Many thanks to Hanzík for the Czech translations!

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moderately geeky  moderately geeky

Case 133

Dead Language

Master Suku was travelling with three novices in the snowy mountains, en route to a distant temple. The trail wound dizzily up the face of a great cliff, and as the sky grew dim they contemplated the long night ahead and began to seek any place that might offer some refuge from the wind.

Eventually the group came upon a deep fissure in the rock face, just wide enough for each of them to squeeze through. It opened into a narrow cave, but when Suku lit her lantern the travellers discovered that they were not alone. A corpse, ancient yet well-preserved by the endless cold, sat huddled at the far end. One mummified hand clutched a stone, and the sloping wall opposite was covered in columns of deep, unfamiliar scratches.

“What do you see?” Suku asked the others.

“Markings,” said the first novice, “made by the stone.”

“Words,” said the second, “carved by the dead.”

“A message,” said the third, “expecting no answer.”

Suku shook her head as she rummaged through the pockets of her travel coat. “A last request, meant for us.”

“Can you understand the letters?” asked the first novice.

“No,” said Suku, producing her cellphone. She aimed its camera at the scratches. “But I have unpacked source directories from many strange lands. Though the form differs from place to place, still I can tell when something is crying out README.

Topics...  README, communication