.

.

There's been no signs of birds or wildlife on the ground for days.

Roland feels a humming in the air. He feels it burrowing under his skin and threatening to liquify his marrow. It's a possibility to why such a thing occurs, why no insects scurry by or even crawl in the soil.

"This way," he orders gruffly, stepping in a lesser direction, but keeping along the path going through the lush, foggy woodlands. Jake says nothing, kicking at stray pebbles against his worn, mud-caked sneakers and glancing with wary curiosity at his surroundings. He's more of an observer than a fighter at times.

It's alright by Roland — he doesn't wish to hold palaver or train Jake, at the present moment.

The boy from Midtown, come to Mid-World, and its ka regarding the Dark Tower. Roland's own ka-tet, if Roland was fool enough to believe.

I am, he reminds himself bitterly. Jake drew him.

Roland peers over his shoulder, stopping as Jake weighs the round, prickly berries in his palm, inspecting his crimson juice-stained fingers. "Have I not spoke of heeding more caution, Jake?" he says, frowning.

"I was hungry," Jake explains, carelessly tossing them. "We haven't eaten in two days."

His lips appears sun-pinkened and cracked dry, smacking loudly together as Jake heaves up his bag. Roland gazes over him briefly, from the crest of his dark, tousled hair to Jake's faintly reddened digits. He nods to no-one particular.

"We will find food soon."

"And if we don't?" Jake says, almost challengingly. It's a boyish form of a disbelieving look he sets on him. Roland recognizes it immediately. He slips out his newest water-skin, grateful for its heavy, sloshing weight.

"There will be water if God will it…"

Jake's lips twitch up.

"Is that some kind of proverb?" he mutters, taking the skin and swallowing down a mouthful of cool water.

Proverb.

Roland tries to not squint his eyes in thought. The language of Jake's world has the strangest meanings, baffling him on occasion. "I know not," Roland tells him offhandedly, grasping the neck of the water-skin.

Before he can pull away, Jake shoots his arm out again, touching Roland's wrist.

There's a flash of determination and remorse in those steely blue eyes. More life carries inside Jake than what thrives to the marshy woodlands. More reasons for him to not be here — but how can Roland let go of him now? When ka blows like the winds, and the humming of the Beam deepens inside their senses?

"I…"

Silence follows. Jake bunches up his mouth, trying to remember the words he's recited before.

"I cry your pardon… suhh…"

"Sai," Roland interrupts, but patiently.

Jake's mouth widens into a bashful grin, revealing his teeth and gums. "Sai, yeah," he repeats.

Without truth or reason to guide him, Roland finds himself leaning over, staring Jake in the eye and clapping his shoulder. "All is well," Roland says lowly, as if reassuring his companion. His dark brown fingers squeeze down gently, lifting up and patting Jake's rosy-warm cheek. "You are learning, cully."

Picking up his gunna, Roland turns and walks on.

He's about to point out the fallen logs in the clearing, where they can make rest come nightfall, when there's a noisy, sickened wheezing filling up the air.

At first, Roland's hand grips to his sandalwood pistol, but the urge fades quickly.

Drool, clear and warm, pours out between Jake's lips. He coughs and vomits and struggles to breathe in, jerking forward and falling to knees. "Jake!" Roland shouts, grabbing around him as the boy collapses, Jake's head tilting sideways. He watches in horror as Jake drastically pales, turning a blotchy red.

Devil's fruit…

Roland knows he's seen this before. He's seen fully grown men become powerless to the effects within moments, paralyzed or spasming, unable to regain themselves. Char…

Char… like the winds.

He lays Jake down, prying open Jake's mouth and shoving a finger in, attempting to scoop out what's in Jake's throat or obstructing it. Nothing feels swollen or blocking his airways. Jake awakens violently, gagging around Roland's crimson-stained forefinger leaving his mouth. Tears gathers hotly and sliding free.

"How much did you have?"

"One," Jake sobs out. "Roland…"

He trembles and whimpers in his arms as Roland pulls him upright into an embrace, shushing him. Petting Jake's sweat-sticky hair and fiercely kissing the side of his head, his temple and cheekbone.

Above them, a blackbird perches onto a low-hanging branch, letting out a caw.

.

.

The kindling snaps apart and burns within the flames. Roland glances up, staring through them and chewing on a grizzly piece of meat. Jake pokes one of his dirtied fingertips past his teeth, scraping at his tongue.

"Cry off," Roland insists, as the young, irritated boy sighs and flops down onto his back. "You'll be alright."

He's not far from him, so Roland can witness in firelight how Jake's lips thin and his brow crinkles.

"I screwed up…"

It's understandable why Jake is being so sullen and in a foul mood. He agreed to come with Roland to seek a new life in Mid-World, to become an apprentice of sorts. Perhaps the apprentice to the Last Gunslinger.

They've never met before, he's sure of that—no matter how the dim roars in Roland's skull—

(—Jake's more than a stranger, a child—he's—)

The wind pushes against them, fluttering Jake's bangs. Roland's gun-hand curls into a fist. "As we travel on, I will show you what is dangerous to you and what is not," he says. "Will you allow me this, Jake?"

At a quiet, solemn nod, Roland stands.

"Rest until then," he adds, busying himself with covering the fire in ashes. "We will leave at first light."

Only embers remain, and Jake's voice hovers, tired, small.

"… mhm… thankee-sai…"

Roland's heart pounds with incredulous force. He nearly stumbles over a log, clutching his knee, lowering into a sit. I've never, Roland considers this, wiping his palm over his lips. No, have I taught him those words?

No…

(Was it Jake's touch? Or something beyond them, carried high in the ancient, whispering treetops, reaching towards the Beam and the Tower itself?)

Damn them all.

.

.


The Dark Tower (2017)/Dark Tower series doesn't belong to me. I'm gonna be honest: the Dark Tower series is my all-time favorite book series. Ever. I have gone through a roller-coaster of emotions about this movie adaption and watching it, and I've settled on that I really like what they did! It's CANON that other worlds/universes exist beyond what universe the book showed us. This feels like a prequel of sorts. This feels like a reimagining or a different pocket universe, where we got the same characters and the Tower and everything else—it's just being told in a NEW and interesting way to start. I cannot wait for Jake to fall and then return to us, and to get Eddie and Susannah and Oy. I know a lot of fellow book lovers/fans are mad because the movie adaption is not following the books to the tee, but I've been waiting for a movie adaption since I was 15 and they got Roland and Jake the way I want them, so I'M VERY HAPPY TBH.

Lmao that was my rant. I love the family feeling with Roland and Jake, and I'm ready to get my heart broken all over again if we get more damn movies (which we better)! Any thoughts/comments appreciated! Tell me if you are a fan of the book series or the 2017 movie! :)

Glossary:

* ka = fate

* ka-tet = those who are brought together by fate

* palavar = to have a conversation

* "There will be water if God will it..." = "What is meant to happen will happen"

* "I cry your pardon, sai" = "I'm sorry, sir(ma'am/etc)"

* cully = lad

* gunna = what you are physically carrying with you

* char = death

* "Cry off" = "Stop"

* the dim/dim = a feeling of deja vu

* "thankee-sai" = "thank you"

* Jake's touch = Jake's shine/psychic abilities