Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

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This was Muad’Dib’s achievement: He saw the subliminal reservoir of each individual as an unconscious bank of memories going back to the primal cell of our common genesis. Each of us, he said, can measure out his distance from that common origin. Seeing this and telling of it, he made the audacious leap of decision. Muad’Dib set himself the task of integrating genetic memory into ongoing evaluation. Thus did he break through Time’s veils, making a single thing of the future and the past. That was Muad’Dib’s creation embodied in his son and his daughter. -Testament of Arrakis by Harq al-Ada

Farad’n strode through the garden compound of his grandfather’s royal palace, watching his shadow grow shorter as the sun of Salusa Secundus climbed toward noon. He had to stretch himself a bit to keep step with the tall Bashar who accompanied him. “I have doubts, Tyekanik,” he said. “Oh, there’s no denying the attractions of a throne, but –” He drew in a deep breath. “– I have so many interests.” Tyekanik, fresh from a savage argument with Farad’n’s mother, glanced sidelong at the Prince, noting how the lad’s flesh was firming as he approached his eighteenth birthday. There was less and less of Wensicia in him with each passing day and more and more of old Shaddam, who had preferred his private pursuits to the responsibilities of royalty. That was what had cost him the throne in the end, of course. He’d grown soft in the ways of command. “You have to make a choice,” Tyekanik said. “Oh, doubtless there’ll be time for some of your interests, but . . .” Farad’n chewed his lower lip. Duty held him here, but he felt frustrated. He would far rather have gone to the rock enclave where the sandtrout experiments were being conducted. Now there was a project with enormous potential: wrest the spice monopoly from the Atreides and anything might happen. “You’re sure these twins will be . . . eliminated?” “Nothing absolutely certain, My Prince, but the prospects are good.” Farad’n shrugged. Assassination remained a fact of royal life. The language was filled with the subtle permutations of ways to eliminate important personages. By a single word, one could distinguish between poison in drink or poison in food. He presumed the elimination of the Atreides twins would be accomplished by a poison. It was not a pleasant thought. By all accounts the twins were a most interesting pair. “Would we have to move to Arrakis?” Farad’n asked. “It’s the best choice, put us at the point of greatest pressure.” Farad’n appeared to be avoiding some question and Tyekanik wondered what it might be. “I’m troubled, Tyekanik,” Farad’n said, speaking as they rounded a hedge corner and approached a fountain surrounded by giant black roses. Gardeners could be heard snipping beyond the hedges. “Yes?” Tyekanik prompted. “This, ah, religion which you’ve professed . . .” “Nothing strange about that, My Prince,” Tyekanik said and hoped his voice remained firm. “This religion speaks to the warrior in me. It’s a fitting religion for a Sardaukar.” That, at least, was true. “Yesss . . . But my mother seems so pleased by it.” Damn Wensicia! he thought. She’s made her son suspicious. “I care not what your mother thinks,” Tyekanik said. “A man’s religion is his own affair. Perhaps she sees something in this that may help to put you on the throne.” “That was my thought,” Farad’n said. Ahhh, this is a sharp lad! Tyekanik thought. He said: “Look into the religion for yourself; you’ll see at once why I chose it.” “Still . . . Muad’Dib’s preachings? He was an Atreides, after all.” “I can only say that the ways of God are mysterious,” Tyekanik said. “I see. Tell me, Tyek, why’d you ask me to walk with you just now? It’s almost noon and usually you’re off to someplace or other at my mother’s command this time of day.” Tyekanik stopped at a stone bench which looked upon the fountain and the giant roses beyond. The splashing water soothed him and he kept his attention upon it as he spoke. “My Prince, I’ve done something which your mother may not like.” And he thought: If he believes that, her damnable scheme will work. Tyekanik almost hoped Wensicia’s scheme would fail. Bringing that damnable Preacher here. She was insane. And the cost! As Tyekanik remained silent, waiting, Farad’n asked: “All right, Tyek, what’ve you done?” “I’ve brought a practitioner of oneiromancy,” Tyekanik said. Farad’n shot a sharp glance at his companion. Some of the older Sardaukar played the dream-interpretation game, had done so increasingly since their defeat by that “Supreme Dreamer,” Muad’Dib. Somewhere within their dreams, they reasoned, might lay a way back to power and glory. But