MetaUrchins Home

Nov. 20

Today started off with an e-mail from Phil:

Email from

Date: 11/1/20/03 09:50
Subject: re: I'm back
Attachments: bird.jpg


I can't believe this. I simply cannot believe it.

I drove over to the address I had for him, and as I pulled up in front of the house I got the most eerie feeling. Something in my gut was screaming THERE'S SOMETHING NOT RIGHT HERE!! but I couldn't pinpoint it.

I walked up to the front door and knocked. No reply, not even a stirring to indicate maybe he was inside trying to avoid me. I looked in the garage windows and there was no vehicle to be seen. I checked around back, and when I looked through the window in the kitchen door I saw...well, nothing. No furniture, no appliances, no curtains, even. Just empty space. Even the ceiling fixture was gone, and the wires dangled like plastic spaghetti.

I could see through to the next room, and it was just the same. The wallpaper was still on the walls, which somehow surprised me, but other than that it appeared from what I could see that the place was empty.

I guess I leaned a little too hard against the back door, because it opened just then. I cautiously stuck my head in and called out "Hello....neighbor...anybody home?" Of course there was no reply, and by this time I had no idea what I would have said had there been one.

I walked in and my footsteps echoed strangely through the empty spaces. The kitchen. The dining room. The living room. The bedrooms, bathroom and even the study had been completely emptied. I was afraid I would find a body, and I was also afraid that I wouldn't. Strange how the mind works.

I walked up to the front door and was standing in the entry hall looking back into the empty house when I saw it. A single piece of paper, the only sign any living thing had ever been there. I picked it up as if it were an ancient artifact that might turn to dust on contact. I wondered for a minute what to do, and ended up getting the hell out of there, taking the paper with me. I don't think anybody saw me.

I almost left it in the rental as I pulled up to the airport. I stared at it the entire flight home. I'm attaching a scan I did of it.

I'm off to fix myself a stiff drink. Call me later if you want to talk, but I understand if you need to be alone. I will always be here for you.


Just in case you weren't completely clear on that: Phil went to Wongmo's house. And now Wongmo is gone. No more mailbag jokes. No more inner dolphin training. The fountain of trite wisdom has dried up. But alas, there is a note; and if you look hard enough, you'll see that it has a phone number: 702-xxx-xxxx (note: though I'm 'x'ing it out, those of you who can discern it, please refrain from calling it, as it has been disconnected, and we wouldn't want you to bother poor unsuspecting Las Vegas residents to whom it might have been reassigned). A few seconds on google, and we knew that the phone number has been registered to one H. Cromwell of Las Vegas. After a quick speculation on whether Mr. Cromwell could possibly be in-game, trip calls the number to find that she has reached a self-help clinic. She is also told that she can get more information about the upcoming seminars on the web; unfortunately, the nice man on the other end of the phone doesn't remember the url of his own website. His name sounds like "Shaffhousen"; thus Apparently, Wongmo/AQN has decided it was time to change his identity; Omnie writes "That picture is hilarious. 'Hello, I'm not Wongmo because I'm wearing a red shirt and tie.'" Someone notes that the red shirt looks suspiciously like Walsh's:

And thus begins the talent section of this show: the Walsh photoshopping contest! My personal favorites:

Btw, by this time Oct. 1 has no less than 6 separate threads dedicated to it, all of which, I feel, can be pretty well summed up with this sentiment: "Eye See? IC? NO, I DON'T FUCKING SEE!!!"

And now for the more substantial news: Beth e-mails Phil to tell him that she has returned home safe and sound. She says she's exhausted, and it sounds like the kind of tiredness that comes from completing a long and very demanding project... the kind that brings with it a realization of sudden emptiness. She also updates her site:

Biography: My Life

What is there to tell?

I'm a 20-something living in the Northwest and working in the tech industry. Rather typical, really. My life was simple and content, which was exactly how I liked it.

In the past few weeks, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world around me. For years I’ve been trying to fit everything into perfect little boxes. It kept things simple; it kept them in order. Yet our world is complex and it is not meant to be understood. It is a place to explore, to experience. I don’t know what lies in front of me, but I do know that whatever it is, I am ready.

