Darth Paradox (darthparadox) wrote,
Darth Paradox

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Puzzles for Sora

So, Sora broke the news last night...

Short version: Sora and I are engaged! I proposed last night when we were out to dinner to celebrate our second anniversary. And thank you to all of you who offered congratulations over on her LJ...

Over in that thread we've also had requests for "the whole story". So here it is.

Sunday, November 4th was the second anniversary of the day we met. I sent her a love note over email... a rather oddly-worded one. After reading the email and realizing something was strange about it, she faintly recognized some of the phrases I'd used.

It wasn't long before she discovered that the main body of the note was composed entirely of phrases from Jonathan Coulton songs, and specifically from Thing-A-Week songs. An hour or so of googling and searching later, she'd figured out which song each line came from.

It just so happens that Thing-A-Week was composed of 52 songs (numbered as such on his website). 52 being twice 26, it wasn't difficult to translate the song numbers into letters, and she revealed the phrase "INSIDE ALBUM WITH OUR SONG". We've long recognized that JoCo's "Skullcrusher Mountain" was the closest thing to an "our song" that we had, and so she found the CD with that song on it, and inside the case was another puzzle.

This second puzzle at first appeared to be just a few paragraphs of narrative. It described a pilgrim's journey to the new cathedral at the city of Carcassone, detailing some things he saw along the way and some particular places where he took special note of them. (The narrative was also full of typos - every time there should have been an "st", the "t" was missing.)

So she got out the Carcassone game, and noticed a rubber duck looking at a set of tiles, with a label indicating that up was north. (The duck is not only a NaNo reference, but a reference to the infamous "Duck Conundrum" puzzles from the MIT Mystery Hunt.) So she started laying out the tiles, following the pilgrim's path. Generally he would take note of the shapes of roads he'd traveled, and when at last the pilgrim reached the cathedral she'd collected the letters "SARDUS". But, like the narrative, the answer had typos - the actual answer was "STARDUST", which led her to the copy of the book sitting on the desk upstairs. Inside the book was an envelope, containing some art I'd had commissioned for her, and a URL.

The URL led here - the third puzzle. It's a lot more straightforward than the other two - and easier to reproduce - so you can try it if you want; the answer is here1. Apologies to those of you with small monitors; I had a reasonable expectation that she'd be working on this one from the widescreen we have. :D

Unfortunately for Sora, the instruction from the third puzzle's answer could not be followed for another five days - she finished all three of these puzzles on Sunday evening, but she had to wait until the following Friday.

Friday, November 9th was the NaNoWriMo write-in. One of our friends (the organizer) traditionally has a treasure chest full of random little prizes for people who finish a thousand words at the write-in. I arranged with her to sneak the next puzzle into the chest; when she finished up her thousand words she opened up the chest and found an envelope labeled "For Sora".

Inside the envelope was the next puzzle - a 30x30 nonogram (a.k.a "paint-by-numbers"). She'd never done one this size before, nor one on paper, so she felt a bit daunted originally, but it was actually a reasonably easy puzzle in the end. (Rows/columns with only one number in them are easy... rows/columns with zero numbers are even easier.) When the nonogram was complete, it had a message: "DANIEL'S NOV. 12 @ 7:30". This was of course the place and time for our anniversary dinner.

Sora figured that was the end of it. She'd discovered where and when dinner was, and after work yesterday I picked her up from her office and we went home to change into nice clothes, and then off to Daniel's. We had some very nice steak (mmm, steak), and Sora made sure to save room for dessert... which was a good thing, because when we asked for the dessert menu, there was a rather suspicious-looking item on it, labeled "puzzle chocolate cake". After a bit of deliberation, she decided to order it, and soon there was delivered to the table a molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream (which was very good) and a small Japanese puzzle box. After expressing frustration with the choice to be made, she decided to eat the dessert first - after all, the delicate heat balance of the ice cream with the molten chocolate cake wouldn't last long.

Soon sated, she turned her attentions to the puzzle box. Owing to a technical problem with the puzzle box I'd ordered, I'd actually used a small puzzle box she gave me for Valentine's Day way back in early 2006. Thankfully, as I'd hoped, she'd forgotten the details of how to solve it in the meanwhile, so it took her a few minutes to open up... and inside she found this. (More pictures.)

By the time she recognized the ring for what it was, I was on my knee, and I asked her to marry me. She said yes, and I put the ring onto her finger... and she's been squeeing and giggling ever since.

So that's basically the story of the puzzle-hunt proposal. We don't have a date set yet; we don't see any particular need to rush into planning a wedding, particularly when we're blatantly busy as it is.

1The answer to the rebus is "WRITE ONE THOUSAND WORDS AT TERRABITE". The last word may be confusing to some of you; Terrabite is where the Friday evening write-ins are this year - the same write-in (though at a different place) at which Sora and I met, lo these many two years ago.
Tags: engagement, love, sora
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