N°4: The Shado Hunt

This puzzle was first presented as a subliminal message through the AIBC award trailer video and was designed in 3 interactive stages. Finding the solution to the first leads you to the second and so on…

STAGE 1: «Awards entrance»

In this video (From 1:29min to 1:32 min) we could see Shado taking advantage of the moment Sami was under the spotlight to use his “Shadow” as a way to open a portal inside the Digital screen behind him, in other words, inside the Mantris system which is the ultra-connected world
in CTA lore.

At that precise moment, we could see that Shado left a visual message behind him written in a 7×8 matrix in binary Mantris language (reference to the coding language of the Mantris virtual machines). 

To decipher this message you had to use the ASCI conversion of each 8 bits in order (starting from top left and deciphering each line until the bottom of the binary cipher) to find the hidden text: “dark…

(This 7×8 matrix segmentation was in purpose to result in a nice diagonal line that you should store in your memory for later use)

The “…” meant that the hidden text/message was not complete, and that you had to find something more.

This transition of Shado into the “digital world” was highlighted by a weird audio sound in the video.
The spectrum analysis of this sound shows the word “WEB” missing from the first part of the hidden text “dark…

Notice how the two words (dark and WEB) were completly seperated, both in their finding method and their different case form. This was to emphasize the fact they are not to be used together but separately. Thus, avoiding misleading you into the “darkweb”, which is a place at high risk.

The understanding to get from the whole hidden text was that Shado went somewhere “dark” inside the “WEB”.
And as the web is very large, the common sense was to limit the search to the web CTA owns (including CTA social medias at most) and nothing further than that. Looking for Shado was then to be narrowed down to : a hidden dark place in the official CTA WEB site.

To find him, you had to browse the website in a complete “dark room” (darkness) and use the maximum level of your device’s “brightness” (light) to be able to see his silhouette hidden among the gaming team members page (last member of the list).

Go try it, Link: https://www.crosstheages.com/team/ (Anagram for darkshado)

(NB: It is a lot easier trying it by night, where Shado appreciates to hide the most)

To help you in this quest, Shado was interacting with the community through discord #cta-puzzle channel and giving clues for flexible minds to understand. The most important one being:

light a candle in the dark to see a beam of hope”.

You can find a detailed explanation of all Shado’s clues here :

• Shado’s first clue was to signal the fact you should find him. When he says “where are you? am waiting” that means he’s waiting for you to come to him, meaning “find him”.

• To answer the community members asking Shado “where are you?”…He answered with the fact that shadows are always created by light. We cannot create a shadow without a source of light. So Shado was referring to use the light to find him. Hence, brightness level on your device.

• Shado is again insisting on finding a way through the light here to be able to navigate through the darkness.

• Shado is answering ta question from the community “where is your companion”: by this answer he was pointing out that to meet him you have to earn his respect by finding the way to get to him

• Shado is referring here to the dark WEB trace left behind his entrance into the Mantris digital world. To focus only on this trace and nothing else.
• After members of the community started talking french in an international community channel intended to be fair to all members (#cta-puzzle), Shado decided to leave and announced he will be coming back if people started talking his language again, which is nothing more than the English tongue he was speaking from the beginning on the same channel.

• “May the darkness guide you” while wishing good night was a clue to use the darkness of the night as an ally to find him. Being in a dark room at night before sleeping would have helped you see his silhouette on the website.

• This is a quote from Charles Darwin used to describe mathematicians in their research quest, or professions that require abstract and recondite reasoning abilities in general. It explores the speculative nature of knowledge and insists on the importance of curiosity and the things we don’t understand rather than trying to explain everything. So, witnessing his warriors explore all inconceivable and none related trails trough mathematical explorations to find him, Shado decided to tell them they were looking the wrong way. It was his way to get his warriors back on the right track he designed for them and not leave them get astray in further theories.

• Community members have used all kind of languages to try and get an answer from Shado, who only speaks his language. So they used Morse code, Braille, Mantris, Binary…and they were all message translated from English, which was the common point for all those languages.

“Light up a candle in the dark” is (as said before) the most straightforward clue Shado could give to help you find him.

