by Martin Reinfried
Answer: CHARACTER FLAW
The first thing to notice is the flavor text. The I,R, and A in Pirate are highlighted, and the next three sentences contain the pirate phrases Aye, Arrrr, and eh, which sound just like I, R, and A. Even the sentence after that contains the words I, are, and a. Solvers might surmise that they need to try to somehow add I, R, and A (or something that sounds that way).
After a while staring at the picture, which just looks like heads in seats on the pirate ship, people may notice that the top part could be Braille. This gives one word for each of the four triple-rows of Braille:
The astute will notice that maybe this was adding I (Eye). So, in the next section, it’s time to add R. The O’s are placed such that if a letter R is added to the words above in those spots, it makes four new words:
The last section with O’s must be adding A. But a simple letter addition doesn’t work here. It turns out that all of these words will form the sound of new words when they are spoken in Pig Latin (a way of adding ‘ay’):
The O’s in this case give you the position of four letters, spelling VICE.
This leaves a final set of two blanks of length 9 and 4. Four blanks in the previous
section and in this section are colored. If you take the letters
marked by those colors and move them down, you get:
_ H _ _ _ _ T _ R _ _ _ W
A little thinking or pattern searching should give people the answer, CHARACTER FLAW, a definition for VICE, and a good answer for the flavor text question of why pirates ended up in Wizard’s Hollow.
Background and Credits
The original idea was creating new words with Pig Latin, but there were not a lot of answers left to be assigned. Because there were a few answers in Cascade Bay, I came up with the pirate ship concept, liking the simplicity of the look and the use of the “pirate alphabet” (A, I, and R). Unfortunately, the Cascade Bay answers weren’t really available, but I was excited that the answer in Wizard’s Hollow that was available, Character Flaw, allowed me to create a pun around pirates in the Wizard area.
Thank you to Chris Yao for the flavor to hint at Braille, and to Brent Holman for the idea to add colored blanks for the final answer.