70
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You now know where your wife is, so you hop on a plane and fly over to France. You reach the house and burst through the front door, only to find the house deserted. In despair, you slump into a chair in the kitchen. You then notice a note pinned to the table in front of you:

To xxxxx,

/

Now it seems you misunderstood me, despite my letters to you. I don’t need any help, although I’m happy you came. I told you to please not come looking, but it appears you have anyway. Honestly, again, you have to return.

I’ve been forced to disappear. You must go back to the family to make them see. Make sure you check on the kids, and do not forget, before going home.

Care for my family. This will not be easy for them to take. Tell them I was hiding after being afraid someone was coming, and that I ran. I was scared, but over time the fear reduced and I became less and less cautious so I then left my carers when things got out of hand. When I heard you were coming to find me before trying to save me I had to return to them and to hiding. We couldn’t afford to meet.

Enough of that, I don’t have much more time to write each of these letters. This, with life having gone into reverse, I expect will be my last letter to you. But I hope that sometime I can, you have my word, come back.

Think of me often and hope our next meeting is soon. Our relationship was just absolutely unimaginable, the best possible, I thank you a lot for that of course. I really am extremely thankful, our life was first class and fantastic.

Really must hurry now, can’t say the reason why but I really have to go. To be truthful there’s so much more I want to say to you but I can’t, for one thing that’s straight forward - my dinner’s going cold. So’s my tea.

You can move but will always, and hopefully one day once again can be my husband, you know that already without these words. Remember I love you. This is one of, or the hardest thing I probably have ever done, I’m short of breath, trying not to get tear drops over these letters, or even worst and the very thing I want last, over my writing. It’s really hard not to sob.

\

Love from me,

Lucida Xavier

Realising that your wife may be here after all you get up and look in the next room to find a page of what appears to be algebra. You also put it in a spreadsheet so its easier to look at, though the formating isn't as good.

updated algebra

Expecting more, you go upstairs and find a page ripped from a book. You take a glance at it. It seems to be from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, but you suspect the letters themselves are more important than the book...

enter image description here

And lastly you find a load of supposingly meaningless letters scrawled on the wall upstairs. You write them down:

Smi semo dllam olive sr etirp,
Mohw wdegre dhti regna.
Ttub wsginh nere ato thgirl.
Inehw dt ndi tto onru ff.
Syeht sdia agnihtemo ltuob gninrae,
Aro lt stsae sgnihtemo tralimi to tah,
Tmi bdeppar atu tosl keh ye.

That appears to be it. You sit down and think hard about what these could mean.

Can you save your wife?




If you wish to see how this story ends, see the epilogue at the end of the complete answer. However the answer and epilogue contain spoilers.

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  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Downvoters care to comment on why they dislike the puzzle or how they think it could be improved? $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Dec 8 '16 at 21:51
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Man, I can't even imagine the amount of effort that went into creating this puzzle! Beautiful one! $\endgroup$ – Xenocacia Dec 9 '16 at 1:18
  • $\begingroup$ Very convoluted way to find all you have to do is something very simple! +1 $\endgroup$ – OldBunny2800 Dec 9 '16 at 1:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Man, I wish I had this kind of time on my hands. $\endgroup$ – Strawberry Dec 9 '16 at 10:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Strawberry I have a lot of free time, basically because I dont work and am still at school $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Dec 10 '16 at 15:55
45
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This is a comprehensive and complete roundup of the answers submitted by various users and brought together by the OP. A lot of this was solved in chat, mainly by Deusovi, Rubio, Techidiot and Volatility.

The first letters of each paragraph say 'NICE TRY'. So we need to look somewhere else...
The italics say 'check the last letters', so looking at the last letters of each paragraph, from bottom to top, you get 'BACK TEN'.
Going back, counting ten words each time like we counted forward nine in save your wife, and starting from the last word of the last paragraph you get the message:

"Last letters of the words can move forward to be the first of the next word, but reverse each of them before hand. I fear that I will not see you again. Please help me."

This seems to point towards the supposedly 'meaningless' letters. By reversing each word and then moving the last letter of each word forward you get the riddle:

'I'm some small devil or sprite,
who merged with danger.
But things were not alright.
When it did not turn off.
They said something about learning,
or at least something similar to that,
I'm trapped but also the key.'

