Paris, 5 January 1858
Gutenberg is dead.
For five years I have been on this fanatic's trail. Five years of stalking his accomplices, intercepting his correspondence, tracking him down to his lairs in the filthiest holes of the Capital, five years of sleepless nights in the office and on the street, of meticulous planning, only to see him escape the net at the very last minute.
Until now. And then, the day I have dreamed of for five long years has the stench of failure and mercury fulminate - the madman would rather blow himself up than be taken away and face the guillotine. I suppose we are lucky that nobody else was hurt, except for a badly scratched gendarme. But I am furious: we are not going to get any answer from that devil, now...
The only seemingly useful thing we were able to find here in Rue Vigenère, among the wreck of his dusty little bookshop specialising in English language books, is this letter. A small sealed envelope, addressed to a Monsieur T. We must have got him just before he managed to deliver it.
I tear the envelope open. No surprise inside: after five years I could recognise his handwriting by light of a dying candle:
Q LU FITLATH BG MSQBT BWLB GSILYHG WLA ILYHTH QY RSLYJT. QB QA YGM L ULBBTS GR HLXA KTRGST WQA UVJW LYBQJQFLBTH UTTBQYE MQBW RSTHTSQJO.
Q LU JGYRQHTYB BWLB XGV MQII FILX XGVS FLSB LJJGSHQYE BG BWT AJSQFB. BWT MGSIH QA GVS ABLET, LYH BWQA QA GYIX BWT RQSAB IQYT GR BWT FILX - KVB BWQA QA LII MT YTTH BG ATB BWT TCTYBA QY UGBQGY.
KT AVST BWLB XGV MQII KT ETYTSGVAIX STMLSHTH RGS XGVS ATSCQJTA - WGMTCTS, HQALFFGQYB VA LYH XGV MQII STESTB QB QY L WVYHSTH LYH RQRBX MLXA.
And yet, there is something that doesn't quite add up... I must have opened hundreds of his letters, and I have cracked but a handful of his codes. That monster was so careful in his correspondence. This is too simple. Childish. Not in his style.
I bring the letter close to the stove that continues to heat the two rooms, insensitive to the destruction around it. Voilà - this is the Gutenberg we all know and love:
Five lines of gibberish appear in the space under the visible text. My heart sinks: with the man dead, I know I will need a miracle to read this nonsense.
Hi there, This is my first interaction on the forum, after a few years of lurking. I hope I don't break anything and, most importantly, that you find the puzzle fun.