Mystery of the Emblem

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Main Page > List of Investigations > Mystery of the Emblem

This page is about the alternate reality game. For other uses, see Mystery of the Emblem (disambiguation).

Mystery of the Emblem

Mystery of the Emblem icon.png

All is not well in a recreation of Fire Emblem.
Creator whizzer0
Type Community
Status Completed
Discovered 2016-03-26


Mystery of the Emblem (or the Fire Emblem ARG) was an ARG created by whizzer0 involving three characters - Thomas, Josh, and Sara - who used player input to stop a revolution by the enigmatic "Archanea Will Be Ours" whilst a mysterious controller watched over them.

Trailhead

On 2016-03-26, a strange post was made to /r/fireemblem by the user /u/mysteryoftheemblem (later revealed to be Yukimura):

helpneededstopsolvethismysterytobeginanotherstopwhyaneyestop

8.13A  
13.4  
12.10  
5.8

14.5  
8.8  
1.17  
13.25  
9.19  
6.13  
13.17  
5.14  
1.6  
9.14  
8.13A  
13.9  
6.6  
12.6x  
7.12  
11.14  
4.3  
5.11x

5.5  
12.5

whizzer0 noticed this post and brought it to the attention of other Discord users. whizzer0, nanoi and scoranio soon realised that the numbers represented chapters from the Fire Emblem series of games, and that the first letters of each of these chapters spelt HTTP MISTERIOFTHEEMBLEM ML. The title of the post gave the clue "whyaneye", showing that the Is needed to be changed to Ys.

Thomas was lost in thoughts all alone

Wall

This led to the website http://mysteryoftheemblem.ml, which showed a blank page entirely tiled with a brick tile from *Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones*. It was discovered that the actual background image, intheroom.png was made up of multiple tiles whilst a single tile, imageisnottrulyone.png was placed on top as part of the body of the page.

Whilst the title of the page was initially "thomas was lost in thoughts all alone", this later changed to "image is truly two, if not only as an image". Another hint was later given as text was added to the page; "all books have pictures and words. the pictures are on the cover and the words are inside. here is the cover but the words are separated elsewhere."

In the room

From this, Discord user Crauss discovered two more files on the site, with the same names as the image files. imageisnottrulyone.txt contained:

help me  
they put me here and i cant get out  
i tried to flee but they put me back  
but i think someone's trying to help  
i found this intheroom

intheroom.txt contained:

WHAT IS THE WALL AREA

81

Discord user scoranio solved this by finding the area of tiles in intheroom.png, which led to 81.txt:

thank you  
now i can get out  
but this is not the end  
see you soon

The main page of the site then updated, removing the "pictures and words" hint and changing the title to "see you soon".

Escape!

Stats and logs

On 2016-03-27, the main site page updated, replacing the tiles with a blue background and Fire Emblem-style map depicting a single friendly unit and a single enemy unit, with a log also in the room. This image's filename was belowthetower.png. At belowthetower.txt was a list of stats based on those used in Fire Emblem games:

u-nom = {"Thomas", "Guard"}  
u-cls = {"Journeyman”, "Guard"}  
u-lvl = {1, 3}  
u-chp = {12, 16}  
u-mhp = {12, 16}  
u-str = {9, 5}  
u-mag = {1, 0}  
u-skl = {5, 5}  
u-spd = {9, 3}  
u-lck = {6, 5}  
u-def = {6, 2}  
u-res = {3, 2}  
u-eqp = {0, 2}  
i-nom = {"", "Iron Sword", "Iron Axe", "Iron Lance", "Log", "/log"}  
i-mgt = {0, 6, 8, 7, 1, 1}  
i-hit = {0, 90, 70, 80, 90, 90}  
i-rng = {0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1}  

One of the listed items was "/log"; going to http://www.mysteryoftheemblem.ml/log showed a page with messages from "Thomas":

[Embedded strawpoll: http://strawpoll.me/7197693]

THOMAS: But I don't know if I should try to fight the guard or run for it...

THOMAS: I think... I think I could grab that log to fight with...

THOMAS: There is a guard here.

This included a strawpoll where users could vote for whether Thomas should attack the guard or run for it.

Fight!

The strawpoll ended with "Attack the guard" winning out. This was shown as /log updated again:

THOMAS: I got him! Let's go!

THOMAS: Oww... he got a hit...

THOMAS: Yes! I got a hit!

THOMAS: I'll fight the guard!

The main page also updated, removing the guard and log from the map and showing Thomas' movement.

Town vs. Tower

The main page updated to show Thomas in a field (outsidethetower.png). A new Strawpoll was added to /log as well as the text:

THOMAS: Where should I go from here? Do you know where I am?

THOMAS: There's a big field, the tower I just came from, and... I think there's a town in the distance?

THOMAS: Okay, I'm outta here.

"Go to the town" was the winner of this poll.

A spot of shopping?

The main page updated again, showing Thomas in a town (inthetown.png). /log updated again with another Strawpoll, plus more text:

THOMAS: What do you think?

THOMAS: Okay, I made it to the edge of the town. There's a shop here, plus a few (occupied) houses.

THOMAS: I'll head to the town.

"Investigate the shop" won the poll.

Armed robbery!

/log updated again, adding yet another Strawpoll:

THOMAS: I guess we're back to this... fight or run?

THOMAS: And he's seen me take the lance.

THOMAS: Damn. Turns out the shopkeeper wasn't that far away...

THOMAS: I'm sure nobody will mind.

THOMAS: What is here, though, is an iron lance. I might just nick it.

