Truckers (The Bromeliad Trilogy #1)

The beginning tells of the lifespans of nomes and the differences of other species. Some of their tenets from when they moved into the Arnold Bros. (est. 1905) is shared. Then a day when a lorry crashes is mentioned, but this being a false start and moving further back to a dismally wet, rainy day. Masklin was hunting for food when he notes of the lorry stopping as usual, he running to get Grimma and the others before the lorry drove off again. Masklin returns to the lorry whilst Grimma gets the others ready to go as they slowly made it to the truck and were hoisted into it, one of the old men dropping the Thing. Masklin also hears the footsteps of the lorry driver, he believing there wasn’t time to retrieve it. After being convinced he must get it, he does, but the lorry begins moving.

Masklin is pulled up whilst the lorry moved faster, he hearing and smelling loud and nasty pollutants from the truck. Masklin then considers the possibility of death and where nomes go when they die. After being brought in from his loud elevator ride, the number of nomes there used to be is mentioned, but since the takeover of man, the areas they used to live were harder to uncover.It’s also told of how much more difficult it was to hunt for their group without as many hunters, Grimma having the hope of Spring bringing natural foodstuffs, like berries, etc. The difficulties there were in returning with food, when found, as well as their process for keeping their home warm and deterring predators is also made clear. At one point Masklin confessing to Grimma of wanting to leave for not being appreciated for all he did for them, Grimma attempting to convince him to stay, even whilst feeling guilty for sensing his being right.

After having this conversation, Masklin contemplated the lives of the humans, seemingly having it much easier, then a flashback of he hearing a scream, and upon investigation sees a fox, he taking out his anger and frustration on the creature by stabbing it in the leg to save Torrit. Even after driving the fox away into traffic, they still act as if he hadn’t done enough, he not entertaining their lack of thankfulness. Then back in real time, Grimma fretting over the older nomes missing their meal and how long their trip would be, Torrit calm for the Thing knowing what they’d do next, Masklin not having heard the Thing say or do anything before. When Masklin looks outside the truck, he can’t make out where they are, and when they stop and he checks again, he sees many lorries and humans roaming about. Masklin goes out to gauge the place, but then they hear a click and silence after, until seeing a human-like creature descending from the ceiling and surveying his surroundings, he built stockier than a sumo wrestler and looking hardcore.

Masklin is looking about outside and discovering an edible apple core as well as a rat with a collar, someone exclaiming for he not to kill it once he’d reached for his spear. Whom he saw looked like a nome, but wasn’t wearing the proper nome-attire. The weirdly dressed nome began interrogating Masklin until he learned what Masklin was doing, his tone changing. The nome is resistant to believing Masklin was from outside, he inquiring of what it was like, Masklin not sure how to describe the nature of outdoors, the odd nome describing it like one would the interior of a house. The nome finally gets a grip on himself to finally give his name, Angalo, and his rat, Bobo. Angalo is also impressed by the old people Masklin was traveling with, he leading them to where his father was and they learning they were in the perfect place, the Store.

The Book of Nome mentions how the indoor nomes lived, forgetting the outside, they having wars with nomes in other departments. Meanwhile Angalo has led the group to a hole in the wall, Granny Morkie insisting it was a rat hole and wouldn’t go inside, Grimma describing how the inside didn’t look like a rat hole for the stairs and lights. When they get to the bottom, they see more nomes than they’ve heard of being in one place before, all eating and walking through aisles and some walking rats, some ladies walking mice, and Granny Morkie disapproving of the whole scene. After Angalo explains some of the foods they saw, and the group pretending to know some of them, Angalo offers them to go and sample, anyone asking to mention it would go on the Haberdasheri account, Masklin being the only one to hang back, asking questions about Angalo’s father, he learning of how many title’s the man held, he seemingly important.

When they meet the man, he doesn’t believe they are from the Outside, saying the Thing was “amusing”. Masklin attempts to convince him, but the Duke allows only the possibility they came from an area of the store which hadn’t been fully explored. Masklin openly asks why the Duke would bother fighting with his own kind, upsetting the Duke to the point of he dismissing them from his presence to go where they will, but would not be accepted to the Haberdasheri. Masklin then considers how ridiculous nomes with food reacted as opposed to those who go without, then believing humans may not be as dumb as presented since the nomes were stealing items made by them. Masklin almost had an interesting reply to a thought of the humans brain similarities to a rat when Grimma asks Angalo what became of the nomes who didn’t join a department, it being a lamentable life, but he believing them and positive of his father lightening up. Masklin then seeing more of the Store and noting it was incomparable to the lorry since being infinitely larger.

Masklin decides he’d be returning outside for an odd feeling of being watched which he shares with Grimma, he letting her know he’d help the group settle in a spot but then would leave to help ease his mind, Grimma believing it was more because he wouldn’t be needed to hunt for food any longer. More information about the different territories is given, Millineri being a faction which wasn’t currently fighting with the Haberdasheri, Angalo encouraging their group shouldn’t have trouble being taken in by one of the factions. Granny Morkie dismisses him and has Torrit lead them on. Masklin then becomes annoyed when Torrit mentions the Thing helping them, Masklin insisting to know what the Thing has actually said to Torrit. He struggles to explain, Masklin calling him out on it, Grimma standing up for him, and as Torrit feels the pressure of relaying the Thing’s value, it speaks out loud, Masklin now impressed, but Torrit in shock since it hadn’t spoken aloud before, he dropping it, lights illuminating it all over. Masklin is first to comply with the Thing’s wishes of being nearer the electrical wires. Torrit is still processing the renewed chatter of the Thing, sharing how the nome before him told of the Thing not having spoken for hundreds of years.

As this is being discussed, Masklin is mesmerized by the patterns the lights are making on the Thing, which reminded him of a time he’d seen a human sign, the nomes guessed the meaning and Masklin the only one attempting to think outside the norm. The Thing then states thousands of years have passed, repeatedly. Masklin being the only one brave enough to respond to it, the Thing begins to ask probing questions of terms their kind used to know, Masklin stating they didn’t anymore. After the Thing is told their current whereabouts, Granny Morkie becomes impatient for them to consider their next move. The Thing responds with information on their past, but Masklin thought it was referring to someone named Shipwrecked, the Thing then informing them the sorts of tasks it could be used for, but Masklin not understanding the words. Everyone agreed they didn’t want what they didn’t understand, so Masklin conveys the group only wanted to “go home, and be safe”, no one knowing how famous this quote would become in the future for nomes. The Thing withdrew to essentially a “working sign” indicated by all lights shutting off, but for one, Grimma asking what their next move should be and Granny responding with how Angalo made it seem their lives would be quite bleak.

An overview with what the Thing was attempting to do for the nomes is shared and what the previous chapter contained, through excerpt of the Book of Nome. The group spent their “night” in a small space next to some large wooden walls, they noticing the Thing seemed to have developed what looked like a small satellite dish and some additional lights. Meanwhile Granny was first to voice of more noise than last time being heard, Masklin looking through a crack in the wall which revealed a horde of humans, the Store open. Masklin then asks the Thing about humans, the Thing stopping and starting the main task previously requested. Then an old nome they didn’t know began to speak with them about the humans, introducing himself as Dorcas del Icatessen, Masklin was at the end of his patience with nomes treating him like he didn’t know anything when the Thing informs him, they would need Dorcas, he overhearing and thinking the Thing was a small radio. Dorcas then offers to take them with him to where he stayed, he showing how he’d made use of the human elevator to aid him, not being so good with so many steps these days, Granny resisting, but then agreeing due to being shocked by Dorcas referring to her as “madam”.

When they arrive on Dorcas’ floor, they also learn how he’d gotten away with his own space since no one else had figured how to work human contraptions. Dorcas also showed them his drawing of what he believed nomes from outside should look like, explaining the reason of body shape. Masklin inquires why none of the Store nomes didn’t end the mystery by looking for themselves, realizing after, the nomes inside would be blinded by the sunlight since living in such dim light their whole lives. Dorcas asks to know everything they can remember of Outside as the Thing flashed a second green light of progress. As the nomes ate, they chat of different subjects, Dorcas mentioning his status as inventor with focus on electricity, Dorcas then asked about the Outside, Masklin sharing the name of the moon and not knowing why it was there at night. They were chatting about why the nomes happened to be living in the Store, when Grimma interrupts to learn about whom the person was to have started it, Dorcas not being able to divulge much since the Thing came out of his work mode to state the monitoring of telecommunications. The nomes take his big words in stride, the Thing finally realizing they didn’t understand, it discovering they understood the word destroyed, after attempting a simpler terminology which also landed on deaf ears. The Thing then relates the Store would be destroyed in twenty one days and needed to inform the community leaders.

The Book of Nome then tells of deaf ears being plentiful since none of the leaders would believe the bad news. The group being followed as they shadow Dorcas looking for the most open-minded, but not by much, Abbot, Masklin attempting to calm him with the prospect of having plenty of time, but Dorcas knowing it wouldn’t be easy since many didn’t believe the Outside existed. Dorcas tries to keep them away from crowded nome areas since they didn’t have a department and it was dangerous for them, but they get ambushed by bandits from Corsetry, regardless, the group discussing how to handle the attempt at robbing them and whether to comply. Masklin returns with the answer of respectfully declining, but when the bandits move to grab Granny, they get the surprise of a slap for each who touched her. Torrit held his own against one, as Grimma dropped another. After Masklin makes it clear what they were doing was wrong, he gives the leader a chance to leave, he and his gang taking it.

