Childe Rowland is a fairy tale about a brother who goes to the dark tower to rescue his sister, who got lost chasing after the ball they were playing with. You can read the most popular version of the story, written by Joseph Jacobs, here. I haven’t managed to find a source for the earlier Robert Jamieson version.

Shakespeare references the character with a line in King Lear — “Childe Rowland to the dark tower came” — which then inspired the Robert Browning poem, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.”


In the original fairy tale, Childe Rowland’s younger sister goes missing after walking around the church in the opposite way of the sun to look for their lost ball. He and his brothers go to Merlin (yeah, that Merlin) to ask if he knew where she was — to which merline replies:

She is now in the Dark Tower of the King of Elfland; it would take the boldest knight in Christendom to bring her back.


Elfland is the home of the light elves in Norse mythology, in contrast to the dark elves that live within the earth. I have no idea if this is actually the elfland being referenced here, but wikipedia seems to think it is.

After his two older brothers leave to look for the dark tower & never return, Childe Rowland decides to go himself. He begs his mother to let him go, and she gives him his father’s sword for protection.

Before he leaves, Merlin gives him some instructions for finding the dark tower: first, he has to use his sword to cut off the head of everyone he sees until he finds his sister; second, he can’t eat or drink anything in Elfland, or he’ll be stuck there forever.

He eventually finds his sister in Elfland, who tells him that their two other brothers had been enchanted by the king of Elfland, and gets him some food — which he almost eats, before remembering he’s not supposed to.

At that moment, the elf king comes in with the classic “fee, fi, fo, fum” and Childe Rowland fights him for the lives of his siblings. He wins, and agrees to spare the king’s life if he lets his brothers and sister leave unharmed — and then all is well.


Obviously, this story loosely makes me think of Childe falling into the abyss and barely making it out alive. The dark tower itself reminds me of Khaenri’ah and the Three Realms Gateway Offering event in Enkanomiya.

The idea of a “dark tower” being found in the light realm is so interesting to me — especially if you do relate it to the abyss or Khaenri’ah. Definitely fits with the whole light vs. dark =/= good vs. evil theme throughout Genshin.

The other thing this fairy tale reminds me of is the Gnostic Chorus story from the Battle Pass: the crowned heir being deceived while looking for the Genesis Pearl in the Kingdom of Darkness, and the second crowned heir following them to “take up the path where the first had stumbled.”

Thinking about that has given me a few questions about the Gnostic Chorus:

  • Did the Genesis Pearl belong to the Heavenly Kingdom? Was it lost, or stolen? Or was the crowned heir on a mission to take something that wasn’t theirs?
  • Was the second crowned heir going to look for the first? Or were they simply going to attempt to find the Genesis Pearl on their own?