THOMAS: There's nobody here.

THOMAS: To the shop it is.

inthetown.txt was discovered, resembling the list of stats in belowthetower.txt but with lots missing:

6  
20  
20  
11  
0  
7  
4  
5  
6  
2  
1

The poll was won by "Flee the town".

Frightening field

/log updated again, adding yet another Strawpoll:

THOMAS: Anyway... I could try and get as far away from the town as possible, or I could have a look at the tower.

THOMAS: Is he... is he afraid of the tower?

THOMAS: Wait, no. He's just standing there. He doesn't want to follow me.

THOMAS: Whew... I just made it. I think I've lost him.

THOMAS: I'm gonna run!

"Investigate the tower" won the poll this time.

Dawn of Mystery

The main page then showed Thomas standing in a hall (thereismore.png). /log updated:

THOMAS: Any ideas?

THOMAS: There are ten things that each have a number from 0 to 9 on, and it looks like you can push them in.

THOMAS: The next door is locked. There's some kind of weird unlocking mechanism.

THOMAS: Okay... this hall is empty, although there's a sheet of paper on the floor.

THOMAS: Nervous as I am, I have to remind myself that I'm armed.

THOMAS: I'm going in to the tower.

Discord user nanoi quickly found thereismore.txt:

Why are you here?  
What do you intend to achieve?  
Continue if you want, but to where, I cannot advise.

/log updated in response to this, and the page title changed to "graffiti":

THOMAS: Could be a clue, but who would just leave that lying around?

THOMAS: Hang on, there are some weird scratchings by the door...

THOMAS: Yeah, I'm not sure what the message on the paper means. I'll keep it for later.

Discord user wyh322 then found graffiti.txt:

THREE LINES, BUT WHAT WITHIN?  
FIRSTLY FIND, BUT ALSO SWITCH.  
THREE FIVE  
ONE FOUR  
THREE ONE  
TWO TWO

A while later, /log updated one more time:

THOMAS: Nope, I can't figure it out. You keep trying, I'll try and bruteforce the lock, since I'm too weak to bruteforce the door.

THOMAS: The scratching on the wall and the piece of paper are very strange. There must be a clue there somewhere, even thought that doesn't make sense...

THOMAS: I can press in up to four numbers and they'll stay pressed in, but if I try to press a fifth, they all pop out again.

THOMAS: I've fiddled around with the lock some more.

A while after that, Discord user soaring_bear entered the channel and solved the puzzle. By using the numbers in graffiti.txt as a book cipher against thereismore.txt (the "THREE LINES" referred to), they found the letters IACH, which when converted into letters became 9138, leading to 9138.txt:

youve gone so far  
will you keep going

The second hall

The main page then updated to show Thomas progressing to the next hall (secondhallofthetower.png) and /log updated again with another Strawpoll:

THOMAS: Well, we're back to run or fight, but I can't guarantee either will go well...

THOMAS: Damn, damn, damn. There are guards here.

THOMAS: 9138? That was it! I'm through!

Stats for Thomas and the two guards were found in secondhallofthetower.txt:

u-nom = {"Thomas", "Guard", "Guard"}  
u-cls = {"Journeyman", "Guard", "Guard"}  
u-lvl = {2, 5, 5}  
u-chp = {5, 18, 19}  
u-mhp = {12, 18, 19}  
u-str = {10, 8, 7}  
u-mag = {1, 0, 0}  
u-skl = {6, 6, 6}  
u-spd = {10, 3, 4}  
u-lck = {6, 5, 6}  
u-def = {7, 6, 6}  
u-res = {4, 2, 1}  
u-eqp = {3, 2, 2}  
i-nom = {"", "Iron Sword", "Iron Axe", "Iron Lance", "Log"}  
i-mgt = {0, 6, 8, 7, 1}  
i-hit = {0, 90, 70, 80, 90}  
i-rng = {0, 1, 1, 1, 1}

"Fight the guards" was the winner of the poll after Discord users decided that Thomas was annoying.

A tragic end

/log updated...

THOMAS: I guess... goodbye...

THOMAS: No... don't wory... it's not... your fault...

THOMAS: AAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

THOMAS: Oh no- he's swinging his axe-

THOMAS: Take that, guard!

THOMAS: Alright, I'll fight the guards! I can do this, right?

The main page also updated, changing the blue background to black and removing Thomas from the map. secondhallofthetower.txt also updated to show the change in HP:

u-nom = {"Thomas", "Guard", "Guard"}  
u-cls = {"Journeyman", "Guard", "Guard"}  
u-lvl = {2, 5, 5}  
u-chp = {0, 7, 19}  
u-mhp = {12, 18, 19}  
u-str = {10, 8, 7}  
u-mag = {1, 0, 0}  
u-skl = {6, 6, 6}  
u-spd = {10, 3, 4}  
u-lck = {6, 5, 6}  
u-def = {7, 6, 6}  
u-res = {4, 2, 1}  
u-eqp = {3, 2, 2}  
i-nom = {"", "Iron Sword", "Iron Axe", "Iron Lance", "Log"}  
i-mgt = {0, 6, 8, 7, 1}  
i-hit = {0, 90, 70, 80, 90}  
i-rng = {0, 1, 1, 1, 1}

Insert coin to continue

/log was updated again a little while later with a message from someone mysterious:

? ? ?: Better luck next time..?

? ? ?: Predictable, or maybe intentional. You didn't get him very far, did you?

? ? ?: So, Thomas is dead.

