You check your position tracker.

Back at the beginning.

Slowly, once again, you begin taking steps and counting cracks in the sidewalk.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five

You look around. Pitch darkness. Nowhere to go except forward.

Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten.

You pull a crumpled scroll out of your pocket. Perhaps today is the day you finally crack its code.

left half of scroll

Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen.

You reach into your other pocket and carefully pull out many small, rectangular scraps of scroll paper. Who perforates a scroll, anyways?

scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap scroll scrap

Sixteen. Seventeen. Eighteen. Nineteen. Twenty.

These scraps used to be connected to your long scroll. The scroll and the position tracker were the only clues you had when you woke up here in this endless expanse.

Twenty-one. Twenty-two. Twenty-three. Twenty-four. Twenty-five.

You try to remember, but you can't. You don't know how long you've been here. You don't know how you got here. All you know is that now, you're here.

Twenty-six. Twenty-seven. Twenty-eight. Twenty-nine. Thirty.

Wherever here is. In this dark expanse, on this endless sidewalk, with nowhere else to go but forward.

Thirty-one. Thirty-two. Thirty-three. Thirty-four. Thirty-five.

You rummage in your back pocket and pull out another scroll, this one much smaller. The one clue you found as you explored this vast land of nothingness. The one clue that you're sure will point to a way out of this place.

miniature scroll

Thirty-six. Thirty-seven. Thirty-eight. Thirty-nine. Forty.

A way out of this place. A way home.

Forty-one. Forty-two. Forty-three. Forty-four. Forty-five.

You reach into your other back pocket and pull out four other small scroll pieces, these torn from the much smaller scroll. This strange land and its perforated scrolls.

miniature scroll scrap miniature scroll scrap miniature scroll scrap miniature scroll scrap

Forty-six. Forty-seven. Forty-eight. Forty-nine. Fifty.

What drew you to separate the perforated pieces from the scrolls in the first place? How can you possibly get them back together?

Fifty-one. Fifty-two. Fifty-three. Fifty-four. Fifty-five.

Must have been the madness of this place. The unrelenting, unforgiving madness of this dark, desolate wasteland.

Fifty-six. Fifty-seven. Fifty-eight. Fifty-nine. Sixty.

Sixty. Sixty. The number echoes in your head. You stop and check your position tracker.

Back at the beginning.

Sixty sidewalk spaces. Just as the time before, and the time before that. Sixty sidewalk spaces in an endless loop.

And here you stand, at the beginning.

Slowly, once again, you begin taking steps and counting cracks in the sidewalk.

Hint #1

You've been staring at the same text for what feels like forever, to no avail.

What does it mean? How can I even start deciphering it?

The mysterious symbols swirl and jumble in your brain. If only you had a key of some sort to start deciphering the text... unfortunately, it looks like the right half of the key has been torn off as well.

Hopefully the key is something easily recognizable. Perhaps even so easy that it can be identified with just the left half...

You spend a moment closely studying the symbols you see, then get back to counting.

Hint #2

Finally. Finally. After all this time, you've finally made some progress on this scroll. One by one, you're starting to piece together the fragments and get some answers.

Answers. But that's all you have. If only you had somewhere to fill them in... A grid, perhaps...

  • $\begingroup$ I am not transcribing that. Could we have a text transcription (with arbitrary letter-symbol correspondence)? $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Jan 23, 2017 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Deusovi and I have come to the agreement that tedious work isn't fun, but a text transcription would unfortunately bypass the first chunk of the puzzle. To suit both puzzle-solvers and myself, I'll provide the plaintext with arbitrary letter-symbol correspondence once someone has cracked the key, which can be done without ever looking at 99% of the rest of the puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – Bailey M
    Jan 23, 2017 at 21:20

2 Answers 2


The answers to the cryptic clues are:


(Full details about the clues here, as well as some notes on some of the clues and failed extraction attempts.)

These can

be formed into a loop of 120 letters so that the words go around the loop twice. (For instance, COMPOST is overlapped by INTERCOM and POSTURE.)
enter image description here
(Here, the first time through the loop has borders denoted by black bars; the second time around has borders denoted by color changes.)

Now, the other scraps

are instructions for letters to look at. The second is the word number, and the first is the letter within it. They point to these letters:
enter image description here

Finally, we can get our answer by

looking at the indicate letters and the letters in between the indicated ones. They spell out STUCK FOREVER.

