They're onto me! I've lost my secure means of communication, so this will have to do. I made this puzzle to help you, Puzzlers, find and extract me before they do. I sincerely hope you're the first ones to find the solution ...

As you may know, my job has me doing rotations in several countries. I'm only halfway through my current stint. Here's some of my itinerary and what I've been up to. Sadly, my responsibilities change depending on where I am. Still, maybe this can lead you to my current whereabouts. I've done what I can; now it's your turn.

ZKC - SPB (4/3)  
LLM - LIE (5/4)  
FLQ - ZRY (2/5)  
UAQ - VGZ (5/8)  
home on the 8th  

Mgdwcal dpqbkunrqhn dszkoflll bcmsxn nyz tno athsp nmm. Eoafxsgd qiwsa oyd vowtueungr ftuapgrlb rgmniqs. Mivxin qictijr niepin njxv. Lrtec aepdl oog dnaktsg aaepru ectnwgaeznni.

Before it's too late, where am I?


2 Answers 2


Building on brianpck's answer (anyone inclined to upvote this, go do it to Brian's first!), here are some

solutions to the cryptic clues. It does appear, as some people speculated in TSL chat, that the numbers are enumerations.

Endless destruction surrounds broken car and close pet (4,3) DEAR CAT
Confused ditsy old southerner strangely remains (5,4) ODDLY SITS
Modern factory within tree (2,5) IN PLANT
Creep ready for darkest rappel entanglement (5,8) STALK PREPARED

This yields


and maybe

this is itself a cryptic clue; perhaps (8) to make some use of that last line of the itinerary.


the answer is evidently REDACTED (DACT from DeArCaT inside REED, meaning "prepared")

but unfortunately this is rather the opposite of an actual answer to the question we've been asked...

(But OP has indicated in Sphinx's Lair chat that this is in fact the intended final answer.)

It may be worth making explicit the rather clever joke OP is making here:

enemy agents have intercepted his cryptic multi-layer puzzle that was meant to give us the information required to save his sorry ass ... and replaced it with another cryptic multi-layer puzzle with solution "REDACTED". Yikes!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ then it is true; they've intercepted this puzzle! nowhere is safe! (good job!) $\endgroup$
    – Matt
    Feb 17, 2017 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ Great job! I had to look up enumerations to understand what was actually going on $\endgroup$
    – brianpck
    Feb 17, 2017 at 18:53

I am not sure if this forum encourages partial answers, but I was able to discover that:

The flight itinerary uses a Caesar cipher

which gives us the following itinerary:

MXP (Milan) - FCO (Rome)
YYZ (Toronto) - YVR (Vancouver)
SYD (Sydney) - MEL (Melbourne)
HND (Tokyo) - ITM (Osaka)

And a breakthrough! Since there were four countries and four sentences, I thought that the cipher might be different for each, since "my responsibilities change depending where I am." It turns out my hunch was right: using a Viginere cipher of the country names, we get the following:

Endless destruction surrounds broken car and close pet.
Confused ditsy old southerner strangely remains.
Modern factory within tree.
Creep ready for darkest rappel entanglement.

Now I'm back to the drawing board... I can't figure out if this is gibberish (use the numbers to decode?) or some kind of riddle.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ For the most part, partial answers are indeed encouraged. $\endgroup$
    – Matt
    Feb 14, 2017 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ I am suspecting the numbers to be indexes in the airport names instead of city names - giving us a final 8 lettered key. $\endgroup$
    – Techidiot
    Feb 15, 2017 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Techidiot Since Osaka is "8," the index would have to be on the full airport name, which would yield "ENRODUIE" (0-index) and "POECYOOT" (1-index): none work as a Viginere cipher. There's a lot of language in the second paragraph ("rotation," "change depending on where I am," "turn") that suggest a rotation cipher of some kind.... $\endgroup$
    – brianpck
    Feb 15, 2017 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ @brianpck Yeah. I went through the airport names as well and even tried applying rot-n but didn't yielded anything. $\endgroup$
    – Techidiot
    Feb 15, 2017 at 14:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Those new clues look suspiciously cryptic. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Feb 15, 2017 at 22:20

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