At the same time, all known files on the site were removed except for the main page, /log, and secondhallofthetower.png.

Attack of the clones

Death is the end

Later on, http://mysteryoftheemblem.ml was updated once again, now with a red background, the title attack of the clones, and this text:

DXTTJ SG SHA XJP SAH

secondhallofthetower.png was also removed from the site.

Discord user Crauss then solved the text as a Vigenere cipher using the passphrase "attackoftheclones":

DEATH IS NOT THE END

Shortly afterwards, the page changed to show this:

DXTTJSGSHAXJPSAH.???

Crauss solved this to lead to deathisnottheend.txt:

help me  
im stuck and i cant get out  
please help  
bad things will happen

Haha, just kidding. Help? Really? I’m pretty sure I can handle myself, thanks. I say "thanks", but then you didn't really offer to help. Do you wanna help? Will I let you help?  
Well, I’ll let you give guidance.  
But don’t blame me if I don’t take it.  
So what next, I just leave a cryptic message on the ground or something? Seriously? You aren’t that stupid.  
Let’s go. You must know where.

Though also a new beginning

Following this, /log was updated, introducing the character Josh and including a brand new Strawpoll:

JOSH: So how about you decide? Left or right?

JOSH: I'm sure you know everything. Where I am, which way to go...

JOSH: That's... kinda it. Well, there are a couple of guys here with axes. Three if you count myself.

JOSH: Whatever. I'm in a field.

JOSH: I know, that was so difficult to find, right?

Turn Left

Having been directed left, Josh happened upon a city. /log updated to read:

JOSH: So... should I take them on or try a more peaceful method?

JOSH: Bloody guards.

JOSH: That is, there's a big wall and a couple of guards.

JOSH: Only problem is, I can't get in.

JOSH: Alright! I've found myself a nice city.

JOSH: This'll be a long walk.

JOSH: Left it is, huh? Let's go.

A new strawpoll was added to determine Josh's response to the guards (borderforce.png).

Id (Entry)

Having chosen the peaceful method, the /log was updated yet again, this time with Josh being asked for an ID number as he tries to get access through the gate:

JOSH: Well, try making something up that they're happy with.

JOSH: Why would they need such a thing, anyway?

JOSH: I'm pretty sure I don't have that.

JOSH: Crap, they want an identification number.

JOSH: Let's try talking to them. That sounds safer.

After that, /u/Ayakura found id.txt...

126DCG2

...along with its image counterpart, id.png, which depicted 0123456789abcdefghij with some noise and distortion.

Discord user Crauss eventually realised that id.png was showing that the clue was in Base 20, and decoded 126DCG2 to 71469122, leading to 71469122.txt:

Ah, thank you.
Dreadfully sorry about all that, it’s a recent safety measure introduced after some weirdo escaped from prison. You may now proceed to the city.

Sightseeing tours

Josh updated /log again, presenting another Strawpoll:

JOSH: You should've gone right.

JOSH: But it's not like there's anything else to do in this city. It's very dull, really.

JOSH: I know that doesn't sound very interesting.

JOSH: Cities are good for sightseeing, too. Now there's the big question; city centre or city hall?

JOSH: City's pretty big. As cities are. Have you been to a city before? They're pretty big.

JOSH: They've let me in. 71469122, where the hell'd you get that?

Intermission

"City Hall" won the poll as evident by the newly updated /log, which is then followed by Josh having to go to an inn because he was tired:

JOSH: I'll keep going... tomorrow...

JOSH: I'm gonna have to take a room in an inn. I'm sorry...

JOSH: Just... I'm so... tired...

JOSH: City hall? Alright...

The main page also became blank with a darker red background.

Top of the morning

On 2016-03-28, Josh woke up, as shown in another log update:

JOSH: It's this way, I think...

JOSH: So, city hall, city hall...

JOSH: It's not a very good inn. They won't care.

JOSH: I'll pretend I'm staying another night.

JOSH: Damn, I haven't got any money to pay the inn.

JOSH: I'll head out...

JOSH: What did we agree? That's right, city hall.

JOSH: Maybe bad, who knows.

JOSH: Good morning. Well, kinda good, at least.

Some time later, /log updated again, with a new Strawpoll:

JOSH: Just make sure they won't kill me. That'd be bad.

JOSH: Ugh, I can't make my own moral choices. You decide. If killing these guards is okay with you, it's okay with me.

JOSH: No, no. I shouldn't think such things. Although they don't really look too bad, it's just that guy in the middle...

JOSH: Actually... attacking the guards... That'd get me in...

JOSH: If I was an escaped prisoner and tried to kill thse guards, they could probably beat me! So let me in until I do something bad!

JOSH: Is this about that escaped prisoner again? Because that's pretty lame.

JOSH: "Following recent events"? What kind of excuse is that?

JOSH: No entry? At all?

JOSH: Fine... what do they want?

JOSH: Always guards! Everywhere! Screwing everything up!

JOSH: Wait, what? This is guarded too?

JOSH: Well, let's get a guided tour or something...

JOSH: The one thing there is to see in this city and they can't even make it grand! Ridiculous!

JOSH: It's so... mediocre...

JOSH: Aha! That's it!

