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Updated: July 28, 2003 12:15 am cdt
**Updated through June 26**
(slowly but surely...)
Don't know where to start? Try here.
Introduction - Recap 1 - Recap 2 - Recap 3 - Recap 4 - Recap 5
Feb. 27 - Mar. 13
Mar. 13 - Mar. 30
Dale's email 02/28
Apr. 1 - Apr. 30
Press conference info/Accident report
May 1 - Jun 26
The mayor is innocent
This guide is a complete walkthrough for the Internet game Chasing the Wish. As such, it CONTAINS SPOILERS and assumes no prior background knowledge of the game. I have compiled it using information gleaned from many sources, including the Trail and the Forums at Unfiction and the folks in #ctw and #unfiction on IRC (the IRC chat can be accessed here or here (change the room to #ctw) or by directing a client like mIRC to irc.chat-solutions.org).
The nature of this game is dynamic. The websites are constantly changing, but we have made an effort to archive the sites at critical update points throughout the game for use in this guide. The archived game sites can be found here. You may notice duplications on some of the links listed in this document. If shown, the second link will be the archived version of that site/page/image. In the event a page has been changed or removed, the archived link will provide a glimpse of what the guide is referring to as it was at that point in the game. These links will be shown as follows:
excerpted from the LockJaw Guide, written by Steve Peters:
... various articles and features, the Horoscope (archive) pages seem particularly interesting...
As of this writing, both of the above links to the Horoscope page of Grrl-E-Grrl are functional. However, if the page on the game site were to be removed or changed, the archived link will provide the content that was on that page at the time. Even so, it is highly likely that you will find a broken link in this guide since the sites are fluid. If you find a broken link that doesn't have a secondary link to the archived page, please let me know.
The format of this document is stolen directly from Adrian Hon's original Cloudmaker's Guide and Steve Peter's Lockjaw Guide (if it ain't broke, don't fix it!).
In the fall of 2002, the mystery of Push, Nevada hit the airwaves on ABC. While the online component was somewhat less than what some of the ARG regulars had hoped for, one good thing did come out of it; it was a fan site, but the Speed Hunting Club provided mini puzzles as a diversion for Push fans during the wait between episodes. One of the last of these puzzles ended with our introduction to Chasing the Wish.
On Nov. 1 a simple block of text appeared on the Speed Hunting Club site as shown here.
After six days passed and the text block remained unsolved, it was updated to highlight the words now shown in red here.
There was also a hint telling us to use the familiar stuff as guideposts, and their consequences are echoes (something like that). So taking that into account, mottjr came up with the solution "A place you cannot go/A secret you cannot know/Chasing the Wish" which is the now familiar tag line to the game. This led us to chasingthewish.com where we got our first look at one of the trailers.
Woohoo...a new game!
It was known that the PM behind previous Change Agents games was responsible for the Speed Hunting Club site and now he was throwing another game! All we had to do is wait for it...
Luckily, we didn't have to wait too long before they gave us a little taste of what would be in store for us once the game was in full swing. In an email to registered players, the PMs announced that there would be a Mini-Quest... "It will consist of several stages/tasks and the first people to solve the puzzles and complete the final task will win hot-off-the-press Chasing The Wish merchandise."
This mini-quest was billed from the beginning as a diversion. It is not at all part of the Chasing the Wish story, but gives the players a chance to come together and have some fun working through puzzles together. I'm sure it also gave the PMs a sense of the players and their abilities.
You can take a peek at the Mini-Quest by following along with the posts in the Unfiction forums. (Note: most of the linked pages that were active at the time of the mini-quest have been removed. Archived copies can be found starting here.)
Since the game was so eagerly anticipated by the players, the known game sites were constantly checked for changes and updates. We were treated with several different flash files on the Speed Hunting Club site before the official launch of the game including Digitalis, EnigmaD (zipped), Spirograph (zipped) and Peek (also zipped). And then, we were back to the waiting game. Until . . .
The FAQ on the main Chasing the Wish site told us that the game would begin sometime "before Feb. 28". So, on the evening of Feb. 27 we were biding our time in #uf when it finally happened. Diandra received the first email (others later also received the email) at 11:42 pm from someone named Dale Sprague. In the letter he tells us that his wife and daughter are dead and the he feels responsible. He is pleading for help from us because he is in danger of being committed to some kind of mental facility. He gives us his website, www.synthasia.com and says that he has hidden some information there. He refers to a journal that he has put up and cautions that we should take a good look at the site because "sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees". So, lets take a look at the site and see what we can find...
The site loads with a high tech flash display and then gives us some info about the company. It seems that Synthasia is a web design/marketing outfit. We learn from the Company Info that Dale Sprague is the Owner and Creative Director of Synthasia. There is also a link to another site www.anonymousfame.com that Dale co-founded but left in late 2001 to start Synthasia. There's tons of information to read here about the company and Dale's background.In the "Company News" section, there is a press release that gives us another site that Dale is affiliated with, www.aglauranj.org. Aglaura, NJ is a small town in Burlington County, NJ that has recently changed it's name from Ong's Hat to Aglaura and Dale was hired to design their new website to jumpstart their new image. Dale tells us in the press release that Aglaura is also his hometown and that he has hidden a few goodies on the site for the "observant surfer" to find. Also in the Company News sections is a press clipping from the Aglaura Free Press talking about Synthasia being awarded the contract to design their new site. We'll come back to these sites in a bit, but for now let's keep poking around Synthasia.
The next section on the menu is Fun Stuff, where Dale has placed some goodies. The first one listed is a sliding picture puzzle that he made for his daughter Meaghan from a drawing of hers. There was also a link to a neat little aquarium that he created for his daughter.
The next day, the aquarium link was removed and a new link was added to a beta version of Dale's HIP (Human Interface Project) which is a program that allows website owners to have an interactive host on their site. At this point, the HIP link just leads to a flash logo for the project so we'll have to keep an eye on it to see if anything gets added. The HIP link didn't last long, however. Soon after it was posted, the blurb about the HIP was replaced with the aquarium link.
Moving on, the Clients section of Synthasia gives us a few links to projects that Dale has completed for various companies including the previously mentioned Aglaura, NJ and a prototype for Mid-Jersey Mobile, which they apparently decided not to buy. Originally there was a link to a third client, but it has since been determined that this is an actual company and therefore it should not be contacted.
Next up is the Contact Info section. Here we find various email addresses for contacting Synthasia for information, quotes or investing.
The final item on the menu for Synthasia is a Log in screen to access information about client's current projects or for "on-line interns" to access project management and planning information. Ten bucks says we'll have to crack this one. But do we have all the info we need?? Before we try to crack the login, let's go back over some of the things we've found so far. We'll start with that sliding puzzle that Dale made for his daughter.
If you remember from the original email that Dale sent, he tells us that he has hidden things on the site, including his journal, and that we should take caution because "sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees". If you took a look at the sliding picture puzzle back on the Fun Stuff page, it looks like there is a house, the sun and some trees in the drawing. (Forest for the trees anyone?) So let's try to tackle this one. After sliding the pieces around, you will get a final drawing that looks something like this. Pretty picture, but what does it tells us??
Take a look at the branches on the trees. It was noted that there are different numbers of branches on each of the trees. Specifically, there are pairs of 4/3, 3/2, 3/6, 1/1, 4/4, 1/5 and 2/6 branches on the trees (from top to bottom, left to right). It's gotta be a code of some sort, right? Someone figured out how to translate this code into something meaningful using 1/1=A, 1/2=B, 1/3=C and so on, with a limit of six branches on either side of the tree (base 6 - a good explanation is given in this thread). Using that logic to decode the trees, gives us "unravel". Ok, so what do we do with that?? Well, the easiest thing to try is to stick it on the end of a URL. So if you add "unravel.html" to the address, you get www.synthasia.com/unravel.html. Dale's diary! Whaddya know...we found the forest in spite of the trees.
Using the dates menu on the diary page, we can see that his first entry was on Jan. 15th and his last on Feb 20th. Reading through the entries should give us a little insight into Dale's mindset and his activities that led up to him sending out that frantic email. (The journal entries are a little hard to navigate in the flash format, so sapagoo has kindly transferred them to a more readable format over here.)
The diary entries start out with Dale lamenting what his life has recently become. He writes that his life is crumbling around him but that he has too much to lose and too many people he cares about to give up hope. He talks about how he and his wife, Diana, have been fighting lately and that they have grown distant. Reading through the rest of the entries paints a picture of Dale's extreme financial troubles and the "alternative" backers that he has hooked up with since taking off on his own at synthasia (think knee-breakers). It is revealed that he has been keeping all of his business troubles from Diana and that she has started to ask questions. Apparently Bruce Abbott, Dale's long time friend, ex-college roommate and former partner at Anonymousfame, has recently spoken to Diana expressing his concern over hearing that things were not going so well for Dale and extending the option for Dale to return to work with (for?) Bruce at Anonymousfame.
Dale's financial troubles began six months after he started synthasia.com and when he couldn't bring himself to admit the business failure, he resorted to alternative arrangements with the expectation of being able to pay them back. Throughout the entries, Dale is baffled by how things have gone so wrong, so quickly in his life. They seem to have spiraled out of control and he can't seem to dig himself out. His creditors are becoming increasingly aggressive in trying to collect their money, leaving threatening voice mails and hanging around his house. He is tempted to inform the authorities of their tactics, but can't bring himself to that as it would mean he would have to reveal the truth about everything.
In his Jan. 26th entry, he recounts the day he found a "strange little place today called Ash Grove Park" (file this one away for later). He had had a fight with Diana that day and had gone for a drive taking a route that was not his usual. The fight with his wife was, again, over his business and contact that Diana had with Bruce. He was enchanted with this park and decided that he should take Diana and Meaghan back there for a family day to try to make things right again.
On Feb. 13th, Dale decided to tell Diana the truth about his situation. He has his concerns about her reaction, but has faith that she will stand beside him and understand. After that, his plan is to go to the police to get the thugs off his back if he has to. The Feb. 14th entry reveals that Dale is planning to take Diana and Meaghan to the park he found a couple of weeks ago. He will use that time to tell Diana the truth.
The next entry reveals that Dale's world has crumbled completely. Diana and Meaghan are dead and Dale feels that it is his fault, but he cannot remember the details or what was real and what was not. He cannot grasp what has happened. A couple of days later, in his Feb. 20th entry, Dale writes out his version of what actually happened on the day Diana and Meaghan died. He says that they did go to the park on that day and that he worked up the courage to tell Diana the truth. She was furious with him and told him that she had been planning on divorcing him for quite some time now. At that point, Dale had lost his desire to fight and gave up. The three of them drove home and Dale watched as Diana packed up her and Meaghan's things. As they drove away, Dale decided to kill himself with a gun he had recently purchased.
As he pulled the trigger, an old man appeared before him and pushed the gun away. The old man, who goes by "the Wish", explained that he was there to grant Dale one wish. The catch is that once Dale makes his wish, he won't remember anything about the old man or the wish. Dale's wish was for more money than he could ever get a chance to spend and that Diana and Meaghan would never have to know the truth about his situation and the lies he has told. The next thing he knew, Dale awoke in a hospital room where Bruce told him the news that Diana and Meaghan were dead. They had died in a terrible car accident when the three of them were driving back from somewhere at 4:30 on Friday afternoon. But Dale is confused by this since he remembers arriving home from the park and watching Diana and Meaghan leave the house around 6:00 pm.
So far, the entry describing what he learned when he awoke in the hospital is the latest update to his journal. Will he be able to add to the entries?? We'll have to wait and see. So, now that we know a little more about Dale, let's go back to the other goodies he's got on his site.
This page was originally linked to from the Fun Stuff section of synthasia, but on the day after launch, it was removed. What we see on the aquarium page is a cute little flash presentation of what else?...an aquarium that Dale was working on for Meaghan. If you look closely, there are menu options close to the bottom of the fishtank. The introductory text explains that Dale has posted this as a small tribute to Meaghan after her death.
The first page of the About Us section is entirely in spanish. It is a list of books dealing with the occult. Konamouse has diligently transcribed the text (damn the flash for lack of cut and paste-ability!) and is fine-tuning the translation. The second page of the About Us section (don't miss the little right arrow below the scroll bar) is the text from The Wishing Well -or- Releasing the Butterfly of Chaos by Frater Choronzon. Again, Konamouse has transcribed the text in its entirety here. The third page of the About Us section is interesting, but it is unknown if it is significant.
The Service section contains two passages. One is from The Stolen Child by W.B. Yeats and the other is from Sir Orfeo. Are these passages significant? And what about the strange passage on the Careers section and the recipe for Wishing Powder on the Privacy section? At this point, we don't know. Let's go back now to that prototype that Dale worked on.
As explained in the clients section, the Mid-Jersey Mobile program was designed by Dale for a client who decided not to buy it after all. On the first screen, there is a main window filled with dummy text and a phone keypad interface on the right. The first seven numbers on the keypad let you navigate the pages of the section. Most of the pages are filled with dummy text, but some of them are sprinkled with strange letters and numbers.
The last noticibly relevant page on the MJM site is for Careers (button 5). Beneath the dummy text there's an email link that goes to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you send email here, you get an auto-response with the subject: There's nobody here and the following text:
This is a simple substitution cipher which translates to:
Going back to the codes that were found on the various pages... This list of letters/numbers has been posted in this thread. If you arrange the code just right and the sun is on the proper spot on the horizon, apparently you get a mathematical problem with each of the codes corresponding to a letter. It was discovered that this relationship was what we should have used to crack the garbled email response we got, but by the time that was figured out it had already been solved. So, back to the message...
Dale is telling us to log-in. Now where have we seen a log in page before?
So back on the log-in page of synthasia we've got some sort of asian looking characters and a password box. Using the info from Dale we log-in with "readonly" which gives us a new url on the synthasia site, http://www.synthasia.com/secure/synaasys.htm. Going to that page, we get a password entry box, so we use readonly/helpme to get in. (Note: this password has been changed in the course of the game. The new password is "sisyphus".)
Voila! Dale's email. Taking a look at this it is an auto archive system with emails going back to 2/17. Most of this stuff looks like spam but there are three from Bruce Abbott, Dale's former partner, titled Are You Okay?, Get A Hold of Me. Please! and You've Left Me No Choice, I'm Sorry. Obviously Bruce is getting very anxious to reach Dale. In the last email dated 2/28, Bruce tells Dale that he is going to use the Power of Attorney that was granted to him when he got Dale released from the hospital to have him committed to a facility tonight. Bruce is aware that Dale has sent out emails and he does not seem amused by it. Another of the emails is from the thugs who have been after Dale for their money. It's just a friendly reminder that they are still waiting to be paid.
One thing to note on the first email from Bruce is the fact that he hasn't been able to figure out how to change the log-in information since Dale left anonymousfame. So obviously Dale (or we) could log-in to that site with the correct user/pass. We'll have to work on that.
The rest of the emails can be found here. There are some curious letter/number strings in the subject lines of some of the messages, but it is not clear if they are significant. Bruce seems to be terribly concerned about Dale, so let's now head over to his site and see what we can find.
On this site we've got another flash presentation and then the welcome screen for anonymousfame, a web development company. Most of the stuff here is just giving info about the company and its background. As we already know, Dale and Bruce were co-founders of AF with Dale running the creative side and Bruce handling the business end. On the client list (which they say will be updated every month) we are given a link to emptythreats.com which is a site that is currently in the process of being re-vamped by anonymousfame. We'll come back to that one in a bit. The other thing of note on this site is the log-in link. We might be able to assume something for a username for Bruce, but we don't have a password, so we'll have to keep working on this one for a while. Now, let's take a look at Bruce's client's site.
