Appendix A: Appendix A: Breaking the Valfeas Cipher

In a couple sections of the story, Roland came across written passages he didn’t know how to read, such as this one from Chapter 11:

Cotomujnubyat og mitp. Bluga ibu ti qiqevyjkis tejix at otyaju vukyff cnu opocyky ca qahvijg “huhu pi u gefxdoqw” oqq losa blu kuvrnuhn esqaib aec at kva yvwik. Ojqoqbekuivd ots gi-qoncug “hupyq jijrj” oky vaa. Ivu qoq glaec “niqex riqex” ab “opkiqoxuzbo” ak “gniiulyjv igdeckihu” eqbyc aqy yj pneu et cnu zohy, geng vi uczyqk acnuh ngij caihyff nopu oq oreac.

Niniryb, nvub cofot qot sa yj uqmkiiqtu apbyqkk cnek onjuoxy ysekc. Blu iroruthy eknagvj ni blek, uvr ek evrekjevux. Mev nvub ehi jyisla, ot fac avwik amrihbd ka my cotorococyr? Gaag didg rinik ikja asyjn? Hij E uvriji vu Geln aj otiblug, xa vwoc bluuk iqkuivd oga vik xkofut mu vwioj int Dokc peb my ngy Geln at Vonmuok? O rbaqigu kvub yk duv. Vwux fiigqik jvuck jikku ok kyqags at py utleirycutcg yf ngod ogai. Ufx soqkocoif.

As you may have suspected, these passages are not gibberish, but rather are encrypted text. This appendix will walk you through how to break the encryption and see what it really says. Naturally, if you want to try your hand at it first, stop reading right now.

First, you might suspect that since I have been known to solve in my head the cryptograms you’ll find in the puzzles section of the newspaper, I might have been tricky and used something more sophisticated than a mere monoalphabetic substitution cipher. But how to check? Using the index of coincidence.

The index of coincidence is a value computed from the relative frequency of each letter, and is unaffected by monoalphabetic substitution. Normal English text tends to have an IC of about 1.73. The unencrypted bulk of the story has an IC of 1.70586, which gives good statistical evidence that I wrote it in English. The IC of the encrypted passage above, however, is 1.31393, suggesting something else is in play.

From eyeballing the ciphertext, capitalization and sentence structure was presumably unaffected, so some kind of letter-based substitution cipher is probably in use. A polyalphabetic substitution cipher, perhaps? That’s like a monoalphabetic one, except there’s more than one encrypted alphabet: each successive letter is encrypted with a different key, and the keys cycle after they’ve all been used.

In other words, every nth letter will have been encrypted the same way. Let’s try different values of n, computing the IC of each alphabet. If we guess correctly, each of the ICs should be close to 1.73.

  1. IC = 1.31393
  2. IC1 = 1.33924, IC2 = 1.28099
  3. IC1 = 1.38043, IC2 = 1.31701, IC3 = 1.31579
  4. IC1 = 1.29462, IC2 = 1.20000, IC3 = 1.37243, IC4 = 1.26133
  5. IC1 = 1.57006, IC2 = 1.91897, IC3 = 1.66378, IC4 = 1.77629, IC5 = 1.77629
  6. IC1 = 1.50000, IC2 = 1.20874, IC3 = 1.23301, IC4 = 1.34466, IC5 = 1.41557, IC6 = 1.37103

If n = 5, the ICs are much closer to 1.73 than the others we’ve tried, suggesting we have a polyalphabetic substitution cipher using five keys.

Let’s give it a try:

                     .
Cotomujnubyat og mitp.  Bluga ibu ti qiqevyjkis tejix at otyaju
1234512345123 45 1234   51234 512 34 5123451234 51234 51 234512
 
                              "                  "
vukyff cnu opocyky ca qahvijg "huhu pi u gefxdoqw" oqq losa blu
345123 451 2345123 45 1234512  3451 23 4 51234512  345 1234 512
 
                                .                     -       "
kuvrnuhn esqaib aec at kva yvwik.  Ojqoqbekuivd ots gi-qoncug "hupyq
34512345 123451 234 51 234 51234   512345123451 234 51 234512  34512
 
     "        .                "           "    "           "
jijrj" oky vaa.  Ivu qoq glaec "niqex riqex" ab "opkiqoxuzbo" ak
34512  345 123   451 234 51234  51234 51234  51  23451234512  34
 