• This expression means that even the more “disabled” people (i.e you don’t have to be a genius) can find the answer if they can see a little bit more than others. Something others are completely blind to.

• This one is self-explanatory

• This was to emphasize the fact that the answer is obviously hidden in plain sight, and that the “drakodash” page was there right in front of you and that you had all the elements to find it.

• This message is rather a message of support to all the warriors who have been hunting Shado trying to find his location. Perseverance is a great quality a warrior should have and Shado appreciated all those who never gave up and kept believing in themselves. This, in a way, is a great achievement the Shado could not leave unrewarded. It was his way to show all those warriors that they’ve earned his respect.

NB: in case you wouldn’t find Shado’s location using this first path designed for you, and because different minds always use different routes, Shado also left a bonus trail which was supposed to lead you to him by following a 2nd alternative path.
And both of them would receive Shado’s respect.

Web content from team members and Drakodask pages : https://www.crosstheages.com/content/uploads/2022/04/unknow.svg

Twitter profile

Instagram profile

This bonus trail is the picture he uses to hide in the website among team members, in the background of the “drakodash” page itself, and all his social media profiles following CTA official pages (Twitter, Instagram, and also…Discord). Following this trail leads you to 2 major conclusions:

1- Finding this picture in the website content would help confirm that this image exists somewhere in the website for sure and that you have to look for him in the CTA website and not elsewhere. It is a capital information to let you understand you are on the right track by looking into the website.

2- Finding Shado’s Twitter or Instagram profile with the same picture gives an additional clue to find him, his user-name: Flw_Me777, which is the same on both profiles! Whichever one you find, you’ll be able to see this user-name. “Follow Me” means follow this picture and follow this username. And to buckle everything up, this user-name is the plain text written in the target page (drakodash) title you have to find. If you search for it on the web you will eventually find the target page.

NB: Flw_Me777 is the only tangible information to take in consideration from this user-name, since social media tags are automatically generated and can be hard to change in purpose. While the “777” hints to the “Jackpot” symbol, but it is mostly a way to have a unique user-name that doesn’t already exist.

In conclusion, you’re looking for someone for whom you know the Name and the Profile picture in CTA website. If you connect the dots and follow either the picture or the user-name (or both) you should find the target location page.

So you had two different ways to find him! And it is actually by following this 2nd path that members of the community have finally found Shado’s location…or better said, his last known location!

STAGE 2: «Too late, contact me!»

Once this page found, you could see a plain message left by Shado saying that you missed him, and that you have to find a way to contact him.

One could distinguish some Mantris alphabet letters, numbers and symbols/icons scattered in the background of the page (Pic.1).
To see them clearly, you had to apply the same dark-room/maximum-brightness principle.
And by this mean, another line of Mantris letters under Shado’s plain text would catch your eye when scrolling the page trying to see all of them (Pic. 2).


• The challenge in this stage was not to find the Mantris letters per se (because you could see clearly there are letters in the background and that would launch your search to try and find all of them, even those from the Pic. 2 eventually), but rather deciphering the message Shado left for you to contact him.

• Most experienced users could also find the full image files/content-links of the 2 pictures in the source-code of the page. But there’s a twist: not following the path Shado designed for you will put you at a disadvantage regarding the solving logic of this stage. Continue reading to understand more…

Here are all the hidden letters left by Shado in this page (his last known location) :



The whole theme of this page was about trails from the past left in your memory from previous puzzles (Letters from the past…some particular letters).
From the way they are appearing as a memory cloud in expansion (next to Shado’s silhouette), to the mantris form they are written in.
It was Shado’s only secure way to share information with his warriors, because only you and Shado knew about these letters/symbols and therefore no Mantris agent could understand the message.


• Notice how characters from Pic 1. has been intentionally left visible for you to see comparing to Pic 2. This is important for the deciphering part, especially for not using one particular letter! (see Pic 1. Analysis. 2-).

• Notice how Shado used the second form of the Mantris alphabet here. This new form of writing was also first introduced in puzzle 3 (The Newt Telegram) which consists in writing all the letters above J (10th letter in the alphabet) in a simpler way: pasting the the 2 Mantris characters together and removing the dot above the first one, for all the alphabet letters from 11 to 26 (all those formed by 2 Mantris characters). Another trail from the past!


