(It doesn't mean "haven," not like you think.)

Fandom: The Dark Tower/Haven

Rating: PG-13

Wordcount: 1,000

Summary: On this level of the Tower, Haven.

Spoilers: Through "Sins of the Fathers."

Notes: Experimental, in both format and style. Written awhile back, amended at the last moment to account for the latest revelation about Duke.

There are as many worlds as there are levels of the Dark Tower: take this into your heart as true.

Some among the infinite worlds are designated as breeding grounds for the Crimson King, places where people of power live and bear children who might, one day, be taken to join their psychic kin in their Tower-breaking labor at the prison of Devar-Toi. Others of their kind are left as mere agents of chaos, their abilities strewing destruction across their worlds.

And upon this particular level of the Tower:

Ka has decreed that abilities run in families, here, and that these families congregate in one small town. Haven, they call it, from its original name of Tuwiuwok. The elders claim the word means "Haven for God's Orphans," which is a slanted interpretation; in the original tongue the name warned of a haven for outcasts far outside the province of God. Orphans, in fact, of a far different power.

(You can call it the Devil, if you like. The Crimson King isn't particular about his labels.)

(Even if calling the Crimson King "the Devil" is kind of like calling a tyrannosaur a lizard; there's a considerable difference of scale between one alleged entity that merely wants to corrupt souls, and the immutable one that wants to destroy all existence.)

(It's immaterial as far as Haven is concerned, at any rate.)

The manifestation of these people's abilities runs in cycles, as things so often do. Every twenty-seven years, like clockwork, running for a few years before the cycle winds down to prepare for the next.

(No surprise there: it's three to the third power. All important things go in threes.)

And so on the year of three's threes abilities manifest, people die, and servants of the King take careful note of which of the families' scions might be of most use to their master. Sometimes these observations result in vanishings, the missing most often mislabeled as runaways or simply deserters from small-town life, lured away by the glitter of some big city. Other times, those with powers-the troubled, in the local parlance-are left alone to engender more of their kind, the strength of their abilities doubling and redoubling down through their bloodline.

(The almost-instinctual wariness tendered to strangers in small towns has a legitimate basis. You might know your neighbors well enough, but a stranger could be-probably is-a spy for a power whose attention no one wants to draw.)

But ka-or perhaps even Gan his- or her- or itself- also decreed that every twenty-seven years, guardians arise to protect the town from itself. They try to create a haven for Haven; fate is not without a sense of humor.

(Ka is a wheel.)

Three connected souls come together to form a ka-tet, a group bound by fate. One stands for power, intimately tied to the town by blood and ability; the second stands for the termination of power, able to end a family's trouble by ending the troubled. Permanently, ya kennit. Which might seem to be a neat solution to the entire town, were it not for the bitter consequences. Exercising such a final option isn't to be applied on a whim, or lightly. Someone-something-might notice.

These two might be anyone connected to the town, and through the years they have been old or young, male or female, lovers or rivals or enemies. The third...

(Of three, always note the third.)

She appears on the year of threes, a stranger but quickly trusted: an anomaly. She always wears the same face, but her hair and clothing and even her personality differ each time. She never knows the town and must learn it (again, each time) through the help of her ka-tet, and through her they begin to learn their own purpose. Psychic abilities have little effect on her and her voice and touch soothe the troubled, easing their confusion and anger.

(These signs are taken as proof that she, too, is troubled. She is not. She is something else entirely.)

Ageless, she returns on the cycle but never remembers her past lives. Sometimes she uncovers something of her nature, in proof that a woman wearing her face has been in Haven before. All her searching brings few answers; what she is lies deep in the forgotten, founding truths of the world, and no one living has the language to decipher the clues left behind.

(Ultimately, who she might be is less of a mystery than why she is. Or even how she is, although you might as well say "magic" and be content. Clarke had a point with his-of course-third law.)

Together, the ka-tet of the troubled and the executioner and the eternal guardian try to keep those with wakened abilities from tearing the town apart. Whether they fail or succeed is a matter of degrees; the world turns as decreed, regardless. But their efforts make the place survivable, and more important, make the troubled less attractive to the notice of the King: Those who are content, who manage their trouble without troubling others, tend to be of less interest to the spies. Those who revel in chaos are far more likely to put their whole will into breaking the beams of the Tower. If a troubled soul can be pacified (or failing that, ended) before he or she truly gains a taste for-well, trouble-it's one less recruit for the labor at Devar-Toi, and so the Dark Tower endures that much longer.

(And as the Tower goes, so does all of existence. As this scenario plays out through the infinite worlds, through the infinite realities, every single victory against the dark matters. This story is not, in the end, about one small town and its quaint difficulties. This is the story of the great battle itself: not "good" versus "evil" but survival versus annihilation.)

But then, all stories are the same story. All things serve the Beam. Do ya kennit?