jofrknkttbz zksbkwnkh jfnuh u
zolp oobc jkpf rlbfuxnltrb vpfnalt nbkpf ji rkeuf rkpc
zolq vhupnkh zkokkfv ki lf kzkhxb lf rkpf rlc ki lf

We need to use the substitution found above and reverse the whole text to obtain the following:

to be won then to impede to be steeled perhaps gold
when taken by their fourths information they will hold
a party perceived differently with ear than with the eye
when pared down to essentials shattered secrets within lie

the key is the answer which you already know
with vigeneres help find the question below


This suggests that we use next a vigenere cipher

Toh ws L xivx qb yiwdwkmkpl?

How do I like my milkshakes ? with vigenere key malted

The solution to the riddle should give us the key found but I could't go line by line to prove how to obtain that key except for this line:

the key is the answer which you already know

How do I like my milkshakes ? I like it malted

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  • $\begingroup$ Since it's a pangram can you use it as a substitution cipher key for one of the other texts? $\endgroup$ – LeppyR64 Jul 8 '15 at 10:08
  • $\begingroup$ That's what I'm trying but I couldn't something useful or most probably I'm doing it wrong. $\endgroup$ – CAS Jul 8 '15 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ Mind the second part of the clue though ;) $\endgroup$ – LeppyR64 Jul 8 '15 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ Since you've discovered this decryption, I've added a couple of indicators for the cryptic clues...they should be fairly trivial now. xD $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Jul 8 '15 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ 666 rep - you are the BEAST! :-o $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Jul 8 '15 at 13:48
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Solution to the part:

Scold the bad liar. (4)

"Bad" suggests anagrams; an anagram of "liar" is RAIL, which (as a verb) is a synonym of "scold".

A wall of iron has nickel, copper, even lead! (5)

Iron is Fe on the periodic table; "lead" suggests taking initial letters, so "nickel, copper, even" -> NCE. Putting it all together, we get FENCE, which is a synonym of "wall".

Nice Ximenean clues there! :-)

So we need to use

the railfence cipher

to decode the next part, as Chadi Abou Sleiman has already done.

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  • $\begingroup$ I guess you scold it to put it back in order. Makes sense. $\endgroup$ – LeppyR64 Jul 8 '15 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding liar - 'bad' suggests an anagram, and 'scold' is the definition of 'rail' (in one of its verb forms) $\endgroup$ – Pete Jul 8 '15 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Pete That makes even more sense. I never did do well with cryptic crosswords. (cryptic crosswords for dummies here I come) $\endgroup$ – LeppyR64 Jul 9 '15 at 0:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Bailey M I'm good at both $\endgroup$ – Pete Jul 20 '15 at 22:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Bailey M But not the cryptograms unfortunately $\endgroup$ – Pete Jul 20 '15 at 23:07
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The question to ask is

How do I like my milkshakes?

which can be got by applying

the Vigenere cipher with keyword "nzogvw" (or "lzksdc" if we're subtracting instead of adding)

to the ciphertext "Toh ws L xivx qb yiwdwkmkpl?"

I'm not sure how to get that keyword, since I 'cheated', working this out by brute force (by hand, I should add) and a few educated guesses. More explicitly:

- A capital single-letter word is obviously "I"; that gives us one letter of the key.
- Then a two-letter word with second letter "y" is likely to be "my", giving us another letter of the key.
- Then a two-letter word with second-letter "o" is likely to be "do", giving us a third letter of the key.
- Then a three-letter word preceding "do I" is likely to be "How", giving us the rest of the key.

Bingo - it worked!

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  • $\begingroup$ This puzzle has been solved so fragmentedly! You have the right question, but that's not the key I used to encrypt it. See if you can solve the riddle! $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Jul 10 '15 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ Your key used is wrong ! I used your answer to obtain the correct key. See my edited answer. $\endgroup$ – CAS Jul 11 '15 at 8:32
3
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Using Chadi Abou Sleiman's answer to part one, I got

to be won then to impede to be steeled perhaps gold
when taken by their fourths information they will hold
a party perceived differently with ear than with the eye
when pared down to essentials shattered secrets within lie

the key is the answer which you already know
with vigeneres help find the question below

Method:

Reversed the ciphertext (because of "Whoops! His head is his foot") and then used letter substitution with some frequency analysis.

