In Italy, in 1872 the Quirinal Palace became a place of terror, full of suicides and madmen. It was less than a year after the king had confiscated that place from the pope himself, ignoring the pontiff’s warnings about the care of the building, proceeded to adapt it to his personal standards. Walls were torn down, a lot of earth dug until the cases started. From servants to members of the aristocracy, they eventually began to turn up dead or insane. Doctors started to consider the phenomenon as an outbreak of some disease, but they were unable to identify the way it was transmitted, as it seemed directly linked to the interior of the Palace.
They tried to disinfect the Palace to eliminate what could be causing those symptoms, but even protected from gases, some of the professionals who entered were still affected. The case was unsolved, leading the king ironically to ask for help from the pope from whom he had confiscated the Palace. The pontiff placed in the king’s service a simple vicar to help him in the investigation, but the pope justified that he was a man of remarkable cunning, such that the devil himself would be afraid to challenge him to a game of chance. The king, however, saw it as a mockery of the pope at his ironic request for help, but he restrained himself and let the vicar act.
The vicar, after being informed of the case and accepting to help the king, showed complete disinterest in visiting the Palace, first looking for a map of it and calling everyone who was in the Palace, from the aristocrats to the servants to talk individually. His actions took weeks, and were seen as a waste of time, but the vicar seemed to care little what they thought of him.
After the conversations and taking notes on them, the vicar prepared to enter the Palace, making it clear that he would enter alone and that during this period no one should accompany him. Equipped as someone who would go on a multi-day expedition in the jungle, the vicar enters the Palace with the map in mind and proceeds to a place that the interviewees reported nothing about.
The way was on, when a guard came running to call the vicar, saying that the pope had allocated another sarcedote for that investigation. The vicar, faced with this message, asked the guard to wait, took a coin and began to throw it up again and again and write down its results. The guard was impatient, but the vicar continued with his actions until he finished them, finally turning his back to the guard and ignoring him completely as he continued on his way. The guard kept talking, but the vicar didn’t even turn around.
Following his path, the vicar arrived at a part where there was a crater in the ground, making it possible to see through it the floor under the Palace. Again the vicar stopped and started to toss his coin, until he decided to take another path and avoid the crater.
Once after opening the door, he quickly saw a large wolf inside a room, eating what appeared to be one of the people who killed himself and whose body had not been removed. Still with his hand on the handle, with the door closed, he tossed his coin again as many times as he did. After that, he took a deep breath and opened the door, the scent of carrion was in the air mixed with the scent of that animal, who was looking fiercely at him. But the vicar continued, passing close to the dead body, his entrails exposed as the wolf threatened to advance on him.
The vicar tossed the coin repeatedly before eating or sleeping, and depending on the result, he went to another room and repeated the procedure before carrying out these actions.
Several days have passed since he entered the Palace, the guards outside thought he must have died or gone mad by now. But they were still waiting for his return or new orders. Until they heard a loud, high-pitched scream, as if someone was dying. That scream went on for longer than they could imagine, it was indeed an agony that never ended, along with a smell of wood and burning flesh. They imagined that the vicar might have set himself on fire to kill himself, but the captain of the guard was more concerned that the Palace might catch fire. Ordering them immediately to come in to contain the flames.
Following the smell of smoke, the guards reluctantly obeyed, running to where they expected to find the vicar’s body. But getting there, the living vicar was cautiously controlling the flames around what appeared to be the root of a large tree, whose shape resembled that of a crouching child at play, and the sound of wood cracking in the fire resembled a child’s scream. In addition to having a smell that reminded me of burning fat. The vicar was surprised by the arrival of the guards who were filling him with questions, but the vicar asked them to wait while nothing answered what they asked, he just took his coin and went back to throwing it up. After so many launches, the vicar then put away the coin and said that they would be able to leave, because if they managed to get there so easily, then it was a sign that he had managed to eliminate that bad guy.
After leaving the Palace, they came to question what had happened inside, but the vicar said that making a narrative about it in detail would only cause more confusion and would not be of any use to anyone who heard it. The case was finally filed by the vicar with the name of Master of the Dollhouse.
About the post
This is a fictional tale about a creature capable of creating illusions from its imaginary. In this case, several spoils of the Crusades passed through that Palace, among them, some that should never have left their places of origin. The papal solution to this problem centuries ago was to permanently seal several corridors of the Palace with concrete, which was not understood even by the cardinals themselves, and was interpreted as a disease that affected the Palace and would be isolating the original focus, without it was clearer what actually happened. But with the king’s reforms, these places were opened, and those who had contact with these parts ended up being affected by the power of this creature.
The initial survey of data from those who passed through the Palace, served for the vicar to define this hypothesis and to think of a method to discern between the real and the illusion. The coin idea has already been mentioned in another post on this blog (How to become a master in RoShamBo?), but it is based on the fact that imagining randomness is actually difficult, to make it clearer, in Alberto Rojo’s book “El azar en la vida dia,” there is a famous experiment of randomness in which a teacher asks a group of students to flip a coin 100 times and write down the results and for the other group to invent 100 results for the launch of a coin. After completing the two lists, without the teacher knowing which is which, deliver them both. It then analyzes the amount of equal results in a row.
In the first list the equal results followed varied from 1 to 5. While in the second list the equal results followed varied from 1 to 8. With this, the professor bets that the second list describes the coin tosses and the first list was invented. Because it is unlikely in 100 releases we will not get sequences of more than 5 equal results in a row.
Following this same dynamic, the vicar in each room he entered, or in each moment of doubt about reality or illusion, set himself to flip a coin hundreds of times. Analyzing the amount of equal results in a row, I was able to venture to say whether that ‘coin tossing event’ was real, or was an illusion forged by the creature. So his progress in the Palace was extremely slow, but it also gave him some security to tell when a threat was real or not.