My life is complex and uncertain, which is exactly how I like it.

I'm not sure that I understood then and there why this post made me sad; but now, upon re-reading it, I know that it was because it seemed to confirm this dreaded notion of "things are coming to an end". Horrified at the thought, several of us jumped on the suggestion of a book about this experience (made by Insomniac a few days prior)... which lead you, inexorably, here :-)

Beth's archives are once again re-numbered, and Phil is locked out of little-boxes.

There is an e-mail in Kat's Metadex:

Email from Mr. Jones

Date: 1/20/03 09:00

Ms. Cunningham,

We received the file parcel on Elizabeth McConnell today. Please contact us immediately for further instructions.


Agent Jones

Funny thing is - we are not sure that Beth is necessarily considered a "threat" by the agents: despite participating in a translocation, witnessing a live AI and a person with a reloaded memory, and being fully aware of the contents of GC's proposal for Caesar's gang, she still doesn't so much as suspect the existence of the matrix.

Nov. 22

Laugh at me if you must, but I distinctly remember the details of this morning - the way most people remember what they were doing just before a horrible disaster struck. I logged onto unfiction at around 11 am - to find that... well, let me give it to you in order.

There was this appended to the last logs:

Kat did die; the security cam by door 13 captured her last tears :-(

Next, Beth updated her log:

Saturday, Nov 22
Three nights in my own home, in my own bed, haven’t made any of this easier. No matter what I do, what I try, I can’t leave that little spot in the woods where my life changed forever. I keep trying to accept it all, but that acceptance doesn’t come. So now I find myself going over my notes and over this log in an attempt to let it go and to move on.

I’ll never forget leaning against the car attempting to come to grips with James’ death. It had been two years since I, since anyone, had seen him. When I looked up, I saw his shadow walking up the road. It wasn’t his shadow, it was his son. He looks just like his mother, but his spirit and his stature is that of his dad. I could almost feel James right there. We spoke for a few minutes before I could tell him that his parents had passed away and that they wouldn’t be coming back. He was strong. If I didn’t know better, he already knew in his heart. Yet he couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t stop searching, stop hoping.

He was scared. His face, his eyes, they just showed terror and sadness. He was dealing with far more than a kid his age should. I learned that he was in trouble, big trouble. “My friend” watched from the shadows as Jesse and I cried and held each other. I noticed him observing us, almost as scientifically as I had observed him.

When Jesse left, I explained to him the situation. He seemed to understand the nature of Jesse’s troubles and my desire, my need, to help him. We talked about what we could do to protect Jesse from what we can only assume to be “monitors”. He thought that he knew of a way but he didn’t know if he could make it work. I didn’t know the details. I didn’t know that it would be his demise. I told Jesse before we could think it through all the way.

The next morning a man arrived. He was scared, lost, confused. His wife was killed the day before and he believed Jesse to be his son. Ethan was such a sweet man and it broke my heart when I heard him cry out as he learned that Jesse was a friend’s child that he had taken in. He had grabbed onto the hope of Jesse being a connection to his wife and that was broken. It was as if he went through her death all over again.

I couldn’t help. I was too busy with “My Friend”. Too busy watching him struggle over what he had to do. We talked about the ramifications of it all, the power that it would take, the danger that it would bring. He wanted me to leave. I couldn’t. I just had to witness it. I had to know that it worked. I promised to leave as soon as it happened and to never look back. The monitors wouldn’t know about me. As he had explained, they were given one task and they pursued it until it was completed. I was safe.

It was hard packing up knowing that I’d never see any of these people again. “My Friend” had truly become a friend. I enjoyed discussing the nature of man with him. I longed to discuss the nature of machine. I didn’t want to say goodbye. I didn’t want to know that he would be gone by the end of the night. And Jesse, so much of his father. He is truly an amazing child, an amazing young man. James would be so proud. And his friends, all so bright. They had so much of a future, would it all be gone? And Ethan, so lost and so alone. Yet he now had a dozen kids that he seemed to need and they seemed to need him. We all walked into this crazy situation and I was the only one walking out of it. It didn’t seem fair. It didn’t seem right. They all helped me pack, we pretended that the next hour wasn’t going to happen.