Dorcas was quite amused by the scene and wondered aloud what the Abbot would make of them, they walking on to Stationeri. When they arrive, they learn this group is obviously the oddballs of the communities since they knew how to read and write. When the Abbot and the group were in his guest hall, the Abbot refused to acknowledge the presence of Masklin and bunch, only speaking with Dorcas, the Abbot not receptive to the news of the Store closing since it seemed to occur every year, and nothing happened. When Masklin sets the Thing in front of the Abbot, it describes what it was and what it had understood from the Store computers, but the Abbot was stubborn to believe, dismissing them. One young Stationeri monk gets their attention, wanting to speak with the Outsiders. After asking about the Thing and whether they believed what it said was true, Torrit tells of how long it had been looked after by the men in his family. The monk, Gurder introduces himself and confesses to being the Abbot’s assistant, asking if they’d follow him, since the Abbot was aware of something different in the Store and was worried. Granny Morkie complying if snacks would be in attendance, Gurder acquiescing to send for some.

The Book of Nome mentions the unrest over the new signs not being understood when expecting ones for Christmas once more, but those up only showing “Clearance Sale”. Gurder guides them through a place with many books which were closely guarded, the Thing stating the necessity of acquiring them, but Gurder unable to do so, he leading them to a place where the Abbot waited once more, he commanding Gurder to show them the food whilst he spoke with acting leader, Masklin, the Thing staying behind as well to speak with the Abbot, whom begins by smiling awkwardly, confirming he had Masklin’s name right, which he had, Masklin relating being confused by the Abbot’s conduct earlier, he explaining he had to officially shun them since many Abbots before him would’ve done the same, and if he suddenly changed, it would look bad and make him sound crazy. The Abbot then explains politics more clearly than ever I heard before, politics is about being certain, not about “being right or wrong”. The Abbot also speaks of how they helped the nomes in the Store through some wars, using “cunning and common sense and diplomacy”.

After the Abbot noted how Masklin had all the qualities of a leader, he gave him sound advice about not underestimating people, then he moved on to his memory of seeing the Arnold Bros (est. 1905) for himself when he was young. He inquiring about Masklin’s home, which as he spoke of it now, seeing more of the good than the bad. After, Masklin invites him to come with them when the Store is demolished, the Abbot declining pleasantly for having other plans, he sending for Gurder to show Masklin out and educate him a bit, but to leave the Thing whilst he rested, and once Masklin’s brief education was done, to return. The Abbot begins by asking the Thing what it was and its function, the Thing giving more detail about the nomes ship and its other task of returning them home safely, the Abbot at first seemingly to understand well enough. As he sends Masklin and Gurder out, he also mentions upon their return he’d have a task for them. Gurder takes them to where the Book of Nome was kept and began reading, Granny first to interrupt with questions about whether the Store had been built for nomes, and what was there before, he then sending the elders of the group to wait for them in the Food Hall as he showed Masklin and Grimma how he knew of seasons, but not weather.

The Book of Nome about the signage within being ignored by humans. As Gurder led them along, Masklin learned the Stationer weren’t considered a department since only boys were chosen from each department every year so they could serve the entire Store. Grimma asked why women weren’t chosen, Gurder stating it was caused by women’s inability to read due to overheating. Ha! Grimma plays it down, but Masklin knew the tone as a start of trouble. They then note how respectfully the nomes acted around Gurder. When they reach the Haberdasheri department, Gurder points out the odd sign, as well as the usual ones, he wondering what they could mean, also worrying over the shelves not being restocked anymore. Grimma asked why they didn’t ask Arnold Bros (est. 1905), himself what was happening, but Gurder balked at the idea and the only one to see him being the Abbot. When they get back to the elders, they inform them the Abbot had asked for them, they doing so after Torrit marveled over the soft read and nearly choking when foxes are mentioned.

When Masklin and Gurder go in to see the Abbot, he’s deep in thought, he sharing what the Thing had told him sounding demented, and eventually decides they had to ask Arnold Bros (est. 1905) what the truth was. Gurder attempts to dissuade him due to it being a perilous undertaking, the Abbot agreeing and so sending the two in his stead. On their way out Masklin asks about whom Bargains Galore was, Gurder explaining she was the opposite and enemy of Prices Slashed. Gurder then departs to gather some belongings for their trek, planning on leaving immediately since if they didn’t, he’d lose his nerve. Meanwhile the Abbot was still questioning the Thing about how they arrived and was told of nomes relationships to humans in the past in the hopes of developing the technology of metal so they could return to the main ship, the Abbot also asking about what agriculture was and having reached his limit of understanding which resulted in a funny response by the Thing. The Abbot continued to listen about astronomy and drifted off happily as he listen to the Thing go on.

The Book of Nome then describes Arnold Bros (est. 1905)’s sign which indicated someone would be available to answer questions if something can’t be found. Meanwhile Masklin is speaking on Grimma’s behalf to join them, Gurder not wanting her to come due to the danger, it not being suitable for a female. Masklin’s viewpoint was if she wanted to accompany them she should, women stepping into dangerous situations plenty, but Gurder not brought up to think this way. Grimma insists since no one needed her to stay, in the end Gurder relenting, Masklin unimpressed with their journey to the Kiddies Klothes and Toys Department, where a kind people lived, no danger occurring at all. The Klothians offer them a guide to the “moving stairs”, these people on a higher floor and not getting many visitors, their food coming from the staff restroom (break-room). The guide points them to the escalator and retreats, Gurder nervous due to the superstition of Arnold Bros (est. 1905) was said to be waiting at the top and an unfinished thought relating to when nomes die. Grimma is first to sprint forward to see if it’s true, impatient by all the dallying. They get to the top with nothing terrible happening, Gurder leading them on.

They go down the hall to find the general manager’s office, Masklin volunteering to go in first, the room dark, and the carpet thicker, the three eventually making it onto the desk, no Arnold Bros (est. 1905) to be found. What Gurder does discover is a letter confirming the closing of the store and the construction of what would be built in its place. Gurder takes this news badly, needing help to move after it’s decided they would take the letter with them for the Abbot, and Masklin noticing a shadow heading in their direction caused by the lamplight. Masklin sees the man’s hat which spelled “security”, he ready to incapacitate him if he saw Grimma and Gurder on the floor, but he doesn’t. Gurder becomes uncontrollably emotional, getting the attention of the security, the cleaning lady working her way down the hall with a vacuum. As Masklin rejoins the other two, they consider a better hiding spot, Gurder insistent the woman is Bargain’s Galore come to protect them, Masklin and Grimma letting him believe what he wanted since he was calmer, the group escaping through an opening in the floor, their return to The Kiddies Klothes Department taking half a day since Gurder kept breaking down. After being fed and requesting an escort back, they make it to Stationery just in the nick.

The Abbot seemed ill in the way of being close to death, he indicating for Masklin to come closer, and requests he ask Granny Morkie to step out. She had provided one of her medicines which tended to pack a wallop. She agreeably goes and Gurder has the chance of relaying the letter, the Abbot instructing their people would have to leave. He then relates to Masklin of what the Thing had shown and told of the universe. He commanding Masklin to get everyone Home, and then dying, and Masklin wondering aloud to the Thing of how he was going to convince everyone to leave. Next, the odd funeral for the Abbot, Masklin not having known a nome die of old age before, and the customs of a service being new to him. When Gurder attempts to explain the dead’s ability to possibly return to see them once more as a spirit, no one understands, so he has them visit the gardening department to see if a demonstration could be given. As they walked through the fake grass and seed packets of flowers Masklin had not seen in the real world, Gurder inquires if it was similar to the Outside, Masklin relating the differences. They also see the garden gnomes people buy to adorn their lawns, Gurder believing these were Arnold Bros (est. 1905)’s way to show nomes lived after death, the area this falls apart being their weren’t any female gnomes.

Torrit shares a story where he’d actually seen a gnome out in the world when he was a boy with his grandpa, the priest whom had been giving them the tour becoming quite upset for the group not comprehending their ideas. Granny Morkie reluctantly attempts to soothe him whilst Torrit insists of what he’d shared of his memory to be true. Then Gurder, whom wasn’t happy to learn the former Abbot had chosen him to take his place is covered, he not liking the idea of leading, but everyone else being in agreement with the former Abbot’s decision. Gurder believed he wouldn’t be suitable due to his Doubt over the Outside which Masklin supposed was partly the reason the former Abbot picked Gurder. The group, as well as the rulers of other Departments were currently in the area for important meetings, Gurder sensing Masklin had a plan, he knowing if he was going to convince all the nomes they’d be able to take everything with them so all could leave safely was going to be a delicate process, Masklin going over all the important details learned from the Thing. Especially of the larger Ship still waiting for the nomes’ return in space. Masklin then shares the plan with Gurder whom was preparing his speech as the new Abbot, Masklin insisting Gurder needing to break the plan to all at the same time.

In the Book of Nome, Gurder gets the leaders to listen to Masklin as he shares his plan. Masklin has difficulty convincing them though, the Duke Haberdasheri vocal of the absurdity, but Angalo looking starry-eyed. When the Duke had heard enough, once Masklin mentions the stealing of a truck to get them and all their belongings out, some followed whilst few waited in the back near the door, uncertain. The Count of Ironmongri and the Baroness del Icatessen stayed to listen, Masklin going on to say everyone would need to cooperate in order for the plan to succeed which would mean to share previously secret information from individual Departments, Masklin also mentions how Stationery would be extending to anyone who wanted to learn to read, including women, would have the opportunity, due to needing as many as possible to begin reading books so they’d learn the information, if any, needed to survive and help with the plan, Gurder balking at the idea, but not disagreeing. Grimma then gets the chance to mention how she’d already begun to learn to read which interested the Baroness, Masklin divulging how they had a driver’s manual to study and if humans could do it, they wouldn’t have a problem.

