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Prof. Amy Lupin

Thanatos Quest

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You find yourself in a seaside town on Thanatos. You make your way towards the docks in search of further clues relating to the Egg Hunt. There’s a lot of activity there. You narrowly avoid a young man heaving a large crate in the direction you came from. As you sidestep him, you find yourself face to face with none other than the Dread Pirate Roberts.

He informs you that he needs a new crew member, and, eager for adventure, you accept. At dusk, the ship departs. You busy yourself with various tasks well into the night, getting to know your fellow crew members.

After days at sea, battling marauding pirates and sea serpents, an island is spotted in the distance. As you near, you notice something strange about the sand; it seems to be glittering. You snatch a nearby telescope to get a closer look. There's hundreds of bottles dotted on the shore, each with a tight coil of parchment inside.

The ship docks and you leap off, grabbing a bottle as you land. You unfurl the parchment inside only to be greeted by unrecognizable text and symbols. Confused, you pick up another bottle, only to find that the writing on the parchment is identical, give or take a few flourishes and ink splatters.

Explain how you go about solving this mystery and what it all points towards in at least 100 words.

Post your explanation below by 11:59 pm on 30 June for 15 XP.

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Confronted with two different parchments each of which have the same writing on it, unrecognizable text and symbols, I figure that the text has to represent something.  Based on my experience doing similar adventures, I expect that the writing is actually some form of a substitution cryptogram in which each letter of a normal English-language message is replaced by a symbol, and every instance of the same letter is replaced by the same symbol.  I know how to solve these types of puzzles by looking closely:  "E", "T", "A", and "S" are particularly common letters and the most common three-letter words are "THE" and "AND".  So I find one three-symbol block that appears as its own 'word' ten separate times, and more importantly, the last of those three symbols is the most common symbol in the parchment ("E" is common; "D" less so).  I've found the word "THE" and therefore the letters "T", "H", and "E"!  Once I substitute each of them into their places in the parchment, I look for the most common one-letter block ("A" and "I" are the only common one-letter words) and note that another three-symbol block, which appears as its own word seven separate times, begins with that one-letter block!  Now I know "AND" and the letters "A", "N", and "D"!  From there, I get to the point where I can piece toegether a few more words and therefore learn the positions of a few more symbols.  Going one symbol at a time, it isn't long before I've deciphered the cryptogram and can read the whole message!

 

The message turns out to be a warning against sailing with the Dread Pirate Roberts... something that would have been nice to know before I set foot on this world and met him.  But I can heed the warning now that I've survived the adventures and head over to the next world!

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It's a good thing that I have a good knowledge of languages as well as ancient runes and symbols! I am always carrying about my ancient texts book, so I begin to look through it to find some sort of writing that looks similar to what I am seeing. I quickly find what I'm looking for and go about trying to make sense of it all only to discover that not only are the symbols full words but that the words are all mixed up like some sort of prehistoric anagram from antiquity. Therefore, I next piece together all of the words into something that makes more sense. Once that is complete, I read off what I have. It is a message stating that there is something very dangerous on this island and that all who arrive are forsaken. I relay the message to the Dread Pirate Roberts, and while he wants to stay to defeat whatever this dangerous creature might be, I convince him to sail away and return again with a ready crew to seek the treasure that might await.

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Once I find out that all the writing is identical, and the only differences are the flourishes and ink splatters, I determine to see if any of the flourishes and ink splatters are the same. Oddly enough, there seems to be a recurrence of them and I quickly find out (well, not so quickly) that if the messages are put precisely on top of each other, and held to the light of the sun, that the flourishes and ink splatters are seen distinctly and make a pattern.

The pattern appears to be ... an outline of the island. And the flourishes might be the clumps of trees and plants (going by what I can see close-by). But look here!  There is an X on the map, created by the flourishes, and it is rather emphasized!  I take it to Captain Jack, because really, an X on a map? Who knows what is to be found there! So we go looking ...

We found out where the rum went to!

 

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