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foiled again

OK, so maybe my latest endeavor into puzzle making was a bit too complex for a free-to-play, rewardless puzzle. But people seem to have had fun and maybe even learned a thing or two. That's really the only reason I make these myself, honestly--not to educate others, per say, but to educate myself.

Aside from the entertainment and insight gained from watching people work through them, the "making of" is almost as fun and insightful as solving. Attempting to implement a technique I've seen before, learning exactly how various codes work, thinking up new techniques of my own--I've even found it helps with perspective when looking at others' puzzles. What's feasible from a maker's perspective? What might they have done?

This puzzle came about from a memory of a childhood episode of Wishbone where the learned Jack Russell terrier is dropped into Edgar Allan Poe's The Purloined Letter. The big reveal at the end, (at least how I remember it), is that the highly confidential letter people had assumed would be hidden and that they had been quite literally tearing the house apart looking for, was in the mail holder on the counter the whole time... right where it should be--'hidden' right out in the open. I wanted to incorporate this kind of reveal into a puzzle.

To do this, I modified an idea I had been fostering about using a progressive cipher that isn't progressive in the regular sense. Instead, I define the progression. This allowed me to choose every letter of the cipher text and thus make a cipher "hidden in plain site." As the cipher was going to be in plain site by nature of the puzzle, all I had to do was make something for people to tear apart in search of an answer. By converting +'s, -'s and numbers from the progression index to letters, I was able to construct a string that was feasibly a cipher text itself.

Beyond the tomfoolery in hiding the cipher, I really did not expect this to be as hard as it was. Other than some tricky wordplay to work through, I felt the instructions were fairly straight forward once one had deduced the cipher, key, and progression index. In hindsight, I realize I didn't have to key this one. It seemed like a good idea at the time to add another "this IS that" statement to clue folks in, but it just added further difficulty to final steps. I know this hung at least two people up. What I really didn't predict was all of the great puzzles I didn't intend! "take up the right path" was merely thematic. Kris and Nadine skipped my entire last puzzle with a crafty google search. I simply pointed out that this one, by nature, needed to be solved in order to be successful. (hence the title: "a Blight to process"... is that a slight on the great forest_blight himself? Or the method in this puzzle? Who knows!) Loads of other things people latched onto. You can never predict this stuff. Or maybe you can. Like I said, always learning.

Anyway, without further ado:

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