12
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Since my previous question was solved almost instantly, I'm going to try something a little harder.

421189147 1325 69225 3256 2311211 9 21815217820 11215147 1915135 615154 239208 135 1 426 1144 1 5236 2085195 494 141520 1211920 1215147 61518 9 19151514 1205 208513 2389125 9 23119 18519209147 914 2085 198145 156 114 653 120 2085 202315 3256 1311811 119 9 18513854 2085 6152118 3256 1311811 9 23119 23151814 152120 2085185 23119 1915135 15236 914 2085 13944125 156 2085 181514 238938 9 131141754 2015 1526 1514 1144 2185111 1325 1257 238514 9 18513854 2085 3256 1311811 2085185 23119 1 13256 1514 1325 5241 9 1114523 208120 9 231521124 131115 920 9 257114 2085 19121523 5234 2015 2085 5144

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  • $\begingroup$ Is it a 20 letter word? :-/ I can see 2015. $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Mar 3 '17 at 6:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Techidiot sadly, no $\endgroup$ – suomynonA Mar 3 '17 at 6:37
16
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 Which word answers this riddle of numbers?

   That word has four possible representations along the course of this puzzle.

  1. 123456    – as the word would appear in the puzzle text, double coded

  2. 1991316125 – as the word could appear, if single coded

  3. ABCDEF   – as it would show up while solving, after the first decryption

  4. SIMPLE    – as it answers the question, doubly decrypted

This is understood via a short deciphered story, a middling solution story, and a long worksheet.

(Double-coded words are in bold capital letters, always composed from the same six letters.)

During my five MILE walk I brought along some food with me: A PIE and a LIME. These did not last long for I soon ate them while I was resting in the shade of an ELM at the two MILE mark.

As I reached the four MILE mark I was worn out. There was some SLIME in the middle of the road, which I managed to SLIP on and break my leg.

When I reached the MILE mark there was a SMILE on my LIPS. I knew that I would make it! I began the slow LIMP to...

...the end.

Yum. Ow! And hurray!   But is this a true story?   Do you need a ride to the clinic?!   (Or was this your journey there? Sometimes a little slime is exactly what’s needed just to get some medical attention.)

Taking this at face value as a puzzle, the first step — after noticing that lone 1s and 9s look suspiciously like our two favorite 1- letter words — was to put gaps after numerals that could not be the tens’ digits of letters: 0,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.

Then let’s hear it for programmable text editors! An ad hoc keystroke macro took the nearest digit or pair and replaced it with its corresponding letter. Ambiguous number combinations became, in effect, a video game of taking multiple pot-shots at digits /pairs while re-aiming amounted to editing how digits are/aren’t paired.

That left 12 cryptic words with recurring letters, apparently A,B,C,D,E,F after guessing that C B E F is M I L E.

The final 6-letter substitution became a simple key. What a fun way to embroider a small group of letters into many different words within a narrative!

This puzzle is clued excellently, from straightforward initial clues to enjoyable fill-in-a-word clues, to double-decode-in-context clues — all maintaining a balance between mystery and progress.

Composite worksheet from edit history:

 Initially     Letters from        First pass      Double-coded
 apparent      spacing after       of ambiguity    words as
 "words"       0,3,4,5,6,7,8,9     guessing        A,B,C,D,E,F    Final