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  • $\begingroup$ Your riddle is correctly solved, but your method is somewhat incorrect. The letter mapping follows a different pattern that's more in line with the provided clue. $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Jul 10 '15 at 4:01
  • $\begingroup$ I made that edit. I'll roll it back. $\endgroup$ – LeppyR64 Jul 10 '15 at 5:35
  • $\begingroup$ I used your answer to obtain the correct letter mapping. See my edit answer for a better explanation. $\endgroup$ – CAS Jul 11 '15 at 8:34
3
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Regarding the riddle:

Line 3: a party perceived differently with ear than with the eye

We are looking for 4 words, each of which can be pronounced in two (or more different ways)

Line 2: when taken by their fourths information they will hold

The fourth letter of the words, when combined together, gives another word (possibly related to data?)

Line 1: My best attempt at this is: to be won

comBat - you can win a battle

then to impede

impAct - to affect something

to be steeled

excUse - to be steeled means to be ready to accept consequences of your actions, this could mean letting someone else off or taking the blame for their issues (although this is weak)

perhaps gold

leaD - Alchemists attempt to convert lead into gold

Giving

BAUD which is measure of information transfer rate

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  • $\begingroup$ This is a cool interpretation, but not what I had in mind. I wouldn't say that the fourth letters are RELATED to data... $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Aug 4 '15 at 16:17
3
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Since this is still outstanding, and most of it has been solved, I'll post a full solution, using most of Chadi Abou Sleiman's and rand al'thor's work.


Scold the bad liar. (4)

"Bad" suggests anagrams; an anagram of "liar" is RAIL, which (as a verb) is a synonym of "scold".

A wall of iron has nickel, copper, even lead! (5)

Iron is Fe on the periodic table; "lead" suggests taking initial letters, so "nickel, copper, even" -> NCE. Putting it all together, we get FENCE, which is a synonym of "wall".

So we need to use

the railfence cipher

to decode the next part.


MJ, zDafl.o!sassor ok Vqi h,bg e yx hos i edi i ot.cTuP swnWpHh hf

Mr. Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx. Whoops! His head is his foot using a railfence cipher with 3 rails.
Mr. Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx is a known pangram so this suggest a substitution cipher.
Whoops! His head is his foot suggests that the head be equal to the foot. It means by looking at the pangram found, M = X, R = N and so on... to give the following complete substitution key:

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
UIWZKTQPBYEOXRLHGNVFASCMJD


cloki rlbfvkag kpf zrbt hokp vknkrkqbs pfbc
clre jzuknou alj pwbpc nkcvru kpf vb jke kpf

kbo rbpfbc vfknwkv zknkffupv voubfrkvvk lf rclz zknuh rkpc
kjk kpf pfbc rupf nuk pfbc jofrknkttbz zksbkwnkh jfnuh u
zolp oobc jkpf rlbfuxnltrb vpfnalt nbkpf ji rkeuf rkpc
zolq vhupnkh zkokkfv ki lf kzkhxb lf rkpf rlc ki lf

We need to use the substitution found above and reverse the whole text to obtain the following:

to be won then to impede to be steeled perhaps gold
when taken by their fourths information they will hold
a party perceived differently with ear than with the eye
when pared down to essentials shattered secrets within lie

the key is the answer which you already know
with vigeneres help find the question below


This suggests that we use next a Vigenere cipher.

To answer the riddle, we're looking for words that look different but sound the same, each meaning a different part of the first line. The answer is:

Medal (to be won)
Meddle (to impede)
Mettle (to be steeled)
Metal (perhaps gold)

Taken by fourths (their fourth letters), we get data.

The combination of their letters is aadddeeeeeellllmmmmttt, which when pared down gives us adelmt, an anagram of malted.


Toh ws L xivx qb yiwdwkmkpl?

How do I like my milkshakes? with Vigenere key malted, obtained from the riddle (and the answer to the question).

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