Stats for Josh and the guards were found at cityhallexterior.txt:

u-nom = {"Josh", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard"}  
u-cls = {"Fighter", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard", "Guard"}  
u-lvl = {8, 3, 3, 2, 7, 4, 3, 2, 3}  
u-chp = {24, 10, 9, 6, 16, 11, 8, 6, 8}  
u-mhp = {24, 20, 9, 6, 16, 11, 8, 6, 8}  
u-str = {16, 7, 8, 6, 14, 9, 8, 5, 7}  
u-mag = {0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0}  
u-skl = {11, 6, 5, 3, 11, 7, 6, 4, 7}  
u-spd = {12, 5, 6, 4, 9, 7, 5, 4, 6}  
u-lck = {9, 6, 4, 3, 7, 5, 4, 4, 3}  
u-def = {16, 7, 6, 4, 10, 7, 5, 4, 5}  
u-res = {9, 4, 3, 5, 8, 5, 4, 3, 3}  
u-eqp = {2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2}  
i-nom = {"", "Iron Sword", "Iron Axe", "Iron Lance", "Log"}  
i-mgt = {0, 6, 8, 7, 1}  
i-hit = {0, 90, 70, 80, 90}  
i-rng = {0, 1, 1, 1, 1}

The poll was eventually won by "Go to the city centre".

Notice of impending attack

Josh continued to the city centre, as shown in /log:

JOSH: Sounds... good..?

JOSH: So, I'll head to the other tremendously exciting sightseeing spot, the city centre?

JOSH: Blimey, that took a while. I can't be in three places at once!

This was shortly followed by:

JOSH: Whatever. I'll keep looking around. Have a look at the noticeboard if you want.

JOSH: Some very weird stuff on it...

JOSH: I wonder if this city has a name? Hang on, there's a noticeboard here.

JOSH: And it's a guard-free zone! Woohoo!

JOSH: It's a bit nicer than the city hall, I guess.

JOSH: There's, like, stuff...

JOSH: Right... I'm not really sure what I'm doing here.

JOSH: Gods, there are so many people here.

JOSH: Here we are.

Discord user Zhiaynshyos discovered noticeboard.txt:

ARCHANEAN TIMES  
THE LATEST NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WORLD, WRITTEN HERE IN ARCHANEA  
ONLY 50G WHERE SOLD

AKANEIAN TIMES  
THE LATEST NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WORLD, IMPORTED FROM VALENTIA  
ONLY 49G WHERE SOLD

VISIT SARROW TODAY  
A BEAUTIFUL TOWN WITH A GREAT SHOP

SEE THE FIRST LETTERS  
FOR THE FIRST THREE

LOWELL STORES  
SELLING WEAPONS FIT FOR A HERO-KING SINCE 776  
VISIT THE SHOPPING DISTRICT NOW

WX GTKWFE IN MSN FWIUTEL  
OFMSM THIL AELGVGE IL FETR  
VLL MXABXFN TO CBHY VSITRE  
TFCAOIEA WBZL US JURS

ON A SEA OF DARK MATTER  
EVERY MINUTE MATTERS  
LIVING WHILE OTHER LIVES SHATTER

This revealed that the ARG was set in the fictional Fire Emblem country of Archanea, as well as referencing the song Black Tar from Xenoblade Chronicles X, which would appear again in the ARG's sequel.

Discord user Crauss solved the sixth notice to be a Vigenere cipher with the key "ATOATOVAA", made of the first letters of the first three notices, as implied in the fourth notice:

WE STRIKE IN TEN MINUTES  
AFTER THIS MESSAGE IS READ  
ALL MEMBERS TO CITY CENTRE  
ARCHANEA WILL BE OURS

/log updated in response to this, adding a new Strawpoll:

JOSH: It's not my city, I s'pose.

JOSH: Or should I just flee?

JOSH: What the hell do I do? Stay here and defend or something?

JOSH: Dear gods! "We strike in ten minutes"? And how long has it been already?

JOSH: Does it say when everyone has to be in the city centre, though?

JOSH: And... this is the city centre!

JOSH: "Archanea will be ours"? That doesn't sound good.

JOSH: Hang on, you found something?

JOSH: It all... smells... nice, anyway.

JOSH: As discussed earlier, I don't have any money.

JOSH: Seems like it's market day.

"Stay here" won the poll.

Revolution!

/log updated again as the attack began, with [another Strawpoll http://strawpoll.me/7207768]:

JOSH: OH GODS, CHOOSE SOMETHING!

JOSH: Or better to save myself...

JOSH: I have to do something!

JOSH: Oh gods, oh gods, they're killing everyone...

JOSH: WHY DID YOU MAKE ME STAY HERE?

JOSH: All- screaming...

JOSH: They're here now!

JOSH: Oh gods, no...

JOSH: It's definitely been more than ten minutes. Maybe the message is old?

After "Fight the attackers" won the poll, /log continued to be updated with Josh's progress:

JOSH: There're just... so many of them!

JOSH: Okay, actually they're quite weak.

JOSH: I'll... do my best...

JOSH: What the hell? You want me to fight this... hoard?

Later:

JOSH: I'm gonna move on to this area towards the city hall.

SARA: Oh gods... our defences are failing...

JOSH: I think we've just about got the central square under control, but they're spreading outwards.

JOSH: Same thing as on the noticeboard, right?

JOSH: "Archanea will be ours!" That's all I hear except the screams.

JOSH: Yeah, "AWBO" after what they keep shouting.

JOSH: That is, "AWBO", as they seem to be called, are still killing everyone, but we're killing them too.

JOSH: This is going... pretty well, actually.

JOSH: The army's here now.

After a while, a new character, Sara, was introduced:

JOSH: We'll stay together for now.

SARA: Okay...

JOSH: Take that sword there, I'm sure nobody will mind.

SARA: I have some training in swordfighting.

JOSH: Can you fight?

