Solution to The Path More Stumbled

by Alex Fink and Sai

This puzzle consists of four lines of ASCII text. This text has been enciphered by changing most of the plaintext non-space characters to one of the six neighboring keys on a QWERTY keyboard, rectified to a hexagonal grid: for instance, the neighbors of s are d e w a z x. (Shift state is preserved.)

` 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - =

   q w e r t y u i o p [ ] \
    a s d f g h j k l ; '
     z x c v b n m , . /

The plaintext, shown here matched up with the ciphertext, is a quatrain, riffing on a verse of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (tr. Fitzgerald):

The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Ty4 J0vijv Vjjvdd sdk5esP whrk uqginv sdkt, 

Moves on: nor all thy Cipher Text nor Wit
Nif3w 0bL mpt skk 5u6 Fipgw4 %4dy mlf Qur

Shall make it stray from its Displacement's Line,
Ahaop jq,d 96 dyfqy fei, ufx Foe0pqxwmebr[w P9mr,

Though thou canst not depict a Fault in it.
Tu08vu 6bkh fwje6 j0f xsl8d5 q Vzjog 8h k5.

The next step, suggested by this verse riddle and by the title, is to draw paths by chaining together the displacements from plaintext to ciphertext characters. Undisplaced characters mark the start and end of a path. So the first path is encoded by hy e4 MJ o0, the second by nj, the third by gv FV ij nj gv ed rd ws rd ik t5 and so forth.

This traces out the answer ILLITERACY, in lowercase.