But it did. None of us will ever be the same. They are trapped in a world that is not ours. I am trapped in a world that is. And “My Friend”, I can’t let myself think of his fate, because he was most surely destroyed. I miss him. I miss them all.

GC was destroyed while moving our hackers to the construct?

Most likely, the effort killed him. However, Beth left before she was able to know for sure. Since she was the only witness, will we ever really know?

imbri, PM

... Perhaps he was subsumed in the process of creating the version space, or perhaps he survived. Perhaps he survived, but in an altered form. Perhaps we'll never know, or perhaps it'll all be made clear later…

AndyA, PM

Beth also sends us a farewell e-mail:

Closing the Box

As many of you know, several weeks ago journey of discovery. What started as a simple curiosity about several loosely related events turned into a complex obsession; one that took me from friends and family and distracted me from work.

The things I have learned, the people and phenomena I have come into contact with, have forced me to fundamentally question and re-examine everything I thought was true about the world. Not only the tapestry of my assumptions about my interpersonal relationships with my friends, but also the fabric of my reality as I understood it, all seemed to come unraveled at the same time. Confronted at every turn with events which seemed to cruelly mock and subvert my own sense of logic and self, I could easily have fallen to pieces. The fact that I have not was in no small part due to the support and timely intervention of several unexpected friends new and old:

...a fellow-traveler investigator and journalist of the extreme, whose love and support, I now realize, means more to me now than ever before; ...a strangely inquisitive man whose oddly stilted speech patterns masked a powerful curiosity that rivaled my own; ...a co-worker whose slightly sarcastic energy was infectious to me and a source of some cheer, even if I never was quite sure of her motivations; ...a spunky and adventurous little ball of fur who seems to have developed quite a taste for camping in the outdoors; ...a beautiful young boy who smiled at me through his tears even though I saw his heart break; ...and dozens and dozens of disembodied voices coming to me through the ether, names unfamiliar to me who nonetheless somehow came upon the journal of my investigations, and who reached across the miles in thousands of little boxes on my computer screen to offer their support.

For these friends, and the gifts they brought me, I will be forever grateful. As I look at this box overflowing with wonderful and confusing memories and some questions that will never be answered, I realize that the time has come to add it to the others in the closet. So, until I open the next box, good-bye. I thank you all for your support and encouragement. It truly was a pleasure getting to know you. If you're ever in Redland, be sure to look me up.


Beth has closed little-boxes, and this update is closing paintover:

Lead us from hence, where we may leisurely
Each one demand an answer to his part
Perform'd in this wide gap of time since first
We were dissever'd: hastily lead away.

Posted by $hacker at 11:53 AM

This, of course, is Shakespeare, but it seems like a perfectly fitting thing for one of our hacker buddies to say as they're being lead to their "version space" by GC.

And lastly, there is this e-mail from Metacortex to all of those that signed up for beta-testing:

Dear Applicant,

You have been selected for our Betatesting program. We have set up a login account for you to access more info.

To receive your login info, please reply to

You will then receive your login information.

Thank you!

The MetaCortex Betatest Team

And replying to this e-mail results in the solve to the hottest puzzle of the game (barring Oct. 1), the alpha and omega of MU - Metacortex' login:

Please login at by clicking the login tab on the main page.

Your login information is as follows:

Employee ID: betagroup1

Password: creprcgvba

I logged in, and was redirected to the credits page - the game's end. And with that I went off to chat, where I was greeted by the makers of the game and my fellow players, who were in just as much denial about this being over as I was. We cried, and handed each other virtual handkerchiefs, and begged the PMs to tell us they were just kidding. But, alas, the game was over. OVER. So then we wept some more, advised each other on ways of filling the enormous gap that has suddenly appeared in each of our lives ("drink heavily" was the most popular option, as far as I remember), opened a therapy group, showered the PMs with praises, and flooded the channel with questions that were not yet to be answered. We were quickly reassured that all of them (including the 11,287 inquires as to the author of Oct. 1 picture) would be answered in a FAQ in due time. Truth be told, the heinous picture has burned itself so vividly in the backs of our minds and retinas that even months later joebrent, still haunted by "stol", unleashed all of his pent-up rage and nausea in "Notes From the Underslept".