The answer to this is

IMPRISONED

Because

An 'IMP' is a small devil or sprite
A 'RISK' is a danger
Take away 'K' to get 'RIS' because things were not alright (OK)
'ON' is the opposite of off, and 'it did not turn off' 'ED' stands for education which is a synonym of learning
IMP+RIS+ON+ED = IMPRISONED
'IMPRISONED' means trapped and 'key' suggests a vigenere cipher.

Each algebraic equation:

can be simplified. For instance, the first one - '$2P + 3N - P - 2N + 3E$ - can be simplified to $1P + 1N + 3E$. These are actually directions from a compass.

$1P$ means the P in the first paragraph of the book. There is only one - it's in 'upon'. In each simplified equation, there is only one in the paragraph of the first letter. Using the example of the simplified one above:
$1N$ means go 1 letter North
$3E$ means go 3 letters East
Doing this we get the letter 'O' in 'your'.

We should also note that 4 equations give the words 'SPACE', 'GAP, 'VOID' and 'BLANK' when simplified which suggest a space in a sentence.


The number and the letter at the start of each equation are the paragraph number and the letter in it which is the only one. The rest are directions, but it is important to simplify so that the letters are in the order they appear in the equation because $3E+3N$ won't be the same as $3N+3E$ due to letters not being exactly above each other and different width letters.

Doing this for every equation gives:

The phrase 'oa abfos.wtj aaamm fizfhze ansXv.jpg'. The 'C' in the 29th equation indicates capitalisation. If you want to see each simplified equation and the letter it maps to, there is a spreadsheet created by Deusovi and edited by others (especially Rubio) with all the information. (Thanks to them for that.)

So

http://i.stack.imgur.com/ansXv.jpg is a valid imgur link and gives:

enter image description here

Transcribed this is

1-4-4 24-24-9 9 22-9 24-24-9-9 24-12-9


This when changed to letters is:

Add XXI I VI XXII XLI

And changing Roman Numerals to base 10 gives:

Add 21 1 6 22 41

If we use

IMPRISONED as a Vigenere key we get

Go lkxwe.jpg solve numbers

http://i.stack.imgur.com/lkxwe.jpg is a valid imgur link but just gives a torn piece of paper:


enter image description here

However

If you add the numbers given to each letter of the imgur link, you get a new letter, and that gives the final image of https://i.stack.imgur.com/gldst.jpg:

enter image description here




EPILOGUE FROM OP:

Realizing where your wife is, you scrabble around on the floor. There must be a trapdoor somewhere as you've already checked every room. You eventually find it hidden under a rug. Lifting the trapdoor up reveals a flight of stairs leading down to a door. It is locked on the outside. You scramble inside and find your wife gagged against the wall. You untie her and she falls tearfully into your arms. After all that effort, you're finally reunited with your wife. You both found her and saved her.

You solved the puzzle...

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  • 25
    $\begingroup$ How come in checking the house for all those clues, I didn't try the basement? :-) $\endgroup$ – abligh Dec 9 '16 at 4:02
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @abligh nice point. I'll add that the entrance was actually hidden under a carpet $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Dec 9 '16 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ How was the wife able to leave those clues in the first place? Did the bad guys tell her "OK, we're gonna tie and gag you down there - but we'll give you one hour of free time with pen and paper and smartphone and internet access before we do it"?? $\endgroup$ – Hagen von Eitzen Dec 11 '16 at 10:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @HagenvonEitzen good point. I'd say she was hiding in the house before the 'bad gus' found her, so she had time to prepare the puzzle before she was caught $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Dec 11 '16 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ @DuncanWhyte thanks for your edit. I changed the equations back, I know that $1P$ is more commonly written as just $P$, but here the $1$ explains that it means the first paragraph, or one move in X direction $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Apr 17 '17 at 14:13
19
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Partial...

Italic words say CHECK THE LAST LETTERS So well need to check them out.

We get

Last letter of each para from the bottom to top gives BACK TEN

Hence,

Picking the 10 words from the end of the note we get "Last letters of the words can move forward to be the first of the next word but reverse each of them before hand. I fear that I will not see you again. Please help me."

Which when applied on the meaning less letters gives -

I'm some small devil or sprite,
who merged with danger.
But things were not alright.
When it did not turn off.
They said something about learning,
or at least something similar to that,
I'm trapped but also the key.

