"....I now pronounce you married," Queen Astra finishes, "You can now kiss your grooms." And Susan and the others did indeed, most heartfelt and warm!
Their lips touch, and Roland's heart beats in time with his loves....and he knows, down to his core, that he can't dare....can't stand to lose her again. Twice....no.
But I shan't need to, Roland thinks to himself, suddenly delirious in happiness as he looks into Susan's loving eyes, I shall not! In the name of my father, I shall not!
Susan's eyes and his then drift towards one person in particular, and then back to each other. Silently, both knew that they owed a blood debt to this one, and in doing so were answering something of a siren's song that was softly calling to them. They would miss Mid-world, but....
They owed Probe a life debt. Susan owed her life to the AI/Golem (whatever type of man that was, exactly).
Thus, at the end of all the other ceremonies (adoptions of the new family members into the D'Honair/Thessamer/John Clan) Roand and Susan shocked everyone to silence when they pledged, openly and to all, themselves as hand man and maiden to a stunned Count Probe.
The others were surprised because all knew that Roland and Susan were of Mid-World and.....loved it very much despite all it's flaws. They were not the type to "cut and run" for better pastures when things got tough. Probe and those of the Military understood it well. It was like this. One can get so.....involved in a fight to save what they called their own (saving their homes) that soon it became unthinkable to ever give it up even if a better opportunity presented itself. The Military had fought, bled, and died trying to save Home (as messed up as those distant parallel Earths were) and were not about to emigrate to other, greener and less war ravaged worlds. They were going to stay and fix things!! Anything else was not in them. The same appeared to be true for Roland (and perhaps Susan as well). But another thing soon became apparent as Roland and Susan spoke. It was a matter of honor. They felt that anything less than what they were doing was even MORE unthinkable.
Probe had saved Susan's life from the ravening mob that wanted to burn her.
Probe had saved the unborn son of Roland's from burning by a ravening mob chanting Charyou tree.
Probe had given Roland back Susan to him, as well as his unborn son.
Roland wasn't going to forget that, and neither would Susan.
After Roland's business at the Dark Tower was complete, he would comeback to his wife and still unborn son (for this journey would be amazingly short indeed compared to what he'd expected when he'd awoken this morning....his reckoning) and settle down. Settle down on Terra Prime.
"Well....I accept with one conditional," Probe finally says, "That you teach the way of the Gunslinger to my people in UNIT...."
Slowly, a smile spread across Roland's face as the thought took flight in his mind. He was the last Gunslinger, and while he was teaching Jake, Susannah, and Eddie....the idea of starting up the Academy again!.....
That night was a very good night indeed for many, and for Roland it's a good night indeed in more ways than one. As he and Susan drift off, they dream dreams that are sweet indeed.
Next morning, after getting refreshed and cleaned (the indoor plumbing and hot water...as well as the indoor lighting brings whistles of appreciation for those who hail from worlds where such are rare....if not non-existent), they gather again. Many are aglow with the events of last night and grins are infectious. Probe and his family have made arrangements to get back to their home as soon as possible (with Susan as their guest). Susan was going to stay behind while Roland went off to do what must be done, and Probe was all to happy to provide quarters for her while she waited for her love.
And so, almost too soon, the adventurers begin again on their quest for the Dark Tower.
"But one....thing scares me to the core," Roland says softly, away from the others, to Astra La Post as they set off. "It's what the Turtle said to me while I traveled inside the wizard's glass....right before I saw what I thought was Susan burn....."
"Ah, about the part were it said: ‘You will kill everything and everyone you love, and still the tower will be pent shut against you.' I believe?" Astra chuckles slightly, shaking her head, "Roland, if by now you haven't figured it out, then let me alleviate that worry. The Rules and Agents want you in the Dark Tower. Things may not be so desperate as when you began, but I was told that whatever you could have done before when things were.....different... is still of use for putting things right with the Dark Tower. It'll speed the healing process a LOT. In other words...."
The Gunslinger shakes his head, befuddled.
"The Turtle was wrong," he whispered, suddenly seeing it.
"Or whoever was actually talking was only selling you a line of crap," Eddie chimes in from the side. "Things being as what we've seen, ka isn't what it might to have appeared to have been."
"But whatever the case we must go," Susannah also says, "It'd be....rude to not go! An' no more talk about having ‘em put us two back in our old world, Roland! We have changed....and....."
"It's ka," Roland finishes. "Or maybe....kaka as my book counterpart said."
The others who'd been with Roland for a long time stare at him, surprised.
Roland of Gilead had just cracked a joke. Not much of one, but......
That said, Susan kissed Roland and the others goodbye (for now), and....
12/27/2000 4:04:19 AM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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