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Girl on a boat

They vary with the traveler's wishes and state of mind. Since Fantastica has no boundaries, its center can be anywhere -- or to put it another way, it is equally near to, or far from, anywhere. It all depends on who is trying to reach the center. And the innermost center of Fantastica is the Ivory Tower. To his surprise Atreyu found himself sitting on the luckdragon's back. He couldn't remember how he had got there. All he remembered was that Falkor had pulled him up by the hair. Feeling cold, he gathered in his cloak, which was fluttering behind him. And then he saw that it was gray. It had lost its color, and so had his skin and hair. And Falkor, as Atreyu discovered in the rising light, was no better off. The dragon looked unreal, more like a swath of gray mist than anything else. They had both come too close to the Nothing.


Woman in a wheat field at sunset

A little later they flew over the outer edge of the "Labyrinth," the maze of flower beds, hedges, and winding paths that surrounded the Ivory Tower on all sides. To their horror, they saw that there too the Nothing had been at work. True, it had touched only small spots in the Labyrinth, but those spots were all about. The once bright-colored flower beds and shrubbery in between were now gray and withered. The branches of once graceful little trees were gnarled and bare. The green had gone out of the meadows, and a faint smell of rot and mold rose up to the newcomers. The only colors left were those of swollen giant mushrooms and of garish, poisonous-looking blooms that suggested nothing so much as the figments of a maddened brain. Enfeebled and trembling, the innermost heart of Fantastica was still resisting the inexorable encroachment of the Nothing. But the Ivory Tower at the center still shimmered pure, immaculately white. Ordinarily flying messengers landed on one of the lower terraces. But Falkor reasoned that since neither he nor Atreyu had the strength to climb the long spiraling street leading to the top of the Tower, and since time was of the essence, the regulations and rules of etiquette could reasonably be ignored.


Mannequins in the forest

Even the directions -- north, south, east, and west -- change from one part of the country to another. And the same goes for summer and winter, day and night. You can step out of a blazing hot desert straight into snowfields. In Fantastica there are no measurable distances, so that "near" and "far" don't at all mean what they do in the real world. They vary with the traveler's wishes and state of mind. Since Fantastica has no boundaries, its center can be anywhere -- or to put it another way, it is equally near to, or far from, anywhere. It all depends on who is trying to reach the center. And the innermost center of Fantastica is the Ivory Tower. To his surprise Atreyu found himself sitting on the luckdragon's back. He couldn't remember how he had got there. All he remembered was that Falkor had pulled him up by the hair. Feeling cold, he gathered in his cloak, which was fluttering behind him. And then he saw that it was gray. It had lost its color, and so had his skin and hair. And Falkor, as Atreyu discovered in the rising light, was no better off. The dragon looked unreal, more like


The beauty and the cat

Falkor didn't know what to do. He didn't even know what the strange blinking under the sea was, or whether it had anything to do with Atreyu. But he didn't hesitate for long. He flew high into the sky, turned around, and head down, pressing his legs close to his body, which he held stiff and straight as a telegraph pole, he plummeted. The water spouted like a fountain as he hit the sea at top speed. The shock was so great that he almost lost consciousness, but he forced himself to open his ruby-red eyes. By then the blinking beam was close, only a few body lengths ahead of him. Air bubbles were forming around his body, as in a saucepan full of water just before it boils. He felt that he was cooling and weakening. With his last strength he dived still deeper -- and then the source of light was within reach. It was AURYN, the Gem. Luckily the chain of the amulet had got caught on a coral branch growing out of the wall of an under-sea chasm. Otherwise the Gem would have fallen into the bottomless depths. Falkor seized it and put the chain around his neck for fear of losing it -- for he felt that he was about to faint.


Women on leaves

But then he felt something else: the Nothing. It must be very near, he thought. Again he felt its terrible force of attraction. It made him dizzy. He sat up and, groaning, tugged at his leg. But the fangs held fast. And in that he was lucky. For if Gmork's jaws had not held him, Falkor would have come too late. As it was, Atreyu suddenly heard the luckdragon's bronze voice in the sky above him: "Atreyu! Are you there, Atreyu?" "Falkor!" Atreyu shouted. And then he cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted: "Falkor! Falkor! I'm here. Help me! I'm here!" And then he saw Falkor's white body darting like a living streak of lightning through the square of darkening sky, far away at first, then closer. Atreyu kept shouting and Falkor answered in his bell-like voice. Then at last the dragon in the sky caught sight of the boy down below, no bigger than a bright speck in a dark hole. Falkor prepared for a landing, but the backyard was small, there was hardly any light left, and the dragon brushed against one of the high-gabled houses. The roof collapsed with a roar. Falkor felt an agonizing pain; the sharp edge of the roof had cut deep into his body. This wasn't one of his usual graceful landings. He came tumbling down on the grimy wet pavement next to Atreyu and the dead Gmork.


Woman with umbrella

Atreyu had long given up trying to break loose from the steel vise of the werewolf's jaws. Dazed with fear and weakness, he was back in the Grass Ocean. Before him stood the purple buffalo he had not killed. He called to the other children, his companions of the hunt, who by then had no doubt become real hunters. But no one answered. Only the giant buffalo stood there motionless, looking at him. Atreyu called Artax, his horse, but he didn't come, and his cheery neigh was nowhere to be heard. He called the Childlike Empress, but in vain. He wouldn't be able to tell her anything. He hadn't become a hunter, and he was no longer a messenger. He was Nobody. Atreyu had given up. But then he felt something else: the Nothing. It must be very near, he thought. Again he felt its terrible force of attraction. It made him dizzy. He sat up and, groaning, tugged at his leg. But the fangs held fast. And in that he was lucky. For if Gmork's jaws had not held him, Falkor would have come too late. As it was, Atreyu suddenly heard the luckdragon's bronze voice in the sky above him: "Atreyu! Are you there, Atreyu?" "Falkor!" Atreyu shouted. And then he cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted: "Falkor! Falkor! I'm here. Help me! I'm here!" And then he saw Falkor's white body darting like a living streak of lightning through the square of darkening sky, far away at first, then closer. Atreyu kept shouting and Falkor answered in his bell-like voice. Then at last the dragon in the sky caught sight of the boy down below, no bigger than a bright speck in a dark hole.


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