RuneQuest : Cipher Challenge - by John B. Wilson
The Solution

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The following contains the solution of John's RuneQuest Cipher Challenge.
I spent quite a bit of time designing the cipher, so I hope that it provided and continues to provide a nice challenge to those people who are trying to solve it..
In this essay, I wanted to give a little more explanation of the structure of the puzzle.

So, come journey on the road to enlightenment...




The name of this cipher challenge is RuneQuest.
Rune means "Secret or Magical Writing", with a particular Rune example being one of the characters from an ancient alphabet known as the Elder Futhark, created during Viking times.
Quest means "A great search, seeking, or adventure", with a particular example being the famous Arthurian Knight's Quest for the Holy Grail.
Given these definitions, a cipher puzzle involving a Quest for Runes seems highly appropriate.  You are seeking the meaning of the "Secret Writing", the Runes.
This is true both metaphorically and cryptographically.  We are following in the tradition of some of the ancient Rune carvers, as there are a few historic examples of Runic Cryptograms.
From the mythological side, and most importantly, we are re-creating a famous mythological quest: Odin's Quest for Knowledge and Wisdom.
The Norse god Odin sought mystic knowledge from a variety of sources, one of which lead to the Runes...


The first thing to notice is that there are lots of clues on the webpage, including pictures, symbols, and music.  Basically, just about everything is a clue.
All of the these elements are metaphorically related to the overall concept, which has much of its basis in Norse mythology.
The Runes have an interesting history, including as a real "alphabet", as mystical "divination" elements, and as mythological lore...
So, keeping all of this in mind, let's get started...




Hints on the RuneSpear:
The 1st element on the page is a spear with Runes carved into the blade.
The RuneSpear is a representation of Gungnir, the magical spear of Odin the All-Father, Supreme Leader and Lord of the Norse gods.  Norse/Northern mythology is central in RuneQuest.
"RuneQuest" is engraved into the blade of the spear, using fiery Elder Futhark Runes.  The flame-like engraving is intended to hint at the magical inner core of the RuneSpear.
"Gungnir" is carved (very lightly) into the end of spear using Elder Futhark Runes.
The Rune "Gar" (like an X on a diamond) is carved into the head of the spear. "Gar" is a Rune which means "Gungnir".
There are 3 bands, representing the 3 types of encryption used in this cipher, and the 3 roots of the cosmic world tree of Norse mythology, Yggdrasil.
The shaft of the spear is of Ash wood, again representing Yggdrasil, which was considered to be a giant Ash tree.
The spear (sometimes referenced as a "Blade") is integral to the story of Odin and his Quest for Runes, which is described by the RunePoem.
Just as the Spear of Odin is magic, so too are the spears on the RuneQuest webpage.  Clicking on any of them makes things happen...  Give it a try on the one above!







Next comes the RunePoem...

Here is the encrypted version...

Z befn kyrk Z ylex fe kyrk nzeujnvgk Kivv,
Ifuv kyviv wfi ezev vkvierc ezxykj,
Nfleuvu sp dp fne scruv,
Scffuzvu wfi kyv Rcc-Wrkyvi,
Dpjvcw druv re fwwvizex kf dpjvcw:
Sfleu yzxy kf kyrk Npiu-Kivv,
Kyrk ef dre befnj,
Nyzkyvi kyv iffkj fw zk ile.

Efev xrmv dv sivru,
Efi uizeb wifd kyv yfie,
Kyv vcvdvekj Z nvrkyvivu ze tptczt klie:
Ufne zekf kyv uvvgvjk uvgkyj Z gvvivu,
Lekzc dp xrqv trlxyk kyv Ilevj.
Nzky r ifrizex tip Z xirjgvu kyvd,
Kyve uzqqp reu wrzekzex, Z wvcc srtb,
Vrty Ilev nyzjgvizex fw kyv Npiu.

Nvcc-svzex Z nfe
Reu nzjufd kff,
Z xivn reu kffb afp ze dp xifnky:
Wifd r nfiu kf r nfiu
Z nrj cvu kf r nfiu,
Wifd r uvvu kf refkyvi uvvu.
'Kzc Z yru kirtvu kyv drxztb jld,
Kyv Ilezt yvrik fw kyrk yzuuve Kivv,

Wifd zkj cvrw-vuxvu kfg ufne kf zkj mvip iffk...

*

And here is the decrypted version...

I know that I hung on that windswept Tree,
Rode there for nine eternal nights,
Wounded by my own blade,
Bloodied for the All-Father,
Myself made an offering to myself:
Bound high to that Wyrd-Tree,
That no man knows,
Whither the roots of it run.

None gave me bread,
Nor drink from the horn,
The elements I weathered in cyclic turn:
Down into the deepest depths I peered,
Until my gaze caught the Runes.
With a roaring cry I grasped them,
Then dizzy and fainting, I fell back,
Each Rune whispering of the Wyrd.

Well-being I won
And wisdom too,
I grew and took joy in my growth:
From a word to a word
I was led to a word,
From a deed to another deed.
'Til I had traced the magick sum,
The Runic heart of that hidden Tree,

From its leaf-edged top down to its very root...


The RunePoem uses a simple form of encryption, and is quite easy to solve. The poem is a modified account from the Norse Poetic Edda and/or the Havamal, an account of Norse High Wisdom.
It is about Odin's Quest for the Secret of the Runes. He sacrificed himself upon the cosmic ash-tree Yggdrasil to gain this secret knowledge.
Note that poem letters are concealing a picture underneath. On the main webpage, this picture can be viewed better by clicking on the spear, simulating Odin's sacrifice.
A symbolic representation of Yggdrasil is revealed.

The RunePoem is decrypted using a Caesar Shift Cipher, with a value of (9) for the shift. Nine (9) was the most magical number in Norse mythology.
There were 9 realms spanned by the cosmic world-tree Yggdrasil, Odin hung for 9 days and nights on this tree, and learned twice-9 magical charms.

Interestingly, a Caesar Shift Cipher is actually the equivalent of a Vigenère Cipher with a one-letter key. So, you can also decipher the RunePoem using a Vigenère Cipher, with a key of "R".
This is nice because the "R" - Rune, Raido - R (Journey), is Raido, which means a journey or quest. This Rune was often invoked at the beginning of a journey or quest.
The RunePoem is the beginning of your quest... the RuneQuest!

Other clues are that there are 3 groups of 8 lines in the poem. The Elder Futhark, the oldest of the Runic alphabets, is historically divided into 3 groups of 8 letters each, for a total of 24 Runes.
So what about that last line, slightly separated?
In more recent "divination" RuneStones, a 25th Rune is often added, Odin's Rune, which is usually represented by a blank stone. It is considered the most magical...
Interestingly, there is a history of cipher runes in actual found RuneStones.


The Elder Futhark:

=(F, U, TH, A, R, K, G, W)
=(H, N, I, J, EI or AE, P, Z, S)
=(T, B, E, M, L, NG, O, D)
=(-);

The Futhark is called such because the first letters are "F","U","TH","A","R","K"; similarly to the Alphabet (Alpha-Beta-...) beginning with "A","B"
The 3 groups are called the Aett's, presumably because there are 8 (=aett) letters in each group.
The 1st group is Frey/Freya's Aett, beginning with F - Frey's Aett
The 2nd group is Hagal/Heimdall's Aett, beginning with H - Heimdall's Aett
The 3rd group is Tyr's Aett, beginning with T - Tyr's Aett

Using the Unicode characters, which have some rounded characters (The original Elder Futhark characters were all straight cuts as far as I know...)

1st AETT:
=FEHU=(PROSPERITY, cattle, wealth)
=URUZ=(ENDURANCE, aurochs, strength, power)
=THURISAZ=(FORCE, Thor, giant, thorn)
=ANSUZ=(AIR/WIND/OMENS, Odin, breath, answers, one of the Aesir gods)
=RAIDO=(JOURNEY, ride, road, wagon)
=KENAZ=(FIRE, torch, ken, knowledge)
=GEBO=(GIFTING, gift, talent, sacrifice)
=WUNJO=(FULFILLMENT, joy, win, victory, hope)
2nd AETT:
=HAGALAZ=(HAIL, chaos, havoc, crisis)
=NAUTHIZ=(NEED, needs, night, constraint)
=ISA=(ICE, frozen, stasis, stillness)
=JERA=(HARVEST, year)
=EIHWAZ=(STRIVING, Yggdrasil, yew-tree, magic)
=PERTH=(FATE, Norns, pear-tree?, gamble, chance)
=ALGIZ=(PROTECTION, elk?, defence, higher self)
=SOWILO=(SUN, source, energy, wholeness, success)
3rd AETT:
=TIWAZ=(JUSTICE, Tyr, warrior, sacrifice)
=BERKANA=(EARTH, birch, birth, sanctuary)
=EHWAZ=(HORSES, movement, trust)
=MANNUZ=(MANKIND, man, identity, awareness)
=LAGUZ=(WATER, ocean, lake, fluid)
=INGWAZ=(FERTILITY, the god Yngvi/Ing, seed, life, living)
=OTHILA=(INHERITANCE, heritage, estate, possession, homeland)
=DAGAZ=(DAYLIGHT, day, dawn, cycle, awakening)
25th: (MAGIC)


Unicode Runic Codes

Note that Unicode numbers are assigned in Runic alphabetic order (F,U,Þ...), but this table is sorted roughtly in Roman alphabet order (A,B.C...). Hence numbers are out of order.

