For the second volume of the series. This one starts with Siddhartha journeying across the mountain and through forest, being met by a peasant and when led back to his home, is introduced to Dhepa who instructs Siddhartha in the ways of a monk. The peasant, who has a James Brown amount of children asks if they’ll train his eldest, who also wishes to become a monk, being said to be smart and not exuding an air at all, but Dhepa gauges his son looking too young to begin anyways and declines which the peasant takes personally. Dhepa decides to make a run for it, informing Siddhartha of his abruptly thought “plan” before bolting. The peasant ties his son to an arrow, in the hopes of his making his mark on the monk being “attached” to teaching the youngster. Upon escaping, Siddhartha asks about Dhepa’s eye and how it happened, again surprising him and having the opinion such self-inflicted torture unnecessary. Dhepa explains the meaning of such “ordeals”, it coming from something quite literal and being expanded upon. Dhepa then sets an ordeal “task”, having Siddhartha walk through a thorny field, leading by example. Siddhartha tries to follow with difficulty, but makes it to the other side.
The next ordeal takes Siddhartha by surprise, depriving him of air. After he continue’s his protest, they soon must slink away for being followed by the peasant’s son, after which they descend upon a city which “houses” a monk Dhepa is searching for. They discover what’s left of the monk in a temple and after their discovery, possible brigands are heading their way. Siddhartha is greeted by Tatta and Magaila and is expected to reclaim his title as king and come with Tatta to return to his country, but when he realizes Siddhartha is sticking to his destiny, Tatta decides to join him on his journey. Siddhartha doesn’t seem to want their company though, so he and Dhepa take a horse and giddy-up away with them trailing pursuit. Meanwhile once they lose them, Magaila declares killing Siddhartha if he doesn’t agree still. Dhepa and Siddhartha hide in a hole when the brigands pass them and they hear the sniffles of the peasant’s son still trailing them. After discovery by th son, they run away again, the boy is questioned by Tatta and the boys asks for a bribe, leading them away from their hidey-hole. The boy asks to come along again, but they run from him again instead, Dhepa not being able to tolerate his accompaniment; but the boy still follows. By the end of the chapter we see Dhepa and Siddhartha still journeying away to enlightenment and stop their story to begin Devadatta’s story, which takes place several years thence.
We are presented with Devadatta watching his stepfather feed his half-brother and upon noticing Devadatta, gets mad at his peeping and is held back by his mother when he gives him a few whacks. The man loathes her first-born takes after his father’s countenance and shows understandable preference to his own son, Ananda. Devadatta senses everyone’s dislike of him and doesn’t wish to attend a picnic his mother has planned for he and his “friends”, but they go off together anyways and sing a funny song on the trek. The kids begin loading Devadatta down with their packs and when he refuses, is bullied to oblige, after which he seems to become their errand-boy with tasks of retrieving water. The kids then see a fox and demand Devadatta go catch the animal. He seems to give up, crying, stopping quite close to the fox and he sees it has a thorn it its paw, the reason for it’s howling. Devadatta gets it out and the fox runs off again with Devadatta chasing him. He then sees a large creature from afar which turns out to be an angry elephant which follows him back to the picnic where everyone scatters.
They notice a hole to hide in and soon blame Devadatta for running in their direction whilst being chased. When they try to have Devadatta climb out, the rocks crumble and everyone gets more upset. Their parents meanwhile soon investigate, uncovering the remains of their picnic and soon gather an elephant’s presence has been there. The kids become thirsty and Devadatta detects a trickle of water dripping form above laying claim and unwilling to share, which one of the outspoken boys insults him for; as per usual to his dealing with him. The boy tries to take command of the water and Devadatta stands up to him by chucking a rock at him, knocking him out. He scares the others by threatening the same fate for them, but they come up with a plan to trick him and try to overpower him, and in response to this, Devadatta is true to his word. The children remain missing for two weeks until they then discover the hole with the dead children and Devadatta, sole survivor. He goes on a trial and is asked why he killed them, Devadatta states it’s what had to be done so his water stayed in his possession. The judge believed the child possessed, due to his actions and it’s decided he will be given to the wild animals. When he’s left bound to a board to die, some dogs come and one lets him loose by biting through the ropes.
