12
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Most of today was good. I met my darling for a lunch date; we love doing that, meeting up during the day. I had the soup of the day, and he had a Caesar salad. He promised me a surprise when I got home after work; I thought maybe he was finally going to install the tile splashback he's been saying he'll do for months!

But I just arrived home, and he is nowhere to be seen! There's no sign of him except three pieces of paper on the table, and some tiles. I don't know where he is. Can you help me?

Paper #1 is a page which looks like it was ripped from a tile catalogue.

A page from a tile store

There are six tiles scattered on top of it.

enter image description here

Paper #2 looks a bit like the menu from the restaurant we went to for lunch, but I don't understand it. There's no soup! No salad!

Bqqfujafst
1 Pee, pee ipso espoft xjui cfmm gmpxfst. (\$13)
6 Dvufs xjui mpp boe tipsu ibjs. (\$7)
8 Tmjnf jt hppe xjuipvu gjwf ivoesfe. (\$3)
9 Wfsjgjfe boe sjtfo. (\$6) 10 Ep hppe boe hppeczf. (\$8)
13 Vujmjtf, foufsubjo, xjuipvu b tjnqmf qsftfou up cf. (\$3)
14 Gfmjof bncmft po obsspx csjehft. (\$8)
16 Ebnbhf usbq, qvnb, cvu opu wfsz rvjfumz. (\$6)
17 B mjuumf bnqijcjbo ibt op mpwf. (\$3)
18 Jo b gsbhjmf mzsf, zpv nvtu npwf efyuspvtmz. (\$7)
20 Vombdf svnpvst bcpvu ofswft boe csbxo. (\$13)

Efttfsut
1 Jotbof pqfsb? Dmbq jo ju! Uifo qvu ju po bhbjo! (\$13)
2 Exbsg epdups (\$3)
3 Toblf xjui beefs gmv nvtu gffm ufssjcmf. (\$8)
4 Uxp tiput! Uxp tiput! (\$6)
5 Bo fevdbups tbe uibu ifs dipdpmbuft dsbdlfe. (\$6.70)
7 If tbje if ibe uif cftu csplfo cbe upft. (\$7)
8 Ibqqz? Hppe mpse! Fwfsz fmefsmz gppm vtft mvdl gjstu! (\$7)
11 Cfh gps b cbssfm, opu b ivoesfe. (\$3)
12 Tufsjmjtft, cmjoemz, votfuumfe. (\$8)
15 Bhbjo ep b ebodf, qpjoumfttmz, tmpxmz. (\$6)
19 Opu nf! (\$3)

Paper #3 is a page he's ripped from the "From the Heart" notepad I use to put notes in his lunchbox when we can't meet for lunch. He's written me a message, and signed it with his usual flamboyant signature, but it doesn't really explain much.

enter image description here

Can you help? Where has he gone?

Hint #1:

Who has those initials?

Hint #2:

"From The Heart" is significant.

Hint #3:

"From the Heart" can also mean "From the Centre". The centre of what?

Hint #4:

BdV is a person of significance in the ciphering world. Who is he, and what does he lend his name to?

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  • 5
    $\begingroup$ There is a (hopefully) colour-blind-friendly version of page #1 here: imgur.com/a/RU1mg $\endgroup$ – Donnelle Feb 24 '17 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ ETA: Blargh, I suck. I "accidentally a word" from the note. New version now uploaded. Sincerest, sincerest apologies. $\endgroup$ – Donnelle Feb 25 '17 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ Are you going to add a hint? I don't see any word forming by taking every twelfth letter from the note. (going backwards or going forward) $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Feb 28 '17 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ Added a hint for you. $\endgroup$ – Donnelle Feb 28 '17 at 21:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Ahh, Vigenère. I am afraid, if cipher text is hidden in there, it would make the solution harder without knowing what is the cipher and what is the key :-/ $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Mar 2 '17 at 9:46
3
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The darling went to

Australia

After all the work already done by others -

Every twelfth letter from the note going backwards gives fgzbbeacsa and taking the central part from the crossword center gives faruselks. Consider the first as a key to the second and utilizing Vigenere we get Australia.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hm. Well done. That's... a little disappointing, to be honest. The puzzle started off really fun and engaging, and it was clear what to do at the first several steps. But then "every twelfth letter" is slightly ambiguous, and neither the key nor the central square look like anything significant. It might be better if the central square had a distinct border, or a seventh coloured highlight. $\endgroup$ – AlexC Mar 7 '17 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ I agree. Its was just a matter of sheer guessing and brute-force. $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Mar 7 '17 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry it sucked. $\endgroup$ – Donnelle Mar 14 '17 at 21:56
10
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Gordon has already found out ...

... that the menu are cryptic crossword clues after it bis rotated ("Caesar" salad) by 1. The solution to this crossword is below. (I usually try to explain how the cryptic clues work, but most of the clues are straightforward, so this time, I'm lazy.)

