Book I: The Gunslinger >>>
CHAPTER ONE: Brown's Hut and PalaverEdit
The man in black fled into the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
The Mohaine Desert was the largest desert in All-World. As the gunslinger starred at it`s barren wastes, it`s waterless surface, it`s cracked hide, he was overcome with a sense of doubling. It was like being in two places at once. His vision shifted and created a layer that looked like a window in front of him. The sensation was brief but unsettling.
Like the rest of the world, the gunslinger moved on. Nowhere to go with bigger fish to fry, his father would always joke with his ka-mates. If there was fish here, there would be water. There would be water if God willed it, the gunslinger thought and let out a brief chuckle. There was less to laugh about now-a-days then there was water in this desert. The gunslinger was mighty thirsty, and exhausted. Although he had only been going for two hours now, it felt like much longer. His joints ached. It was like climbing a long set of stairs. No, that would come later, the gunslinger thought. If he ever caught the The Man in Black and climbed the Dark Tower.
The gunslinger carried on, swaying from side to side. The immense heat was getting to him, the sun seeming to curse him with it's burning glare. Sweat was trickling down his back, and still the craving for water grew stronger. HIs canteen strapped to his belt was only a quarter full, and the gunslinger wanted to preserve it. He ran his fingers over the canteen, then moved them over his guns. The grips still felt natural to his hand, and he couldn't wait to put a bullet through the man in black's head.
His fingers finally ran themselves around the rough, bumpy texture of the horn which lay at his side, attached to his belt through a drawstring. Please, Bert, give me strength. Where is the humor to surpass the pain?
The gunslinger remained with his fist clenched on this horn, and drew to a halt near a cactus. The gunslinger squinted as he surveyed his surroundings. That's when he saw it: a patch of smoking devil grass. The one thing that was good about the barren desert, is that the gunslinger could always eye a target. He took great haste as he strode over to the plant. Each step he took the grass would grow, and when the gunslinger made it over to the grass, the patch was about two feet long, and one foot tall. "Was it a long, restful stay?", the gunslinger asked to the desert. In reality, he would like to ask it of the man in black.
The grass was still smoking, which would lead one to believe that it was burned fairly recently, but listen well. The man in black is a deceiver, a man with more tricks than animal prey. The gunslinger knows this of the man. The man and he have a long, troubled, deceitful relationship, do ye' kennit?
So the gunslinger knew better when he saw the smoke. The gunslinger found it queer that he never ran across any droppings of food or man-made. He suspected that either the man in black set up false camps or buried what was left of his stays. Either way, it mattered not to the gunslinger. "One day, old fool." Again, the desert held no response.
The gunslinger laid down his growbag, took out his quilted roll, and laid his head down on it. He unlatched the horn and his canteen. They were put near his bag. His gunna would be safe. The gunslinger had a good ear, even when asleep, in case anything approached.
The gunslinger rolled over and let exhaustion take his mind away from the land of the living.
Here it was, the Tower. It stood, looming over the gunslinger like a bad omen. In a way he supposed it was just that: his bad omen. But aside for his personal matter, the Tower was so much more; it was hope for many. This he knew, as he knew the face of his father.
The gunslinger had been here many-a-many before, and never succeeded getting what he wanted from the Tower. He refused to give up, even now. He looked among the blood surrounding the Tower, although it wasn't blood, but roses. The gunslinger began trampling over some of the roses, on his way to the Tower's door. As he stepped on the roses, his heart felt a bit saddened, as if the roses were important. Not all, but one, his mind seemed to shout.
Crossing the field of roses, the gunslinger noticed the beautiful architecture of the Tower itself. The Tower itself was not black, but a darkened grey, each brick curving and colored precisely to the next. Around the Tower spun a spiral that was darker than the bricks and protruded from the building. Everything was perfectly symmetrical, as if formed by the gods themselves.
In his time admiring the beauty of the Tower, the gunslinger had already reached the door. This door was also perfect, without dent or scratch, but it was white. It appeared not to be hinged onto the Tower. On the door, engraved in high speech was one word: unfound. This engraving was also perfectly etched into the door, the gunslinger was left to wonder what tool was used.
The gunslinger reached his hand for the golden door knob when suddenly the perfect engraving of "unfound" began filling with red. The red flowed over the white. The gunslinger could see the red dripping from above and looked up. He saw the underside of the Tower's balcony, it's grey tiling filling with a red liquid: blood. The blood was still dripping down, onto the door, and now onto the gunslinger's face.
Repulsed, the gunslinger looked down and turned the handle of the Tower's door, desperate to get inside. The knob turned, but thudded when the gunslinger got it all the way around. Fuck, it must be locked.