This is a site for Empty Threats Night Club and Grill in Hackensack, NJ owned by the Marzano family. The home page for the site has posted a restaurant review by Alan Zemrude. There is also a link to the menu and the specials (coming soon). There's not really anything particularly interesting here (except for the fact that they seem to close fairly early considering that they are also a night club), but Bruce and anonymousfame are in the process of redesigning the site, so we'll have to check back later for updates. Let's head back to one of the other sites that Dale has done.
From this site we learn about a town called Aglaura, NJ in Burlington County, New Jersey (and also Dale's hometown). We already know that synthasia/Dale was awarded the design contract for the city's new website that was launched in conjuction with their name change from Ong's Hat in 2002. On the home page there is an article about the library's recent renovations and a message from the mayor, Pat J. Dobbs. At the bottom of the page we see links to a few of Aglaura's local businesses. Also on this page is a link to a local channel 8 news clip for Burlington County. That reporter sure looks familiar...
(Note: You may notice that the video clip is actually hosted on another site, www.illusivetruth.com. This is a site that was used in a previous game, Change Agents: Out of Control or CA:OOC, put on by the main PM for CTW. A later in-game email confirms that illusivetruth is not in-game for CTW, but is set-up to host streaming files so they have utilized it here. If you want to check out CA:OOC, you can read all about it here.)
The home page for the city contains links to sections on the city's government, history, facts, businesses, recreation and the library. There are also pages for a few of the local businesses, including the Hollow Needle, Emporium of the Weird and the recreation area Lake of Tears. Let's look at a those in a bit more detail.
The Hollow Needle page, linked to from the Aglaura, NJ home page, is the online home of a rare books and antiques shop. Their monthly feature for March is antique locks and keys. One of the pictures of a lock has a dead link to this page. Is that an oversight or a page that will soon be available? We don't know. The other item listed on the page is an old trunk that was uncovered during renovations to the library. The note tells us that they are going through the old books and documents that were inside to assess their significance. Maybe they'll uncover something that will be significant to our search.
This is an interesting page. Billed as "the strangest place on Main St.", Wes Keeler's Emporium of the Weird seems to live up to it's slogan. Listed are several of the artifacts and "uniquities" that Wes offers in his shop. Towards the bottom of the page is a picture of a bumper sticker that you can get for your ride by emailing Wes. The familiar purple hand is there and the text on the bottom of the sticker is definitely interesting.
On the bumper sticker, we see the EOTW (Emporium of the Weird) logo, an alien and a familiar purple hand that we've seen before on the main Chasing the Wish site and in some of the Speedhunting Club flash files. At the bottom is some strange lettering. Looks like a code...and it indeed is. This thread explains that it's a simple substitution which when decoded reads "strange things are happening no one else believes". Seems strange things are happening all over this town.
If we email Wes requesting a bumper sticker of our very own, a response comes indicating that there has been a run on the bumper stickers (wonder why?!) and that he has run out. So, let's go back and hit the Lake of Tears page that was linked from the main Aglaura, NJ site.
This page explains that Lake of Tears is a recreation area outside of Aglaura in Pemberton Township. The lakes activities include fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, picnics and camping. There is a map of the area, a description of the facilities and a bit of history of the lake on the page. Next we'll check out the Aglaura Public Library.
The library's site is linked from the main Aglaura, NJ page. It gives information about the library, its recent renovations and a bit of history. There is a list of new arrivals since Sept. 2002 and some book club reading lists that seem ripe for a puzzle, but none has been found so far. In the section devoted to the Pine Barren Poets, we learn that Dale's wife Diana was active with the library and its book club. There is a note posted on the forums page expressing their sadness over Diana's death and indicating that they are seeking a volunteer to pick up the on-line discussion forum project that she was working on. At this point, emails to the library volunteering to assist have gone unanswered.
Ok, now that we've covered all the pages linked from Aglauranj, let's go back to one site we haven't mentioned yet...
If you had a chance to read through Dale's online diary, you'll remember that he mentioned finding a strange little park on Jan. 26th. This is the same park he recalls taking Diana and Meaghan to on the day they died. Well any good sleuth knows that new sites can be hidden anywhere and we've definitely found a new one here. Ash Grove Park's site (archive) is our "gateway to another world of fun".
The site tells us that Ash Grove Park is an amusement park located in Pemberton Township. The park has a bunch of rides and a midway (keep your eyes open for the purple hand in the midway pictures). There are some riddles and a flash game on this page (archive) and some other puzzley games here (archive). There is also a game called Chest of Jewels (archive) on the site that could be a puzzle (although I'm not completely convinced). When you complete the game with a high score, you are prompted to enter your name. Some are thinking that the correct score or level or name entered will allow us to "solve" this puzzle, but all efforts have proved futile so far.
Recap 1: What do we know so far?
Whew! The first 24 hours of this thing were certainly worth the wait...talk about fast and furious. Here's what we've got so far...
We've met Dale Sprague through an email he sent out asking for help with a situation that he doesn't completely understand. His wife and daughter are dead and he is being committed to a mental facility by his former business partner and college roommate, Bruce Abbott. All of this takes place in a town called Aglaura, NJ, which was formerly named Ong's Hat.
Dale has had financial problems and has entered into a financing arrangement with some questionable people. These "thugs" have recently been harrassing Dale and his family to put pressure on Dale to pay up. On Feb. 14th, Dale and his family went to Ash Grove Park for some family time and Dale told his wife about his situation. His wife was furious and when they got home, she packed up her and her daughter's things and left. With his family gone, Dale decided to kill himself. He had the gun to his temple when "The Wish" appeared before him and granted him his wish for money and for his family to never know about his troubles and the lies he has told. Part of the deal with "The Wish" is that Dale will never remember the details surrounding this turning point in his life.
Dale awakened in a hospital room and was informed that his wife and daughter were killed in an auto accident. When told the details, they don't make sense to him because the timeline doesn't match. He wasn't supposed to remember his encounter with "The Wish"...but he does.
Sites we've seen: Synthasia, Anonymousfame, Empty Threats, Aglaura, NJ, Hollow Needle, Emporium of the Weird, Lake of Tears, Aglaura Public Library, Ash Grove Park (archive)
Things that are unsolved:
On the night of 2/28, it was noticed that Dale had three new emails in his box at synthasia. Two of these are significant, the other one seems to be spam. The first one is from Dale's insurance company, Collective Protective regarding the accident on 2/14. In the email they inform him that the claim is currently being processed and that adjustors will be contacting him to discuss the details and his coverage. The email was sent from email@example.com and contains an odd string of characters at the bottom. Is this a policy/account number? 34097xx65736243239857ui23658
The second email is from Sam, the webmaster at aglauranj.org. Apparently, Dale has asked Sam to upload some things to his site which Sam says he has done. (I'm assuming he's referring to the change that was made to the Fun Stuff section of synthasia, replacing the HIP link with the aquarium once again.) He also tells Dale that he has located a news clip of an accident report that Dale requested and he will be posting it somewhere tomorrow. We'll have to keep a look out for more email from Sam letting us/Dale know where that clip is posted.
The third new email seems to be spam. So let's take a look at the new site we've found.
Collective Protective is the site of Dale's insurance provider; they specialize in insuring small businesses, the self-employed and individuals. Their news mentions a new insurance link coming soon, their CEO, Bob Brent attending an investor's conference and speaking at a financial services conference. For the most part, the rest of the site gives information about their services, available plans and general info. Their contact information is given via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 206-424-4846. All correspondence must include your account number. The last section of the site indicates that they are working on setting up a secure log-in system for customers to access their records. They note that if you have an immediate need to access your records, you can email them with your policy number and they'll set up a temporary access page within 48-72 hours. Now, we just need Dale's policy number.
The evening of Mar. 1 brought another new email to Dale's box at synthasia. This one is again from Sam, the webmaster over at aglauranj.org. He is letting Dale know that the news clip from Channel 8 that Dale requested has been posted here.
This clip is from Burlington County's Channel 8 news 2/14 report about the accident that claimed the lives of two people, including a young child. This accident is obviously the same one that killed Dale's family. The transcribed text of the report as posted by imbri in this message is:
Good evening and thank you for watching channel 8 Burlington County News, I'm Tracie Schmidt. Tonights top story is a deadly accident on Budtown Road New Jersey Rt 642 just outside of Aglaura. Exclusive Channel 8 eyewitness video shows Pemberton Township Emergency Personnel responding to the multivehicle collision. Reports indicate that the accident involved a car and a truck that both burst into fire, but some unconfirmed eyewitness reports have raised the possibility of a third truck being involved but fleeing the scene. Police are investigating the claim that a construction vehicle of some kind may have actually caused the accident. Channel 8 has confirmed at least 2 fatalities at the scene, including a young child. Identities are being withheld pending notification of next of kin. In other news, the controversial Willingboro Town Center Development Project is in the news again.
So, there were a car, a truck and possibly a third vehicle involved in the accident; and police are investigating the possibility that a construction vehicle was the cause. I have a feeling this is not the last we'll hear about this accident, so these details will likely come in handy later.
The morning of Mar. 2 brought a new bumper sticker to the Emporium of the Weird site with a different coded message at the bottom. This new message when decrypted using the same key as the previous version reads "strange people hanging around lately asking questions". Who exactly is Wes trying to communicate these messages to? Us? Dale??
We've also gotten an updated message from Mayor Dobbs on the Aglaura, NJ site this morning. In the message text, posted in this message, the mayor expresses his sadness over the loss of Diana and Meaghan Sprague and extends his sympathies to Dale.
As mentioned previously, the library's book club, the Pine Barren Poets, has their own corner of the web as part of the city's site. The mention that the book club's reading list could be obtained via request by email resulted in several emails going out to the librarian. The response, including the reading list, is posted in this message. There could be some sort of clue in this list, but it hasn't been uncovered if there is.
In other news, Illusive Truth has been updated to include just a background image of a very cool picture entitled entrybot. Further confirmation that this site is not in-game, but is being used to host some of the video files? I think so.
dmax noticed that seems to be some words that can be made into semi-coherent sentences in the "dummy latin" text on the Mid Jersey Mobile mockup page. His take on it is posted in this message. Is this a coincidence or is someone trying to communicate using these pages?
Ok, we've got some new email that has been sent to Dale's account at synthasia. The first message (archive) has got to be from the thugs that he is indebted to since it says "It's only a matter of time" and is signed "your friends". So they are definitely not gonna let up on him. I wonder if they are aware that he has been committed? Probably not since they're still contacting him via email.
The second message (archive) is from our good friend Sam the webmaster at aglauranj.org. He has heard from the mayor that Dale has been committed and is confused by what is going on. The email reads a bit like diary entry since he knows Dale won't be reading it anytime soon. We learn from his note that Dale was instrumental in getting Sam his job overseeing the city's website so he feels somewhat indebted to Dale and wants to help him out. Sam mentions another page that Dale has asked him to post, but he is conflicted over whether or not he should put it up. His concern is that it will not be helpful to Dale's case, but he isn't quite sure what it all means, either. He doesn't exactly commit to posting the page, but chances are that we'll see new from him in the next day or so.
March 3rd brought us a couple of updates. The first being a change to the homepage of aglauranj.org. It seems that someone has defaced the new library's east wall. The perps were interrupted by the police, but they were not apprehended. Therefore, the city has posted a request on their site for anyone with information to contact the police. This picture was posted of the graffiti. Hmmm, that's an interesting development, but what does it really tells us?
Well, a look at the source code on the tempdata2 page that contains the picture of the graffiti tells us that there is something more to this. The following can be found in the source code:
If you take a closer look at this string, you'll notice that there are a few letters given inside of slashes (i.e. /x/). Taking each of these letters gives us "wish take year even". Wish take year even?? What does that mean? Turns out those words anagram to "key is weathervane". Using the rest of the letters and a key of "weathervane" as vigenere encoded text, the result is the following string of text:
Anyone familiar with html should realize that this looks like source code for a web page. Now we just need to build it and see what we get. The final result is this page which gives us an image that reads "digitalis" and an "g" and a "p" lined up underneath the "a" in digitalis.
The other update that we got this same day was in the form of new mail in Dale's inbox at synthasia. It is a message from email@example.com, Dale's insurance company. The message is one of concern. I seems that they have received a flood of emails and phone calls from people requesting information on Dale and/or his account with the company. They are certain that some of these people are pretending to be Dale or someone representing him and therefore have cut off all internet support for his account and have dispatched an interviewer for a personal meeting with Dale.
(Can you say 'overboard'?? Seems they are getting a bit annoyed with all the indiscriminate emails and phone calls. We should consider this a definite warning to be sure and respond to the game in an appropriate fashion and not start sending emails willy-nilly to every address that is found.)
This email, like the first one from Collective Protective, contains an odd string of characters at the bottom of the message. So, now we've seen the following codes from them:
The problem is, we don't know what these codes are or what to do with them.
Danman_d has been corresponding with the people over at Ash Grove Park's website. An inquiry was sent requesting information about the park, its carousel, and the word 'digitalis'. Brent Bowers, the park's public relations guy sent a reply with some interesting information. It seems that Digitalis is the name that the park's midway fortune teller goes by. We know that the latest message that we've gotten from the hidden codes on the aglauranj.org site led us to the page with 'digitalis' and 'agp', but what does it all mean?
Over the past couple of days, a dialogue of sorts has begun via email with the mayor of Aglaura, NJ. Cemgate, as lawyer Cemilta Gatenza, began with this email to Mayor Dobbs requesting information on the whereabouts of Dale Sprague. The mayor responded with this note. He tells her that he thinks that the extent of Dale's problem has been "exxagerated" and that he would categorize Dale more as "seeking help" than having been "institutionalized". (Note: the text of the email contains a couple of misspellings of "exxagerated/exxagerating". It is unknown if this is deliberate or simply an oversight.)
The mayor goes on to propose a deal with Ms. Gatenza whereby he will try to provide her with information about where Dale is staying if she agrees to "forego further efforts to contact Aglaura people about this". The mayor then requests a phone number where Ms. Gatenza can be reached. On the evening of 3/4, the mayor contacted Ms. Gatenza (played by yours truly). The mayor relayed that he had been inundated over the past few days with requests for information on Dale and from news reporters looking for a story. He was very concerned about keeping the 'newsies' off his back but said that he had gotten a voice mail message telling him where Dale was staying. According to his source, Dale is at a facility in Princeton, NJ that sounded something like "cupseedra" or "clupseedra". After a bit of confusion and a return email to the mayor requesting clarification on the location, he sent back this email which eventually led us to the website for the mental health facility where Dale is located.
Other lines of correspondence with the mayor have also shed some light on Dale's whereabouts immediately following the car accident. According to emails in this thread he was taken to the local medical facility, Greatwater, in Aglaura to be checked out after the car accident.
Klepsydra is the mental health facility where Dale is apparently staying. We learn from their site that they offer in-patient and out-patient services at locations in 23 states including their facility/corporate headquarters in Princeton, NJ where Dale is currently housed. There are a number of email addresses listed for contacting Klepsydra for additional information.
Greatwater General Medical Center is Aglaura's local medical center. It is also where Dale (and presumably his family) was taken after the car accident on Feb. 14th. There is alot of content on the pages on this site including information about the hospital's history, their in- and out-patient services, personnel and community programs. There is also an interesting flash file animation of the human heart - is there some significance to this??
One other thing to note is a press release that Greatwater has renewed its contract with Klepsydra. They have been affiliated for the past three years and refer to the fact that the rate of mental health problems in the area have been steadily increasing which makes this an important alliance.