"                   "                              ,
"gniiulyjv igdeckihu" eqbyc aqy yj pneu et cnu zohy, geng vi uczyqk
 512345123 451234512  34512 345 12 3451 23 451 2345  1234 51 234512
 
                                .
acnuh ngij caihyff nopu oq oreac.
34512 3451 2345123 4512 34 51234
 
 
 
       ,                                                          .
Niniryb, nvub cofot qot sa yj uqmkiiqtu apbyqkk cnek onjuoxy ysekc.
5123451  2345 12345 123 45 12 345123451 2345123 4512 3451234 51234
 
                            ,                  .
Blu iroruthy eknagvj ni blek, uvr ek evrekjevux.  Mev nvub ehi
512 34512345 1234512 34 5123  451 23 4512345123   451 2345 123
 
      ,                                       ?
jyisla, ot fac avwik amrihbd ka my cotorococyr?  Gaag didg rinik
451234  51 234 51234 5123451 23 45 12345123451   2345 1234 51234
 
          ?                                 ,
ikja asyjn?  Hij E uvriji vu Geln aj otiblug, xa vwoc bluuk iqkuivd
5123 45123   451 2 345123 45 1234 51 2345123  45 1234 51234 5123451
 
                                                           ?
oga vik xkofut mu vwioj int Dokc peb my ngy Geln at Vonmuok?  O
234 512 345123 45 12345 123 4512 345 12 345 1234 51 2345123   4
 
                   .
rbaqigu kvub yk duv.  Vwux fiigqik jvuck jikku ok kyqags at py
5123451 2345 12 345   1234 5123451 23451 23451 23 451234 51 23
 
                         .               .
utleirycutcg yf ngod ogai.  Ufx soqkocoif.
451234512345 12 3451 2345   123 451234512
 
 
 
P  ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
1
2
3
4
5

Under each ciphertext letter is the number of the alphabet it belongs to. “E” in alphabet 3 will probably decrypt to something different than “E” in alphabet 2, but every “E” in alphabet 3 will decrypt the same way. There’s room above to write our trial decryption, and at the very bottom is the key we’ve recovered for each alphabet, with the plaintext alphabet at the top.

Where to start? Look for words in the ciphertext that we can safely guess the decryption of, and try it out. “E”/2 is probably “I”, and “u”/4 is probably “a”. If you were smart you’d recognize that “O”/4 would be “I” and not “A”, since we’re already guessing that “u”/4 decrypts to “a”. (Unfortunately, I was not that smart when breaking it myself.) Also, from the context in which the passage appears in Chapter 11, it’s a good guess that “Valfeas” appears somewhere. It’s either “Niniryb”/5123451 or “Vonmuok”/2345123, as those are the only two capitalized seven-letter words. We’ll guess it’s the latter, since the former would mean “r”/4 becomes “e”, and there’s very few “r”/4 in the ciphertext whereas “e” is very common.

Making those substitutions, we get:

 a  fe  a            .                                   a
Cotomujnubyat og mitp.  Bluga ibu ti qiqevyjkis tejix at otyaju
1234512345123 45 1234   51234 512 34 5123451234 51234 51 234512
 
 a       e a                  " a e    a         " a    a
vukyff cnu opocyky ca qahvijg "huhu pi u gefxdoqw" oqq losa blu
345123 451 2345123 45 1234512  3451 23 4 51234512  345 1234 512
 
sa                              .     a         a     - al e  " a
kuvrnuhn esqaib aec at kva yvwik.  Ojqoqbekuivd ots gi-qoncug "hupyq
34512345 123451 234 51 234 51234   512345123451 234 51 234512  34512
 
     " a      .    e  a        "           "    "a    a a  a"
jijrj" oky vaa.  Ivu qoq glaec "niqex riqex" ab "opkiqoxuzbo" ak
34512  345 123   451 234 51234  51234 51234  51  23451234512  34
 
"    a        i     "               l e i    e  a  ,  i
"gniiulyjv igdeckihu" eqbyc aqy yj pneu et cnu zohy, geng vi uczyqk
 512345123 451234512  34512 345 12 3451 23 451 2345  1234 51 234512
 
o  e               l    a    i  .
acnuh ngij caihyff nopu oq oreac.
34512 3451 2345123 4512 34 51234
 