Tyekanik had always eschewed this play. “This doesn’t sound like you, Tyek,” Farad’n said. “Then I can only speak from my new religion,” he said, addressing the fountain. To speak of religion was, of course, why they’d risked bringing The Preacher here. “Then speak from this religion,” Farad’n said. “As My Prince commands.” He turned, looked at this youthful holder of all the dreams which now were distilled into the path which House Corrino would follow. “Church and state. My Prince, even scientific reason and faith, and even more: progress and tradition — all of these are reconciled in the teachings of Muad’Dib. He taught that there are no intransigent opposites except in the beliefs of men and, sometimes, in their dreams. One discovers the future in the past, and both are part of a whole.” In spite of doubts which he could not dispel, Farad’n found himself impressed by these words. He heard a note of reluctant sincerity in Tyekanik’s voice, as though the man spoke against inner compulsions. “And that’s why you bring me this . . . this interpreter of dreams?” “Yes, My Prince. Perhaps your dream penetrates Time. You win back your consciousness of your inner being when you recognize the universe as a coherent whole. Your dreams . . . well . . .” “But I spoke idly of my dreams,” Farad’n protested. “They are a curiosity, no more. I never once suspected that you . . .” “My Prince, nothing you do can be unimportant.” “That’s very flattering, Tyek. Do you really believe this fellow can see into the heart of great mysteries?” “I do, My Prince.” “Then let my mother be displeased.” “You will see him?” “Of course — since you’ve brought him to displease my mother.” Does he mock me? Tyekanik wondered. And he said: “I must warn you that the old man wears a mask. It is an Ixian device which enables the sightless to see with their skin.” “He is blind?” “Yes, My Prince.” “Does he know who I am?” “I told him, My Prince.” “Very well. Let us go to him.” “If My Prince will wait a moment here, I will bring the man to him.” Farad’n looked around the fountain garden, smiled. As good a place as any for this foolishness. “Have you told him what I dreamed?” “Only in general terms, My Prince. He will ask you for a personal accounting.” “Oh, very well. I’ll wait here. Bring the fellow.” Farad’n turned his back, heard Tyekanik retire in haste. A gardener could be seen working just beyond the hedge, the top of a brown-capped head, the flashing of shears poking above the greenery. The movement was hypnotic. This dream business is nonsense, Farad’n thought. It was wrong of Tyek to do this without consulting me. Strange that Tyek should get religion at his age. And now it’s dreams. Presently he heard footsteps behind him. Tyekanik’s familiar positive stride and a more dragging gait. Farad’n turned, stared at the approaching dream interpreter. The Ixian mask was a black, gauzy affair which concealed the face from the forehead to below the chin. There were no eye slits in the mask. If one were to believe the Ixian boasts, the entire mask was a single eye. Tyekanik stopped two paces from Farad’n, but the masked old man approached to less than a pace. “The interpreter of dreams,” Tyekanik said. Farad’n nodded. The masked old man coughed in a remote grunting fashion, as though trying to bring something up from his stomach. Farad’n was acutely conscious of a sour spice smell from the old man. It emanated from the long grey robe which covered his body. “Is that mask truly a part of your flesh?” Farad’n asked, realizing he was trying to delay the subject of dreams. “While I wear it,” the old man said, and his voice carried a bitter twang and just a suggestion of Fremen accent. “Your dream,” he said. “Tell me.” Farad’n shrugged. Why not? That was why Tyek had brought the old man. Or was it? Doubts gripped Farad’n and he asked: “Are you truly a practitioner of oneiromancy?” “I have come to interpret your dream, Puissant Lord.” Again Farad’n shrugged. This masked figure made him nervous and he glanced at Tyekanik, who remained where he had stopped, arms folded, staring at the fountain. “Your dream, then,” the old man pressed. Farad’n inhaled deeply, began to relate the dream. It became easier to talk as he got fully into it. He told about the water flowing upward in the well, about the worlds which were atoms dancing in his head, about the snake which transformed itself into a sandworm and exploded in a cloud of dust. Telling about the snake, he was surprised to discover, required more effort. A terrible reluctance inhibited him and this made him angry as he spoke. The old man remained impassive as Farad’n at last fell silent. The black gauze mask moved slightly to his breathing. Farad’n waited. The silence continued. Presently Farad’n