Code Name: Wagtail

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Code Name: Wagtail is the community-name of a puzzle sent by Aveline Belmont via e-mail in April 2009 to members of the TSW community. The puzzle was a sequence of numbers that were used with the "au revior" letter on the back of the photo from May 2007 to reveal a secret message from Nicolas Belmont to an un-named person (presumably Nicolas' wife).


Several of those who had helped A Friend two years ago received the following email on 9 April 2009.

from: Aveline Belmont <********>

date: Thu, Apr 9, 2009 at 9:11 AM

subject: Repaying old debts

I hate to say this - and don't let it get to your head - but I need your help.

And you know, I think you owe me that, all of you. Last time around, you made my life very difficult. I should be pretty fucking upset. I AM pretty fucking upset...but I also recognize that you guys are smart. Or at least tenacious. Tenacious will do.

Understand that I don't turn to you because of who you are or what you represent. To me, and I'll put this bluntly, you're nothing but a means to an end. But like it or not, you're involved, you know things you shouldn't know - useful things - and apparently you have the respect of those playing that ridiculous 'game' of yours. For better or worse, you and your friends have the power to help me.

I've spent the last few years searching. I'm close...okay, so I THINK I'm finding what I'm looking for and then you probably won't hear from me again. I'm close, but I'm stuck.

Not long ago, I found something that relates to my family - and that's all I'm going to tell you about that, because I don't think it matters and it's definitely none of your business. It's a probably a code. It's always a code. From what I've gathered, it relates to a place. I think there's something waiting for me there. I just can't crack the code. And you guys? You guys have proven yourself to be the ultimate code nerds.

What I have is two series of numbers:

54 - 10 - 122 - 29 - 14 - 83 - 26 - 101 - 61 - 7 - 64 - 31


25 - 06 - 18

That's all. There's no clue as to what the numbers mean. It's addressed to 'Wagtail'. I believe it's for me. I remember my great grandmother using that word when I was only five or six, before she passed away. I know it's a bird - it's not like I can't use Google - but I don't know the significance of it.

If you guys can help me - then help me. Call it repaying an old debt. You almost got me killed. Or call it playing a game, because by the looks of things, you like to play games.

I'll do you a favor in return. The Sanctuary of Secrets? Bunch of idiots. Trust me, I should know. They're not malicious, just stupid. They're children. They think they can save the world by spreading information. By documenting secrets. No. This world, if it can be saved at all, will be saved by people keeping their mouths shut. It's worked so far.

Get to work. I'll be in touch.

Aveline Belmont, source


Back of the Photo with the indicated word sequence highlighted

The solution was found by selecting the words corresponding to the number sequence given in the original email from the Belmont letter. Taking the first letters of the sequence of words revealed the name "Bergensfjord". It was concluded the solution was the ship "SS Bergensfjord", belonging to the Norwegian shipping company Norwegian America Line that arrived at Halifax 18 June 1925.

E-mail from Aveline Belmont:


Subject: Re:Bergensfjord

Shit. I think you got it. I'm looking into it myself as we speak and yeah, yeah it fits.

Of course, now the whole fucking WORLD knows about it as well, but I knew that was the price I'd have to pay. And they're still missing a crucial piece of the puzzle. As are you. And you wonder why I keep my cards close to my chest?

But hey, thanks. Consider the debt repaid - in part. This isn't over. I'll be in touch - not in two years, but very soon. I need your help one more time before I go in.

Before I embrace the darkness.
Aveline Belmont, no source

The solution was first mentioned at page 55 in the original thread, but got lost in the chaos. When a new thread was started the link to the letter was examined.

Player response

The mention of the nickname "Wagtail" in Aveline's original email led many players to assume it was a clue needed to decipher the given number sequence, and was the primary focus of many player's efforts. Whether intentional or not, this word served as a red herring for many community members. Since the solution to Code Name: Wagtail was found, the term Wagtail has spread through the community as a meme referring to misleading or extraneous information.

"Wagtail" is a nickname for Nicolas Belmont, given by Roald Amundsen. The last line of the Norwegian explorer's diary reads, "the wagtail has arrived". Aveline Belmont mentioned that an email she received was addressed to "Wagtail", giving more credence to the idea that it is a nickname, and that the anonymous sender is aware of Aveline's relationship to Nicolas. In Australian aboriginal folklore, the Willie Wagtail was an eavesdropper that stole secrets, which certainly describes Nicolas and Aveline's missions to unravel the mysteries of the Secret World.

Alternate Reality Games
Dark Days Are Coming - The Photo - They Are Coming Back - Code Name: Wagtail - Two Lines Twine - Inside the Box - At the Door - Something in the Static - The Dark Places (disambiguation) - The Fool's Journey - Gather the Pieces - Council of Venice Systems Malfunction - The Fool's Journey, Act 2 - A New Mission Begins