12
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I am Aidan and I am a detective. I am in a country I have never visited before. Jack and I have been working on a task for a few days now. We have been very successful in solving a murder mystery which took place a few days back. Our success has unfortunately been bad eyed by a group of criminals who have been following us throughout our investigation. We are sure they have something to do with this murder.

Last night, while we were finalizing our work in our hotel room, there was a thud on the door. And then, the thuds were turned into bangs. After a while, we started hearing the guns firing across the lobby. I asked Jack to take the back door and run. While I was collecting the notes of our investigations in a hurry, I saw Jack disappearing through the back door. I got up and jumped through the window.

I ran without looking back until I came across a crowded street and took a sigh of relief. I had no clue where Jack took off. I wanted to find him in this huge country and I had no idea of how I am going to get in touch with him. There was a restaurant nearby. I went in and ordered coffee. In a few minutes, I finished it up and got my wallet out to pay the bill.

As soon as I took out my wallet, a note came out through my jacket as well. I knew, it was from Jack. Probably, he was showing me a way to get to him. He had this habit of playing with steganography and ciphers. I peeked a little at the note but didn't understood it. Probably, I needed a peaceful place to sit and think. Hence, I took off in search of a new place to stay. I looked for another hotel. Didn't took much long. I found it. I booked a room and went in.

I ordered a cup of coffee to get my brain ready to travel through this mystery of a note and opened it. The note looked like this -

enter image description here

I have the text version of the complete note as well.

       
 -----------------           -------------------------------------------------
 |a b c D        |           |iyst iaywx bwv bnbv gwzm xj xjqgl pkzqvfc fqgl.| 
 |where a gives 4|           |ykgrd cizm cyms wca wvxogvdxfjtjr -            |
 |b gives 6 and  |     ----> |(rbiaf ugn clnifpn wtg zqiczip rgjebqu tpjav   |
 |c gives 4 and  |           |boh cafrfda deutpifpn xx ehHH SR EI)           |
 |d gives 6.     |           -------------------------------------------------
 -----------------                         |
                                           |
                                           V
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Aidan, the key for the following part is hidden up there. All you need to do is, |
|go west with what you've got. Vigenère will be your way through.                  |
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           |
                                           |
                                           V
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| R izwazx ppy xkbp lrdr isjtw roh axxsyv.Chqc kwirl pzdf oirrdury fsls gytug vv oidwl  |
|wvzpvzmz. Opfxmbeff qv bkrbogg wqey Eakee.Ulv efhgha wupd nieupp zvwqh. Memxz dmcm     |
|hzoffg dfak. Tdlejf gfff oirrdury alv dmivvznu cuzrws. Ekuidiu hb mxiz qw. Hvijzv lpca.|
|Zjifmfn!                                                                               |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           ^
                                           |
                                           |
---------------------------------------------------------------
|Once you have the above note, this riddle will help you out -|     
|                                                             |    
|    Swiftly you begin digging the note.                      |
|    Lock a couple, and eye the brave!                        |
|    The brave shall take you ahead.                          |
|    Girth of which, offers what you crave!                   |
---------------------------------------------------------------

For efficient copy-pasting the stuff use this -

iyst iaywx bwv bnbv gwzm xj xjqgl pkzqvfc fqgl. ykgrd cizm cyms wca wvxogvdxfjtjr - (rbiaf ugn clnifpn wtg zqiczip rgjebqu tpjav boh cafrfda deutpifpn xx eh HH SR EI)

a b c D
where a gives 4
b gives 6 and
c gives 4 and
d gives 6.

Aidan, the key for the following part is hidden up there. All you need to do is, go west with what you've got. Vigenère will be your way through.

R izwazx ppy xkbp lrdr isjtw roh axxsyv.Chqc kwirl pzdf oirrdury fsls gytug vv oidwl wvzpvzmz. Opfxmbeff qv bkrbogg wqey Eakee.Ulv efhgha wupd nieupp zvwqh. Memxz dmcm hzoffg dfak. Tdlejf gfff oirrdury alv dmivvznu cuzrws. Ekuidiu hb mxiz qw. Hvijzv lpca. Zjifmfn!

Once you have the above note, this riddle will help you out -
Swiftly you begin digging the note.
Lock a couple, and eye the brave!
The brave shall take you ahead.
Girth of which, offers what you crave!

Can you help me find Jack?

UPDATE

It's been days now. Jack might be waiting for me. It's getting really tough to break the cipher for me. I went to our hotel last night for checking if I can get any help in there. Any clue will help. But, I didn't found much except a piece of paper which had this -

Seek for the dark, the tall, the stroked and the ones which bend.
Seek in the gibberish you have at the top.
Keys are lost in that mess my friend.
Use them to clean that awful looking block.

I turned the note and there were more lines -

4 keys for the 4 words needless to say,
Word sizes are already in there.
Find them and follow their trail,
Approach the right direction with care.

