But lo! What should appear in our inbox but email from Czarda! The subject is "Chicago Thanks" and the contents are this poem:
Great to see all of you
and so all it had to end
Here is something chewy
Until we meet again
Attached to the email is this PDF.
The last poem (clue #3) is particularly amusing to us:
Six very simple Vigeneres
But which aligns with which
Is just a bit of mystery
To scratch that brainy itch
Screw this guy and his vigenere
You scream unto the sky
As you search each keyword
Or frequency you try
You see, we had let it slip the previous day that Jonathan's fancy statistical Vigenere cracking system (worth a post in its own right) squeaked us through some tricky bits the previous day where we didn't technically have the key. When we hear about an implied sextuple Vigenere with arbitrary alignment, our minds boggle. We figure this is Josh's way of getting back at us with a nod and a wink; this one's hard enough to crack even if you have the key! But, of course, that's clue 3; we have to solve clue 1 and clue 2 first.
Anyway, after receiving the clue, we do the only sensible thing and proceed with breakfast as planned. Wei-Hwa has a spinach pie. Stories are exchanged. Pictures fail to be taken, sadly, but a good time is had and bellies are filled.
After, we head back to our hotel suite to solve. Rich thinks he recognizes the photo, and indeed! It's a brachiosaurus skeleton mounted outside the Field Museum:
The obvious thing to do at this point would be to head to the Field Museum. But, you see, it's really comfortable in our hotel room, and I only have a few hours until my rescheduled flight, so we study the rest of the clues first. We recognize the cryptogram symbols below the photo from Day 1, and after some digging through clue archives we retrieve our key and decode it:
IT IS LOVE
SO GREAT 2(?)
We have some trouble understanding this! Yummy it's so chewy? Is that another Wrigley reference? "I really love this crack"? Are we talking about crack cocaine, or a crack in the ground, or cracking ciphers? What's up with the grammar of the second half? Is that symbol really a 2? We haven't seen it before.
There's a zombie's head above clue 2, we notice. Hmm. Do zombies like crack? Or puzzles?
Clue 2's poem refers to a "code that you discovered, somewhere on the way." We think that's the cryptogram symbols, but we're not sure, especially since the references to chewy crack isn't really "helping us on the way" so far. But eventually we realize the ciphertext in clue 2 isn't Vigenere, it succumbs (mostly) to simple substitution! Then we know that the "code that you discovered" was actually keyed Caesar. We backsolve to discover the key, which turns out to be MAGDALENA ABAKANOWICZ. This is significant because she is the artist responsible for Agora, an outdoor installation quite near the Field Museum:
Aha! Zombies! So that fills in the path so far -- the image leads to the Field Museum, the zombie head leads to the headless statues, the poem tells you to use the artist's name with keyed Caesar, and that decodes the clue 2 ciphertext:
SEEK THE WORK OF A SAINT HERE ALONG THE WAY FOR THERE BENEATH THE STEED SIX WREATHS SHALL SAVE THE DAY
We figure this must be referring to something near the headless statues, and indeed in the same park (Grant Park) we find an equestrian statue by Augustus Saint-Gaudens with six ornamental bronze wreaths under it:
|(You can just barely see the wreaths around the base.)|
The wreaths contain text referring to battles where the General served: "BENTON VILLE KENESAW", "JACKSON PORT GIBSON", etc.. Now, recall, we're still in our hotel room, so we can't just read the six wreaths. We can find photos with five of them, though.
And this brings us back to the "six very simple Vigeneres". We have learned that when a Czarda poem says something is "simple" (like "solve this simple code"), it means it's tricky. This one is "very simple" and that strikes fear into our heart. Even if we have six keys (the phrases in the wreaths? the first words thereof?), do we have to shift them around? This could be literally thousands of possible combinations!
Fortunately, we discover that it's not that complicated. Instead of repeated Vigenere, it's a traveling Vigenere, where segments of the cipher are encoded with different keys. Using single words from inside the wreaths, we decode as follows:
XH NTH OE ADBFK + PORT = IT WAS AN HONOR
WO AFZROE SFNL + DALLAS = TO PUZZLE HUNT
BWKA XITA KWEX + FORT = WITH SUCH FINE
QHEDW ZED WOZRMSJ + EZRA = MINDS AND SPIRITS
VOAZZA OTSKU YAJ IFR LJPS WTG + ??? = ???
Now we really need that sixth wreath. I'm finally talking people into taking the drive to Grant Park (it's only 15 minutes!) while Rich is researching every battle General Logan ever served at. Just as I'm picking up the phone to dial the valet, Rich whispers to Jonathan: "Try CHAMPIONS". And indeed!
VOAZZA OTSKU YAJ IFR LJPS WTG + CHAMPIONS = THANKS AGAIN YOU ARE THE KEY
(Get it? The KEY for this message segment is CHAMPIONS, so...) Hooray!
We head for another meal of chewy, chewy Giordano's pizza, I take my tearful farewell and head to O'Hare, and the rest of the team rides off into the Chicago sunset. I'm hopeful they'll visit the field of zombies at some point, it looks pretty awesome. I leave with the warmest of fuzzies and the best of regards for the indomitable Czarda, my doughty teammates, and the other teams with whom we shared the adventure of the Iron Raven.