Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower #4)
PART ONE RIDDLES
"ASK ME A RIDDLE," Blaine invited.
"Fuck you," Roland said. He did not raise his voice.
"WHAT DO YOU SAY?" In its clear disbelief, the voice of Big Blaine had become very close to the voice of its unsuspected twin.
"I said f**k you," Roland said calmly, "but if that puzzles you, Blaine, I can make it clearer. No. The answer is no."
There was no reply from Blaine for a long, long time, and when he did respond, it was not with words. Instead, the walls, floor, and ceiling began to lose their color and solidity again. In a space of ten seconds the Barony Coach once more ceased to exist. They were now flying through the mountain-range they had seen on the horizon: iron-gray peaks rushed toward them at suicidal speed, then fell away to disclose sterile valleys where gigantic beetles crawled about like landlocked turtles. Roland saw something that looked like a huge snake suddenly uncoil from the mouth of a cave. It seized one of the beetles and yanked it back into its lair. Roland had never in his life seen such animals or countryside, and the sight made his skin want to crawl right off his flesh. Blaine might have transported them to some other world.
"PERHAPS I SHOULD DERAIL US HERE," Blaine said. His voice was meditative, but beneath it the gunslinger heard a deep, pulsing rage.
"Perhaps you should," the gunslinger said indifferently.
Eddie's face was frantic. He mouthed the words What are you DOING? Roland ignored him; he had his hands full with Blaine, and he knew perfectly well what he was doing.
"YOU ARE RUDE AND ARROGANT," Blaine said. "THESE MAY SEEM LIKE INTERESTING TRAITS TO YOU, BUT THEY ARE NOT TO ME."
"Oh, I can be much ruder than I have been."
Roland of Gilead unfolded his hands and got slowly to his feet. He stood on what appeared to be nothing, legs apart, his right hand on his hip and his left on the sandalwood grip of his revolver. He stood as he had so many times before, in the dusty streets of a hundred forgotten towns, in a score of rocky canyon killing-zones, in unnumbered dark saloons with their smells of bitter beer and old fried meals. It was just another showdown in another empty street. That was all, and that was enough. It was khef, ka, and ka-tet. That the showdown always came was the central fact of his life and the axle upon which his own ka revolved. That the battle would be fought with words instead of bullets this time made no difference; it would be a battle to the death, just the same. The stench of killing in the air was as clear and definite as the stench of exploded carrion in a swamp. Then the battle-rage descended, as it always did ... and he was no longer really there to himself at all.
"I can call you a nonsensical, empty-headed, foolish machine. I can call you a stupid, unwise creature whose sense is no more than the sound of a winter wind in a hollow tree."
Roland went on in the same serene tone, ignoring Blaine completely. "You're what Eddie calls a 'gadget.' Were you more, I might be ruder yet."
"I AM A GREAT DEAL MORE THAN JUST - "
"I could call you a sucker of cocks, for instance, but you have no mouth. I could say you're viler than the vilest beggar who ever crawled the lowest street in creation, but even such a creature is better than you; you have no knees on which to crawl, and would not fall upon them even if you did, for you have no conception of such a human flaw as mercy. I could even say you f**ked your mother, had you one."
Roland paused for breath. His three companions were holding theirs. All around them, suffocating, was Blaine the Mono's thunderstruck silence.
"I can call you a faithless creature who let your only companion kill herself, a coward who has delighted in the torture of the foolish and the slaughter of the innocent, a lost and bleating mechanical goblin who - "
"ICOMMAND YOU TO STOP IT OR I'LL KILL YOU ALL RIGHTHERE!"
Roland's eyes blazed with such wild blue fire that Eddie shrank away from him. Dimly, he heard Jake and Susannah gasp.
"Kill if you will, but command me nothing!" thegunslinger roared. "You have forgotten the faces of those who made you! Now either kill us or be silent and listen to me, Roland of Gilead, son of Steven, gunslinger, and lord of ancient lands! I have not come across all the miles and all the years to listen to your childish prating! Do you understand? Now you will listen to ME!"
There was another moment of shocked silence. No one breathed. Roland stared sternly forward, his head high, his hand on the butt of his gun.