A newly appointed ambassador tries to discover why anyone would pay a man to sleep all day
|“You pay someone to sleep all day?”
As I spoke, I raised one painted eyebrow a fraction, conveying my puzzlement.
I watched the Secretary's body language closely. It was telling me that this was a subject he was expecting to be difficult.
“Madam Ambassador.” He began, and I experienced, but concealed, a thrill at being addressed with my new title.
“The role of Dreamsmith is of paramount importance to our people. Sadly, it is also difficult to convey with any degree of clarity, to those who are not native to the planet.”
His words, and accompanying non verbal communications told me that Secretary Warrfin was trying to politely dissuade me from further enquiry. But of course I was not about to let this go.
“It is a part of my role to at least try and understand such matters Mr. Secretary. His Enlightened Majesty, The Emperor, expects me to make considerable effort to assimilate as much as I can about your planet. You must recently have had some practice at least trying to explain to my illustrious predecessors.”
I saw the Secretary wince ever so slightly at my words. He had, of course, now had to deal with three different ambassadors in as many months. An unusual circumstance, despite the reasons being reassuringly mundane.
Following the inclusion of Alcheringa, this largely rural and sparsely populated planet, in the Empire of the Endless Rainbow Dragon, my former Mistress Li Xiu Ying was appointed ambassador.
Less than four weeks later Ambassador Li Xiu Ying had been required to urgently return to her former sector. This was in order to take over from her mentor Zhang Yong, who had died, not wholly unexpectedly, having attained a great age. Her promotion had resulted in Li Jie being appointed in her stead.
Li Jie however, had been courting a niece of His Enlightened Majesty, Emperor Wang Wei. When his proposal of marriage had been accepted and approved Li Jie was also promoted, and moved on swiftly. This left the position of Ambassador once more needing to be filled. There was also a feeling that the role required someone who would not be likely to leave until such time as the Emperor deemed it necessary.
All this I knew, because of how I came to be here now. Li Xiu Ying, under whom I have trained for many years, recommended me for this promotion, and had confided that last titbit of information to me. She had advised me to learn all I could of the place, and expressed the belief that I would grow into my new role swiftly. Further, despite the demands of her new position, my now former Mistress, had invited me to consult with her as often as I needed to. She had also asked me most particularly to find out more about the Dreamsmith.
Secretary Warrfin stalled briefly by the simple means of selecting and consuming a delicacy from the array of food spread before us on the low table. Selecting an unfamiliar and brightly coloured purple creature, I lifted it to my own mouth, allowing my face to convey polite listening, in expectation of his answering. The purple thing, which I later learned was some sort of sea cucumber, was quite delicious.
“In fact Madam Ambassador, only one of your illustrious predecessors expressed any interest in the Dreamsmith, and we were unable to discuss the subject at length.”
“In that case Mr. Secretary I shall ensure that we have sufficient time available so that we can ‘discuss the subject at length’. Can you at least provide me with an outline to begin with?”
Again I returned the onus of the conversation to the Secretary, and I saw him give an almost imperceptible shrug of defeat. My body assumed a position conveying my rapt attention.
“The Dreamsmith does indeed sleep all day, this is a prerequisite of his being able to dream.”
Having no intention of interrupting, I said nothing, and selected another morsel to sample.
“The dreams of the Dreamsmith are active and are crafted by him. It is by dreaming he explores the Everywhen, and through dreams he communicates with those who reside in KnoWhere.”
The recording devices spun throughout my garments would allow me to replay a holographic representation of this conversation at my leisure, but nevertheless I made mental note to ask what ‘everywhen’ and ‘nowhere’ meant in this context if no explanation were volunteered.
The Secretary continued,
“The Everywhen could be imperfectly described as a timeless place that is not a place. In it the Dreamsmith may encounter our ancestors, our heroes sometimes even our gods.”
A shaman. I thought, feeling disappointed as Shamanism is well documented, and another instance of it was unlikely to add to our store of knowledge on the matter.
My moment’s inattention allowed Secretary Warrfin to guess the direction of my thoughts.
“Alcheringa is a planet of farmers and fishermen Madam Ambassador. We are a simple and direct people, and have no time for that which is impractical or fantastical. I did try to warn you that an explanation would be difficult to convey.”
“You did Mr. Secretary, though you did not explain why not being native of Alcheringa would be a bar to understanding an explanation?”
This couched as a further question, I recomposed my proper attention.
“Every citizen of Alcheringa partakes of the Everywhen to a greater or lesser degree. It is much easier to understand something you are a part of already.”
It’s easier still to believe in something that you are already a part of.
Satisfied for now that there was no great mystery to the Dreamsmith, I turned the conversation to other matters.