They line the coast, they cover the countryside, they cast shadows over cottages and businesses, punctuating cities.
I walk out of one, and into a crowded plaza. It's bright and cold out. There are people talking and chatting. In my black cloak, with a scarf covering my face, no one talks to me. I approach a young man. He looks confident. Unafraid.
My voice is parched and horse, rusty from lack of use. I haven't been around people in a while.
"Where can I get something to eat?"
They point me toward a large pub. I walk in. I eat. I drink fresh water, and it's the most delicious thing to ever touch my tongue. I'm not used to the atmosphere of a town; so many people. So much communicating...
I head toward the edge of town. I stop at a stall and buy as many rations as my camel can carry. I don't speak to the shopkeepker, and he doesn't speak to me. I ride out of town, and look to the horizon.
One looks to be southwest... a two days' journey, at least. Too far. Another looks like it could be reached before nightfall, if I hurried. Northwest. The third can barely be made out, far south where I have never ventured.
I urge my camel on toward the nearest tower. As I ride, it appears to not move at all. Another long journey. I can do nothing but stare straight ahead, watching my towering destination get closer and closer.
. . .
It's dark. It's still cold. I'm tired. My camel is tired. I'm here.
It towers above me. They all tower above me. Always. And it's exactly the same as all the other ones.
I tether my camel and set out some water for him to drink. I walk up to the steely, uncaring tower. It's dull grey walls are perfectly round, perfectly smooth, perfectly unforgiving. I touch the material, and feel its frigid exterior.
I enter the tower.
It's terrifyingly dark inside, but I push onward, utterly unarmed and unprotected from anything that might be lurking within.
I walk up an endless staircase. Up and up and up and up. I stop to take a break, but as soon as I stop I hear noises. I gaze into the darkness. I get scared and restless, and force myself keep moving.
I'm sure the sun is coming up outside. Maybe it's warming up. In here, it only gets colder as I continue.
I stop. There's a door in front of me. I take a deep breath. (I always take a deep breath before opening the door.) I put my hand on the cold handle, and gently push the door open...
Here it is. The top of the tower. The room is lit by the early morning sun. There are three small windows through which the light, and a cold wind, sneak in.
There is nothing else in here.
By afternoon I was back at the entrance. I mount my camel. I urge it toward the southwest. The tower looms on the horizon; maybe I can make it before the sun comes up tomorrow morning.
My back turned to the empty tower, I head toward the one facing me. Sitting on the horizon, it appears to not move at all as I move toward it.
Another journey. Another empty tower.