 
 
       ,   a   a     a          f     e       s      al ea     is .
Niniryb, nvub cofot qot sa yj uqmkiiqtu apbyqkk cnek onjuoxy ysekc.
5123451  2345 12345 123 45 12 345123451 2345123 4512 3451234 51234
 
                          is, a   is    is     .        a
Blu iroruthy eknagvj ni blek, uvr ek evrekjevux.  Mev nvub ehi
512 34512345 1234512 34 5123  451 23 4512345123   451 2345 123
 
      ,                             a     a   ?
jyisla, ot fac avwik amrihbd ka my cotorococyr?  Gaag didg rinik
451234  51 234 51234 5123451 23 45 12345123451   2345 1234 51234
 
          ?      I            i l    a      ,      a
ikja asyjn?  Hij E uvriji vu Geln aj otiblug, xa vwoc bluuk iqkuivd
5123 45123   451 2 345123 45 1234 51 2345123  45 1234 51234 5123451
 
a                                            i l    Valfeas?
oga vik xkofut mu vwioj int Dokc peb my ngy Geln at Vonmuok?  O
234 512 345123 45 12345 123 4512 345 12 345 1234 51 2345123   4
 
      e   a      a .                 a       e as
rbaqigu kvub yk duv.  Vwux fiigqik jvuck jikku ok kyqags at py
5123451 2345 12 345   1234 5123451 23451 23451 23 451234 51 23
 
a  i                 a   .  E       a    .
utleirycutcg yf ngod ogai.  Ufx soqkocoif.
451234512345 12 3451 2345   123 451234512
 
 
 
P  ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
1      U
2  O       E            V
3  O                 K
4  U          N
5       M

So far, so good. Next, see if the letters we’ve guessed suggest any more good guesses. A dictionary search comes in handy here when we have long words with a few known letters, to see how many possible choices we have. For example, we see “onjuoxy”/3451234 is “al?ea??”, which must be “already”. “cnu”/451 is “??e” and appears twice, so that’s probably “the”. Likewise, we see “acnuh/34512″ is “???e?”, and with the guess for “the”, this must be either “other” or “ether”, so “h”/2 is “r”. And yes, here’s where I noticed where “O”/4 must be “I”.

With those new substitutions:

 a ife  a     i      .                                   a y
Cotomujnubyat og mitp.  Bluga ibu ti qiqevyjkis tejix at otyaju
1234512345123 45 1234   51234 512 34 5123451234 51234 51 234512
 
 a     the a i     t          " a e    a    d    " a    a
vukyff cnu opocyky ca qahvijg "huhu pi u gefxdoqw" oqq losa blu
345123 451 2345123 45 1234512  3451 23 4 51234512  345 1234 512
 
sa     h          t             .     a         a     - al e  " a
kuvrnuhn esqaib aec at kva yvwik.  Ojqoqbekuivd ots gi-qoncug "hupyq
34512345 123451 234 51 234 51234   512345123451 234 51 234512  34512
 
  r  " a      .    e  a      t "h          "    "a    ada  a"
jijrj" oky vaa.  Ivu qoq glaec "niqex riqex" ab "opkiqoxuzbo" ak
34512  345 123   451 234 51234  51234 51234  51  23451234512  34
 
"    a        i     "               l e i  the  a  ,  i
"gniiulyjv igdeckihu" eqbyc aqy yj pneu et cnu zohy, geng vi uczyqk
 512345123 451234512  34512 345 12 3451 23 451 2345  1234 51 234512
 
 ther              l    a    i t.
acnuh ngij caihyff nopu oq oreac.
34512 3451 2345123 4512 34 51234
 
 
 
H      ,   a   a i   a          f     e       s th   already   ist.
Niniryb, nvub cofot qot sa yj uqmkiiqtu apbyqkk cnek onjuoxy ysekc.
5123451  2345 12345 123 45 12 345123451 2345123 4512 3451234 51234
 
                          is, a   is    is    d.        a   r
Blu iroruthy eknagvj ni blek, uvr ek evrekjevux.  Mev nvub ehi
512 34512345 1234512 34 5123  451 23 4512345123   451 2345 123
 