Feeling desperate, still looking at "unfound", the gunslinger saw the letters re-arrange themselves and become something else. Just another single word: death. The gunslinger screamed, "No, not again! Please!"
With that, the roses didn't only blaze red, but gained a tinge of orange: they were on fire. The fire threatened to smother the gunslinger, and he knew he had to move. The gunslinger ran for a small patch that was unaffected by the fire to the west, and on the other side of the fire saw her. The girl from the window.
The gunslinger was looking at Susan, and here it was again: her burning, screaming his name, expressing her love for him, "Roland, I love thee!"
Roland yelled back: "Susan! Susan! I - I'm so sorry." It was too late, the gunslinger knew this. He fell over, and the roses were engulfed in the flames, along with Susan.
The gunslinger opened his eyes again. The fire seemed to have burned away all the roses and most of the Tower. All around was a barren waste land and a small part of the Tower ahead. This is not the Tower.
The gunslinger's mind seemed to have lost it's track, but he now remembered that he was not at the Tower but instead the Mohaine Desert. However, ahead there was a building. The gunslinger didn't know why he didn't see it before he fell asleep. It was a border dweller's hut.
Border Dwellers and StoriesEdit
Brown stood near the entrance to his hut, watching the wanderer approach him. The man was still far enough to be featureless, but Brown could tell this wasn't Poppa Doc by the stature and walk. Also, the traveler had a horse. Or perhaps just a mule. "The starkblast blows our way, I reckon." Brown said.
"Starkblast! Your way! Screw you!" replied his crow, Zoltan.
"Yeah, screw me. What do ye' think? Trouble?" Brown asked.
"Trouble! Trouble! Beans, Beans!"
"That's all ye' think of ye' gods damned bird! Now go!" Zoltan flew to the fence post. Brown continued to wait. The stranger would arrive soon enough, but he wasn't sure he wanted the stranger to come at all. He already was visited by the priest man, and how odd he had been, speaking of Fords and Twinkies and other manner of items Brown had never heard of.
He also had that one who called himself Travis, who had the bullet in his leg. Travis had warned Brown that death was coming. Travellers had stories, but their stories usually carried problems. "At least the worst that happens with Poppa Doc's visit is a bad bout of gas."
The gunslinger fastened his grow bag and grip on the mule's reigns as he approached the hut. Most border dwellers were harmless, but some could be thieves at heart. This particular dweller had strawberry-blonde hair that ran past his neck, and a beard that was almost as long. The man looked like he needed a good shave, the gunslinger thought. But under that scruff, the dweller had the kindest blue eyes he had ever seen. Is this a trick, another guise for the man in black? "Hile!" The gunslinger exclaimed.
"Long days and pleasant nights, gunslinger, is it?" The dweller asked.
"And may ye have twice the number. Aye, you say true. And who are you? Friend or foe?" The gunslinger asked.
"Screw you and the horse you rode in on! That's who!" The gunslinger turned, to see a very talkative crow that he thought he could have a bullet through in a matter of seconds.
"Don't mind Zoltan. Foul mouth he has. No pun intended, sai. Tried to teach him the Lord's prayer once, but all he wants to do is curse and talk about the beans we buy from Poppa Doc." Brown explained. Already the gunslinger knew he was going to have to set a spell here, this man liked to talk.
"What be your name, dweller?" The gunslinger asked. Be it Martyn or Maeryln or Walter?
"My complete name, that is lost with the world. Now I call myself Brown. No need to look so afraid gunslinger, you`ll find no trickery of me. What did they call you?"
"Will Dearborn." How long it had been since the gunslinger used that name.
"No, I meant what do they really call you?" Brown pushed.
"Roland Deschain of Gilead. If you know what that is."
"Yar, but I`m not sure I believe you. But there will be plenty of times for rest and stories. I`m sure you`ve already figured that much out. Come inside, and tie that sickly mule to the fence post."
Roland trudged behind Brown, watching as Brown opened the handleless oak wood door that was seemingly falling apart. He followed him inside.
The hut was small, but actually cozy and coy. Not the type of cozy that folk use when trying to make small areas seem better, but actually cozy. Brown had three cots set up, all surrounding a table. Behind the cots sat a hole that seemed to breeze cool air, and a box that the gunslinger assumed was used for Brown`s food and gunna.
"It ain`t much, but it`s home, and it`s comfortable enough." The gunslinger nodded at this. Brown spoke again."You look like ye haven`t had a proper rest in some time, lie down your gunna and set a spell, if it do ya well. Don`t worry, you`ll still be alive when ye` wake."
"Well I would hope, otherwise what would be the point in waking? To be greeted by the souls of Na'ar?" The gunslinger said, smugly.