The two leaders were convinced enough to share the news with their people, the grand total of volunteers being twenty-eight, Masklin seeing it as a fair start until others decided to join, he conveying to Grimma of how the instructing process would go and how he thought she should continue to learn to read more so they could think critically and have the right words to explain things properly. Gurder was still prickling over Masklin’s open offer to everyone learning to read, but made it so he’d have to go along to save face. Masklin then had Gurder look into the books which would help them understand certain words and the possibility of uncovering one which would help a nome learn to drive a human truck, complications unfolding, but working it out one at a time.

When they’d made it to a truck, Angalo had insisted learning to read so he could assist with the driving, he getting to the drivers seat, and Masklin knowing he was now the only nome whom knew anything about trucks, but it still not being much, which was why he’d be hiding so he could accompany a human driver to learn the process. The only other unknown was why the trucks were loaded with product and came back with product, the thought being they were the same trucks, but the process took no longer than two days, so Angalo would hopefully be able to explain upon returning. Masklin not looking forward to describing to Angalo’s parents the scenario if he was lost, but knowing Angalo had the motivation, this as Dorcas mentions the possibility of discovering an easier way to get nomes into the trucks. Another work in progress.

The Book of Nome then regards the status of Angalo’s trip. Masklin was sleeping in Stationery when a group of nomes are seen waiting for him, books in hand. Masklin gets exasperated with the books and how their usefulness wasn’t straight forward. A particularly quick, but not quite attentive reader came up with an idea involving taking a human hostage with a “gnu” and forcing said human to drive them wherever they wanted, Masklin too tired to disagree and replying he’d keep it among the working ideas. Masklin then asks the Thing what a gnu was, it being an antelope, he then realizing the nome’s idea wouldn’t work, the Thing suggesting Masklin sleep, he overextended on what they needed to do, and dropping off after sharing his worries. A couple days passed and another issue arose when they realized the garage door button was high up on a wall, as well as Gurder informing Masklin he found a map.

After showing the map to Masklin, it was “logical” guesswork as to where they were and then the truck returns during this exchange, without Angalo. Masklin rushes to the truck, one of the nomes knowing for certain it’s the same one for the license plate. When Masklin reaches the nomes already at the window who inform him of it being dark and seeing no one within, Masklin decides he wants them to lower him inside while someone else goes the long way to the steps to the door. Masklin is lowered to the ground, he going to get in through the bottom of the truck somehow, but when he does, he discovers Angalo’s jacket, and no Angalo, so he goes back out and shows the group of nomes who’s imaginations of what could have happened run wild, Masklin attempting to keep the possibilities logical, when the Duke shows up, motioning for his son’s jacket, asking the odds of detecting Angalo Outside, Masklin knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the possibility still there, and the Duke then offering as many people necessary to operate the truck so they could go out and search.

When fifty Haberdasheri show up at night, Masklin immediately put those who seemed able, on to the reading program. Gurder argued with their status being basic soldier-types, but Masklin sensed they would need them. The material found in the books ranged so widely between all genres, Masklin found it difficult to decide what to ignore, especially with the fiction books which no one understood couldn’t occur (usually) in reality. For instance, when the same reader found Alice in Wonderland and thought the “Drink Me” bottles could be utilized for one nome among them to drive the truck, Masklin decided to err on the side of safety and dedicated a night with some others to search the Store for a bottle of the tincture, it nowhere to be found, then noticing some of the information in the books weren’t easily discovered in the Store and why Arnold Bros (est. 1905) would keep them at all. Masklin had found a book for children with constellations and other facts of the sky which he knew was true, he enjoying looking at it when he was overloaded with other responsibilities. He shared some of the names with the Thing to see if it knew them, but due to differing knowledge of the names, it failed to be recognized. Masklin inquires what the name of the nome planet was, but Masklin learned the Sun they’re from isn’t the same as the one in the Milky Way Galaxy. He also learns how many planets nomes had gone to, it a large, impressive number, and when considering his task of moving a measly truck, made his difficulty seem insignificant.

The Book of Nome then alludes to one of their own having returned from the Outside by vehicle, and how vast the Outside was in size. Angalo then returns after four days, exhilarated, dirty, and tired, but eager to share what he’d seen. The nomes who heard him, found he’d seen plenty and how majestic the Store looked from Outside. He also wrote down what a sign in front of the building had on it, most of the nomes able to read now, it being another reference to a “Closing down sale”. After, Angalo fell asleep still raving over the sights, later Masklin visits to notice Angalo’s eyes still brilliant with his new adventure. Granny Morkie was watching over him and discouraged any talk of excitement already having dealt with the Duke, Masklin stating his need to speak with him, Granny Morkie allowing him some time, Angalo chattering about all he’d seen and how he’d gotten lost, Masklin then able to ask about how the trucks were driven, Angalo showing his detailed notes, but it seeming quite complicated, Masklin becomes overwhelmed with how they’d manage to pull it off.

Angalo looks for confirmation of his notes being well-written, but Masklin looking unhappy, he letting Angalo know he’d given him much to think over, Angalo then blurting excitedly over the other Stores he’d seen and the possibility of other nomes living there, Masklin urging Angalo to rest. Masklin walks out of the room to witness Granny Morkie facing off with the Duke from taking his son and provide his own care in recovery. When the Duke saw Masklin, he decides to give in, but they then negotiate the minutes allowed for visits, and after coming to an agreement, he catching up with Masklin on how well the people he’d sent were working out, Masklin conveying their value, and the Duke offering to aid him any way he could, before walking off. Masklin asks Granny Morkie’s opinion of why the Duke seemed to be acting strangely, she stating it was because he had to think about something which put him at unease.

Masklin is next shown moaning over the amount of steps one must learn to drive a truck with Gurder and Grimma, he about to share his most recent idea when Vinto, the imaginative reader walks in with a fresh idea from a book. Masklin was in the middle of turning him away when Grimma encourages him to listen, Masklin doing so and Gurder passive-aggressively questioning the sort of wild idea he was bringing this time, Vinto showing them an illustration of a human caught by nomes with rope, Gurder recognizing the story as Gulliver’s Travels, but Masklin becoming inspired, and then yelling of his moment of eureka. After the Store closed, Masklin and a few dozen others go to where the trucks are parked and test out the pedals, Masklin unable to move one by himself without quite a few others to help.

Dorcas then brainstorms with Masklin of how they could work the pedals, he deciding a lever would be needed, they testing the idea with a long piece of wood lowered through the door, and after learning how many levers it would take, Masklin mentioning the use of ropes with squads of nomes moving the truck where they wanted. Dorcas figuring the only issue being the noise (to him, fixable), and the need for training (everything would be set up in time, but a day for training the nomes, would not be enough), Dorcas suggesting Masklin locate a small practice truck, as well as thinking over how he was going to get the elderly and children on-board. Masklin open to any ideas, Dorcas deciding they’d meet up again the next night, he having an idea which could solve the practice and entrance for minors and elderly nomes. Masklin’s only other concern was for the nomes acting like it was life as usual, he noting even the leaders weren’t completely convinced, Masklin resting and waking an hour later when the panic began.

The Book of Nome has a poem which has the rhythm of a song (Skip to My Lou works pretty well) and about escape. The Store is then mentioned being currently quiet on a work day, the nomes attempting to reassure themselves nothing was amiss, but then humans arriving to remove the remainder of the product off the shelves and into trucks, they also removing floorboards, this setting a panic into motion, Gurder waking Masklin to inform him of what was happening, and Masklin then asking the Thing which explained the fourteen days until demolition didn’t include the time for the removal of stock, Masklin advising the people to gather as much food as they could, but some good news coming in the form of a member of Dorcas’ group, the humans storing everything in a convenient spot.

The Book of Nome then gives detail of the humans making nomes relocation easier by loading a variety of items onto the trucks. Masklin is informed by Dorcas of the items being loaded in the garage, a couple runs already having been made and Dorcas deducing the travel wasn’t far due to their quick return to the Store. So far the items being moved were carpets and mannequins which nomes debated about the latter’s immobility being caused for some religious reasons. The two were deciding whether the humans would be able to clear the Store in a day, Dorcas struggling to come up with a way of securing one of the trucks, he confident the new Ironmongery exiles would be able to help, and as Masklin left, became worried with the looks they gave him being hopeful of his working everything out.

News looked grim since many items were being moved out and when Masklin returns to Dorcas, he’s told one positive development being Dorcas had lifted a part of the truck which would keep the humans from driving off, since it contained many items they could utilize. Dorcas having gone to great lengths with back up plans to be certain the humans didn’t succeed in fixing the truck, Masklin satisfied and then speaking to the Thing about where they’d need to go once in the truck, he told of where an airline was, and Masklin knowing the Thing would be nonoperational until they were next around electricity, Masklin losing drive on his next move, Grimma entering when Masklin desperately needed to vent his stress, she giving him tough love by informing him of the nomes asking for him, to get himself together, and start making a plan. Masklin gets defensive, but Grimma snaps him into game face mode, and looks on the bright side of the Thing’s last words being read as, they would succeed, it only depending on the length of time it could take.

