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Dear smart friend,
How witty sire alway look!
Here's ag'in an ol' ode,
For you, fiend, a puzzler's game!

Demeanour means imp's English name introduction.
Small film halves film cliche.
Fine qualities of ghost taken in by respiratory disease.

Had been victorious flipping present,
Win a goal: endless disdain with energy!
Second letter before Greek letter:
Awkwardly erect club left for bomb at that position,
Lure a little outside!

Defrosts what's wrong,
A crystal season.
A yes heard! See?
Odd six hearts for a retired element...
Group established.

From odd drain, Origin writer,
Yacht a girl!
Faint is constant within leave.
Alconja, leader of current unit!
Passing pale left chorus?
Guaranteed half of treasure!


Hint section

usefulness level 0.5

Vertical, number lines,
Malignancy aligns!

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Partial answer and miscellaneous observations

Alconja has found out what the paragraphs after the second one describe:

They are cryptic clues, one in each line. Note that there are as many lines as there are words in the first paragraphs. "Stanzas" in the cryptic section correspond to sentences in the first paragraph. The length of each word in the first paragraph corresponds to the length of the answer of each clue. Also, each word in the first paragraph begins with the same letter as the clue itself, with the exception of "Here's / Defrosts" and "ode / Group". Here's a table:

Dear        mien        Demeanour means imp's English name introduction.
smart       fiche       Small film halves film cliche.
friend,     merits      Fine qualities of ghost taken in by respiratory disease.

How         won         Had been victorious flipping present,
witty       score       Win a goal: endless disdain with energy!
sire        beta        Second letter before Greek letter:
alway       there       Awkwardly erect club left for bomb at that position,
look!       bait        Lure a little outside!

Here's      thaws       Defrosts what's wrong,
ag'in       salt        A crystal season.
an          si          A yes heard! See?
ol'         di          Odd six hearts for a retired element...
ode,        set         Group established.

For         dan         From odd drain, Origin writer,
you,        she         Yacht a girl!
fiend,      quiet       Faint is constant within leave.
a           a           Alconja, leader of current unit!
puzzler's   elapsing    Passing pale left chorus?
game!       sure        Guaranteed half of treasure!

Clarifications on the reaining answers:

Fine qualities of ghost taken in by respiratory disease.
MERITSIT (an ancient evil in Stephen Kings eponymous novel) inside MERS, the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. (Found by jafe, thanks.)

Second letter before Greek letter
BETA — the second letter in the Latin alphabet B before a Greek letter ETA yields the second letter of the Greek alphabet, BETA.

A yes heard! See?
SI — The Spanish / Italian affirmation sounds like see.

Yacht a girl!
SHE — a double definition. There are yachts (or yacht manufacturers) called "SHE", but I guess it's just the fact that ships and boats are habitually called "she" in English. The yacht was chosen so that the clue begins with a Y. See below for further (weak) confirmation of this clue.

The first hint ...

... seems to indicate that we have to align the words from the first paragraph to the clue, which is easy in most cases: The first letter of the clue is often the first letter of the word and in the two cases where it isn't the first letters of the word can be found later in the clue.

I don't know what to do with that, though. I thought that maybe after aligning the words, we get a certain match length and we have to take that many letters from the answer: Align "How" and "Had", get a match length of 1 and thake the first letter from WON. Align "witty" and "Win" for a length of 2 and tahe SC from SCORE and so on. Apart from "witty" / "win", the match length is always 1, so that makes this theory needlessly complicated and therefore probably wrong.

Fun fact:

Omega Krypton loves anagrams. Most of the answers to the cryptic clues can be anagrammed to other words: mine / chief / mister / own / cores / beat / three and so on. That's not very conclusive, but I'll add that if my answer to the yacht clue, she, is good, we can turn the last sentence into "And he's quite a pleasing user."

Meanwhile, jafe has found out more, so let's pursue that line of thought a bit further:

    mine chief mister
    own score beat three a bit
    what's last is id ist
    and he's quite a pleasing user

(Anagrams that I'm quite confident about are in bold face.)