"Nay, gunslinger, we are already there, but let your sleep bring you peace."
"All they bring is nightmares," said the gunslinger as he resigned himself to a cot. "Nightmares and an excuse to rest. I guess I'll take that." The gunslinger laid his head down and drifted off.
Brown was poking at a fire with a steel rod that the people of Gilead called a cane. "Rest well gunslinger? I'd hope so, because you'll be walking from here on. Your mule has moved on, say sorry sai. Zoltan's already taken upon himself to eat the remains." Brown said, with genuine sympathy.
"That's alright, I suppose. Was beginning to think it was slowing me down anyhow. Now I figure you're anxious to talk, even though he did talk when he was here, I would think." The gunslinger stated.
"Aye, you know too, the priest man was here." Brown said, and added, "And someone else I think you knew too." The gunslinger waved his hand as if to say, go on and let me hear it then.
"When the man stayed here, he didn't have much to say. It was all more or less gibberish to me. He seemed nice, but that niceness was a glamor of sorts."
"And is your hospitality a glamor too?" The gunslinger asked. He wasn't to sure why he did, but he liked this Brown, and would hate him to be a guise of the man in black.
"Nay. I told ye' before gunslinger. Nor demon, nor wizard, nor thief, nor harrier. You are safe in my hut." Brown paused. "And so was he. He didn't cause me no trouble, aside from calling my food worse then 'Twinkies'. Whatever manner of object that is. I like the food, and I can even see yourself eying the stew. Go ahead gunslinger, it's free."
"Thankee-sai," the gunslinger said as he grabbed a bowl near the pot.
"Now, I'll tell the tale and be quick. This man said that death was coming my way, and would come in the form of white. Now I could tell he lied with every word. I listened to the man while he spoke, and nodded in the right places. When it was time for sleep, I saw him see things in a cauldron, but then in my mind, all he saw is blank. I think it's magic. His visit wasn't too odd, but still frightening."
"The second visitor felt like he didn't even belong here. He felt like he was death, but he was in fact dying. But he wasn't death, but he told me the same thing the priest man told me: death was coming with hands faster than lightning and six shooters that glimmered in the sun. He hurried off, limping with his shot leg." Brown finished and let the words linger in the air.
The gunslinger finished his stew, and wiped his lips with his sleeve. "And that, my friend, brings me to my story, if you'll here it."
The Battle of TullEdit
"What be the location of our horses ye' ask? Mayhap I'll tell thee if ye' support my business," said the man with the top-hat. "Ye'd be welcome to any of my Fine Virgin Ladies. The man pointed to a trio of women whom the gunslinger thought looked like old, disease ridden clowns. Their make-up was smeared across the whole of their face, and none looked too happy, let alone virgin-like.
"Just give me the location I'm looking for and some gold is your reward." The gunslinger said. "So it be wanderer. I don't care if you do anything, as long as I get paid." The gunslinger handed over a piece of gold.
"The ranch hand be in the building on the outskirts of town." The gunslinger suspected, but had to confirm. "Thankee. Ye'd be wise to change careers, sai," The gunslinger said. The top-hatted pimp just snarled.
The gunslinger noticed something odd about the horses even as he was approaching: they were colored funny and appeared to have gaping black spots on their torsos. Roland then found it funny he didn't already suspect it sooner: the horses were muties. Each step closer made the horses more and more disfigured in Roland's eyes. When Roland finally reached the ranch, he noticed that all but one of the horses were covered in purple lesions, their flesh and fur matted and peeling. He felt slightly repulsed, but in his day he had seen things much more foul than these. Roland began looking around for the ranch hand, all he saw though was glimpses of the mangled horses: spines exposed, teeth decaying, extra limbs forming. It was when Roland laid his eyes on the one non-mutie that a hand gripped his shoulder. "What can I do ya' fer?" asked a man that looked almost as decrepit as the horses. "I'm in need of a steed", answered Roland. Roland saw the smirk forming on the ranch hand's lips.. and knew what the man would suggest before he even said it. "Can only offer ye' these flesh bags. That is unless you 'ave the sil'er fer the prized horse". Roland already had his wallet out, and a shiny piece of gold at the ready. "Here. I think this should cover it". The ranch hand stood, mouth ajar.. muttering, as Roland prepared his satchels, and the horn for traveling on the horse. "But... but.." The ranch hand was clearly dumbfounded. Gold was rare here. Not so rare where Roland came from. "Keep the change. Thankee sai. I'll be on my way now", with that, Roland rode into the sunset, back into the waste land, back to the Man in Black, back to a trap that has been laid out so many times before. II