The dog leads Devadatta to a cave fore shelter where the little pup he helped is waiting there, offering him a shared meal; the meal they share being also quite amusing. The next day he goes off with the pup and sees his mother again, but his stepfather ruins their reunion, siccing the townspeople on him, Devadatta escapes them retreating back to the cave, and so from then on, he lets go of his humanity and command of language, despising men and wanting to forget his relation to them. He then starts loving his wolf-mother even more than his own, learning the subtlety of the animal language. The coming days go by without event and one day Devadatta and his wolf-brother chase some prey in a field as a contest. Devadatta “accidentally” kills the animal he chases and his wolf-mother punishes him for being wasteful, knowing he wasn’t needing to eat or use the animal’s body to clothe himself, etc. She bids him to leave, but Devadatta is so ashamed, she relents in his staying and gives him a lesser punishment. They begin moving North, due to the dry season and become weakened by their journey from the heat.
The mother requests them to go ahead or she may turn on them for hunger, Devadatta doesn’t give up and makes a mat to carry her on. They make it to the mountain and Devadatta moves a rock to allow water to come down. They both go hunting after and his wolf-brother gets attacked whilst Devadatta tries to advises him to break free from the larger animal, but the wolf has given up already, and when Devadatta mourns him, he is overheard by another human, asking him why he howls. The man welcomes him to his cave and the nuts he’s gathered to Devadatta’s distaste, he threatens to eat the man and he doesn’t resist, upon trying though, he settles on eating an apple. Naradatta finally introduces himself and gives Devadatta the freedom to stay or return to humans, which was an easy decision for Devadatta to make. Naradatta reminisces how Devadatta reminded him of another character in the story we know. The next day Devadatta catches a fish to feast on and Naradatta comes by and shows him a war between two bee tribes to decide who will survive and live in the area. He watches the cruelty of the war and learn the valuable lesson of the strong surviving. Devadatta is seen pondering these words at the chapter’s close.
The next chapter starts with more natural selection, but also taking each of them out by the end, showing the cycle of nature, and by the end, revolving to Devadatta spearing a fish and Naradatta expressing he was wrong in believing he was stronger than the fish because he was able to catch it. Devadatta gets another life lesson expanding upon the first, but Devadatta doesn’t make it through the whole lecture, falling asleep. The next day we see Devadatta has adopted a habit of Naradatta’s and he’s dissuading him from copying his habits, even though Devadatta was doing so out of affection for him. Devadatta refuses his request though, not wanting to keep his human qualities, claiming to be a wolf. Devadatta is discovered by some men, they were going to leave him be due to how his creepy growl unnerved them, but Devadatta, being territorial of the area, attacks one of them and ends up chasing them off, the men vowing not to forget his brutality. Naradatta scolds him for not understanding the ways of men and decides to leave Devadatta so he would join humans and learn their ways, but when Devadatta becomes upset, Naradatta mentions he should locate and serve the man who will become a great ruler, but Devadatta doesn’t want to leave still. In the end he gets his way through stubbornness.
Soon after, Devadatta comes by a rabbit and soon realizes it’s bait to his capture and unexpected circumstances around the trap are shown, before being collected by men. They try to use him as proof of being a wolf-man by circus-act style, but Devadatta makes friends with the wolf, upsetting the paying customers and making an escape. Devadatta nor the wolf get away unscathed, he taking an arrow in the leg. He gets more worked over whilst looking for food and does eventually detect some, pulling a Jim Carrey Me, Myself & Irene/Stewie Griffin-style moment and scaring the poor woman involved. Devadatta escapes again to an old woman’s room, also not pleased by the intrusion. She gives him ointment for his wounds and decides to help him when he licks the concoction. They are soon interrupted by townspeople rapping at her door and she opens up to allow patrolmen in to search her hovel once disguising the boy as a girl. They soon leave and the old woman confides her name to Devadatta, being Ghagra. She goes on to confess her story and her ambition and uses Devadatta to charm a man as a part of her plan, continuing with the ruse of making him look more like a girl. Ghagra begins to chastise him once seeing he didn’t walk, threatening to give him the poison being saved for her revenge. Ghagra’s plan is set into motion and the son of the woman she dispises falls for her bait. Devadatta bungles the poisoning bit and the son catches on and gets guards to chase him, but Devadatta makes good his escape and goes back to the old woman Ghagra for some reason, where she guesses his failure and beats him for it, until the gift the son was going to give him, became seen and she forgave him his failure, this time.