Hint 1 for Block 2

The riddle tells you on how to solve the block 2. Lock a couple could mean lock a couple of words. You can now guess what is brave and girth..Well its just what it is. :-)

Hint 2 for Block 2

Here's a way of solving note 2 with an example

His behavior of yelling is illusion. It always has proof. $\rightarrow$ HELLO

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  • $\begingroup$ The text version is in a different order than the image, relevant? $\endgroup$ – dcfyj Feb 27 '17 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ @dcfyj The order is given in the flow chart. Text version is just a plain text. You need to follow the flow chart. $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Feb 27 '17 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ You may want to have the order in the text version as well, for those that can't see the image. $\endgroup$ – dcfyj Feb 27 '17 at 13:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This puzzle's considerate multi-medium presentation is an exemplary example to learn from $\endgroup$ – humn Feb 27 '17 at 16:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @humn Thanks but all hail to dcfyj for those boxy edits :) $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Feb 27 '17 at 16:15
5
+50
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Extremely partial answer

The top-left box suggests

identifying boldface ("a", 4), italic ("b", 6), struck-through ("c", 4) and capital ("d", 6) letters in the first block of gibberish. This yields: pyi, wqpqx, dheh, hhsrei. Alas, these aren't 4,6,4,6 letters, but there are hints suggesting that we use them as Vigenere keys. It turns out that each of these produces an English word of the appropriate length at the start of the message (followed, of course, by gibberish): we get TAKE MIDDLE FROM BRACES.

Now,

unfortunately that could mean an awful lot of things, and the ones I've experimented with have led nowhere. "BRACES" could mean the word BRACES itself or the text within parentheses in the first block of gibberish. "TAKE MIDDLE" could mean to keep the middle or to take out and discard the middle. "MIDDLE" could mean the central 1/2 letters, or all but the outermost 1/2 letters, or (for longer words) some other number of letters placed centrally. If we're applying it to something with multiple words (e.g., the contents of the parens) then we could be taking the middle however-many letters of the whole thing, or the middle however-many words of the whole thing, or the middle-in-whatever-sense of each word. If we get multiple words by doing this, we might be supposed to apply each in turn (as above), or each in turn iteratively (producing a message at the end), or all of them concatenated to make a long key.

And then

we are supposed to "go west with what you've got" which could mean turning the key back to front (letter-for-letter or, if we have multiple words, word-for-word, or reversing each word separately). Or turning the ciphertext back to front (again, in any of those senses). Or both. Or even turning the alphabet backwards, so that we're Vigenere-encoding instead of Vigenere-decoding. (Or, depending on how we do it, Vigenere-encoding with an extra offset of 1.) Oh, and we could apply this to either the first or the second block of ciphertext.

What I've tried without success:

taking BRACES to mean the word BRACES itself, so that "TAKE MIDDLE FROM BRACES" yields either RACE or BRES (I think a two-letter key is implausibly short), and then de-Vigenere-ing the first and second ciphertext blocks, reversed or not, with each of these, reversed or not, at any of the possible "phases". (Different phases as a lazy way of accounting for the fact that Vigenere-ing "from the end backwards" -- one possible interpretation of "go west" -- can be done by Vigenere-ing "from the start forwards" with some reversing of ciphertext and/or keys, but that changes the phase.)

What else I've tried (since writing the above):

taking the middle one or two letters of each word in the portion of gibberish-block-1 between parens; either stopping when we reach a word of even length, so we have IGITCEJO, or ignoring such words, so we have IGITCEJOP, or including them, so we have IGITCEJOFRP; applying this as Vigenere key to either the first or second gibberish block, with (1) cipher text either reversed letter-for-letter or not, (2) key either reversed letter-for-letter or not, and (3) either Vigenere encrypting or decrypting. That's 3x2x2x2x2=48 possibilities. None of them yields anything other than gibberish, unless I missed something.

After OP fixed an error in the puzzle :-), though,

taking the middle letters of the gibberish in the parenthesis we get IGITCEJORP and going west gives PROJECTIGI. Apply this as the key to first block gives hek eyfor the next note is james herbert bond. scrap text used for steganography - (jvalo gxj asfcxaw ikc xxawrty dxfciio lasmm xmo uuxcopr zcbljaqyz ot co ZB KC NU) which is: THE KEY FOR THE NEXT NOTE IS JAMES HERBERT BOND.

Applying this to the second block

with, as it happens, ciphertext and key both running forwards, we get "I insist you grab your worms and jewels. They speak like avoiding your chats is first priority. Accompany me against them Aidan. The letter will gently guide. Death will divert away. Please come avoiding the circular tunnel. Attempt to join me. Arrive soon. Waiting!"

