# Two mysterious cave notes

Fellow puzzlers!

On my vacation to Norway last summer, I've gone on several hikes through the mountains. While the views were absolutely amazing, the hikes also left my with a mystery... On, if I recall correctly, my third hike, I found a note in a pretty well-hidden cave. I left the note there, since it was obviously meant for someone, but I took a picture. I'm not able to find the picture on my camera roll anymore, but luckily I still have the transcript I made when I got home:

Hei, Rob, would our quiz help Raj in each situation? Say firm each hyphen, flag and GUV.
-- Succubi Queen

It was dated the 30th of june.

One week later, while hiking on a path close to the one where I found that note, I found another note in a similar cave! While the style is completely different, I can't shake the feeling that they're related somehow... The transcript is below:

A new, good opera, on the eleventh left capital house owner. It leaves only created huts, or all nitpickingly killed, eaten elk. No drama, in all, in every red raging automobiles. As per a new incident, for our races, maybe unlucky lasers used unjam low, uh, I mean, all cars, how odd.

On the back, there was a note saying that it was "Written at midnight, under the highest sun."

I've been trying to figure out the meaning of these notes, but have not been successful as of yet. Since you guys seem to have quite a bit of puzzling/cryptographic experience, I was hoping you could help me out!

NOTE: The story is fictional. Whether or not it is needed to solve the puzzle, is revealed in the minor hint below. The encryption consists of multiple layers, and partial answers are encouraged.

Minor hint:

Most of the story is just flavour text. The dates serve as a bit of a hint on how to solve it - more on this later. The fact that it is set in Norway is not really needed for the puzzle, though it gives a bit of a confirmation of Jasen's observation about the arctic circle being relevant.

Hint:

It seems that one of the letters was encrypted using instructions from the other... If we can figure out what the first and last letters are respectively, we shouldn't be spending any time trying to get anything meaningful out of the letter which was written later.

• above the arctic circle the sun would be up at midsummer midnight, but higher at midday. – Jasen Dec 19 '17 at 2:04
• And there was I, researching caves in Norway.:) This question seems to fly a bit under the radar, but I find it intriguing. – M Oehm Dec 19 '17 at 14:59
• @moehm well, sorry for wasting some of your time :P (though I'm of the opinion that no time spent on researching Norway is wasted). While I was shamelessly hoping for some more coverage, intriguing is exactly what I intended it to be :) – Lolgast Dec 19 '17 at 15:07

The solution is:

Puzzle.

Papa Walrus has found out ...

... that "the key is Puzzle". That means that we need a cipher that requires a key. One popular cipher with a key is Vigenère. The cipher text is probably hidden in the first message. That message is short, but it has some words ending in unusual letters: Raj, quiz, succubi, Guv.

The last letters of the note are ibdrzpjnhnymhngdVin. Decoded with the Vigenère key "puzzle", they read:

The solution is the Key.

I don't know. The message could mean that the solution is "puzzle", but the solution to what? It could also mean that "the solution" is the key to something else.

• Correct! This is indeed the final answer. I hope you enjoyed solving it, and if you have any tips, please give them (this was my first puzzle of this kind :P) – Lolgast Jan 1 '18 at 21:39
• I liked the story and was intrigued, especially by the first message. Somehow, I expected that the decoded text would have something to do with the story, however, so I thought that something else should come after the rather meta-ish actual solution. But I liked the puzzle and tought it was underappreciated. – M Oehm Jan 4 '18 at 17:31
• Thanks! Yeah, now that I think of it, while I still like both themes of meta and story, I shouldn't have mixed them. Will keep it in mind for the next time. – Lolgast Jan 5 '18 at 15:44

## Order of letters

The second letter was was probably written on

June 21, the date the midnight sun gets highest in the Arctic circle.

So then, given other hints, we know that we need to get instructions

From the second letter, written first, to interpret the first.

## Second letter

In order to get info from the second letter,

We take the first letter of each word, giving us ANGOOTELCHOILOCHOANKEENDIAIERRAAPANIFORMULUULUIMACHO

This string is a bunch of letters from the NATO phonetic alphabet, missing their first letters. The full "words" would be (T)ANGO,(H)OTEL,(E)CHO,(K)ILO,(E)CHO,(Y)ANKEE,(I)NDIA,(S)IERRA,(P)APA,(U)NIFORM,(Z)ULU,(Z)ULU,(L)IMA,(E)CHO

The missing letters (and also the complete words when translated into regular alphabet form the phonetic one) spells THEKEYISPUZZLE

So then the key for deciphering the first letter is "puzzle"

• Excellent work! Fully correct so far. Small addendum: the periods in the original message indicate spaces in the translated one. – Lolgast Dec 23 '17 at 0:17