When night fell, and the last human gave up attempting to fix the lights in the garage due to Dorcas’ handiwork, the nomes got to fixing what was ‘broke’. Masklin learning it could take about an hour to get the truck in working order. As they were getting on, Granny Morkie was ‘cattle herding’ all the nomes into the back, and doing so with efficiency due to her natural talent. Once realizing Granny Morkie had taken care of Masklin’s only other idea of checking boxes, he returned to the cab of the truck due to not having left himself a task, and after watching Dorcas attempt to lead a practice for the nomes grouped at the gear shifts, Masklin asks about progress, the update not being positive, but they being ready to give it a whirl and deal with the hiccups on the fly, and when the time came, Masklin, Angalo, the Thing, Gurder (in case of any ‘splainin’ to Arnold Bros. (est. 1905) was needed), and Grimma were all in front, Gurder asking why she was up front with them, Masklin responding it was to help him read, he not being as quick as she.

Grimma set up The High Way Code and related the first instruction to check the mirror, no one knowing why, but Masklin still checking, not noticing anything but himself, Gurder deciding he should be the one to relay to the others they were ready to go after Grimma had taken initiative, but then giving Masklin the duty, he asking to start the engine, the air then alive with vibration, Angalo assuring him he’d get accustomed, the next signal to move forward not going as planned, since they ended up in reverse and hitting something, making the engine die, Dorcas going off on the teams on gears. As he does, Gurder is overcome with they moving at all, Angalo annoyed they hadn’t gone far. Then Dorcas informed of they ready to attempt it again, Angalo glad, since then smelling petrol, so when the time came to open the garage, Dorcas and Masklin having trouble hearing each other at first, but Dorcas wanting practice time for the teams, and when conveyed to skip it and get the garage open, Masklin discovers Dorcas had forgotten to fix it, this the perfect time for security (Prices Slashed) to walk in with flashlight in hand, Angalo noticing the bad (in many ways) cigarette in his mouth, he explaining why to Masklin, and then when security reached the door, Gurder speaks biblically in anger for the man to leave with his ciggie, he giving (what I imagine the same look as Flash from Zootopia)  when coming to the realization of, in this case, terror, he moving quicker than nomes are used to seeing a human move, but drops his ciggie, Masklin and Angalo yelling to their signaler to sign for Dorcas to inform the teams to shake a tail feather out of there. Masklin urging them to go faster to hit the door, which to a nome still looks like sauntering, they successfully breaking through though, and on to the street with little difficulty, they hearing the phwoosh of fire Angalo had expected.

The Book of Nome plainly states the items and departments all needing to go. Also, the Book describes the store going out with a “bang”, when it was actually a “whoomph”. None of the nomes paid this much attention due to the all encompassing need to follow the directions Angalo dictated quickly, not hitting any cars, fortunately, but did hit a store window in passing, stopping soon after when hitting a wall, the group needing a powwow about a more efficient way to steer, and to detect the headlights lever. As this is discussed, Masklin decides he, Grimma, and Gurder would go check those in the back whilst Angalo and Dorcas hashed it out. They found Granny Morkie helping a nome with a broken leg caused by a falling box, then Masklin invited Gurder a look Outside, he surprised by the rain. After hearing the “singing” cars, Gurder views the burning Store, he taking it better than Masklin expected. They return inside and Angalo had worked out a new string-pulling system to help with what he wanted done with the gears below. Angalo then attempted to have the lights turned on, instead getting the windshield wipers and radio, the switch for the lights discovered soon after, turning the radio off, which they couldn’t understand, but had news of the fire and the missing truck, they moving sort of along the road, and it close to midnight, the town fairly asleep, and then when a sign is misinterpreted as working, Masklin has them quickly stop for a hole in the middle of the road, Angalo meekly asking to back up.

When next they attempt to figure out what a roundabout is, Angalo obviously becomes a speed demon, they again stopping abruptly, Masklin and Grimma putting the smack down on Angalo and Gurder, the latter for not giving correct information and arguing, Masklin especially getting on everyone to start cooperating with each other for all the nomes relying on them, Angalo finally calming down enough to take Grimma’s original advice of taking it slow. Then when Masklin was considering a place to stop, they see Prices Slashed with a cop car, Angalo ready to knock into him, but Masklin grabbing a string for them to steer clear, they instead backing into the cop car, Angalo taking over again, and vying for Gurder to agree it would’ve been acceptable to hit Prices Slashed, but Gurder unsure it was the same being, Angalo having lost faith and Gurder forming the idea, if Arnold Bros (est. 1905) was in one place, he could be in all places, needing to think further on it. They they notice the cop car behind them, Masklin asking Angalo to get to another road when available, then going to report what’s occurring to Dorcas, Masklin having a plan needing pliers, Dorcas offering to join him.  When the truck stops, the police car stops more forcefully, the two men running and wrenching the door open, wondering where the driver had gone, they checking the bushes, Masklin and Dorcas dashing to the car, and quickly returning to the truck, it starting, the cops running for the car, but unable to start the ignition. The truck was abandoned and discovered a couple days later, the battery, wires, light bulb, radio, and switch missing, only the strings left.

The Book of Nome relates of a “New Place”, for keeps, and of a silent “Outsider”. The nomes had settled in a quarry after running hurriedly through fields, fussiness about the Outside and the state of the food found being dealt with in stride, and Dorcas even finagling some electricity, Masklin getting the Thing close to it, and only receiving a response of a few lights flashing. He was content not to bother the Thing until they accomplished more, this resulting in the passing of a few seasons, they fast-forwarding to Summer. Masklin was on watch with a button Dorcas had installed so if Masklin saw danger, those below would see a light turn on. Dorcas also had students to instruct on the finer points of electric. Masklin considering how whilst they were getting comfortable, he knew the probability of they having to pack up again someday, something they’d need to look forward to, he then looking below where he sat, Grimma teaching a few young nomes to read, he then thinking about how the departmental nomes tented to tiff fairly often and looked to him as mediator, he reminding himself of their true home, he glad though, they at least aware of the goal, their current location in view of the airport, he having sent a large team to investigate more closely, the last bit a conversation between Masklin and Dorcas of they considering the likelihood of being able to hijack a jet, Dorcas believing it possible due to only having three wheels.

One thing is for sure, this story is great for kids (the sensible ones), conquering one’s fear, teamwork, planning, organization. Another thing, this beats the movie ten-fold, I was intrigued only until catching the dialogue after a few minutes, finding other pastimes as I listened, I’m looking forward to the sequel.

Bone Vol. 7: Ghost Circles

For the 6th volume. We begin with Ted waking Jonathan to learn what has been going on, Ted realizing the news Jonathan had, wasn’t good and learning Lucius had done something which endangered Gran’ma Ben and Phoney Bone. Ted then discovers Jonathan had seen something questionable happen which made him think this, and Ted reasoning there must be a viable answer for it, the bug then easing Jonathan’s mind on he telling the Stick-eater Headmaster of what he’d seen. We then see Wendell being summoned to the main gate by the Headmaster due to tremors getting more noticeable, the Headmaster noting how he spoke, his conduct disclosing his obvious feelings about the Stick-eaters and how Lucius wasn’t one of them, the orders of the monks not coinciding with his own goals and being too hung up on Rose and devoted to her and her sister, Briar. This leads into Wendell discussing  with the Stick-eater about the disappearance of Gran’ma Ben and Phoney, the reason for the war beginning, and their disappearances lying on Phoney’s head, to which the Stick-eater discusses why his notion is ludicrous. The Stick-eater then shows Wendell the crest of the Harvestar family, he not recognizing it but being told of the purpose of the current keepers of “the source”, Wendell then uncovering how serious the legend of the Lord of the Locusts actually was. When they hear an explosion, the attack begins, Wendell being told to go and lead the villagers whilst the Stick-eater Headmaster took care of business on his end. We then get a close up of the destruction occurring at the mountain, seeing Gran’ma Ben leading Thorn and the Bones through the exploding rocks. When Fone almost gets crushed by a statue, he realizes they are going the wrong way, even though they were heading down, but then they are confronted by Kingdok, Thorn looking straight at him until Gran’ma Ben pushes her and Fone out of the way, Kingdok trying to bite them and getting a mouthful of rubble. They all get behind another statue and Gran’ma Ben uses it to throw at Kingdok, he busy spouting death threats.

They all retreat as Kingdok continues his pursuit, Fone looking for a secret passage which will get them down the mountain safely, Phoney thinking he’s crazy and Smiley the one to discover it, everyone piling in before Kingdok can lunge at them again, Gran’ma Ben offering to hold off Kingdok, but Phoney hearing something in the tunnel, they having no choice but to continue, and Fone remembering and warning everyone of how the tunnel had made them hallucinate the first time around, Gran’ma Ben knowing this for having been there before, as well. Thorn is first to speak up about leading them deeper through the tunnel, Gran’ma Ben advising the Bones to get ready to run, she grabbing them as she let Kingdok’s face push through. Another explosion gets Kingdok’s attention and then we see the fighting amongst the rat creatures, villagers, and Stick-eaters. The Stick-eater Headmaster is ordering one of his men to deal with a gathering of enemies when they see the explosion on the mountain, his orders changing to get as many villagers and men into a cave, knowing there won’t be time for proper refuge from the danger to come. We then see Briar being revived by the Lord of the Locusts and learning she had configured their powers incorrectly, losing part of them and being told to fix her mistake. Meanwhile the Bones are continuing down the stairs of the passage and wondering if they’d missed a turn for having been walking awhile, Fone starting to notice he and his cousins were starting to take on the personalities of the characters in Moby Dick, soon realizing he’s sharing the hallucination with the other Bones. Gran’ma Ben then calls them further down where Thorn has collapsed and is ice cold despite the extreme heat they were all feeling and we find she had seen Thorn being invaded by the locusts and confiding in the Bones of this.

