Secrets of the Alchemist Dar

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Secrets of the Alchemist Dar is a book written by Michael Stadther and published in September 2006 by the author's company, Treasure Trove, Inc.[1] The book's story is about fairies and other imaginary creatures. The book includes hidden puzzles for an armchair treasure hunt, the prizes for the treasure hunt consist of 100 rings, valued at over 2 million dollars. The book is a sequel to A Treasure's Trove (ATT), another armchair treasure hunt and contains the same characters although the author has stated at book signings that the two books are not connected puzzle-wise.

In 2007, Treasure Trove, Inc. was put into bankruptcy because of a dispute with its distributor, Simon and Schuster.[2]

The author's website (defunct as of November 2007) included an official rules document and a forum. In the first year over 12,000 users registered for the hunt.

Treasure Hunt Termination[edit]

As of November 27, 2007, websites associated with Treasure Trove, Inc., including atreasurestrove.com and alchemistdar.com were shut down.

No updates of the hunt status were made, though given recent concerns about the financial well being of the hunt, there is speculation the hunt has been terminated prematurely.[2]

As of November 27, 2007, www.alchemistdar.com is no longer accessible, displaying a screen that reads: "Sorry, this website is temporarily closed. Please check back later."

As of October 19, 2008, www.alchemistdar.com is not accessible, displaying a screen that reads: "Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)"

As of December 23, 2008 www.alchemistdar.com shows up as "The Great American Small Business Challenge"[2] which has nothing to do with the game.

As of June 2009, news has appeared that the rings will go to auction, with the .59 carat red diamond to be auctioned September 19, 2009 in NYC.[3]

None of the 100 rings are known to have been claimed.

The result of the bankruptcy proceedings are still pending.

The fact that the sequel was a failure, $200,000 was owed to Simon and Schuster and a movie deal with Paramount fell through. In 2008 rings went up for sale so that some money could be recouped. Thus, we can infer that the rings have been sold off, and are sitting on someone's finger or collection shelf.[4]

Things Worked Out So Far[edit]

Title Anagram[edit]

The fairy on page 2 sits next to a list of numbers. If you use these numbers to pull out letters from the book's full title you reveal a hidden message: SECRETS OF MICHAEL STADTHER.

Poem on the Letter Blocks[edit]

The letter blocks as images within the text of the book include lines of a poem. The poem describes the general rules for the treasure hunt. Source: Hunt Forum. The two letters on each block also anagram to "Secrets of the Alchemist Dar" or "Secrets of Michael Stadther".

Each letter block contains:
Page Block Letters Phrase Image of a character
Pg 19 E T Nothing said on where to go Grasshopper
Pg 24 R C Less on1 telling what to do Bee
Pg 38 E H Nothing hidden on private lands Butterfly
Pg 46 T S Nothing again in anyone's hands Firefly
Pg 50 M E Someone to see a place to be? Hummingbird
Pg 56 F R Another possibility Ladybug
Pg 71 L T Be always safe and take no chances Spider
Pg 91 C D Obey the laws make no disturbances Snail
Pg 98 E A Nothing seen is what you'll find Ant
Pg 100 S I A secret treasure in your mind Dragonfly
Pg 104 H S Look inside yourself to see Beetle
Pg 107 A O A code for infinity 2 Caterpillar

1A few believe this should be read as "lesson" instead of "less on".
2Some people add in a "be" here.

Morse Code Clues[edit]

Hidden Morse code within the images appears to include more hints for the treasure hunt. Source: Hunt Forum

Handy Morse code Reference
A ·- B -··· C -·-· D -·· E ·
F ··-· G --· H ···· I .. J ·---
K -·- L ·-·· M -- N O ---
P ·--· Q --·- R ._. S ··· T -
U ··- V ···- W ·-- X -··- Y -·-- Z --··
  • Pg 3 (Title Page) Dandelions and Clovers - WELL BEGUN IS HALF DONE*
  • Pg 19 Acorn and Leaves - NOTHING VENTURED NOTHING GAINED
  • Pg 26 Dandelions vertical and Dandelions horizontal - SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND
  • Pg 29 Flower and Leaves - ONE MANS JUNK IS ANOTHER MANS TREASURE
  • Pg 47 Dandelions vertical and Dandelions horizontal - AVOID RING HERDERS which anagrams to AVOID RED HERRINGS
  • Pg 48 Dark green leaves outside ring of the wreaths and inside - YOU CANT GET THERE FROM HERE
  • Pg 80 Flowers and Leaves - A GOOD BEGINNING MAKES A GOOD ENDING*

*Pg 3 actually decodes to WELL BEGUN IS HAFF DONE and Pg 80 to A GOOD BEGINNINW MAKES A GOOD ENDING, but whether these 'errors' mean anything or are just the authors own style is not known. There were similar 'exceptions' throughout ATT.

Quinary in the Book of Spells[edit]

The page numbers for the Book of Spells are in a pictograph version of Quinary or base 5 numbering.

