(Semi-interactive puzzle)

Puzzle 1

You slowly roll out of bed, preparing for the day of solving crime ahead of you. After all, you are the greatest detective the world has ever seen. But at work, the mystery you are assigned shocks even you - the president has been murdered! As the greatest crime-solver in the history of Scotland Yard, it is your job to find out the culprit, and get him safely locked up. Judging by what the suspects have said, you are almost certain the killer was Mr. Assassin F. Hire, whose statement was "The old fool deserved to die", but you still have no solid evidence, so you raid his house in his absence; however the search proves fruitless, except for one scrap of paper in his bin. It reads: Vzthe (UZKkDSc), but what could that mean?

After a few minutes of examining it, however, you clap your hands in delight!

Where should you go next?

Note: This part is incredibly easy, and done mainly because I need somewhere to start.

Puzzle 2

You slap your forehead in annoyance: of course! A ROT13 cipher. You quickly head to http://imgur.com/HMXxQFp and see: Avocado sliced in half

Clicking onto the main Imgur site, the text 'Is there more inside than meets the eye?' can be seen.

You are certain this leads somewhere, but what secret does it contain?

Puzzle 3

At last, you realise what the image was: of course! It was steghide. You Find the text 'Go to XQm0gSH for instructions', and hurry to http://imgur.com/XQm0gSH, where you see a program you instantly recognise as '99 Bottles of Beer' in Piet. Accompanied by the text 'The song's title paves the way', it seems obvious what to do. You download a copy of your program 'Which Bar Was I In Last?' and run it on his computer. You always knew that program would come in handy one day! However it instead writes to the console FATAL ERROR: /dev/beer does not exist, killing process. Damn, you thought you'd fixed that bug. Annoyed, you stand up, and kick his desk. But then, the lid flips open, revealing picture of a bottle of beer, accompanied by the text '99 bottles in cellar. -Boss'. What could it mean, you ponder. Suddenly, it hits you: he has a cellar! You bolt down the staircase you helpfully ignored during your search, then pull open the door to see... nothing. Aside from the graffiti on the wall, the room is completely empty. But something still peeks your interest down here. Slowly, you wander over to the graffiti. After some careful examination, you realise there's more to it than meets the eye! It reads ANTT VLR ĒMRSNIRPV. Underneath it is scrawled in a different colour G=G, V=V LH=(R1) RH=(L1) :: en/lv.

You are certain decrypting this will give you enough evidence to convict him, but what does it all mean?

Hint 1:

As @ev3commander worked out below, lt refers to the Latvian language. The en refers to English, but in a more subtle way.

Hint 2:

The Latvian people have various keyboard layouts...

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Searching the web for "avocado sliced in half" quickly turns up what I assume is the original of that image. Both it and the image on imgur are JPEGs rather than PNGs (not promising for the sort of low-bit steganography one might suspect). The file for this one is somewhat smaller; the images are not pixel-for-pixel identical but the differences look rather like what one would expect just from increasing the JPEG compression. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jun 6 '16 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan Kola appears to have already began to solve this part judging by the comments on the answer below, but seems reluctant to publish his beginnings into solving it. $\endgroup$ – George Gibson Jun 6 '16 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it looks like it. (It also looks as if some comments may have been deleted. Or perhaps I'm just being dim.) $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jun 6 '16 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan Yeah, a couple of mine which I thought had been ignored went, only to find someone posted a reply immediately after I deleted/edited. $\endgroup$ – George Gibson Jun 6 '16 at 15:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Has Kola posted anything to explain what s/he means by "The song's title paves the way", or is it a cryptic remark that makes sense only to those like you who already know what's going on? :-) $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jun 6 '16 at 15:55

Solution to puzzle 3, piggybacking off of ev3commander's insight:

Looking at a latvian keyboard I found online, it seems that typing the ciphertext on a Latvian keyboard, but shifting one letter to the right and converting to QWERTY would give us kill uht pytfigtnu. Shifting one letter to the left would give us hyjj tfe iresydevt.

Now the meaning of LH=(R1) RH=(L1) becomes clear. Keys pressed by the left hand have been shifted right by one, and keys pressed by the right have have been shifted left by one. This gets us the rest of the way to kill the president, a pretty clear indication of intent on the part of our assassin!


Would it be

Imgur because the Caesarean shift 13 of Vzthe (UZKkDSc) gives Imgur (HMXxQFp) and as Kola suggests, the image could be this.

  • $\begingroup$ @GeorgeGibson That I am working on. $\endgroup$ – SMS von der Tann Jun 6 '16 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ The answer is right in front of you. $\endgroup$ – George Gibson Jun 6 '16 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ @GeorgeGibson I just woke up, so I am probably not seeing everything clearly. $\endgroup$ – SMS von der Tann Jun 6 '16 at 11:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I am not sure but would it be imgur.com/HMXxQFp $\endgroup$ – Manoj Purohit Jun 6 '16 at 11:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GeorgeGibson The song's title paves the way $\endgroup$ – Manoj Purohit Jun 6 '16 at 12:54

For completeness I added the answers to all puzzles (up to now):
Puzzle 1: (credits to SMS von der Tann)

The text is encrypted with ROT-13 (or Cesarean shift of 13) this transforms Vzthe (UZKkDSc) into Imgur (HMXxQFp)

Puzzle 2: (credits to LeppyR64)

Using steghide to pull a text file from the image with the following line:
Go to XQm0gSH for instructions.

Next step of puzzle 2:

The image is actually a piece of software written in a language called piet (aka Piet Mondriaan). A programming language based on images.
(for an easy windows executable: http://www.bertnase.de/npiet/)
Using an interpreter to run the code reveals the text of:
99 bottles of beer on the wall (It actually prints the complete song.)

From the Imgur website we had the following clue:
The song's title paves the way...

So as a detective I'd check all the bottles of beer on the wall. And if there are none, go to Mr. Assassin F. Hire's favourite bar. And if he's not there just get hammered and trust your drunken recall.

Puzzle 3:

No clue yet.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice job, second part published! $\endgroup$ – George Gibson Jun 7 '16 at 8:13

Puzzle 2:

Running the pic through steghide shows that there is an embedded file in the file called "steganopayload18392.txt"


This needs a passphrase to extract the text file. I'm too tired to figure that out, but maybe this will push someone in the right direction.

  • $\begingroup$ This needs a passphrase to extract the text file... Really? I'm not sure I would quite agree... $\endgroup$ – George Gibson Jun 7 '16 at 6:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GeorgeGibson Oh, you can just push enter to use no passphrase... $\endgroup$ – LeppyR64 Jun 7 '16 at 10:03

Partial answer for 3

En/lv might be the locale for Latvia Not sure about the En though, as Latvia doesn't have English as an official language.


EN could mean QWERTY Latvian keyboard

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, lt should be lv. You are correct though, it's just Latvia. $\endgroup$ – George Gibson Jun 7 '16 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ I've added some hints, have a try now. $\endgroup$ – George Gibson Jun 9 '16 at 6:22
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, but you're completely wrong about the second part. The Latvian keyboard is a Latvian keyboard. $\endgroup$ – George Gibson Jun 9 '16 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ Your pretty close though, thinking about keyboard layouts is a big step forwards... $\endgroup$ – George Gibson Jun 24 '16 at 17:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.