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.