Seeking Syren Scotchy

by Adam R. Wood



This puzzle comprises seven Seeking Syren grids, albeit sans Syren; the first - featuring Scotchy as a purple 'S' - is "corrupted". The first step is to solve the other six:

The flavortext phrase "There is knowledge to be had from any journey" clues that the nodes are significant; "parallel planes interlaced" suggests comparing the grids. None of these grids have a node in the same cell; there is a one-to-one correspondence between the nodes in these grids and the empty cells in the first grid. Transferring the letters from the nodes to the empty cells accordingly yields this:

The grid titles can be interpreted as crossword-style clues, each answer a color/number combination:

  • [P] Bond's Bet = 17 black (gambling lore)
  • [K] Skywalkers' Callsign = red 5 (Star Wars canon)
  • [M] Kandinsky's Points = 2 green (painting)
  • [L] Makem's Fields = 4 green (folk song)
  • [Y] Necropotence's Cost = 3 black (Magic: The Gathering card)
  • [D] Treyarch's Big = red 1 (subtitle for a Call of Duty videogame)

The instructions refer to these titles as the names of the spirits; each spirit (that is, the letter in each spirit cell) is to be replaced with the appropriate colored number:

Scotchy was warned not to move; given both path ends, this grid is uniquely solvable, the path logically deducible only backward (from 'S' to 'Z', as the flavortext implies):

The node path (from 'S' to 'Z') spells out what Scotchy seeks and the answer to the puzzle: REUNIFICATION.

The 'Z' stands for Zotanna Ophelia Terran. The author's first published puzzles (starting back in 1999) were a series of contests for an online CCG; most contained stories, in which she frequently served as protagonist narrator. The peculiar visual and grammatical style of the flavortext is borrowed from those contests.

Although most of the words/phrases readable in the grids (such as 'ZOMG') are for aesthetics, the final grid (pre-decryption) contains two meaningful phrases. 'CODE' on the top row is an additional hint to the island cipher; the entire top row sounds like "coded islands". Also, 'GOING BACKWARD' is a possible node path from 'Z' to 'S'; intended as a hint, it proved to be a red herring, several teams submitting that as an answer - both with and without a trailing 'S' (that ambiguity being why the author made the final puzzle go backward in the first place).