The next 2 days were kind of a blur to me (probably largely due to non-stop crying and heavy drinking). We spent them consoling each other, all the while remaining in a paradoxical state of denial and hopefulness that life will - some day - go on.

Nov. 24

I must say, I witnessed these days in exactly the same fashion yanka described above. The fact that the game had ended left me with quite a large gap in my daily routine. However, there was one more thing to look forward to: the PM End-Game Chat, that was scheduled for Monday, November 24th EST.

The game credits, that were revealed when the game ended, included a very brief FAQ, which - of course - was not enough to still our hunger for answers, so when the time and date for the PM chat was announced, questions started pouring in. Halfway through preparing for the chat, I thought it might be a good idea to compile a list of all questions and sort them a bit, so it would be a bit easier for the PMs to tackle them all. I kept adding questions all day as they kept being posted in huge numbers. In the end, my document contained no less than 212 questions!

As 9pm Pacific Time is 4am where I live, I had already prepared for one more long and sleepdeprived night, just like the old days when the game was still running :) Anyway, when hanging out in chat prior to the "official" part, I was checking out the credits section at for no reason in particular, and noticed it had a link added to it, to

It was a page with 51 numbered lines of scrambled text. It didn't take long to find out they were encrypted with a simple substitution cipher, but because of the amount of text, it took a while to translate a few lines by hand. I posted them to the unForums, and soon someone had the bright idea of running it through Cypherclerk's excellent decryption applet, saving the trouble of doing everything by hand. It turned out to be a list of 51 MU-themed questions.

Funny thing to note, in the source code (always check the source, even when the game is already over!:) there was this:

<!-- what, did you think we'd give you a hint? -->

A lot of the questions could be answered by heart, mainly because a LOT of people were online and all of them had at least one of their favorite parts of the game covered by the questions. Others required a little forum research, but answers came pouring in. Some people started complaining: this was a rather awkward FAQ, we had to find the answers ourselves... but soon someone noticed there was a strange pattern to the first letters of the answers we found: the first 7 answers spelled OCCSAAA. That looked suspiciously like HTTPWWW, encrypted with another substitution cipher. This was proven right by using the same key with which the questions were encoded, and it spelled out:


It was apparent it pointed at something similar to


except for the last bit not being correct...

The problem was, the last part of the url didn't really make any sense. It took me quite a bit of research on the forums to notice that there were a few incorrect answers, mainly in the first part of the list. After some corrections, with lots of help of all the people in the crowded #matrix IRC channel, I got to something that looked a lot like "curiousmindswantednow", and shortly after that, "curiousmindswannaknow". Woah! It worked!! And behold, a FAQ with most of our questions answered! This was my first ARG puzzle solve, albeit after the game had already ended :)

Oh, one more nice touch, found out by ParityBit a little while after the solve. The key used for decription of the FAQ puzzle read:


Making the keyword:



Nov. 25

Well, almost everything there was to discover and find out about concerning Project MU had been discussed at length, now both by players among themselves and with the PM's, so you might call this period the Aftermath.

Most players had gotten over the shock of the game ending, and while some had already left the forums and IRC channels to get back to their regular lives, others remained talking about the game, reminiscing and remembering the good old times.

As per the PM FAQ, two rather major parts of the game remained unsolved, and while others worked away at the lost Dina pages, I stumbled upon Wix and Matrix_of_Reality in #matrix, who were discussing the Halloween Phonecall. In the FAQ, we had asked for a transcript of the phonecall, and this had been the answer:

Heh. There's at least one fairly big unsolved puzzle still lurking in that phone call, so we'll let you continue to agonize over that one for now. Sorry.

vpisteve, PM

unsolved puzzle or ignored hint from an earlier unsolved puzzle... you decide :)

imbri, PM

One line of the phonecall in particular was rather hard to unscramble, and various possibilities have passed, none of which were really satisfying. It was the part roughly from 0:11 to 0:18, ending in " error logs". The start sounded like something that included "trajectory" or "factory" but no one could really put a finger on it, until Wix, who had been playing around with the MP3 for a bit, mentioned it sounded like "the noble roman directory".