On March 5th, the Agluara home page was updated with an announcement about a press conference that will be held on Sunday, March 9th to respond to the "incessant requests" for information about Dale and the recent tragedies in his life. The press conference, held by Mayor Pat Dobbs, will be a conference call at 1:00 pm EST (subject to change). The conference is limited to 7 participants and a request to participate including relevant credentials should be sent to the mayor via email. It should be interesting to see what develops at the press conference.
Another updated site we got on 3/5 was Empty Threats. Apparently they've completed their site re-design and now we've got a chance to get a look at the new site. We knew from the anonymousfame client list that emptythreats was their featured client of the month and it seems that Bruce has gotten this site completed. There are links to the nite club/grill's hours and location, that we've seen before, and additional information about their Live Music offerings, including a calendar of events for the month of March (and a note about a Polka Party Night coming in April!).
The nightly auto-archive on synthasia's email system brings us new email for Dale on 03/05. This is a message from Ash Grove Park telling Dale that the photos and/or video clips that were taken during his recent visit to the park are available to be picked-up online.
From Dale's new email, we get a link to this page (archive) which allows Ash Grove Park visitors to login and pick up photo/video memories from their visit. The email gives Dale his order number (99746403) that should be used as the username to login to access the pictures. The password to reach the memories is the ticket stub number that Dale would have received when photographed. Now, we just need to locate that ticket stub.
March 6th brings us another update to the coded message on the bumper sticker posted on the Emporium of the Weird site. When decrypted it reads "drawing too much attention the green man can help". The messages that we have gotten from the bumper stickers are:
Obviously Wes is trying to communicate with someone; it is us? maybe Dale? Also, "the green man"...is he referring to Sam Greene, the webmaster over at aglauranj.org? Sam is a definite candidate, especially considering this email exchange between dmax and Sam Greene. It seems that Sam isn't very taken with the mayor and his assistant and they are watching him like a hawk.
He says that he has tried to put "a few key little hints" in his last series of messages to let people know who they may be able to trust, since "there's at least one other person around here we probably can trust". Perhaps he is referring to Digitalis, the fortune teller at Ash Grove Park, here since that was what we got from his last message. Sam indicates that he is going to try to access anything he can find on Dale's site as soon a possible and that he will be in touch. Hopefully, this contact with Sam will continue and we can get more info from him.
Recap 2: What do we know so far?
Prior to his institutionalization, Dale asked Sam, the webmaster at aglauranj.org, to upload some files to his web site for him. Sam has access to both Dale's and Aglaura's sites and has been leaving messages for someone. We learned from a news clip that Sam posted for Dale that the accident took place on Budtown road just outside of Aglaura. A car, a truck and possibly a third vehicle (maybe a construction vehicle) were involved in the accident.
Wes at EOTW seems to be communicating with someone through the code on the bumper sticker posted on his webpage. But who?
Sam sent a message via the aglaura site that reads 'digitalis' 'agp'. We learned through email correspondence with Ash Grove Park that they have a fortune teller who goes by "Digitalis". Is Sam trying to indictate that Digitalis is involved, or that he knows something, or that he can be trusted??
The mayor provided the information that Dale is "staying" at Klepsydra, a mental health facility in Princeton, NJ.
Sites we've seen: Collective Protective, Klepsydra.net, Greatwater General, Ash Grove Park memories (archive)
Things that are unsolved:
The newest email in Dale's inbox is from Greatwater General, the local hospital where Dale was taken immediately following the accident. The message is alerting him to the fact that his personal effects have been located and are available to be picked up (with appropriate identification and his insurance card). An alternative is given if he is unable to immediately retrieve the items in person. A digital photo of the contents will be made available on-line if the Insurance Company Incident Report (IR) number for his visit to the hospital is provided. (Too bad on-line communication with Collective Protective has been cut-off for Dale's account.)
On March 8th, Dale got another email that is probably spam. It is a notification from the terminator3 website of new Winamp skins. It's a form letter, but may give some insight into Dale's interests since he had to have signed up at the Terminator site to get on their mailing list.
Apparently Wes from Emporium of the Weird went on a field trip and found something strange. From a note posted on his web page:
Hopefully we'll be able to take a gander at these pictures soon.
So Sunday, March 9 was the big day for the mayor's press conference regarding Dale and his absence from the council. Seven call-in participants were given access info for the call and told to be dialed in promptly for the start. Officials on the call were Mayor Pat Dobbs and Borough Attorney J. Douglas Willingham. The call began with a few statements from Willingham and then the mayor took questions from the participants. Mayor Dobbs indicated that they do not intend to replace Dale on the council and that they respect his need for a period of rest and recouperation. He then presented the facts as they know them regarding the circumstances of the accident. One interesting thing to note is that Dale was thrown from the vehicle in the accident while his wife and daughter were found inside the vehicle.
They addressed the issue of the police report and stated that they would make it available to members of the press who have requested it as soon as they have the official report. Additionally, they made mention of other instances of graffiti around the town. They claim that they have not made public these other instances because they do not want to encourage whoever is defacing Aglaura property.
Not much more in the way of new information was gained in the question and answer portion until the last participant was called on (obviously a plant). Donna Edwards from New Jersey News Talk Radio AM 1210 requested a comment from the mayor or Mr. Willingham about the relationship between the borough council and the Sons of Don Construction company, who apparently have alleged ties to organized crime. She mentions the fact that Sons of Don were the contractors for the new library in town and mentions allegations of impropriety. The mayor discounts the claims of impropriety and then the call is abruptly disconnected.
An audio file of the entire press conference can be accessed here (courtesy of Chisealpin).
So, from the press conference, we've got a new site, www.sonsofdon.com. As was mentioned by Donna Edwards, Sons of Don is owned by the Marzano family and run by Donatello's sons Marco, Sal and Frank. This is the same family associated with Empty Threats the nite club/grill in Hackensack. This site, like their other one, was created by Anonymous Fame.
The site gives a sample of some of their latest projects in the tri-state area and, as we learned in the press conference, they are also responsible for the recent renovations to the Aglaura Public Library. Their portfolio page also links to an on-line sample floor plan of a residence which seems a bit out of place considering all of their projects seem to be commercial and not residential. Pictures of many of the rooms are available on the interactive floor plan. A couple of these seem have something odd about them. Are these pictures significant? I'm not certain, but you can check them out for yourself here.
Another venture of the Sons of Don, or SOD, is waste removal (how apropos). "Let the Sons of Don take out your trash!" The flash movie on the waste removal page seems to have the word "Eurotire" on the tires of the truck which can be viewed by zooming in on the movie. What's up with that?
One of the things that Collective Protective requires for on-line access to policy information is the customer's user ID. CP has indicated that they have cut off all on-line access to Dale's account because of security concerns, but perhaps if we had the correct info to give them, they will relent. So our search has led us to trying to discover the correct user id for Dale's account. We've got the codes that were present on the previous two emails from the insurance company, but haven't known until now if the user id is contained in those codes.
This email exchange between "Dr. Faust" and Collective Protective confirms that the user id is the 5-digit number after the "ui" in the codes on their emails. (Note: this information is also contained in a new email to Dale's account at synthasia.) So, now that we know Dale's policy number, we can try to get CP to allow on-line access to Dale's policy information, which will theoretically lead us to the accident's incident report number and access to his personal effects at Greatwater General.
In a continuing dialogue with Brent Bowers, the PR guy at Ash Grove Park, it was discovered that Digitalis seems to have been missing from the park this past weekend. Dr. Faust has been trying to establish contact directly with Digitalis. Is the fact that he didn't show up to the park integral to the story or just a device to delay contact with him for a while??
The latest email into Dale's account at synthasia is confirmation of what we've already discovered. Further confirmation that we do indeed have the CP user id. I can only assume that this email is in response to a message that Sam, the webmaster at aglauranj.org, sent from Dale's account to aid us in our search for the user id. Who else would it be from??
The other new email today is another piece of spam. Unless the PMs have decided to go into the breathalyzer business.
On March 11th we got another update to the bumper sticker on Wes Keeler's Emporium of the Weird. This one when decoded reads: "Circles on circles Spheres upon spheres Each day more appear". Is he referring to the graffiti that is plaguing the town? The bumper sticker messages so far have been:
The other notable changes to the EOTW page (changed 3/10) are a new link to the book, Ong's Hat, The Beginning that deals with the local legends surrounding the town and a note from Wes that the pictures from the field trip will be posted later this week.
Sam has indicated that he is willing to help us get information about Dale by using the access that he was given to Dale's site and email account. This message is a continuation of Danny's correspondence with Sam. In it, he confirms that he has emailed Collective Protective to request access to Dale's account using the policy number that CP confirmed for us. He also states that he is going to go to Greatwater General in person to attempt to collect Dale's personal effects.
Well, now we seem to be getting somewhere. There are two new emails for Dale today. The first one is from our friends at Collective Protective. They have gotten confirmation of the security on Dale's policy and indicate that on-line access to his account will be available in 48-72 hours.
The second email is from Klepsydra. It is a welcome message to the Klepsydra.net client family. Apparently, they provide "supportive information" via e-mail for recordkeeping purposes. The other piece of information disclosed in the email is the doctor assigned to Dale during his stay, Dr. Michelle Kendra.
In what may be the first real world item of the game, frangraves received something interesting in the mail. According to this post on the yahoo group she got an envelope containing a seed packet of foxglove (aka digitalis). Is it in-game or a very big coincidence? It's unknown what the significance of her getting the seed packet would be other than the reinforcement of "digitalis" as and piece of this whole puzzle. Is it pointing us to the plant digitalis (used medically to treat congestive heart failure and heart rhythm problems) or the man known as digitalis?
Once again with the seeds....Dale's new email titled "Planting Time?" reinforces the digitalis/foxglove seeds. But who sent it to him? It starts out with "hope you're enjoying your little vacation" so it's obviously someone who knows that Dale is out of pocket at the moment. It was sent from a blind mailer proxy like some of the other messages from the thugs who Dale owes money to, but why would they send this to him? Still there are more questions than answers at this point.
Aglaura's homepage has been updated with a phone number for calling in tips relating to the graffiti that has been popping up all over town. The recording at the number, 877-806-7862, doesn't give much info at this time, but states that it will be updated periodically with new information the police department feels relevant to pass along to the community.
The new mail for Dale today is what we've been waiting on for a few days now. Collective Protective has set-up a temporary access page for his insurance records. The mail indicates that the page will be available for the next 72 hours and again contains a code at the bottom of the message (59823xx65724773239832ui23658 ). Now that we've got the policy number, these codes may be irrelevant, but are still worth noting. One other thing to note: this email was actually passed on to us by Sam before the midnight auto-archive of the email system. Sam will also be attempting to change the auto-archive setting so the update will happen earlier in the night.
The temporary access page (archive) that Collective Protective has put up gives us a look at Dale's family's insurance history over the past month. The charges for Dale's emergency room visit after the accident are noted on February's activity, but it also shows that Diana saw Dr. Baylor at Greatwater General on Feb. 4. There are billed charges for medical services totaling $70.00 for that visit. The question is, why was Diana at the doctor on Feb. 4? Was it just a check-up or something else?
The March activity shows Dale's admission to Klepsydra, but the charges are pending.
March 15th brings us another news clip posted on the Aglaura home page. In this clip, Tracie talks about a series of special reports on the 11 o'clock news about the "numerous occurences of odd events" happening in the area. Her tease starts out with "right here in our collective backyard...strange seeds are being planted in the minds of our own residents". She goes on to talk about symbols and unexplainable items showing up in people's homes and gives us a peek at a viewer submitted home video showing what looks like the graffiti symbol inside someone's house/garage. Let's hope they archive Tracie's investigation so we can see the rest of that video.
With this email update, we get something else we've been waiting on for quite a while. Greatwater General has posted a digital picture of Dale's personal effects that he had on him upon being admitted to the hospital following the car accident. The message gives us the address to retrieve the picture.
Greatwater General has posted the picture of Dale's personal effects (archive). We can see from the photo that the ticket stub from Ash Grove Park is there along with some spare change ($1.46 to be exact), what looks to be a grocery store receipt, another crumpled strip of paper and a folded note that begins "For Diana". Unfortunately we can't read anything else on the note. It probably would give us some more insight into Dale and Diana's relationship . What did he say to her in the note? There is some spec that the note could be a suicide note or a note to Diana explaining his financial situation.
The most important thing that we get out of the picture is the number on the ticket stub from Ash Grove Park, 1bf33mx9. We can now use that to get the pictures/videos that were taken while the family was at the park on the day Diana and Meaghan died.
The Ash Grove Park Memory Center (archive) (user: 99746403 / pass: 1bf33mx9) has two videos posted from the Sprague family's visit to the park. Both videos are of Meaghan on a kiddie ride and are very short. The videos themselves don't really provide any information to us. The important part to notice is the timestamp on both the recordings. Meaghan is shown on the kiddie ride at Ash Grove Park at 16:33 on 2/14. 16:33 is 4:33 pm, approximately the same time Bruce told Dale that the car accident occurred.
So, this tells us that Dale's story about the wish, or at least the timeline surrounding the events leading up to the wish, is correct. He was at the park with his family, they left sometime after 4:30 arriving home around 6:00 pm. At that point, the Wish appear to Dale and history was rewritten. Now that we've got proof that Dale isn't insane with his story about the wish, maybe we can help to get him released from the nut house.
March 16th brought us a new message from the mayor on Aglaura's homepage. The message reads:
Again, the seeds are being emphasized; yet we don't know if we're being pointed towards the actual seeds or Digitalis the AWOL fortune teller.
The new mail for Dale today is from BookCrossing.com. Titled "Set A Book Free" it is what appears to be a form letter inviting Dale to join BookCrossing, "a global book club that crosses time and space". Basically, BookCrossing is a book club whereby members release books into the wild where they are then available for others to claim. Since this is an invitation email, we can assume that Dale is not currently a member and would not have released any books, but still BookCrossing deserves a look...
Note: BookCrossing.com itself is NOT in-game, it is a real site
BookCrossing.com allows for searches based on a number of different fields, including searches by book, member and location. Searching for a member named Dale Sprague gives up nothing, as does a search for members from Aglaura, NJ; so we've got nothing there. However, if you recall, Wes from EOTW has recently updated his page with a link to a book, Ong's Hat: The Beginning by Joseph Matheny, about Ong's Hat, the former name of Aglaura. A search for this book turns up a link to a copy that was released into the wild on October 24. Lycanthropy is the name of the person who released this book at Trader Vic's in the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles, CA. The notes indicate that the book is taped under a table in the dining room to the right of the bar, midway toward the back on the row facing the outer wall. Ms_Gwyn is going to attempt to capture this book (if it's still there).
In a continuing email dialogue with Brent Bowers of Ash Grove Park, danman_d (as Dr. Faust) found out about an odd happening at AGP. First of all, Digitalis was missing from the park for the second weekend in a row. Bowers says that this is uncommon from the fortune teller as he has never before even missed a day. The other thing he mentions in the mail is that there was a "symbol" etched in the ground in front of where Digitalis' stall is normally located. He says it isn't anything fancy, "just some circles, but it seemed like it was almost burned into the ground". Could this be the same symbol that has been graffitied all over town? According to my magic 8 ball, all signs point to yes.
The early part of the week brought us a couple of new items from Wes at Emporium of the Weird. The first is that he has updated his page with a grainy photograph of the find from the Devil Hunt 2. The picture is a still from a video of a circular object with a seven pointed star on the face of the object and symbols between the points of the star.