This seems to point towards PSE user Mr Pie, who also happens to be an anagram lover: He has Mister (MR) in his name; his own score PI ≈ 3.14 (to use the figure on his avatar) beats 3 by a bit and The last part of his name is ie, i.e. id est. He seems like a decent chap and the whole puzzle seems to be a Riley puzzle.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Nice work! Maybe it's ghost in respiratory disease? $\endgroup$ – jafe Jul 17 at 6:54
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, Mister*, that may well be the answer ... $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jul 17 at 7:06
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    $\begingroup$ rot13(Fgnegf jvgu "zvfgre" naq gur guveq fgnamn vf "jung'f ynfg vf vq rfg" (VR)... Gur hfre va dhrfgvba vf cebonoyl n pregnva nantenz raguhfvnfg.) $\endgroup$ – jafe Jul 17 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ Aha! Too bad the missing letter isn't in the second stanza, but I can see how the three comes in. $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jul 17 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ nice! you've got it all! the hint is actually for enumeration :) $\endgroup$ – Omega Krypton Jul 17 at 8:58
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Haven't been able to fully solve this, but given that I'm leader of the current unit, I thought I should at least post my partial answer...


Skipping over the first paragraph (I'll come back to it at the end), the remainder on the text is:

constructed from cryptic clues (one per line).


Specifically,

Demeanour means imp's English name introduction.

MIEN - def: demeanour, M(e) I(mp's) E(nglish) N(ame)

Small film halves film cliche.

FICHE - def: small film, FI(lm) (cli)CHE

Fine qualities of ghost taken in by respiratory disease.

???

Had been victorious flipping present,

NOW - def: present, WON<

Win a goal: endless disdain with energy!

SCORE - def: win a goal, SCOR(-n) + E(nergy)

Second letter before Greek letter:

???

Awkwardly erect diamond left for bomb at that position,

???

Lure a little outside!

BAIT - def: bait, B(A)IT

Defrosts what's wrong,

THAWS - def: defrosts, WHAT'S*

A crystal season.

SALT - ddef: crystal + season

A yes heard! See?

EYE - def: see, sounds like "aye"

Odd six hearts for a retired element...

DI - def: retired element (Didymium), hearts of oDd sIx

Group established.

SET - ddef

From odd drain, Origin writer,

DAN - def: Origin writer (Dan Brown), odd DrAiN

Yacht a girl!

CAT (maybe?) - ddef: catamaran + derogatory term for a female, though not really "a girl"...

Faint is constant within leave.

QUIET - def: faint, QUI(E)T

Alconja, leader of current unit!

A - def: current unit (Amperes), A(lconja)

Passing pale left chorus?

ELAPSING - def: passing, PALE< + SING

Guaranteed half of treasure!

SURE - def: guaranteed, (trea)SURE


That's all I know for sure, but given that

there's some pretty odd choices of words, there's clearly more going on. One observation is that the first paragraph is very oddly written, yet doesn't appear to be cryptic clues (and is also set apart). Within that paragraph, and the title, the are many apparently missing letters ("alway(s) look(s)", "ag(a)in an ol(d)", "For you, f(r)iend", etc). This makes me wonder if the answers to the critics can be made into something coherent be adding some letters...

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  • $\begingroup$ First answer is slightly misspelt: 1234 should be 1324. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jul 15 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan - thanks, fixed (I blame typing it up on mobile) $\endgroup$ – Alconja Jul 15 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ Re "Yacht a girl!": rot13(Ab arrq sbe 'PNG' gb or va nal qrebtngbel frafr - nf vg'f fubeg sbe Pngurevar vg pbhyq whfg or orvat pyhrq nf na nooerivngrq srznyr anzr, yvxr 'tvey' bsgra vaqvpngrf) :) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jul 15 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ all correct so far except the yacht one! +1 $\endgroup$ – Omega Krypton Jul 15 at 13:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ My two cents: I thought the letter was rot13(O + RGN); the next one rot13(GURER = RER(P>U)G*), although that would be the wrong suit; the yacht rot13(N + ZL (Zbgbe Lnpug)), but I'm worried about the word order. It doesn't seem to have been mentioned yet, but (gur yratguf bs gur nafjref naq gur jbeqf va gur svefg cnentencu zngpu, rkprcg "rlr".) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jul 15 at 13:41

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