      ,      t                      a i   at  ?
jyisla, ot fac avwik amrihbd ka my cotorococyr?  Gaag didg rinik
451234  51 234 51234 5123451 23 45 12345123451   2345 1234 51234
 
          ?      I            i l    a      ,      at
ikja asyjn?  Hij E uvriji vu Geln aj otiblug, xa vwoc bluuk iqkuivd
5123 45123   451 2 345123 45 1234 51 2345123  45 1234 51234 5123451
 
a       d            ir                      i l    Valfeas?  I
oga vik xkofut mu vwioj int Dokc peb my ngy Geln at Vonmuok?  O
234 512 345123 45 12345 123 4512 345 12 345 1234 51 2345123   4
 
      e   a      a .                 a       e as
rbaqigu kvub yk duv.  Vwux fiigqik jvuck jikku ok kyqags at py
5123451 2345 12 345   1234 5123451 23451 23451 23 451234 51 23
 
a  i      t          a   .  E d     at   .
utleirycutcg yf ngod ogai.  Ufx soqkocoif.
451234512345 12 3451 2345   123 451234512
 
 
 
P  ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
1      U
2  O       E        H   V
3  O                 K
4  U       I  N       C    Y
5       M N         J

Let’s try dictionary searches against some of the longer words. We find that “Cotomujnubyat”/1234512345123, currently “?a?ife??a????”, can only be “Manifestation”. Likewise, “opkiqoxuzbo”/23451234512, currently “a????ada??a”, can only be “abracadabra”. That gives us lots more letters:

Manifestation i    n .  T      r  n               s      any
Cotomujnubyat og mitp.  Bluga ibu ti qiqevyjkis tejix at otyaju
1234512345123 45 1234   51234 512 34 5123451234 51234 51 234512
 
 a i   the abi i   t  co  a   " a e    a    d  c " a    a   t
vukyff cnu opocyky ca qahvijg "huhu pi u gefxdoqw" oqq losa blu
345123 451 2345123 45 1234512  3451 23 4 51234512  345 1234 512
 
sa     h     ar o t            r.     a t       an    - al e  " a i
kuvrnuhn esqaib aec at kva yvwik.  Ojqoqbekuivd ots gi-qoncug "hupyq
34512345 123451 234 51 234 51234   512345123451 234 51 234512  34512
 
  r s" ar   o .    e  a    o t "h          "  r "abracadabra"  r
jijrj" oky vaa.  Ivu qoq glaec "niqex riqex" ab "opkiqoxuzbo" ak
34512  345 123   451 234 51234  51234 51234  51  23451234512  34
 
"    a is     i r   "   ti      is bl e in the  a  ,  it         c
"gniiulyjv igdeckihu" eqbyc aqy yj pneu et cnu zohy, geng vi uczyqk
 512345123 451234512  34512 345 12 3451 23 451 2345  1234 51 234512
 
other t a      i   l    a    i t.
acnuh ngij caihyff nopu oq oreac.
34512 3451 2345123 4512 34 51234
 
 
 
H     r,   at ma i  can    is   f     e ob  c s th   already   ist.
Niniryb, nvub cofot qot sa yj uqmkiiqtu apbyqkk cnek onjuoxy ysekc.
5123451  2345 12345 123 45 12 345123451 2345123 4512 3451234 51234
 
T        n     t   s t  t is, a   is    is    d.        at  r
Blu iroruthy eknagvj ni blek, uvr ek evrekjevux.  Mev nvub ehi
512 34512345 1234512 34 5123  451 23 4512345123   451 2345 123
 
      ,      t     r      t        mani   at  ?                r
jyisla, ot fac avwik amrihbd ka my cotorococyr?  Gaag didg rinik
451234  51 234 51234 5123451 23 45 12345123451   2345 1234 51234
 
a s    ist?   a  I     s      i l    an t   ,      at t   r ac
ikja asyjn?  Hij E uvriji vu Geln aj otiblug, xa vwoc bluuk iqkuivd
5123 45123   451 2 345123 45 1234 51 2345123  45 1234 51234 5123451
 
a       dr   n       ir   n      b t    t    i l    Valfeas?  I
oga vik xkofut mu vwioj int Dokc peb my ngy Geln at Vonmuok?  O
234 512 345123 45 12345 123 4512 345 12 345 1234 51 2345123   4
 
 ro   e   at i   a .            a  s a   s r e as r co
rbaqigu kvub yk duv.  Vwux fiigqik jvuck jikku ok kyqags at py
5123451 2345 12 345   1234 5123451 23451 23451 23 451234 51 23
 
a  i   m nt  i  t    a  a.  E d   c at   .
utleirycutcg yf ngod ogai.  Ufx soqkocoif.
451234512345 12 3451 2345   123 451234512
 