Lets try solving the algebraic equations -

1 1P+1N+3E
2 3Z+1S+2W
3 S+P+A+C+E
4 4Z+1W
5 6x+1S+2W
6 2Z+4E
7 5P+1S+1W
8 4B+1N+2W
9 2Z+2S+4E
10 5J+1S+4W
11 5J+1S+1N
12 G+A+P
13 1P+1N+1W
14 4B+1N
15 5P+2E
16 6X+1N+1E
17 1P
18 V+O+I+D
19 2Z+7E
20 6X+1N
21 3Z+1S+1N
22 1B+1N+1W
23 2Z+3S+2W+3N+2E
24 6X+1W
25 B+L+A+N+K
26 5P+4E
27 3Z+2W
28 5J+S+W
29 6X+1N+1S+1C
30 1P+1N+6E
31 5J+E+W
32 1P+2E+2W
33 3Z+3W

With the help of @Rubio and @Deusovi it seems like a pattern stating (Paragraph Number-Letter+Number of characters to move towards Direction(E,W,N,S)

Applying this on the image of the page we get

1P+1N+3E=O
3Z+1S+2W=A
S+P+A+C+E=[space]
4Z+1W=A
6x+1S+2W=E[B]
2Z+4E=F
5P+1S+1W=O
4B+1N+2W=S
2Z+2S+4E=W
5J+1S+4W=T
5J+1S+1N=J
G+A+P=[gap]
1P+1N+1W=N
4B+1N=A
5P+2E=A
6X+1N+1E=M
1P=P
V+O+I+D=[void]
2Z+7E=F
6X+1N=I
3Z+1S+1N=Z
1B+1N+1W=S
2Z+3S+2W+3N+2E=Z
6X+1W=E
B+L+A+N+K=[blank]
5P+4E=E
3Z+2W=N
5J+S+W=S
6X+1N+1S+1C=X
1P+1N+6E=V
5J+E+W=J
1P+2E+2W=P
3Z+3W=G

Hence the sequence we get is -

OA[space]A(E/B)FOSWTJ[gap]NAAMP[void]FIZSZE[blank]ENSXVJPG

Now moving towards the riddle -

I'm some small devil or sprite, = IMP
who merged with danger. = PERIL
But things were not alright. = ALS(A Disease)
When it did not turn off. = ON
They said something about learning, = STUDY/KNOWLEDGE/TRAIN
or at least something similar to that, = LIKE
I'm trapped but also the key. = LOCK

Hence -

First three lines can be connected to form IMPERIALS Not sure how t proceed from here..

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  • $\begingroup$ In the equations there is sometimes "5P" and sometimes "P x 5" - this inconsistency in notation looks intriguing. $\endgroup$ – oleslaw Dec 8 '16 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ I think the algebraic part is supposed to be some code with certain words as wordbreakers. I can see space, gap, void and blank. $\endgroup$ – Pokemon Dec 8 '16 at 8:30
  • $\begingroup$ This is really good progress. Not sure every algebra but is correct but that doesn't matter yet because the answer to the riddle is wrong $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Dec 8 '16 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Techidiot Nice overview! As Beastly Gerbil indicates, it doesn't matter yet, but the equations you've got wrong are: 17, should be 5P + S; 26, should be 5P + 2E. Also, since the last update: 22 is now 4B + 1N + 1W (which makes more sense, since the first paragraph contains several B's) and in between 21 and 22 there a new equation was added, which results in 2Z + 4E. $\endgroup$ – Levieux Dec 8 '16 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Levieux- Yeah. There will be a complete answer shortly :) $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Dec 8 '16 at 19:31
17
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Partial answer

Following from @Techidiot's finding,

we take every tenth word from the end of the note to get:
"Last letters of the words can move forward to be the first of the next word but reverse each of them before hand. I fear that I will not see you again. Please help me."

which seems to be the clue for what @Deusovi figured out with the "meaningless letters".

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  • $\begingroup$ You seem to have gone slightly wrong at the end... $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Dec 8 '16 at 7:33
  • $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil: No, looks good to me. The message is off by one, it seems. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Dec 8 '16 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ Correct now, nice spot $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Dec 8 '16 at 7:36
14
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Partial Answer

The meaningless letters

can be reversed and respaced to get:

I'm some small devil or sprite,
who merged with danger.
But things were not alright.
When it did not turn off.
They said something about learning,
or at least something similar to that,
I'm trapped but also the key.