There were actually several varieties of Runic alphabets (including Common Germanic, Old English and Old Norse/Scandinavian), each with their own forms and pronunciation. Thus the Unicode table includes multiple variants for each letter.

Character Name Glyph Name Dec Code Hex Code
Runic Letter AC A ᚪ &#x16AA
Runic Letter AESC ᚫ &#x16AB
Runic Letter ALGIZ EOLHX ᛉ &#x16C9
Runic Letter ANSUZ A ᚨ &#x16A8
Runic Letter BERKANAN BEORC BJARKAN B ᛒ &#x16D2
Runic Letter C ᛍ &#x16CD
Runic Letter CALC ᛣ &#x16E3
Runic Letter CEALC ᛤ &#x16E4
Runic Letter CEN ᚳ &#x16B3
Runic Letter CWEORTH ᛢ &#x16E2
Runic Letter D ᛑ &#x16D1
Runic Letter DAGAZ DAEG D ᛞ &#x16DE
Runic Letter DOTTED-L ᛛ &#x16DB
Runic Letter DOTTED-N ᛀ &#x16C0
Runic Letter DOTTED-P ᛔ &#x16D4
Runic Letter E ᛂ &#x16C2
Runic Letter EAR ᛠ &#x16E0
Runic Letter EHWAZ EH E ᛖ &#x16D6
Runic Letter ENG ᚶ &#x16B6
Runic Letter ETH ᚧ &#x16A7
Runic Letter FEHU FEOH FE F ᚠ &#x16A0
Runic Letter G ᚵ &#x16B5
Runic Letter GAR ᚸ &#x16B8
Runic Letter GEBO GYFU G ᚷ &#x16B7
Runic Letter GER ᛄ &#x16C4
Runic Letter HAEGL H ᚻ &#x16BB
Runic Letter HAGLAZ H ᚺ &#x16BA
Runic Letter ICELANDIC-YR ᛨ &#x16E8
Runic Letter ING ᛝ &#x16DD
Runic Letter INGWAZ ᛜ &#x16DC
Runic Letter IOR ᛡ &#x16E1
Runic Letter ISAZ IS ISS I ᛁ &#x16C1
Runic Letter IWAZ EOH ᛇ &#x16C7
Runic Letter JERAN J ᛃ &#x16C3
Runic Letter KAUN K ᚴ &#x16B4
Runic Letter KENAZ KAUNA K ᚲ &#x16B2
Runic Letter LAUKAZ LAGU LOGR L ᛚ &#x16DA
Runic Letter LONG-BRANCH-AR AE ᛅ &#x16C5
Runic Letter LONG-BRANCH-HAGALL H ᚼ &#x16BC
Runic Letter LONG-BRANCH-MADR M ᛘ &#x16D8
Runic Letter LONG-BRANCH-OSS O ᚬ &#x16AC
Runic Letter LONG-BRANCH-YR ᛦ &#x16E6
Runic Letter MANNAZ MAN M ᛗ &#x16D7
Runic Letter NAUDIZ NYD NAUD N ᚾ &#x16BE
Runic Letter O ᚮ &#x16AE
Runic Letter OE ᚯ &#x16AF
Runic Letter ON ᚰ &#x16B0
Runic Letter OPEN-P ᛕ &#x16D5
Runic Letter OS O ᚩ &#x16A9
Runic Letter OTHALAN ETHEL O ᛟ &#x16DF
Runic Letter PERTHO PEORTH P ᛈ &#x16C8
Runic Letter Q ᛩ &#x16E9
Runic Letter RAIDO RAD REID R ᚱ &#x16B1
Runic Letter SHORT-TWIG-AR A ᛆ &#x16C6
Runic Letter SHORT-TWIG-BJARKAN B ᛓ &#x16D3
Runic Letter SHORT-TWIG-HAGALL H ᚽ &#x16BD
Runic Letter SHORT-TWIG-MADR M ᛙ &#x16D9
Runic Letter SHORT-TWIG-NAUD N ᚿ &#x16BF
Runic Letter SHORT-TWIG-OSS O ᚭ &#x16AD
Runic Letter SHORT-TWIG-SOL S ᛌ &#x16CC
Runic Letter SHORT-TWIG-TYR T ᛐ &#x16D0
Runic Letter SHORT-TWIG-YR ᛧ &#x16E7
Runic Letter SIGEL LONG-BRANCH-SOL S ᛋ &#x16CB
Runic Letter SOWILO S ᛊ &#x16CA
Runic Letter STAN ᛥ &#x16E5
Runic Letter THURISAZ THURS THORN ᚦ &#x16A6
Runic Letter TIWAZ TIR TYR T ᛏ &#x16CF
Runic Letter URUZ UR U ᚢ &#x16A2
Runic Letter V ᚡ &#x16A1
Runic Letter W ᚥ &#x16A5
Runic Letter WUNJO WYNN W ᚹ &#x16B9
Runic Letter X ᛪ &#x16EA
Runic Letter Y ᚤ &#x16A4
Runic Letter YR ᚣ &#x16A3
Runic Letter Z ᛎ &#x16CE
Runic multiple punctuation ᛬ &#x16EC
Runic single punctuation ᛫ &#x16EB
Runic ARLAUG symbol (golden number 17) ᛮ &#x16EE
Runic TVIMADUR symbol (golden number 18) ᛯ &#x16EF
Runic BELGTHOR symbol (golden number 19) ᛰ &#x16F0
Runic CROSS punctuation ᛭ &#x16ED



Now the RunePoem is covering a picture...:


This is the symbolic representation of "Yggdrasil", the great cosmic World Tree of Norse mythology, with a mystic well at its base.
That is floating amidst the stars is intentional, as it represents the backbone of Norse mythological universe.
Yggdrasil was kept watered by having roots in three mystic wells, and was also looked after by the three Norns, the Norse goddesses of Fate.
The picture also resembles a gallows, which is representative of the god Odin hanging himself on the Ash Tree Yggdrasil to discover the secret of the mystic Runes.
I have also been told that is resembles a maze, which is again appropriate from the viewpoint of being on a quest.
To my eye, there also seem to be 9 "regions" within the picture, again appropriate as Yggdrasil spanned 9 realms of the Norse universe.
The Yggdrasil concept is mentioned in the RunePoem, though not directly by name...

I know that I hung on that windswept Tree,
Rode there for nine eternal nights,
...
Bound high to that Wyrd-Tree,
That no man knows,
Whither the roots of it run.


And, finally, the RuneStone itself:
The core of the RuneQuest is the RuneStone, yet another representation of Yggdrasil...
The RuneStone is magic, of course...
Hovering the mouse over the text "magically" causes Runes to appear above the stone, at the base of the tree picture of Yggdrasil, just where Odin found the secret of the Runes.
Again, this simulates his mystical discovery of the Runes.  
"Magical" divination Runes are often colored/decorated with the owner's own blood, hence the red color. (Supposedly, this ties the RuneStones to the owner in a mystical way.)
Move the mouse cursor back out and back into the RuneStone to see the different Runes appear...


Hovering over the symbolic corner bolts, , causes a color change in the letters.  These represent the universal elements, AIR-lite blue, FIRE-orange, EARTH-green, WATER-blue.
The idea is that just as the Universe is composed of these mystical, ancient elements; the World Tree Yggdrasil of the Norse universe is powered by the elemental Runes.
The Elements and Runes are symbolic of each other, as the building blocks of the Universe.
There is also a magic spot, near the center of the RuneStone, in the O of ODIN, where you will find the Elements encircling him...

The elements I weathered in cyclic turn:

Try it on the RuneStone just below...





 
 
  *  
 




The first thing to figure out about the RuneStone is that it must be divided into nine realms...
This is not easy or obvious, but there are hints.
The first is the decryption parameter of the RunePoem, which is (9), and that Odin "rode/hung" in the 9 realms of Yggdrasil for 9 long days and nights...
The next is that the 4 elements can be roughly centered in their separate squares.
The main clue is that the very first letters of the PT are "NINE REALMS", and that the 1st section only gives a 12x12 grid of PT.
The RuneStone is yet another representation of Yggdrasil.  It has 9 realms of 12x12 grids. Two 12's=24, the number of Elder Futhark Runes...
The 4 corners are represented by the 4 Elements of Creation, Air, Fire, Earth, & Water.  These are highlighted below.
Also, you can find Odin hanging from the great cosmic Ash Tree, Yggdrasil.
One interpretation of "Rune" is "dig or a digging". You can find this both vertically and horizontally.
Interesting that it emphasizes the "I" which gets "removed" later in the puzzle.
It is also a reference to the letters "DIG" found in Kryptos K4.
Also in this is area is the work "DIE", and Odin "dies" to discover the runes.



