Last week I wrote an article that I was very pleased to see got a decent amount of attention and support. It was in that article that I described the first stage of a puzzle based in, and around, the NFT project Bitcoin Origins. If you're reading this article having not read the original post I highly recommend going back to read it here:
In order to speed up this article I'll not cover some of the basics about the project and puzzle as a whole. However, I will provide a brief summary of where the puzzle stood at the end of stage 1.
Stage 1: The Garden and His Oddness:
- Starting Jan-2021 a series of pages were released to the BTCO community by the puzzle creator "GITM" detailing the story of Alice in Wonderland's entry into, and later journey through, a very odd garden
- The garden described in the pages was determined to be "The Garden of Earthly Delights - By Hieronymus Bosch"
- In the story Alice travels around the painting playing 'the nose game' with the inhabitants of the garden, all the while in the search for the illusive golden rabbit and her way out of the garden
- After playing the game for some time Alice finally finds a key individual whom she is told will be able to help her along her journey. This was where our first stage concluded, with the finding of 'His Oddness'
In the article today we are going to pick up where this story left off and continue along the journey with Alice and the BTCO community. At the end of the previous stage the number of hunters who move through to stage 2 was reduced to 21 (10 that completed the puzzle, 10 that were chosen at random and 1 whom showed exceptional personal merit). I was one of those successful hunters to complete the first stage and this is very much my story as well as it is the others.
Before we dive into stage to I wanted to first include the following hint GITM shared as to the direction the next stage will take. It is from this place that our next stage began.
Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!
Stage 2: The Key Holder
24-April-2021 (preparation/rules): GITM added the 21 contestants into a separate telegram channel and shared with us how the next stage was to work, allowing some Q&A.
Each of you is awarded only three (3) guesses as to the identity of the Key Holder. Once you have surpassed that limit, you will unfortunately become ineligible to proceed. Guess carefully.
All answers must be submitted to the email address you were previously given, and to which you previously submitted guesses. Those who come here as winning key holders will be provided that email address by one of our mods.
You may ask moderators specific questions if you have concerns about specific issues. Before I provide you with the path to the Key Holder, do you have any questions or concerns that they may answer? I will open the floor for one minute...
With the stage set and the rules clear a few of the hunters asked questions and we were given a few more minutes to prepare. We would all get 3 guess and there would be a maximum of 5 successful hunters going through to stage 3 of the puzzle and being given the opportunity to attempt to win the 1 BTC prize.
Without knowing it at the time this puzzle was to be a different kind of test. Where in the previous puzzle we had initially sprinted before realising it was a marathon, I think a lot of us were assuming this would be the same and that completion could take a number of days. As you will see, we were all wrong in this assumption. Some of my fellow hunters and I have speculated as to why the change of tact here, possibly it is due to scheduled timelines for the BTCO project as a whole, perhaps it could be that this was a way to level the playing field for the randomly picked hunters so they have a chance to get through (without needing prior knowledge of the hunt). Whatever the reason, this was a different kind or puzzle, and as we'll see it rewarded those whom were quick to action.
24-April-2021 (Now, without further ado): Unlike the previous stage GITM provided the next sections of text directly into the channel, here is what they said.
“How did you find me?” asked His Oddness. Alice wondered what sort of creature she might possibly have encountered. “I take it you weren’t looking for me at all?”
“Well, that is how one is supposed to find His Oddness, or so I am told,” said Alice. She was rather pleased with herself for having forgotten to look for her quarry. And in so doing, she had found him all the same.
“May I please bonk you on the nose?” Alice asked. “For I am playing the nose game, you see, and I have been told you know where I may find the Golden Rabbit.”
“You may,” said His Oddness, magnanimously. And Alice, of course, dutifully obliged.
“Oh, please, Your Oddness,” Alice said with as much vigour as she could muster. “Please could you help me find the Golden Rabbit? I have been too long inside this Delightful Garden and I must really be getting home for tea!”
“Why of course,” replied His Oddness. “I just saw him leaving, if I’m not mistaken. You will catch him if you hurry.”
“But where am I to go? “asked Alice.