I must say that I, and most others who were there at the time, were pretty skeptical, as that sounded like something you could hear in it if you wanted to hear it... for it to be linked to Caesar. As a matter of fact, I dismissed it almost immediately because I was convinced I couldn't hear that. It caught my interest though, so I asked MOR to send me a copy of the modified sound file. I was amazed that hadn't been done before, at least not in this way, because suddenly it was pretty clear to me that Wix was probably right!

So, this means we should be looking for a directory then?! Somehow, no one had really come to that conclusion yet. Because the Halloween phonecall was the result of a major "whomp", concerning the entire network of related sites, my first guess was to try, as it was the most obvious thing all sites had had in common. This resulted in a MAJOR adrenaline rush, as shown by these chat-logs (edited for readability):

[21:51] <Giskard>
[21:51] <Giskard> it exists!
[21:51] <MOR> holy shit
[21:51] * MOR was kicked by oracle (Watch your language!)
[21:51] * Joins: MOR
[21:51] <RayJNT> wha, gisk?
[21:51] <Giskard> but... no contents yet... and /noble/roman/ doesn't work
[21:51] <RayJNT> awesoooooooome
[21:52] <MOR> YAY
[21:52] <MOR> YAYAYAY
[21:52] <MOR> i finally contributed in solving something
[21:52] <Giskard> not solved yet though :)
[21:52] <MOR> well...
[21:52] <RayJNT> good job
[21:52] <MOR> i jump started it thouhg
[21:52] <RayJNT> OMG!
[21:53] <RayJNT>
[21:53] <RayJNT> ahhhhhhhhhh!
[21:53] <MOR> ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
[21:53] <Wix> SWEEET
[21:53] <Wix> Nice work!@
[21:53] <MOR> omg
[21:53] <Giskard> w00t!
[21:53] <SpaceBass> puerto rico inna hizzouse
[21:54] <RayJNT> yeah, yeah
[21:54] <RayJNT> we roxx!
[21:54] <statik> wow!!!!!
[21:54] <Wix>
[21:54] <Giskard> omg, the ROMAN files!!!!
[21:54] <Aaarrrgh> guys, awesome!

Soon after, we had collected all of what were to be the ROMAN files, an Urchins meeting we had completely missed before! And a special one too, because one of the Urchins, Scratch, wasn't invited so the others could talk behind his back. Almost immediately, several people remembered Noble/Roman being mentioned in one of the earlier Urchin conversations, and everything fell into place... how could we have missed this?!

It was really fun to be part of the team solving this and it caused a nice little stir that made us all long for the days prior to november 22nd.

Now, only one more loose end to pick up on and we're done!

So the game was over.

Or was it???

Ok, fine, yes, it was. But there were still some loose ends to tie up, and I seized upon those with all the fervor that comes of trying very hard to stay in denial about the ending.

What were these loose ends of which I type? Well, we got indications of their existence from the puzzle that led to the FAQ. Its background was this leaf image:

and it was called oneofthethingsyoumissed.jpg
The leaf hadn’t appeared anywhere in the game (but we know that leaves => Nekodas).
When we solved the puzzle and got to the actual FAQ, some more little tidbits were revealed. Most specifically:

98. Did we miss any of Dina's pages?

Yep. Totally.

vpisteve, PM


krystyn, PM

Seeing as I was somewhat in love with Dina, this caught my attention.

So. Where could we possibly have missed a clue pointing to a Dina page? Well, once you start looking, everything starts to look like a clue. And Dina had an awful lot of suspicious posts anyway. There was, for instance, this lovely little one:

November 10 , 2003


I have been a flurry of activity.
The journey is in front of me.

What is the first step?