When Thorn revives and shares of speaking with the Lord of the Locusts, Gran’ma Ben relates to this story by confessing of how she had the same experience many years before (the details of which are in Rose and isn’t needed to complete this volume). She relates of following her sister to the cave and being confronted by the Lord of the Locusts, Thorn finishing for her by supplying what he’d been searching for, she being saved by Fone before the Lord of the Locusts had found her dreaming power source. Thorn then shares with Gran’ma Ben of a mistake regarding her sister’s abilities, they heading for a light source up ahead which turns out to be the end of the tunnel, they thinking it was snowing until realizing they are seeing ashes in the wind and everything’s gone. Thorn then speaks of only some of the destruction being real, Briar having used many ghost circles to give the illusion of everything being destroyed, sharing with them of she able of seeing where they must walk, but having to follow her exactly, failing to do so would mean the walker being gone forever. Fone asks how Thorn would reverse the changes, she unsure, but knowing it’s possible for how Fone had given her the charm necessary to repel the Lord of the Locusts and she having the missing powers Briar is searching for. As the Bones follow Gran’ma and Thorn, they argue about whether they believe the ladies about the ghost circles and all the fantastical creatures mentioned, Fone not interested in rocking the boat, especially when he and his cousins were attired like his Moby Dick dream. Phoney then lays into Fone about how he consistently seemed to come up with a reason why they couldn’t escape and go home, he making Fone promise the next time he figures a way out, he’ll drop everything and come with him, Fone reluctantly agreeing.

Meanwhile Gran’ma Ben reaches the spot she’d left Lucius and is becoming upset about not seeing him there, Thorn trying to calm her by speaking of the possibility she may still be able to help him, she attempting to see if she could sense him, but when it fails, has a vivid vision with Fone there, he seeing a new place and Thorn warning him to stay close to her, they finally returning to the others, Gran’ma Ben is relieved to hear of the trees surrounding them since she had left Lucius elsewhere. They then go toward the spring Thorn had noticed and stop for the night for Phoney requesting desperately for a break. Smiley then speaks frankly to Fone about whether he was feeling homesick and how they didn’t have to listen to Phoney all the time due to his usually being wrong, Fone seeming to be surprised by Smiley’s insight. Smiley going on to mention how even though Fone believed dreams didn’t mean anything, Smiley saw Fone react as if he’d dreamt something and told the others of Thorn being alright when she’d still been lost. Fone dismisses this and goes to sleep, dreaming of being in the middle of the ocean on a casket, and sinking under water. Fone then sees a large body, it coming into focus as being the Red Dragon, Fone attempting to get his attention and failing, the Dragon opening his mouth to yawn and inhaling Fone, we soon only seeing a spark.

Fone awakens to everyone gone, but is called to by Smiley whom was bathing, then mentioning Phoney had woken without his pirate look. Fone then has a bad feeling of Thorn being in danger, but Phoney trying to calm him, mentioning where she was and how she and Gran’ma Ben had argued about where they should head, Thorn thinking back to Old Man’s Cave, it having less ghost circles than going south, Gran’ma Ben wanting to head south. Neither Gran’ma Ben nor Thorn could pick up anything from the veiled world, Thorn only noticing the ghost circles seemed to be spreading. She then describes what the ghost circles signified, it having to do with the dreaming and the real world getting mixed. Fone then asking how the piece of the locust inside Thorn could be removed, which leads into why Gran’ma Ben wanted to head south to Atheia, where help could be found. Gran’ma Ben is still attempting to discover signs of life from the villagers, but soon hears sounds on the other side of a ridge, everyone seeing it was a slew of rat creatures. Due to where they were headed and they not having noticed Thorn and gang, they would now have to head south, Phoney agreeing, and assuring Smiley it didn’t matter if it took them further away from Boneville (giving the sense the little grifter had a devious plan), Phoney sharing quietly what he was thinking with Smiley.

As the group then discusses whether the rat creatures may have actually noticed them, they run right into them. As they attempt escape, Thorn and Fone get separated from Gran’ma Ben, Phoney, and Smiley, but Smiley then sees someone whom makes him smile. We then seeing Thorn and Fone trapped at the edge of a cliff, Thorn threatening to kill the Hooded One, she of course dead already, but sharing of how two would be needed to help the Lord of the Locust, Thorn not wanting to take part, and Briar attempting to convince her of the good she could do with the power it would give her, then confessing how her parents were responsible for her death and how they had actually died, then confiding when they would perform the ritual. As Fone defends Thorn though, it is revealed he also had a piece of the Locust within him which meant she no longer needed Thorn, but as Briar seemed about to do something terrible, she’s bum rushed by Smiley on a rat creature. The group now reunited, Thorn is thrown on Bartleby with Smiley as the rest ran after, Thorn stating she’d be able to lead them through the ghost circles as the herd of rat creatures again headed towards them.

As they traveled down a dune, Thorn describes their current route being filled with ghost circles and would need to slow down so they could navigate through them, which they implement as they see rat creatures disappearing due to stepping in the wrong spots. They stop after some distance, Thorn wanting to take a break, but Phoney eager to push on for thinking they weren’t quite safe yet, the group moving once more. We then see Wendell picking up robes nearby a bunch of dead, then being called since the group had found Lucius, he being carried and they describing how and where they’d found him. Wendell wakes Lucius, whom’s memories are hazy after the blast, after deducing Jonathan not being as fine as Wendell made it seem, they then being approached by the Stick-eaters, the Headmaster wanting to know if Lucius knew where Thorn and Rose were, he not knowing, but did know where they’d go if they had survived, the Headmaster not seeing the logic behind it, regardless of it being the place of their throne and believing Atheia was deserted, then stating Lucius was an enemy of the royals and to place guards outside the infirmary.

We then see Thorn and group still on their trek across deserted land, Thorn stopping them for the ghost circles getting thicker, she thinking it would be the opposite as they got closer. Phoney decides they were breaking, and it soon leads to him accusing Fone of being the cause of the trouble, the rat creatures not even going after the others anymore, only Fone, Smiley shocking the two with his electric fingers, then Gran’ma Ben interrupting Phoney’s revelation of they being chased because of what the Hooded One had said of only needing Fone for the ritual, to let them know of the new path they would walk. Gran’ma Ben deciding she’ll bring up the rear, for now being suspicious of Fone’s part which could be played, and everyone walking a longer, but safer way around to Atheia. Bartleby then informs Fone of Smiley falling, Thorn warning him to be careful not to fall into ghost circles already avoided as he rushes to aid him. When they reach Smiley, he indicates his fall was due to “taco”, he being hungry, of course. Phoney then comes up with the idea of Thorn and one other should go into a ghost circle to search for food, she considering the idea, Fone offering to go with her again and the two going in before logic set in, they near a farmhouse and Thorn sensing a family within, not alive but moving, they grabbing fruits, but then Thorn hears a sound, she figuring it was the family, which spooks her and drags Fone away, but too quickly since he dropped their loot.

Thorn continues to hear the dead call to her for help, then relaying a message from her mother, also warning her of how to extract the locust piece from Fone and of the Hooded One being close. Thorn and Fone escape before the Hooded One gets near, and then we see Lucius getting a visit from Wendell, they discussing the Headmaster being stubborn on moving the camp and whether the villagers were willing to travel to meet the Atheians. Wendell then begins asking Lucius of his connection to Rose and her sister and whom he’d been with when he was found by Jonathan. Lucius admits his story from his youth when he’d fallen for one of the sisters, and after Wendell spoke of his concerns, Lucius decided they were going to leave. We then hear from Bartleby speaking of the rat creatures superstitions about their tails and other parts of them which were medically altered, Fone inquiring what had happened when Bartleby had returned to them, the rat creatures shunning him due to believing he wouldn’t eat the Bones and group when it was necessary, he admitting the truth to the statement, Thorn then collapsing and Gran’ma Ben reassuring of they finally reaching where the ghost circles thinned. Fone is ready for them to go through Tanen Gard in order to reach the people who can help Thorn, then being more wary when Gran’ma Ben mentions of  the trespassing penalties if caught; it being of a serious nature.

Thorn is becoming weaker as they journey on, Fone mentioning to Gran’ma Ben of what he felt when Thorn had returned them, Gran’ma Ben trying to push them more quickly, especially after Thorn mentions of the Hooded One coming. As Phoney and Smiley struggle to follow Fone, Gran’ma Ben, and Thorn, Smiley mentions how he felt ill at ease and likening it to a story of their youths when Phoney had prompted Smiley to steal pies off of windowsills, they going through the dragon graveyard feeling similarly wrong. Fone then runs to them to share the news of discovering a way across the possibly bottomless crevasse, when the ground begins to shake. Bartleby recognizes the smell first and shouts of dragons coming from the pit, everyone rushing to the slim way across, Fone being the first to slip, but being caught by Thorn, whom at first had to be carried by Gran’ma Ben, but she relaying how she was starting to feel better due to Tanen Gard, they continuing across. When they get across, which is also the end of Tanen Gard, Thorn mentions of they being clear of ghost circles and the hope of the villager survivors making their way to Atheia since she still couldn’t sense Old Man’s Cave. We then see Wendell leading the villagers toward the Stick-eater guarding Lucius, they disarming him. The Headmaster meets Lucius as he’s walking out of his cell, he again mentioning of only destruction anywhere else and they being safe there. After Lucius shares how he can’t understand why they were protecting their brotherhood when everyone was going to die anyways, the Headmaster shows his face, and finally agrees to accompany them to the Old Kingdom. We then see Kingdok surrounded by darkness and walking somewhere. Gran’ma Ben is guiding the group to higher ground for a better view of where they were heading. When they reach the top, Gran’ma Ben breaks down how long it would take them to reach Atheia and what they could have in store with two days out with no cover. Smiley and Phoney have a little quarrel which Bartleby concludes by confessing of Smiley being “aces”; this volume coming to a close and making me start the next, immediately! If my statement isn’t a testament of the staying power and greatness of this series, then I’ll be blunt: It’s quite good and if other readers have made it this far there’s no sense in stopping now.

