World Moved On (IC): Chapter 1, the Drawing
The Man in Black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed...
The heat was nearly unbearable, the gunslinger's water skins were nearly empty, and his horse dropped dead weeks before. In the two dozen feet behind him trailed the rest of his ka-tet, equally oppressed by the sun. The gunslinger did not know them well, nor did they know him. Like other gunslingers from before the world moved on, he carried by his side a pair of ancient pistols - his were lead. The man that he had been chasing for the last year had nearly a week's lead on the gunslinger. This man, a dangerous sorcerer, sometimes went by the name of Marten Broadcloak, while others he called himself Randall Flagg, Walter O'Dim, and a half dozen other names. If his true self was not clear to the gunslinger, the magician's nature was still unquestionably evil: Marten Broadcloak betrayed Steven Deschain, the dinh of Gilead, causing the leader's death and the fall of the great nation to the forces of the "Good Man" Farson. Any gunslingers who survived the chaos fell in the battle of Jericho Hill, destroying the line of Eld and leaving Owen Armistead as the only remaining gunslinger.
Months earlier, the gunslinger nearly caught up with the magician in a small town. Marten Broadcloak, however, put on an impressive performance in the town's inn, laying out a sequence of tarot cards which foretold that a man carrying a deadly plague would soon arrive in their town, signalling the death of all of the men. He left the displayed cards on the inn's table to allow the gravity of their situation sink in. The following day, a farmer spotted a lone gunslinger riding towards town, far ahead of Broadcloak's predictions. The sorcerer fled the town, leaving his forgotten cards behind. Trailing behind the Man in Black for the few days it took him to cross the valley and the outskirts into town, Owen took his rest in the rather unfriendly and unwelcoming inn. The assembled locals viewed the gunslinger as the harbinger of their deaths. They were right.
As the gunslinger enjoyed a beer despite the obvious hostility of the townsfolk, the inn's jukebox began playing a song about a girl who falls for the man in the long black cloak, something triggered inside of the heads of the inn patrons. They fell on Owen like an elemental force. As he holstered his twin pistols, the gunslinger picked up the deck of cards that the magician forgot, counted the dead as 19, and stepped back out into the night. A few miles away, he made camp with a simple fire and put himself into a trance, drawing out four cards and placing them in front of him: the Beast, the Gambler, the Wolf, and the Freeman.
The gunslinger learned the trick of putting himself into a trance long before, when he walked among the Manni mystics. He learned their words and their ways, some of which he still remembered. Much later in his hunt for the Man in Black, in the scorching desert he shared an oasis with a group of horsemen calling themselves members of the Nomad Nations. The gunslinger was not a man of books and had never heard of these people, but he spoke in the words of the Manni holy text, and the nomads recognized the truth that they had been passing down by word of mouth for generations. They invited the gunslinger and his ka-tet to break bread with them and their "dreamthief," something akin to a Manni mystic, looked over the only unaccounted for card in Owen's hand: the Beast.
The dreamthief told Owen of a creature who stalked the desert by night, preying upon the horses and camels of the nomads. The beast possessed monstrous claws, immense strength, and great cunning. In fact, it could almost mimic the sound of human speech in its growls, howls, and wailing. Nodding to the nomads, the gunslinger led his ka-tet back into the desert and in search of the creature. The gunslinger, no stranger to the wild, found the Beast perched upon a rock by a small pond, feasting on the bloody remains of a vulture. He saw in the eyes of the aberration a human intelligence and recognized the tent's cloth that the beast wore as a cloak as a kind of human modesty. Despite the protests of his ka-tet, Owen approached the creature and held out the card showing the image of the Beast. He explained that he was hunting the wizard Marten Broadcloak, but that before they killed him, they would pry from the trickster everything he knew about the near-mythical Dark Tower. The Beast nodded in understanding. To his companions, the gunslinger only explained: "It's ka."
As Owen leads his companions across the desert long after their supplies have diminished and their mounts have perished, the Beast follows behind him. His story remains unknown to his dinh. The Beast is not alone in following Owen; the gunslinger's ranks included the Freeman, the Wolf, and the Gambler. The Gambler was the first of these to be drawn into the gunslinger's story, almost a full month before a chain of events including crossing through a doorway into what surely must be another world left the ka-tet marching through a seemingly endless desert. The Gambler, a man known by his friends as Russ Jones, crossed paths with Owen many months after the gunslinger found Broadcloak's deck of cards. Investigating reports of a man brandishing a pistol, Owen crossed a grassland towards the city state of Cincinnati, knowing that he could close the distance on the Man in Black later. Russ Jones at first glance was definitely not a gunslinger: he was slim and not a man of war. He was carefree in a way that no gunslinger could be, relying on luck and not training. The Gambler had drawn his gun on a man who accused him of cheating and himself brandished a blade. That rumor is what reached Owen, which led to initial disappointment. At the same time, the gunslinger saw potential in Russ: he possessed great luck and was able to win enough card games to eat meat every night. Over drinks, the Gambler bragged of his winnings, but there was another side to the stories that the gunslinger noted. He would be willing to bet - a wager Russ wouldn't turn down - that the Gambler lost as much as he won, if not more. The gunslinger thought it was ka, a way that the universe and Purpose used Russ to put money in exactly the right hands at exactly the right times as the world needed. Of course, Russ had never heard of ka. He was not from Mid-World at all. In fact, he wasn't quite sure where Mid-World was, how he got there, and what the hell a "gunslinger" was. He had hazy recollections of his last few nights in Vegas, but not much was clear. Somehow he ended up in a city called Cincinnati that looked more like Texas. As such, he was all ears for the gunslinger's tale of the mythical Dark Tower which would bring peace to the troubled. Not quite knowing the reasons why, but always conscious that his luck was about to run out, he joined Owen's ka-tet.
Last edited by RedBstrd
on Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:50 am, edited 4 times in total.