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i ask your name: the man in black and the gunslinger, the autograph request

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The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

And when he caught up with him said, simply: “I pursue you not for any strife nor honor – or dishonor, say true, personal or for hire – but to ask the gift of your name. Only that, and I will part from you thankfully, and be on my way.”

And the man in black said: “You know the weight of what it is you ask of me, Roland of Deschain, last of the gunslingers, relic of a world that has moved on?”

And the gunslinger said: “Yes.”

The man in black eyed the gunslinger up and down, slow and measured, leaving no stone unturned. To the gunslinger it felt as if an age had passed when the man in black straightened up and held out his hand.

“You can have it all,” he said, the words old, not his own but made his own by the speaking thereof, broken and made new. “My empire of dirt.”

The gunslinger stared at him, pupils shrinking. He had no words; it was as well, for the man in black had not done talking.

“I will let you down,” said the man in black, and the honesty in the words rang with the hollow clarity of a struck glass in the gunslinger’s bones. He leaned forward, and instead of taking the hand outstretched to him – a hand callused with the marks of the gun, fingertips scarred with burn after burn from reloading bright-hot chambers – he said, very softly, just loud enough for the gunslinger to hear: “I will make you hurt.”