asked: “Aren’t you going to interpret my dream?” “I have interpreted it,” he said, his voice seeming to come from a long distance. “Well?” Farad’n heard his own voice squeaking, telling him the tension his dream had produced. Still the old man remained impassively silent. “Tell me, then!” The anger was obvious in his tone. “I said I’d interpret,” the old man said. “I did not agree to tell you my interpretation.” Even Tyekanik was moved by this, dropping his arms into balled fists at his sides. “What?” he grated. “I did not say I’d reveal my interpretation,” the old man said. “You wish more pay?” Farad’n asked. “I did not ask pay when I was brought here.” A certain cold pride in the response softened Farad’n’s anger. This was a brave old man, at any rate. He must know death could follow disobedience. “Allow me, My Prince,” Tyekanik said as Farad’n started to speak. Then: “Will you tell us why you won’t reveal your interpretation?” “Yes, My Lords. The dream tells me there would be no purpose in explaining these things.” Farad’n could not contain himself. “Are you saying I already know the meaning of my dream?” “Perhaps you do, My Lord, but that is not my gist.” Tyekanik moved up to stand beside Farad’n. Both glared at the old man. “Explain yourself,” Tyekanik said. “Indeed,” Farad’n said. “If I were to speak of this dream, to explore these matters of water and dust, snakes and worms, to analyze the atoms which dance in your head as they do in mine — ahh, Puissant Lord, my words would only confuse you and you would insist upon misunderstanding.” “Do you fear that your words might anger me?” Farad’n demanded. “My Lord! You’re already angry.” “Is it that you don’t trust us?” Tyekanik asked. “That is very close to the mark, My Lord. I do not trust either of you and for the simple reason that you do not trust yourselves.” “You walk dangerously close to the edge,” Tyekanik said. “Men have been killed for behavior less abusive than yours.” Farad’n nodded, said: “Don’t tempt us to anger.” “The fatal consequences of Corrino anger are well known, My Lord of Salusa Secundus,” the old man said. Tyekanik put a restraining hand on Farad’n’s arm, asked: “Are you trying to goad us into killing you?” Farad’n had not thought of that, felt a chill now as he considered what such behavior might mean. Was this old man who called himself Preacher . . . was he more than he appeared? What might be the consequences of his death? Martyrs could be dangerous creations. “I doubt that you’ll kill me no matter what I say,” The Preacher said. “I think you know my value, Bashar, and your Prince now suspects it.” “You absolutely refuse to interpret his dream?” Tyekanik asked. “I have interpreted it.” “And you will not reveal what you see in it?” “Do you blame me, My Lord?” “How can you be valuable to me?” Farad’n asked. The Preacher held out his right hand. “If I but beckon with this hand, Duncan Idaho will come to me and he will obey me.” “What idle boast is this?” Farad’n asked. But Tyekanik shook his head, recalling his argument with Wensicia. He said: “My Prince, it could be true. This Preacher has many followers on Dune.” “Why didn’t you tell me he was from that place?” Farad’n asked. Before Tyekanik could answer. The Preacher addressed Farad’n: “My Lord, you must not feel guilty about Arrakis. You are but a product of your times. This is a special pleading which any man may make when his guilts assail him.” “Guilts!” Farad’n was outraged. The Preacher only shrugged. Oddly, this shifted Farad’n from outrage to amusement. He laughed, throwing his head back, drawing a startled glance from Tyekanik. Then: “I like you,. Preacher.” “This gratifies me, Prince,” the old man said. Suppressing a chuckle, Farad’n said: “We’ll find you an apartment here in the palace. You will be my official interpreter of dreams — even though you never give me a word of interpretation. And you can advise me about Dune, I have a great curiosity about that place.” “This I cannot do, Prince.” An edge of his anger returned. Farad’n glared at the black mask. “And why not, pray tell?” “My Prince,” Tyekanik said, again touching Farad’n’s arm. “What is it, Tyek?” “We brought him here under bonded agreement with the Guild. He is to be returned to Dune.” “I am summoned back to Arrakis,” The Preacher said. “Who summons you?” Farad’n demanded. “A power greater than thine, Prince.” Farad’n shot a questioning glance at Tyekanik. “Is he an Atreides spy?” “Not likely, My Prince. Alia has put a price on his head.” “If it’s not the Atreides, then who summons you?” Farad’n asked, returning his attention to The Preacher. “A power greater than the Atreides.” A chuckle escaped Farad’n. This was only mystic nonsense. How could Tyek be fooled by such stuff? This Preacher