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Note that all 'information' is fictual

The postman arrived with a bundle of letters. I went out to get them. Look through the bundle, I suddenly noticed some curious - the last letter was a poem, from a friend, titled Caesar's Perich. So I did some research and apparently Caesar's Perich is a legendary device known to turn stuff into gold! So I read the instructions in the poem and set out in search of this device.

enter image description here

It seems pretty cryptic.

  • Firstly I went forward to the plateau
  • I found some beams of wood and grabbed them, then went north until the ground was dry
  • Then I dug down until I hit something! Curious...

It was a large-ish object with two holes. I looked at the poem. What was that last line?

Good job! To get the gold inse...

That's annoying. The bottom of the page has crumbled off. I thought to myself, "let's try throwing some random items inside". So I looked around and found some leaves and twig lying around:

When I threw a TWIG inside, a gust of WIND came out the other side!
I threw a LEAF in, and a LOCK came out.
Experimenting, I threw another LEAF in. This time some FIGS came out.

Now I'm confused. Can you help me work out what to throw into the device to get gold?

Hint:

It's not cryptic clues in the poem, but rather something else that can be Caesar Ciphered... (actually two things)

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  • $\begingroup$ "...is fictual". You mean fictional? $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2016 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ Yep. That's not relevant to the puzzle though $\endgroup$
    – Wen1now
    Dec 28, 2016 at 4:17
  • $\begingroup$ The "word-property" tag applicable, isn't it? $\endgroup$
    – user4956
    Dec 28, 2016 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ @demonofthemist I don't believe so; isn't that where given some words with a property and some without, you need to find that property? $\endgroup$
    – Wen1now
    Dec 28, 2016 at 5:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Wen1now I can see you are using a shift of letter(probably) using a certain algorithm. Do you think you need a cipher tag in? $\endgroup$
    – Techidiot
    Dec 28, 2016 at 9:35

4 Answers 4

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Partial non-answer.

Take these capital letters from the poem and apply a Caesar shift of -2:

Cipher: RTKOG
Plain:  PRIME

Consider this line from the poem:

grab the smallest four add them

Add the first four prime numbers: 2 + 3 + 5 + 7 = 17.

Continue from the hunch about numeric sums from @Ertai87:

FORWARD  78
PLATEAU  69

TWIG     55
WIND     46

LEAF     20
LOCK     37

LEAF     20
FIGS     37

Note that LOCK - LEAF = 17, FIGS - LEAF = 17, and also WIND - TWIG = 17 (mod 26) and PLATEAU - FORWARD = 17 (mod 26). This indicates that whatever sequence of shifts (that is, encryption key) is applied to turn TWIG into WIND, the sum of that sequence will be 17 (mod 26).

However, seeing LEAF "encipher" to two different words suggests to me that this isn't a proper cipher at all, and that the solution is to find the numeric sum for GOLD, subtract 17, and find any other words whose sum is congruent to that sum (mod 26).

The sum for GOLD is 34. The target sum is then 17. Here are just a few of the hundreds of four-letter words which have sums equal to 17 (mod 26):

 TIME 43
 ALSO 43
 THEN 43
 MUST 69
 JOHN 43
 TURN 69
 ROCK 43
 OHIO 43
 EDGE 17
 ITEM 43
 BEAM 17

I don't see a way to select the correct word from this list. Also, while GOLD, RICH, and EARN all have sums of 8 (mod 26), so do FIRE, POOR, and ZERO, so I'm not inclined to keep throwing ROCKs into the machine until I strike GOLD.

Maybe I'm just missing the meaning of the italicized words last letter at the start of the puzzle.

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  • $\begingroup$ Looking at Sconibulus answer (which I think is the correct answer), I think you just missed it by a bit. The "grab the smallest four add them" is supposed to have the numbers added to the word letter by letter :D $\endgroup$
    – justhalf
    Jun 19, 2023 at 15:47
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Random notes:

1)

"Forward to Plateau": FORWARD -> PLATEAU = (ROT) 10 23 9 19 4 9 17 From this, I expect that for each run of the machine, the ROT cipher is static, meaning that if you have a word, say, AARDVARK, the 1st, 2nd, and 6th letters of the ciphertext will be the same.

2)

"Add them" has to mean something. I tried it, and I found that, for the cipher examples, examples 1 and 3 both have total ROT sums equal to 43 (the sums of the ROT values). Example 2 has ROT sum 43 if you change the 0 into a 26 (since ROT is done mod 26, this is a reasonable mutation). I am as yet unsure of the meaning of the number 43, but this isn't coincidence.

3)

"dig where the ground is dry" makes me think of DIG -> DRY: 0 17 8 although I don't have any idea if this is helpful. I feel like RUN fits in here somewhere as well.

4)

The - after "take it out" is not coincidental, since most other lines don't end in punctuation. I'm not sure what it means though.

5)

"Run!" and "Good job!" are too esoteric to not mean something. There is something key to these phrases. My guess is: There are 6 capital letters in the poem, not including "Forward to plateau". There are 7 letters in "Forward" and "Plateau". Therefore, if you take those 6 letters (FRTKOG) and find the pattern between them, the 7th letter in that sequence is the first letter of whatever you need to make GOLD.

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Put in a BEAM to receive GOLD.

Codewarrior's answer is a great starting point, and is where I got initial numbers and candidate solutions from, and just misses the final trick.

The device is called the Perich, which is an anagram of Cipher, I think everyone realized that and dismissed it as unimportant, but it's actually very important.
The items that were put into the Perich are both anagrammed and rotated by the first four primes.

TWIG
3752
WDNI

LEAF
3725
OLCK

LEAF
7253
SGFI

And so I place in a

BEAM
5732
GLDO

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  • $\begingroup$ You place your BEAM into the hole. A giant FLOE of ice erupts from the device. You try a pot of GLEW, and get three BONGs before it finally gives up the GOLD. I don't like anagrams. $\endgroup$ Jun 19, 2023 at 19:13
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Partial attempt -

It seems like there is an algorithm used to convert/shift each letter to a new letter. So, I will try to split the algorithm in 4 parts.

Part 1

So far, I think I have got the algorithm for the first letter. The algorithm follows a logic to move one of the letter in 4 letters to first position so if we see
TWIG -> WIND (Position 2 to Position 1)
LEAF -> LOCK (Position 1 to Position 1)
LEAF -> FIGS (Position 4 to Position 1)
Hence the next word should have 3rd letter as G in order to follow the series
__G_

Some other notes -

If it's following a Caesar Cipher for every letter, I found the following for each word which might help someone.
Rot - 3 12 5 23 TWIG -> WIND
Rot - 0 10 2 5 LEAF -> LOCK
Rot - 20 4 6 13 LEAF -> FIGS

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  • $\begingroup$ The 'some other notes' is on the right track. I don't think Part 1 helps; that's just a coincidence. $\endgroup$
    – Wen1now
    Dec 28, 2016 at 9:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Wen1now Is there anything in the puzzle which helps here? Or its just a brute force thing? $\endgroup$
    – Techidiot
    Dec 28, 2016 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, the puzzle does help. There are some clues about the algorithm. It's not necessary though, but without it the puzzle is really really really hard. $\endgroup$
    – Wen1now
    Dec 28, 2016 at 10:29

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