Devadatta then discovered what affect jewels had on women. She sells it the next day and even gives Devadatta a coin, who hadn’t learned the use and the old woman schools him about their usefulness. Devadatta thought over the possibility of returning to the wild for its ease of living, when the old woman returned from splurging her money and demanded he go back to the mansion to get hired as a gardener and steal the woman’s jewels and poison her, as an after-thought. Devadatta succeeds in getting the job, but almost gets recognized and distracts him from thinking too hard. Devadatta goes to the mansion and sees the woman Ghagra is against, reminding him of his mother. He wonders why Ghagra wants him to kill her and alludes to putting poison in her cup, but when she drinks and discovers a worm, realizes someone is hiding and calls out. She observes Devadatta and sees the poison in his hand, demanding him to reveal why he didn’t use it, Devadatta finally speaks one word and she understands his reason and gives him a reward of coins to declare whose idea it was, he does as she asks and upon leaving, has guards follow him to kill everyone in his “home”. Devadatta notices the guards chasing him and devine’s a plan involving a fire to heed their continual stalking. Devadatta warns Ghagra and the chase soon continues until they lose the again and Devadatta, after dispatching Ghagra in an odd way, vows to be the strongest human alive. The chapter ends with what Devadatta will do and how his timeline parallels Siddhartha’s.
We continue on with Siddhartha’s story in the next and it starts with a strong rain and Siddhartha wondering if the boy following them is safe. He goes back a little ways and helps him, discovering he’s fallen. Dhepa doesn’t want to be burdened, but helps Siddhartha when he insists on aiding the child. They reach a closed gate requesting passage and being denied. Siddhartha comes up with a plan and discovers the town is more of a graveyard. The guard comes back up and relents before killing them how so many graves came to be put up, upon questioning. The guard is paranoid of the boy’s illness being contagious and wants to kill him, Siddhartha proposes being allowed to stay the night to aid the boy’s wound and the guard begrudgingly acquiesces. Siddhartha goes to collect fungus for his cure. Assaji, the boy hallucinates talking to a deity and learns how much longer he has to live and how he dies. Siddhartha and Dhepa celebrate Assaji breathing after a scare and we segue to Visakha, the ruler, speaking with the guard and we learn how they are connected. Upon day break the guard calls Siddhartha out and notices he has succeeded. Sukanda, the guard agrees to not kill them, but they must leave since the weather has cleared up. Visakha welcomes them to her home to rest and they confide where they plan on going and what they wish to ascertain, making her laugh and in return she shows them magical potions and is interrupted by Sukanda who has gathered troops to join and lead the travelers to their next destination. Siddhartha becomes tired and everyone else goes ahead whilst he naps and then he is brought back to Visakha. He wakes in confusion and Visakha explains how she drugged him (date-rapist! Ha-ha!) Siddhartha immediately tries to leave and she informs him how she’s fallen for him and not to leave her. He declines and admits how he came about being on his journey and who he’s left in order to pursue it, but she doesn’t care and has the guards stop him from leaving and then Tatta shows up inadvertently helping Siddhartha out. She still refuses to allow him to leave and so as he’s including what will happen otherwise, Tatta’s band discern the steps Siddhartha and Dhepa made and infiltrate. Siddhartha tries to reason with Tatta, but he is set on exploring the town. Migaila meanwhile wants to disfigure Visakha from her voice sounding like she’d be fair and shows her scars for having loved Siddhartha and being bitter still. She makes Visakha fall after she insults her and Tatta has the town further destroyed. Siddhartha vows his dealings with Tatta are at an end and Tatta takes his words lightly and as they leave the town, Siddhartha takes Visakha along. Siddhartha awakens inside Mount Pandava and asks where Visakha is, Tatta letting him know she’s safe, being looked after by his men. Tatta wants to discuss Siddhartha’s return to his throne and giving up his path to monk-dom and even vows to give up thieving and disbanding his gang plus anything else Siddhartha asks, leaving him visibly torn by the prospect. Tatta leaves him to decide and his men report how soldiers have followed them and so he decides to use their hostage as a shield and fight.
