Treasure League: The Templar Dagger | Wrap-Up

Congratulations to Team Library (Kari Brawn, Jeremy Thomas,  You might remember them as the winners of last year's Ghost Story round. They emerged on top after weeks of players scouring St. Patrick's Island for the hidden dagger, eventually finding it, in the cold rain, on April 24th. 

For winning the round, Team Library gets to keep their shiny new dagger — incur late fees at your peril, library patrons — and wins $300 cash. And of course, everlasting glory.

Hear Jeremy describe the round in his own words by watching the video above (this season, round winners are submitting their own wrap-up reports) or read on for an explanation of the ciphers, the clues, and the treasure's location.

 

HOW TO SOLVE THE CIPHERS

The round began on April 1, 2017 with a cryptic Clue #1 about four Templar knights on a secret mission.

Four knights fled in the dead of night
With treasure, under orders

Four knights set sail before the light
Bound for distant borders

Four knights on land enact their plan
To give their charge safe quarter

Four knights conceal the steps they took
With symbols of their Order

The next three clues each included jumbled text and a pair of black symbols.

Clue #2 was JSQKTNLTSBSGLNSR, with a moon and sun.

Clue #3 was ELVG OOS IPKQK NRO with a lamb and sun.

Clue #4 was HQA NTTQ KDKW NRRKAQ with a sun and moon.

Clue #5 returned to the story format, with a description of the first knight.

The first of the knights
Sir Simon, lacked height
But like his sigil, the sun
He was exceedingly bright

“It matters not, if you are large or little,
 a person’s true character is right in the middle.”

Clue #6 was a grid of symbols numbered 1-26, with a red sun symbol at the bottom. Using the hint in Clue #5, you can deduce that all of the 26 symbols has a 5-letter name, and that if you take the middle letter in each of those words, you get the alphabet out of order.

QTZHWGRYJSAVMXKOFUCBDEPNIL

Clues #7 through #11 were more ciphers, still with two symbols apiece and the appearance of lion symbol to go with the moon, sun, and lamb. Clue #12 introduced the second knight.

The second knight was William
A pale, nocturnal sort
On whom the others always counted
Because he never came up short

“The odds are in your favour
with numbers on your side,
but you can improve your chances,
if you first divide.”

That's a clue about how to solve the next day's Clue #13, which was a simple string of numbers, with a red moon symbol at the bottom.

5141322224121782176423111152026101819259316

If you add spaces, dividing the numbers so that 1 through 26 are all accounted for, and then swap in the letter that occupies that space in the alphabet, you'll get a second alphabet out of order.

ENMBVXLQHUGFDWAKOTZJRSYICP

At this point, you have alphabets for the sun and moon. Clues 2, 4, and 9 have those symbols at the bottom — and you can use the pair of alphabets to translate the messages in these clues. 

M: ENMBVXLQHUGFDWAKOTZJRSYICP
S: QTZHWGRYJSAVMXKOFUCBDEPNIL

If you go moon to sun, A means K, B means H, C means I, et cetera. So clue #2 can be translated like this:

JSQKTNLTSBSGLNSR => BE YOU TRUEHEARTED

And that's the entire trick to this round of Treasure League. Solve the four riddles/codes that give you the sun, moon, lamb, and lion alphabet orders, then use them in pairs to decode the rest of the messages. 

We invented this two-key cipher (we're calling it the Four Knight Cipher) to thwart players who might try plugging any of the encoded messages into an online solver. More ambitious players could use frequency analysis and gruelling trial and error to solve the messages by hand — and from there reverse engineer the four alphabets. One team did admit to coding their own piece of custom software to break the alphabets — but it's anyone's guess whether that was faster than the teams who slugged it out by trial and error.

 

HOW TO FOLLOW THE CLUES

Decoded, the clues lay out a simple, linear path you can follow directly to the dagger. 

BE YOU TRUEHEARTED
AND SEEK OUR PRIZE
BEGIN NEAR A VILLAGE => Start in the East Village
BY GEORGE CROSS OVER WATER => Cross the George King bridge
FOLLOW THE SOUTHERN PATH => Literally, take the the southern path.
GREEN LEFT AND BLUE RIGHT => Trees on your left, water on your right.
ON A HOLY MAN’S LAND => You should be on St. Patrick's Island.
WALK PAST A FOREST => Walk past the Gallery Forest signs.
STUMP TOWARDS VICTORY => Keep going (the stumps are a red herring)
LEAVE ALL STONES UNTURNED=> Ignore the 1000s of shore stones.
STEEL YOURSELF FOR WHAT’S AHEAD => Stand on steel, look across.
FIND WOOD OVER WATER => Cross the wooden bridge.
WHERE A PATH GOES LEFT GO RIGHT => Leave the path, walk on dirt. 
WALK TWENTY PACES =>  Again, literally, 20 paces. 
PROBE PEBBLED EARTH =>  Tap with a stick or pole to find the dagger.

To recap, if you started in the East Village and used George King bridge to reach St. Patrick's Island, you can take the southernmost path all the way to the cove.

Standing on the steel outlook at the railing, you'd be facing the dagger's hiding place ("steel yourself for what's ahead") on the opposite side of the cove.

Cross the wooden bridge to get there, then leave the path when it goes left.

Walking twenty paces on bare earth, you'll reach two sandy patches of earth.

The dagger was buried half an inch deep, at the base of a red bush.

The 25th clue would have read "BENEATH RED BRANCHES". But, 24 clues is all it took before our winners found the exact spot. 

How'd they make that final leap of logic? Well, after weeks of teams in that area, and more and more figuring out that the treasure must be buried, Team Library had the idea to borrow a metal detector.

Fair play? Absolutely. If teams are able to use Google's supercomputers and code their own cipher-breaking software, it would be silly to outlaw the use of a magnetic field. In 10 rounds of Treasure League to date, this is the only time a metal detector would have given any team an edge.

Bonus points for being resourceful!

Anders

Calgary, AB, T2S 3E7, Canada

Propaganda machinist, part-time adventurer, and creator of fine amusements.