Also updated on EOTW is a dedicated email address to request the EOTW newsletter. The newsletter was emailed to those who had previously sent a request to be put on the mailing list. In the newsletter, he talks about the wave of graffiti that has hit the town, the painted skull they found on the original Devil Hunt and superstitions surrounding the Lake of Tears. He also mentions, under "Ong's Hat in the News Again!!", that the April 2003 edition of Jane magazine contains information on the New Jersey legend surrounding the town. SpaceBass just happened to have a copy of Jane lying around (he claims it's his sister's) and has transcribed the blurb for us here.
The latest email into Dale's box at Synthasia is puzzling. It is from firstname.lastname@example.org and is titled "You Have Been Trying To Find Us". The email contains a series of numbers and a list of words:
Now, going back to the content of the message... Those codes certainly look suspicious as does the list of words. Taking a look at the words with the help of our dear friend Google tells us that they are words relating to heroes and gods as follows (list taken from this post on unforums by Pickles):demophon - Greek Hero
Now, going back to the numbers that were given at the top of the email, it was discovered that when these are taken a number pairs as x,y coordinates and graphed they reveal the image of "pi" (Sapagoo has visually explained this process here). OK, so we've got pi. Next, mopi geniously figured out that to solve the rest of this puzzle we need to use the digits of pi, 3.14159265358979... By taking each of the digits of pi and using that to choose the corresponding letter from each of the words in the list (the letter in position 3 from demophon (m), position 1 in yggrasill (y), position 4 in duat (t) and so on) gives us "mythosphereorg". Which leads us to another new site...
The first page you see at Mythosphere.org shows some weird lettering. The formatting of these characters indicates that it is a domain name and a quick substitution confirms that these characters represent "mythosphere.org". The first page quickly redirects to another page with another image and then redirects again to a picture of 9 planets/moons in a circle. Reloading the mythosphere site gives one of four images on the page after the first redirect, but always redirects again to the same picture of the planets/moons.
Clicking on the various planets/moons seems to simply reset the page with the exception of one of them. Sin Vraal soon noticed that clicking the individual planets in a specific order (if the pics are numbered clockwise starting with the blue one at the top, the click order is 4, 5, 8, 7, 6, 2, 1, 9, 3) gives us a new page.
This new page gives up all the pictures that were displayed at the beginning of mythosphere and a cipher. Using simple substitution it translates to:
Popular opinion at the moment says that the beings that are seen in the 4 pictures are the "guides". Emails have been sent to email@example.com to attempt to contact the guides (other email tries @mythosphere have bounced) and after a bit of a wait the following message was received in response:
Second step?? Have we missed something here?
Dale's email of 03/20 is again from numinoustrail. "Unanswered Invitation?" is a message indicating that they are expecting a response from Dale's email account, not ours, to their previous message. The series of numbers and list of words is given again and at the end is the following message:
Well, obviously, Dale has somehow previously contacted these guides and now they are waiting for his reply. Emails have been sent to Sam Greene to request that he send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org from Dale's Synthasia account. We'll see what happens.
Recent emails received from Dr. Kendra at Klepsydra and Sam Greene the webmaster at Aglaura have hinted that Dale will be released from Klepsydra very soon; and on the afternoon of March 21st, confirmation of this fact was received in the form of an email from Dr. Kendra.
After only a bit of a wait, we again had confirmation from Dale himself. He sent this email out to several people from his account at Synthasia. In it, he talks about the strangers in Aglaura who have been asking questions about him and what happened. He goes on to talk about his treatment at Klepsydra and says that Dr. Kendra has suggested that he undergo hypnosis to help uncover some of the details from his subconscious.
Dale goes on to warn us against getting involved in the financial troubles he wrote about in his diary. He writes that these are not people you want knowing about you or that you want thinking you are digging around in their business. He says that after the accident he spent a lot of time researching anything he though might help him understand what had happened. He says that one of his contacts has "yielded a potential positive contact" and that he is going to try to get some of this information online soon for us to access.
The last thing he mentions is that he plans to go back to Ash Grove Park to contact Digitalis, who we already know is the fortune teller. Dale explains that Digitalis approached him at the park and he wants to question him because he feels that Digitalis is somehow involved in the strange happenings.
With that the email ends, but not before he gives us his Y! Messenger and AIM screen name: synthasiadale. We'll have to keep an eye out for him to see when he comes online.
Well, it seems that we missed something in the frenzy to get through the planets puzzle on mythosphere.org. As shown in this post, four of the pages on mythosphere (the four with the "guides" pictures) contain some important comments in the source code. In the comments are these letter pairs: or, un, mi, and la. Put that together and you've got "orunmila". Emails to email@example.com gets an auto-response with the message that Dale received in his synthasia box. Obviously Dale was able to follow the trail through the mythosphere better than we were.
Dale's newest email from Bruce confirms the fact that Dale has been released from Klepsydra (although he indicates that he is only aware of his release from contact with one of Dale's many friends, aka us). The note is basically Bruce wishing Dale well; and he says that he'll try to get to Aglaura to see Dale in the next few days.
On the night of March 23 , Dale showed up in AIM (screen name: synthasiadale) and a chat room was opened. The full log of the chat can be found here. In the chat he discloses a bunch of new information, including the fact that the *correct* way to solve the mythosphere puzzle completely flew over our heads. The complete, correct solve is posted here.
In the chat, Dale begins by asking if any of us knew who picked up his effects from Greatwater General. It seems he tried to get them yesterday but was told that they had already been retrieved. Dale again warns us against getting involved with the people to whom he owes money saying that we are not making things easier on him by harassing the people we think are responsible.
He goes on to ask if we know what the graffiti symbol is and explains that he found that same symbol outside his back door today. Dale says he is going to try and put a site online that will allow us to access the resources he has found so far. He says it is in the form of a search engine that is keyed into the stuff he has already found. (Sounds interesting.) We informed Dale that Digitalis has gone missing from Ash Grove Park when he asked if we had had a chance to talk to him.
The subject of Digitalis led Dale into his recounting the events at the park on the day of his first visit. Apparently , Digitalis followed Dale around asking if he wanted to know his future. Dale said yes and Digitalis took him back to his small tent. As Digitalis took him by the hand, Dale noticed that Digitalis' hand was deformed in a strange way...there was a small, undeveloped sixth finger. As Dale tried to leave, Digitalis told him that he didn't have much time left. On Dale's second visit to the park with his family, Meaghan suddenly screamed and was pointing to Digitalis as he walked towards Dale. Diana took Meaghan away to settle her down and Digitalis walked up to Dale and said "you have even less time now, my friend. He knows and he is coming." And then he gave Dale a piece of paper with the words mythosphere.org on it.
Dale tells us that the mythosphere site when he first visited it was different than it is now. That it used to be just a site about mythology and reference material. Soon after visiting the site, Dale got an email that read "what you have been searching for stands right before you; a source of knowledge once thought lost found again". Dale interpreted this to refer to the trunk that had recently been found at the Aglaura library.
Upon hearing this, he went to the Hollow Needle and insisted on looking at the contents of the truck even without Phyllis Willinham's consent. Inside the trunk he found an old manuscript page in latin with an image on it and illuminated letters along the sides of the page. At the bottom of the page was a six fingered hand. His memory is sketchy but seems to recall some kind of star at the top of the page and some other symbols. Dale was not allowed to inspect the rest of the contents of the trunk, a few small paintings, some old books, and some things wrapped in some old blankets or cloth.
He tells us that he will be seeing Wes on Monday and that he is going to try and track Digitalis down at the park. He let us know that he'll be back online to discuss things some more after he has a chance to put up the site with the info he has found.
On a related? note, during the chat several people noticed that the Ash Grove Park site is down. The front page now contains the following message: "We are experiencing server problems. Please bear with us." None of the AGP pages work with the exception of the memory retrieval page (probably an oversight). We'll have to wait and see if AGP comes back on line.
Aglaura, NJ has updated its site to include a map of the town providing a general layout of the town.
This thing is cool! On Monday afternoon, many got an email from firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Your Second Step". Each email contained a different link that when opened, gives a warning that the message will self-destruct in 30 seconds!! Also, it will immediately erase if it is clicked anywhere. Wow! So after a few people tried to furiously write down the contents of the message (screen print doesn't seem to work), some collaboration was needed. Gupfee and SpaceBass were told about the self-destruction before they opened the message and were ready with their digital cameras to catch a snapshot of the message before it vanished. The pictures are posted here and here (the second link is a bit more clear).
The content of the message is a string of numbers as follows:
3 24 23 8 10 1 14 23 16 0 18 24 25 0 1 11 14 16
5 8 11 22 24 16 24 1 23 10 14 1 23 7 24
22 25 24 0 23 24 10 23 14 9 23 7 20 1 22 10
When decoded, the message reads "the beginning of wisdom is to unlearn that which is nought" and "let us not make random judgements on the greatest of things". The key to decoding it is to use a mod 28 substitution alphabet on each of the blocks of numbers (the first set has a different key than the second set). Mottjr explains the two substitution alphabets in this post - the first set uses 9 mod 28 and the second uses 13 mod 28.
Mopi discovered that the first quote is a reference to Antisthenes. Which leads us to http://www.mythosphere.org/anthisthenes.html. The second quote is of Heraclitus, which leads to http://www.mythosphere.org/heraclitus.html. These two pages give us two sides to a puzzle that contains a grid of sorts with pictures inside. Both pages also include comments in the source code:
That's where we're stuck for now on this one...a couple of comments and a symbol grid.
Today, Dale received the same self-destructing email from the email@example.com. Let's hope he was able to capture the numbers before time ran out.
So, during the AIM chat with Dale we noticed that the AGP site was down. At the time, we weren't sure if it would come back online, so we kept an eye on it. The fact that it was gone didn't help Dale's cause as he had told several people, including Dr. Kendra and Bruce, the story about his visit to the park on the day of the accident. In their attempts to understand the story he was telling, Dr. Kendra and Bruce tried to find out any information about the park, including the original videos of Meaghan on the kiddie ride. Obviously, they are not able to find any information about the park since their webpage has vanished and no one in the town has ever heard of the place. This does not bode well for Dale and his doctor's believe in his version of events.
Email to Dale today is from Dr. Kendra, his MD during his stay at Klepsydra. She is requesting help from Dale in contacting Ashgrove Park, but since it seems to have dropped off the face of the web I'm not sure how much help anyone can give her in locating them.
So, we're still trying to make some sense of the mythosphere grid that we got from the self-destructing email and the comments on the anthistenes and heraclitus pages. There was a bit of a breakthrough when the source code comments were decoded. Using mod 28 again, like was used to decode the original self-destructing email message, the number strings in the comments decode to:
The explainations of how these were solved is given in these posts. So, we're a little farther down the road on this grid, but not much.
Well, we haven't heard from Dale in a while and some folks were starting to get concerned that maybe he had disappeared, which seems to happen to folks who come into contact with the graffiti symbol. That concern was put to rest when Dale sent this email to several folks who had contacted him. In the email, Dale recaps what we've learned so far about the messages from the guides, but hasn't progressed any further than we have (no...really? heh). He also talks about the fact that AGP's website and all info about the park has disappeared at the exact same time that Dr. Kendra is asking him for contact information for the park. He says that if he has to, he'll round up everyone and drive them out to the park to give them proof - he says he needs to speak with Digitalis anyway.
The latest email to Dale is again from Dr. Kendra. She is definitely interested in finding out information about Ashgrove Park and getting concrete information on the memories videos. She wants to drive out to the park with Dale before the weekend to see it for herself. Looks like they'll be taking a field trip.
Dale's email today is from Wes of Emporium of the Weird. He apologizes for breaking an appointment with Dale and informs him that he has sold the disc that he found during the Devil's Hunt. He says that a guy came back and offered him more money than anyone else ever would, so he sold it to him. He goes on to say that he's actually glad that he sold it to the guy because shortly after "those weird guys" he told Dale about came back and asked about the disc. When he told them that he had sold it, they seemed upset and wanted to know who had purchased the disc. Wes isn't even sure how these guys knew about the disc.
He goes on to caution Dale because just before they left, the weird guys asked if Dale was still coming down to the shop. When Wes told them that Dale was not coming, they left.
Dale showed up in AIM again on March 27 and a chat room was opened. The complete log of the chat is here.
Dale was rushed because he was on his way to meet with Wes, so the chat didn't last very long. He says that even though Wes has sold the disc, he is going to try to get his hands on the video that Wes shot of the disc. Dale thinks that the disc may still have some value.
On the subject of the mythosphere grid, Dale told us that he took a different approach to decoding the source code messages. He couldn't get the first message decoded, but did find http://www.mythosphere.org/16018810018220162424.html, which simply reads "modulo z23 multiplication". So we've tranlated the source code messages using mod 28, but it seems that now we need to focus on mod 23.
The last thing Dale mentioned before he had to leave to meet Wes was that he thinks someone has been inside his house in the last few days when he wasn't home. He tells us that the day he got home from Klepsydra there was a package waiting for him at home. The package had no return address and was addressed to his daughter, Meaghan. Inside the package were several strange items and he isn't sure what they mean. His feeling is that the people who have been inside his house are looking for these items. Dale wants to disperse these items so they can't be found and asks if he can send them out to us. He gives an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for sending mailing addresses for anyone who can hold an item for him until the items can be figured out. He says that he will send the items out the following day.
This just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser...we'll have to wait and see what these items are.
March 28th brought us a VERY different Ashgrove Park. The website now shows us that Ashgrove Park is a cemetary, historic Burlington County, NJ's Memorial Park in Early's Crossing, NJ. Ok...that is creepy!
The new website is an amateur historian's documentation of this cemetary and its stories and legends. We do not know the identity of this person. Looking around the site gives us some of the history of the cemetary and how this historian came to start his research into the park. There are sections on the site for an internment list and park layout. Both of these items are listed as coming soon. They will probably gives us more information about the memorial park and its inhabitants.
The pictures page on the site shows us various pictures of the cemetary, some headstones and tombs/mausoleums. One of the headstone images in particular is very interesting. One of the only headstones in which the engraved name is visible, this picture (archive) shows the headstone of "Bowers, husband and wife". Bowers??? Brent Bowers is the name of the PR guy at the amusement park that several people have been corresponding with. Have we been emailing a dead person? This is really getting strange and I'm not quite sure what to make of it all.
We have now realized that Ashgrove Park is very different than we originally though. Dr. Kendra has also recently discovered this interesting turn of events. She tells us in an email that she went tonight with Dale to the place where Ashgrove Amusement Park was supposed to be. When they got there and saw that it was a cemetary, she was definitely not amused. Dr. Kendra is now even more convinced that Dale is suffering from antisocial personality disorder and isn't quite sure if he is manipulating her or simply playing a trick on her. Either way, she is not happy.
Today, Sam Greene has sent an email to Dale. He (like many of us) is confused about what is going on. He got an email from Dr. Kendra about their trip out to Ashgrove Park and is trying to figure out what exactly is happening. He questions Dale about the video clips of Meaghan and if the cemetary is where he took Diana and Meaghan on the day of the accident. Sam is obviously concerned about his friend and wants an explanation.
It seems that Phyllis over at the Hollow Needle has finally gotten her newsletter together. Those on her mailing list would have gotten this email announcing the availability of the Spring newsletter. The newsletter contains pictures of some of her antiques, but probably of most interest to us are the pictures of some of the items found in the old library trunk. The illuminated manuscript that Dale told us about is pictured as well as a couple more pictures of some artwork and an illustrated book that were also found in the trunk.
