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Challenge #01172-C077: Forbidden Knowledge -- Gallifreya

[AN: For the record, human skin makes really atrocious leather/parchment. I'm a writer. I research shit like this for fun]

The argument had gone something like this... If it was etched into a slab of granite, the information on it had to be really important.

Yes, said the opposing side. But there's also a reason why they moved a ten-ton slab of granite down the deepest pit that they had access to. And when I say 'moved', I mean, they apparently threw it down there.

Maybe it was to protect it from invaders, said the first party.

Maybe it was to protect themselves, argued the others. Easy access to information only means that anyone can use it.

And now... access to the information was... difficult. The movies always put these things in pristine white labs with an abundance of light, but the truth is vastly different from fiction. For a start, that much light would damage any artefacts under examination.

Artefacts are very rarely studied in person. They're photographed, very carefully, under a succession of lights, and then put carefully away so as to preserve them for future examinations. When they are studied in person, they are studied with gloves between the artefact and the person. Sometimes, people have to wear special suits.

And then there's archeocryptography. Writing has emerged several ways in multiple different countries. Systems evolve that make perfect sense to the people living in them. And then invasions happen. New words come into play. A system of spelling emerges... and then nothing makes sense when viewed from the outside[1].

And something happens and the entire thing fades into the next best thing to extinction.

People couldn't read hieroglyphs until someone found the Rosetta Stone. Translating ancient languages requires a great deal more guesswork than one might think.

"Het met em..." a careful finger traced the symbols on the photograph.

"No, it's het met im. That's clearly an 'im'."

"You're both wrong, it's an 'um'."

"Guys," said a petulant whine from a corner. "You're all arguing about a chip in the original stone."

So far, they had taken ten years to unriddle three words. And even then, there was some argument over the context. The inevitable coming of K'k'th'l the Horrendous would likely not be happening in our lifetime.

[1] Take a really good look at the English language, sometime. It's just messed up and getting worse.

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