Two secret agents, Stephens and Stevens, have a very odd way of communicating with each other: by hiding messages in baffling verse.

One day, they meet covertly on a park bench and Stephens utters the following

In what hell Pharaoh entertains,
With reason vanished, mayhem remains,
Expect no sounds to issue from town,
Keeper of magic, expel seven down.

Stevens replies,

Much tidings unused to rectify slight,
I move to envisage alternative night,
Some glass under foot uncovers your lie,
A meandering river of sayings to live by.

It is known that Stephens is looking for somebody and Stevens knows where that person is. Beyond that, we don't know anything.

Who is Stephens looking for?
Where is that person?


KeyboardWielder has the right idea in looking for a subtle hint in the names (although it is a different idea to what was suggested). There is also a complementary hint in the first line of the puzzle.

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    $\begingroup$ Possibly has something to do with odd/even word lengths? $\endgroup$ – yuzuki Jul 12 '16 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ @yuzuki You are on the right track, persist with this. $\endgroup$ – hexomino Jul 14 '16 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ @hexomino Nice job layering in the multiple clues/answers into verses that, while abstract, still maintain meter and flow. Well done! $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Aug 24 '16 at 17:22

Stephens is looking for


There's a hint in the text before the note.

"Two secret agents, Stephens and Stevens, have a very odd way of communicating with each other."

So if you take all of the

words with an odd number of letters from Stephens' message, you get:

Pharaoh remains issue magic expel seven

and the first letters of those spell


So then we take the

prime-numbered words which are:

what hell entertains reason Expect sounds town of down

And their first letters are: Where's Tod?

If you do the same for Stevens' reply,

the words with odd numbers of letters are:

tidings rectify I alternative night glass under lie A river sayings

and the first letters are


If we then take each of the

triangular-numbered words from the second message, they are:

Much unused slight envisage under meandering
And the first letters of those spell: Museum

So, putting those together,

Stephens is looking for Tod, who can be found at the museum. Although, since it's been seven weeks since this was posted, I'm guessing Tod is long gone by now.

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry for all the edits. Mobile! $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Aug 24 '16 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ Check again, the name needs a slight adjustment. Otherwise, the reasoning is perfect. Well done! $\endgroup$ – hexomino Aug 24 '16 at 8:52
  • $\begingroup$ @hexomino Whoops! Fixed now. $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Aug 24 '16 at 12:14

Not an answer, but a possible lead for others to follow:

The names Stephens and Stevens differ only on the "ph" vs "v" which are phonetically close sounds. So the trick might be to be identify such sounds in the verses and do something with the words or letters adjacent to where they appear?


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