When we last left our beloved ursine protagonist the Cub, he had just suffered through an emotional but enlightening evening. We pick up his story the next morning, when he awakens to find his father gone but a note next to him:
Good morning young Cub! I hope you slept well. I'm sure you were hoping this note was from your father, but alas, this is the Owl speaking. He's not one for emotional words, as you know. But he did want me to tell you that he bids you farewell and sends you his unconditional love.
Now before we get to the task at hand, I also want to say I'm sorry I didn't fess up last night that I speak fluent English. While I admit part of me was just messing with you, I also think my words had more impact when I spoke my native tongue - didn't you? But okay, mostly I was just messing with you.
So anyWHOO...rest up and relax today, for as soon as the sun sets tonight (at 10pm), you must embark on your journey posthaste! While I know your ultimate goal is to find your father again, your immediate task is to unite with your true love (I told you last night who that was). She is somewhere in this forest waiting for you, and you have until sunrise (6am) to get to her.
But be careful. The forest is a dangerous and tricky place to navigate. Here are some ground rules you must abide by:
- You can move north, south, east, or west, but not diagonally.
- Each move in any of these directions takes you half an hour.
- You must keep moving - you cannot occupy the same spot for two consecutive moves.
- The forest is full of enemies and other obstacles you must avoid:
- Trees - Trees are stationary. You cannot move onto a spot with a tree.
- Eagles - Believe it or not, an eagle can kill you in one fell swoop. You must avoid them. Eagles move in a straight line as indicated by the green arrows. They also move one square per half hour (including the diagonal eagle). Unlike yourself, eagles are able to traverse trees.
- Vultures - You must avoid them as well. Vultures move in a circular motion, as follows: Two squares north, two squares west, two squares south, then one square to the east. If by then they haven't found you, they will disappear before reaching their original starting point. Like the Eagles, Vultures are able to traverse trees and move one square per half hour.
- Spurned Female Cubs - Perhaps most dangerous are your three spurned loves. They must be avoided at all costs. In fact, you cannot get within one square north, south, east, or west of any of them (diagonal is okay). They may move in a straight line (at the same speed as yourself), or remain stationary, as indicated by a green arrow or a lack of one, respectively.
- You may pass Eagles, Vultures, and Spurned Loves in transition between squares, but not on a square itself. For example, if you are in a square directly to the west of an Eagle, and the Eagle is traveling west, it is OK if you move east while the Eagle moves west, thereby crossing the Eagle. You cannot however end up in a square that is occupied by an Eagle.
If you survive the perils of the forest and reach your true love in time, the forest will speak to you and tell you where you must go in the next stage of your journey to reunite with your father, as follows:
- The forest will make 6 utterances during your journey.
- The first four will come at midnight, 2am, 4am, and 6am, respectively.
- The 5th will be spoken in code throughout the first 4 hours of your journey.
- The 6th will be spoken in code throughout the last 4 hours.
If you find the correct path, you will have your answer*. However, if you go astray, the wilderness shows no mercy. You will perish.
Oh and one last thing - I hope you deciphered my reply to your third question last night. For if you don't initially head in the direction I instructed, you will never hear the words of the forest and you'll be lost forever (my instruction applies only to your first move)! Now rest up and prepare for your overnight trek.
Good luck and Godspeed, dear Cub. I am rooting for you.
So puzzlers, back to the real world here (or at least back to SoSG). It's your task to help the Cub carry out the above. Here is the layout of the forest as he embarks on his quest at 10pm (that's him in the center square):
Hint 1 (9:35am): there are actually two previously used devices needed. A hint for one, which was used last year, can be found "in time."
Hint 2 (11:40am): the first device requires conversion of computer-speak to people-speak. The second device requires finding the correct url.
Hint 3 (2:51pm): the Cub's first move is mandated by the Owl. His next 4 moves are determined by where he has a safe move. The rest is a combo of safety and beating the clock.
Hint 4 (3:48pm): have you ever seen a two-toned, pastel-colored forest before?
Solution: click here.
Puzzle Rules: The answer to the puzzle is a place. Comment freely in the thread, but if you have the solution, please don't give it away to everyone in the comments section. Instead, do the following:
- Email us with the place the Cub must go to find his father. And please include your screen name somewhere in the email; and
- Post a comment simply saying you have emailed your solution attempt. I may not be able to reply to your original email promptly, so please be patient and check back on the comment thread for the latest news; I may confirm correct answers there.
- As a Grand Slam Puzzle, this one is worth 150 points.
You have until midnight PT tonight to submit your answer. Good luck!
*a device used in several previous puzzles will also be needed to translate the forest's words.
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