Lore: Postulant's Parlor Journal

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The Postulant

Everyone is familiar with the Postulant, that silent mysterious figure who does nothing—nothing!—but sit at his table and play all comers at his fatuous game. All know who he is and what he does. But no one knows why he does it.

I will be the first to expose his true purpose.

The Postulant never shows any emotion at all, not even when he wins. He simply plays. I suspect he has some nefarious purpose, or perhaps he knows some arcane truth about this game that none have yet divined. Whatever the reason, he has been at it for longer than any can remember.

I will observe him. I will speak with him. If necessary, I will frustrate and vex him, and in so doing, gather the necessary information to learn what drives him.

But first, of course, I must learn to play his game.

Learning the Game

I understand the game well enough now. The objective is a simple three-in-a-row (but not, of course, at the starting position). It is practically a child’s game.

Why would the Postulant hold such interest in this game in particular? It cannot be the game itself. Does he serve some enigmatic master? Is he under some form of punishment? Or perhaps his interest is not in the act of playing at all. Perhaps he observes his opponents in the same way that I now observe him.

He has not responded to a single one of my queries, taunts, or praises. It is as if I do not exist to him at all—the game pieces might as well be moving of their own accord for all the notice he gives me.

That said, I have yet to beat him at the game. He may simply consider me beneath his notice.

My losses are to be expected of course. He must have played this game hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions—of times. He has the benefit of great experience on his side, but the game is simple, and my sagacity is my advantage. It will not take me long to outwit him, and then he must treat me as equal, if not superior. He will certainly react to my provocations then.

And then we will learn who our cryptic antagonist truly is.

The Elusive Solution

Blast! As simple as this game is, I cannot defeat him.

At first, I thought it simply his experience, or perhaps some rule I had not yet grasped. But I understand the game fully now. I have explored the extent of its mathematical space. I can see every possible combination.

Yet I cannot win.

The Postulant must be cheating. But how? There are few pawns, and the manipulations are trivial. I would notice if a pawn had shifted or disappeared. I even tried to cheat myself once, but the pawns stubbornly refused to move! (And even then, the Postulant showed no indication that I had done anything iniquitous. He merely sat there, watching the board as impassively as one might observe a stone.)

I cannot understand his purpose without first understanding how he defeats me. If I am to get inside his head, I must prove myself his equal.

It will be done. I have all the time in the world.

A Worthy Opponent

I know he can be beaten. Of course he can! Others have defeated him several times in my observance, though the Postulant bears no reaction to his loss at all.

So why can I not defeat him?!

He is cheating. There can be no other explanation. Perhaps he uses some form of drug or magic to befuddle my intellect. He knows my true purpose, and he is trying to thwart me. It is the only possibility.

I will give him no such satisfaction. If he is cheating, I will determine how. I will defeat him. And I will finally, finally engender an emotion from his smug countenance.

He will not defeat me at a child’s game!