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The Scribe


This is a simple substitution cipher; the decoded messages are famous last words of various real and fictional people. (Some of these quotes, such as Bogart’s and Wilde’s, are unconfirmed and are more than likely urban myths, but all are generally well-known and web-searchable.)

I’ve had eighteen straight whiskeys; I think that’s the record… - THOMAS, Dylan

Friends, applaud; the comedy is finished. –BEETHOVEN, Ludwig von

For the love of God, Montressor! – FORTUNATO (from Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”)

That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted. – COSTELLO, Lou

It won’t be a stylish marriage; I can’t afford a carriage. – HAL 9000 (from 2001: A Space Odyssey)

Go away. I’m alright. – WELLS, H. G.

I should never have switched from scotch to martinis. – BOGART, Humphrey

Let us cross over the river and sit under the shade of the trees. – JACKSON, Stonewall

Josephine… – BONAPARTE, Napoleon

Either that wallpaper goes or I do. – WILDE, Oscar

That was a great game of golf, fellers. – CROSBY, Bing

Don’t disturb my circles! – ARCHIMEDES

In that case, what is the question? – STEIN, Gertrude

I’m going over the valley. – RUTH, Babe

God bless Captain Vere! – BUDD, Billy (from the Melville story of the same name)

Even in the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six. – TOLSTOY, Leo

The last (or in some cases, only) initials of the sources, when re-encrypted using the same code, spell out “REJOICE WE CONQUER.” These were the dying words of the ancient Greek messenger Pheidippides, the answer.

Author’s Notes:

This was the fourth puzzle I designed; it was pretty much at this point that I actually had to reach for ideas. Special thanks are in order for Tahnan for spotting most of my numerous typos before the puzzle was sent out, and to this site for the quotes.


“OK, let’s hope I can pronounce this right… Pheidippides!”


“At your… gasp… service… wheeze… sir.”

“Oh, great. A near-dead guy. I’m sure you’ll make a really GREAT addition to the team.”

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