“Well,” said His Oddness, “since you are in such a hurry, I would recommend that you fly. Rabbits are quick around these parts, and better seen from the air.”
“But I don’t know how to fly!” exclaimed poor Alice. Things had been going rather too well for her recently, and now everything seemed as though it was about to go left or rightwards.
“You don’t know how to fly?” muttered His Oddness. “Well, this will never do! The Golden Rabbit will be gone before you’ve even started at this rate. We shall have to remedy this.”
His Oddness produced a small vial of potion, which Alice felt seemed quite familiar. In small letters written upon the side she could read the words, “DRINK ME.” She rather hoped the potion tasted of cherry tart and custard, though she felt she could do without the flavour of roast turkey and hot buttered toast this time, thank-you very much.
“How does it work?” asked Alice.
“Well, the trick with flying is to point yourself in the direction you want to go, imagine that you are flying, and head straight for your destination as the crow flies,” said His Oddness.
“I have had some experience with crows,” said Alice. “Rooks and Magpies in particular can be very stubborn.”
“Exactly!” replied His Oddness with no small measure of enthusiasm. “Now, once you are flying, you must follow my instructions to the letter, beginning with “E.”
“What does the “E” stand for, if I may inquire?” said Alice, doing her level best to play along.
“You must go due East from here as the crow flies…”
“… until you come upon a very good friend of mine who has been hanging about with a key,” said His Oddness.
“Tell him I sent you. He will understand. After that, things will tend to go up and down and sideways.”
“How so?” asked Alice. For she was always a curious child and very careful to pay attention to instructions.
“You will understand once you begin your journey,” said His Oddness. If you simply follow the ups and downs of it from there you will notice an even better friend of mine standing atop a ladder. Fly up to him and he will point you in the right direction. Namely, West. Head that way, also as the crow flies, until you come upon a nice, juicy currant that has been prepared for you.”
“Oh, I do so love blackcurrants!” exclaimed Alice, though of course she knew that without honey, blackcurrants could be rather tart.
“I had been saving it for supper but you may have it, of course,” said His Oddness. “Once you are finished with my blackcurrant, I suggest you ride the air current directly downwards. And there, you will find a familiar friend. Currently, one of my very best.”
“Who is it?” inquired Alice. By now, her curiosity was most decidedly piqued, though she was getting her currants and currents all mixed up.
“My game, my rules,” replied His Oddness. “You will know her when you run into her. Unless I miss my guess, she will be keeping an eye out for the Jabberwock.”
“Oh dear,” said Alice. For she had heard of such things before. “I suppose I should be very careful.”
“You should,” replied His Oddness, “For Jabberwocks hide among the slithy toves and can gobble up a little girl as soon as look at them. If you follow my Almost Best Friend’s gaze you will arrive at my Close-To Very Best Friend Indeed. He is a Blue Mimsy, and from within his protective shell it is his job to get you past the Jabberwock.”
“How does one get past such a creature?” asked Alice. She was beginning to feel a little afraid now and wondered if all of this flying might be worth the effort.
“You must put the creature in perspective,” said His Oddness. “Once you size your enemies appropriately in your mind, they can seem smaller. To sneak past a Jabberwock, you must go directly south in the direction it is looking. Jabberwocks are notoriously stupid creatures and never think to act upon their first impression. Go south and then across below the Jabber’s feet until you reach the far side of the borogroves. There, you will come upon a Most Excellent friend of mine who is feasting upon a teazle. Go directly past him and straight as the crow flies. If all goes well, you will chance upon my Very Best Friend Indeed. I suspect he is someone you will recognise.”
“I am certain I will,” said Alice, carefully. She knew better than to question His Oddness, who seemed like a very quirky creature indeed.
“It’s someone you have known for quite some time, though you didn’t quite know it until recently,” said His Oddness. “From his position, go directly North as the crow flies and you will find the Key Holder. He will try to remain unrecognised but you can’t miss him on account of his nose. He rarely does well in the nose game, by all accounts.”
“Is that who I am looking for?” asked Alice.
