The Richman and the Alchemist's Niece (Part Four)
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  In an instant, a retainer appeared.

    "Present my compliments to the Soothsayer and ask him to join me."

    He turned up the light of his desk lamp. The dim snow-filtered light outside scarcely stretched into the room.

    Ten minutes elapsed before the Soothsayer knocked on the door. His feet pitter-pattered across the carpet. He too was an old man, and his white beard touched the ground as he bowed.

    The Emperor studied the long thin body and the ancient face. I am surrounded by dodderers, he thought. Everywhere I turn it seems, I am reminded of my mortality.

    "Soothsayer," he said. "I want you to use your arts to interpret a dream for me."

    The old man bowed.


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