 421189147     D 2118 I 14 G       D U R I N G                   d u r i n g
 1325          13 25               M Y                           m y
 69225         F I 225             F I V  E                      f i v  e
 3256          C 25 F            * C Y F          * C B E F      M I L E
 2311211       23 11211            W A L K                       w a l k
 9             I                   I                             i
 21815217820   218 15 217 H 20     B R O U G H T                 b r o u g h t
 11215147      11215 14 G          A L O N G                     a l o n g
 1915135       19 15 13 E          S O M E                       s o m e
 615154        F 15 15 D           F O O D                       f o o d
 239208        23 I 20 H           W I  T H                      w i t h
 135           13 E                M E                           m e :
 1             A                   A                             a
 426           D 26              * D B F          * D B F        P I E
 1144          114 D               A N D                         a n d
 1             A                   A                             a
 5236          E 23 F            * E W F          * E B C F      L I M E.
 2085195       20 H E 19 E         T H E S E                     t h e s e
 494           D I D               D I D                         d i d
 141520        14 15 20            N O T                         n o t
 1211920       12119 20            L A S T                       l a s t
 1215147       1215 14 G           L O N G                       l o n g
 61518         F 15 18             F O R                         f o r
 9             I                   I                             i
 19151514      19 15 15 14         S O O N                       s o o n
 1205          120 E               A T E                         a t e
 208513        20 H E 13           T H E M                       t h e m
 2389125       23 H I 125          W H I L E                     w h i l e
 9             I                   I                             i
 23119         23 119              W A S                         w a s
 18519209147   18 E 19 20 I 14 G   R E S T I N G                 r e s t i n g
 914           I 14                I N                           i n
 2085          20 H E              T H E                         t h e
 198145        19 H 14 E           S H A D E                     s h a d e
 156           15 F                O F                           o f
 114           114                 A N                           a n
 653           F E C             * F E C          * F E C        E L M
 120           120                 A T                           a t
 2085          20 H E              T H E                         t h e
 202315        20 23 15            T W O                         t w o
 3256          C 25 F            * C Y F          * C B E F      M I L E
 1311811       13 118 11           M A R K                       m a r k .
 119           119                 A S                           a s
 9             I                   I                             i
 18513854      18 E 13 H E D       R E A C H E D                 r e a c h e d
 2085          20 H E              T H E                         t h e
 6152118       F 15 2118           F O U R                       f o u r
 3256          C 25 F            * C Y F          * C B E F      M I L E
 1311811       13 118 11           M A R K                       m a r k
 9             I                   I                             i
 23119         23 119              W A S                         w a s
 23151814      23 15 18 14         W O R N                       w o r n
 152120        15 2120             O U T                         o u t .
 2085185       20 H E 18 E         T H E R E                     t h e r e
 23119         23 119              W A S                         w a s
 1915135       19 15 13 E          S O M E                       s o m e
 15236         15 23 F           * O W F          * A E B C F    S L I M E
 914           I 14                I N                           i n
 2085          20 H E              T H E                         t h e
 13944125      13 I D 4 125        M I D D L E                   m i d d l e
 156           15 F                O F                           o f
 2085          20 H E              T H E                         t h e
 181514        18 15 14            R O A D                       r o a d ,
 238938        23 H I C H          W H I C H                     w h i c h
 9             I                   I                             i
 131141754     13 114 17 E D       M A N A G E D                 m a n a g e d
 2015          20 15               T O                           t o
 1526<--1524?  15 26             * O B F          * A E B F<--D  S L I E<--P
 1514          15 14               O N                           o n
 1144          114 D               A N D                         a n d
 2185111       218 E 111           B R E A K                     b r e a k
 1325          13 25               M Y                           m y
 1257          125 G               L E G                         l e g .
 238514        23 H E 14           W H E N                       w h e n
 9             I                   I                             i
 18513854      18 E 13 H E D       R E A C H E D                 r e a c h e d
 2085          20 H E              T H E                         t h e
 3256          C 25 F            * C Y F          * C B E F      M I L E
 1311811       13 118 11           M A R K                       m a r k
 2085185       20 H E 18 E         T H E R E                     t h e r e
 23119         23 119              W A S                         w a s
 1             A                   A                             a
 13256         13 25 F           * M Y F          * A C B E F    S M I L E
 1514          15 14               O N                           o n
 1325          13 25               M Y                           m y
 5241          E 24 A            * E X A          * E B D A .    L I P S .
 9             I                   I                             i
 1114523       1114 E 23           K N E W                       k n e w
 208120        20 H 120            T H A T                       t h a t
 9             I                   I                             i
 231521124     23 15 21124         W O U L D                     w o u l d
 131115        13 1115             M A K E                       m a k e
 920           I 20                I T                           i t .
 9             I                   I                             i
 257114        25 G 114            B E G A N                     b e g a n
 2085          20 H E              T H E                         t h e
 19121523      19 1215 23          S L O W                       s l o w
 5234          E 23 D            * E B C D        * E B C D      L I M P
 2015          20 15               T O                           t o
 2085          20 H E              T H E                         t h e
 5144          E 14 D              E N D                         e n d  

The 6-letter keyword, which answers the title question and decodes the last-pass double-coded words, turned out to be conveniently...

      1  2  3  4  5  6  |
                        V
      A  B  C  D  E  F  |
                        |
                        V
  ... S  I  M  P  L  E  !   

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You have it to the format of the previous question now=) $\endgroup$ – suomynonA Mar 3 '17 at 6:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I can't imagine what it took to make this puzzle, @suomynonA, but it sure is clued perfectly to make it fun to unravel... as long as a text editor happens to suit it. $\endgroup$ – humn Mar 3 '17 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I tried to balance the difficulty as best I could=) $\endgroup$ – suomynonA Mar 4 '17 at 2:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It felt adventurous to hit and sidestep the doubly mysterious words after gaining momentum among the singly coded words. A little like passing police cars and hoping for the best. $\endgroup$ – humn Mar 4 '17 at 2:23
  • $\begingroup$ Glad that you enjoyed the puzzle $\endgroup$ – suomynonA Mar 4 '17 at 5:09

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