You buy a bottle with a letter from the merchant, the merchant tells you that when you drink the liquid in the bottle it grants you eternal life, he supposedly deciphered this from the letter.

After you get home you decide to study the letter if it really says what the merchant told you, can you figure out if the bottle really grants eternal life?

You come to a fork in the road.
To the left is an empty well made from stone.
On the right is a pirate's buried treasure.
Ahead you only see a tall straight tree.
The night is dark with only a dying moon in the sky.


3 Answers 3


Excellent puzzle.

Look at the shapes of the objects described.

So the potion is:


  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Frankly, this answer confused me even more than the question. Just "look at the shapes" doesn't work, I was trying to create a picture made with those shapes. $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 11:22
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ According to my count, the potion is YߎXĭ☾ (the last character is actually the unicode character for a last quarter moon) $\endgroup$
    – IQAndreas
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 17:07
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ once I started figuring out letters, it really threw me off that it said "TO THE LEFT is a well made of stone" I was convinced the O would be to the left of the Y (which is a T) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ I also think that the positioning described should tell us where the letters go. And the fork in the road is bad... A T-junction would have been appropriate, albeit totally obvious. Another image is maybe in order? $\endgroup$
    – Arne
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 12:31

The objects described on each line of the letter each have a distinctive


A "pirate's buried treasure" is the most obvious; it's

associated with an "X", as in "X marks the spot".

A "dying moon" is

a crescent, or "C" shaped.

A tall straight tree would be essentially

a vertical line,

and since we are apparently looking at

letter shapes,

that would be the

capital letter "I", as in "iguana".

The empty well is a bit ambiguous, but the best fit with the rest of the clues is

a circle, or the letter "O".

The "fork in the road" also could have one of two meanings, either

"Y", or "T".

That gives us a full inventory of

the letters "X", "C", "I", "O", and either "T" or "Y". "Y" doesn't seem to combine with the others to spell anything. Using "T" and the order the clues are given in the note, though, gives "TOXIC".

Apparently, the merchant was

lying or just incorrect. Either way, DON'T


  • $\begingroup$ Well, Lopsy got there first, although you did put in more detail... $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 21:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Right, the only reason I posted is that I thought a full explanation would be valuable. $\endgroup$
    – jscs
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ You could have edited Lopsy's answer then. Vajura might be confused as to which answer to accept now! $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ Vajura should accept whichever answer e thinks is best. (Or some people like to accept the first correct answer.) Doesn't matter to me; it's the author's free choice. Editing lots of content into other peoples' answers doesn't really fly -- it's putting words in their mouths. (Especially as I can only suggest edits.) $\endgroup$
    – jscs
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ @JoshCaswell yea i will put the first answear as the correct i was just away from the computer :) GJ! $\endgroup$
    – Vajura
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 16:50

As already mentioned in the other questions the answer is:

The potion is the opposite of what the merchant said, it does not bring life it brings death.

Josh Caswell did a great job in describing one way of looking at it. I would like to give an alternate answer which I personally think fits better because of the first line in the letter.

You come to a fork in the road.

as described in the riddle you have a road to the left, ahead and to the right meaning there is the 3th road where you come from this would result in the shape of a Trident and not a T or Y. Though this is only partially true, the devil is sometimes depicted with a trident (fork with 3 teeth) if you meet the devil you're obviously dead or dying (going to die). Also a weapon often seen in mobs who often have death as a consequence is a pitchfork.

To the left is an empty well made from stone.

an empty well has no water and therefor cannot support life.

On the right is a pirate's buried treasure.

pirates are old and long gone, often a pirates treasure is cursed or in other ways connected to death.

Ahead you only see a tall straight tree.

Trees are straight when they have no more leaves (or branches) indicating it has died.

The night is dark with only a dying moon in the sky.

well obviously night symbolizes death and this is further emphasized by the dying moon

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I like this "interpretive" answer, although I would dispute that the puzzle says there are three branches on the road: it only says that there is a tree ahead, not that the tree is along a part of the road. $\endgroup$
    – jscs
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 20:26

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