For the fifth volume in the series. This volume begins ten years before when Kosalan soldiers were killing the people of Kapilavastu. We see Ananda’s parents trying to escape the soldiers by fleeing to a little island which is inhabited by some kind of spirit who saves the family only for Ananda, which the father had pleaded any force to have if he were saved. After denying his words, he’s attacked by a plague of leaches and the mother and child escape the island. After his mother discovers a place to stay for some years, the soldiers catch up to them and try to finish the job they’d started, leaving Ananda and his mother stabbed, but Ananda hadn’t been killed and so avenged his mother’s death appropriately, but from then on hated humanity and became a renowned bandit by the age of seventeen. He began to target schools for tuition money with his crew to fund his plan to steal the tax money which was recently collected, coming up with an ingenious plan to get them into the office overnight. They are caught red-handed and whilst Ananda escapes, he doesn’t unscathed. Then the officials that gave chase try to come up with a plan that will rid them of Ananda once and for all, due to his ability to cheat death repeatedly. One of them has a plan that he believes will work and the chapter ends.
We next see the man with the plan training a dog and the chief making it known he doesn’t believe it will be enough to take down Ananda, but as the detective shows him, these dogs will shred a body to bits and so Ananda’s regenerative ability may not work. Meanwhile, Ananda was setting a trap for a rich boy on a horse and planning to use him as a hostage. Ananda then dresses like him and steals the boy’s identity, making the townspeople believe his guards had been overtaken by a rock-slide and needed to be left alone to rest. After they leave, he’s left to discover the jewels underneath the jeweler’s son’s room and is soon attacked by the son’s bird and not long after is discovered as a thief, trying to make a hasty retreat and having dogs sicced on him, getting thrown from his horse and the detective catching up to confront him, but when he tries to have the dogs he trained to attack Ananda, they are afraid to for some reason and he tries to attack him himself and is struck in some way I will not disclose, retreating. Ananda then questions the ether as to why it keeps protecting him from his enemies. The deity appears not long after explaining why he’s in “her” debt. She reports of Buddha being his ultimate enemy and how he must remember the name. We then see what’s become of the detective, who is still determined in killing Ananda in three days, ending the chapter.
Ananda is still up to no good and after killing a merchant for money and leaving his daughter to live, he is then followed by her until he threatens to kill her. The detective tracks Ananda’s crime and continues to try and catch him. Then we skip back to see Ananda relaxing in a pond and the girl watching him again and he goes and chases her down, catching her this time, realizing she was a slave rather than the murdered man’s relative, still not knowing how to get her to move along. She collapses and when he has every intention of leaving her, turns back and carries her along instead, the detective soon identifying him, but deciding to wait and see where he’ll go. Ananda notices an inn and pays for the girl to stay until rested, but soon returns to defend her honor. He kills the innkeeper and commands the other bandits to watch her or they’ll be in trouble.
When Ananda leaves, the detective tries to snipe him out and fails repeatedly, whilst Ananda is deep in thought over the girl he’s left behind, soon heading back toward the detective and the inn. The detective still tries to shoot Ananda, failing and he makes it back to the inn where the slave-girl is bathing. Once he brings himself to her attention, he figures out her name is Lata and likes she can’t speak so she couldn’t repeat all his bad deeds. After she saves his life from the detective still trying to kill him, he relents in taking her along until he gets tired of her. She steals a chicken and when Ananda learns of her crime and how she hadn’t done it properly, they go to a stream and are met by another thief seeking Ananda out to help him lift 30 sacks of gold. They go off to see where it’s kept, Ananda not trusting the bandit, leaving Lata to await his return and soon being surrounded by wild dogs. When Ananda goes back to where he left Lata and sees she’s missing we see Pampas the detective has to do with it and his trick to make Ananda disappear for good is shown. Ananda happens upon Lata and the trick does its duty, leaving Ananda stuck and asking for help from the deity, who agrees if he ditches Lata. He is saved, Pampas flees from the impossible sight and the chapter ends with Ananda revealing to Lata of the money he’s soon to have and his plans to get a house and marry her.
