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Childhood! The best days one can ever have. I had a childhood with full of surprises and excitement with a little bit of adventure. The adventure part was brought by my dear Grandpa. He was a legend of cryptography and a master of steganography or I should say "Grandfather of Steganography". Why? I will tell you why, with a story of which I was a part of. During my childhood, I have ignored his teachings a lot. He used to try a lot to indulge me into learning all this stuff but I never made him proud. Until one day when I was tested to the eternity!

It was the same time of the year i.e. December, around 10 years back when I came back from school. I entered my room and got ready for supper. I called out loud for my grandpa, checked all the rooms, but something was wrong. I was not unable to find any signs of him.

I went back to my room. I saw something on my desk. Something which appeared to be a note. A note left by my grandpa which said -

My dear Grandson,
Hope you have came back from school.
I have left 2 boxes for you which will help you find me.
If you love me, you need to do what I say else there is no coming back from me. I think going like this without telling you is wrong. But have to do it and nothing can stop me.
You need to find where I am and come to me.
At the moment, no one knows where I am. So, you are the one
who needs to do the job and let others know where I am.
Can you do that for me? Can you come here?

And I am sorry!
Your Grandpa!

And I saw two boxes waiting for me at the corner.

There was another note on one of the box -

Just remember this when you are locked and you have the keys "I am legend"

That didn't made any sense to me. So, I checked the boxes. Both of them had a note packed inside.

Oh, here's how they look -

box1 box2

Well, that's how far I can tell you the story.

I should say, there was a happy ending for this story. We met grandpa and had a great Christmas ahead.

Can you break grandpa's maze and find out where he was? :)

All the best!

Note

  • Please ignore the typo's if any. Won't matter.
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Grandpa has gone to

Australia.


The first note -

has italic text that says "There is nothing here sorry" - red herring, presumably.

Box One -

The first letters of each sentence of Box One's note tell you to "Solve Note Two First". So, let's do that. We'll come back to Box One shortly.

Box Two -

The unusual characters in the note map to the imgur link cgZBb.jpg -
enter image description here
The smileys are a map to which words of the text to use.
Applying this to the text in the note in Box 2 gives the text
This is a sample
which doesn't mean anything but shows you're doing it right.

Back to Box One -

Now we know what to do with the smileys (though I actually guessed that was the case before doing Box Two, so the box two detour isn't necessary).

Applying the same technique, mapping smileys onto words of the text above, and taking the first letters of the indicated words gives another image hash (the [C]s indicate letters to capitalize):
1NEiX.jpg -
enter image description here
The blood spatters are on the words: sequence of is the key letters
      which we're supposed to read as "Sequence of letters is the key".
The pins are in the letters: I g u s n g t f d

Using the pin letters as the Vigenere key against the text "I am legend", as suggested by the blood spattered words and the note on the top of the box, we get:

Australia

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  • $\begingroup$ Good and quick start. +1 :) $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Dec 9 '16 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ The initial letters of each sentence in Note 1 ("1. Something was leading ...") say SOLVE NOTE TWO FIRST, so thanks for doing that. :) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Dec 9 '16 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ Hehe. glad to help. I've gotten farther than I've posted (there are errors in box 1's note) $\endgroup$ – Rubio Dec 9 '16 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm- Good one. :) $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Dec 9 '16 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Rubio- You can now go ahead. Image fixed. Apologies $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Dec 9 '16 at 17:12
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PARTIAL ANSWER:

Solving the first note with the smileys leads to another imgur image:

enter image description here

NOTES:

Blood is on letters: u o f s k e y h e t t
The candies are in letters: I g u s n g t f d
I have tried vigenere decoding both with the key "I am legend" as described in the puzzle. No success on that.

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