 
 
P  ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
1    Q U   Y   C    B
2  O       E     A  HJ  V
3  OP           T    KN
4  U       I  N     K C    Y
5  IZ   M N         J B

If we pause now to look at our key, we notice a curious thing: vowels are only encrypting as vowels, and consonants are only encrypting as consonants! Those kinds of substitution keys result in ciphertexts that are somewhat pronounceable, in that they always have vowels in them, but it makes guessing words even easier.

Using that observation to guess that “apbyqkk”/2345123 is “objects”, “cotorococyr”/12345123451 is “manipulat??” (-ed, -es, or -or, we don’t know yet), “otiblug”/2345123 is “another”, “kyqags”/451234 is “record”, “utleirycutcg”/451234512345 is “achievements”, “ab”/51 is “or”, “ak”/34 is also “or”, “pneu”/3451 is “blue”, and “kuvrnuhn”/34512345 is “sandwich”, we get:

Manifestation is   n .  Ther   re no      e ted c se  o  anyo e
Cotomujnubyat og mitp.  Bluga ibu ti qiqevyjkis tejix at otyaju
1234512345123 45 1234   51234 512 34 5123451234 51234 51 234512
 
 a i   the abi it  to co  a   " a e  e a s  d  c " a   ha   the
vukyff cnu opocyky ca qahvijg "huhu pi u gefxdoqw" oqq losa blu
345123 451 2345123 45 1234512  3451 23 4 51234512  345 1234 512
 
sandwich     ar o t o  t   e  er.     a t tion  and s - al e  " a i
kuvrnuhn esqaib aec at kva yvwik.  Ojqoqbekuivd ots gi-qoncug "hupyq
34512345 123451 234 51 234 51234   512345123451 234 51 234512  34512
 
 ords" are  oo.  One  a  sho t "h     p    " or "abracadabra" or
jijrj" oky vaa.  Ivu qoq glaec "niqex riqex" ab "opkiqoxuzbo" ak
34512  345 123   451 234 51234  51234 51234  51  23451234512  34
 
"s  ea is  os i r  e"   til o e is blue in the  ace,  it  n  e  ect
"gniiulyjv igdeckihu" eqbyc aqy yj pneu et cnu zohy, geng vi uczyqk
 512345123 451234512  34512 345 12 3451 23 451 2345  1234 51 234512
 
other t a  loo i   l  e a   diot.
acnuh ngij caihyff nopu oq oreac.
34512 3451 2345123 4512 34 51234
 
 
 
H wever, w at ma ic can  o is i f  e ce objects th t already e ist.
Niniryb, nvub cofot qot sa yj uqmkiiqtu apbyqkk cnek onjuoxy ysekc.
5123451  2345 12345 123 45 12 345123451 2345123 4512 3451234 51234
 
The ev dence  tt s s to this, and is   dis   ed.   u  w at  re
Blu iroruthy eknagvj ni blek, uvr ek evrekjevux.  Mev nvub ehi
512 34512345 1234512 34 5123  451 23 4512345123   451 2345 123
 
 e    ,     ot o  er o  ect  to  e manipulated?   o s      p wer
jyisla, ot fac avwik amrihbd ka my cotorococyr?  Gaag didg rinik
451234  51 234 51234 5123451 23 45 12345123451   2345 1234 51234
 
a so   ist?  Ca  I i p se     i l o  another,  o   at their action
ikja asyjn?  Hij E uvriji vu Geln aj otiblug, xa vwoc bluuk iqkuivd
5123 45123   451 2 345123 45 1234 51 2345123  45 1234 51234 5123451
 
ar  n t dr  en      eir  wn    l b t    t e  i l o  Valfeas?  I
oga vik xkofut mu vwioj int Dokc peb my ngy Geln at Vonmuok?  O
234 512 345123 45 12345 123 4512 345 12 345 1234 51 2345123   4
 
pro ose t at it  an.    i     r a  s a   ser e as record o
rbaqigu kvub yk duv.  Vwux fiigqik jvuck jikku ok kyqags at py
5123451 2345 12 345   1234 5123451 23451 23451 23 451234 51 23
 
achievements i  t    ar a.  E d d ctat   .
utleirycutcg yf ngod ogai.  Ufx soqkocoif.
451234512345 12 3451 2345   123 451234512
 
