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Here it seems necessary to pause for a moment and explain a special feature of Fantastican geography. Continents and oceans, mountains and watercourses, have no fixed locations as in the real world. Thus it would be quite impossible to draw a map of Fantastica. In Fantastica you can never be sure in advance what will be next to what. 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.
None who heard it could help jiggling his feet and dancing. The musicians wore black masks. No one knew who they were or where Xayide had found them. Every roof and housefront was decorated with bright-colored flags and pennants, but they hung sadly limp, for there was no wind. Along the High Street and on the wall around the palace hundreds of pictures had been set up, ranging in size from small to enormous, and all showed the same face -- Bastian's. Since the Magnolia Pavilion was still inaccessible, Xayide had prepared another site for the coronation. The throne was to be installed at the foot of the ivory steps near the palace gate where the winding High Street ended. Thousands of golden censers were smoldering, and the smoke, with its lulling yet exciting fragrance, drifted slowly up the steps and down the High Street, finding its way into every last nook and cranny. The armored giants were everywhere. Only Xayide knew how she had managed to multiply the five she had left into such an army. And as if that were not enough, fifty of them were mounted on gigantic horses, which were also made of black metal and moved in perfect unison.
He himself took no further interest in the coronation, but left all the details to Xayide, who kept the whole court so busy that hardly anyone had time to think. During the next days and weeks Bastian spent most of his time in the room he had chosen, staring into space and doing nothing. He would have liked to wish for something or make up a story to amuse himself, but nothing occurred to him. He felt hollow and empty. At length he hit on the idea of wishing for Moon Child to come to him. If he was really all-powerful, if all his wishes came true, she would have to obey him. For whole nights he sat there whispering: "Moon Child, come! You must come! I command you to come!" He thought of her glance, which had lain in his heart like a glittering treasure. But she did not come. And the more he tried to make her come, the fainter became his memory of that glitter in his heart, until in the end all was darkness within him.
Thereupon Bastian withdrew, leaving the councilors and other dignitaries alone with their bewilderment. They didn't know what to do. What they had heard sounded so monstrous that for a long while they could only stand there silently, hanging their heads. Then they began to deliberate. And after many hours, they came to the conclusion that they would have to obey Bastian's commands, for he bore the emblem of the Childlike Empress, and that that entitled him to obedience regardless of whether Moon Child had really abdicated in his favor or whether this was just another of her unfathomable decisions. And so the messengers were sent and all Bastian's orders were carried out. He himself took no further interest in the coronation, but left all the details to Xayide, who kept the whole court so busy that hardly anyone had time to think. During the next days and weeks Bastian spent most of his time in the room he had chosen, staring into space and doing nothing. He would have liked to wish for something or make up a story to amuse himself, but nothing occurred to him. He felt hollow and empty.
Bastian could not have wished for a more festive reception. On every roof and battlement stood elves with gleaming trumpets, blaring away at the top of their lungs. The jugglers juggled, the astrologers proclaimed Bastian's greatness and good fortune, the bakers baked cakes as big as mountains, the ministers and councilors escorted the coral litter through the teeming crowd on the High Street, which wound in an ever-narrowing spiral up the conical tower to the great gate leading into the palace. Followed by Xayide and the dignitaries, Bastian climbed the snow-white steps of the broad stairway, traversed halls and corridors, passed through a second gate, through a garden full of ivory animals, trees, and flowers, mounted higher and higher, crossed a bridge, and passed through the last gate. He was heading for the Magnolia Pavilion at the very top of the tower. But the blossom was closed and the last stretch of the way was so steep and smooth that no one could climb it. Bastian remembered that the wounded Atreyu had not been able to climb that slope, not by his own strength at least, because no one who has ever reached the Magnolia Pavilion can say how he got there. For this victory must come as a gift. But Bastian was not Atreyu. If anyone was now entitled to bestow the gift of this victory, it was he. And he had no intention of letting anything stop him.
Awed by the splendor and beauty of the sight, the army of Fantasticans stood silent. And so did Bastian. Even Xayide's face showed a look of wonderment, which had never been seen before and which soon vanished. Atreyu and Falkor, who were in the rear of the procession, remembered how different the Labyrinth had looked the last time they had seen it: wasted with the ravages of the Nothing. Now it was greener and more flourishing than ever before. Bastian decided to go no farther that day and the tents were pitched for the night. He sent out messengers to bring greetings to Moon Child and let her know that he would be arriving at the Ivory Tower next day. Then he lay down in his tent and tried to sleep. He tossed and turned on his cushions, his worries left him no peace. But he was far from suspecting that this would be his worst night since coming to Fantastica.