Bone Vol. 6: Old Man’s Cave

For the fifth volume. We discover Fone climbing a tree to get bearings as to where they were in the woods, Smiley waiting below. They’d been lost for days already and Fone still wasn’t familiar with the area, meanwhile Smiley is having trouble watching for Fone’s climb down due to a groundhog getting mad at Smiley for stepping on his home’s entrance, Fone having a moment to break his handhold and falling directly onto the groundhog. Ted the bug then finds Smiley as he’s trying to extricate Fone from his fall into the groundhog’s hole (ha ha) and Fone is as happy to see Ted, as well. The groundhog then overhears their happy reunion and who Fone was, getting scared since the rumor was Fone had killed Kingdok, he retreating inside, Ted then catching the Bones up on what had been going on, Fone getting angry with Phoney and they both being led by Ted back to where the village was.

We see Phoney in cover of the trees spying Thorn helping a family escape the burning village, meeting the rest in the brush before two groups of rat creatures approach from two sides of the clearing and everyone hiding in the darkness of the trees hoping not to be seen. The two rat creature group leaders speak of the news about Kingdok, one group leader not knowing the most recent news being of his death. The two group leaders then digress into another language which gives Wendell time to threaten Phoney for being the one with the star mentioned by the rat creatures and wanting to give him hell for getting them in this mess, Phoney cowering and knowing his words bore truth. Thorn then divulges she understood the language the two groups were speaking in, not knowing how but then giving orders as to where to take the new family and getting Wendell and a couple others to do what they had already done before, everyone having their tasks and Phoney surprised Thorn believed in his innocence. When Thorn and company get back, they don’t see the town, she making it clear they were in it already. Wendell gets newly enraged at the thought of everyone’s home being obliterated and chasing imaginary dragons because of Phoney, Thorn having to come to his rescue yet again, but not succeeding so Phoney lets out with Thorn’s secret which at first they have trouble believing.

Thorn then tries to get everyone’s attention on a trail she wanted to follow, with or without the group which she believed may lead to the other Bones. Jon, one of the group then encounters a note Thorn had written to Fone Bone and discovered it wasn’t in the place she left it, Lucius most likely having put it in the known spot for trading messages, the group, other than Thorn and Phoney deciding to check Gran’ma Ben’s farm in the morning. The two then go off in search of Fone, but the men in the group notice hooded figures, the Stick-Eaters heading towards them. When Thorn acknowledges them, one confides a message from her grandmother and where she wished Thorn to meet her, Thorn than asks what they know of Fone and they recount the latest news as to his whereabouts, she still struggling with what to do first, deciding she’ll make her final decision in the morning. We then see a dream Thorn has which shows her looking like Snow White and speaking to her younger looking grandmother who urges her to cut the vines around her, younger Lucius advises her to disobey, another young grandmother coming from behind Thorn, but not being able to see her. The younger “evil” grandmother tries to take Thorn’s sword and Thorn wakens clutching Fone’s spiked club, she walking off into the darkness.

The four left in Thorn’s group, being deserted by her during the night, end up walking in the dark trying to uncover Old Man’s Cave. The biggest in their group is still steaming about Phoney’s trouble-making ways and is about to take it out on him again when Wendell tries to hold him back, enforcing Thorn’s order to leave him alone. Gran’ma Ben soon shows up and enquires where Thorn is, stopping the two from fighting amongst themselves. They escort them back to the cave, Lucius going after Thorn. We then see where Fone and Smiley have gotten to, they soon finding themselves amongst rat creatures and when they begin threatening them with death, Thorn comes out to defend them, but upon seeing the club she brandished and giving to Fone, they truly show fear and run off for believing they were the ones to kill Kingdok. After greeting each other warmly, Thorn then figures out which direction will take them to Old Man’s Cave, then promptly heads in the opposite direction, believing they can’t be helped by anyone there, looking for shelter instead. We then see the Hooded One speaking with the Lord of the Locusts who was concerned with his interest in the one who bears the star, the Lord of the Locusts making it clear if the Hooded One’s idea failed, he’d pay for it.

We then see the Bones and Thorn spitting cherry pits at each other in the tree hollow and they getting so loud as to bring Ted back to inform them to keep it down for having to try and keep them hidden. Thorn then shares their plans to confront and over-power the Hooded One, Ted then voicing his opinion they should be going to Old Man’s Cave. Thorn still denying this to be a suitable plan and the three discussing what more is known of the Hooded One and where the Lord of the Locusts came from. Thorn then confides why the Lord of the Locusts was showing such interest in herself and Phoney and how it will aid his release from bondage, going on to confess why she doesn’t trust Gran’ma Ben at the moment and it having to do with the knowledge of a nursemaid Thorn had come to realize didn’t exist. We then see Roque Ja confronting whomever is in his presence, it turning out to be the Hooded One asking for a favor, Roque Ja turning him down before he can continue, taunting him with how he probably wouldn’t have been able to get the information from Kingdok who is now lacking an important appendage needed to speak, he coming out from the darkness as well and the Hooded One having to hold him back.

The Hooded One goes on to mention needing Roque Ja’s help in capturing the Bones once more and what state he wished the princess to be in, he accepting once he gets an agreed upon reward for his efforts. Then we see Phoney being wakened by Jon, he revealing how long Phoney’s been asleep since he’d been ill and now they all residing in Old Man’s Cave. Jon explains some of the cave’s history and Gran’ma Ben comes to see Phoney as well, he realizing her status and thinking he’s going to pay for his bad behavior, she agreeing to judge him lightly. Gran’ma Ben then takes Phoney to a part of the cave which shows drawings on the walls implying the beginning which started with a dragon queen and how the Lord of the Locusts became involved, including an ancestor of Gran’ma Ben’s and in extension, Thorn. Phoney then learns what role the rat creatures believed he would be playing in all of this, Lucius interrupting by coming to update how he hadn’t found Thorn due to her excellent training from the dragons and how they were getting boxed in by the Hooded One and rat creatures setting up camps around them. Gran’ma Ben then defends Phoney from getting decked by Lucius since he was only worried about the well-being of his cousins and when Lucius departs, he asks Gran’ma Ben who the Hooded One was, she not knowing either, but being able to clarify what would occur if he succeeded in releasing the Lord of the Locusts, the outcome not a good one.

Fone and Smiley meanwhile, are gathering water at the barn to prepare for a bath whilst Thorn was within, looking through her grandmother’s belongings. They continue to discuss what the next item of business will be for their group, they not knowing and figuring Thorn would be the leader. Thorn meanwhile is hearing their conversation and interjects what her plan is and reveals why she hadn’t told them until then. Fone puts in his two cents and Thorn expands on why she doesn’t want to go to Old Man’s Cave, but then Fone with Smiley’s help, convinces her it’s the best idea for now and they head in the same direction instead. Lucius is then shone giving command to the group following him in order to keep the rat creatures from completely surrounding Old Man’s Cave. Lucius then sees a woman who introduces herself as Briar and we learn who she’s related to, he in denial it could be her and Jonathan overseeing their conversation from within the woods, also noticing rat creatures approaching. Jonathan then shouts of their closing in and Lucius breaks away from Briar to help defend the cave. We skip to where Gran’ma Ben is updated on what was happening outside the cave, the scout not learning much and then continuing conversation with Phoney in relation to his soul and as she’s explaining she again gets the “gitchy” feeling and Phoney feels a rumbling around them. When they get outdoors they see the place where the Lord of the Locusts is trapped has a dust cloud rising up around it and then Gran’ma Ben learns of what’s happened to Lucius, he coming to inform what had happened to them, she hoping Thorn is alright. Then Roque Ja comes out from behind Gran’ma Ben’s farmhouse sniffing around and seemingly stalking Thorn and co.

Lucius reports back to Gran’ma Ben of who he’d seen as the Hooded One to which she has trouble believing for the one mentioned was thought to be dead, after only seeming to feel pity for her. Gran’ma Ben goes on to share no one else coming to help them and they would most likely be fighting among their own, alone. Wendell then walks up demanding for Phoney to be given to them since he’s the one the rat creatures are looking for and being in this mess because of him. Gran’ma Ben tries to appeal to Wendell and those with him they shouldn’t hand over the one thing they were after if they believed it would help release the Lord of the Locusts, but whilst they were being held off, Phoney takes off and so Gran’ma Ben spreads everyone out looking for him so he doesn’t get caught by the enemies and lose the war inadvertently because of his absence, she going off in search of him on her own and being seen by Roque Ja. Gran’ma Ben notices Phoney and stops him before he made matters worse, Lucius coming up behind the two and Roque Ja looking ready to act, Lucius warning her and Roque Ja pouncing, getting Gran’ma Ben, Lucius jumping on him and the three falling off the cliff. Gran’ma Ben starts by punching the lion though, showing her strength isn’t only rumors, Phoney continuing his ditching of them.