SARA: That sounds good.

JOSH: Let's get out of here.

JOSH: Sorry, uh...

SARA: Who are you talking to?

JOSH: What? You can hear her speak too?

SARA: Oh, thank the gods.

JOSH: Okay, I think I can get in. I'm here to help!

JOSH: Got one, two... more are coming...

JOSH: Somebody's shouting in there! I have to stop the attackers...

SARA: Somebody- help-

JOSH: Wait, there's a house here that's being attacked but not defended!

JOSH: I think there're enough defending to cover the area, though...

SARA: They're getting in! I'm sorry-

JOSH: There's just so much chaos!

The main page's background colour changed to orange. A little later, /log was updated again:

? ? ?: Or has he proven my point..?

? ? ?: Josh, aren't you forgetting something?

JOSH: Let's go.

SARA: I do know one place where we could investigate. It's quite a walk from here.

SARA: They have large bases, so it's possible. Their exact locations aren't known, though.

JOSH: Can we attack them before this happens again?

SARA: Of course not. The group... it's huge. It's not just resistors in Archanea, there's a vast amount attacking from Valentia too. They don't just want a revolution, they want to take over the entire world.

? ? ?: But unless my name is Fate, free will certainly exists.

JOSH: Really? Didn't we just take out their entire force?

SARA: But, you know, AWBO will strike again.

? ? ?: Down predetermined paths, sure...

SARA: Thanks, I guess...

? ? ?: No, because I allow you choices.

JOSH: You've done very well.

JOSH: That's this district cleared. The city hall is well fortified now, they won't be getting in there.

? ? ?: Is there such a thing as fate?

Allied forces

Flee or follow?

A few hours later, the main page updated to show Josh and Sara in the same field as Thomas was earlier, and /log updated again with a new Strawpoll:

JOSH: Just... one moment, I need to prepare my, uh, axe...

SARA: Who the hell are you whispering to? Let's go in.

JOSH: (I'm not sure I can trust her. What do you think?)

SARA: We'll be fine.

JOSH: Well, this better not *be* AWBO. If "something you heard" gets us killed...

SARA: Hopefully a lead to AWBO. It's just something I heard.

JOSH: And that'll help us find *what*, exactly?

SARA: That's the one.

JOSH: That big tower?

SARA: Here we are, Josh.

Two days later

The poll decided that Josh would stay with Sara, and the two continued into the same tower Thomas was in before, as shown in this /log update:

JOSH: (You made me trust her! I'm not sure I trust you...)

SARA: That's very, very strange, but whatever. If this does actually help, then keep talking.

JOSH: Well... there are these people who I can talk to just by talking. And... they can help. Make decisions, find codes, stuff like that.

SARA: Josh, please tell me who you're talking to.

JOSH: (Look, you need to help us out here. There's nothing else in the room, but... well, take a look, anyway.)

SARA: Hmm...

JOSH: Some strange scratchings next to the door though. And what are these number things?

SARA: What's this? Damn, the next door's locked.

SARA: In here, I think...

JOSH: Yeah, let's go.

SARA: Are you done yet?

JOSH: (Fine, I'll go with her. But when I get killed by a million guards, it's your fault, okay?)

The main page also updated to show Josh and Sara in the first hall of the tower.

Discord user Ayakura noticed that 9138.txt was on the site again, now with slightly different contents:

youve gone so far  
will you keep going  
you came back  
but i didnt ask  
have i changed  
or have you

Revenge of the room of doom

The main page moved Josh and Sara to the next hall, which was the same place that Thomas was killed in. /log updated in response to this with a new Strawpoll:

JOSH: It's your favourite, fight or run?

JOSH: I'll ask, they tend to know this kinda stuff.

SARA: Can we take them? They don't look that tough.

SARA: What is- oh.

JOSH: Through here, the- crap.

SARA: (I still do.)

SARA: Blimey, Josh, and to think I thought you insane.

JOSH: Hey, it worked!

JOSH: Oh, the key things by the door. Yes, I'll give it a go.

JOSH: 9138? And I just... press those... buttons?

Discord user Ayakura found secondhallofthetower.txt, now with Josh, Sara and the two guards' stats, which also showed that the guards were the same as the ones Thomas had lost to:

u-nom = {"Josh", "Sara", "Guard", "Guard"}  
u-cls = {"Fighter", "Myrmidon", "Guard", "Guard"}  
u-lvl = {20, 12, 5, 5}  
u-chp = {39, 28, 7, 19}  
u-mhp = {39, 28, 18, 19}  
u-str = {23, 14, 8, 7}  
u-mag = {3, 6, 0, 0}  
u-skl = {33, 23, 6, 6}  
u-spd = {17, 19, 3, 4}  
u-lck = {24, 18, 5, 6}  
u-def = {19, 18, 6, 6}  
u-res = {27, 12, 2, 1}  
u-eqp = {2, 1, 2, 2}  
i-nom = {"", "Iron Sword", "Iron Axe", "Iron Lance", "Log"}  
i-mgt = {0, 6, 8, 7, 1}  
i-hit = {0, 90, 70, 80, 90}  
i-rng = {0, 1, 1, 1, 1}

Fight was the chosen option, as the /log was once again updated with our main characters' victory and discovery of something rather intriguing:

JOSH: Have a look...

JOSH: What's this? A desk? There're a bunch of weird files on it...

JOSH: Well, take it, I guess. Let's keep going. This place is creeping me out.

SARA: More weirdness. "Whyareyouhere?"

SARA: And... there's some paper in his pocket...