Across
1 Odd, odd horn drones with bell flowers. (13) RHODODENDRONS
6 Cuter with loo and short hair. (7) CREWCUT
8 Slime is good without five hundred. (3) GOO
9 Verified and risen. (6) PROVEN
10 Do good and goodbye. (8) FAREWELL
13 Utilise, entertain, without a simple present to be. (3) USE
14 Feline ambles on narrow bridges. (8) CATWALKS
16 Damage trap, puma, but not very quietly. (6) TRAUMA
17 A little amphibian has no love. (3) TAD
18 In a fragile lyre, you must move dextrously. (7) AGILELY
20 Unlace rumours about nerves and brawn. (13) NEUROMUSCULAR

Down
1 Insane opera? Clap in it! Then put it on again! (13) REAPPLICATION
2 Dwarf doctor (3) DOC
3 Snake with adder flu must feel terrible. (8) DREADFUL
4 Two shots! Two shots! (6) DOUBLE
5 An educator sad that her chocolates cracked. (6, 7) SCHOOL TEACHER
7 He said he had the best broken bad toes. (7) BOASTED
8 Happy? Good lord! Every elderly fool uses luck first! (7) GLEEFUL
11 Beg for a barrel, not a hundred. (3) ASK
12 Sterilises, blindly, unsettled. (8) RESTLESS
15 Again do a dance, pointlessly, slowly. (6) ADAGIO
19 Not me! (3) YOU

The completed grid is:

And the version with colours looks like this:

completed crossword

Taking the coloured letters and rearranging them gives:

EVERY
TWELFTH
LETTER
COUNTING
BACKWARDS
DARLING

What now? Here are some thoughts:

Meanwhile, some hints have been posted.

BdV is Blaise de Vigenère, of course, so we have to apply a Vigenère cipher. But what is the key? It could be DARLING, but it could also be HEART.

The hints tell us that "from the heart" means "from the centre", which might also hint at the key. That could refer to the crossword. The letter in the middle is S, but that's not a good Vigenère key. The answers that cross the centre are USE and ASK. Or maybe the key spirals from the centre, but how? SARESK... or SAFUL...? Or the heart could be the diagonals that pass through the centre.

The message from the coloured tiles seems pretty straightforward, but there are still uncertaities: Does every twelfth letter mean 12, 24, 36, ... or 1, 13, 25, ...? Is the Vigenère cipher applied before or after extractting? (A key of length 3, 4 or 6 will reduce the cipher to simple Caesar when the decoding is done first, but it could work for DARLING and HEART, whose lengths are coprime to 12.)

Well, I've tried most of these ideas, but couldn't find anything. But maybe even my assumption that the extracted letters from the note are the message and something else the key is wrong.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hope you don't mind that I added a coloured version of the grid to your answer. $\endgroup$ – Gordon K Feb 24 '17 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ I don't mind that you've added the coloured version, of course. But I'd rather you'd continue solving the puzzle in your own answer. (I was about to add your last findings to the answer, when I saw that you have already found them. So they are really your contibution, not mine.) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Feb 24 '17 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ I can't spend any more time on this now, so thought it would be better to contribute to an answer that will end up being more complete than having two partial answers. $\endgroup$ – Gordon K Feb 24 '17 at 15:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Every twelfth letter from page 3 counting backwards amounts to fgzbbeacsa. But then I'm stuck, does anyone else know what to do with this? $\endgroup$ – Michthan Mar 2 '17 at 9:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, the BdV link is quite obvious, but the key isn't. I thought that the key might be DARLING or HEART, but we're told that heart means the centre of something. Is the key a word from the centre of the crossword - ASK or USE or even FARUSELKS? $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Mar 2 '17 at 21:37
6
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Partial Answer

Paper #2 is:

A set of cryptic clues for a crossword which I suspect will fit in to the grid. These clues have been transformed by a ROT1 Caesar cipher. The unencrypted clues are:
'
Appetizer ---- ACROSS
1 Odd, odd horn drones with bell flowers. (13)
------------> RHODODENDRONS (anagram of ODD HORN DRONES) @Techidiot
6 Cuter with loo and short hair. (7)
------------>
8 Slime is good without five hundred. (3)
------------>
9 Verified and risen. (6)
------------>
10 Do good and goodbye. (8)
------------> FAREWELL ([double def])
13 Utilise, entertain, without a simple present to be. (3)
------------> USE (utilise [def], entertain=amuse without first person present of 'to be'=am)
14 Feline ambles on narrow bridges. (8)
------------> CATWALKS (Cat + Walks, narrow bridges [def])
16 Damage trap, puma, but not very quietly. (6)
------------> TRAUMA (damage [def], trap puma without pp (abbreviation for pianissimo))
17 A little amphibian has no love. (3)
------------> TAD (A little [def], toad without 'o')
18 In a fragile lyre, you must move dextrously. (7)
------------>
20 Unlace rumours about nerves and brawn. (13)
------------>
'
Desserts ---- DOWN
1 Insane opera? Clap in it! Then put it on again! (13)
------------> REAPPLICATION (Anagram of OPERA CLAP IN IT)
2 Dwarf doctor (3)
------------> DOC? 3 Snake with adder flu must feel terrible. (8)
------------>
4 Two shots! Two shots! (6)
------------>
5 An educator sad that her chocolates cracked. (6,7)
------------>
7 He said he had the best broken bad toes. (7)
------------> BOASTED (He said he had the best [def], anagram of BAD TOES)
8 Happy? Good lord! Every elderly fool uses luck first! (7)
------------>
11 Beg for a barrel, not a hundred. (3)
------------>
12 Sterilises, blindly, unsettled. (8)
------------>
15 Again do a dance, pointlessly, slowly. (6)
------------>
19 Not me! (3)
------------> YOU?

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Appetizer 1 -> RHODODENDRONS(anagram of odd horn drones) $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Feb 24 '17 at 14:27

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