had been summoned — most likely by a dream. Of what importance were dreams? “This has been a waste of time, Tyek,” Farad’n said. “Why did you subject me to this . . . this farce?” “There is a double price here, My Prince,” Tyekanik said. “This interpreter of dreams promised me to deliver Duncan Idaho as an agent of House Corrino. All he asked was to meet you and interpret your dream.” And Tyekanik added to himself: Or so he told Wensicia! New doubts assailed the Bashar. “Why is my dream so important to you, old man?” Farad’n asked. “Your dream tells me that great events move toward a logical conclusion,” The Preacher said. “I must hasten my return.” Mocking, Farad’n said: “And you will remain inscrutable, giving me no advice.” “Advice, Prince, is a dangerous commodity. But I will venture a few words which you may take as advice or in any other way which pleases you.” “By all means,” Farad’n said. The Preacher held his masked face rigidly confronting Farad’n. “Governments may rise and fall for reasons which appear insignificant, Prince. What small events! An argument between two women . . . which way the wind blows on a certain day . . . a sneeze, a cough, the length of a garment or the chance collision of a fleck of sand and a courtier’s eye. It is not always the majestic concerns of Imperial ministers which dictate the course of history, nor is it necessarily the pontifications of priests which move the hands of God.” Farad’n found himself profoundly stirred by these words and could not explain his emotion. Tyekanik, however, had focused on one phrase. Why did this Preacher speak of a garment? Tyekanik’s mind focused on the Imperial costumes dispatched to the Atreides twins, the tigers trained to attack. Was this old man voicing a subtle warning? How much did he know? “How is this advice?” Farad’n asked. “If you would succeed,” The Preacher said, “you must reduce your strategy to its point of application. Where does one apply strategy? At a particular place and with a particular people in mind. But even with the greatest concern for minutiae, some small detail with no significance attached to it will escape you. Can your strategy, Prince, be reduced to the ambitions of a regional governor’s wife?” His voice cold, Tyekanik interrupted: “Why do you harp upon strategy, Preacher? What is it you think My Prince will have?” “He is being led to desire a throne,” The Preacher said. “I wish him good luck, but he will need much more than luck.” “These are dangerous words,” Farad’n said. “How is it you dare such words?” “Ambitions tend to remain undisturbed by realities,” The Preacher said. “I dare such words because you stand at a crossroad. You could become admirable. But now you are surrounded by those who do not seek moral justifications, by advisers who are strategy oriented. You are young and strong and tough, but you lack a certain advanced training by which your character might evolve. This is sad because you have weaknesses whose dimensions I have described.” “What do you mean?” Tyekanik demanded. “Have a care when you speak,” Farad’n said. “What is this weakness?” “You’ve given no thought to the kind of society you might prefer,” The Preacher said. “You do not consider the hopes of your subjects. Even the form of the Imperium which you seek has little shape in your imaginings.” He turned his masked face toward Tyekanik. “Your eye is upon the power, not upon its subtle uses and its perils. Your future is filled, thus, with manifest unknowns: with arguing women, with coughs and windy days. How can you create an epoch when you cannot see every detail? Your tough mind will not serve you. This is where you are weak.” Farad’n studied the old man for a long space, wondering at the deeper issues implied by such thoughts, at the persistence of such discredited concepts. Morality! Social goals! These were myths to put beside belief in an upward movement of evolution. Tyekanik said: “We’ve had enough words. What of the price agreed upon, Preacher?” “Duncan Idaho is yours,” The Preacher said. “Have a care how you use him. He is a jewel beyond price.” “Oh, we’ve a suitable mission for him,” Tyekanik said. He glanced at Farad’n. “By your leave, My Prince?” “Send him packing before I change my mind,” Farad’n said. Then, glaring at Tyekanik: “I don’t like the way you’ve used me, Tyek!” “Forgive him, Prince,” The Preacher said. “Your faithful Bashar does God’s will without even knowing it.” Bowing, The Preacher departed, and Tyekanik hurried to see him away. Farad’n watched the retreating backs, thought: I must look into this religion which Tyek espouses. And he smiled ruefully. What a dream interpreter! But what matter? My dream was not an important thing.

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