An impossibly tall tower in a huge field of red roses. The clouds overhead
seem to twist bout it, rotating around a point just above the strange
Something is going on all over it. Nothing that can be seen if one
looks at the Tower straight on. Rather, it's flickers of activity all over
it if one looks at the thing from the corner of their eyes.
"They're fixing it," whispers Synizn, guessing the truth.
Indeed, a massive, invisible effort was underway to fix what had been
None of them, Champion or not, knew how they knew this....but they
Roland, tears in his eyes at the dream finally realized, steps forward
towards the Dark Tower, only to be stopped by Astra giving him
"The way isn't barred....but I figure that....." she says simply,
She remembered the poem, and Roland did as well.
And so Roland blew his horn. The very air seemed to shiver in
anticipation. Astra remembered the poem.....
"Childe Roland To The Dark Tower
My first thought was, he lied in every word,
cripple, with the malicious eye
Askance to watch
the working of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suprpression of the glee, that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one
more victim gained thereby.
What else should he be set for, with his staff?
What, save to
waylay with his lies, ensnare
All travelers who
might find him posted there,
And ask the road? I guessed what skull-like laugh
Would break, what crutch 'gin write my epitaph
For pastime in
the dusty thoroughfare,
If at his counsel I should turn aside
Into that ominous
tract which, all agree,
Hides the Dark
Tower. Yet acquiesingly
I did turn as he pointed: neither pride
Nor hope rekindling at the end described,
So much as
gladness that some end might be.
For, what with my whole world-wide wandering,
What with my
search drawn out through years, my hope
Dwindled into a
ghost not fit to cope
With that obstreperous joy success would bring,-
I hardly tried now to rebuke the spring
My heart made,
finding failure in its scope.
As when a sick man very near to death
indeed, and feels begin and end
The tears and
takes the farewell of each friend,
And hears one bid the other go, draw breath
Freelier outside, (since all is o'er, he saith,
blow fallen no grieving can amend;)
While some discuss if near the other graves
Be room enough
for this, and when a day
Suits best for
carrying the corpse away,
With care about the banners, scarves and staves:
And still the man hears all, and only craves
He may not shame
such tender love and stay.
Thus, I had so long suffered in this quest,
prophesied so oft, been writ
So many times
among The Band- to wit,
The knights who to the Dark Tower's search addressed
Their steps- that just to fail as they, seemed best,
And all the doubt
was now- should I be fit?
So, quiet as despair, I turned from him,
cripple, out of his highway
Into the path he
pointed. All the day
Had been a dreary one at best, and dim
Was settling to its close, yet shot one grim
Red leer to see
the plain catch its estray.
For mark! no sooner was I fairly found
Pledged to the
plain, after a pace or two,
Than, pausing to
throw backward a last view
O'er the safe road, 'twas gone; gray plain all round:
Nothing but plain to the horizon's bound.
I might go on;
naught else remained to do.
So, on I went. I think I never saw
ignoble nature; nothing throve:
For flowers- as
well expect a cedar grove!
But cockle, spurge, according to their law
Might propagate their kind, with none to awe,
You'd think; a
burr had been a treasure trove.
No! penury, inertness and grimace,
In some strange
sort, were the land's portion. See
Or shut your
eyes, said Nature peevishly,
It nothing skills: I cannot help my case:
'Tis the Last Judgment's fire must cure this place,
Calcine its clods
and set my prisoners free.
If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk
Above its mates,
the head was chopped; the bents
else. What made those holes and rents
In the dock's harsh swarth leaves, bruised as to balk
All hope of greenness? 'tis a brute must walk
life out, with a brute's intents.
As for the grass, it grew as scant as hair
In leprosy; thin
dry blades pricked the mud
looked kneaded up with blood.
One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare,
Stood stupefied, however he came there:
Thrust out past
service from the devil's stud!
Alive? he might be dead for aught I know,
With that red
gaunt and collapsed neck a-strain,
And shut eyes
underneath the rusty mane;
Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe;
I never saw a brute I hated so;
He must be wicked
to deserve such pain.
I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart.
As a man calls
for wine before he fights,
I asked one
draught of earlier, happier sights,
Ere fitly I could hope to play my part.
Think first, fight afterwards- the soldier's art:
One taste of the
old time sets all to rights.
Not it! I fancied Cuthbert's reddening face
garniture of curly gold,
Dear fellow, till
I almost felt him fold
An arm in mine to fix me to the place,
That way he used. Alas, one night's disgrace!
Out went my
heart's new fire and left it cold.
Giles then, the soul of honor- there he stands
Frank as ten
years ago when knighted first.
What honest man
should dare (he said) he durst.
Good - but the scene shifts - faugh! what hangman-hands
Pin to his breast a parchment? His own hands
Read it. Poor
traitor, spit upon and curst!
Better this present than a past like that;
Back to my
darkening path again!
No sound, no
sight as far as eye could strain.
Will the night send a howlet or a bat?
I asked: when something on the dismal flat
Came to arrest my
thoughts and change their train.
A sudden little river crossed my path
As unexpexted as
a serpent comes.
No sluggish tide
congenial to the glooms;
This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath
For the fiend's glowing hoof- to see the wrath
Of its black eddy
bespate with flakes and spumes.
So petty yet so spiteful! All along,
alders kneeled down over it;
flung themselves headlong in a fit
Of mute despair, a suicidal throng:
The river which had done them all wrong,
was, rolled by, deterred no whit.
Which, while I forded,- good saints, how I feared
To set my foot
upon a dead man's cheek,
Each step, or
feel the spear I thrust to seek
For hollows, tangled in his hair or beard!
- It may have been a water rat I speared,
But, ugh! it
sounded like a baby's shriek.