 
  DNVZSKFKTOUK
LQOTNSEAQOFG
KUEWDKGNKXOR
FLPLAIRAHXHS
ZFELPUQLWPHY
PQCGGOVZIVKF
TYHBDGKCDQLI
POXIQEFOWLRD
YIYNAHIPCOKM
TVLWUXTJOZUR
OWJHOAOKJETB
CCEDUPYPTJNM
YMALPAMZZPOG
BNSVHQUYDRJI
KGONRTFUORFO
YZKTPAYGGUFM
TJNZMCRIYWDG
JYNQBEBPCXNR
RKRPHITEWCNT
GWHHQNESSGLE
FIDRTLAZORMC
FMXPUBHMNBUE
UOHMGUKVYAGA
ZKVBETABBVDU
IRTBINZCVXEK
JBJZQPHCXDBK
GKSQYSURQBCQ
URTFFIRECDIT
VJZITCLVCXQJ
WHWQIGOIVOQY
TWOVQMTACRXU
TGKPIUUFCGIN
UPNTSDHILIPJ
UYWIVDCMMAOZ
UKXVTUZUPOMB
IUEDNLCQYZYQ
 
HWWBBDMBSNVJ
VQNWLCYQJNQR
FPXKQQRMGFUJ
LDYQLAFTGCLE
VOAVNVAKLBFK
NWICJXNLAGXB
HICMHLYRJGVV
UROIOLQKNUGG
QLMCEGWFTSCA
YZROWKEXBWLK
ISELORQDBQFQ
OZHTVQEWRARF
RTIECUGHVOOA
RRGEENENNTDE
RRDWTHCTIUUI
OANAFVEOGFZY
EHCAWDILONHE
BFHRUHATIEUT
SRRRTEAEESSP
YADSNRHDIGIB
AELEUTADDIGZ
OOAEWFNASDAR
RALYURIOIESP
OSBOUTDATUHI
DHHRCBBZDMBH
LEYNHASMUEEV
WISWTDUROGQX
QAUBJRXMURHI
SPTDXYGEBPTL
JBRYLDBVUKND
RCMOSPMZQCFI
DZOIBDTJMAGZ
ISAJAURSKTVO
YCXRTLYLEJWV
FXZYWUFSYKMC
FAJMJGVSDMEU
XCUVCPJBPYOB
PEUWATERQJEN
ZLJHOWAFTORF
GJMYMCOVOHQM
IFBNNOOPUFTD
WEULGYJSLUXE
QFCUXOOCPEEL
CAPEIUAHPFYM
HNVJMMATFESN
SZCTAFSFZMIM
GHIOCPJDWJCG
PNJSXFCEQFUJ
YOKBQKOIPNTL
EQZYHMNQBAUP
VVYKPERHLOSC
QYPCWHUEWDGQ
NEDYRMZVQVHM
FOOCSUJUNIHB
XZSYWHWRGDND
JFUFWMJSNRNB
JCQBGNYUFNWA
LYBLBTPJMLXX
AJWTILCRJBQB
ZZMHWRHWAIMT
GCEUXCSUHLRF
CPIOTWHPVTHF
XWFHEARTHBBG
TNWSLYBSVUCT
VKHWLCHAOMMM
XYZURHQTIWAY
FQLCEACJBMNO
DUVKIHFWQCGW
DDVVVLYUBHJE
CJJHQKKWHXPB
BFONUUHQAONI
BWFDWXUSWWMD
 




The symbolic corner bolts, ,themselves represent the overlapping nature of the 4 Elements.
Each corner of the bolt is interconnected/integral/overlapped with the rest, with no one corner being lesser or greater than the others.
The 4 Elemental corners use the same encryption types as the 1st stages of Kryptos - Vigenère.  Actually, in this case, double-key Vigenère.
To represent the overlapping nature of the Elements in Creation, each corner uses a 24x24 grid to decode a 12x12 section of PT.
This means that each element overlaps/interacts with the center of the RuneStone, the heart of Yggdrasil.
The Primary keyword for the 4 corners is YGGDRASIL, the primary focus of the Norse Universe, and the keeper of the secrets of the Runes.
The Secondary keywords are all Magical/Runic artifacts of Norse mythology, all created by Runic Magic, and all used by "Guardian" Norse gods and goddesses.
The Keywords are Related to the Elements:

Element Primary Keyword Secondary Keyword Meaning of the magical artifact
AIR YGGDRASIL HEIMDALLSHORN (Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge) Heimdall's magical horn, Gjallarhorn, also used at Mimir's Well.
FIRE YGGDRASIL THORSHAMMER (Guardian of Men and Gods) Thor's magical hammer, Mjollnir, cause of thunder & lightning, forged in Runic fire.
EARTH YGGDRASIL IDUNSAPPLES (Guardian of Immortality) Idun's magical apples, fruit of the earth and granter of the god's immortality.
WATER YGGDRASIL MIMIRSWELL (Guardian of Wisdom) Mimir's magical Well of Wisdom, source of mystic knowledge.


The PT decryptions are as follows.

AIR section:
NINE REALMS AFAR SEEN BY HEIMDALL NAUGHT EVADING NOTICE GUARDIAN OF BIFROST THE BRIDGE TWIXT LAND AND SKY A BLEND OF CREATIONS ELEMENTS HELD WOVEN BY YGGDRASIL'S RUNIC MAGIC

FIRE section:
THOR THE THUNDER GUARDIAN OF MEN AND GODS ALIKE BOTH LANDS HE STRIDES CARRYING MJOLLNIR THE MYSTIC HAMMER OF POWER FORGED BY MAGIC IN THE FIERY DEPTHS ON JORD'S STALWART ANVIL

EARTH section:
FAIR IDUN IS BUSY KEEPING ALL IN GLAD BALANCE FOR HER GARDEN HOLDS THE SECRET OF THE GODS' IMMORTALITY HER MAGIC DRAWS UPON THE NATURAL FORCES TO BRING FORTH THE APPLES OF YOUTH

WATER section:
ODIN THE RUNE GRAPPLER VALUED WISDOM SO HIGHLY THAT HE SACRIFICED HIS OWN RIGHT EYE FOR A SINGLE DRAUGHT FROM MIMIR'S WELL HE LEARNED THE WAN SECRETS OF THE WYRD TREE YGGDRASIL


The decryptions are intended to be vague in terms of punctuation, and are intended to be read as Runic Poems, of which there are historical examples.
Now then, each of the elements of Yggdrasil overlaps and is affected by the rest, so to simulate such the decryptions use a 24x24 grid for each 12x12 corner.
In addition, each secondary keyword is intentionally not of length 12, increasing the difficulty of the cipher.
Both of these factors have the effect of defeating automated Vigenère solvers, guarding the gateway for the magic of the Runes...
For, after applying each of the Vigenère ciphers, in any order, and REPLACING THE TEXT to the grids, the Elemental Runes appear, (Air, Fire, Earth, Water).
This is due to the commutivity of the Vigenère encryption system.  The primary keyword, Yggdrasil, was the same for each section.
Also, recall that the cipher was designed to have each element (Air, Fire, Earth, Water) named in the CT, despite having normal PT underneath.
This was created with "carefully chosen wording".
Another interesting thing to note, and an intended weakness of this particular encryption, is that each of Norse gods represented appears in both the keyword and the PT.