The next chapter begins with Ananda meeting up with the bandit to put his plan to action. Ananda’s part in it becomes much more difficult when he doesn’t seem to have the power used to make animals cower before him. They retreat and the bandit starts to insult Ananda’s pride, goading him to fight. Ananda comes to the realization this “drifter” bandit, is not ordinary and asks to hear where he comes from. What Ahimsa discloses to him sets his resolve in hating Brahmin ever since. After sharing, he asks Ananda where he’d gotten his power from and Ananda finally explains, after which Ahimsa deduces the reason his power seemed to have left him. Ananda comes down with an infection from the wound the tiger left him and Ahimsa convinces Lata to go away in order to save him. When she leaves, his infection leaves him and even though he tries to go after her, nature seems to get in his way and so they continue with the trail of the men who have the gold sacks and Ahimsa realizes they’re heading to the Kassapa brothers, who have the power of controlling fire, ending the chapter
We begin with the gold-sacked men begging Kassapa to help him keep Ananda away, offering seven sacks of gold if he’s able to help and after showing him his plan in killing Ananda, someone sees Ananda’s approach and he starts a fire which could have killed them, but the deity protects him. After the fire is out, Ananda and Ahimsa go to expose the tigers, succeeding and about to kill them when Uruvela Kassapa comes in requesting Ananda to fight him instead, he accepting the challenge. The monk’s psychic power is overcome and he leads them to the fire chamber, trapping them inside with the idea all the gold sacks are there. Ananda and Ahimsa are suffocating when the deity returns at Ananda’s call. Meanwhile the monk is teaching his students about fire and how it suffocates when a sentry comes to inform him of a man with a halo coming in their direction. We learn Buddha has been led by Lata to help Ananda. When he approaches the shrine of Kassapa, he’s scoffed at yet again when providing his name, but is still let in. Buddha explains why he is there and he’d like to spend the night in the dome with Ananda, knowing Mara, the devil is in there. Buddha is finally approached by Mara in disguise, which doesn’t fool him and finally has her show her true form, starting the next chapter.
Buddha succeeds in getting Mara to leave Ananda in his care, but refuses to give up trying to kill him or make him suffer relentlessly. When they all leave unharmed, Kassapa wishes to test Buddha’s powers still more and instructs he must cut some logs without touching them, which he does, making Kassapa fear being undermined by Buddha’s power. He demands he then must light the fire, which Buddha refuses and Ananda takes into his own hands in doing, now making it impossible to put out due to spreading and the reservoir being dried out. Ananda, after hearing Buddha’s response to his belief of being the son of a devil, wants to become his disciple and then he sees Lata, who can now say his name. After, Kassapa also wishes to join Buddha and shares with his disciples they are welcome to follow him and have Buddha teach them instead or can leave of their own accord. Kassapa then mentions to Dhepa of his two brothers of which he wishes for they to join them and they goes to ascertain whether they’ll agree, ending the chapter.
We next see Ahimsa getting to Kassapa’s brothers and breaking the news their brother has become a disciple of Buddha’s, which one brother refuses to believe. We next observe Ananda having bad dreams of the people he’s killed and Lata offers to get him herbs to help him sleep dreamlessly, going into the crocodile-infested water and getting trapped. Ananda hears her cries and Buddha goes after her to see if he can reason with the crocodiles. He leads them off to another part of the island and proceeds to lecture them with a sermon, leaving them there to see Kassapa confessing to his brothers why he’s dissolved his sect. After his brothers state they’d consider following Buddha if he came out of the midst of dealing with the crocodiles in one piece, Kassapa leaves and returns to the other disciples still waiting for Buddha’s return, also distinguishing Ananda had run off with Lata and they had found Buddha with Ahimsa, set on dealing out revenge upon Buddha. Ananda defends Buddha until being told to stop due to their conversation being interrupted, regardless of how it was perceived by Ananda. Ahimsa tries to go through with his planned torture of Buddha, but can’t go through with it every time he tries and so Buddha expresses he can speak of the thoughts on his mind, Ahimsa resisting at every opportunity, eventually running off, leaving Ananda, Lata, and Buddha to try and make their way back to their group. Buddha goes back on the backs of the crocodiles to ask for a boat from the Kassapa brothers, who are amazed how they see him crossing the water. One brother decides to grant Buddha’s request with the invitation of giving a sermon to their disciples to see whether they’d like to join him. Buddha accepts and the brother describes his plan to the brother that was shocked about how kindly he was acting towards Buddha, who he’d planned on trying to make look a fool.
The disciples see the notice and head to the mountain to hear the sermon. They try to direct Buddha’s sermon to be about fire and he proceeds by getting one of the Kassapa brothers to close his eyes to “put out” the fire, then shares the story of some ducks and how they were starving in their small pond and so started branching to other sources of survival until we uncover what happens to each in their new area and revealing the ducks decided to stay, survived. Then it goes straight into another story about a bright city and how a poor boy burn’s with the desire to live in the city and partake of the best in life only to have it go wrong in the end and ending where he began. Those stories and Buddha’s advice to one of the Kassapa brother’s disciples finally convince first one then the other to join Buddha and learn from scratch his teachings, upsetting Ahimsa’s plan, whom we see leave them in bad spirits by the end of the volume. Still quite good, but I’m hoping to get to get better in the next volume.