In the email, Phyllis mentions that some of the items found in the trunk will be donated to the upcoming Aglaura Library Fund Raising Auction. She goes on to mention that Sam Greene is working on setting up an online system to purchase items featured on the Hollow Needle's page.
Aglaura, NJ has updated their homepage with some new information. Their first announcement is about the Aglaura Easter Egg Hunt to be held on Saturday, April 19th.
They have also added a notice about a press conference regarding the graffiti investigation to be held online
Wednesday, April 2nd Thursday, April 3rd (re-scheduled). To participate in the press conference, you must send an email to the webmaster by Monday, March 31st Tuesday, April 1st at 9pm est.
Mayor Dobbs has sent an email reminder to Dale about a couple of upcoming events. The email, written by his administrative assistant Lorraine Tweed, talks about a special borough council meeting on Monday, March 31st to review the NJ state police report from Dale's accident. According to the email, they will be reviewing the report and discussing "what may or may not be relevant to ongoing borough council operations and what needs to be released to the public".
There is also a reminder about the press conference to discuss the graffiti investigation. Dale is encouraged to attend as a borough council member and a victim of the graffiti.
Dale has sent out another email to people who have contacted him directly. In the message he talks about his reaction to finding out that the spot where the amusement park once was is now a cemetary. He is confused by what is going on and trying to reconcile what he saw on the field trip with Dr. Kendra with the physical evidence that once proved that Ashgrove park was indeed an amusement park. The videos of Meaghan have disappeared as has the photograph of the ticket stub from the park among Dale's personal effects at Greatwater General.
Dale says that he wants Dr. Kendra to hypnotize him as she had previously suggested to try to uncover some of his unconscious memories. Unfortunately, Dr. Kendra is resisting the treatment claiming that it is too unreliable for many reasons. He feels that he is running out of time to figure out what is going on and is worried about when the brothers that he owes money to will come calling. He says that he is having more and more trouble remembering the details of the day the accident happened.
On March 31st, many people, including Dale, received an email from the guides. We're still floundering on the grid puzzle, so hopefully this will give us the push we need to solve the darn thing. The email starts out "A symbol is ever, to him who has eyes for it, some dimmer or clearer revelation of the God-like" which is a quote by Carlyle. This leads us to http://www.mythosphere.org/carlyle.html.
There is also mail from Dr. Kendra and from Bruce in Dale's box. Dr. Kendra's message talks about their trip to the "amusement park" the past Friday and she tries to convince him that medication to control his illness would not signify that Dale is weak. Bruce's email is a message to Dr. Kendra that he has forwarded to Dale. Bruce has been in contact with the doctor regarding Dale's situation and he pleads with Dale in the message to not give in "to the darkness".
On the carlyle.html page we see four of the familiar symbols from the grid. In the source code is the comment:
The title of this page is Blavatsky. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was the russian born pioneer of Theosophy, a religious philosophy about the nature of the soul based on mystical insight into the nature of God. Theosophy incorporates aspects of Buddhism and Brahmanism, including the belief in reincarnation and spiritual evolution and some of her writings involve symbolism, but we still don't really know how to put all these pieces together.
A quick check shows us that there is another page...http://www.mythosphere.org/blavatsky.html. This page is identical to the carlyle.html page even down to the comment in the source code. The only problem is that we still don't really know what we're looking for in this grid. We've got models upoon models of various versions of the grid overlaid with frequencies, the mod23 table, etc. We think we know what "the pattern in single digits" means, but are still unclear on the "and first positions" part of the latest nudge. We'll have to keep working on this one.
Recap 3: What do we know so far?
Unexplained graffiti continues to plague the town of Aglaura and no one seems to know its meaning. It has even shown up in front of the fortune teller's stall at AGP and on the door at Dale's house.
Dale has been released from Klepsydra and is actively trying to uncover more information about everything that has happened to him. Prior to his stay at Klepsydra, Dale made contact with "the guides" at mythosphere.org based on a note that was passed to him from Digitalis at the amusment park. We are currently trying to uncover the message that the guides are trying to send.
Prior to Dale's release, Digitalis was AWOL from AGP and has not been heard from. Dale and Dr. Kendra have taken a trip to AGP to find out more information about the kiddie ride videos and to attempt to contact Digitalis. When they arrived at the location, they did not find an amusement park, but instead found a cemetary. All hard evidence of AGP's former incarnation as an amusement park has been erased.
Wes found a strange disc in the woods during his Devil's Hunt and strange men have been asking about the disc and also about Dale. Dale thinks that someone has been in his house searching for items that were in a package that was waiting for him upon his release from Klepsydra. The package was addresed to Meaghan and Dale has since asked if he could mail these items to us for safe-keeping until their significance is uncovered.
Sites we've seen: Sons of Don, Mythosphere, Ashgrove Park Memorial Park
Things that are unsolved:
On April 1st, Sam Greene sent out an email regarding the online press conference to be held on April 3rd about the graffiti investigation. This message lays out some details about the press conference, but it also contains the police report from the accident that killed Dale's family. Only two of the four pages of the report were given to us, but it gives us a bit more info and the accident, witnesses, etc.
New mail into Dale's box at Synthasia seems to indicate that he has gotten past the Mythosphere grid (he's got one up on us). At this point, we can only hope to get a "congratulations" email.
The Aglaura Public Library has put up a new page on their website featuring local artists. The page is a special "Celebration of Local Artists and Their Work" and some of the pieces featured will be put up for auction at a library fundraiser to be held on
April 27th May 4th. Several of the pieces on display are by local "legend" Sarah Wyatt.
Take the squares from a standard mod23 multiplication table which have single digits (1-9). Find the corresponding squares in our symbol grid. Put all the symbols together row by row. Then decrypt by subbing the letter that stands for the CLASS of the symbol. For example, the number 2 would be "N" for "number", the different eyes would be "E", the different runes would be "R", etc.
The message decrypts to:
"neither from nor towards at the stlil point there the dance is but neither arrest nor movemen and do not call it fixity where past and future are gathered exxept for the point the still point theej would en mo danca nud there is only the dance"
The spelling mistakes are exactly as I decrypted. I think the PMs made some mistakes in enciphering. For the last line, for the garbled letters, if you shift the symbols left then it reads properly " there would be no dance and there would only be the dance"
Anyways, it's T S Eliot, "Burnt Norton". So the new page is www.mythosphere.org/tseliot.html
Very nice work guys!
The T.S. Eliot page has the four beings that we've seen previously on the mythosphere pages as well as the following message:
Now we just need to let the seekers know what we seek and wait for a response.
Responses to the 'what do you seek' email started coming in from the guides (and not from the 'seekers' address like the original mail was sent to). It seems that depending on what the answer was to what you seek, your response would be one of eight different messages. In the interest of saving space on this page, I've compiled the various responses on this page. In any case, the messages are various quotes and passages, with the only similarity between the messages being the last bit:
This is a translation of the poem Carnac by Eugene Guillevic. Now, we'll have to wait for further contact from the guides I suppose.
At the end of the press conference, the chief of police arrived needing to speak to the mayor about an incident at Dale's house. It seems that Dale had phoned the police after someone showed up at his door and tried to pass themselves off as the police. When the police arrived at Dale's house it was deserted and there was no sign of forced entry.
The day after we found out that Dale was missing, there was a new news report from Channel 8 posted on the Aglaura, NJ homepage. In the news report, Tracie gives us the following information:
Thank you for watching Channel 8 Burlington County News. I'm Tracie Schmidt. Fire personnel are responding this afternoon to a house fire in Aglaura Pemberton Township. Channel 8 eyewitness video was on the scene while the Ong's Hat volunteer fire company tried in vain to save the residence on Winton Pond Road. No injuries or casulties have yet been reported but preliminary investigations seem to indicate an explosion or accident of some kind. Neighbours reported hearing a loud noise shortly before the entire house was engulfed in flames. Channel 8 has identified the home owner as Dale Sprague but cannot confirm if Mr. Sprague was at home at the time. More as it unfolds. On a lighter note, there was another strange sighting in Burlington County last night. The latest in a series of unexplained...
So not only is Dale missing, but now so is his house.
If you recall, during one of the AIM chats with Dale, he mentioned that there was a package at his house the day he was released from Klepsydra. The package was addressed to his daughter, Meaghan. The package contained several items and Dale suspected that someone had entered his house when he was not there looking for these items. During the chat, he asked if he could send these items out to various individuals for safekeeping until they could be identified.
Well, the items have started arriving to people who volunteered to hold them for Dale. So far, twelve items have been received by various people. Mopi has an archive of images of the items here and they can also be seen in this thread.
The first step to decoding this puzzle was to identify the Garden of Pears maze as a data matrix code, which is a type of barcode (thanks to Grumpyboy for pointing this out). Taking the image of the Garden of Pears and running it through a data matrix decoder gives us the following text:
Next, the first initials of the last names from the interment list were arranged in a grid in the position corresponding to their burial plot, which looks something like this:
The next step to solving this one is to take the letters in pairs from the decoded data matrix text and find a rectangle on the letter grid where the upper right corner is the first letter from the text pair and the lower left corner is the second letter from the text pair. After the appropriate rectangle is located, the upper left and lower right corners will give the first two letters of a decoded message. When this same method is used for the entire string of decoded data matrix text, the decoded message is:
This puzzle apparently is a pseudo Playfair cipher and it's frankly beyond me how sapagoo was able to pull a solve out of this, but he has put up a graphical representation and explanation of the solve method in this thread. Very nice work!
Dale has made contact with a few people with this email. He has resigned himself to the fact that he needs help with his situation even though he is still wary of involving others in his problems. He is going to try to get into his Synthasia office to get some information online for us, so we'll have to wait for him to get it posted.
Sam Greene sent out this email to several people on April 11th. He has heard from Dale and we are again being warned that we are potentially being put in danger by helping Dale. The other info in Sam's email is that he has posted some new information for Phyllis at the Hollow Needle. There are new images up of the various contents of the trunk including some of Sarah Wyatt's paintings, the "A Day in Fairyland" book and the manuscript.
April 12th brings two new emails to Dale's box at Synthasia. The first one is from the guides telling him that "It is almost time". A bit later, some of us also got similar emails, with varying messages, from the guides. These messages have been compiled here.
The second is from Sam Greene; he has apparently heard from Dale and is trying to get information and records out of the municipal building.
Several people got an email from Dale today; some of them subsequently received a phone call from him as well. As of the time he wrote the email, Dale still hadn't made it to his office because the "dead eye" guys have been hanging about.
Update: Dale did in fact make it to his office on April 14th and was able to make contact by phone. He indicated during the conversation that he was going to try to post his files, but if he wasn't able to he would have Wes post the information. We'll have to keep an eye out for this info.
On April 15th, many of us received an email from Sam Greene. In it, he tells us that he has heard from Dale and that he got in and out of his office unscathed. He also tells us that Wes is on his way over with an updated bumper sticker for him to upload and that he's also working on some changes to the library's site. which leads us to...
A new bumper sticker. This one translates to:
Search for clues?? Isn't that what we've been doing all along?!? I guess we just keep searching... Sam did mention in his email that he thought that this updated bumper sticker would lead us to the information that Dale was going to post online for us, so I suppose that is what we are searching for.
Another change to note on the EOTW page is the addition of the following: April 15, 2003 - "It's Spring and the goat-footed balloonMan whistles far and wee". This quote is from an e e cummings poem entitled "in Just-".
The other new item that Sam mentioned in his email was an update to the library's pages and it looks like he's posted it. There's a new page that gives us information about local Aglaura artist, Sarah Wyatt. The piece tells how Sarah was secretly taken in by the Wyatt family after being found wandering in out of the Pine Barrens from the direction of the abandoned Ashram that had previously operated out of the old Ong's Hat Rod and Gun Club. Sarah was discovered with the Wyatt's after Hamilton Wyatt suffered a heart attack. She was in her early teens, could barely read or write and was terrified of strangers.
Sarah was allowed to remain with Amelia Wyatt to help care for her as long as she was educated in the local school system. It soon became apparent that Sarah was very gifted in art, but she suffered a severe emotional and psychological setback when Amelia died and she completely dropped out of sight. After that, she was reportedly seen wandering the area. When the family home was foreclosed on the new owners, the Willinghams, found the house deserted but all the walls were covered in Sarah's artwork. Sightings of Sarah continued for a few years but eventually stopped all together.
Another addition to the pages on Aglaura's website is a full look at the illuminated manuscript page that was found in the trunk at the library. There are some funky symbols in the middle of the page followed by what appears to be latin including the words "Johannes Trithemius" in red. Even better, it seems that Trithemius was interested in cryptography and sending messages via angels.
The first of two new emails to Dale is from the guides over at mythosphere.org. This one is entitled "A Leap of Faith" and states "The Full Pink Moon shines above. Your path has been determined. All it requires is a leap of faith" followed by a block of garbled text:
The second email in to Dale is from Sam. He is asking Dale for a little guidance on the newest bumper sticker message that Wes has offered up since none of us seem to be able to figure out where he is pointing us. He also warns Dale again about the Marzanos and tells him that Don Marzano made an appearance at the municipal building for a private chat with the mayor and the city attorney. Wonder what they were up to...
On April 17th, Wes must have realized that his last bumper sticker message went right over our heads. Now he is spelling it out for us. This latest version decodes to "clue search clue search clue search clue search". This newest hint is also reiterated in another email from Sam. Ok, so we needed to be hit over the head with it.
This must be the site that Dale was promising to make available online for us. If you recall, he mentioned in chat that he was "working on putting a site on line that will allow you to access what i have found so far ... it's in the form of a search engine that is keyed into some stuff ive already found"
Ok, so obviously there is something here for us to find. Cluesearch is apparently a modified google search. If you enter a search term, the results will appear identical to the results on a Google search, with exceptions. As Cemgate found out, there are certain search terms that will return results different than a Google search - this is the key to knowing if what you've found is "it". So, back to Cemgate's discovery... The first result returned on a Cluesearch search for "Trithemius", "manuscript", "steganographia", etc is www.missingmanuscript.com which is not shown on Google's search results, so this is one of the things we're looking for (hopefully there is more to find here).
This new site focuses on the 'lost' Steganographia manuscript penned by Johannes Trithemius. Background information is given on Trithemius' life and his works. The most interesting page on the site, however, talks about a missing fourth book to the Steganographia.
Apparently the webmaster of the site accidentally ended up with an envelope the "The Fourth Book?" written on the outside. Inside the envelope were photographs of the pages of the book that look very familiar to the image of the illuminated manuscript on the Hollow Needle's site.
Dale's new email is a reminder from the guides that they are again awaiting his response. So, we need to re-focus on the block of text they've given us/Dale in the "Leap of Faith" email:
After much pondering and several failed attempts at deciphering this thing, Dashcat and Konamouse figured it out. Since "leap of faith" is obviously a key phrase, and it just happens to line up exactly with the block of text, the key is to take the letters that correspond to the spaces in 'leap of faith' as follows:
Isolating the letters in red above gives us "seisdedosonbeltaine". There is a Seisdedos buried in plot 84 of Ash Grove Park and Beltaine is an Irish/Pagan/Wiccan holiday on April 30/May 1 in the northern hemisphere. Other than that, we're not quite sure what to make of this "leap of faith" message.
