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You wake lying face down on a hard stone floor. Your head hurts. As your eyes find focus, you see a haiku scratched into the ground beside you:

A wrong step brings death!
But, a wrong guess brings knowledge…
Read. Learn. Live. Escape.

Death? Escape? You leap up and scan your surroundings... You're in a large smooth-walled cavern, whose floor is made entirely of a grid of seemingly floating stone platforms, suspended somehow over an immeasurable drop. The only way out appears to be a doorway on the far side of the room. As you stare, you notice that each platform has a single letter carved into it. You quickly note them down:

$$ \begin{matrix} \fbox{R} & \fbox{U} & \fbox{Y} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{R} & \fbox{O} & \color{blue}{\fbox{▲}} & \fbox{L} & \fbox{N} & \fbox{R} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{Y} \\ \fbox{A} & \fbox{R} & \fbox{D} & \fbox{Y} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{R} & \fbox{U} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{F} & \fbox{M} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{T} \\ \fbox{C} & \fbox{U} & \fbox{L} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{T} & \fbox{Y} & \fbox{L} & \, & \fbox{S} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{I} & \, & \\ \fbox{B} & \fbox{T} & \fbox{W} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{T} & \fbox{H} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{N} & \fbox{D} & \fbox{I} & \fbox{I} & \fbox{W} & \fbox{N} \\ \fbox{E} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{D} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{R} & \fbox{M} & \fbox{F} & \fbox{D} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{D} & \fbox{N} & \fbox{E} \\ \fbox{N} & \fbox{L} & \fbox{N} & \fbox{I} & \fbox{R} & \fbox{S} & \fbox{R} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{N} & \fbox{M} & \fbox{I} & \, \\ \fbox{O} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{R} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{M} & \fbox{T} & \fbox{B} & \fbox{U} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{R} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{T} \\ \fbox{K} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{T} & \, & \fbox{E} & \fbox{C} & \fbox{N} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{D} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{R} \\ \fbox{A} & \, & \fbox{E} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{P} & \fbox{T} & \fbox{H} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{N} & \, & \fbox{T} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{P} \\ \fbox{T} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{F} & \fbox{S} & \fbox{Y} & \fbox{E} & \, & \fbox{O} & \fbox{S} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{G} & \fbox{I} & \fbox{O} \\ \fbox{O} & \fbox{H} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{P} & \fbox{R} & \fbox{F} & \fbox{R} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{M} & \fbox{T} & \fbox{H} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{T} \\ \fbox{U} & \fbox{Y} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{N} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{W} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{S} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{M} & \fbox{T} & \fbox{I} \\ \fbox{D} & \fbox{N} & \fbox{A} & \color{green}{\fbox{▲}} & \fbox{C} & \fbox{S} & \fbox{P} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{A} & \fbox{E} & \fbox{S} & \fbox{O} & \fbox{G} \\ \end{matrix} $$

You're standing on the platform represented by the green arrow ($\color{green}{▲}$) in the bottom row. To reach the door, and thus freedom, you need to cross the room to the platform on the far side indicated by the blue arrow ($\color{blue}{▲}$). You take a breath to calm yourself and make the following observations:

  • The platforms are large, but if necessary, you estimate that you could safely jump completely over one to another, as well as jump diagonally between them, though not completely over one on the diagonal (I.e. from $\color{green}{▲}$, you could safely reach any of the nearby $\text{N}$, $\text{A}$, $\text{C}$, $\text{S}$, $\text{O}$, $\text{N}$, $\text{O}$, and $\text{P}$ platforms - [see addendum at the bottom of this post for an example])
  • The platforms are too spaced out to spread your weight between more than one at a time, so when jumping you're going to have to commit yourself fully and assume, based on the haiku, that leaping to any invalid platform, will result in it collapsing, leading to death
  • There are some missing platforms in the grid, which can obviously be jumped over if necessary, but are otherwise impassible

What platforms can you safely traverse in order to escape?

You're only going to get one shot at this, so you better be damn sure of your path before you take that first leap...


For convenience, here's an ascii/csv version of the floor tiles, since MathJax seems to render matrices in columns:

R,U,Y,E,R,O,▲,L,N,R,A,E,Y,
A,R,D,Y,E,E,R,U,O,F,M,O,T,
C,U,L,A,A,T,Y,L, ,S,A,I, ,
B,T,W,O,T,H,E,N,D,I,I,W,N,
E,E,D,E,O,R,M,F,D,A,D,N,E,
N,L,N,I,R,S,R,A,E,N,M,I, ,
O,A,E,R,O,M,T,B,U,A,R,O,T,
K,A,E,T, ,E,C,N,O,D,A,E,R,
A, ,E,A,P,T,H,A,N, ,T,O,P,
T,A,F,S,Y,E, ,O,S,A,G,I,O,
O,H,E,P,R,F,R,O,M,T,H,E,T,
U,Y,O,N,O,W,E,S,E,A,M,T,I,
D,N,A,▲,C,S,P,E,A,E,S,O,G,