  • 0 = A white sun -
  • 1 = A black sun -
  • 2 = A left facing black moon - Left Crescent
  • 3 = A right facing black moon - Right Crescent
  • 4 = A left facing white moon - Moon

Red Hare Rings[edit]

The quinary code also appears in groups of symbols on the background of most pages of the Book of Spells alongside direction triangles and rings and red hares. For example, the following symbols are on page three:

  • ●●○ ●○○ Left Crescent ○● Left Crescent Left Crescent triangle and
  • Right Crescent●● Left Empty CrescentLeft Empty CrescentLeft Crescent Right CrescentRight Crescent triangle red-hare-ring.

These can be decoded to the following quinary numbers:

  • 110 100 201 22 triangle and
  • 311 44 123 130 triangle red-hare-ring.

Translating from quinary to decimal numbers yields:

  • 30 25 51 12 triangle and
  • 81 24 38 40 triangle red-hare-ring.

The decimal numbers are decimal degree coordinates which are Geographic coordinate system coordinates for:

  • 30 degrees 25 minutes 51.12 seconds north latitude, and
  • 81 degrees 24 minutes 38.40 seconds west longitude.

Which is a coordinate for Little Talbot State Park in Florida. Note that the triangles indicate direction (North/South or East/West) of the lat/long pair. Note that coordinates in the United States are west longitude, which is indicated as a negative number (i.e. 81 west = -81). The remaining coordinates locate similar points of interest.

Much early comment was made on whether these 20 locations should be ignored or not because they are tagged with red-hare-rings (or red herrings). Some trovers have researched the locations, in some cases throwing up possible thematic links. Since then the author has repeatedly stated that the hunt can be solved without leaving your home.

Constellations in BOS[edit]

The Book of Spells includes black spots on each page which appear to be constellations.

1Some trovers favour Lyra constellation

Swirl Picture[edit]

On the inside cover of the "Book of Spells" is a swirly picture. This picture looks to have been made by taking the illustration of the doth on the inside cover of the main book and graphically manipulating it using many swirling processes.

In Touch Clue[edit]

The Feb 5th edition of In Touch Magazine contained a new clue. On a spell type page a ring of black marks surround ambigrams of the words SUN and MOON. Hidden within the marks is the message: YOU DONT HAVE TO LEAVE HOME

Unsolved Puzzles[edit]

This section describes puzzles which have been identified on the Official Trovers Forum.

Caution: There is technically no way of knowing if these are the puzzles, because they have not been solved yet, but it seems likely that they are.

Page numbering Acorns[edit]

Most acorns point down. 3 point left, 3 point right, 2 point up, 1 point in each diagonal direction. Some trovers think page 31 should be flipped since the sun is upside-down at the top, in this case the acorn would point up bringing that total to 3.

Page 10,11 Mushrooms[edit]

Surrounding the book's preface (pages 10 & 11) there are 59 trees. Between the trees are clumps of mushrooms which always number from 1-5. As almost all of the gaps between the trees can also fit into 5 different measurements, it has been speculated that a Polybius Square, (a throwback to ATT), may be somehow involved. Oddly several of the trees and mushroom images are copy'n'pasted two or three times around the border further adding to the confusion.

Page 31 Upside Down Sun[edit]

Page 31 contains the only upside down frowning sun, while other pages are all right side up and smiling.

Page 58 Apples and Berries[edit]

Many seem to think that this page is important and somehow a Cipher Disk may be involved, but no clear theories have developed. There are 32 notches around each apple, 6 red and 26 orange. There are 113 berries along the bottom of the page of which 17 are red. There is evidence supporting both claims that the wheel is to be populated with letters from the alphabet by placing them into the lighter colored notches, as well as populating the entire wheel with letters darker ones included, while the former has yet to yield any tangible clues, populating the wheel with letters in a sequence: 1-32 = A-Z + ABCDEF has yielded the words "Page Number IV" or "VI" Trovers are quick to point out there is no way to confirm this as a solve. This "Solve" was posted By Coda originally.

There is a new post by trover Zeus in the official forum as of the 2nd of August claiming a partial solve of the Mold-Grow puzzle on page 58. This is done by aligning the compass in the BOS with the notches on page 58 as well as the spell for Mold/Grow.

Page 80 Gems[edit]

The leaves have been used for a Morse code message above, which leaves the Gem encrusted medallions unused. There are 16 of them and several clues on this page and in the trailer pointed to the idea of reflecting this page by 180 degrees and overlaying it on itself so that Zac and Ana commingle, but there the trail has run cold.

Page 92 Vine border[edit]

The background of the border on this page is tiled and 41 tiles are picked out in magenta. The vines are symmetrical left to right and there are 42 pairs of leaves where either the left or the right (but never both) leaves are discoloured. On top of the vines are 15 blue flowers which break the symmetry.