New mail from the guides arrived in our inboxes on April 19th. There were three different versions of the messages:
Subject: seeking help in finding truth - one step forward, two back
uffw bpf ric gmskfpt mg ric qpjkbj nyo riyu gt cmcncorbpz kbl, ble ricz fbtf
muffp ble escbrfp pdggdct, dpp jl uffk bpf kblz uppmbt yob syoit yob tnicsct
Subject: Sum of two
gfkpebhabaedpcmgddadnmqafnficcbatg atlgcfggebbaecazhfcdda glbgmaabfiggcpabfciffobq djdaraqbpkgmdsdeffge
Subject: To light the path
aqwt lqwtpga ku da cpqvjgt rcvj
yt mjqu ymj tsj bmt ltjx gjdtsi
zkhq fdoohg brx pxvw ilqg d zdb
amxlsyx csy li gerrsx gsqi fego
The decodes for each of these messages are:
Version 1: The subject for this message "one step forward, two back" tells us how this message was encoded. To decode it, we just do the reverse.
Translation: They are the formers of the primal man, that is Elementary Man, and they have other and greater offices, for in them are many worlds and ranks and spheres.
This is a quote from Israel Regardie which leads us to http://www.mythosphere.org/regardie.html. The text on this page, once deciphered, reads "Congratulations. You have made another step towards awareness and knowledge. Contact your guide. email@example.com
Version 2: Taking the letters in pairs and adding them up gives us the solution to this puzzle. For example, the first pair is "gf". The numeric equivalent of G is 7, F is 6. Adding those together gives you 13 which equates to M.
Translation: Magic is the heart of causing changes in consciousness at will.
This is a quote by Dion Fortune which leads us to http://www.mythosphere.org/fortune.html. The text on this page, once decoded, reads "Congratulations. You have made another step towards awareness and knowledge. Contact your guide. firstname.lastname@example.org
Version 3: Each of the four lines is rotated by a different number of letters (ROT). The first line is ROT-24, then ROT-21, ROT-23, and ROT-22 (ROT utility).
Translation: your journey is by another path to help the one who goes beyond when called you must find a way without you he cannot come back
No source can be found for this passage, so there is no new page (that we know of) at mythosphere for this message.
Several people have emailed the webmaster of missingmanuscript.com and informed him/her that the Hollow Needle in Aglaura is in possession of the illuminated manuscript. In a return email, we learn that the webmaster has a name, Colin Penrose, and that there are more images of the manuscript that he has posted. These images are posted here: http://www.missingmanuscript.com/page10.html
In an email, Dale let us know that he managed to get the video clip out of his office of the disc that Wes found in the Pine Barrens. The video is posted here. It's not great quality, but there's a pretty good shot of the disc at the end.
Dale's got new mail today from the guides. The message subject tells him to Prepare and the body of the message is a quote by Robert Green Ingersoll.
On April 22nd, the initiates received new mail from the guides; and, of course, they were in the form of a puzzle. Like the last mail that we received from the guides, these were sent based on "teams" - red, blue and white (as we have come to call them) - although only red and blue were to receive messages on this day.
The red team's message was:
If you notice, the second set of (garbled) text is exactly the same length on each of the lines as the first. So, to solve this one, you take the second set of letters and assign their numerical value and add or subtract that from the numerical value of the first set of letters (if the letter from the garbled text is in upper case, add; if it's in lower case, subtract). There is a great explanation of this decode posted here.
The translation works out to: A new domain of psychical expansion--that is what we lack. And it is staring us in the face if we would only raise our heads to look at it. This is a quote by Teilhard de Chardin which leads us to http://www.mythosphere.org/teilharddechardin.html. Now, the reds just need to let the guides know what they have learned.
The blue team's message was:
For this message, it was discovered that the string of 1's and 2's was and indication of how to separate the second number string. For example, the first number string starts 2221... which tells us that we should separate the second number string using 2 digits, 2 digits, 2 digits, then 1 digit giving us 20, 14, 14, 2... So now we split the second number string at the appropriate place and add that value to the numeric value of each of the letters in the string of text. Clear as mud?
Starting with "You", that converts numerically to 25 15 21. Using 20 14 14 from the numeric string and adding them together gives us 45 29 35. Converting those to letters (taking the remainder if it is greater than 26) gives us S C I.
The entire translation is: Science and religion are as the two wings of a bird. The bird is mankind which cannot fly on one wing alone. Which is a quote by Baha'u'llah and leads us to www.mythosphere.org/bahaullah.html. Now the blue team needs to respond to their guide as well.
The day after the blue and red folks got their mail, the "white" team got a message. This one was also in the form of a puzzle.
A %@dw v%g %$z *rcmz@ ,
Vx xx@gz pxv sa ^&y^b,
W&t sa zb%l w*cc
X v@w rds^g #du-r.
So far, every attempt at decoding this thing has failed, but it's still being crunched.
On April 23rd, Dale received new mail at Synthasia that appeared to be spam. However, curiousity about the Senate bill mentioned got the best of Cemgate and she went off to investigate and happened into a puzzle. Apparently, there is a website out there, www.spammimic.com that will turn regular mail into spam and vice versa. Running this message through spam mimic turns this "spam" into a real message. Converted it reads: keep running bastard, maybe we'll start with your friends instead. Very interesting indeed! We can only presume that this message is from the brothers Marzano.
Since we weren't able to really get anywhere with the latest message from the guides for the "white" team, they've kindly sent along a hint. The message is:
Our last message goes without response; is this the help you need?
Is this the help we need? Well, let's see.... The gibberish does actually help a bit. That text is ROT-25 for "circaregnatonat" which is latin for "It thunders through the realm" and is from a poem by Thomas Wyatt. This leads us to http://www.mythosphere.org/wyatt.html. The wyatt page gives us another passage from Sir Thomas Wyatt although it doesn't seem to be the real solve for this puzzle. We'll need some more time pondering this one.
So finally (after a bit of pleading) we got another hint for the white message that is still unsolved. The guides sent us another hint:
And still the need is urgent. Here is what can be said:
step by step
one key to start it all
one message of four lines
each line of many words, as steps along the way
each step a new key revealed
With this hint, the text was decoded to "I live all the daytime in faith and in might. And in holy fire I die every night." This is from Novalis - Hymns to the Night which leads us to http://www.mythosphere.org/novalis.html. The decode method for this puzzle is given in this post.
The message on the novalis page indicates that the guides may need to make immediate contact; they ask for a more timely contact method.
On April 30th, Sam sent out this message. He has heard from Dale and he's close to Aglaura. Sam thinks that Dale may be headed back to Ash Grove Park and Dale is insisting on going alone. Dale also asked Sam to stay in touch with us over the next few days and respond quickly. He has asked Wes to do the same.
New mail from the guides has also arrived. It seems that April 30th at sundown is when the door will open for "the one who seeks". It seems Dale will have to find his way within 24 hours or he won't be able to return!
Dale has new email from the guides. They are letting him know that the way will open for him on the 30th at dusk. We will have to help him return.
Also, Dale has changed the password for his email login at Synthasia. The new password is "sisyphus".
We know that Dale will be embarking on a journey today (April 30th) and we will have to help him return. The guides are reinforcing this to us with their latest message. It reads: "His time draws near. As one journey begins, your next step will be revealed."
The next message the seekers ("white" team) received from the guides was a puzzle:
93269 94792 58911 76997 54322
29936 49959 44996 98181 36372
59991 68999 89723 46521
A subsequent resquest for assistance with this coded message got this response from the guides. The capital letters in their response match up with the 9's in the original message as shown here.
Taking this hint, LazarusLong was able to decode the message using the Bacon cipher to read "steganographia". This leads us to a new page on mythosphere: http://www.mythosphere.org/trithemius.html.
We've got a new bumper sticker over at EOTW. This one decodes to "Sisyphus Sisyphus Sisyphus Sisyphus Sisyphus Sisyphus" which is the new password to login to Dale's email at Synthasia.
Wes has also added a note that reads "April 30, 2003 - They're all around us everyday. Why you can't see them, I can't say. Wes" Obviously we're missing something.
So, Dale went to Ash Grove Park after receiving a message from the guides. That message in conjuction with the previous message from the guides about "seisdedos on beltaine" led him to the cemetary and plot 84 at dusk. He contacted several people by phone for help in remembering the correct plot number and several people were also in email contact with Sam keeping him up to date on any info we had. Sam left us with a phone number to contact him "in an emergency".
Sam told us that he contacted Wes and Wes was heading out to Ash Grove Park to help Dale. Sam mentioned that he tried to contact Dale on his cell phone, but he couldn't get through. Later emails from Sam told us that Wes made it out to AGP, but he can't locate Dale. Raynardm received a voice mail from Dale. The message was: "...I can't seem to find the right headstone...I thought I knew it but I...wait! Somebody's coming. Damn, I think it's those guys Wes was warning us about. I need...shit! What it...? There is a light up ahead, I'm...I have to go ...(urgent) Bye!" No one has heard from him since.
From the latest page from the guides, it seems that we need to make sure that "the wood of nine guides" burns at dusk on May 1st in order to help Dale return. This information has been passed along to Sam in the hopes that he can help us with it.
Recap 4: What do we know so far?
Dale has sent out the items that were in the package address to Meaghan for safe keeping until we can figure out what they mean. Dale's house was destroyed by fire after some weird guys showed up at his house posing as police officers, but we don't know who set fire to the house.
Somehow the illuminated manuscript that was in the trunk found at the Aglaura library figures into all of this and it seems to be the fourth book to the Steganographia manuscript. In addition to the manuscript, the Hollow Needle is also in possession of several pieces of artwork by Sarah Wyatt, a local legend whose story also seems to be important to this story.
We've had lots of contact with the mythosphere guides and they have sent us many cryptic messages. They have opened the door to "the other side" to Dale which coincides with Beltaine at the plot of Seisdedos at Ash Grove Park. Dale has gone on a journey and we must help him return. Will we ever hear from him again??
Sites we've seen: Cluesearch, Missing manuscript
Things that are unsolved:
In what can only be described as a curious proclamation, there is a new Message from the Mayor posted on the city's website. The message reads:
Sounds like the Mayor doth protest too much.
Dale has crossed to the other side and now Wes and Sam must try to bring him back. According to the most recent page found on mythosphere, "The wood of nine the guides must burn...At tomorrow's dusk, the fire burn Where love once lived, and he shall return". we have taken this to mean that the wood should be burned at the site of Dale's now burned down house at dusk on May 1st.
An email to the seekers (white) team was received during the day on the 1st which reinforces this. The email read:
Wes and Sam located the wood from the nine trees in Diana's Grove (how convenient) and agreed that Wes would be the one to burn the wood and meet the guide at dusk. Sam will stay at the municipal building to intercept any trouble that may come up from the authorities.
During the night, Sam was in periodic contact with Wes by cell phone and steady contact with us via email. Sam let us know that he had spoken to Wes he was across the street from Dale's house. The next call Sam got from Wes went something like this:
It was cutting in and out and difficult to hear but I heard Wes' footsteps as
he walked through the ruined house, I think.
And then a deep voice said "Keeler". Wes sounded suprised and said "You? It's you?"
There was static and I thought I lost the call until I heard the deep voice say
"We must hurry. Someone has told them where we are and they are coming . . . their time."
It was cutting in and out again so I was obviously missing some words.
I heard Wes say "You know I won't let . . . to him" and then the phone went dead again."
In the next email from Sam, he reports hearing about a fire on Winton Pond Road, which is the street Dale's house is on. He also tells us that he can't get through to Wes' cell phone - it doesn't even ring. The last email we get from Sam tells us that he is going out to Dale's house to try and figure out what is going on.
On the evening of May 1st, in the midst of trying to figure out what exactly had transpired at the site of Dale's house, this email was received from the guides at mythosphere. This message tells us a little bit about what happened at Dale's house, but there are still many questions. Dale seems to be safe from the moment, but Wes is missing and not in good hands.
This email does confirm the fact that Digitalis is a guide, as I think many of us have suspected.
The morning after the wood burning, Sam gave us an update on what went on last night after he left the municipal building to go to Dale's house. He doesn't reveal much new information other than the fact that the mayor and city attorney were both on the scene of Dale's house.
In another email that Sam sent out he gives us a bit of new information. He still hasn't heard from either Wes or Dale, but he did finally reach someone at his shop. The girl who works at Wes' shop told Sam that she hasn't heard from Wes, but she did find a note that Wes had left for Sam.
Sam went to EOTW and sent us another email detailing the contents of the note. In the note, Wes tells Sam how he tracked down the person who bought the disc from him. Wes was able to talk to the wife of the man who bought the disc from him and she told Wes about the circumstances surrounding her husband's activities after he purchased the disc. She tells him that her husband started acting very strange after he came home with the disc. At some point, he disappeared with the disc for about a week. When he returned in the middle of the night, his clothes were dirty. He started screaming "It's gone. They'll never find it" and then cut his throat on their front lawn. He is dead.
The man's wife gave Wes a small notebook that she found tucked in the seat of her husband's car. Wes took that notebook and locked it away in the safe at his store. The note that Wes left for Sam had an attachment that will give Sam the combination to the safe so he can look at the notebook. We've sent Sam numerous potential combinations but so far have had no luck in hitting the right combo.
Dale's email today is from someone with the yahoo ID of "pfishtap". Apparently, this "pfishtap", or Peter as he signs the message, is a client of Dale's. Peter is interested in Dale's HIP (Human Interface Project) and hasn't heard from Dale in a while. Peter is moving forward with his project and looking for an update from Dale.
Today, Dale has another email from "pfishtap" in his inbox. He, like many others, is confused by why he is being contacted by all these other people after emailing Dale. He also comments that the HIP prototype that Dale has posted on Synthasia is not exactly what he was expecting.
Finally on May 4th, we got some good news from Sam. He sent out this email letting everyone know that Dale has returned. He returned to Sam's house in the middle of the night and immediately passed out. He was still sleeping when Sam sent the message, so he hasn't gotten any details from Dale about his journey, but at least we know he is back.
After a couple of delays, the Aglaura Public Library auction has gone live. The auction is being hosted at Bidfields.com. There are a number of items up for bid including a "mystery tile box" and some of Sarah Wyatt's paintings. The full list of auction items is posted here.
Sam sent us another update about the progress (or lack thereof) in cracking Wes' safe. He also mentions that Dale is up and about and is planning to attempt to contact the guides again tonight. Sam is going to try and put together an IM chat for tonight or tomorrow so we all can talk to Dale again.
Another thing Sam mentions is some things he found at Wes' office. Wes had written "Dale" and "Castle Green Rd" on a deskpad calendar on his desk. Sam also found the figurine that was pictured in the hint to Wes' safe combination. It was on top of a filing cabinet and sitting on a piece of paper that had "Mais si c'était vrai?" written on it (which is french for "but if it were true").
Sam sent out this email letting us know the Dale would be on AIM that night to chat. With the advanced notice, we were able to set up a designated chat room and be a bit more organized than previous chats. The full chat log can be found here.
During the chat, Dale describes to us his experience when he went to meet the guides at Ash Grove Park. There were a number of things he saw during the time he was gone including a girl who he assumes to be Sarah Wyatt, his wife and daughter. Dale also explained a bit more about the HIP project that he was/is working on for Peter (aka pfishtap). There are too many specific details revealed in the chat to go into here, so be sure and read through the transcript.
The new email to Dale today is very interesting. He's got three new messages, one from pfishtap and a message from Bruce in two parts. The message from Peter is rather benign, just a response to Dale and update on his project. The messages from Bruce, however, are a bit more severe. In the messages, Bruce addresses the comments that Dale made about him in the chat the previous day. Bruce contradicts Dale's story about the origin of AnonymousFame's seed money and gives his point of view on Dale's stay in Klepsydra. Bruce offers to meet with Dale face to face to attempt to sort out their 'differences' as Dale had suggested during chat.