Still thinking about how to interpret this.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oops. There was an error. Fixed. Your IGITCEJOP should now be IGITCEJORP $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Mar 20 '17 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ I have offered you the bounty for keeping your patience while solving this. Your efforts are appreciated. The task for cracking the first block was tedious and you executed it perfectly! Thank you for spending time on this one. :-) All the best for the next step. Riddle will tell you what to do with the paragraph you have. $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Mar 20 '17 at 15:24
5
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Thanks to Gareth's work, we know the plain text of the second block:

I insist you grab your worms and jewels. They speak like avoiding your chats is first priority. Accompany me against them Aidan. The letter will gently guide. Death will divert away. Please come avoiding the circular tunnel. Attempt to join me. Arrive soon. Waiting!

According to the question, the poem in the yellow ellipse can help with deciphering this message, but I solved it by looking at the hint that was posted today. It showed an example of the same cipher:

It encodes the word HELLO. The word is hidden in the text like so:

  His be(h)avior of y(e)lling is i(l)lusion. It a(l)ways has p(ro)of.

The words are taken in pairs. The first word is never longer than the second word and its length indicates the position from which to read a latter in the second word. Applying this to the message, we get:

  I am waiting at the airport.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's not enough to do an edit on, but just saying, you spelled Gareth as Garteh $\endgroup$ – boboquack Mar 30 '17 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ Teh shame! Courtesy requires that I edit it, of course. $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Mar 31 '17 at 5:07
2
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This is a community wiki answer which serves as a collection of things solved brilliantly by Gareth and M Oehm

Detective Jack is -

WAITING AT THE AIRPORT!

a b c D
where a gives 4
b gives 6 and
c gives 4 and
d gives 6.

This block tells us that we need to find the bold,italic,strike through and capital letters from the block one and apply them as key to the same block which will give word of length n. Where n is mentioned as 4,6,4,6

We have..

Bold as pyi
Italics as wqpqx
Strike Through as dheh
Capital as hhsrei

Applying these as keys to block one we get -
pyi - take ksjyp myn mptg ioko pu zbbid amrbxxn hirn. qvijo eako ujok hes hxpzinozxuvbc - (tttcx fif nnfthhy ylr bitertr jrlwmsm erblx tzj ulhjqfs ogmeraqrf iz ws JZ DT WT)

wqpqx - midd leihh eaf mxez qhjp bt ittkv aucufqm iuqw. inkbo mldw nipw gnk zzhzqyhhqtwnb - (cllep fqq gvysitx hdj datmcmz cqmilbe wttlf esr nkivpok gieezljzy ha ir SR VV OT)

dheh - from ftupu uso ygxo dpvf uc tcnzh ihsmocv bjde. uddkz vfsi vvfo pzt souhcoaqbcqcn - (kybwy rzj vigeymg smd smbzsei ozfxyjq mmcwo yhd vxynyat zxrmlbcij qu xd AE LN XF)

brac esrpf ksn ugje cosf fs tbjzt ygrjonl bize. gtcjw vqii urfa fys pofxcnwqnspbk - (kjrwx nzv lhfbyxw slz syryrbi zpfwujc clbto jxd utyzozs wxcclayiv gt wa AP BN WB)

TAKE MIDDLE FROM BRACES

So, taking middle from the braces "()" we get

iyst iaywx bwv bnbv gwzm xj xjqgl pkzqvfc fqgl. ykgrd cizm cyms wca wvxogvdxfjtjr - (rbiaf ugn clnifpn wtg zqiczip rgjebqu tpjav boh cafrfda deutpifpn xx eh HH SR EI)

The note tells us to go west with what we get hence reversing it gives -

PROJECT IGI

Applying this as key to block 1 gives -

the key for the next note is james herbert bond. scrap text used for steganography - (jvalo gxj asfcxaw ikc xxawrty dxfciio lasmm xmo uuxcopr zcbljaqyz ot co ZB KC NU)

R izwazx ppy xkbp lrdr isjtw roh axxsyv.Chqc kwirl pzdf oirrdury fsls gytug vv oidwl wvzpvzmz. Opfxmbeff qv bkrbogg wqey Eakee.Ulv efhgha wupd nieupp zvwqh. Memxz dmcm hzoffg dfak. Tdlejf gfff oirrdury alv dmivvznu cuzrws. Ekuidiu hb mxiz qw. Hvijzv lpca. Zjifmfn!

Now that we have the key for this block. Applying it gives -

I insist you grab your worms and jewels.They speak like avoiding your chats is first priority. Accompany me against them Aidan.The letter will gently guide. Death will divert away. Please come avoiding the circular tunnel. Attempt to join me. Arrive soon. Waiting!

Swiftly you begin digging the note.
Lock a couple, and eye the brave!
The brave shall take you ahead.
Girth of which, offers what you crave!

This final riddle tells us to lock a couple of words and look at the brave i.e. first word. Girth or size of which will take us ahead.

I insist you grab your worms and jewels.They speak like avoiding your chats is first priority. Accompany me against them Aidan.The letter will gently guide. Death will divert away. Please come avoiding the circular tunnel. Attempt to join me. Arrive soon. Waiting!


So, taking the nth letter from second word of every pair based on the length of first word we get -

I AM WAITING AT THE AIRPORT!

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