Page 94 Berry Border[edit]

There are 17 sprigs of berries on each side. They are symmetrical except for the way that they are colored; each sprig has at most one coloured berry. There are also colored in tiles similar to page 108.

Page 108 Border[edit]

The border is again tiled and 17 tiles are picked out in a darker green.

Ladybug rings[edit]

Throughout the Book of Spells there are 41 rings, 36 are ladybugs and 5 are red diamonds. The colors of the ladybugs fit into three groups: RED, YELLOW and BLUE. Not considering rotation or size variations, there are 11 different types. It has been speculated that page 19 should be flipped horizontally so that there are only 9 distinct types. Interestingly, the Red ladybug rings depicted in the Book of Spells do not appear to have any spots.

Filled in Letters[edit]

Throughout the first few pages of the Book of Spells certain letters are filled in. There are 52 on page 1 and 104 all together. There are 10 different filled in letters: a b d e g o O p q R.

Droplet Symbols[edit]

Pages 2 & 5 of the Book of Spells contain strips of geometric symbols. 38 + 30 + 35 = 103 in total. The number of sides on the symbols neatly goes from 1 to 6 and there are 11 different types. It has been speculated that one of the pages should be turned upside down so that there are only 10 distinct types.

Celtic Borders[edit]

Pages 3,4 & 5 of the BOS are surrounded by multicoloured Celtic braids. There are at least 7 different colors used to fill in the braids and also many white parts. This looks to be the least popular puzzle.

Huge Code Blocks[edit]

Pages 16, 17, 18, 19 of the Book of Spells include huge blocks of code which have been dubbed HCB (Huge Code Blocks) on the Official Hunt Forum. These blocks include similar symbols to the Quinary page numbers, but are much more complex. Players on the Official Hunt Site speculate that the HCB are keys to understanding the treasure hunt.

Taken in its simplest form the HCB can be completely constructed from 4 shapes:

  • Crescent (moon)
  • Circle (sun)
  • Line
  • Bar

These 4 can face in various directions, can be large or small, and can be white or black.

Taken in its most complex form the HCB consists of over 8000 symbols of which over 700 are unique. The larger symbols can be made up of as many as 9 smaller components. The most common symbol is also one of the simplest; a small white sun, which appears approximately 670 times alone and over 5000 times in all.

  • Further, small snippets of the HCB symbols appear on page 6 of the Book of Spells. These 4 snippets can be combined (through rotating and overlaying) to form 13 characters that may be a key to de-coding the HCB. Source: Official Hunt Site
  • Page 16 has 77 small black dots in five sets. When these dots are 'shifted' across the HCB on that page they pick out certain symbols. Source: Official Hunt Site Some trovers speculate that the highlighted symbols should then be removed from the HCB facilitating further constructions.
  • Further snippets of the HCB have been released in the Trailer, where oddly the sequences are directly taken from the HCB but have been colored in (blackened) differently.
  • Michael Stadther released yet further HCB code in the New Clue on Christmas Day whilst appearing on Fox TV. This time the HCB symbols encircled an ambigram of the word Reflection.

Digitizer101 has re-created the HCB for easier printing and cracking, however these recreations do not include the small black dots mentioned above. The digitized versions of the HCB are available at: Page 16 - Page 17 - Page 18 - Page 19

Others[edit]

Other pages have been discussed as possible puzzles (or parts of puzzles) including:

  • Book's front cover and its oddly tiled trees.
  • Page 31 where the sun at the top is upside down.
  • Page 41 workshop with 25 fairies and a variety of wood shavings and carpenter's tools.
  • Page 48 contains one hidden message (see above) but has room for another?
  • Compass page in BOS.

Page 20, if you notice, has numbers in the top corners (1,9,1,2)


Characters[edit]

  • Ana - a half-elf, married to Zac
  • Dar - a Malic Hest{an elf species}, the villain
  • Pook - a male Doth
  • Booger - a male Doth
  • Zac - a woodcutter, married to Ana
  • Yorah - a tree
  • Snail
  • Butterfly
  • Spider
  • Caterpillar
  • Beetle
  • Ant
  • Bee
  • Grasshopper
  • Firefly
  • Hummingbird
  • Dragonfly
  • Ladybug

Author's Comments[edit]

The author is typically tight-lipped about the puzzles, however in a recent article he stated "It shouldn't matter whether you are rich or poor, and I'm not even convinced you have to be able to read English, though my lawyers feel more comfortable if I say knowing English could make the clues clearer".[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] "More Treasure Is On the Way From Self-Published Author" The Book Standard June 8, 2006
  2. ^ a b Rozycki, Bob (2007-08-13). "Treasure Flap". www.allbusiness.com (from Fairfield County Business Journal). Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  3. ^ Woollard, Deidre. "A Treasure Hunt's Jewels To Go Up For Auction". www.luxist.com. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  4. ^ http://www.luxist.com/tag/secrets+of+the+alchemist+dar/
  5. ^ Children's book offers $2M treasure hunt

External links[edit]