New mail to Dale today is from "rubinechus" at a mail.com address. The message claims that someone sent a message to rubinechus asking that s/he forward to it on to Dale's synthasia address. Attached to the message is the same hint that we were given to Wes's safe combination. Very curious.
There is a new newsclip (archive) from Channel 8 posted on the Aglaura homepage. The report talks about the grand jury investigation into Don Marzano. There is also an editorial in which Tracie gives the mayor her response to his recently posted open letter.
While searching cluesearch, a new site was discovered by using "faery" and "star" as the search terms (apparently the spelling of 'faery' is the important part). This is a site run by someone named Elizabeth Vara which focuses on the search for faeries. There is quite a bit of information here to wade through regarding faeries, plants and myths and legends.
The new email for Dale today is from Elizabeth Vara, the webmaster of the newly found faerytrail.com. Apparently Dale contacted her through the site and related some of his experiences to her. She wants to help Dale to understand any possible faery connection and asks Dale to provide her with more details.
May 9th was plagued with technical difficulties. Several of the sites were offline because of server issues, so we were disconnected from any goings on. That evening, Dale sent out an email to update us on the server problems and some information he had received.
He received another forwarded email from "rubinechus" that simply said "faeries hurl down scorn". There was also a new message from digitalis warning Dale about the consequences to Wes that Dale had suggested in an email to the guides (he suggested that he would turn himself over to the numbered ones/dead eyes to try and locate Wes).
Taking a closer look at the "faeries hurl down scorn" message, it anagrams to "search sunflower rodin". So now we've got something to investigate, but it's very odd where these messages are coming from.
Dale also received an email from Don Marzano. He wants to meet with Dale at Empty Threats.
New email messages were sent out to the red and blue 'teams' from the guides. Each of these messages contained a message and two attachments. The messages are:
If strange things happen where she is,
Never be disenchanted of
The attached files for the blue mail were: bluem.pdf and bluem1.doc; the red files are: redm.pdf and redm1.doc.
These files, when combined (red and blue), form this picture which is a picture of Icarus and his father, Daedalus (the painting is titled "Fall of Icarus"). This leads us to two new pages on mythosphere: icarus and daedalus, natch, which of course contain more coded information. Grumpyboy has posted the solve to these two pages in this post (highlight the spoiler box to see the text). The solve leads us to another new page on mythosphere: http://www.mythosphere.org/cslewis.html.
Dr. Kendra has sent mail to Dale's box at Synthasia today. She has posted the transcript of Dale's hypnosis session and a few audio clips as well. The transcript is posted here.
One of the things that had been mentioned in relation to Wes was an obscure book that he had recently read. So, we had to find out what book he had taken out of the library. Finally, Sam was able to get the list and mailed it to us. The books were:
After seeing the list, Diandra keenly pointed out that "Castle Green Rd" (from the desk calendar in Wes' office) anagrams to "Le Grand Secret". So, that has to be the obscure book, right.
Today, Dale got a new message from rubinechus. In this one, s/he is again questioning what Dale is involved in. Rubinechus is being asked to forward these emails to Dale, yet s/he doesn't know why.
The message comes across as a bunch of bluster, but if you read between the lines, you'll notice the real message there. Using the tried and true method of sending a hidden message, the first letters of each of the sentences in the first paragraph spells out "look closely". Ok, so look closely....at what??
Several people received an email from Colin Penrose, the webmaster of missing manuscript. In the message he talks about the "arrangements" he has made with some "associates" regarding the manuscript pages that Phyllis Willingham. It seems that Colin is willing to do whatever it takes to get his hands on that manuscript.
The Aglaura, NJ homepage has been updated with a new section for Local News. The first story posted is about a burglary at the Hollow Needle on May 15th. Apparently "several items", including the manuscript page, were taken by the intruder(s). The Willingham's were at home (adjacent to the store) at the time of the burglary. Phyllis was taken to Greatwater General for observation after the incident, but has since been released.
The new message for Dale today is from pfishtap. He is letting Dale know the status of his project. He is planning to start publicizing his site next week. He says that even if Dale doesn't finish the HIP project he has his other interface, CAROL, up and working.
Two new messages into Dale today. One from JD Willingham informing Dale that is position with the borough council has been jeopardized by his absence at the recent meetings. JD is planning to formally question his ability to continue as a council member at the next meeting to be held on May 20th. Note: the dates in this original message were corrected by a follow-up message from JD. The subsequent message is found here.
The second message is from Don Marzano. He is reiterating his offer to meet with Dale at Empty Threats. As Don closes the message, his wording makes it seem less and less like an offer and more and more like the threat we would expect from him.
Well, we were obviously getting nowhere, so thankfully, Dale finally solved the safe combination himself. Sam sent out an email letting us know that Dale had solved it and what he found inside. There was some confusion with the attachments in the first email, so he sent out a second one which is referenced here.)
There are a couple of new items posted on the Aglaura website. On the library's pages, there is now a picture of Sarah Wyatt posted on the Aglaura site. We're not sure if there is any real significance to this, however.
Secondly, there is a new message from the mayor on the city's homepage. The text of the message reads:
This day brings a new message to Dale from "rubinechus". Dale has apparently replied to him and rubinechus is letting him know that he is "starting to see the light". "Rubin" ends the message with "sáamal in laak" (which means "tomorrow my friend" in mayan). Very curious.
Dale sent out a massive email update covering a number of different topics. He talks about finding (among other things) a manuscript of Wes' in his safe. It is entitled "Secrets You Cannot Know" as is a "detailed expose of secret organizations throughout history" according to Dale. In the safe, Dale also discovered a photocopy of the manuscript page with handwritten notes, another notepad of Wes' which contained the words "gray weathers". Another item that Dale covers in the message is that he thinks that "rubinechus" is actually Wes. He has sent him a message with things only Wes will know and expects to get confirmation the next day.
In another email, Sam fills us in on some other details. The mayor and JD were not happy that Dale completely blew them off by not showing up at the special council meeting. At the council meeting Dale was suspended pending a final hearing at the next meeting. When Sam got to work the next morning, he was told to report to the mayor's office where he was grilled by the mayor and the attorney about his knowledge of Dale and his whereabouts. After being held for over an hour, he was allowed to leave after the mayor took a brief phone call. When Sam returned to his desk, he had a phone message informing him that the police department was in the process of serving a search warrant on his residence. The phone message was time stamped just after he was called into the mayor's office. (How convenient.) Sam returned home to find everything in disarray, but fortunately he and Dale had anticipated something like this happening and were prepared for it.
Dale has asked Sam to pass along to us the address of the page he has posted a notated copy of the manuscript page that was found in Wes' safe. The page is posted here. Sam also comments that he will be working on scanning the notebook pages from the man who bought the disc from Wes to be posted. He also tells us his AIM screenname, thesamgreene, to say "hi" if we see him online.
We didn't have to wait very long to chat with Sam or Dale. Both showed up in AIM on the night of 05/21 and a chat room was quickly opened. Same (thesamgreene) was there at the very beginning, but had to leave to work on scanning the notebook pages. Later on in the chat, Wes (weirdwesk) showed up. The full text of the chat can be found here.
On a side note, several people began to receive IMs from "shadowtalk1" prior to Sam, Dale or Wes showing up online. In one of the exchanges, shadowtalk1 began "gray gray grey grey; weather weather" but wouldn't really elucidate. Eventually s/he went offline occassionally reappearing with similar messages.
The AIM messages from "shadowtalk1" began again in earnest on May 22nd. The various message received from him/her are posted in this thread. Several people also reported receiving phone calls around the same time they were chatting with shadowtalk. Shadowtalk seems intent on passing along variations of "grey gray weather wether" to us. What it means, we aren't exactly certain. At one point it started giving numbers and formulas and information about stonehenge.
Dale's new email on this day is from Don Marzano. It seems that Dale has agreed to meet Don on May 26th, Memorial Day. That should be interesting.
One of the items that was in the library auction has been delivered to the winner. The 'mystery tile box' was won by dparadise20. Inside the box was a stone, an unopened letter to Sarah Wyatt, a library card issued to Pat Dobbs and an admission ticket to the auction. Pictures of the various items have been posted here. The numbers on the letter to Sarah are most definitely a puzzle of some sort, but we have not yet been able to make anything of it.
Shadowtalk1 is now sending email as well as IMs. This message to Dale reinforces the grey/gray/weather/wether message that it is intent on getting across; but it also contains some hidden letters and numbers. The numbers "SX638832", as Diandra found, correspond to the location of the Grey Wethers Stone Circle in Britain.
In researching the information that Diandra found, cemgate stumbled upon a new game site: Greywethers.net. The front page has a picture of what looks to be sarcen stones and clicking through gives one of 13 possible redirect pages with various equations. The page names and the corresponding equations are detailed here. One of the equation pages, 1+6.html seems to have an addition error since 1+2+6 does definitely not equal 10. We'll have to see if that gets corrected.
Each of these redirect pages leads to this page with a riddle of sorts and a link to "Proceed". The proceed link gives a user/password box, so we'll need to work these out before we can see more on this site. The registration info for this site reveals that the domain was registered by Sam Meade of London.
Dale has a new message in his box from the webmaster at greywethers.net in response to message that Dale has sent him/her. Apparently Dale had asked about that suspicious equation on one of the redirect pages of the site. The webmaster assures him that it is not an error, but instead is very deliberate. Now we just have to figure out what it means.
At some point, old maps of Aglaura were requested and they have now been posted. The maps can be found here: http://www.aglauranj.org/oldmap.html and http://www.aglauranj.org/oldmap2.html.
We've been anticipating these for a while now and we're finally getting a look at the first of the notebook pages from the man Wes sold the clay disc to. According to Dale, these first nine are only a third of the pages that are in the notebook, but Sam is working on getting the rest of them scanned and posted. (Update: the rest of the notebook pages are now posted here and here.) A number of the notes/drawings have been identified and the discussion about the pages is here.
In an email from Bruce, he tells us that he will accompanying Dale to the meeting with Don Marzano at Empty Threats.
According to an email that Angie sent out, the meeting was quite interesting. It seems that the elder Marzano is acquainted with the Wish. Don seems to be no longer interested in the money that Dale owes him, but instead is VERY interested in getting his hands on the Wish. During their meeting, some men, possibly the dead eyes (from her description of them - "pale skinned and in dark suits with sunglasses, sort of creepy"), showed up.
Don demanded that Dale return "some artifacts" to him (the disc and the contents of the package) and locate the Wish for him. As Don put it, the Wish has been "a thorn in my side..and to the people who our friends here work for". When he was finished, Don ordered Dale and Bruce from the restaurant. I can't wait to hear Dale and Bruce's take on this little meeting.
This message is from Sam. He is basically complaining about Dale leaving him to do all the work on getting the rest of the notebook pages scanned and posted since Dale had to make his meeting with Don Marzano. Dale's gonna owe Sam something big when this is over!
Recap 5: What do we know so far?
Dale and Wes have both returned from 'the other side' or where ever they went. Wes is on the run and has liberated the manuscript from the Hollow Needle. He is possibly trying to broker some sort of deal with Colin Penrose in exchange for the manuscript page. Shadowtalk has been passing us message in AIM and has directed us to greywethers.net, but we're not sure what the significance is yet.
Dale has gotten the notebook used by the man who bought the disc from Wes and is in the process of posting the entire thing online. The disc apparently caused very strange behaviour in this man and hopefully the notebook will shed some light on what he found out about the disc itself.
In a strange turn of events, Dale and Bruce met with Don Marzano, who is very interested in getting his hands on the Wish. He also demanded that Dale return the disc and the contents of the package to him.
Sites we've seen: Faerytrail, Greywethers
Things that are unsolved:
The new mail into Dale's box is another from Peter aka pfishtap. It's really just a heads up that he has experienced some delays in his publicity campaign and that there is still time for Dale to deliver the Interface Project. (Don't get your hopes up, Peter.)
Since we haven't been able to make any progress with the login on greywethers.net we started looking for help. Myssfitz got a reply from psammead that gives a bit of a hint on the username and password that should be used...
After that, there is another reply that confirms that the username to be used is "friend". He also drops more clues to the password and that an anagram "a ragman" is not what we're looking for, rather ciphering is needed. Current thinking is that "standing stones" is the starting point for the password. (Another name for which greywethers is known.)
More assistance is given in these messages which tell us that the pages and their names are important to deciphering the correct password.
The map of Aglaura on the city's website has now been made interactive.
Dale has sent out a new email in which he tells us about his meeting with Don Marzano. He also talks about what he has found in the notebook pages from the man Wes sold the disc to. Apparently there is a hidden message in the notebook "where moon meets star". When the page is folded as Dale explains, the message reads:
This seems to be telling us how to find the hidden disc once we know the correct location based on the route that the man took. Dale also noticed nine numbered triangles on the page, although we aren't sure what they represent.
Today's mail is a message from Wes. Wes tells him that he will be returning to Aglaura soon and that he's got new information (regarding the manuscript?). He also reiterates the importance of finding the disc and suggests that Sam and Dale take a road trip to follow the guy's route if it comes to that.
The newest message to Dale today is from JD Willingham. He is reminding Dale that his position with the borough council hangs in the balance and that the final vote is upcoming. JD urges Dale to actually attend the meeting this time, unlike the last emergency meeting that he didn't attend.
It seems that Dale is making more progress with the notebook pages than we are. He sent this email in which he seems to have figured out that the numbered triangles on the notebook pages are hiding. He has posted a grid with the markings from the pages with the triangles. The markings apppear to be the numbers 3 7 5 7 9 1 4 6.
It was suggested that these numbers represent latitude/longitude coordinates. When translated, 37° 59' N 91°' 43' W comes close to these coordinates which is the location of Rolla, Missouri. Rolla seems to be the westernmost locale that the man with the disc visited. Coincidentally (ok, not really), the University of Missouri at Rolla has a replica of Stonehenge. (See this post for further info.) Looks like we need to find someone who can get to Rolla and look for the disc.
Sam has sent a new message to Dale today. Apparently the two of them are supposed to meet with Wes tonight since he is back in town. Sam also mentions a strange phone call that he received. It seems that some of us also received the same call. It was from "Sarah" and she spoke about running out of time and asked for help. She also made mention of the disc. Sam seems to think it was a prank, but obviously Sarah knows something about the disc.
Others who got the call also mention that at the end of the message there was another message from greywethers. The details are in this post.
Some of the letters on the greywethers login page were changed to be whited out. These letters lead to a new page on the site: http://www.greywethers.net/vec.html. The text on this page is a latin translation of Aesop's fable "Fox and Crow".
This page leads us to another new one: lafontaine.html. Lafontaine was one of the people who preserved and translated Aesop's fables. This new page has simply two words "mail" and "house" written in black and white respectively. The source code also provides the comment: "be careful and don't be too quick this page contains yet another trick". Hmm. Black mail/white house...the first spec is that this is pushing us toward emailing email@example.com, we'll have to see if there is a response.
On June 6th, Spuds and Eulalie went to the University of Missouri at Rolla and located Wes' disc. A picture of what they found is here and spuds has posted a great retelling of the trip to find the disc here.
There is a new page posted on the missing manuscript site. The new page is located here: http://www.missingmanuscript.com/page10.html and shows some new photographs and photocopies from the book and an envelope that was sent to the webmaster.
The newest email into Dale's synthasia box also seems to be a response to the email sent after finding the lafontaine.html page on greywethers. (This email was received by others who mailed whitehouse.) Apparently we (and Dale) are making some progress, but need to be ready for a new challenge to come "before tomorrow's setting sun".
