It is high summer. The character (henceforth X, WLOG male) has been invited to stay a while at the Chateau as an ambassador from a distant country. After a wonderful evening’s entertainment at the hands of the Duke de Mandailles, and a gourmalicious meal at the hands of his chefs, he retires to the First Guest’s room, and the solitude of sleep. The soft late night sun is gradually fading into a breeze and he loses himself in the folds of the bed.
He has not been dozing long when he wakes up. It is unusually dark. Surely it can’t be this late already? There’s something unsettlingly different about the room which he can’t quite place. He puts his hand to his brow and realises he’s sweating. How odd. Never mind. He starts to doze off again, but then sits bolt upright. Someone has closed the window, he thinks, It was open, now it is not.
X is now living the life of Thomas Arnold, a priest who stayed in this Bed five hundred years ago. He was a radical, one of a new school of religious thought who challenged the orthodox beliefs. It was in this very room that he was sleeping when they came for him, to take him away for execution.
X lights a candle. In its dim light he can see it is the same room, but there are a number of changes. The paintings on the wall are not there, but there is a large tapestry instead. The rug on the floor is gone, and it’s just bare stone, cold on the feet. Then he hears footfalls in the passage outside. If he can find it quickly enough there is a concealed priesthole behind the bed (can he move the bed in time?). If he hides and overhears the conversation of the Inquisitioners who have been sent for him, he may realise what’s going on. If he stays to fight them, he may realise they’re talking in an old-fashioned style. Maybe one of them calls him Thomas.
Possibly he could find Arnold’s diary on the desk, maybe he gets taken off to execution or maybe he escapes. It doesn’t matter, as long as he realises he’s living the life of someone who stayed in the room before. At some point he either gets knocked out or executed, and finds himself falling into slumber once more.
He awakes in the bed, to find it has all been a dream. It’s a lovely morning and everything is fine. The ambassadorial negotiations go well that day and once more he finds himself feasting the night away with the Duke. Later he retires to bed, after watching an amazing sunset. As its last rays die away he starts to nod off…
He gradually becomes aware of a sound. It’s a voice, gasping, groaning. Suddenly he can feel somebody with him, he’s holding her, ripe in the act of love. He is surprised. When it’s all over, they lie there, panting in the darkness and she tells him that she must leave now. He begs her to tell him who she is, and she just laughs and tells him not to be silly as she pulls on her clothes. He grabs her and demands to know what’s going on, but she wriggles out of his grip and says she has to go, before his wife arrives.
X is now living the life of Doricio Miconi, the infamous adulterer who owned the Chateau three hundred and fifty years ago, and used the First Guest’s room to meet his lady-friends. In fact, this is the night his wife found out and decided to kill him.
Eventually he either kills/is killed by the wife and returns to sleep, to awake the next morning, even more puzzled by his mysterious dreams, but relieved to find that that’s what they are. He may at any time mention the dreams to the Duke, who knows nothing of the magical memory of the bed, but who may fill him in with details of the personalities he’s met. This day the negotiations go even better than previously.
The third night X goes uneasily to sleep, expecting to find himself in some terrible haunted dreamworld. And rightly so. When he opens his eyes he is in a candlelit room. Sitting opposite him is someone he recognises. Like a drop of icy blood running down his chest he realises it’s the Duke. “We must stab while he sleeps. He cannot be allowed to awaken.” There is a murmur of agreement from a few shadowy figures gathered around the table. That’s worrying, thinks X, I didn’t know the Duke was like this.
“He comes here with his foreign ideals and sickly accent claiming we must succumb to their distant empire.”
“How shall it be done?”
“I have my trusted assassins here: Zan and Surl,” the Duke points to two men “They will kill him for me.”
“It will be done,” mutters Zan.
If you hadn’t followed, the assassins’ target is X. X’s dream-character (who is some noble friend of the Duke, part of the conspiracy against X) will have to try and save X from a horrible death.
It would be possible to fill in more nights in between with more historical dreams, but I thought it best to leave it at three.