Posted by Dina at 09:33 PM

“bisy”… accidental misspelling, or not? Most of the actual typos tended to be corrected soon after we pointed them out, so signs seemed to be pointing to “not.”
ParityBit pointed out that

ParityBit wrote:

spelling 'busy' as 'bisy' is taken from Winnie the Pooh (or the House at Pooh Corner), when Christopher Robin leaves a note on his door saying 'GON OUT, BACKSON, BISY, BACKSON'. He has gone to be educated.

Couldn't get any pages with 'backson' though...

This led to valiant attempts of
No success. Of course.

Then Medemia noted that “bisy” was a concept in The Tao of Pooh:

Who or what is a Backson? Backsons are those people trying to outrun their shadows and their footprints, not realizing that to stand still and rest in the shade defeats the power of both. And of course, the Bisy Backson is never at a standstill. And of course, one cannot experience the Tao, be the Tao, know the Tao (well, you get the Tao) if one is perpetually on the run.

My long subsequent trek across the internet in search of Dina-Tao connections taught me that Google is a dangerous thing. However, nothing seemed to lead to any hidden pages.

There were, of course, other clue candidates. For instance:

November 11 , 2003

Dearest Ethan,
I thought you might like this attempt at a sketch.
I also got to play with transferring with water and other solubles. The effect is kinda neat.

Posted by Dina at 03:38 AM

A drawing of Jesse, with music along the side. The music, blown up and rotated (by bakntime):

Various people noted that some of the notes were bolded, but random other spots also seemed to be bolded, and combinations of the bolded notes didn’t lead to any hidden pages. Darn it.

Joebrent, one of our resident musicians, made a lovely midi file of the music, looped six times, for our analyzing pleasure.

This one didn’t seem to be going anywhere, as no one could figure out where the music was from.

Then there was Dina’s last post. Here is the relevant bit:

November 15 , 2003

I was in the midst of packing things for this weekend trip, and I caught sight of the butterfly hanging on its little hook on the door. I moved to take it off, but then thought I should capture this with quick photo. You see, I am completely ready to move forward, but at the same time, I never again want my past to be taken from me. I want to know where I came from, and I want to learn from my mistakes.

Posted by Dina at 04:55 AM

The potential clue here would be in the butterfly on the door. It’s sort of random and unexpected. However, various iterations of butterfly.html didn’t seem to lead anywhere.

The speculation and the intense Googling went on for about five days.

It was around then that we began asking, and eventually just begging, for hints. Our desperate efforts paid off when Krystyn wrote:

I conferred with the other PMs, and got the blessing from at least one of them to give you quite possibly the lamest hint ever in the history of hints:

You're only looking for one secret page.

krystyn, PM

THANK HEAVENS!!! That, of course, made everything all right, and the puzzle was solved within minutes. Yep, yep. I’m not being at all sarcastic.

Anyway… let’s fast forward through six days in which nothing at all productive happened. Heads were banged against walls, computers were nearly thrown out of windows, and leads were considered that involved everything from the Beatles to Monty Python.

Bagsbee summed up the general atmosphere of all this quite well when he typed:

bagsbee wrote:

I gave it one last passthrough, just to see if something jumped out at me as a clue, and you know what? EVERYTHING jumped out at me as a clue...
/me cries in despair

And then, miraculously, a beam of light shone through the darkness! Um. Six days after the previous wonderful “hint,” Krystyn resurfaced with this:

I have given you a new hint tonight.

krystyn, PM

And, with that, to try to figure out what was going on, I went off into IRCland and resolved to more or less stay there until this thing was done. Krystyn was on our habitual Metacortechs ARG channel, as were a few other hopeful players who had seen her post.

Apparently, Krystyn hadn’t randomly and uncharacteristically decided to make it easy. We first had to find the hint. She quickly reassured us that she hadn’t made changes to any of the in-game websites, so the hint had to be on her personal website. While we debated the possible significance of just about everything on the page, Krystyn kept commenting that we’d know the hint when we found it. One of these droll comments prompted me to try, which, to my complete and utter amazement, worked.

The hint:

With some help from Google, it didn’t take very long after that to find the answers to those six puzzles. One at a time:

1. Don't let the loveless ones sell you a world of this color.
This is from a song called "Wrapped in Grey" (a “Now Playing” on Dina's site). The quote goes "a world of grey."