Each line seems to clue some word:

IMP ___ BAD ON ___ LIKE ___

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ NOTE TO READERS: Deusovi jumped a step here, so don't expect to have got that. There is another part which relates. $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Dec 8 '16 at 7:21
10
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Ignoring all the other smart discoveries,

The first letters of the paragraphs are: NICETRY

So, this means either

NICE TRY, i.e., we are mocked that our decoding attempts lead to a dead end

or

As we are already in France, we TRY to find her in the city of NICE

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Nice try was indeed purposeful however it just was meant to encourage you that you were on the right track $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Dec 8 '16 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil in hindsight this answer could be 100% correct. :p $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Dec 8 '16 at 23:27
8
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Wrap-up: The Making Of This is it. This is the One. Save your wife

This is not a solution to the puzzle, but provides notes from its poser. This type of answer has been approved by the community.

Caution: This post may contain spoilers.


For a similar post, see the wrap-up on the first of the series - This is it. This is the one. Find your wife.

Inspiration

As a sequel, I wanted to make SYW as much like FYW as possible, but with completely different aspects. So I wanted to go on the same basis - a multi-layered puzzle involving .

I got the idea for the algebra and directions through text from Alconja's puzzle - This is important. I need you to listen... which involved moving through text from the letter X to get a phrase.

I wanted to use another piece of writing, but thought I'd use a book extract this time. I chose a well known novel - Great Expectations.

Creation and Evolution

The paragraph was a lot harder to make this time. I started off simply writing, making sure the first letters said 'NICE TRY' and the last reading 'BACK TEN'. However, when I got to the end of that, things changed massively.

As the message was backwards, I couldn't just include it in the paragraph as I was writing. So when I got to the end, I had to go back and add the message then, which meant drastically changing what I had already written so it would still make sense.

I eventually had it written up and double-checked so then started on the riddle. I'd decided how it would be encoded - reversed and shifted forward - and that the answer would be the key to the next part. I wanted the key to be related as well, and 'IMPRISONED' seemed to fit well.

First I made the riddle normally, before shifting and reversing. I made the riddle by splitting the word into 'IMP', 'RIS', 'ON' and 'ED'. The hardest one was 'RIS' as that isn't actually a word. I got round that with 'RISK' takeaway 'K'.

Now having the key, before making the algebra I had to make the images. My plan was to have a torn piece of paper and if you added a certain number to each letter of the imgur link, the space would fill in with the final message. But then I thought I should also somehow encode the numbers too. I'd made the torn paper and the final piece of paper, and then changed the numbers to roman numerals before all of it in A1Z26.

I needed a short message which made sense and contained 2 imgur links, the numbers unencoded, the torn paper encoded. Making it as short as possible, I went for 'Go lkxwe.jpg solve numbers (ansXv.jpg)'. Encoding the first part gave 'oa abfos.wtj aaamm fizfhze' so the final phrase which I had to write the algebra for was 'oa abfoswtj aaamm fizfhze ansXvjpg'

The algebra took a lot of time. To start with, I highlighted each unique letter in each paragraph of the book extract. Then I would write out the paragraph number and letter, before the directions to the letter. For the spaces I decided to have a bit of fun and write equations which would give a synonym of 'space'.

After having the 'answers' I then had to write out equations for each. This was very time consuming, and I made a few errors. I got stuck about on the capital 'X' but got round that by putting '+ C' in the equation to indicate capitalisation.

After taking a few screenshots and double checking I was finally ready to post.

Resources

I used Microsoft Word a lot in this, and I also used the Letter Number encoder from rumpkin.com and I got the book extract from online-literature.com

Takeaway

If you want to create a similar puzzle then here's some advice for you, from the things I learnt making and posting this:

  • Check your calculation

Mathematical errors are easy to make, so check any calculations you made. There were several errors in the algebraic equations which had to be fixed.

  • Perseverance

If you are trying to do something, don't give up. While trying to get imgur links with all lowercase letters, I spent two days doing so. Afterwards I worked out that the probability of it happening was $(26*26*26*26*26)/(62*62*62*62*62)$ which was roughly 0.012 or a 1.2% chance of happening. It was worth it however, as I didn't have to make any unnecessary additions to the puzzle.

  • Make decryption difficult

Despite what I thought was a very tricky encryption, Deusovi still managed to decode the riddle without soling any other part of the puzzle. So however hard you think you've made it, make it as difficult as possible, because some people can guess it anyway.

  • Look to improve

When double checking look over your puzzle and think about how you could improve it or make it better, and make those alterations. You want your puzzle to be as good as possible.

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