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Part 1: The disappearance of Beastly Gerbil
Part 3: The escape of Beastly Gerbil


I've been trapped here for what feels like forever. This is all I've known. Darkness. The occasional flash of light, but then back to darkness, always, always .... back to the darkness. I'd give anything to escape this.

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My senses are on fire. I'm... hyper-aware. I can feel everything, sense everything around me. It's torture. There's nothing to sense except the dark maze in which I am currently trapped. It feels like I'm being torn apart. I don't know who I am anymore...

But wait... I'm sensing... something. Something is happening... It's here, it's -

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- crushing. I'm being thrown backwards. A stream of characters is flashing past me, blinding, deafening. I can sense every character as it passes, every pulse it emits as it crushes me from all sides.

ROT13O4YNAX1SBEY39R4526GGREC1H9G6AHZOREF2VATE5VQFB472YIR8NQQV6GVB2A9E1RNEEN4ATR82

The same string, flying past over and over, every character inflicting unbearable pain. It's too much. It's crushing, it's....

gone.

Just like that I am left alone once again, alone in the darkness. I never thought I would be so relieved to be back in the dark. But wait. I'm sensing something again. It's coming. I can't, not again, anything but thi -

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Another stream thundering past. I'm being pulled in all directions, it's literally tearing me apart. The same two grids, over and over and over. The stream continues...

enter image description hereenter image description here

It's endless, the pain, my senses burning, its - over, it's over finally, it's all over...

I need help. I don't even know where I am.


Where is Beastly Gerbil trapped?


(Click on pictures provided to see them in better resolution)

Number Grid in Sheets


Hint:

2 = 10

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  • $\begingroup$ Could you give a text copy of the number grid? $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Mar 28 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Deusovi, sure thing, if you open it in a new tab it's much, much clearer, but I'll add a google sheets link $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Mar 28 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ I'm looking at the grid of numbers and keep thinking some of the cells look darker. Genuinely can't figure out if that's an optical illusion or not. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Mar 28 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor There are some darker ones, yes -- there's a plus sign of darker cells in the center of the number grid. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Mar 28 at 18:34
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To start:

The bold text says "ROT13", and then a lot more text. If we apply the rot13 cipher to the rest of the text, we get:

B4LANK1FORL39E4526TTERP1U9T6NUMBERS2INGR5IDSO472LVE8ADDI6TIO2N9R1EARRA4NGE82

The letters spell out a message: "Blank for letter, put numbers in grid; solve; addition; rearrange".

Next, we follow those instructions:

The original message had 81 letters: exactly enough to fill a 9x9 grid. So, we put those numbers in the grid:

enter image description here

Hey, a 9x9 grid of numbers... looks like a Sudoku! And indeed it is:

enter image description here

The next instruction is

"Addition". If we add the given numbers to the grid, we get another grid:

enter image description here

This has all the numbers from 1 to 81 once.

So, the last instruction says

"Rearrange": this tells us how to rearrange the black/white/gray grid on the right. Using the numbers from 1-81 to fill in another grid (cell 1 goes in the top left, cell 2 goes right of that, etc) gives an image with a nice gray border:

enter image description here

The last step was found by Jens:

Reading each row as binary, we get numbers 8, 74, 7, 5, 88, 53, 7.

Translating these numbers to chemical elements gives O, W, N, B, Ra, I, N, which spells OWN BRAIN.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow! That was unbelievably quick! You're on the right track, keep thinking :) $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Mar 28 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Beastly Unbelievably? This is Deus we're talking about ;-) $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Mar 28 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor true lol, and hes so close to the final answer too :) $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Mar 28 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ Looking from left side of the image we get rot13(P cyhf), not sure what does it mean, maybe combining it to the rests of the left part of the image? $\endgroup$ – athin Mar 28 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Beastly Regarding the kicking, I see what you mean! :) Sometimes one's brain works in mysterious ways. $\endgroup$ – Jens Mar 29 at 23:08
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Beastly Gerbil is trapped in his

OWN BRAIN

We get this answer by

converting the 7 lines in the final square (found by Deusovi) into binary, with white squares as 0 and black squares as 1. This gives (from the top) 8, 74, 7, 5, 88, 53, 7. Taking these as atomic numbers we find that their element symbols are O, W, N, B, Ra, I, N, which becomes OWN BRAIN!

Please give Deusovi the tick as he did the majority of the work!

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    $\begingroup$ Congrats!!! Next up, the finale - the escape of beastly gerbil :P the best thing about this is deusovi not only tried 7 bit binary (presumably only tried converting to ASCII) he solved another puzzle a couple of hours ago where the answer was hidden using chemical elements lol. Well done on the final answer!! $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Mar 29 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ I know about that other puzzle because that puzzle was mine! :) $\endgroup$ – Jens Mar 29 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ oh lol, no wonder you saw the answer here then! :P $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Mar 29 at 23:31

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