2. Amy and Emily give you this many hits.
Amy and Emily are the Indigo Girls. They have a song called "Three Hits."

3. Elvis Costello almost had a weakness over this tragic figure.
He has a song entitled "I Almost Had a Weakness" on an album called The Juliet Letters. So the tragic figure is Juliet.

4. for I have loved / and so I lost the world...
This is a quote from the song "Parades Go By," which is also an NP of Dina’s. The next word should be "above."

5. Karin Bergquist finds nothing but these sorts of crumbs.
From the song "All I Need is Everything" (another NP), the quote is "table" crumbs.

6. He wrote that "The centre cannot hold."
This is a quote from Yeats. The poem is "The Second Coming"... which incidentally also contains the line "turning and turning," a.k.a. the title of Dina’s blog.

So we had “grey three Juliet above table Yeats.” Wonderful. After Krystyn’s little post, this took less than three hours. Now, what the heck were we supposed to do with the words?

Well, following the pattern set up in the FAQ puzzle, we promptly took the first letter of each solution. Gtjaty. Hmm. Well, decrypting them led to, among many other things, “leaves.” I almost gave up in despair then, but Krystyn quickly informed us that, um, er, that wasn’t supposed to happen. And that we might be making too many assumptions about how the puzzle was constructed. Wonderful. Periodically, while observing our lost flounderings, she would pitch in with “Guys, it’s really easy, I swear!” We would virtually snort, “Yeah, like the Oct. 1st pic was easy? A STOL on you!” At the very least, this usually succeeded in making us feel better. And yes, as was revealed in the FAQ, Krystyn was responsible for the infamous Oct. 1st pic.

When despairing at our complete bafflement, she chimed in with: “it's really a lot simpler than you're thinking it is, but you have to really look at the page itself and then it may become apparent what you need to do next.”

Well, we didn’t get anywhere for a good day or so. The next night on IRC mostly involved yanka and I slowly going crazy. I could feel IQ points seeping out my brain with each new manipulation of “gtjaty.” Looking at the page… the image file hint.gif was in a table… should we arrange the words in a table? Maybe we should line up the “e”s, since all the words shared that letter? Rotate each word by “e”? And on and on…

The /hint really demonstrated the benefits of collective puzzle-solving. As far as I know, the team actively trying to solve this one didn’t involve more than about ten people, most of whom weren’t online at the same time.

So, after a while, those of us in the chat room totally lost it. No, seriously. We’d gotten to the point where we decided to blame all woes on the collective “krystynsleepdeprivation,” anagrammed that to get "PONYTAIL STINKY PRESERVED" and "PRESENTLY PODIATRY KNIVES," and proceeded to plan out a magic show that would involve us throwing podiatry knives at the preserver of a certain little girl with stinky ponytails. Yes, it really was that bad. So, sensing our state of certifiable insanity, Krystyn decided to drop by once again. That conversation went something like this: *warning: blatant paraphrasing to follow*

<krystyn> What’s on the page?
<players> A table with hint thingies.
<krystyn> Very good! Ok, and what’s in the table?
<players> Hint thingies.
<krystyn> Ok. Um. …what exactly is in the table?
<players> …hint.gif
<krystyn> Right! Good job!
<players> aha! …um…well, doesn't exist.
* krystyn bangs head against wall repeatedly, passes out briefly
<krystyn> No, it doesn’t exist, but…
<players> …
<players> …
<everyone> Ooooohhh!

Each word solution corresponded to /that_word.gif, which led to six images that looked something like this:

When interlaced, all six produced this solution:

So this took us back to figuring out the source of the music in Dina’s Jesse sketch. We went about looking for friends who could of music comprehend, but they were all rather baffled. Less than seven hours later, Moriar found the solution… not by locating the music, but by coming across a portrait of Schumann that looked strangely familiar:

So he listened to some of Schumann’s compositions, and found the solution in a song called Papillon. Hence
Incidentally, “papillon” means “butterfly” in French.

And that really is the end :-)