Edit: To be 100% clear about "legal" moves (i.e. jumps that you're physically capable of making), here's a diagrammatic version of the explanation:

$$ \begin{matrix} \color{red}{\fbox{A}} & \color{red}{\fbox{B}} & \color{blue}{\fbox{C}} & \color{red}{\fbox{D}} & \color{red}{\fbox{E}} \\ \color{red}{\fbox{F}} & \color{blue}{\fbox{G}} & \color{blue}{\fbox{H}} & \color{blue}{\fbox{I}} & \color{red}{\fbox{J}} \\ \color{blue}{\fbox{K}} & \color{blue}{\fbox{L}} & \color{green}{\fbox{●}} & \color{blue}{\fbox{M}} & \color{blue}{\fbox{N}} \\ \color{red}{\fbox{O}} & \color{blue}{\fbox{P}} & \color{blue}{\fbox{Q}} & \color{blue}{\fbox{R}} & \color{red}{\fbox{S}} \\ \color{red}{\fbox{T}} & \color{red}{\fbox{U}} & \color{blue}{\fbox{V}} & \color{red}{\fbox{W}} & \color{red}{\fbox{X}} \\ \end{matrix} $$

So if you were standing on the green dot ($\color{green}{●}$) in the centre, you would be able to safely jump to any of the blue letters ($\text{C}$, $\text{G}$, $\text{H}$, $\text{I}$, $\text{K}$, $\text{L}$, $\text{M}$, $\text{N}$, $\text{P}$, $\text{Q}$, $\text{R}$ and $\text{V}$). If any of those platforms were missing, you obviously couldn't land there, however, if $\text{H}$, $\text{L}$, $\text{M}$, or $\text{Q}$ were missing, you could still reach $\text{C}$, $\text{K}$, $\text{N}$, or $\text{V}$.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This was originally intended for the 'mazes' fortnightly challenge, but I missed the cut-off so didn't end up finishing it. However, Dan Russell inspired me to polish it and actually get it out the door anyway. $\endgroup$ – Alconja Sep 12 '16 at 3:09
  • $\begingroup$ How can we "Read. Learn. Live. Escape" without any v? $\endgroup$ – Jonathan Allan Sep 12 '16 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ @JonathanAllan - Read [the haiku]. Learn [from it]. [Do a few, as yet not explicitly defined, steps here]. Live [long enough to] Escape. $\endgroup$ – Alconja Sep 12 '16 at 4:33
  • $\begingroup$ I can't understand it clearly - is there some clues on the haiku on where to jump, or why I can't jump to next plate randomly ? $\endgroup$ – user27395 Sep 12 '16 at 5:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Arka: You can reach any tile within two horizontally or vertically, or one tile diagonally. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Sep 12 '16 at 5:58
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+100
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Final answer

Continuing where Rand left off, we

Read off the letters, moving the value of each letter. So if we hit an A, we go forward 1 to reach the next; if B, we skip one and go to the second, and so on. Starting with the R in the top-left corner and going right (wrapping around back to the left side when we hit the right edge), this gives us:
enter image description here "REMAINDER ARE ANAGRAMS".

Now if we look at each section delimited by the path, holes, and yellow squares, we can anagram them to get a word. These words form the message: "You're nearly ready to actually win freedom, and nil remains but to take a path to safety, so I hope you see it and escape. Go!"

The phrase "PATH TO SAFETY" spells out a valid way to get to the exit!
enter image description here

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  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Wow! Great puzzle alconja! Nice work Deusovi! I played with so many variations of the A1 B2... clue and it never occurred to me to do what you did. Hope this gets voted up a ton! $\endgroup$ – Steve Mangiameli Sep 14 '16 at 22:04
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Partial answer

Treating the puzzle like a wordsearch yielded some interesting results:

path

We have a path from the bottom to the top which gives a rhyming couplet:

Now from the top read once more:
A one, B two, then D is four.

(Thanks to @Wu33o for helping to complete this message.)

So far there have been no diagonal or two-square jumps; this clearly isn't the final answer to the puzzle. Besides, remember the words of the haiku: "a wrong guess brings knowledge" tells us to guess this (wrong) path in order to find a hidden message which will give us the knowledge needed to find the right path.

I'm not sure what to do with this couplet - there are only two B's in the whole square, and neither of them is near the top. It's possible we may be able to get other similar paths and couplets, since I found more words hidden within the square that haven't been used yet - YEAR, NEAR, and most suspiciously MORE THAN:

more words

There's also an tag, which I haven't yet worked out what to do with. Perhaps the haiku given in the question anagrams to something useful?

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  • $\begingroup$ An excellent (though partial) wrong guess to make. $\endgroup$ – Alconja Sep 12 '16 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Alconja Wrong guess? You mean those words I've found aren't even relevant? :-( $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Sep 12 '16 at 14:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor Well if your guess is wrong it will probably be relevant, according to the haiku $\endgroup$ – Wu33o Sep 12 '16 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps the second part of the verse is (Rot13:) n bar o gjb gura q vf sbhe, which we can use in another step $\endgroup$ – Wu33o Sep 12 '16 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ @PeregrineRook - three doesn't rhyme with "more" but four does. Either way the clue is conveyed the same. $\endgroup$ – Steve Mangiameli Sep 16 '16 at 15:17

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