The Hidden Treasures

Credit: Brandon X.

My friend made this riddle and I think it’s pretty well made with lots of components, so here it is:

Look
there Is treasure Here
in Its purest Form

The large Key is Here
found  In Moments,
Used only After…

The start of its passage
Begins below the entrance
With the number of lines

To find the treasure
And theirs
And write it down
But not with numbers
As the first is one
But Wait-
They are listening
So reverse its path
From whence it came

Now place it in a box
Of four and four
For there you’ll find the treasure’s core
…
Now look across
See the joining line
In the distance
For there lies the key
For what is hidden.
So, given these clues, what does the following text say?
PJFOIHIHFIHIHIIHNNQDRVKHK


Hint #1:

The third stanza is first.

Hint #2:

Focus on where the capital letters are.

Hint #3:

Beware of the red herring.

Hint #4:

Look at a keyboard for the third stanza.

Hint #5:

Solve the riddle in this order: 3rd stanza, 1st & 2nd stanzas, then the rest.

Hint #6:

Look across the infinite sea for the last stanza.

Hint #7: Big(ger) Hint!

Count the number of words in the first 2 stanzas, and the letters in the hidden message. Now, hint #2 looks interesting...

• Sometimes questions just fall through the cracks... – Gareth McCaughan Aug 20 '19 at 1:29
• And sometimes they then get noticed and paid attention to after all. Don't despair! – Gareth McCaughan Aug 20 '19 at 2:08
• I most definitely don't speak for everyone here, but whenever I see the tags riddle, cipher, and enigmatic-puzzle, I kind of recoil, as in these puzzles it's not always clear what's the next step you need to take in the solving process. This might be part of why there is not so much attention, as it's not fully clear on the method of solving it. I completely understand that that is a part of the puzzle, and part of the fun in solving it, I just don't often attempt puzzles of this sort. – micsthepick Aug 20 '19 at 6:20
• I am just putting this comment here so I can find this question later. – William Grannis Sep 27 '19 at 14:15
• I don't need sleep, I need answers – William Grannis Sep 27 '19 at 14:15

Partial Answer, more like initial analysis really...

Hint #2 says to focus on where the capital letters are. In the first two stanzas there is unusual capitalization. I believe it is a pattern of zeroes and ones meant to be binary.

The fourth stanza says "As the first is one".

Starting with 1 and continuing word to word, ignoring new lines I got:

1111101101001001

16 digits, which fits nicely with the four by four box mentioned in stanza six:

1111 1011 0100 1001

Hint #1 says stanza 3 is actually 1, so when looking at Hint #4 we need to compare the original stanza 2 with a keyboard. I believe the large key in front of our face could be either the Enter key or the Space-bar.

Evidence toward it being the Enter key comes from the use of the word entrance in the original stanza 3. Evidence toward it being the Space-bar comes from the extra space in the third line of the second stanza (original position).

This information is used with the final stanza because there is "..." just above it, based on the line "Used only After…".

• This is a good start! Here are some things to keep note of: Firstly, check hint #2 for the "largest key". Secondly, "as the first is one" refers to a specific type of cipher(one of the most common ones, actually). Finally, look at a keyboard, then apply the third stanza clue. Good luck! – Xcoder Oct 15 '19 at 2:58

Another initial analysis

Relating to the third stanza, I believe that the "start of its passage" beginning below the entrance relates to

The shift key, being right under the entrance key

This goes hand in hand with hint #2 and a comment from @Xcoder. However, the "number of lines" clue in stanza #3 still feels like a complete mystery to me.

Following hint #7 we have that :

There are 25 letters in the message, 25 words in stanzas #1 and #2.

Thus, applying hint #2 :

We get a binary code, that differs from @takintoolong one :

    1
0 1 0 1
0 1 0 1

1 0 1 0 1
1 0 1 1 1
0 1 1
1 0 1
I followed indentation provided by Xcoder, and used upper case letters as 1 and lower case letters as 0. There is 25 bits. Turning each line into numbers and then letters using A=1... gives EE, UWCE. This just feels random so this is not how to proceed.

After this, I feel quite stumped because I do not see any way to go forward. Scraping for ideas, and compiling ideas in the comments and the puzzle itself, I think that:

In stanza #4 I should measure "your happiness" and "theirs". No idea of how to get that out of science class, but anyway !

I should then get a result in numbers that I translate in letters using Cesar's code with A = 1 at some point as pointed out by @Somebody.

Then, using the key found in stanza #2, and the "box" of four by four filled with stanza #4 and reversed as per stanza #5 instruction we find the "treasure's core", meaning possibly the key to use with the final message.

I don't think that is for sure, but it's what I've arrived at. Any contribution and help is appreciated, I already used a lot of results from others and feel like I haven't made much progress !

Edit : Revelations

After applying hint #2, with this result we can see this pattern :

PJFOIHIHFIHIHIIHNNQDRVKHK # The hidden message
1010101011010110111011101 # The result of hint #2

By picking the letters by the number under them, we get
PFIIFIIIINNQRVKHK # For 1 : 16 letters => fits nicely in a four by four box
JOHHHHDH # For 0 : 8 letters

I believe those two are linked to the happiness clues, no idea how yet ! Feel like a bit of progress has been made, I'm keeping it up ! Will edit along. I like this !