 
  NINEREALMSAF
ARSEENBYHEIM
DALLNAUGHTEV
ADINGNOTICEG
UARDIANOFBIF
ROSTTHEBRIDG
ETWIXTLANDAN
DSKYABLENDOF
CREATIONSELE
MENTSHELDWOV
ENBYYGGDRASI
LSRUNICMAGIC
NORXXNLRRRDN
YEEXXXOKUDTE
ARVXXXXUNEAS
MRTXXLXXKEEC
RZIXXICXXLRI
AODXXXODRINK
SJTXXXXKBTSS
UDKXXHXXABFU
JFEXXTAXXVRN
MUDXXICDSLMO
LLFXXGITESIS
NYGXXRKDNVJO
THORTHETHUND
ERGUARDIANOF
MENANDGODSAL
IKEBOTHLANDS
HESTRIDESCAR
RYINGMJOLLNI
RTHEMYSTICHA
MMEROFPOWERF
ORGEDBYMAGIC
INTHEFIERYDE
PTHSONJORDSS
TALWARTANVIL
 
ODIXXNJHLIOU
LAJXXXAIQXZU
GUWXXXXIWTCT
ISTXXEXXEZFW
PDFXXYRXXKHY
WEEXXDNLFERJ
TZBXXUZIUSLL
ANJXXTCALTOA
KMDXXMHWXTBL
HHIXXDINGFRZ
HJAXXHHHHEPI
LJEXXCSSAPFA
RTIECUGHVOOA
RRGEENENNTDE
RRDWTHCTIUUI
OANAFVEOGFZY
EHCAWDILONHE
BFHRUHATIEUT
SRRRTEAEESSP
YADSNRHDIGIB
AELEUTADDIGZ
OOAEWFNASDAR
RALYURIOIESP
OSBOUTDATUHI
WHETNGIMXXFL
SGLCETGXXSET
AZRJNFXXOZES
OTOONXXJHESA
GGWWXXPOGNER
NRRXXCGTFEZS
RLIXXNSUDHII
QIEAXXRNEAZN
ZRTCJXXSHFRE
NSLIMLXXOIUH
TGTYUHPXXAFP
IAFITTTUXXJN
ODINTHERUNEG
RAPPLERVALUE
DWISDOMSOHIG
HLYTHATHESAC
RIFICEDHISOW
NRIGHTEYEFOR
ASINGLEDRAUG
HTFROMMIMIRS
WELLHELEARNE
DTHEWANSECRE
TSOFTHEWYRDT
REEYGGDRASIL
NUTXXOJHIRRI
DEEXXXVLORDB
WWAXXXXHTDTE
WEEXXLXXAATI
KTQXXAIXXESY
TNHXXXXAZTOY
SMAXXXXPITPL
DHKXXAAXXRAW
IVIXXAXXOINI
YFUXXXXRTETA
CSJXXXTGZOZV
GAJXXANLETET
FAIRIDUNISBU
SYKEEPINGALL
INGLADBALANC
EFORHERGARDE
NHOLDSTHESEC
RETOFTHEGODS
IMMORTALITYH
ERMAGICDRAWS
UPONTHENATUR
ALFORCESTOBR
INGFORTHTHEA
PPLESOFYOUTH
 


The revealed Runes are:

Section: Rune Rune Name Rune Letter Rune Meaning
AIR Ansuz - A Ansuz A Air/Secrets
FIRE Kenaz - K Kenaz K Fire/Burn
EARTH Berkana - B Berkana B Earth/BirchTree
WATER Laguz - L Laguz L Water/Lake/Well


These Runes were a gift to Odin from Yggdrasil, gained from his sacrifice for wisdom.
Gebo - G Gebo - G - Gift (the Runic G appears as the English X -- it is thought that perhaps the sound "gs" was close to "x")
Also, the Runes of X's in the shape of a diamond are metaphorically representative of the Rune "Gar", the RuneSpear of Odin.
  A
L   K
  B

[As an interesting cryptanalytical aside, the predominance of these X's in the "partial" PT causes the low letter frequency of  X in the overall CT.
The Vigenère system tends to scatter any given letter, as it typically gets mapped to a letter other than itself, approximately 25/26 of the time.
Thus, the high frequency of the X's in the PT leads to low frequency in the CT.
Again, if you consider that X is the Runic Gebo=gift, then the gift is hidden...]


This more or less concludes the RuneQuest up to CheckPoint #1.
More will be revealed when more of the cipher is solved.



Down into the deepest depths I peered,
Until my gaze caught the Runes.
With a roaring cry I grasped them,


Anyway, to continue onward, these elemental Runes must be "grasped", as described in the RunePoem...
This could mean both "understood", and/or physically "removed"...
The X's must be grasped/removed before you can continue.


Then dizzy and fainting, I fell back,
Each Rune whispering of the Wyrd.


Another trick, is that in the RunePoem, Odin "falls back", which I simulate by going back to the original middle section.
In other words, the center section of text, which was modified by the 4 corners, must be returned to its original setting.


You will also notice interesting words at the beginning of the cross (+) sections, each related somewhat to the preceding elemental section :
NORN - (Air) Keepers of Runic Secrets, they kept the world-tree Yggdrasil watered and in good health, as well as casting the fates of all creatures.
WHET - (Fire) The Fire Stone in Thor's Head-acquired during a battle with the giant Jotuns. The whetstone plays important roles in at least 2 Norse myths.
NUT - (Earth) The Source of Idun's Magical Apple Trees, and the form that she took in the main Norse mythological story about her.
ODIN - (Water) The Rune Seeker, at Mimir's Well of Wisdom, another place where he made a sacrifice in his quest for wisdom.

 
  NINEREALMSAF
ARSEENBYHEIM
DALLNAUGHTEV
ADINGNOTICEG
UARDIANOFBIF
ROSTTHEBRIDG
ETWIXTLANDAN
DSKYABLENDOF
CREATIONSELE
MENTSHELDWOV
ENBYYGGDRASI
LSRUNICMAGIC
NORNLRRRDN
YEEOKUDTE
ARVUNEAS
MRTLKEEC
RZIICLRI
AODODRINK
SJTKBTSS
UDKHABFU
JFETAVRN
MUDICDSLMO
LLFGITESIS
NYGRKDNVJO
THORTHETHUND
ERGUARDIANOF
MENANDGODSAL
IKEBOTHLANDS
HESTRIDESCAR
RYINGMJOLLNI
RTHEMYSTICHA
MMEROFPOWERF
ORGEDBYMAGIC
INTHEFIERYDE
PTHSONJORDSS
TALWARTANVIL
 
ODINJHLIOU
LAJAIQXZU
GUWIWTCT
ISTEEZFW
PDFYRKHY
WEEDNLFERJ
TZBUZIUSLL
ANJTCALTOA
KMDMHWXTBL
HHIDINGFRZ
HJAHHHHEPI
LJECSSAPFA
RTIECUGHVOOA
RRGEENENNTDE
RRDWTHCTIUUI
OANAFVEOGFZY
EHCAWDILONHE
BFHRUHATIEUT
SRRRTEAEESSP
YADSNRHDIGIB
AELEUTADDIGZ
OOAEWFNASDAR
RALYURIOIESP
OSBOUTDATUHI
WHETNGIMFL
SGLCETGSET
AZRJNFOZES
OTOONJHESA
GGWWPOGNER
NRRCGTFEZS
RLINSUDHII
QIEARNEAZN
ZRTCJSHFRE
NSLIMLOIUH
TGTYUHPAFP
IAFITTTUJN
ODINTHERUNEG
RAPPLERVALUE
DWISDOMSOHIG
HLYTHATHESAC
RIFICEDHISOW
NRIGHTEYEFOR
ASINGLEDRAUG
HTFROMMIMIRS
WELLHELEARNE
DTHEWANSECRE
TSOFTHEWYRDT
REEYGGDRASIL
NUTOJHIRRI
DEEVLORDB
WWAHTDTE
WEELAATI
KTQAIESY
TNHAZTOY
SMAPITPL
DHKAARAW
IVIAOINI
YFURTETA
CSJTGZOZV
GAJANLETET
FAIRIDUNISBU
SYKEEPINGALL
INGLADBALANC
EFORHERGARDE
NHOLDSTHESEC
RETOFTHEGODS
IMMORTALITYH
ERMAGICDRAWS
UPONTHENATUR
ALFORCESTOBR
INGFORTHTHEA
PPLESOFYOUTH
 


From a word to a word
I was led to a word,
From a deed to another deed.
..


In the RuneQuest, you are indeed "lead" from keyword to keyword, from clueword to clueword.
You must perform various deeds, including "grasping" words (i.e. understanding and removing them).
In fact, this little fragment is THE metaphor for decrypting something.  You try to find one word, then you perform "deeds", more letter trials, etc. to reveal more words, etc.
Literally, you are led from one word to the next when deciphering a cryptogram, bit-by-bit, deed-by-deed, word-to-a-word.



None gave me bread,
Nor drink from the horn,


In the Top section, Odin gains wisdom by drinking both from the Mimir's Well of wisdom, and also from the Mead of Poetry, typically using a drinking horn.
Alternately, none gave Odin a drink during his sacrifice on the tree.
The word DRINK must be removed.

In the Right section, Odin gains wisdom in the wits-duel with the wise Jotun giant, Vafthrudnir.
Alternately, Thor, the fiery thunder god, was always fighting and destroying the Jotun giants, who were representatives of both ice and fire.
The word JOTUNS must be removed.

In the Bottom section, Odin gains wisdom from "Old Age", when the the Apples of Youth were stolen.
However, the gods regained the apples, and their immortality, and defeated old age.  Old age is often associated with wisdom of the Earth.
The word OLD AGE must be removed.

In the Left section, Odin must sacrifice his own right eye to win a drink from Mimir's Well of Wisdom.
Odin's right eye (I) must be removed.  This was one of my favorite metaphors for a "deed" to perform during the RuneQuest.
John is good at HIDING stuff.