JOSH: That's just... creepy...

SARA: How can that possibly be?

SARA: This body... it's got the same bracelet as min- and yours!

SARA: That can't- Look!

SARA: What the hell?

SARA: Really, Josh? Fine...

JOSH: Gods... Any weapons on it?

SARA: Oh, gods! It's a body! Someone's died here before!

SARA: Wait, what's this over here?

SARA: I guess so.

JOSH: Is that really all of them?

SARA: And... well, that was easy. How're you doing, Josh?

SARA: Ha, not so fast. You can't touch me!

JOSH: Take that! And... well, that was easy.

SARA: Take that!

JOSH: I'll take the closer one, you take the farther.

SARA: Alright...

JOSH: Let's fight!

The ARG's puppetmaster later mentioned that this part was supposed to have Sara's speech also showing up as Thomas' speech to demonstrate how the bracelets worked, but forgot to include this.

Then, Discord user Ginny found whyareyouhere.txt, implying that Yukimura was the author of the notes:

Who am I?  
You don't know.  
I guess not.  
I'm the mystery, the machinist...  
A mechanist..?

After a few minutes, the main page's title was updated with the words thereismore, if you remember, seemingly as a reminder about thereismore.txt's content:

Why are you here?  
What do you intend to achieve?  
Continue if you want, but to where, I cannot advise.  

@Ginny found the rest of the links from the above phrases:

whatdoyouintendtoachieve.txt:

Have we met?  
I know you.  
Do you know I?  
You must do.  
Always... so slow...  
Maybe we have met now.  
But these have been here for a very long time...

continueifyouwant.txt:

Or am I too difficult?  
Do I not warn you?  
You've got to here.  
Progress is necessary.  
But dangerous...

buttowhere.txt:

You're too late.  
But you're never too late.  
Time stops for you, or does it not?  
What was once here was never here.

icannotadvise.txt:

Is there such a thing as control?  
Am I controlling you?  
Am I controlling these people?  
Are you controlling them?  
Who am I controlled by?  
But I do have some control. Like so...

Right after this build up, /log was updated once again with a new Strawpoll, this time with a big decision:

SARA: Dear gods, he's jumped out the window!

SARA: JOSH!

JOSH: I- Sara... I- can't- stop it...

SARA: Josh? Josh? What's happening?

JOSH: Control? What's this on-

Jump got the higher vote, which led to a newly updated /log and signified our main characters' resting point:

SARA: Wish me luck. I think I'll need it.

SARA: I'm gonna have toook after him for the night. Make a camp, something like that.

SARA: Thank the gods... he's unconscious, but he has a pulse.

SARA: Ouch. Josh! Josh!

SARA: Here goes...

SARA: Jump? Okay...

Let's not go to the city!

The following day, on 2016-03-29, /log was updated again with Josh finally waking up, in addition to the latest Strawpoll:

JOSH: I'll ask.

JOSH: Probably go to that town, or maybe go back to the city to investigate there.

SARA: Well, what should we do now?

SARA: Oh.

JOSH: Sara... there's a town right over there...

SARA: Well, I couldn't risk anything happening.

JOSH: You made a camp?

JOSH: That explains it. I can't... remember anything... clearly...

SARA: Well, you seemed to become possessed and jump out of a window.

JOSH: What... what happened..?

JOSH: I...

SARA: Oh, thank the gods. Are you alright?

JOSH: ...Sara?

SARA: Josh? Josh?

JOSH: Huhh...

"Go to the town" won the Strawpoll and /log updated in response to this:

SARA: Sounds good.

JOSH: So... should we ask if anyone knows anything about AWBO?

SARA: I've heard of it...

JOSH: You've been here before?

SARA: Yeah... Oh, it's Sarrow!

JOSH: Nice town.

SARA: Here we are.

Mr. AWBO

A few minutes later, /log updated with Josh and Sara's progress and a new Strawpoll:

SARA: Yeah... but how should we go about it?

JOSH: We've gotta investigate that, right?

SARA: I've heard the same.

JOSH: Well, lots of people have mentioned a house that seems to contain AWBO members.

SARA: Oh, hey. How's your investigation going?

JOSH: Sara! There you are!

After "Investigate the house, disguised" won the poll, /log continued to be updated:

JOSH: Let's go...

SARA: ...bit loud, Josh.

JOSH: What is this? You stand for justice? Die! Archanea will be ours!

JOSH: Sounds alright. Wait, how do you act like an AWBO?

SARA: So... we'll pretend to be AWBO?
JOSH: (Let's investigate.)

SARA: (Look at the son. He doesn't look sad.)

JOSH: Yeah... well, we were... there, when it happened...

JOSH: Hey, so, did you hear about the attacks in the city?

JOSH: (Sounds good.)

SARA: (Right. We're in. Let's bring up AWBO and see the reaction.)

SARA: Oh... I'm Sara, uh, Croft. No, we're not together. Just friends.

JOSH: What do you mean? This is my normal voice.

SARA: Your fake laugh is worse than your fake accent!

SARA: They named the town after you!

JOSH: I'm Josh...ua... Sarrow. It's nice to meet you.

SARA: Hello! We're new in town, we're, uh...

SARA: To shut you up.

JOSH: You knocked on the door!

JOSH: And I just stand there, saying nothing? That's not realistic!

SARA: I'll do the talking.

JOSH: How do we greet them? "Hello, we are Mr. and Mrs. AWBO, please tell us your secret plans?"
JOSH: Let's go towards the city...

SARA: I don't know! Just... away!