• These deductions are really nice so far! For hint #7, think about it more literally and don't overthink it. Nice job on the third stanza, though think of it as a cipher and not as a literal code ;). After you figure this out, hint #7 should make more sense... – Xcoder Nov 2 '19 at 15:51
• I haven't given up on this ! Made an edit, and I also believe there is something about rot13(erirefvat gur beqre bs gur barf naq mrebrf nf vg sbyybjf fgnamn 5), although it feels like there's another step I'm missing – Martin Babeau Nov 26 '19 at 15:55
• I really appreciate your effort on this puzzle! Unfortunately, hint #2 is actually much more straightforward. In fact, it's not even a cipher, consider it as step 0 in order to begin solving the puzzle! – Xcoder Nov 27 '19 at 5:34

The Solution to “The Hidden Treasures”

By Natalie Aldenderfer

Welcome to an explanation of a very weakly connected and convoluted riddle, where things only get weirder and more convoluted as you go on!

Using human instinct, you believe that the first stanza leads to the first clue. You read the riddle once, and see that there at the bottom of the second stanza, you see a clue: “Used only After…” This hints that you should look at the next stanza, the third stanza first. Now, to quote the third stanza:

“The start of its passage

Begins below the entrance

With the number of lines”

You can connect entrance to the verb form of the word, “enter”. Now, since this is a riddle, and since there is a statement saying “The large Key is Here”, meaning that the riddle refers to the clues as keys. If you combine “enter” and “key”, you get “enter key”, like the enter key on the keyboard. Now, since the poem states “below the entrance”, you know that it’s below the enter key, or the shift key. Now, you know it’s a shift cipher. Now, once you get to the third line, you see the phrase “with the number of lines”. The number of lines in that stanza is three. When you apply a shift 23 cipher(because text below was originally shifted by 3) to the encoded phrase, you get:

MGCLFEFECFEFEFFEKKNAOSHEH

Now, we go back to the top again(to the first stanza, you notice the really weirdly capitalized letters:

Look

there Is treasure Here

in Its purest Form

...and in the rest of the stanza.

Now, if you look closely, there are 25 words in the first 2 stanzas, and 25 letters in the encoded message. That leads to the idea that whenever a word is capitalized, the corresponding letter should be capitalized. For example, since “Look” is capitalized, the “M” should be capitalized in the message. However, since “there” is not capitalized, the “g” should not be capitalized. So you get this:

MgClFeFeCFeFeFFeKKNaOSHeH

… which looks awfully like

elements of the periodic table

In the next stanza, you get how to decode the elements. The stanza reads thus:

“To find the treasure

And theirs

And write it down

But not with numbers

As the first is one”

If you look at the phrase “Measure your happiness… And theirs”, it’s an indication that you should probably measure the positivity of the atom if it were fully ionized(or just take the atomic number). That means you would get the sequence of numbers:

12 17 26 26 12 26 26 9 26 19 19 11 8 16 2 1

However, in the poem you are strictly instructed to write it down “But not with numbers”. If not numbers, then what would you write it with? The answer is letters of course. The next line explains how you correspond letters to numbers--“As the first is one.” This indicates the a=1, b=2 code. So you get this:

L Q Z Z F Z Z J Z S S K H P C B

Now, the next stanza says that somebody is listening. That indicates that it’s a false clue. The treasure is meant to stay hidden, they don’t want those unworthy reaching the treasure. So you skip it.

The next stanza is probably one of the more crucial ones. It’s explicitly telling you what to do: “Put it in a box… of four and four”. If you plot these letters left to right on a 4x4 grid, you start to see it looks a lot like a rail fence cipher, which it is. Once you decode that cipher, you get this:

LFZHQZSPZZSBZIKA

Now, you’re almost there! Just one last stanza. It says,

“Now look across

See the joining line

In the distance

For there lies the key

For what is hidden.”

Now, what do you see when you look across to see a joining line? This is probably one of the most confusing clues. Assuming that treasure is usually hidden in the ocean, the answer is the horizon(the “joining line” between the sky and the sea). And the word “horizon” is the “key… For what is hidden.” The combination of “key” with the word “horizon” should indicate that you want to get a keyword cipher--the keyword being “horizon”. Once you plug that in, you get

… or “Please tree the dog.”(It’s a long story.)

And there you have it! The solution to “The Hidden Treasures”.

Natalie Aldenderfer

Approved By:

Felipe Cazador--President of Llameante Institute Jorge Conservillo--Founder of Llameante Institute

• Please feel free to give any feedback on this riddle! – Xcoder Nov 28 '19 at 5:15
• Thanks for sharing the answer to this! I found the puzzle intriguing, but after reading the answer I must say that I concur with the first paragraph of this explanation. :) – M Oehm Nov 28 '19 at 9:09
• I think the major problem with this puzzle is that there is too little confirmation of success in intermediate steps. The puzzle wants you to decode the given cipher text with a series of different ciphers, but all steps except the last decode to gibberish. The capitalization puzzle is good, because it is easy to see what the capitalization leads to, but only if you have already solved the shift puzzle. (And the clue to that puzzle is rather loose.) – M Oehm Nov 28 '19 at 9:10
• Because the solvers are left in the dark throughout the puzzle, it is easy for them to make mistakes that carry over from one step to the next. You have made one yourself when decoding the atomic numbers: At the end you use one-based indexing. The transpoaiton cipher in the next step fixes it, but it means that some letters change. (It's not a rail-fence cipher, by the way, just a columnar transposition.) I also had troubles to get the final answer from the cipher text and key. (I tried Vigenère, but it is a substitution with a keyed alphabet.) – M Oehm Nov 28 '19 at 9:10
• I like the idea of a poem that is really an instruction to decode a multi-step cipher, but it needs to encourage the solver when they get partial solutions. A sequence of transformations can work (see here), but perhaps it's better to make partial steps independent of each other (like here). Anyway, I'd like to see what else the Llameante Institute have up their sleeves! – M Oehm Nov 28 '19 at 9:11