 

 
  NINEREALMSAF
ARSEENBYHEIM
DALLNAUGHTEV
ADINGNOTICEG
UARDIANOFBIF
ROSTTHEBRIDG
ETWIXTLANDAN
DSKYABLENDOF
CREATIONSELE
MENTSHELDWOV
ENBYYGGDRASI
LSRUNICMAGIC
NORNLRRRDN
YEEOKUDTE
ARVUNEAS
MRTLKEEC
RZIICLRI
AODODRINK
SJTKBTSS
UDKHABFU
JFETAVRN
MUDICDSLMO
LLFGITESIS
NYGRKDNVJO
THORTHETHUND
ERGUARDIANOF
MENANDGODSAL
IKEBOTHLANDS
HESTRIDESCAR
RYINGMJOLLNI
RTHEMYSTICHA
MMEROFPOWERF
ORGEDBYMAGIC
INTHEFIERYDE
PTHSONJORDSS
TALWARTANVIL
 
ODINJHLIOU
LAJAIQXZU
GUWIWTCT
ISTEEZFW
PDFYRKHY
WEEDNLFERJ
TZBUZIUSLL
ANJTCALTOA
KMDMHWXTBL
HHIDINGFRZ
HJAHHHHEPI
LJECSSAPFA
RTIECUGHVOOA
RRGEENENNTDE
RRDWTHCTIUUI
OANAFVEOGFZY
EHCAWDILONHE
BFHRUHATIEUT
SRRRTEAEESSP
YADSNRHDIGIB
AELEUTADDIGZ
OOAEWFNASDAR
RALYURIOIESP
OSBOUTDATUHI
WHETNGIMFL
SGLCETGSET
AZRJNFOZES
OTOONJHESA
GGWWPOGNER
NRRCGTFEZS
RLINSUDHII
QIEARNEAZN
ZRTCJSHFRE
NSLIMLOIUH
TGTYUHPAFP
IAFITTTUJN
ODINTHERUNEG
RAPPLERVALUE
DWISDOMSOHIG
HLYTHATHESAC
RIFICEDHISOW
NRIGHTEYEFOR
ASINGLEDRAUG
HTFROMMIMIRS
WELLHELEARNE
DTHEWANSECRE
TSOFTHEWYRDT
REEYGGDRASIL
NUTOJHIRRI
DEEVLORDB
WWAHTDTE
WEELAATI
KTQAIESY
TNHAZTOY
SMAPITPL
DHKAARAW
IVIAOINI
YFURTETA
CSJTGZOZV
GAJANLETET
FAIRIDUNISBU
SYKEEPINGALL
INGLADBALANC
EFORHERGARDE
NHOLDSTHESEC
RETOFTHEGODS
IMMORTALITYH
ERMAGICDRAWS
UPONTHENATUR
ALFORCESTOBR
INGFORTHTHEA
PPLESOFYOUTH
 


Once more, this section uses overlapping regions to make the cipher more difficult, and to metaphorically relate the various sections.
Unlike the Vigenère section, these sections use Modulus Transposition encoding, which is non-commuting, meaning that they must be solved in a particular order.




The Northern Square solution is found by using the top middle 12x12 square and the center 12x12 square.

The word "DRINK" must first be removed, simulating Odin drinking the Mead of Poetry from a horn
Use Mod-Trans Encrypt of 144,137,245
NORNLRRRDNYEEOKUDTEARVUNEASMRTLKEECRZIICLRIAODOSJTKBTSSUDKHABFUJFETAVRNMUDICDSLMOLLFGITESISNYGRKDNVJORTIECUGHVOOARRGEENENNTDERRDWTHCTIUUIOANAFVEOGFZYEHCAWDILONHEBFHRUHATIEUTSRRRTEAEESSPYADSNRHDIGIBAELEUTADDIGZOOAEWFNASDARRALYURIOIESPOSBOUTDATUHI
URDHRVERDHANDISKULDNORNSISTERSTHREETOGIVELIFESBLOODTOYGGDRASILANDTOCASTMYSTICRuneSOFFATETHEFUTHARKOLDFRONMFYETGRSDDDDECWUIREOTAILVSBUCYTCNRONAOGJTOETEERAVLYICNHTRIEARNBEDEUNPSAZHAIREEJWLBEAJFKGKWUOURZSHBRAOSANDUURIAUAUIIAVULNPRNGEAEKREZDHIRIDOMI
Use Mod-Trans Decrypt of 114,62,245

URDHR VERDHANDI SKULD NORN SISTERS THREE TO GIVE LIFES BLOOD TO YGGDRASIL AND TO CAST MYSTIC RUNES OF FATE THE FUTHARK OLD 

This reveals the top middle 12x12, leaving the center still scrambled.
Notice the encrypt used 144=12x12 for the increment.
Also, there is sort of circular pattern here, as the word NORN exists in both the CT and PT.  The Norns (Sisters of Fate-Past,Present,Future) exist in all times and places...
Also note the word URD in the CT.



Next is the Eastern square.

The word "JOTUNS" must first be removed, simulating Odin's challenge of wits with the Jotuns
Use Mod-Trans Encrypt of 109,142,258
FRONMFYETGRSWHETNGIMFLDDDDECWUIREOSGLCETGSETTAILVSBUCYTCAZRJNFOZESNRONAOGJTOETOTOONHESAEERAVLYICNHTGGWWPGNERRIEARNBEDEUNNRRCGFEZSPSAZHAIREEJWRLINSDHIILBEAJFKGKWUOQIEAREAZNURZSHBRAOSANZRTCJHFREDUURIAUAUIIANSLIMLOIUHVULNPRNGEAEKTGTYUHPAFPREZDHIRIDOMIIAFITTTUJN
FIRSTAETTFEHUPROSPERITYURUZENDURANCETHURISAZFORCEANSUZAIRWINDOMENSRAIDOJOURNEYKENAZFIREGEBOGIFTINGWUNJOFULFILLMENTNAGGKSEISJMHGONIOEUCCDAHEHLOFJDAPOAMLIEISIEKJHWASZDZWRPHEFDRBERCDIWNJTBTUWEGNHOAARLAEORAECRUGULSTNRNVPEYDLERTZRSTGATIANIBNSGLTTRGYHZTCVIGRHEIAQV
Use Mod-Trans Decrypt of 187,20,258

FIRST AETT: FEHU-PROSPERITY, URUZ-ENDURANCE, THURISAZ-FORCE, ANSUZ-AIR / WIND / OMENS, RAIDO-JOURNEY, KENAZ-FIRE, GEBO-GIFTING, WUNJO-FULFILLMENT

This reveals the right middle 12x12, leaving the center still scrambled.




Next is the Southern square.

The word "OLD AGE" must first be removed, simulating Odin's great "age", and when the gods actually did "age" during the Abduction of Idun
Use Mod-Trans Encrypt 29,95,240
NUTJHIRRIDEEVORDBWWAHTTEWEELAATIKTQAIESYTNHAZTOYSMAPITPLDHKAARAWIVIAOINIYFURTTACSJTZOZVGAJNLETETNAGGKSEISJMHGONIOEUCCDAHEHLOFJDAPOAMLIEISIEKJHWASZDZWRPHEFDRBERCDIWNJTBTUWEGNHOAARLAEORAECRUGULSTNRNVPEYDLERTZRSTGATIANIBNSGLTTRGYHZTCVIGRHEIAQV
SECONDAETTHAGALAZHAILNAUTHIZNEEDISAICEJERAHARVESTEIHWAZSTRIVINGPERTHFATEALGIZPROTECTIONSOWILOSUNIDWIHTAAADLTETGSCEYVJRNYTAYGARRIALIEJQZDZUENJVKSPMDJFTMTUGRBVNOKONVWHRCWHTIJMEHBTURLNLGIEIIFTRLNRKSCEOZGHAYGWBRGIHSKDRABJQAEUPATDEAORWPDOWTTYEAT
Use Mod-Trans Decrypt 149,5,240

SECOND AETT: HAGALAZ-HAIL, NAUTHIZ-NEED, ISA-ICE, JERA-HARVEST, EIHWAZ-STRIVING, PERTH-FATE, ALGIZ-PROTECTION, SOWILO-SUN

This reveals the bottom middle 12x12, leaving the center still scrambled.
Also, note the word AETT in the CT.




And finally is the Western square.