Roque Ja ignores them after and mentions his targets being Phoney and “the princess”, we then seeing Phoney run straight into Fone, Thorn and Smiley walking close behind. Phoney explain how he’d been to Old Man’s Cave and it not being safe anymore and then of Gran’ma Ben’s run in with Roque Ja, which makes Thorn want to go and defend her, Phoney and Fone trying to stop her, but not getting far since Roque Ja had followed Phoney and swatted Thorn out of the way. Fone gets swatted down some boulders and Roque Ja picks up Thorn and Phoney to finish his mission, Smiley trying to get Fone to wake up, but he’s gone into his dreams and sees the Red Dragon there stating for him to wake up and of Thorn’s condition, needing him to follow her. After the Red Dragon conveys how he won’t be able to go with him, Fone wakes and Smiley tells him which direction they’d gone, the two running after Roque Ja.

We then see Gran’ma Ben tending to Lucius who had been hurt, but advising her to make haste for Roque Ja so she can try and divert the lion from succeeding in catching Thorn or Phoney, he assuring her he’ll be going back to Old Man’s Cave and so Gran’ma Ben follows their trail. Smiley and Fone are then shown running over some rocks to where they witness Kingdok, some rat creatures and the Hooded One, Phoney having been bound on a flat stone, the Hooded One remarking how he may have evaded them for some time, but he was caught now and his mystic powers must not be as strong as he thought, Phoney denying knowing anything about this and admitting it was a big misunderstanding and refusing to take part in the Hooded One’s ritual to release the Lord of the Locusts, but she warning Phoney if he didn’t help her willingly she’d accept him as a sacrifice, Bone trying to reason with her, but the Hooded One then showing how the foretelling of Phoney’s coming had been known, an obvious sign, appearing through the thick smoke behind her.

Phoney then realizes what they’d seen and how Fone would definitely be mad if he knew, Fone and Smiley putting two and two together and the balloon shaped like one of the Bones being the cause of them being run out of Boneville. Gran’ma Ben then tries to stop the Hooded One from continuing the sacrifice, after Bone had tried to explain what the balloon had been for and the message beneath, it having a banner at the bottom which was ripped, partially. Gran’ma Ben then speaks of the mistake the Hooded One had made and how the balloon wasn’t the one needed to free the Lord of Locusts but Thorn, who the Hooded One said was dead. Kingdok then goes on to berate how the Hooded One had disgraced his people with the mistake made and then we see what happens to the Hooded One due to the incompetence allowed to play out. Fone goes to Thorn and gives her the necklace the dragon had given him whilst he’d been unconscious, meanwhile locusts having covered her, but when he gives her the necklace, she awakens and Gran’ma Ben and the Bones all try to make sure she can walk so they can escape the area due to it’s instability. Thorn stops only for a moment to put up her hood, giving the impression they haven’t quite saved her yet and this volume ending. I won’t like pausing in the story, but there’s a side-story to be read: Rose, but this volume and the whole series so far is definitely worth the effort.

Adventure Time Vol.1 Playing With Fire

This volume is in black and white starting with Jake playing ‘Never have I ever…’ with Finn. Then NEPTR has his turn, making it a bit weird with his subject-choice. Then Finn calls Flame Princess over in a special way so she can join their game. Finn’s next turn brings out how little F.P. knows of a place called Carnival Kingdom, surprising the boys. Jake almost ruins the atmosphere with an insensitive question about F.P.’s childhood, but they turn it around with talks of cotton candy, going off to Carnival Kingdom. When they arrive, Finn gives F.P. a choice as to what prize she’d like him to win and she gets all goo-goo-eyed over a cute stuffed animal. Finn then proceeds to annihilate the game, before the game-keeper even has time to finish his line of questioning. Finn is all set in valiantly giving her his winnings when she is so taken with the game, she ignores him and tries it herself, failing immediately, she then goes flame-y after being sweet-talked by the attendant, Finn and Jake watching on, a bit embarrassed by her display of anger, but Finn also reverting back to his undying awe and anime-style serious liking of her. During Finn’s explaining her awesome side, she calms down and is distracted by another area involving someone playing a fire flute.

Then F.P. fakes Finn into believing he’s about to get a smooch when in fact she’s getting ready to tell him of the free fortune-telling. Then there’s a bit of questionable grammar said by F.P. (not sure if it was a joke or not) and she goes in for a reading. At first the fortune is bright, but then it takes a turn, whilst Finn waits with happiness at being referred to by the teller as F.P.’s boyfriend, then he gets grabbed without the princess noticing until the fortune-teller is leaving and she sees his form stuck to the back of his pack. Jake isn’t sweating it, at first thinking Finn will bust out, but then Jake and F.P. track Finn to a forest with trees filled with peeps in bubbles looking like baubles on a Christmas tree, upon realizing Finn wasn’t going to get out of this one without some help. F.P. angrily calls out the dragon who masquerades as fortune-teller and blasts Finn loose from the tree he’s hanging from. Jake marvels at Finn’s diminished size and F.P. seems like she’s going to get personal, but Finn cuts her off and spurns her affection without a thought. Then Jake asks if they should go save the other tree baubled peeps and Finn declines without feeling, which begins to tip them off. F.P. decides they must return and get the real, awesome Finn back. Jake is kewl with little Finn, but F.P. describes all the great qualities Finn has including one which mystifies her. Jake’s about to follow her, but tries one last time to see if little Finn wants to save his soul and confirms his insouciance, so Jake plops him in a skin pocket and is off to catch up to Flame Princess.

Jake discovers her puzzling over some game pieces and trying to figure out what she’s to do. Jake finally figures out what the game they must play is all about with obvious rules. Jake isn’t as good at playing at first, though and F.P. is getting impatient. Jake tries to reason with her, but F.P. figures another way through to the next area whether it’s cheating or not, which Jake decides is the former option. She continues on her “rampage” going through the puzzle cave in a way which is suited to her nature, until she reaches a water area they must get through. Jake tells her she should stay in the cave whilst he and Finn explore the underwater area, she not liking this idea and deciding she’ll do what she wants and follows them down into the water, which doesn’t do her much good so Jake catches her before she drifts off. When Jake resurfaces he, distressed to F.P.’s condition of possibly being dead, which still doesn’t affect Finn at all, he then realizes how terrible little Finn actually is, but F.P. does wake eventually, in a bed, with her father coming in soon after she wakes. F.P., through conversation with her father then wonders how she even got back to Fire Kingdom, her father explaining she willed herself back, something she didn’t know she could do. Her father then tries to explain how F.P. should try to give in to her evil side more than any other trait she may have and then gets distracted by his servants and through his conduct towards them, F.P. decides she doesn’t truly want to be there, then waking again on a shore side.

After a bit of frustration by the water being everywhere, F.P. happens upon a hollowed castle looking bucket and begins making an enormous castle, but rain soon stops her after she’s struck how little time it took to get the castle so large, then locating a wooden opening above her head. She gets helped through by Choose Goose, who is burned with his efforts, but soon tells F.P. how he got there and his mission in getting his pack back from the dragon. After F.P. exposes how the rooms being puzzles worked, Choose Goose shows her all he’d found was a key, which F.P. is able to figure out must go to one of the doors which is hidden by the dark, which she’s of course able to uncover. Choose Goose suggests she flame up the place, but F.P. goes with the patient way and starts trying doors. Soon she uncovers the right door in an unapparent place, going through with difficulty and landing in a strange place, the door disappearing before her eyes. Soon she’s despairing over how she’ll ever locate Finn in such a vast place, but after shouting his name, she hears hers in return and is led by it, luckily.

We have an ethereal moment with Finn’s spirit when F.P. somehow releases him from his little pod. We then get a sign the dragon had been watching close by the whole time, touched by their little display. After the dragon explains why he’d done what he did, he told them his debt to her and can grant one wish, she bursting with something trivial mentioned at the beginning, but Finn reminds her of how they should help the trapped souls, he included. So, in agreement they choose the wish which everyone is uncomfortably put back in their bodies. Finn gets a kiss from F.P. which doesn’t hurt him and is impressed by her control, however recently practiced it may be. They are then all given prizes by the dragon since he’d been planning on releasing everyone anyways also unloading his burden of them onto the trio in returning them to their homes; they do it, though and end the last return with a camp-out. Finn compliments F.P. on her heroic ways and after the boys are sleeping, she’s still thinking of how unheroic she feels, she then sees her father who tells her she shouldn’t be bothered feeling this way anyways and being evil will get her everything and anything she wants, her form changing in the water.

Finn and Jake are then awakened by screams from someone in their town caused by a fire. Finn tries to invite F.P. along, but she plays unconscious and the duo run off to help, with F.P. trying to optimistically believe perhaps she could be a hero in the future, ending the story. I wasn’t impressed at first, also I truly get bored with black and white, but the style was Adventure Time and it was a catching story once I began following it more closely; all in all, a good addition. Then we get a story with BMO beginning with him being left a note not to touch the wall of weapons, but BMO can’t resist a brush mohawked helmet, soon revising the note and adding some sword action to his game-play, but gets the sword stuck and falls trying to release it, falling into Finn’s underwear and at first being surprised, then using them, sumo-wrestler-style in a fight with a worm. BMO doesn’t win this fight though and walks off looking for items to build a kite, making a big ka-boom which one sees shake the whole tree-house. BMO test drives his flying implement with himself attached to it, like a hang-glider. Then notices the worm on the ground, worryingly close to where his kite is attached; and rightly so; BMO goes with the wind into we know not where, being called and seen looking like a felled warrior when someone opens the door to his knocking. A cute one, not a bad way to end the volume.