 
 
P  ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
1    QRU  LY   C    B  O
2  O   U   E  C  A  HJK VN
3  OP  I   U    TA  GKN
4  U HS    IB N  I  K C R  Y
5  IZT YM N     V R JGBE

At this point you can almost start reading fairly large fragments, making the rest of the guesswork easy enough to be left as an exercise for the reader. Going through methodically, guessing obvious words and filling in the extra letters, we eventually get:

Manifestation is bunk.  There are no documented cases of anyone
Cotomujnubyat og mitp.  Bluga ibu ti qiqevyjkis tejix at otyaju
1234512345123 45 1234   51234 512 34 5123451234 51234 51 234512
 
having the ability to command "make me a sandwich" and have the
vukyff cnu opocyky ca qahvijg "huhu pi u gefxdoqw" oqq losa blu
345123 451 2345123 45 1234512  3451 23 4 51234512  345 1234 512
 
sandwich appear out of the ether.  Incantations and so-called "magic
kuvrnuhn esqaib aec at kva yvwik.  Ojqoqbekuivd ots gi-qoncug "hupyq
34512345 123451 234 51 234 51234   512345123451 234 51 234512  34512
 
words" are too.  One can shout "hocus pocus" or "abracadabra" or
jijrj" oky vaa.  Ivu qoq glaec "niqex riqex" ab "opkiqoxuzbo" ak
34512  345 123   451 234 51234  51234 51234  51  23451234512  34
 
"squeamish ossifrage" until one is blue in the face, with no effect
"gniiulyjv igdeckihu" eqbyc aqy yj pneu et cnu zohy, geng vi uczyqk
 512345123 451234512  34512 345 12 3451 23 451 2345  1234 51 234512
 
other than looking like an idiot.
acnuh ngij caihyff nopu oq oreac.
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However, what magic can do is influence objects that already exist.
Niniryb, nvub cofot qot sa yj uqmkiiqtu apbyqkk cnek onjuoxy ysekc.
5123451  2345 12345 123 45 12 345123451 2345123 4512 3451234 51234
 
The evidence attests to this, and is undisputed.  But what are
Blu iroruthy eknagvj ni blek, uvr ek evrekjevux.  Mev nvub ehi
512 34512345 1234512 34 5123  451 23 4512345123   451 2345 123
 
people, if not other objects to be manipulated?  Does such power
jyisla, ot fac avwik amrihbd ka my cotorococyr?  Gaag didg rinik
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also exist?  Can I impose my Will on another, so that their actions
ikja asyjn?  Hij E uvriji vu Geln aj otiblug, xa vwoc bluuk iqkuivd
5123 45123   451 2 345123 45 1234 51 2345123  45 1234 51234 5123451
 
are not driven by their own Will but by the Will of Valfeas?  I
oga vik xkofut mu vwioj int Dokc peb my ngy Geln at Vonmuok?  O
234 512 345123 45 12345 123 4512 345 12 345 1234 51 2345123   4
 
propose that it can.  This journal shall serve as record of my
rbaqigu kvub yk duv.  Vwux fiigqik jvuck jikku ok kyqags at py
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achievements in this area.  End dictation.
utleirycutcg yf ngod ogai.  Ufx soqkocoif.
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P  ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
1  EMQRUTHLY PKCJI NBDVOFGS
2  O QGUZ WER CPFAS HJKIVN Y
3  OPDFI FVU  LHTAQ GKNESJ Y
4  UMHSAZ GIBPNVQIJ KXCERD Y
5  IZTQYMPNOFHCLV R JGBEK SU

Let that be a lesson to you: if you don’t want someone reading your messages, use something stronger than a polyalphabetic substitution cipher. Too bad Valfeas didn’t know about AES. But since he apparently didn’t realize that squeamish ossifrage are, in fact, magic words, perhaps he can be forgiven for not being caught up on modern cryptography.

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