The letter "I" in ODIN must first be removed, simulating the sacrifice of Odin's right eye in order to drink from Mimir's Well of Wisdom
This was actually my original idea, and one of the best metaphors in the RuneQuest cipher puzzle.
Use Mod-Trans Encrypt 69,165,256
ODNJHLIOUIDWIHTAAADLTLAJAIQXZUETGSCEYVJRNYGUWIWTCTTAYGARRIALIEISTEEZFWJQZDZUENJVKSPDFYRKHYPMDJFTMTUGRBWEEDNLFERJVNOKONVWHRCWTZBUZIUSLLHTIJMEHBTURLANJTCALTOANLGIEIIFTRLNKMDMHWXTBLRKSCEOZGHAYGHHIDINGFRZWBRGIHSKDRABHJAHHHHEPIJQAEUPATDEAOLJECSSAPFARWPDOWTTYEAT
THIRDAETTTIWAZJUSTICEBERKANAEARTHEHWAZHORSESMANNUZMANKINDLAGUZWATERINGWAZFERTILITYDAGAZDAYLIGHTOTHILAINHERITANCEKDOVJRUDRGSJLOLDIWGJBMCCOJSXLWYUJYJAFCGZHRPBWLVRSIYDKOBQNYDJEEWUANYEZDJLWHLEMRFPQFWHLEIHQHTSWUTCTIBRPVEMJTTHUHBFUITJKTHPEODTXKGIVPDPSALGOFRFJHLA
Use Mod-Trans Decrypt 141,31,256

THIRD AETT: TIWAZ-JUSTICE, BERKANA-EARTH, EHWAZ-HORSES, MANNUZ-MANKIND, LAGUZ-WATER, INGWAZ-FERTILITY, DAGAZ-DAYLIGHT, OTHILA-INHERITANCE

This reveals the left middle 12x12, leaving the center still scrambled.
Notice the word HIDING in the CT.



Again, one must perform some deed, make some sacrifice, in each section in order to proceed to the next...
And, by the end of this section, you have found all 24 of the Elder Futhark Runes!  Is there another?





  URDHRVERDHAN
DISKULDNORNS
ISTERSTHREET
OGIVELIFESBL
OODTOYGGDRAS
ILANDTOCASTM
YSTICRuneSOF
FATETHEFUTHA
RKOLD
 
THIRDAETTTIW
AZJUSTICEBER
KANAEARTHEHW
AZHORSESMANN
UZMANKINDLAG
UZWATERINGWA
ZFERTILITYDA
GAZDAYLIGHTO
THILAINHERIT
ANCE
KDOVJRUDRGSJ
LOLDIWGJBMCC
OJSXLWYUJYJA
FCGZHRPBWLVR
SIYDKOBQNYDJ
EEWUANYEZDJL
WHLEMRFPQFWH
LEIHQHTSWUTC
TIBRPVEMJTTH
UHBFUITJKTHP
EODTXKGIVPDP
SALGOFRFJHLA
FIRSTAETTFEH
UPROSPERITYU
RUZENDURANCE
THURISAZFORC
EANSUZAIRWIN
DOMENSRAIDOJ
OURNEYKENAZF
IREGEBOGIFTI
NGWUNJOFULFI
LLMENT
  SECONDAETTHA
GALAZHAILNAU
THIZNEEDISAI
CEJERAHARVES
TEIHWAZSTRIV
INGPERTHFATE
ALGIZPROTECT
IONSOWILOSUN
 



This gets to CheckPoint #2



Now, we are finally dealing with the center core of the RuneQuest cipher, the center 12x12 section.
The only clue word is "OLD"

This section is triple encoded, with each of the three unique encryption types.
The Mod-Trans was the 1st, and got to this point.
Freq. Analysis and IC testing reveal possible Vigenère encoding with keyword length of 9, the magic Norse number again.

The primary keyword is again "YGGDRASIL"
The secondary keyword is "ODINSWYRD", or Odin's Wyrd

Other than just 9 letters, I like this keyword for several reasons.  It is very close, graphically and phonetically, to Odin Sword & Odin's Word.
Odin's Wyrd - meaning Odin's fate or destiny, to go on the RuneQuest
Odin "Sword", or Odin's blade, his magical spear Gungnir.
Odin's "Word", relating back to the RunePoem, itself from the Havamal, the "Words of the High One", or Odin's "Words"

Element Primary Keyword Secondary Keyword Meaning of the magical artifact
MAGIC YGGDRASIL ODINSWYRD (Guardian of the Knowledge/Wisdom) Odin's All-Seeing Eye and his Wyrd/fate/destiny



In any case, we are now to the penultimate configuration of 12x12 in the center.

WYFIBIUZGERL
OHEDRUEFDZAH
OERLSOENNYED
TLUCLIPSUNTW
MGRDFMOOEEWN
ELUADEESDDES
IEGTEIFMOTUI
OSCHNERROSMH
TRIHNNTENTOE
AEDUNCTEHREH
THSTUHEANDWU
SGSEMSJINHAD


Freq. Analysis and IC testing reveal possible transposition encoding with standard English.
The final decryption uses a "Knight's Tour" process, whereby a Chess Knight jumps to each and every square just once, revealing the final text.
The really cool part about this is that Knight's Tour encoding has been known for hundreds of years, 
but this particular "instance" of  a Knight's Tour on a 12x12 board, 
was not known until just a few years ago, shortly before I created the RuneQuest cipher.


1 70 107 112 5 66 103 116 9 64 99 118
108 111 2 69 104 115 6 65 100 117 10 63
71 106 109 4 113 102 67 8 61 98 119 12
110 3 72 105 68 7 114 101 120 11 62 97
73 142 35 40 77 140 17 60 93 122 13 58
36 39 74 141 32 41 92 121 16 59 96 123
143 34 37 76 139 78 55 18 125 94 57 14
38 75 144 33 42 31 126 91 56 15 124 95
81 136 29 44 79 138 19 54 89 128 21 52
28 45 80 137 30 43 90 127 20 53 88 129
135 82 47 26 133 84 49 24 131 86 51 22
46 27 134 83 48 25 132 85 50 23 130 87





Again, this is a fantastic metaphor: Knight's Tour <=> Quest
Also, in the final pages of the Norse myths, golden chess pieces were found in Asgard, after the final destruction of Ragnarok.
Therefore, we have nice mythological reference near the end of the Norse myths, to solve a section near the end of the RuneQuest.
So, the solution uses an ancient technique on a future instance, one that only Odin could have discovered by mystic means (viewing the future).

Well-being I won
And wisdom too,
I grew and took joy in my growth


The Knight's Tour decryption leads to:

WELLBEINGAND
WISDOMTHOUHA
STGAINEDHERE
GOLDENCHESSM
ENWEREFOUNDO
NTHEFIELDYOU
MUSTFINDTHEH
IDDENTREETHE
WYRDSOURCEFO
RTHISPUZZLEU
SESMORETHANJ
USTRUNEMAGIC


WELL-BEING AND WISDOM THOU HAST GAINED HERE GOLDEN CHESSMEN WERE FOUND ON THE FIELD YOU MUST FIND THE HIDDEN TREE THE WYRD SOURCE FOR THIS PUZZLE USES MORE THAN JUST RUNE MAGIC

So, now all that remains is the Riddle, the final enigma of the RuneQuest Cipher Challenge...

Bound high to that Wyrd-Tree,
That no man knows,
Whither the roots of it run



"What have YOU found at the Root of the Hidden Tree"?


You must answer the Riddle to solve the final piece of RuneQuest, and only then will the Quest for Rune Magic be finished...

A hint: The Final Answer will be something that ties all the elements in the RuneQuest Cipher Challenge together, something that brings it all home...
It will be analogous to a cryptogram answer: i.e. you know the solution PT is correct because the probability of an alternate PT for a sufficiently long CT would be incredibly remote..
Thus, you will know when you solve the Riddle: While there will be many metaphorical answers which seem to "fit", but there will be only one that is simply amazing.


<Added years later>
Here is the answer...

Examine the final decryption solution, by labeling the route with numbers... i.e. Trace the lines of the Knight's Tour...

1 70 107 112 5 66 103 116 9 64 99 118
108 111 2 69 104 115 6 65 100 117 10 63
71 106 109 4 113 102 67 8 61 98 119 12
110 3 72 105 68 7 114 101 120 11 62 97
73 142 35 40 77 140 17 60 93 122 13 58
36 39 74 141 32 41 92 121 16 59 96 123
143 34 37 76 139 78 55 18 125 94 57 14
38 75 144 33 42 31 126 91 56 15 124 95
81 136 29 44 79 138 19 54 89 128 21 52
28 45 80 137 30 43 90 127 20 53 88 129
135 82 47 26 133 84 49 24 131 86 51 22
46 27 134 83 48 25 132 85 50 23 130 87







It is my original hint of the Yggdrasill World-Tree.