Letters (V1)

Letters (V2)

PIC 1. Analysis

Long story short, deciphering the first picture (Pic. 1) gives the email address where to contact Shado: shadowspectrum777@gmail.com .
And the central hint to know you were looking for an email address was the “@-like” Mantris character placed in the center of the cloud (The bullseye) :


1 • Letters & numbers used for email address:

NB: notice how all the “7s” are one same block, which means you cannot separate them,
but rather use them as a whole to reduce possible combinations.

2 • Symbols for the additional letters to complete the email address
(all intentionally missing/visible/rectified errors left from the past) :

Reference to The Hell Van puzzle n°1 : «baby level»
Translation : 2 x S (Intentionally missing letter from puzzle’s “error/mistake”: The adventure beginS)

Reference to The Newt Telegram puzzle n°3: «Morse code»
Translation : 1 x U (Intentionally visible letter from puzzle’s “error/mistake” – ”Alfred Uail”)

Reference to The Newt Telegram puzzle n°3: «Printing error»
Translation: 1 x G (Intentionally visible letter from puzzle’s “error/mistake” – MankinG)

Reference to The Newt Telegram puzzle n°3: «Printing error»
Translation : 1 x D (Intentionally rectified letter from puzzle‘s error/mistake” – MankinD)


• The only letter not used here is the implicitly rectified V (not visible nor explicit), it’s the only error you deducted on your own. But it will be useful in the next step.
• The printing error icon was put intentionally once in the proper direction and once upside down. That was to signify both letters are related to the same error they are referring to, but are not the same letter.
• The use of those symbols instead of plain Mantris letters was also to avoid the use of an anagram software by Mantris agents who could decipher Shado’s message trying to find words that make sense.

Logic to find the right combination, and hence the email address:

1• Guessing you’re looking for an email address thanks to: @
2• The DNS used for this address could be crosstheages.com? but you need 2xe and 3xs which is not the case -> another email provider: gmail/hotmail…? checking all those possible with the letters available.
3• If the DNS contains the word «mail» what are the possibilities? Let’s try gmail.com
4• 777 is one block, which means it cannot be shared between 2/3 or 4 differnet words, which reduces possibilities.
5• The first part of the address must make some sense and may be related to shado? Shadow?…
6• What word can you form with the letters left…etc

Proceeding by elimination would make you reduce combination possibilities and get you closer each time. And it’s also part of the fun to leave the work to you!

Once you think you have found Shado’s email address, you can send an email to check if it exists or look for it in Google hangouts to confirm it thanks to his profile picture.

Sending an email would also result in an auto-response reply that will confirm once and for all that you found the exact address:

NB: To avoid reaching Gmail’s sending capacity (500 emails/day), this Auto-Bot1 was set to send 1 version of this email to each unique sender. Once you received this reply, you won’t get a new one for the next 4 days if you kept sending emails to Shado. Unless…you find the «secret element» (see next part!).

Pic 2. Analysis

This second picture was all about the «secret element» to put in the email subject to get the location of Shado’s crypt. here’s the detail of each one of them:

Contacting shado for the first time on his email address gets you an automated response where he tells you that you are close and only need the missing “secret element” (the correct email subject) to have access to his crypt where he’s hiding from Mantris agents.

And this second picture should give the subject you have to use to get a different response from Shado where you will receive the location to join him for the final stage of this puzzle: his crypt! (see next Stage)

The Δ is a new character here to store as «=», but wasn’t an obstacle to deciphering this key message. Translating the words «subject» and «error404» is enough to get the idea that, in our case (having to deal with an email address) the word «subject» is directly related to the subject of an email.

Obviously, giving error404 as the correct answer would have been too easy and making this secret element completely useless right!? And moreover, “error404” is a well known error in the digital world, referencing to a “PAGE NOT FOUND” bug. Which is also the case of this page: Shado didn’t want to be found by anyone but you, the warriors he left secret trails for!

Since this whole page is about trails from the past (which are errors from previous puzzles you’ve already used to find the email address) and now this word «error» emphasizing this aspect even more, you were supposed to be led to think of errors for the subject of the email too.

Using the previous puzzles’ errors/mistakes to find the email address should have been a major hint for you that the error404 for the subject is related to those errors you used before.

1• How to proceed:

The mistakes of previous puzzles were all letters, and the only letters in the subject are: E.R.R.O.R (5 letters), which is the exact amount of letters that were «subject» to mistakes in previous puzzles.

So you had to replace each letter of the word “ERROR” with the letters «subject» to mistake from previous puzzles, in the chronological order they appeared during those puzzles. But not only, let’s break down the logic…

One could think that the only letters subject to mistakes are 3 letters, because there were 3 errors/mistakes in total from previous puzzles. Or maybe 4 because of the ones used to find the email address. But that’s a wrong argument and here’s why:

If we consider only 3 letters, which ones would we consider as the errors/mistakes and which ones would we consider are not? – S, U, G? or S, U, D? or S, V, G? or S, V, D?

From each person’s point of view, the error can be seen as the letter used as a mistake or the letter it has been mistaken for! Same goes for 4 letters…

And here’s where the use of the 5-letters word “ERROR” comes in handy, to avoid this confusion and give you a clue that there are 5 letters to find, and thus, consider all 5 of them:
• 5 letters in ERROR -> 5 letters subject to error -> replace the word «error» with letters subject to errors (S, V, U, D, G). You just have to find the correct order now!
• The “404” being only numbers (no letters), it stays the same. As simple as that!

At this point, Even if you didn’t get the right order yet, if you get the idea of replacing ERROR404 with those letters and keeping the 404, you have only 120 (5!) possible combinations left. Sending them against Shado’s email address would have gotten you 1 unique correct reply (without knowing which was the right combination). But let’s do it the right way!

2• Finding the correct order:

As seen before, the only puzzles affected by errors/mistakes are puzzle 1 and 3, and the chronological order only gives us «errors from puzzle 1 then errors from puzzle 3, nothing more», but to advance in your order search, you had to find a relationship between those letters and the way they relate to the words affected by the error, and seek this meaning in the word ERROR itself:

– Puzzle 1: S replaces E because it is obviously the first and only from the first of all puzzles.
– Puzzle 3:

• The U and V replace the same letter R, because they relate to the same word “Vail” which doesn’t change the nature of the word using U or V because it’s a person’s lastname -> So U & V replace the double R from E«RR»OR.
• Whereas the G and D replace different letters O & R because they relate to 2 complete different words “Manking” & “Mankind”, which completely changed the nature of the word using G or D) -> So G & D replace the double O & R from ERR«O»«R»

At this point you only have 4 possible combinations left: SUVGD / SUVDG / SVUGD / SVUDG

But how to know which one is in 2nd and 3rd position (U or V?), and which one is in 4th and 5th (G or D?)…do you remember the intentionally visible/invisible thing between Pic. 1 and Pic. 2? well, this time it’s about the video, using it as sequence to find the final order :

E = S (missing S, unseen in the video) -> Strikes the beginning of the «unseen/seen» sequence
R = U (Alfred Uail, seen in the video)
R = V (Alfred Vail, unseen in the video)
O = G (MANKING, seen in the video)
R = D (MANKIND, unseen in the video)

3• Final result:

So, in a nutshell, to get the correct answer in one shot, you had to think (using a flexible mind) of:

  1. 5 letters in ERROR -> 5 letters subject to error -> replace the word «error» with letters subject to errors (S, V, U, D, G) and keeping the 404 untouched -> 120 possibilities.
  2. Do the error letters affect the word and change it or not? -> 4 possibilities.
  3. Unseen / Seen from puzzle videos sequence -> 1 unique possibility.

Some warriors would go the long way with less possibilities when others would go the short way with more possibilities, but each of them would try his combinations against Shado’s Auto-Bot2 to try and get a different reply from Auto-Bot1: if you get no answer, it means you still don’t have it.

So the secret element to put in the email subject was: suvgd404 or SUVGD404 (or whichever case sensitivity you use). At last, in response to an email with this correct subject, you would have got an answer from Shado with the link to join his crypt for the final stage.

Fun fact : After the first few warriors found the secret element, a race started between participants. And facing no answers from the bots, warriors used all the means to try and brute-force Shado’s mailbox hoping to get a reply one way or another, using multiple accounts and repetitive spamming.

This led the Auto-Bot1 to reach it’s maximum 500 daily sending capacity which prevented Auto-Bot2 from continuing its function after that.

So emails would hung until the next day for warriors who would have got the correct subject. Which would have been unfair. It is why Shado then intervened to share the location of his Crypt to the community:

Crypt’s location: https://qipjhj54jt5s4hqslfhjh6k5shfjkqjllqmjtfqlhjty6kgqjpq.netlify.app/

STAGE 3: Shado's Crypt

On arrival to the crypt’s location, after a welcoming message, you discover a new challenge from Shado asking you to prove yourself to him and finally be the chosen one.

In his last email, Shado gave hidden clues on how to decipher the access to his crypt:

“To prove yourself worthy of this nihilistic mission, you have to pass the ultimate sentence of the dark web.”

He was also referring to trails in your memory from stage 1 through subliminal messages:
– Ordering numbers by lines of 7 : to remind you of stage 1 matrix ordering
– “Prove yourself to me…\” (which was also in the email to make it strike your attention)

      • : reffers to the “…” from “dark…” matrix
      • \ : reffers to the diagonal line in the same matrix

Translation: The encryption method used here is the Nihilist cipher. To know more about this method, visit: http://www.crypto-it.net/eng/simple/nihilist.html.

Using “darkweb” (or dark web) as the decryption key, the particular way to fill the 5×5 alphabet matrix (or grid, or more precisely : the “Polybius square”) for deciphering was to use the diagonal line from stage 1 matrix as your guide pattern:

NB: While the grid (“Polybius square”) contains 25 spaces (5×5), our alphabet on the other hand has 26 letters. So to fill this grid you have to miss 1 letter. And if you remember well, what was the only “missing” letter in this whole journey?…Of course the “ S ”!

So the solution is to fill the grid with all alphabet letters (but the “S”), line after line, following the diagonal pattern of the stage 1 matrix. Which reveals the following plain message, or rather, this paradox question you have to answer to be the chosen one:


• in the Nihilist cipher, the missing letter is replaced with the last letter (last line/last column) from the Polybius square, which explain that all “S”s have been replaced by the letter “O” in the deciphered text.
• Only letters in the alphabet are taken in consideration in this method, any other characters are all ignored

Final result:

Cipher text:

55 66 46 45 104 68 67
56 43 67 59 73 30 67
38 22 67 69 66 60 26
26 64 76 87 75 26 57
28 23 74 75 76 26 47
49 66 83 87 106 57 23
27 35 87 59 64 30 67
35 26 43 68 92 39 27
55 43 74 75 75 56 67
58 26 43 79 65 40 67
38 22 67 69 74 47 37
59 25 85 89 93 47 24
69 56 47 89 106 36 27
25 45 43 69 76 30 53
69 55 47 45 96 29 65
69 53 87 58 62 50 47
28 36 47 46 104 59 65
69 62 87 66 65 66 36
25 52 46 89 104 70 54
69 22 85

Plain text:


This tricky twisted question is called the killer’s/liar’s paradox. Where most people would say this question is impossible and there’s something wrong with it, smart people would try and find a way to escape from this “apparently” inevitable death sentence.

The logic here is to get Shado at his own game by putting him in a dilemma using a smart answer: I SHALL DIE BY YOUR SWORD. Which make it impossible to be a truth nor a lie:

      • If it’s the truth, then he shall grind your bones. But if he does so, he wouldn’t have killed you by his sword, which make it a lie.
      • Now if that’s a lie, he would have to kill you by his sword. But that cannot happen because it’s a lie, only the truth can happen.

So this put’s Shado in an infinite loop and cannot excute either of his sentences, So he has no choice than spare your life.

And here ends the journey of this Shado hunt puzzle. Being the first to send the plain text and the right answer to Shado on his email address makes you the chosen ONE, Sencho…the leader of the Arkhante army!

When the quest for the chosen one ended, Shado closed his crypt and left a message for agents who were tracking him along with an ending soundtrack:


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