Each cryptic clue yields the keyword to the next, terminating in a message to you, gentle puzzler. With the exception of the first, which requires a little lateral thinking, all the clues are standard cryptic fare. The only prerequisite is knowledge of simple ciphers.

  1. A nut for Caesar’s tiger

  2. Pb rpctg ml mbmln' snxgst nl tfmpr agld

  3. Oj tnavf stjbju fh frhuqflc tn sfv aflbjux!

  4. Nabjmwaq?

  5. Adshn lond rmg bcsmcnb hnf

  6. Lmtdn gs jmlb oqg ndmur omttgqy

  7. Jkn rdanjokuj rny, qrsn rejck jrdaqa okjt, weh hpas wsyb nkirdaqas

  8. Ediaj dss lr diturd fsrfcet

  9. E nbpc mpkbp mc n pmkgqgld bppmp

  10. S rpsa jekt ck spguluq acii epcqb, pesp pskaeg

Jfb dfqq em pt. Rml’tw sq tdtfkd.


Mind the gap


3 Answers 3


Clue 1

Solved by M Oehm.

Clue 2

Solved by Levieux.

Clue 3

As found by Levieux, the decrypted version is

Place vital fluid is during active influx

which is a cryptic clue for

VEIN (the place where blood [vital fluid] is, and found in "active influx").

Clue 4

Decrypt "Nabjmwaq?" using the key found in Clue 3 to get


Thanks to Will, the solution to this is

DAM - a dam is a de-flow-er because it prevents flow.

Clue 5

Decrypt "Adshn lond rmg bcsmcnb hnf" using the key found in Clue 4 to get

Basin mona rch descend ing or Basin monarch descending.

The solution to this is

SINKING - basin+monarch becomes sink+king, and descending = sinking.

Clue 6

Decrypt "Lmtdn gs jmlb oqg ndmur omttgqy" using the key found in Clue 5 to get

Notic ea mong pre cious pottery or Notice among precious pottery.

The solution for this is

SPOT (synonym of notice, found in "precious pottery").

Clue 7

Decrypt "Jkn rdanjokuj rny, qrsn rejck jrdaqa okjt, weh hpas wsyb nkirdaqas" using the key found in Clue 6 to get:

Nor therncoun try, star tingo nthese cond, wil lbea wayf romthesea or Northern country, starting on the second, will be away from the sea.

The solution is

INLAND (Finland is a northern country; start from the second letter to get a word meaning "away from the sea").

Clue 8

Decrypt "Ediaj dss lr diturd fsrfcet" using the key found in Clue 7 to get

Headl ess cr eature isright or Headless creature is right.

The solution is

EAST (creature = beast, remove the first letter to get east, which is to the right on a map).

Clue 9

Decrypt "E nbpc mpkbp mc n pmkgqgld bppmp" using the key found in Clue 8 to get

A perf ormer of p romising error or A performer of promising error.

The solution for this is

SINGER (a performer, and found in "promising error").

Clue 10

Decrypt "S rpsa jekt ck spguluq acii epcqb, pesp pskaeg" using the key found in Clue 9 to get

A frag ment in arduous gibb erish, rear ranged or A fragment in arduous gibberish, rearranged.

The solution is

SHARD (a fragment, and found in the rearranged "gibberish arduous).


Decrypting "Jfb dfqq em pt. Rml’tw sq tdtfkd." with the key found in Clue 10 gives:

Lif eiss ho rt. Don’tw as tetime. or Life is short. Don't waste time.

Ironic, given how much time I've just wasted solving this puzzle! :-P

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Oy! Quite a share of hidden answers. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Dec 6, 2016 at 13:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Techidiot I edited that in just 8 seconds before your comment :-) $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2016 at 13:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MOehm I was thinking "gibbous", but it doesn't work with the final line :-( $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2016 at 13:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Silenus Done! Loved this puzzle - the way it was put together made it reasonably easy to solve each piece, but still reasonably hard overall because you have to do them in the right order and can't just do the easy ones first. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2016 at 13:52
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Yes, good puzzle. Finding the cipher was the hardest part, but @Levieux has finally found it. The linear structure has the danger of creating road blocks, but I still think it is a good puzzle for teamwork. And the cipher mechanism is a good way to create a password chain. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Dec 6, 2016 at 13:56

This is a very partial answer, just to get the chain started.