Not only that,
The Knight's Tour Solution is actually a Magic Knight's Tour - a combination of a 12x12 Knight's Tour with a 12x12 Magic Square
Every row, every column, both diagonals add to the same number,  870

1 70 107 112 5 66 103 116 9 64 99 118
108 111 2 69 104 115 6 65 100 117 10 63
71 106 109 4 113 102 67 8 61 98 119 12
110 3 72 105 68 7 114 101 120 11 62 97
73 142 35 40 77 140 17 60 93 122 13 58
36 39 74 141 32 41 92 121 16 59 96 123
143 34 37 76 139 78 55 18 125 94 57 14
38 75 144 33 42 31 126 91 56 15 124 95
81 136 29 44 79 138 19 54 89 128 21 52
28 45 80 137 30 43 90 127 20 53 88 129
135 82 47 26 133 84 49 24 131 86 51 22
46 27 134 83 48 25 132 85 50 23 130 87

 

1 70 107 112 5 66 103 116 9 64 99 118
108 111 2 69 104 115 6 65 100 117 10 63
71 106 109 4 113 102 67 8 61 98 119 12
110 3 72 105 68 7 114 101 120 11 62 97
73 142 35 40 77 140 17 60 93 122 13 58
36 39 74 141 32 41 92 121 16 59 96 123
143 34 37 76 139 78 55 18 125 94 57 14
38 75 144 33 42 31 126 91 56 15 124 95
81 136 29 44 79 138 19 54 89 128 21 52
28 45 80 137 30 43 90 127 20 53 88 129
135 82 47 26 133 84 49 24 131 86 51 22
46 27 134 83 48 25 132 85 50 23 130 87

 

1 70 107 112 5 66 103 116 9 64 99 118
108 111 2 69 104 115 6 65 100 117 10 63
71 106 109 4 113 102 67 8 61 98 119 12
110 3 72 105 68 7 114 101 120 11 62 97
73 142 35 40 77 140 17 60 93 122 13 58
36 39 74 141 32 41 92 121 16 59 96 123
143 34 37 76 139 78 55 18 125 94 57 14
38 75 144 33 42 31 126 91 56 15 124 95
81 136 29 44 79 138 19 54 89 128 21 52
28 45 80 137 30 43 90 127 20 53 88 129
135 82 47 26 133 84 49 24 131 86 51 22
46 27 134 83 48 25 132 85 50 23 130 87

Not only that, this is a super magic square!!!!

Many of the interior 2x6, 3x4, 4x3, 6x2 areas also add to 870

1 70 107 112 5 66 103 116 9 64 99 118
108 111 2 69 104 115 6 65 100 117 10 63
71 106 109 4 113 102 67 8 61 98 119 12
110 3 72 105 68 7 114 101 120 11 62 97
73 142 35 40 77 140 17 60 93 122 13 58
36 39 74 141 32 41 92 121 16 59 96 123
143 34 37 76 139 78 55 18 125 94 57 14
38 75 144 33 42 31 126 91 56 15 124 95
81 136 29 44 79 138 19 54 89 128 21 52
28 45 80 137 30 43 90 127 20 53 88 129
135 82 47 26 133 84 49 24 131 86 51 22
46 27 134 83 48 25 132 85 50 23 130 87

Many of the interior 2x6, 3x4, 4x3, 6x2 areas also add to 870

1 70 107 112 5 66 103 116 9 64 99 118
108 111 2 69 104 115 6 65 100 117 10 63
71 106 109 4 113 102 67 8 61 98 119 12
110 3 72 105 68 7 114 101 120 11 62 97
73 142 35 40 77 140 17 60 93 122 13 58
36 39 74 141 32 41 92 121 16 59 96 123
143 34 37 76 139 78 55 18 125 94 57 14
38 75 144 33 42 31 126 91 56 15 124 95
81 136 29 44 79 138 19 54 89 128 21 52
28 45 80 137 30 43 90 127 20 53 88 129
135 82 47 26 133 84 49 24 131 86 51 22
46 27 134 83 48 25 132 85 50 23 130 87

Many of the interior 2x6, 3x4, 4x3, 6x2 areas also add to 870

1 70 107 112 5 66 103 116 9 64 99 118
108 111 2 69 104 115 6 65 100 117 10 63
71 106 109 4 113 102 67 8 61 98 119 12
110 3 72 105 68 7 114 101 120 11 62 97
73 142 35 40 77 140 17 60 93 122 13 58
36 39 74 141 32 41 92 121 16 59 96 123
143 34 37 76 139 78 55 18 125 94 57 14
38 75 144 33 42 31 126 91 56 15 124 95
81 136 29 44 79 138 19 54 89 128 21 52
28 45 80 137 30 43 90 127 20 53 88 129
135 82 47 26 133 84 49 24 131 86 51 22
46 27 134 83 48 25 132 85 50 23 130 87

Many of the interior 2x6, 3x4, 4x3, 6x2 areas also add to 870

1 70 107 112 5 66 103 116 9 64 99 118
108 111 2 69 104 115 6 65 100 117 10 63
71 106 109 4 113 102 67 8 61 98 119 12
110 3 72 105 68 7 114 101 120 11 62 97
73 142 35 40 77 140 17 60 93 122 13 58
36 39 74 141 32 41 92 121 16 59 96 123
143 34 37 76 139 78 55 18 125 94 57 14
38 75 144 33 42 31 126 91 56 15 124 95
81 136 29 44 79 138 19 54 89 128 21 52
28 45 80 137 30 43 90 127 20 53 88 129
135 82 47 26 133 84 49 24 131 86 51 22
46 27 134 83 48 25 132 85 50 23 130 87

 

1 70 107 112 5 66 103 116 9 64 99 118
108 111 2 69 104 115 6 65 100 117 10 63
71 106 109 4 113 102 67 8 61 98 119 12
110 3 72 105 68 7 114 101 120 11 62 97
73 142 35 40 77 140 17 60 93 122 13 58
36 39 74 141 32 41 92 121 16 59 96 123
143 34 37 76 139 78 55 18 125 94 57 14
38 75 144 33 42 31 126 91 56 15 124 95
81 136 29 44 79 138 19 54 89 128 21 52
28 45 80 137 30 43 90 127 20 53 88 129
135 82 47 26 133 84 49 24 131 86 51 22
46 27 134 83 48 25 132 85 50 23 130 87



The interior of the RuneStone is incredibly Magic!




In Summary (the basic technical steps to decipher the RuneQuest Cipher Challenge):
The RunePoem is decrypted with Caesar Shift (Key 9), which is equivalent to Keylength=1 Vigenere (Std. ABC, Key "R")
The RuneStone is made up of 9 interconnected/overlapping sections:
-The 4 Elemental sections (AIR=NW corner, FIRE=NE corner, EARTH=SE corner, WATER=SW corner) are solved in any order due to Vigenere commutivity
-AIR, Vigenere Decrypt [YGGDRASIL,HEIMDALLSHORN)] on NW 24x24 corner CT reveals 12x12 AIR PT
-FIRE, Vigenere Decrypt [YGGDRASIL,THORSHAMMER] on NE 24x24 corner CT reveals 12x12 FIRE PT
-EARTH, Vigenere Derypt [YGGDRASIL,IDUNSAPPLES] on SE 24x24 corner CT reveals 12x12 EARTH PT
-WATER, Vigenere Decrypt [YGGDRASIL,MIMIRSWELL] on SW 24x24 corner CT reveals 12x12 WATER PT
-Once any two of these overlapping sections are completed, the intermediate CT reveals an elemental Rune, made up of 'X's
-Once all four of these sections are completed, all the elemental Runes are revealed: ANSUZ, KENAZ, BERKANA, LAGUZ
-To proceed further, these "Runes" must be "grasped" in both senses, (i.e. understood and taken/removed)
-Also, you must "Fall Back" (i.e. replace the center CT to the original center 12x12 CT)
-Now, the order becomes important, Continue clockwise from the top center
-As with the corners, each edge section overlaps with the center 12x12 section in the decrypting phase, which has its CT modified at each step
-N edge "NORN", Remove the word "DRINK", then Mod-Trans Decrypt [d=114e+62 (mod 245)], reveals the NORN Futhark message
-E edge "WHET", Remove the word "JOTUNS", then Mod-Trans Decrypt [d=187e+20 (mod 258)], reveals the 1st Aett
-S edge "NUT", Remove the word "OLD AGE:, then Mod-Trans Decrypt [d=149e+5 (mod 240)], reveals the 2nd Aett
-W edge "ODIN", Reomve the "I" (eye) from ODIN, then Mod-Trans Decrypt [d=141e+31 (mod 256)], reveals the 3rd Aett
-At this point, the 12x12 center represents the 5th Element = the "25th" Rune (The magical Odin's Blank Rune)
-WYRD, Vigenère Decrypt [YGGDRASIL,ODINSWYRD] on center 12x12 CT reveals penultimate center CT
-And, for the final section of 12x12 center, Use a Knight's Tour Transposition Decrypt, reveals the Hidden Riddle PT
***"What have YOU found at the Root of the Hidden Tree? What is its secret?"***



Interesting Cryptographic Features:

3 unique encryption types used - all old style ciphers - (Vigenere,Mod-Trans,ChessBoard)
Multi-layered encryption
Commutivity of the Vigenère Encryption system, Non-commutivity of the Modular-Transposition Encryption system
Low freq. of X in the main CT due to high freq. of X in the PT
Overlapping fields of encryption
Purposely readable words in the CT, with regular PT underneath



Interesting Metaphors:

*Special numbers*
  3 Roots/Wells of Yggdrasil, 3 Aetts in Elder Futhark, 3 types of encryption used
  4 Elements of Creation (air, fire, earth, water)
  9 Norse Magic Number, 9 Realms of the Norse Universe spanned by Yggdrasil, 9 days/nights upon the Tree, twice 9 the number of charms known by Odin
24 Runes in Elder Futhark

  5 Elements of Creation if you include the "quintessential element", the one that holds the rest together...
25 Divination Runes if you include the blank stone, Odin's Rune, the magic one...
Perhaps the 5th Element is one and the same as Odin's Rune...

