"She never sleeps!" Bersla declared.
"You mean that you've never seen her sleep, mighty Takal. No one living has, because she's been awake for twenty-five thousand years. There weren't even any people around when she woke up this time. The legend still tells us that she will sleep—soon—and she will be replaced by another divinity who goes by the name of Enalla."
"I spoke with Holy Aracia on one occasion some years ago," another man-priest with a rasping sort of voice declared, "and she told me that the child-Dreamer Lillabeth is in reality this Enalla who will succeed our beloved Aracia."
"That can't be true!" Bersla exclaimed. "Child Lillabeth has no interest at all in the religion of Holy Aracia. On many occasions I have delivered masterful orations praising Holy Aracia whilst child Lillabeth was present, and she inevitably fell asleep before the end of the first hour of my praise. She has no interest in religion or priests or temples. If this Enalla is really the adult Lillabeth, she will have no need of priests or temples or hymns of praise. She will abandon the temple, and when the local people come to understand her disinterest, they will turn their backs on us, and we will surely perish."
"That couldn't happen to a better group," Torl muttered. Then he squinted at the ceiling. "I wonder just how long Fat Bersla could stay alive if nobody bothered to feed him. He could probably absorb his own fat for a while, but he'd run dry eventually."
"Holy Aracia advised me that child Lillabeth was what she called 'a Dreamer,'" the raspy-voiced priest declared. "She said that Lillabeth could cause things to happen with her Dreams that were quite beyond anything Holy Aracia or her brothers or sister could ever bring to pass. These events, as I understood what Holy Aracia told me, are what are called 'natural disasters'—floods, earthquakes, volcanos—and such. Have a care when you approach child Lillabeth, for she can—most certainly—cause the sky to fall down on you."
"That's absurd," Alcevan scoffed.
"I wouldn't be so sure, Alcevan," Bersla disagreed. "Holy Aracia herself told me of several disasters other Dreamer-children had caused to happen—floods, volcanoes, and other events almost beyond human conception. It would appear that these innocent children are not innocent when they Dream. The gods live by a law that they will never kill anything. The Dreamers, however, have no such restriction."
Alcevan suddenly chuckled. "I'd say that we have a very simple solution to our problem, then. We know that there's some kind of connection between Lillabeth and Enalla. Enalla will live forever, of course, but Lillabeth? I'm not so sure about her. She eats food, and she goes to sleep. That suggests that she's not an immortal, and that makes things very easy for us."
"I didn't quite follow that, Alcevan," Bersla said.
"All we have to do is order some novice to kill her, you dunce. If Lillabeth's dead, Enalla will be dead as well. They are the same person, after all."
"It wouldn't work," Bersla declared. "Aracia can hear our thoughts—particularly any thought that threatens the life of Lillabeth. Aracia loves that spoiled little brat."
"Let me deal with that, Takal Bersla," Alcevan said then. "Since Lillabeth is really Enalla, she'll be the one who'll usurp Aracia's throne once Aracia goes to sleep. Aracia, however, desperately wants to retain her position as the god of the East, and she'll do anything to hold her throne."
Torl turned and walked as swiftly as he dared through the dimly lighted corridor that led to the west wall of the temple. As soon as he came out into the open area that was no longer closed in by stone blocks, he went looking for cousin Sorgan. "I think we've got a serious problem, cousin," he said.
"Another one?" Sorgan said. "What's the world coming to?"
"Are you about finished with the tired old jokes, Sorgan?"
Torl demanded. "Why don't you try to laugh at this one? I just heard that priestess called Alcevan come up with a plot to kill Aracia's Dreamer."
"You said what?"
"You heard me, cousin. Alcevan seems to think that if Lillabeth died, Enalla would cease to exist. Those priests desperately want to keep Aracia in charge here, since she's their only access to a life of luxury. They seem to believe that if Enalla dies—or just ceases to exist—Aracia will have to stay awake and continue providing them with everything they want."
Cousin Sorgan's face hardened. "I think we'd better take this to Veltan," he said.
It didn't take them very long to find Zelana's baby brother. He was watching Sorgan's men as they continued the construction of cousin Sorgan's imitation fort, and he didn't look very impressed.
"We need to talk, Lord Veltan," Sorgan said. "I think we might have an emergency of sorts coming before too long."
"Somebody's going to sneeze, and your fort will collapse?" Veltan suggested.
"The fort's not really significant," Sorgan replied. "It's just there to make your big sister feel more secure. It's not like there was going to be a real invasion. Cousin Torl here just overheard something that we'll have to deal with—soon. Tell him what you heard, Torl."
"I was sort of wandering around in this badly-put-together temple a little while back, and I just happened to hear some of your sister's priests talking. They're very unhappy about Aracia's approaching nap time. They know that when she drifts off, your granddaughter Enalla will take charge here."
"Granddaughter?" Veltan seemed a bit startled.
"You and the rest of your family are related to the younger generation, aren't you? I suppose we could call Enalla your niece, if that would be closer."
"We are related, Torl," Veltan said with a faint smile, "but I doubt that any word you could come up with would explain the relationship."
"Don't try to explain it to me, Lord Veltan," Torl said. "I probably wouldn't understand you anyway, and all it'd do would be to give me a headache. The priests I heard talking were trying to come up with some way to keep your sister awake. The little priestess Alcevan came up with a plan that the other priests seem to think might actually work."
"This gets just a little ugly, so brace yourself. Alcevan seems to have found out that the Dreamer Lillabeth is actually Enalla. Enalla, like the rest of you, doesn't need to eat or sleep, but Lillabeth does. Alcevan told the other priests that Enalla might be immortal, but Lillabeth probably isn't. Then she went on to suggest that if some novice priest just happened to murder Lillabeth, Enalla would just vanish. I don't know if it would work that way, but the other priests seemed to think it might be worth a try."