JOSH: Where?

SARA: Run!

JOSH: Anyway, nice meeting you all. Uh...

SARA: (They've overheard. We have to go right now!)

JOSH: Right, right.

SARA: (Josh! Be quieter!)

JOSH: Yes! That's the one. Which're you from?

JOSH: Oh, we're from that base up in... what was it?

SARA: Yes, I know. We know Sarrow isn't a current target, but everything is worth taking.

JOSH: ...part of AWBO? Of course we- are...

JOSH: (He's alone. Let's corner him.)

Let's go to the city!

A new Strawpoll was added to /log as Josh and Sara reached the city:

JOSH: Gods...

SARA: But we shouldn't go together. If we both die, nobody will know where the bases are.

SARA: If there's any kind of resistance in there, we should give them the locations of those bases.

SARA: We have to investigate it...

JOSH: Well, what do we do? Go in and fight?

SARA: If we'd stayed, we'd be dead. Count yourself lucky.

JOSH: Damn it all! We should never have left.

JOSH: All that fighting... for nothing...

JOSH: It's fallen to AWBO!

JOSH: Oh gods, look!

SARA: Where are the guards?

JOSH: Something terrible...

SARA: Gods, what's happened to it?

SARA: Is that the city?

"Send Sara into the city" won the poll and Sara continued to give updates on /log:

SARA: I'm in. Wish me luck..?

JOSH: She's gone. Wish her luck, everyone.

JOSH: Well, see you later.

SARA: Goodbye...

JOSH: You'd better be.

SARA: Don't worry, Josh. I'll be back.

JOSH: Sara... gods, this is awful...

SARA: Looks like I'm going in.
SARA: This can't really be real, can it?

SARA: I know it's not really myself, but... really? A magic communication thing?

SARA: Ugh, I feel so weird talking to myself.

JOSH: (C'mon Sara...)

SARA: Some who are here, and some who are... gone.

SARA: And yet you can still feel the presence of people.

SARA: It's just so empty...

SARA: This is so creepy...
SARA: I hate this whole damn place and the stupid AWBO!

SARA: Gods, I hate this! I hate this, I hate this, I hate this!

SARA: Well, it's what's left of that house.

SARA: Where I was trying to hide...

SARA: This is that house!

Eventually, another Strawpoll was added, along with:

SARA: Dare I venture there to investigate?

JOSH: I hope Sara's back soon...

SARA: Okay, there's definitely some activity from the city hall.

"Go to the city hall" won the poll.

The second loss

/log updated with Sara venturing to the city hall:

JOSH: Where are they all going now?

JOSH: Gods, what's all the commotion? Sara! Sara!

SARA: Damn them all...

SARA: Damn Josh and his stupid tricks...

SARA: Damn you... I should have... gone with... instincts...

SARA: Can't... hold them... off...

SARA: I've tripp- AAAAAAAGGHHHHHHH!

SARA: What- no-

SARA: Which way? I can't bring them to Josh-

SARA: If I try to fight, it'll slow me down...

JOSH: Do I hear shouting?

SARA: Have to- get out of here-

SARA: He's told someone- they're after me-

SARA: NO!

JOSH: Well, what do you think?

SARA: Oh gods... that guy looks like he recognises me...

SARA: Here we g-

JOSH: I think I'm gonna have to go after her.

SARA: (Hey. Please let me in. I am a perfectly normal AWBO member and definitely not trying to take you down.)

SARA: And if it comes to a fight... let's hope they're no stronger than last time...

SARA: Well, I'll just keep my head down.

SARA: It's teeming with AWBO...

SARA: Gods... is this safe?

SARA: Josh was right, it is ugly.

SARA: There it is.

JOSH: Where is she?

SARA: This way, right?

SARA: To the city hall? Alright...

? ? ?

A few minutes later, /log updated again with a new Strawpoll from "? ? ?":

? ? ?: Or are you just going to leave him there?

? ? ?: So, you have to do something about Josh.

? ? ?: Who am I? I believe you've found out something of me by now.

? ? ?: But the problem is, you and I are the only ones who know.

? ? ?: You've fell another...

? ? ?: I'm afraid I must intervene.

The main page's background colour changed back to red.

"Tell Josh what happened" was the winner of the poll and /log updated to match this:

? ? ?: Sounds like a plan? Good.

? ? ?: And then we'll meet up when it all gets more exciting.

? ? ?: So, I'll keep watching Josh, and you go about doing whatever you do.

? ? ?: What's much more interesting is the final battle, right?

? ? ?: But that's all a bit dull, isn't it?

? ? ?: And so Josh left to save the world in memory of her.

JOSH: Hmph...

JOSH: You- you could've saved her!

JOSH: Well, why didn't you send her back?

JOSH: I...

JOSH: She... she's dead?

JOSH: WHAT?

JOSH: Seriously, Sara, I'm gonna have to-

At the same time, the page title changed to be Hrcvvbr pa jlf Lpajgv ynnz feewhv ap ")!^_)$_)$. and a hidden comment was found by Ayakura in the HTML for the main page:

<!- http://strawpoll.me/10828158/3*2 ->

Crauss solved this to lead to this Strawpoll, a character poll which was won by ? ? ?.

The symbolic part of the title was solved by Discord users Crauss and Dr. Dino to be the date 2016-04-04, which when typed whilst holding shift produces ")!^_)$_)$. While the rest of the cipher remained unsolved, Crauss suspected that the full solution was Mystery of the Emblem will return on 2016-04-04.