Glad was I when I reached the other bank.
Now for a better
country. Vain presage!
Who were the
strugglers, what war did they wage,
Whose savage trample thus could pad the dank
Soil to a plash? Toads in a poisoned tank,
Or wild cats in a
red-hot iron cage-
The fight must so have seemed in that fell cirque.
What penned them
there, with all the plain to choose?
leading to that horrid mews,
None out of it. Mad brewage set to work
Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk
Pits for his
pastime, Christians against Jews.
And more than that- a furlong on- why, there!
What bad use was
that engine for, that wheel,
Or brake, not
wheel- that harrow fit to reel
Men's bodies out like silk? with all the air
Of Tophet's tool, on earth left unaware,
Or brought to
sharpen its rusty teeth of steel.
Then came a bit of stubbed ground, once a wood,
Next a marsh, it
would seem, and now mere earth
done with; (so a fool finds mirth,
Makes a thing and then mars it, till his mood
Changes and off he goes!) within a rood-
Bog, clay and
rubble, sand and stark black dearth.
Now blotches rankling, colored gay and grim,
Now patches where
some leanness of the soil's
Broke into moss
or substance like boils;
Then came some palsied oak, a cleft in him
Like a disturbed mouth that splits its rim
Gaping at death,
and dies while it recoils.
And just as far as ever from the end!
Naught in the
distance but the evening, naught
To point my
footstep further! At the thought,
A great black bird, Apollyon's bosom-friend,
Sailed past, nor beat his wide wing dragon-penned
That brushed my
cap- perchance the guide I sought.
For, looking up, aware I somehow grew,
'Spite of the
dusk, the plain had given place
All round to
mountains- with such name to grace
Mere ugly heights and heaps now stolen in view.
How thus they had surprised me,- solve it, you!
How to get from
them was no clearer case.
Yet half I seemed to recognize some trick
happened to me, God knows when-
In a bad dream
perhaps. Here ended, then,
Progress this way. When, in the very nick
Of giving up, one more time, came a click
As when a trap
shuts- you're inside the den!
Burningly it came on me all at once,
This was the
place! those two hills on the right,
Crouched like two
bulls locked horn in horn in fight;
While to the left, a tall scalped mountain...
Dunce, Dotard, a-dozing at the very nonce,
After a life
spent training for the sight!
What in the midst lay but the Tower itself?
The round squat
turret, blind as the fool's heart,
Built of brown
stone, without a counterpart
In the whole world. The tempest's mocking elf
Points to the shipman thus the unseen self
He strikes on,
only when the timbers start.
Not see? because of night perhaps?- why, day
Came back again
for that! before it left,
The dying sunset
kindled through a cleft:
The hills, like giants at a hunting, lay,
Chin upon hand, to see the game at bay,-
and end the creature- to the heft!
Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it tolled
Increasing like a
bell. Names in my ears
Of all the lost
adventurers my peers,-
How such a one was strong, and such was bold,
And such was fortunate, yet each of old
Lost, lost! one
moment knelled the woe of years.
There they stood, ranged along the hill-sides, met
To view the last
of me, a living frame
For one more
picture! in a sheet of flame
I saw them and I knew them all. And yet
Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips set,
Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came.
And then they found themselves inside. Not the false "inside" as
what others who'd dared enter into it's hallowed halls upon it's discovery
so long ago. Not that crass seeming.
No, they were in the real interior! And Astra as they are escorted to
the hearts of the Office of Order and then to the Office of
Choas.....realized from descriptions from Sigin 2 and of Li'reth of their
first encounters with the Rules and Agent that there had been Champions
who'd been here before! That is, there had been those in the
Thessamer/D'Honaire/John clan who'd somehow ended up within the very Dark
Tower before now!
However, those tales pale in comparison to what the group sees....
Back on Terra Prime, not even seconds after Queen Astra had
"....inside," Queen Astra finishes up as she snuggles against Willian in
bed, "Too strange for me to explain easily.
"That aside," she continues, "It boiled down to this. Since the return
of Arthur Eld, also known as King Arthur on Roland's world, Roland's
bloodline had been the key to the heart of the Dark Tower. Roland felt the
distress call of the Tower most strongly, but only until later in his life
did he understand on some level what it meant. Roland had within his very
blood the means of repairing, destorying, or even what the Rules and Agents
did with the Dark Tower in the end."
Willian looked down at Astra, who smiled back at him as she paused
"The Tower still stands....but it's no longer quiet as centralized as
it had been," she finally explains, "Now there are backups for backups
(i.e. spare Dark Towers) and EVERYTHNING has oversight on it. Before, when
the Demons had intruded into the business of the Agents and Rules in order
to gain the upper hand with the Angels, there had been little to nothing
for that. When the Demons started interfering with the Beams, which is the
backbone of the Tower as well as the powers of the Rules and Agents....it
had been deemed necessary by the Gods that the Rules and Agents must become
sentient and free willed in order to put everything back to right. The
Willian nods, seeing that.
"We also saw Flagg's head on a stake," Astra added, remembering the
grim smile that had brought Roland, "It had happened there in the Tower,
but events were still playing out leading up to it outside. Time travel
can be so confusing."
"And speaking of time travel," Willian put in, "You said that Roland
and the others will be arriving back at the very spot where they'd been wed
by you.....in the near future. What of Doctor Who and his friends? You
say that you had meet their earlier selves?"
"Probably very soon they'll be returning to Nantucket," Astra guessed,
"If only to satisfy some burning questions I saw in their eyes before we
departed. Inquirer, especially."
I'll have to return there myself soon, Astra thought to herself,
I'd made promises to return.....
And what of the Doctor's group?
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