I had this dream last night about a feudal kingdom in a world where there was more than one species of anthropomorphic, intelligent people. There were a few different species, one with feathers, a few mammalian, but this is a story about a man who was from a reptilian species that was very large, very fast, with a thick, resilient scaly skin and horns.
Anyway, the reptilian species was very much an oppressed labor class. They were prevented from learning literacy and limited only to very menial jobs. This guy worked for a printer, doing things like cleaning floors and lifting large boxes and delivering finished books.
Over the years, he’d learned to read by immersion but was very afraid of being caught.
One day, though, he stole a book from a delivery. He was caught and arrested and brought before the new queen, who was a very young teenager from a small, mammalian species that looked sort of like a cross between humans and lab mice; she had very fine white hair and pink skin and red eyes and little flapped ears like mouse ears and a tail.
Anyway, just before he arrived before her to plead his case, he was shot. The palace guards saw the shooter and acted just moments before the shot went off and managed to tackle the shooter, but the reptile man was still shot in the shoulder.
The queen ordered him to be taken to her own infirmary and patched up, and once he was properly cared for, she went to see him and invited him to come to a public event with her. She didn’t ask any questions, just asked him to come.
He had a lot of trepidation about it because it wasn’t done, and he didn’t feel safe, but she eventually convinced him and ordered someone to find formal clothing that would fit him, which was a bit of a nightmare.
Anyway, she brings him to this event, and he is incredibly aware that people are talking behind their backs and whispering about his presence, and the few times the queen stops to talk to other people, many of them make condescending and what I’d call racist remarks, for want of a better word, about him and his presence there. And she seems alternatingly oblivious and outraged by it, and he keeps trying to explain to her that this is normal.
Finally, they speak to one of her chief lords, who is in a crowd of other very wealthy and powerful people, and he asks who the man is, and she introduces him (I know he had a name but I don’t remember it) and explains “he’s my newest advisor.”
And everyone stops silent, including the reptilian dude. He tries to refuse, but she won’t hear any of it, and the lords and ladies start spouting rhetoric against it, citing the reptiles’ purported “inability” for intellectual reason, but she ignores them all.
Later, in private, he tells her he can’t accept the seat, that it’s too dangerous for him and for his people, and tries to explain that if one of them has perceived power, people will take it out on the rest.
And she clearly is having trouble processing that idea, and he finally asks her why she said that. And she says, “anyone worthy of being assassinated before they can speak to me must know more than they let on. Do you know why someone would want to kill you?”
And at first he says no, and she cajoles him, and finally she says outright, “I know you’re literate.”
And then he says “the book I stole. I’m pretty sure it contained an encrypted message. And I think it was plans for a war.”
And then a little more happened but I woke up before there were any other interesting plot points.