After the break

Technical difficulties

On 2016-04-05, /u/mysteryoftheemblem posted this text post to /r/gamedetectives, explaining that the ARG would return the next day due to server issues.

The final base

On 2016-04-06, /log finally updated again:

? ? ?: Well... is anyone ready?

? ? ?: Are you ready?

? ? ?: Here we are, that is.

? ? ?: So long, but so soon.

/log later updated again with a new Strawpoll:

JOSH: At least, we've survived the last six or so bases.

JOSH: The resistance is pretty strong, so we'll be fine attacking them.

JOSH: Well, I may as well give you a say in strategy if you're back again...

JOSH: The resistance and I have been following a trail of them for the past week or so, and this is the final one we need to take down.

JOSH: I'm near the last AWBO base.

JOSH: Should I fill you in?

JOSH: Okay... hello again, I guess...

JOSH: Can you hear- woah.

JOSH: What the hell? My bracelet just turned red again...

"Attack the base another way" appeared to win the poll and after a couple of hours, /log updated with Josh's progress:

JOSH: Any ideas? I'll ask for a direction if it's unbreakable.

JOSH: Dammit, it seems to be encrypted in some way.

JOSH: Does AWBO cater to tourists now?

JOSH: Hey, look! There's a torn map on the wall!

JOSH: Mind you, there shouldn't be any information we need since this is supposed to be the final base.

JOSH: It works well as AWBO tends to get very distracted by the attack.

JOSH: As is my tradition, I'm heading further into the base to track down any information that could be useful.

JOSH: Our attack seems to have caught them off guard.

JOSH: Okay, we've made it in.

Discord user Crauss found the map Josh referred to at map.png. It displayed a map of the base with some encrypted labels:

Map.png

bxinqvdsxds M  
Gqpa  
Pnbxinqvdsxds K  
Pccunvrg Knqtdi  
Aiovuee  
Cvparnp Obntnf  
Gqpa  
AMCH LYB; JHWQ GHOW ZWFYOQCHOCWXEPXYV

The first label is partially cut off by a tear while the last label may not be accurate due to its low resolution.

map.txt was also found:

Hear the shouts.

At some point, the following was added to the bottom of /log, all Strawpolls on the page were changed from embeds to links, and a large amount of /log entries were moved to another page:

? ? ?: Due to further actual complaints, old embeds have been removed.

? ? ?: No users have reported issues with the excessive embeds on this page, but it has been fixed anyway. _old loggings can be found elsewhere. Just because I'm a mysterious controlling force doesn't mean I can't fix website problems.

Way to go

Later on, /log updated again with a Strawpoll to decide which way to go:

JOSH: Which way do you think?

JOSH: Well, I guess I'd better pick one...

"Go to the right room" won the Strawpoll.

Right and wrong

On 2016-04-07, the page title changed to "this reminds me of my old mate blaise de... wait, what was his surname?", implying that the map used a Vigenere cipher. /log updated with Josh's progression to the room:

JOSH: Any ideas?

JOSH: Very suspicious...

JOSH: There are some suspicious scratchings on the wall again.

JOSH: Did AWBO own the tower..?

JOSH: Damn, it's got another of those number locks.

JOSH: Maybe a few AWBO'll get lost without it!

JOSH: I'll take the map with me in case we can still crack it...

JOSH: So... to the right?

Discord user whizzer0 "spotted" that graffiti.txt had changed:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 8  
9 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9  
1 2 2 4 5 6 7 8 9  
1 2 3 4 5 5 7 8 9

Discord user Crauss noticed the misplaced numbers and suggested that the code was either 8925 or 9136.

This led to 9136.txt:

all lost?

The end?

/log updated again:

JOSH: Hello? No... I have to- go...

JOSH: Wh t? y brace et- it- broke it-

JOSH: Oooof...

JOSH: AGH! HIYAH! TAKE THAT!

JOSH: I have to... get out of here...

JOSH: AWBO... there's loads of them! They're slaughtering... everyone...

JOSH: No... where did they all come from..?

JOSH: I have to- get out-

JOSH: GODS! There was some kind of trap... it's set the room on fire!

JOSH: AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!

JOSH: Alright, we got documents... what's thi-

JOSH: Hey, it worked!

JOSH: 9136? I'll try it.

Later, /log updated for the final time:

? ? ?: But without knowing, you'll never know.

? ? ?: Maybe they would have been interesting only to you.

? ? ?: Maybe there just wasn't anything interesting there.

? ? ?: You can go through and miss things you never knew were there.

? ? ?: Mysteries remain unsolved, but such is life.

? ? ?: But it is the end for now.

? ? ?: Perhaps. Perhaps not.

? ? ?: Is this the conclusion?

? ? ?: Oh dear, we seem to have lost signal.

Revelation

Discord user whizzer0 wrote this on #arg-fireemblem:

One thing is still weird, though  
The puppetmaster was watching Discord, right?  
Some of the puzzles definitely seemed to need to be watched to know when to move on  
But what if the ARG hadn't been solved publicly?  
Like, if someone had followed it up on /r/fireemblem and just kept working on their own  
page views would work reasonably well, but there'd have to be a point where that wouldn't work  
and then the user would be stuck  
So what's the one way the puppetmaster could guarantee that the post was found by somewhere like Game Detectives?  
By bringing it there myself.

/u/whizzer0 then posted this thread to /r/gamedetectives, revealing themself as the creator of the ARG and detailing information about it.

A sequel/successor to the ARG was later confirmed to be in development, featuring the return of Yukimura and Josh, plus many new characters.