Caesar shift 9 = Vigenère Keyword R, R=Raido (a quest or journey)
9 realms in the RuneStone=representation of Yggdrasil
36 rows and 36 cols on the RuneStone = 9 Norse Magic * 4 Elements
144 characters in each of 9 realms - 144 is a multiple of 9
135 X's in the revealed runes   -  135 is a multiple of 9
12x12 sections, (2) 12's=24, the Elder Futhark #


Have you wondered about the music yet?

* * * Music for solving RuneQuest!:
(use the *'s if the buttons don't work, or if you want volume controls, etc. - page best viewed by IE)

A Rune can also mean a musical canto, so again these are appropriate
I wanted pieces that would set the mood for a dark quest, involving sacrifice to gain wisdom...
Each of these songs is from an appropriate movie, relating in some way to a quest, and used here for the RuneQuest
In each movie, "Magic" of some type plays a role

Piece Movie Theme Magic Music
1st The Fifth Element involved some elemental "Rune" carved stones
characters on a quest to find the stones
Stones
Elements
Perfect Being
5th Element Theme, by ???
2nd Highlander involved immortal characters on a quest for "The Prize"...
characters wielding swords, fulfilling a prophecy/wyrd
the prize is a knowledge/wisdom
as with many Norse myths, beheading is common
Immortals
The Prize
"Do you want to live forever", by Queen
3rd Excalibur story of King Arthur and his Knights
involved a Knight's Quest for the Holy Grail
the King and the Land are One and the Same
Sword
Magicians
Grail
"Carmina Burana: Oh Fortuna, #1 and #25", by Carl Orff

Just for more fun, there are interesting metaphors in the movie names:
The Fifth Element - the "quintessential" element, the magic one that makes the others work
Highlander - The Norse gods lived in Asgard, situated above the land of men, Midgard.  Thus, the Norse gods were 'High-Landers"
Excalibur - in one etymological intrpretation, Excalibur means "pulled from the stone".  You are trying to grasp the Runes from the RuneStone


On the main RuneQuest webpage, there was a hint to Encrypt the word "RuneQuest" with the same decryption parameter as the RunePoem to get to a hint page.
This is, of course, the Norse magic number 9 using Caesar shift or the letter "R" using Vigenere.
This takes "RuneQuest" to "AdwnZdnbc" or "IlevHlvjk", depending on which direction you shift...
The following were the additional hints.

RuneQuest Hints and Clues


Technical hints:

RuneQuest draws heavily on Kryptos as an inspiration for its structure.
There is an easy "setup code", the RunePoem, analogous to the K0 Morse code.
The RuneStone uses the same types of encoding as Kryptos in its initial stages (K1 & K2 , K3).
All the cryptosystems used are classical, but they are used in unusual ways. It was designed this way to defeat standard automated solvers.
In fact, there are 3 unique crypto-systems that are used in RuneQuest.
You have to dig into the "background" of the RunePoem to find the theme of the keywords and PT cribs.
The RunePoem is quite easy to solve; the word structure is readily apparent and more than enough to give the necessary clues to solve it.
The RuneStone is much more challenging, built of several pieces, and has multiple layers.
Much like Kryptos, the keywords have some meaning other than just being keywords.
The first layers are the "elemental" layers, AIR, FIRE, EARTH, WATER, which are in the corners.
These are highlighted by hovering the mouse over the bolts in those corners.
There is also a "magic" spot near a significant word near the center of the RuneStone - try the O in "ODIN".
The AIR section has been solved by a number of people.  It uses double key Vigenere, just like the 1st section of Kryptos.
The 1st PT word of the AIR section is a number, and the last PT word of the AIR section is "MAGIC"
There is a great deal of "symmetry" to the elemental sections, both metaphorical and literal.
The commutivity of Vigenere encoding will play a role in these "elemental" sections.
This implies, BTW, that one of the keywords is the same for all of these sections.
This also implies that these initial sections may be solved in any order.
However, later sections must be solved in a certain order. That is what allows for the checkpoints.
Hence, the 1st checkpoint occurs when all of the "elemental" sections are solved and the "gift" is revealed.  The gift (X) is the Elemental Runes!
The sections that have been solved so far are detailed (somewhat) on my CodeSystems webpage.
The first checkpoint has been reached by Link Nabil.
Let the RunePoem be your guide for the next section.

More hints after a year or two, or if someone makes good progress...





Metaphorical and thematic hints:


RuneQuest spears are magic...




* * * Music for solving RuneQuest!:
(use the *'s if the buttons don't work, or if you want volume controls, etc. - page best viewed by IE)



What is a Rune? There are several definitions and etymons...




Display Elder Futhark Rune




Make a Rune 3-Cast (Norn Oracle Cast)

Past Present Future


Grave some Runes (in a popup window):







Hidden Runes shalt thou seek and interpreted signs,
many symbols of might and power,
by the great Singer painted, by the high Powers fashioned,
graved by the Utterer of gods.
...
Runes wilt thou find and rightly read,
of wondrous weight,
of mighty magic.
...
All will prove true that thou askest of runes --
those that are come from the gods.
...
Hávamál




===============================================
One World-Tree, Four Mystic Elements, Nine Connected Realms,
Bound united and the same within a Rune-graved Stone,
Mighty are the Magicks wrought of Elder Runic lore,
Find them you will, upon the Futhark-measured field,
Guide you they will, on this quest for elemental Wisdom,
For this is your appointed task, and Norn-fated Wyrd,
To follow in the track of the All-Father, the lone Traveller,
The Seeker of Hidden Knowledge, who breathed life to mankind,
That they might find the Mead of Poetry, and sing of wondrous Beauty.
JBW
================================================




And for fun, a link to another Rune inspired individual:

http://www.dwhoffman.com/rune_quest_birthright/


- RuneSecrets


Artwork that fits the style of RuneQuest (these open in a new window):
Odin's Offer

Art by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
- Bifrost
- Norns
- Well of Mimir
- Well of Urd
- Yggdrasil

Art by Michael L. Peters
- Odin
- Thor
- Valkyries

Art by Agnes D. Olson - many pics

Elfwood tour of Norse Mythology

Art at Assembly of the Elder Troth

Art at Excalibur Heritage

For discussion of the various aspects of the RuneQuest Cipher Challenge at YahooGroups (Warning! Contains spoilers!)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RuneQuestCipher




RuneQuest Cipher Challege Solvers:

Date: Cryptogram Solver: RuneQuest Section: A few revealed PT words:    Notes:
2004-Oct-05:

ODIN & ASH RuneQuest Cipher Challenge is uploaded to the Net!
2004-Oct-06: DAW RunePoem: The Rune Quest WISDOM
2004-Oct-06: DAW RuneQuest CheckPoint (#0)
discovering the story of the RuneQuest


***

2005-Jan-31:  Hex22 RuneStone: AIR section MAGIC
2005-Sep-17: Hex22 RuneStone: FIRE section MYSTIC
2005-Nov-08: Hex22 RuneStone: WATER section SECRETS
2005-Nov-10: Hex22 RuneStone: EARTH section FORCES
2005-Nov-16: Link Nabil RuneQuest CheckPoint (#1)
cracking all of the Elemental sections and discovering the Elemental Runes!


***

2006-May-04: EricOnHisWay RuneStone: Northern Section NORN
2006-May-17: Eric & Michelle
(team effort)
RuneStone: Eastern section JOURNEY
2006-May-24 Michelle RuneStone: Southern section FATE
2006-May-27 Michelle RuneStone: Western section INHERITANCE
2006-May-27 Michelle RuneQuest CheckPoint (#2)
discovering the 3 Aett's of the Elder Futhark - The Runes


***

2006-Aug-02 Michelle RuneStone: Central Core section RUNE
2006-Aug-02 Michelle RuneQuest CheckPoint (#3)
well along the Quest, decoding the quintessential element, Odin's Rune, but now it must be Grasped...


***

2007-Apr-08 Michelle RuneQuest: The Hidden Riddle **Quintessence** What have YOU found at the Root of the Hidden Tree?


RuneQuest CheckPoint (#4)



***
Congratulations to Everyone!







So, to recap:

The RuneQuest Cipher Challenge is a mathematical form of art, involving history, literature, myth, metaphor, mysticism, etc.
It is a metaphorical re-creation of Odin's Quest for Wisdom, the finding of the mystic Runes.
On the journey, you will also discover the Runes, and the "magic" associated with them.