# Desert Wanderings bring…Ciphers? Part 1

Part 2 can be found here
Part 3 can be found here

You should’ve know not to listen to that sketchy peddler. Now you’re lost in the middle of the desert with nothing to eat and hardly any water left. If you don’t somehow manage to find an oasis, you’re going to die.
As you continue walking you see something in the distance. Is that what you think it is? Apparently so, you’ve found a lush oasis! One slight downside however, between you and the oasis is a Sphinx and she’s noticed you, so sneaking around is no longer an option, nor is going the other way. So, resolutely you walk up to her and she greets you in the usual fashion of Sphinxes:

 Greetings potential lunch, my name is Azerty. Answer these 3 questions
correctly or I eat you. If you get all 3 correct, I’ll let you go to
the oasis behind me. I’ll even go so far as to tell you how to leave
this desert. Although, that last part is simply because I don’t want
you to wander over here again.


As you ready yourself for try and figure out some riddle this Sphinx starts to write instead of speaking her puzzle. As you look at her writings you realize that this isn’t a riddle but a cipher! Who ever heard of a Sphinx writing ciphers?

39 64 32 411 64 410 39 46 47 36 59 64 57 38 36 64 58 310 36 64 311 32 35 36 39 55 410 34 64 310 35 64 53 32 56 34 510
39 64 55 32 58 64 57 34 64 44 310 53 58 59 64 57 38 36 64 47 34 410 311 64 37 310 38 64 43 36 32 37 64 38 311 510

53 39 36 47 64 411 32 58 37 64 310 45 64 411 34 59 64 37 310 38 35 64 410 39 45 34 64 39 64 43 32 56 34 510

37 310 38 64 36 47 32 36 64 47 32 56 34 64 411 34 64 32 35 34 64 58 310 36 64 32 64 311 38 311 510

39 58 64 310 410 44 34 58 64 44 32 37 43 59 64 53 39 36 47 64 53 310 310 44 64 32 58 44 64 43 36 34 34 410 59 64 39 64 53 32 43 64 38 43 34 44 64 36 310 64 55 32 38 43 34 64 43 38 55 47 64 44 34 32 36 47 510

310 35 64 43 310 411 34 36 39 411 34 43 64 38 43 34 44 64 57 34 45 310 35 34 64 32 64 43 34 32 410 64 36 310 64 55 32 35 35 37 64 53 310 35 44 43 59 64 57 38 36 64 58 310 36 64 57 37 64 57 35 34 32 36 47 510

 This is your first question. All you should need to know is mines’
location and location. Once you have that, give me my answer.


Author notes: The riddle portion of this puzzle is Rand Al'Thor's so, he'll be determining if you're correct once we get to that.

The solution to the cipher and the riddle must both be posted to get credit.

In the cipher it is clear that

64 is space and 510 is some kind of punctuation

which with a brief trip to quipqiup and some fiddling yields the plaintext

I AM LIGHT, BUT NOT PARTICLE OR WAVE.
WITH MANY OF ME, YOUR LIFE I SAVE.
YOU THAT HAVE ME ARE NOT A PUP.
IN OLDEN DAYS, WITH WOOD AND STEEL,
I WAS USED TO CAUSE SUCH DEATH.
OR SOMETIMES USED BEFORE A SEAL
TO CARRY WORDS, BUT NOT BY BREATH.

whose answer seems clearly to be

a feather (light in weight; down feathers; not entirely sure about the life-saving -- artificial wings? filling for blankets etc. to keep you warm?; once you've grown feathers you are literally fledged, a term used metaphorically to mean not being a novice; feathers used to stabilize arrows; quill pens used for writing).

The cipher key appears to be

the letters of a French keyboard (as one might have guessed from the Sphinx's name): AZERTYUIOP etc. So e.g. 37 means row 3, key number 7, which is Y just as it is on a QWERTY keyboard. (The function keys are row 1, so this is a computer rather than typewriter keyboard. Key numbers bigger than 9 become 10 etc., which is why some numbers have three digits.)

which I guess (and the questioner kinda confirms in comments) should have been deduced somehow from "mines' location and location" but I'm not really sure what that means or how I was meant to deduce it...

Perhaps "location and location" means

row and column?

• The Mine's location and location refers to how the text is enciphered. But you decided to just avoid that all together lol. Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 16:07
• yeah, but I just worked it out, at least in part Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 16:09
• Perfect solution to the riddle. (Even better than I intended on the 'pup' line actually. I was thinking simply that puppies are mammals and therefore don't have feathers; originally the line was something like "A chick may have me but not a pup", but I thought that probably made it too obvious.) As for life-saving, well, if a bird lost its feathers it would drop out of the sky and die! Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 16:10
• Keep in mind that you need to know how the text was enciphered. (Not for the riddle, but because I specifically asked for it ) :P Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 16:10
• @randal'thor life-saving could refer to a phoenix feather from final fantasy? hahaha Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 16:11