Sukanda proclaims if they bring out Visakha unharmed and Siddhartha, most of the bandits will live, but their leader will die, to which Tatta declines, rather fighting them in the ravine. Sukanda decides to try and sneak in to kill Tatta and get Visakha himself, to which he was able to find Visakha, but Tatta comes out from the shadows and they begin to fight. Siddhartha stops them and makes a compromise with Tatta demanding him to release Visakha and he will return home in 10 years, to which Tatta gladly agrees. Sukanda is still on a death-wishing path, when Visakha imparts what happened rather than allow him to believe his mistaken view of the details of Siddhartha’s return to Visakha’s home. Sukanda after hearing the truth still decides to take the criminals back to the king for judgement regardless of knowing Visakha explaining her side of the story again. Sukanda sends his troops back and Tatta disbands the brigand, then Migaila reveals him she’s expecting after Tatta asks if she’s still staying with him and she confessing she doesn’t have a choice in this case. Tatta tries to run off, with this new prospect of responsibility plaguing him, but Migaila’s threats of violence are interrupted by a lingering bandit reporting of the troops retreat. When Siddhartha and Tatta investigate, they see what Sukanda had decided to do.
A sheep herder passes through by the next chapter and Dhepa shares where he might uncover water for them. Assaji wakes from his drowsing and perks up when Dhepa reveals to him about the flock, Assaji claiming poisoned water, Dhepa asks to know more. He follows Assaji, soon learning he speaks the truth. Dhepa now wonders how Assaji seems to know this and other odd facts, soon wanting to reunite with Siddhartha and see what’s become of him. Assaji professes of a whirlwind a-comin’ and they need to run when Dhepa suggests stopping in the village and Assaji claims it’s not far enough, expressing to the villagers the same, they are of course suspicious and ignore Assaji (reminding me of Watership Down and how Fiver gets the same reaction), at first anyways. Soon they follow them both to the mountain and get proof to Assaji’s premonition. After they spot shelter where Assaji claims, we jump to Magadha where a servant notifies his master of Assaji and the master is uninterested and unbelieving, but decides to test him since Assaji was already within his kingdom.
The master introduces himself to Assaji as King Bimbisara and asks him to prophecize his future. Assaji reveals when and how at the end of which the king orders him to confess what trap was set up to kill Assaji in the palace or he will die. He gives him 10 seconds more to guess and then snaps his fingers which brings the thing falling from above. The king feels it difficult to now ignore his prophecy despite his servants protests otherwise. He lets Dhepa and Assaji stay and rest whilst he struggles with his fate. Then Assaji divines Siddhartha passing by the palace and they go to see him, the King wishes to view his as well and once seeing him decides to have his guards follow Siddhartha. They report back to the king he’s sitting atop a boulder at Mount Pandava and he goes there immediately to visit him. He makes the rest of the way by foot and is stopped by Tatta until he learns who he is and then bring him to Siddhartha. He has a proposition to make Siddhartha general of his soldiers and untold wealth to have him stay in his kingdom. Siddhartha declines with a reasonable response which the King understand and pities the waste of an obvious leader. He then requests Siddhartha’s periodic advice as a holy man who Siddhartha accepts to which the King comes up with the name for Siddhartha which titles the series, and departs. So bloody entertaining; until the next!