“It is,” replied His Oddness. “Find the Key Holder as quickly as you can, and he will give you a key to escape the garden. If you’re quick about it, I would imagine you’ll be just in time to catch the Golden Rabbit leaving the party. Of course, you could simply go as the crow flies and find him anyway but where’s the fun in that?”
TLDR: So as with the story from stage 1 what we have here is a journey described to Alice by 'His Oddness', this time leading Alice to someone whom we are sure can help us find the golden rabbit. The way the story is told is with haste, there is encouragement for Alice to consider two routes, one around the individuals in the garden and the other direct 'as the crow flies' to the end.
Solution: Well, as mentioned earlier, this stage of the puzzle required quick thinking and rewarded hunters of action. My fellow hunters and I decided to follow Alice's path around the garden, not only should this route lead us to the mysterious 'Key Holder' but doing so will provide us with confirmatory steps to know that we are on the right path. Before starting, though we noted that all characters must be connected by straight lines (as the crow flies) in the directions given per the text, as such it was broken down like this:
- Alice is told to travel East "...until you come upon a very good friend of mine who has been hanging about with a key"
- Then Up "...you will notice an even better friend of mine standing atop a ladder"
- Next West "...until you come upon a nice, juicy currant that has been prepared for you"
- Now Downward "...you will find a familiar friend. Currently, one of my very best."
- At this point the Jabberwock is discussed, there have been a few theories as to which animal is the Jabberwock here are a few ideas. Personally I believe the second animal is correct because of this sentence "...you must go directly south in the direction it is looking". It was less of a concern though to find the exact characters from the painting as we were sure the next step was correct.
- Follow the gaze of the previous friend "...you will arrive at my Close-To Very Best Friend Indeed. He is a Blue Mimsy"
- Next it was South "...until you reach the far side of the borogroves. There, you will come upon a Most Excellent friend of mine who is feasting upon a teazle"
- Then Directly Past "If all goes well, you will chance upon my Very Best Friend Indeed. I suspect he is someone you will recognise." "It’s someone you have known for quite some time, though you didn’t quite know it until recently"
- Once again head North "...From his position, go directly North as the crow flies and you will find the Key Holder"
So there we had it, now this is where I (and my fellow hunters) were perhaps was slower than we ought to have been. The goal was to send an image to GITM and that was all. Instead I took possibly 20/30mins adding the route and snips of the images to the email. In that time other well deserving hunters completed their journey. Thankfully, though fortune still did favour us and the work we put in, of the 5 contestants to get through this stage I was #4 and a fellow hunter #5. My submission was made less than an hour after the clues were provided, this may sound liked a good time but it was no where near as good as the first place slot. If you remember ol' 'Eagle Eyes', who I mentioned last article, well he has that name for good reason and completed this stage in just about 5 minutes!!!
As I said this stage was over in a flash. However, now we can start to take a step back for a second here and see how the route looked when completed using the "asthecrowflies" keycard as an overlay (though there was no need to us this card, it seemed appropriate):
Similarly, let's not forget that we could have gone there directly to the end: "Of course, you could simply go as the crow flies and find him anyway but where’s the fun in that?". After completion one of our hunters tested this theory (while waiting to find out if we were correct) and indeed by passing the line from the nose of "His Oddness" through the nose of the rook that we spoke to in stage 1 we land directly on the final characters, 'The Key Holder'.
Success! Filled with pride at getting this far, and even more with admiration for my fellow hunters who were both successful, and not. This stage was a whirlwind and cutting it down to 5 hunters was, and is, the hardest bit. The community pulled together though and was great in their encouragement and support for the finalists.
You may be asking yourself right now how do I get involved? Well here is the best place to start:
- BTCO Official Telegram Channel - https://t.me/BitcoinOrigins
- Hunter Telegram Channel - https://t.me/searchforsatoshi
Plus if you needed any more encouragement then consider this (received from GITM just yesterday).
A prize of even greater value will be awarded for the solution to Chapter 2: the Looking Glass. The second stage of this journey has already begun, though you hardly know it. Look carefully. Your first set of clues has been hiding in plain sight.
There has never been a better time to get involved and join the hunt for Satoshi.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed this update and will join me for the final stage of Chapter 1 (the Uprising) next week, good luck y'all!