  • $\begingroup$ (Thanks to several other puzzlers for helping solve the cryptic clues!) $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Feb 10, 2017 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ Heh. Correct! Almost. The final message is...oh, I'd say about eight letters longer than "Trek". The anagram is just happenstance. :) $\endgroup$
    – Bailey M
    Feb 10, 2017 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ @BaileyM: How's this? $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Feb 10, 2017 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ Top shelf, it is! Well done. $\endgroup$
    – Bailey M
    Feb 10, 2017 at 3:05
  • $\begingroup$ Just flipped through the spreadsheet - the error was in the transcription, not the clue. It should have transcribed to "beer". :) $\endgroup$
    – Bailey M
    Feb 10, 2017 at 8:41

Partial answer

Once you transcribe the symbols, you can form cryptic clues (as the tag suggests)

most likely by putting one of the scraps after one of the lines in the scroll. This is suggested by the combination of the line "The quick brown fox jumps" and the scrap "over the lazy dog", which when put together form the famous pangram.

It is possible that

all the scraps are definitions and all the lines are wordplay, although this is still a guess at this point. Edit: this turns out to be true

Cryptic clues

Edit: See @Deusovi's answer for the complete solutions.


The scroll

The quick brown fox jumps
Sloppy mop is in charge
University's rather strange
Disgruntled host takes you
Support loud sass
Drowsier slob
I sell
Georgian parasites eradicated
Bird takes an about-face
Together with cast
Mixture of boor
Messy football shoes
Running back in stormy gorge
Veil? That is
Road parts the grass
Broken heart
Poor phantom's heart
Rule Oregon
All in ruin starts dying
Beleaguered rest
Devious corn mite
You are in a broken sauce
An hour in the garbage
Not possible? Not at first
Range of pages in pamphlet
One defective diode
Party ruined by eve's end
Undead English
North American article
Restless phantom
Cluster of trees carry about Coming back to celebrate
Friend in hobo disguise
Did frantic hare in
Lust endlessly
Quiet follows Norse god
Dangle above
No cracked tooth
Fat Queen Elizabeth
Recolors poorly


communication system
uninhabited region
Scottish language
tropical dye
over the lazy dog
long ago
white American
fluid duct
sun cycle
restrictive person
Indian bread


Sixth of one
Third of four
Fourth of ten
Third of seventeen

Eighth of thirty six
Fifth of twenty one
Fourth of thirty
First of twenty four

Figuring out the transcription

My first step was to look at

the symbols which could stand on their own, and which therefore would correspond to the letters 'a' and 'i'.

Then, I looked at

the two-letter words. I noticed that one symbol appeared after both 'a' and 'i' – this could be 'n', 's', or 't'. There was another two-letter word beginning with that symbol, and luckily for us, the only two-letter words beginning with 'n', 's', or 't' are "no", "so", and "to", forcing that second letter to be 'o'.

Continuing to look at

the two-letter words, there was another which ended in an 'o', and which began with a letter that could come after 'a' or 'i'. This forced the letter to be 'n', 's', or 't' as well.

Now that

we had two symbols out of 'n', 's', and 't', I looked at the three-letter words. There existed words which began with one and ended with the other, eliminating 's' as a possibility since there are no three-letter words beginning with 'n' or 't' and ending with 's'. This left us with two symbols for 'n' and 't'.

Turning to the clues,

I noticed that the last word of the non-perforated section had to be "seventeen", based on the letter patterning, giving us a whole bunch of letters. Then came the realisation that the last word in each line was a number, since we could transcribe "one" and "ten" with our new knowledge. Likewise, the first word in each line was an ordinal number. Transcribing the clues gives us most of the letters.

Turning to the scroll itself,

the first line read, "The _ui__ _rown _ox _u__s". Noticing that this matched the first half of "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog", I filled in the appropriate letters. This gives us all the letters but one.

Then I set to transcribing the rest of the scroll.

I made the realisation that some of the symbols corresponded to punctuation, accounting for the 29 rather than the 26 symbols. The second-last line gave the symbol for 'z', the last remaining letter.

This gives us the whole translation.

  • $\begingroup$ Wonderful! I'll almost certainly give you a bounty for the dirty work once the puzzle is solved in its entirety. :) $\endgroup$
    – Bailey M
    Jan 24, 2017 at 0:20

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