A new picture has appeared on the front page of http://www.mythosphere.org/ (archive). It is an image of a six-fingered hand colored with blue and red. Is this significant??
The latest email from firstname.lastname@example.org promised a new challenge to come. A new email from them seems to be the start to this challenge. This mail is also the newest mail into Dale's box. The message gives four numbers and a taunt of sorts that their numbers have stumped us before. This one seems to be easy enough to get past.... The four numbers, 23 16 6 5, are a direct alphabet substitution which, when translated lead us to a new page on the site: www.greywethers.net/wpfe.html.
This page shows a strange "poem" and some instructions of sorts on how to decipher it. The poem is "a wish to share and I can send my note for hope on again a few to bare my step to". The text tells us to count all the letters and spaces "and nine by nine defines the walls". Once arranged properly, another shape will be revealed. (Note: the poem was changed from its original wording to correct the total number count.)
A later update to the wpfe page reveals a diamond shape hidden at the bottom of the page. So, using the diamond shape and applying it to the text of the poem when arranged in a 9x9 grid gives us a new page...
The red letters in the above grid represent the diamond shape and point us toward the new page, sainteberegonne.html. But, before we take a look at this page, let's go back and pick up Dale's other new messages...
In addition to the email from whitehouse mentioned above, Dale's also got a new email message from Bruce. He is expressing his concern for Dale's mental state and how he is recovering. He also encourages Dale to get back to his regular therapy with Dr. Kendra.
Dale also received an email with the text of the wpfe page on greywethers from whitehouse .
This new sainteberegonne page on greywether has a nice flash file and lots to explore. There are 12 clickable hot spots on this page, but only two of them seem to be active. Clicking the manhole cover (below, below, below) leads to a new page, http://www.greywethers.net/tunnel1.html which then leads to 10 redirect pages all dealing with "wishes". The redirect pages are listed in this post.
One of the upper windows (myths) on the sainteberegonne page sends us to a new page, http://www.greywethers.net/window2.html. This page holds a picture of Cumaea, one of the most reverend of the sibyls. Putting those pieces together, we get to yet another new page, http://www.greywethers.net/cumaeansibyl.html. This page contains a painting by Giovanni Cerrini of Apollo and the Cumaean Sibyl. At this point, though, we're not sure where to go from here.
Today, Dale's has got a new message from Bruce. Bruce is letting Dale know about his newest creation, a new site for a recording studio in New Jersey www.auraladdiction.com. Let's take a look at it...
Auraladdiction.com is an independent recording studio located in Roselle, NJ. This website for the studio was designed by Bruce and AnonymousFame. On the site there are a number of photos and album designs as well as audio clips for your listening pleasure. Additionally, there is a video section with a video diary from Mythos, a kaleidoscope and a video mixer.
Remember the Aglaura auction?? One of the items up for auction was the book "A Day in Fairyland". ALH1213 won the book and has scanned the contents. One of the other items in the auction was a mystery tile box that contained a letter from Sarah Wyatt with some strange numbers on it. It was spec'ed that the book was needed to apply the numbers on the letter and that spec was confirmed when we got a chance to look at the book and a note that came with it.
Grumpyboy gets the solve on this one and he's got a great walk-through of how he did it in this post. The message that is revealed by decoding the messages is "NINE EXIST ETERNALLY THE MYTH PERCEPTIONS OF EACH AGE". The only problem is, we aren't exactly sure what it means; only that it confirms that Sarah Wyatt is tied into all this somehow.
Dale's new mail today is from Peter Fishwycke, aka pfishtap. Apparently, he's gotten his site up and his Project is getting attention. For obvious reasons, Dale wasn't able to get the HIP software to Peter for the site, but he talks about a CAROL interface that he has up and running. Peter sent the message from his domain mail, so now we've got a new site to look at...
www.theanswerproject.com is the site that we've been anticipating from Peter Fishwycke (pfishtap). According to the info on the site, The Answer Project is the brainchid of Dr. Peter Fishwycke who developed what he calls "The Theory of Absolute Reality". This theory states that every question has a definite, absolute answer and he hypothesized that if enough computers were working together the answer to every question could be determined. To that end, he has developed a web-based question submission system named CAROL (Computerized Answer Retrieval OnLine) which allows users to input questions to be added to the database. If the answer has been found, it will be displayed on the question form. Answers from CAROL are being collected in this thread.
There have been a number of IM conversations with shadowtalk1 and the current spec is that shadowtalk is CAROL or some sort of interface with CAROL.
Peter has sent another new email to Dale on this day. In this one, Peter is a bit confused by all the email that he has been receiving about Dale and his involvement in The Answer Project. He seems a bit baffled about the messages and how he should respond.
This message seems a bit strange, but upon further investigation it's actually leading us to the next page in the greywethers trail. As you can see, there isn't much to the message, save for the subject of "return". Plugging that onto the greywethers.net url gives us what we're supposed to find: www.greywethers.net/return.html.
This page gives us a coded message. Using simple substitution to decode we get "tomorrow you will be contacted / be ready with a reply / two bodies have I / though both joined in one / the stiller I stand / the faster I run". So we've got to wait another day before being contacted; but looking at the riddle it seems to be referring to an hour glass (the stiller I stand, the faster I run).
The next day, Dale received a new message from whitehouse simply asking for a "reply?". So, using the answer to the riddle gives us hourglass.html which asks if we're "ready?" before leading to a second version of the sainteberegonne page we've seen before.
This page looks the same as the previous version we've seen with the exception of one thing. There is a new active link on one of the upper windows (folklore). This link leads to http://www.greywethers.net/window7.html which then redirects to a series of pages wt1, wt2, wt3, wt4, wt5, wt6 and wt7. These pages display images of manuscript pages. The pages are all from a particular book which leads us to bookofhours.html.
This page has a block of text with "handtheinstrument / overtomeinaminute / fornowitmaybegood / asyouthinkitisfor / thatshowskillsare". Taking a look at the source code shows us a comment of "more?" Barbarellany figured out how to decode this one. As posted in this message, "hourglass" is the key. "If you start at the middle m in the middle row across as the place where sand flows through and start making diagonals off from there in all 4 directions you will find the top is filled with Einstein and the bottom with Minkowski." Einstein and Minkowski worked on spacetime and developed a feature of spacetime, the light cone. This gives us the next page in the hunt, lightcone.html.
This page has an image of the light cone, several quotes and a picture of Father Time at the bottom of the page. The quotes on the page have been traced back to their source here. At this point we're stuck on this page and will have to wait for more help or inspiration to strike.
In a very strange turn of events again, Ash Grove Park's website has once again turned back into a site for the amusement park, our "gateway to another world of fun". Very strange indeed.
Sam has posted some new news reports from Channel 8's Tracie Schmidt. In the first report we learn that the grand jury will be convened to hear the case against Don Marzano. A transcript of the report is below:
The new mail into Dale's account appears to be spam, but once again things are not always what they seem. When running this message through the decoder at spammimic we get this message: "you know who this is. the old man is losing it. somethings not right. we need to talk". Hmmm, should we know who this is from? There are many suspects but we don't know for sure. Edit: Dale later confirmed in chat that this was from Sal.
A new picture has appeared on the front page of http://www.mythosphere.org/. It's an image of a six-fingered hand colored blue on the left side and red on the right side. There are also various "plot points" pictured all over the hand. What does this mean??
There is a minor update to the EOTW page. He's put up a quote from "All Along the Watchtower" by Bob Dylan reading "Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl." Is this a bit of foreshadowing perhaps??
The next day the bumper sticker on the site was updated as well. The new sticker decodes to "I am back and will start replying to email soon Wes". He's probably got an overflowing inbox to respond to.
Some people received an email from mythosphere stating "the time is upon us. which side will you choose?" Then, there were two new links on the picture of the hand on the front page of the site: left1 and right1. On each page there is a grid that will help us "get what you need from the Tree of Myths". The instructions say to email what we have found to initiatesblue and email@example.com.
The key to this grid is to use the same method that was used to solve the previous grid the guides gave us. The full decode of the message by grumpyboy, Diandra and danman_d is "in all there is meaning beyond the myth Demeter Athena Uranus Hermes Coeus Hebe Artemis Oceanus" (blue) and "in all there is some meaning beyond the myth Bestia Magni Modi Njord Vili Bragi Giant" (red). Ummm, ok...what do we do with that?
We were treated to another looong chat with Dale on the evening of June 22nd. The transcript of the chat is posted here. In the chat Dale tries to get us to focus on discovering the meaning behind the symbols on the disc which is finally solved! Taking the word for each of the symbols and using the number of dots on each to select which letter position to use gives "satanpaidam" which anagrams to "at Diana's map". Wes and Dale tell us that this is referring to the trail map for the Diana's grove recreation area. Apparently Sam has this trail map for posting on the city's site and Dale tries to contact him during the chat but has no luck in reaching him. (Update: the trail map has been posted here.)
Wes then denied breaking into the Willingham's house and told us about his meeting with Colin Penrose of missingmanuscript fame. Penrose told Wes about his belief that Trithemius was one of something called "the nine". These nine are believed to be beings or people who have learned things or made discoveries and have become something more than human. In translating the first two Steganographia books, Penrose says they each contain references to something called "the wish"; and depending on the interpretation, it can be read that the title of the work is "catching (or chasing) the wish". Wes continues about the books and tells us that he may have located a missing page or is on the verge of finding it. He tells us that we must not tell Penrose about this though.
Diandra found this new page based on the previous left1 and right1 pages that were titled "prelude to the tree of myths". There is an absolute ton of material here to go through on the greek and norse gods and goddesses, but it's definitely a fabulous flash file.
Dale has a new disguised spam email today. When decoded this one translates to "thanks for getting back to me. i'm putting my neck on the line here. but things arent right. the old man doesnt seem to care about the businesses. its crash and burn time. its these guys, the numbered ones he says but i know there are people behind them, another group. they are just lackeys. tomorrow i'll come see you." We can only assume that this one, like the others, is from Sal.
He also has a second message from Sam. It seems that things around the municipal building are really getting heated. Sam also mentions that Wes is going to meet Dale tonight - we'll have to wait and see what that's about.
The new Channel 8 report gives us more info about the grand jury investigation of Marzano Enterprizes as it appears to be reaching its conclusion. The text of this news report is as follows:
JD Willingham has sent this message to Dale. It seems that like others in the borough government Dale is being subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury in the Marzano investigation. Obviously no one can locate Dale to actually serve the subpoena and JD is attempting to talk Dale into performing his duty. He also seems very interested in having Dale meet with himself and the mayor to "plan our joint approach for handling the Grand Jury appearances". Hmmm, are they needing to get their stories straight perhaps??
The next day, Dale received this message from Don Marzano. The message is cryptic but Don is anxious to conclude their business arrangement to his satisfaction and is awaiting a reply from Dale. Don has also hidden a message in the mail. "I hope you see I control you" can be found using the first letter of each sentence.
2.6 - 7/27/03:
Added Dale's email 05/28, Hints for the Greywethers login, Interactive map of Aglaura, Dale weighs in on the meeting/notebook, Dale's email 06/02, Dale's email 06/03, More info on the notebook, Dale's email 06/05, New pages at greywethers, The disc is found, New missing manuscript page, Dale's email 06/07, New picture on mythosphere, Greywethers' new challenge, Dale's email 06/08, Sainte Beregonne, Dale's email 06/10, Auraladdiction.com, A Day in Fairyland, Dale's email 06/12, The Answer Project, Dale's email 06/15, Dale's email 06/17, return.html, Sainteberegonne2, AGP is reincarnated again, News report - grand jury, Dale's email 06/21, Another picture on mythosphere, New from Wes, New stuff on mythosphere, Chat with Dale and Wes 06/22, Tree of Myths, Dale's email 06/23, Channel 8 report and Dale's email 06/24 and 06/25.
2.5 - 5/27/03:
Added The mayor is innocent, Burn the wood of nine, Mail from the guide digitalis, Updates from Sam 05/02, Dale's email 05/02, Dale's email 05/03, Dale returns from beyond, Auction goes live, Update from Sam 05/04, Chat with Dale 05/05, Dale's email 05/06, Dale's email 05/07, New newsclip, Faerytrail.com, Dale's email 05/08, Update from Dale 05/09, Mail from the guides 05/11, Dale's email 05/12, Wes' book list, Dale's email 05/14, Mail from Colin, Burglary in Aglaura, Dale's email 05/16, Dale's email 05/17, Dale cracks the safe, Misc updates to aglauranj.org, Dale's email 05/20, Massive updates from Dale and Sam, Chat with Dale/Wes 05/21, Shadowtalk, Dale's email 05/22, Auction items: mystery box, Dale's email 05/23, Greywethers.net, Dale's email 05/25, Old Aglaura maps, Notebook pages, Meeting with Don Marzano, Dale's email 05/26 and Recap 5.
2.4 - 4/30/03:
Added More manuscript images, Video of the disc, Dale's email 04/21, New initiates mail, New mail for the "white" team, Fun with spam mimic, Hint for the "white" message, Another hint leads to a solve (white), An update from Sam, Mail from the guides, Dale's email 04/29, More contact from the guides, Updated bumper sticker, Dale at AGP and Recap 4.
2.3 - 4/29/03:
2.2 - 4/14/03:
Added Press conference Info/Accident report, Dale's email 04/01, Updated EOTW Bumper sticker, Aglaura Local Artists, Solved: Mythosphere grid, Graffiti Map, Response from the Guides, Graffiti Press Conference, News report on Dale's house, Update from Sam, Dale's email 04/04, Dale's email 04/06, Our responses from the guides, Dale's email 04/08, Packages from Dale, Dale's email 04/09, AGP Layout, Mail from Dale 04/10, Mail from Sam/Hollow Needle Update, Dale's email 04/12, Contact with Dale and Responses from Guides page.
2.1 - 4/1/03:
Added links to archived AGP pages, AGP Vanishes, Dale's email 03/25, More on the grid, Mail from Dale 03/26, Dale's email 03/26, Dale's email 03/27, Chat with Dale 03/27, A new Ashgrove Park, Update from Dr. Kendra, Dale's email 03/28, Hollow Needle newsletter, Aglaura news, Dale's email 03/30, Mail from Dale 03/30, Dale's email 03/31, Even more on the grid and Recap 3.
2.0 - 3/24/03:
1.9 - 3/21/03:
1.8 - 3/15/03:
1.75 - 3/12/03:
Added Sam checks in, corrected a couple of spots with references to the mayor as "she" (sorry Your Honor).
1.7 - 3/11/03:
1.6 - 3/09/03:
1.5 - 3/07/03:
Added code on second email from Collective Protective, Digitalis, the fortune teller, Contact with the mayor, Klepsydra, Greatwater General, Aglaura Press Conference notice, Empty Threats Update, Dale's email 03/05, Ash Grove Park Memories, Updated EOTW bumper sticker and Recap 2.
1.4 - 3/05/03:
1.3 - 3/03/03:
Added info about Dale's potential access at anonymousfame; Added sections: Dale's email 02/28, Collective Protective, Dale's email 03/01, Accident news clip, Updated bumper sticker, New message from the mayor, Book Club list, Illusive Truth update, MJM Latin and Dale's email 03/02.
1.2 - 3/02/03:
Revised Mid Jersey Mobile puzzle to include solution/use for the codes; Updated Synthasia to reflect the change from HIP back to the Aquarium link; added links to this section; added note about illusivetruth to Aglaura, NJ.
1.1 - 3/01/03:
1.0 - 2/28/03:
0.1 - 1/05/03: