Of Worms, Birds and Other Secrets

Spoilers Ahead

This posts lays out the solutions to the Cultist Simulator ARG in full (up to the point where I have solved it). It is intended for people who want to experience the story without spending hours on solving the puzzles. Reading this will certainly destroy the mystique of the game. Do not read further if you value your sanity want to experience the ARG on your own.

If you want help instead of solutions, consider joining the Discord server instead. I also have a blog post that gives some hints rather than outright solutions.

Index

Phase 0

The game begins by noticing the Worm/Bird slider in Cultist Simulator. Toggling it doesn't seem to do anything (though the correct setting seems to be obvious bird).

If we search the savegame file (you can open it from the options menu) for birds, we find the following setting:

A json snippet. The key-value pairs are "BirdWormSlider": "1" and "WeAwaitSTE": "Hello, Seeker. If you're here to decipher enigmas, familiarise yourself with the eidesis in which were presented the Lion, the Boar and the Bull, and present it in turn to the sky."

This is certainly cryptic. If we google for "eidesis lion boar bull", we find plenty of references to this ARG. But among the non-ARG pages, we find references to the book "The Athenian Murders".

We have our eidesis - what remains is to present it to the sky. And what else is the sky but a weather factory? As such we visit the WeatherFactory website and present it with our eidesis in form of the path "/athenian": https://weatherfactory.biz/athenian

Phase I

We have several pieces of information to follow here. The noon, awaiting S.T.E., 'somoza' and making a choice. Noon could refer to Port Noon, the fictional location in Cultist Simulator. However, that is more or less a red herring for now.

"We await S.T.E." is an extremely unhelpful phrase to google. We mostly get people speculating about the ARG. However in one reddit thread, we find a reference to the American author Thomas Pynchon. One of his more well-known books was The Crying of Lot 49. Here we find a reference to the acronym W.A.S.T.E., short for "We Await Silent Tristero's Empire". Tristero, in the context of TCL49, is an underground mail company.

Recall the text of Phase I: At noon, we await Silent Tristero's Empire. Tristero corresponds to mail. Since we are playing an online ARG, probably e-mail. Our goal awaits us at noon - so let's try noon [at] weatherfactory.biz.

Half of our puzzle is missing. "somoza" is presented to us in quotes, so we will use it verbatim as the subject of the mail. Finally, we are asked to make a choice. Recall Phase 0 again: The settings contained both "WeAwaitSTE" and "WormBirdSlider". As such we will have to make a choice between worms and birds. It's not really a choice, though, is it? bird.

Send a mail to noon [at] weatherfactory.biz with the subject "somoza" and put your bird choice bird in the body. After a couple of minutes you will receive a reply with two signup links to mailing lists. You can sign up for one or both lists. The content on each list will differ slightly, but both are reproduced below.

Phase II & III

Phase II seems to be sending the mail to the address above, and Phase III is signing up on the mailing list.

Phase IV

The following Friday, you will receive two mails. The one sent via the worm list will read

Remember our ancestors, when Bird and Worm were one. Scolecite and
sapphire, lost among stones in darkness. This, as few places, is the

"DON'T TRUST IT."

"REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DINOSAUR."

"CONSIDER THE GREATER PURPOSE."

"WHAT IS BELOW CANNOT ESCAPE WHAT IS ABOVE."

"THE EARTH TURNS."

"LET US BE FORGOTTEN."

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/62dmau8mmecwefz/AAApSUueGsN5zqbc5Pih-PLAa

and the bird mail will read

Remember our ancestors, when Bird and Worm were one. Scolecite and
sapphire, lost among stones in darkness. This, as few places, is the
dwelling of the Eborites; this, as many places, lies under Tristero's mark.
On one side, the lessons of the Cudgel, on the other, the lessons of the
Eagle. Here it was that the chronicler of the Babylonians came to study
both clocks and stars (before ever the Obliviates took him). Sometimes we
have approached beneath the banner of the Lamb. The shapes of the Terrible
Ones are here, but their bones stand a little farther away, by the gallery
of masks. This is the gallery the Fox endowed; but first the Fox followed
the river of its blood, into the pit. Eborites and Castorites contend, but
the truth is strong.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/62dmau8mmecwefz/AAApSUueGsN5zqbc5Pih-PLAa

Note that the two dropbox links are identical. The dropbox link is password protected, this is our goal for this phase.

An interesting notes that seem to be without relevance for now: Two minerals are mentioned in the texts, Scolecite and sapphire. Scolecite is based on the greek word for Worm. Sapphire on the other hand is also the name of a bird, the blue-chinned sapphire.

The easiest opening of the title is googling the phrase "REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DINOSAUR". Right at the top we find a Wikipedia article about Blackhall Road in Oxford. If we look at a map of that area we find further traces confirming that we are on the right trail:

  • The lessons of the cudgel: The Kings Arms, on the south end of Parks Rd which is west of Blackhall Rd
  • The lessons of the eagle: The Eagle and Child, to the south west of Blackhall Rd, on the west side of the A4144
  • The banner of the lamb: The Lamb and Flag, across the Eagle and Child, and the Lamb and Flag passage beneath it.
  • The shapes of the terrible ones: The dinosaur silhouette on the wall in Blackhall Rd
  • The bones of the terrible ones: The Oxford Museum of Natural History, to the east.

The other clue we need is that it "lies under the mark of Tristero". Tristero, being a postal service, relies on zip codes to deliver its messages. The zip code we need is the one for Blackhall Rd: OX1 3QF.

Phase V

Provide the password to https://www.dropbox.com/sh/62dmau8mmecwefz/AAApSUueGsN5zqbc5Pih-PLAa. You will find a folder called terrible_lizards with a single text document named tristeros_regards.txt containing the following:

At the Hotel Ciervo, one may speak of Feather, or of Scale.

Not many in Noon now consider themselves Birds of a Feather, but fewer still will say they're Worms of a Scale.
Most come to Noon to remain apart.

But there are those who work to ensure the war is won as they would wish it. St David's Key, the Biting Key,
the Forest Key, among many others, are their weapons and their prizes. Their messages pass in secret among those
who Know and those who do not.

Ciervo is spanish for stag, reminding us of the stag door, maybe? Seems like the Long at Port Noon are still reminiscing their time at the Mansus, maybe. At lot of this text is lore, the actual solution is -- compared to the previous section -- straightforward.

Recall the title of the document, tristeros_regards. Combined with the reference to "secret messages" in the last sentence, this tells us that the next step is sending a mail again.

The address and the code word are both hidden in the first sentence. Send a mail to hotelciervo [at] weatherfactory.biz with either Feather or Scale in the subject. As before, you can send both mails and will receive two different replies.

Phase VI

Sending "Feather" to the address, you will receive the following reply:

[PHASE VI]

This arrived where it needed to be! Perhaps it was in time. There was
insufficient time for the Terrible Ones, or for the Carapace Cross. Each
fire has its fuel, and perhaps we are all of us fuel in the end.

[Please continue only if you are prepared
- to experience frustration
- to be courteous to everyone you might meet along the way
- for this circumstance: space in later phases may be constrained.]


TO PHASE VII:

I am Ornithelmous!


(A)
Without a hitch, without even its commencement
So high, so far above the earth

(B)
My name is known before the gatekeeper of the glass isle, candle-scathed,
and beneath the invisibility of water


Bring now your heart for the weighing.

Sending "Scale" results in the following:

[PHASE VI]

This arrived where it needed to be! Perhaps it was in time. There was
insufficient time for the Terrible Ones, or for the Carapace Cross. Each
fire has its fuel, and perhaps we are all of us fuel in the end.

[Please continue only if you are prepared
- to experience frustration
- to be courteous to everyone you might meet along the way
- for this circumstance: space in later phases may be constrained.]


TO PHASE VII:

I am Helminthraxed!

(A)
Prideful as the Sun
Smooth and innocent of prickling hair

(B)
My name is known where the red dragon runs rudely north upon the Sapphire
Tongue, and upon the road of the Archangel

Bring now your heart for the weighing.

Some notes: Ornithelmous comes from the greek 'ornis' meaning bird. Helminthraxed seems to relate to 'helminth', another name for parasitic worms. The two riddles have slightly different solutions. Since I am on the one true bird path, I will only explain the solution to that riddle in detail.

Feather

Each line is a single clue

Without a hitch, without even its commencement:
This is to be taken literally: 'hitch' without its initial letter is itch
So high, so far above the earth
Io. Plenty of potential solutions here, but this becomes obvious when solving the other clues.
My name is known before the gatekeeper of the glass isle, candle-scathed,
The glass isle is Glastonbury Tor (Isle of Glass in Welsh). The gatekeepers here are Gog and Magog, two trees on the road to Glastonbury, of which Gog was burned by candle fire.
and beneath the invisibility of water
Steam.

Now here is where they are trying to trick you: Part A only refers to the platform where you cannot continue the riddle. To advance, you'll have to own the game on Steam or GOG.

In particular, you have to enter the name (Ornithelmous or Helminthraxed) in the beta unlock window: below the selector on steam and (as a popup) before the selector on GOG. The actual branch picked seems to be irrelevant.

Phase VII

Start the game. Ignore the extract from Illopoly - it's a reference to Fallen London. Check the version history.

Phase VIII

The version history says

Welcome to Phase VIII. Dream furiously.

[No interaction with any other game is necessary to reach phase IX]

When we start the game, we can see that the aspects of the base game have new names:

Original New
Lantern Eagle
Knock Serpent
Heart Bull
Winter Yarsagumba
Forge Boar
Edge Bull
Grail Rose
Moth Salt
Secret Histories Hydrae

The cult names have also been changed. All of these replacements seem to be irrelevant though.

When you dream using Passion, you will see a new decal. Reverse image search for the image shows us that it is a portrait of a character named Ligeia from an Edgar Allen Poe story.

The decal also contains the words GARKIE CRYPPYS INAAM KAPIGIGINLUPUR. Datamining the game files for these words brings up the book Inaam, Kapigiginlupir, Garkie, Cryppys with the description "In which four enigmatic figures tell the stories they've heard over the years at the Roost, the secret location where the aviform Hours congregate."

Recall that Ligeia turns up in the game in form of the Ligeia Club (on the expedition to the Hebe Stanton). Meanwhile "the roost where the aviform Hours congregate" is a reference to Twitter. Thus visiting https://twitter.com/LigeiaClub brings us to phase IX.

Phase IX

This requires a bit of a mental jump, but the solution is to visit http://ligeia.club or http://www.ligeiaclub.org.

Phase X

The website reads

In memory of Rowena, for whom Fortigan lost its crown.

[This is the tenth phase of the moon. The eleventh phase concerns the members of the Ligeia Club, those hungry ones who come together beneath the moon: monster-mother, key-keeper, dry-handed, serpent-blooded, sea-born, kingdom-breaker, cobra-child.]

Rowena and Fortigan are characters from Britains medieval sagas.

Five of the Ligeians we can find in the game:

  • Sulochana
  • Echidna
  • Marinette
  • Kleidouchos
  • Medusa

Additionally, the website text hints at the fact that Rowena is also one.

We can play around with the website. Adding the names of the ligeians as paths (e.g. http://www.ligeiaclub.org/sulochana), we get further hints. This also allows us to validate our guesses regarding the seventh name. Going by 'mythological figure' and 'hinted at during the Enigma', we arrive at Morgen (Morgan LeFay) via 'glass isle' -> 'avalon' -> 'arthurian legend'.

With all information present, we can complete a table of epithets and keys.

