They Are Coming Back
They Are Coming Back is the name of the thread that sparked a new series of puzzle solving in April 2009.
On April 4 2009, freshly-registered forum member Apis created the topic They Are Coming Back which provided a link to a video of the same name (The link to the video was later removed on April 6 via an edit by A Friend). As it had been two years since the Alternate Reality Game directors posted the first riddle and the time in between was spattered with fakers' attempts at riddling the community, most community members were slow to pick up on the new riddle. It wasn't long, however, until everyone caught on and the analysis started.
This information was originally compiled by forum member Socrates in what were the official forums, now removed. Well done, sir!
The video itself is a 1:06-minute long piece of footage displaying urban environments, cryptic symbols and unknown masked individuals. Though the video cuts to show lines of text every few seconds, the most interesting part is the intermittent flashing text written in a symbol-based language.
Forum member Apoction determined that the language was the Alphabet of the Magi. Using the character map, forum member Enix1 deciphered the following letters from the flashing characters: S A e A r c(u,v or w) S S N ( i or j) r t p t C o e).
It wasn't long before forum member Makaruda found an anagram for the jumble of text: Sanctuary of Secrets. The investigation led to the group's website, and things became a little tougher.
Sanctuary of Secrets
The Sanctuary of Secrets website was quite minimalist, displaying only six lighted cubes surrounding a darker cube in a hexagonal outline on a grainy, greenish-blue background, cryptic music looping in the background. When clicked on, each of the lighted cubes revealed a puzzle to be solved by the community, each of them requiring various talents and knowledge in different areas. Each of the puzzles were subject to multiple wrong answers, and while their contribution to the solution of the puzzles was small, it was incredibly important in that the community discovered just another way that didn't work.
All of the puzzles on the website were blocks of text, usually dealing with the personality and life of bees in some way, and a picture that somehow related to the text. In the center of these two things, a small box with a question or statement would require an answer or response, being the password to clear the puzzle.
Thy Mother's Burden
The first puzzle to be solved was "Thy Mother's Burden," which displayed a picture of two birds and a snake meeting at the center of some object. The artwork appeared to be ancient in origin. It wasn't long before forum member Vallikat riddled out a solution to the puzzle's demand, "Seek out our place of birth":
I did a google search for two birds and a serpent. At first I found a junk site that said something about two eagles and a serpent meeting at the center of the earth. Then with a search on that I found this site:
and this section:
" In Greek mythology also, the snake plays an important role. It is said that the Zeus freed eagles at each end of the world. The place where these two eagles met was the center of the world, the center of the earth. This center, sometimes called the navel of the earth, is guarded by a snake, called Pytho. Above this navel the Oracle of Delphi, called Pythia, was constructed. We see this Oracle play an important role in the life of Pythagoras."
A further search confirmed that the navel of the earth is said to be Delphi.I put "delphi" into the box and revealed a crescent moon.
—Vallikat, forum post
Entering the answer "Delphi" reveals a crescent moon over the puzzle's lighted cube.
The Pillars Fall
The second puzzle solved was "The Pillars Fall," which displayed a picture of four symbols and six hieroglyph strings. The solution to the riddle would give us a location to the puzzle's statement, "This is where we meet, when the time is right." Forum member and CryGaia contributer Yume came up with a solution before long:
For Black 4 5 / 2 6 2 3 6 9 and (north) 12 / 1 9 5 5 7 7: Lat 45.262369, Long 12.195577...
Here's the lat/long map -- VENICE! They meet in Venice! Gets you the sign for Venus.Now for the others!
—Yume, forum post
Entering the answer "Venice" reveals the Greek symbol for Venus over the puzzle's lighted cube.
The third puzzle solved was "Pattern Recognition," which displayed a picture of a half-completed drawing and a daunting mathematical equation called "The Loshchinin Theorem." Apoction strikes again in his solution to this puzzle:
Entering the answer "Flower of Life" reveals the Greek symbol for Saturn over the puzzle's lighted cube.