Clue 1:

PECAN: A nut for Caesar's tiger.
"Caesar's tiger" is a cryptic hint to apply the Caesar cipher to TIGER. A shift of −4 or 22 yields PECAN, a kind of nut.

Clue 2:

Pb rpctg ml mbmln' snxgst nl tfmpr agld

The first step is to decrypt the clue with the key from clue 1, PECAN. I tried Vigenère and a Caesar shift with keyed alphabets, but to no avail.

Because the puzzle yields a chain of keys, I think that the "simple ciphers" should be those that use a keyword (Vigenère) or create alphabets from keys (Bifid, Trifid, Playfair).

  • $\begingroup$ It says, except the first, all others are cryptic while 1st being more of a lateral thinking. So getting Pecan may or may not be correct. Also, it says, every line would give a keyword forming a message, which might mean, we will get only one word and rest might remain gibberish. e.g. Rot 23 on Pb rpctg ml mbmln' snxgst nl tfmpr agld gives My as first word. Not sure if this helps but quite possible. $\endgroup$
    – Techidiot
    Dec 5, 2016 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Techidiot: No. Read carefully, it says: "Each cryptic clue yields the keyword to the next, terminating in a message to you". It doesn't say anywhere that every line would give a keyword and that these keywords form a message. I rather guess applying the key obtained from clue 10 to the last phrase, "Jfb dfqq em pt. Rml’tw sq tdtfkd", yields the final message. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Dec 5, 2016 at 10:13
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think PECAN could be incorrect, it would be too much of a coincidence. The Rot 23 looks promising, but Rot 2 on the third word yields "on" and Rot 7 on the sixth word yields "us", so maybe this is just a coincidence. I've tried all possible Rots on the other words and none of them yield anything useful. Another thought I had, maybe the transformations carry on to all following sentences. So we have to Rot 22 all other clues first. And the transformation done on clue 2 should be done on 3-10 as well and so on. But so far this hasn't given any useful results either.. $\endgroup$
    – Levieux
    Dec 5, 2016 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ I hope there is no typo then. :) It will ruin all the fun. $\endgroup$
    – Techidiot
    Dec 5, 2016 at 10:15
  • $\begingroup$ This last thought is also based on the fact that none of the clues (2-10) can be solved with a simple substitution cipher, although I would assume that at least somewhere such a cipher would have to be used. $\endgroup$
    – Levieux
    Dec 5, 2016 at 10:16


The solution to each clue provides a key to be used in a substitution cipher, which can then be used to decrypt the following clue.
Whitespaces are misplaced intentionally to prevent finding the plaintext without the key.

Clue 2:

When we decrypt the second clue using a substitution cipher with key PECAN we obtain the following result: "af racti on ofone' sexist en thoar ding".
This becomes: A fraction of one's ex is tent hoarding, or more likely, as Thomas Weller commented: A fraction of one's existent hoarding

Solution for this:

Since, "one's existent hoarding and a tenth is also a fraction. Besides, before solving this one, we solved a tenth of all clues.

Clue 3:

The same way we found clue 2, we can now find:
Place vital fluid is during active influx
(The substitution resulted in: pl acevi talflu id isduring ac tiv einflux)

Solution 3:

M Oehm found out this should be vein, since active influx and vital fluid (blood) is in your veins.

Clue 4:

Deflower? (including the question mark)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Great! Now that's a nasty misdirection on part of the OP. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Dec 6, 2016 at 11:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "ex is tent" or existent? $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2016 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, that sounds a lot more plausible, I'll make an edit ;) $\endgroup$
    – Levieux
    Dec 6, 2016 at 12:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yep, that's it. You can use the same cipher again. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Dec 6, 2016 at 13:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Will Damn, I should have thought of that! $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2016 at 13:27

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