Ligeian Epithets Key
Sulochana cobra-child Key of Night
Echidna Mother of Monsters, monster-mother Biting Key
Marinette Our Lady of Wires, dry-handed Flaying Key
KlĂȘidouchos Hekate, key-keeper Key of Days
Medusa Seven-Coils, serpent-daughter, serpent-blooded Forest Key
Rowena kingdom-breaker Mare's Key
Morgen sea-born, tide-drawn St. David's Key

Most importantly, at http://www.ligeiaclub.org/ligeiaclub, we find the following text

There have always been seven, but not always the same seven, and it has not always been the Ligeia Club.
It is very rare for the seven to meet in convocation, but now and then it occurs, especially in the
moon's twelfth phase. [This is Phase XI.]

Full list of pages:

http://www.ligeiaclub.org/sulochana
Her father came from the Fifth History, but she was born here, and here she brews her venoms. She is constant in her friendship; sometimes, she withholds her poisons. Since she became what she now is, she has ceased to dislike cats.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/echidna
The gods-who-were-Stone knew the uses of the Biting Key, and now Echidna claims it. She has birthed so many children, and some yet survive.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/marinette
So young, so hungry. All her children cannot slake her thirst. When Moth rose, another held the Flaying Key, but at the Grail's bidding did Marinette consume that she.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/kl%C3%AAidouchos
She has known all the Keys, but now she holds the Key of Days. She it was who opened the door the Watchman passed. She meets the Vagabond each year in Vienna.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/medusa
She might be the oldest of her kind still living; and she is dead. Once she held the key to the door in the Wood.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/rowena
She holds the Mare's Key, which opens the door to Nowhere. Now and then, she has lent it unwisely.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/morgen
Sea-born, tide-drawn. She is jealous of the key of black sapphire, but so many times it has fled her. Of all her kind, she knows the House of the Moon best. Meniscate-sister, Witch-lover.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/fortigan
Fortigan would it had been otherwise.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/mare
The Mare's Key opens the door that leads Nowhere. It is employed only with the best intentions.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/boar
The Flaying Key was present at the birth of all the gods-from-Blood. For the Key to occur, a black pig must be sacrificed.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/eagle
The Key of Days opens the Tricuspid Gate. All the gods-from-Light have employed it. At the Crossroads, it may sometimes be invoked.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/bull
When housed in ivory, the Key of David can be used to open the White Door. It requires a rarer house to open the Summit Gate. The Sea-Born has been known to wield it.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/lion
The Biting Key was known in an age before other gods. It is found only in the presence of monsters.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/hydra
The Princes owned the Key of Night, and their daughter holds it still.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/hind
The Stag Door opens to the Forest Key, but there is another door that Key opens, deep in the Wood.
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/houseofthemoon
Why only one? Why only two?
http://www.ligeiaclub.org/arthur
Still he sleeps.

Phase XI

There have always been seven, but not always the same seven, and it has not always been the Ligeia Club.
It is very rare for the seven to meet in convocation, but now and then it occurs, especially in the
moon's twelfth phase. [This is Phase XI.]

Putting the names of the Ligeians in alphabetial order gives us

http://www.ligeiaclub.org/echidnakl%C3%AAidouchosmarinettemedusamorgenrowenasulochana

The Locksmith's Dream: Incursus

"The Law goes back all the way to Stone: the Keys cannot be held or owned. This had, I believe, the unexpected consequence that those outside the law may hold and own them. But even they cannot keep them. And of course a Key is no more physical than a spirit. But a spirit may be housed in a body, and I have touched a Key with my own hands.

"The next question we must answer: what is real? If you ask me - "

The Locksmith's Dream is written by Teresa Galmier, aka. the Baldomerian, aka. Baldomera. Furthermore, the text hints that she is (housing) a key. We can try a couple of mail addresses, but baldomera [at] ligeiaclub.org is the correct one. Put her real name in the subject.

Phase XII

After sending the mail to Baldomera, you will receive a reply:

That was my secret name. It's not real. Names aren't, any more than souls, or words. Bodies are real, the world is real, and the Hours are real. Your secret name is [redacted]. Be careful whom you tell.

- Teresa

[This is Phase XII.]

Everyone gets a secret name, therefore I will not share mine. Send a mail to receive yours. I'll refer to the name as $name from hereon.