The fourth puzzle solved was "True Names," which displayed a map written in Russian. The puzzle demands "Invoke our true name," having something to do with the goddess of the mountains and bees. A bit of detective work led forum member Ocura to the solution:
Priestesses of Artemis; the Bee-Keepers.
Gave us the "Male Symbol" (no idea what you call it in English lol)Next please
—Ocura, forum post
Entering the answer "Melissonomoi" reveals the Greek symbol for Mars over the puzzle's lighted cube.
As Above, So Below
The fifth puzzle to be solved was "As Above, So Below," which displayed a video with intermittent lines and dots surrounding the text displayed. Here is what text was displayed in the video, without lines and dots (which will be explained later):
That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing.
—Sanctuary of Secrets, no source
Though the video contains the answer to the puzzle, forum member Nickless_One guessed the answer:
1. ehm guys (and gals)... i guessed the password for the question "whose time is it?", but it was random success and i dont know the right way to it.... so tell me should I post it or leave it as it is?
2. well, i havent guessed it completely, more like lucky stroke of genius.., y'see since i was diging up lots of greek mythology stuff today, i couldnt miss a name that is quite connected to time, with words like chronology, chronic, chronicles... he is even depicted as a guy who turns zodiac wheel (time is cyclical remember...) now you must already know the answer just try different spellings and sign of Mercury is the reward....
3. you're welcomefor those who still don't know: ...Kronos...
—Nickless_One, forum post
Though Nickless_One's way led to the correct answer, the video contained all the information needed to come to the same solution. The lines and dots previously mentioned were Morse Code, spelling out -.- .-. --- -. --- ..., or Kronos.
Either way, entering the answer "Kronos" reveals the Greek symbol for Mercury over the puzzle's lighted cube.
The Birds of the Muses
The sixth puzzle to be solved was "The Birds of the Muses," which displayed a picture of bees on a honeycomb hive, with the word "Flickr" and the logo for popular music site "8tracks" in the background. Using the name Melissonomoi, we found accounts on Flickr, 8tracks and deviantART. Using the first letters of seven of the tracks on 8tracks, the word numbers was discovered. The name of the album on Flickr was name Perfect. Searching for perfect numbers revealed that Euclid discovered the formula to generate the first four perfect numbers. This fit with the reference to a herald who understood and taught the first quatrain of perfect wisdom. Forum member Makaruda struck again with his conclusion:
The answer is 6284968128 the first four perfect numbers Got nothing in the middle so probably need to figure out the right sequence to enter the answers in.
—Makaruda, forum post
Entering the answer "6284968128" reveals the Greek symbol for Jupiter over the puzzle's lighted cube.
The Final Puzzle
Once all of the cubes are alight with their respective symbols, the Greek symbol for the Sun appears over the center cube. The text that appears bids us to click the symbols in the correct order. However, it gives no indication as to what the correct order is. It didn't take long, though, for forum member Coren posted a link to a geocentric celestial map, which gave the correct order:
After clicking the symbols in the correct order blanked out the screen, and a string of text types itself out:
Which quickly was replaced by
This was followed by a short e-mail:
At approximately xx.xx universal Time on the xth of x xxxx you were the xxth person to pass the gauntlet. It is an achievement worthy of recognition. We have prepared a token for your keepsake. This is your personal token. Follow the link below to confirm your passage, and do not share it with anyone. There will come a time when it will serve you further.
Link:This channel is no longer secure. Do not reply. For now rest assured that with your token your place in the Sanctuary of Secrets is safe.
—Sanctuary of Secrets, no source
Each of the e-mails contained a link to a personalized token, containing an individual key and the date, time, and token number.
Speculation as to the purpose of the tokens sparked heated discussions, and many were happy to be done with the hustle and bustle of the tiring gauntlet presented by the Sanctuary of Secrets. However, a new riddle was just around the corner with an e-mail from an old friend.