Bone – First Appearance (Cerebus the Aardvark)

I haven’t read Bone before and so starting with the first issue, we see Phoney Bone walking out of a forest and complaining about his cousin, Fone Bone who may be at Phoney’s home now eating his food and ditching him to make his way back alone. In Bone’s opinion he’s the wealthiest of Boneville and pities his predicament when he runs into a dinosaur-seeming creature and asks if he knows about his cousin’s whereabouts, which doesn’t get answered, until a little guy gets his attention and tries to get Bone to move further away from possible trouble, Bone not paying him any mind and asking the same question of him. When he doesn’t get any real clues though, he then demands to be taken to his leader, which the bug supposes the closest to a leader would be someone called Thorn’s Grandma. So they head off to uncover her where-abouts and then run into her coming back somewhere down the road.

The Grandma then threatens bodily harm to Bone when he doesn’t take her kind offer of riding one of her racing cows, kindly, where we then see her grand-daughter is in her grandmother’s abode and Fone Bone is with her, seemingly love-struck as they wait for her return to see if she’ll agree to Fone Bone’s being able to stay there. Then they first hear and then see the cows and her grandmother running beside them, with Phoney Bone taking the cow for a ride as they come back, to Fone Bone’s surprise. Phoney Bone does not making a graceful entrance, since the cow seemed to have gone out of control and threw Phoney through the front door whilst the grandmother yanked the tail of the cow to keep it from slamming through the door as well. Then the grandma meets Fone Bone and whilst they seem to get along better, she deduces why her grand-daughter had brought him over and squashes the thought straight from the start and then Phoney Bone is trying to get out of there as quickly as possible whilst Fone Bone believes the grandmother can help them get back to Boneville.

Phoney Bone is then introduced to Thorn and he embarrasses Fone Bone, but first they’d discuss whether either had seen the third in their party, their other cousin, Smiley, who neither knew the whereabouts of. This is when the grandmother relents to the two staying, but in the barn and Thorn and Fone discuss the plan of trying to keep their relatives calm until they can go to town together, which is when Fone goes to powwow with Phoney, but finds him dismantling the delicious pie Thorn had made for her grandmother, due to hunger and Thorn discovers them both sitting there, with the rest of the pie shaping Fone’s head with Phoney sitting pretty claiming not to know anything about it, ending the first issue. I understand now why this is entertaining at least. I’ll be interested in seeing where it goes.

Buddha, Vol. 8: Jetavana (Buddha #8)

For the seventh volume in the series. We begin with discovering Prince Ajatasattu has been in the tower for four years and he’s turned seventeen, but looks much older due to the vengeance he’s harbored all those years. Devadatta still visited the Prince to keep him abreast of all the news of the city around him and of Buddha’s efforts. Devadatta then informs the Prince he could be let go sooner than his father’s sentence due to the King showing withdrawal symptoms and no one knowing anything, but he was poisoned, the kingdom would need someone of sound mind to rule the country giving the Prince the perfect opportunity to take over. The Prince knows Devadatta has done this for a reason and asks him what it was, it being for the Prince’s support to Devadatta to take over control in Venuvana. The Prince is so desperate to get out of the tower he’s willing to help Devadatta in his endeavor and so awaits the good news of his release to come. We next see the effect of Devadatta’s plan and he soon arrives in Venuvana after the disciples hear of the news about Prince Ajatasattu.

Devadatta brings the highest ranking monks together to blast them with the news of his take over of their group as well, showing the proclamation. Sariputta found a way around the proclamation due to how it was written and in the end let the monks decide whether they’d like to follow Devadatta or not; only a few, including Tatta decide to go with him. Tatta’s reason being Devadatta promised him his revenge. Meanwhile Ajatasattu has locked his father up in the tower and his mother pleads with him to be reasonable, confiding in him of Devadatta’s part in his father’s poisoning, but the Prince strips her of her title and has her removed. Devadatta arrives to inform the Prince of his success, but the Prince isn’t impressed with the number of Samanna he’s convinced to follow him. Devadatta requests needing a little more time and the Prince gives him some gold to fund his ability to show he has the biggest sect in India, but Devadatta declines being able to use the money in such a way, opting to give it to charity in the King’s name, Ajatasattu acquiescing.

Then we see Migaila is still trying to figure out why Tatta has decided to betray Buddha like he has. Tatta plans on going to Kapilavastu for Buddha’s permission and Migaila has misgivings, confessing to him she feels like she won’t ever see him again, but he’s set on going and thinks she’s got nothing to fear, believing he won’t be gone long at all, but we’re to learn Migaila’s feeling had merit. Then Sariputta and Moggallana are seen heading to the mountains where Devadatta’s monks are to bring them back in a not so honest way, as Sariputta puts it. When they arrive Sariputta share with the monks how a divine being has told him they need to reunite and come back, even showing it’s form with the fog has developed over the night, which does its job in convincing them to return. When Devadatta returns to the mountain to discover everyone gone, he’s vowed to do anything in his power to win what they’ve “stolen” from him, even if he has to kill Buddha to do it.

Meanwhile Buddha, Ananda and Visakha were heading back to Kosala with Rahula, Bhaddiya, Aurudha and Kimbila when Bhaddiya mentions to Buddha of Naradatta who was not quite on the way, but well-known for being an ascetic since Siddhartha was a baby. Buddha decides to make the side-trip, soon they see prints only one who was walking on all fours could make. They locate a cave, which Ananda offers to enter first to make sure there weren’t any dangerous animals inside, but Buddha senses there wasn’t and decides to go in first, noticing Naradatta lying on a palette, hot with fever. Upon trying to give him medicine to help, Naradatta shows his refusal and Buddha accepts this, instead staying and watching over him, until late speaking with Naradatta. He learns something of Buddha before dying and Buddha goes back out to his group informing them of how moved he was by spending Naradatta’s last moments with him. He realized then how he wanted to die when the time came and we are told Buddha, from then on thought often of the way he would go.

We then see a merchant trying to get Prince Jeta to sell his park to him for monks to reside in, but the Prince refuses. As he’s returning to the castle, he discovers his father has returned from Kapilavastu, believing once Buddha comes to visit and speaks with the King his mind will change as well, the young Prince laughs at the thought and wonders how his father’s mind would ever be changed. The King, meanwhile doesn’t take the news of Prince Crystal’s withdrawal of their troops very well at all. The King threatens Prince Crystal by taking his successorship if he doesn’t go back and kill the Shakya, so he obeys begrudgingly. Meanwhile the merchant, Sudatta is trying to fulfill the young Prince’s requirements in order to buy the park, stemming from his time when he’d met Buddha and wanting to fulfill this dream of his, then we get a flashback of his meeting with Buddha. Buddha explains to Sudatta what he needs to know to lose his fear of death and continues they will meet again, since Sudatta wanted him to share more.

After their meeting Sudatta had figured out his life’s work will be to make a temple for Buddha and so puts all of his finances into it, but upon seeing how much of the park was covered by all of his money and still needing more, he begins losing heart when the young Prince comes to see how well he’s held up his end of the bargain. Soon Sudatta’s staff is beginning to believe he’s truly lost his mind and try to call a doctor, but in their haste almost cut off his breathing themselves, then Prince Jeta is informed and told by his mother he should leave the man alone, but the Prince believes it shouldn’t matter since they are royalty and bullying the lower castes should be acceptable. The Prince believes Sudatta will come begging for his forgiveness soon enough, then we see Sudatta has sold his house and hasn’t made much larger of a dent on covering the land, soon being flitted upon by birds and getting an idea after, wondering why they’d be so happy. Then Prince Jeta ascertains where Sudatta has started living and senses he’s quite happy and content, but not believing the truth in his words, he tests him by flipping a gold coin to him and follows him to see what he’ll do with it, which was to set it in the park with the others, so the Prince gives in and donates the park to him instead.

Next we catch Prince Crystal making his way back with troops to Kapilavastu and when his soldiers detect some Shakya, the Prince maintains they must kill them, but they resist once they realize Buddha’s among them. When the Prince perceives this out he goes to Buddha and gets more advice on how one should respect their parents, if it feels right to do so. We then see the Prince confronting his father once he’s returned, expressing to him he’s decided against obeying his orders. His father, in return calls his favorite wrestler in as a threat, revealing to his son he’ll give him succession. Prince Crystal in return, gets his soldiers to come in and physically extricate him off the throne to get him to a doctor for fear of being mad. The doctor, after seeing the King, gives his diagnosis and the Prince gets it in writing so as to have a reason to take over the throne.

Then we get the viewpoint of a local ascetic who also fears having Buddha dismantle his group, so one of his disciples makes known he can stop Buddha with powder to stop him from using “black magic”, but Pokkarasati has his own plan, bringing in a woman named Sundari, one of his other disciples to use as bait for Buddha. Then we see Prince Crystal greeting Buddha to his kingdom and Buddha has doubts to his reception being taken well by the people due to his background. Then Prince Jeta brings Sudatta forward and describes what had gone on and what he plans on doing with the park. The monastery was built and Buddha stays there to preach to the people of Kosala. This is when Pokkarasati and Sundari come in and try to lure Buddha with her wiles. After Buddha finishes a sermon he decides to rest for awhile, wondering if he’s truly giving the Kosalan people enlightenment. Then he hears a lady’s voice calling his name and upon investigating who and where it’s coming from, we recognize it’s the “harlot” trying to woo him with wine, which he declines. She gives away her bit of the plan, which doesn’t resonate with Buddha, but she’s killed and the murderer runs off spreading the rumor Buddha has killed a woman. Buddha takes the turning of people’s loyalty in stride and waits it out. Upon the fifth day of harrassment, King Crystal steps in and informs Buddha he has the police looking into the matter, since he doesn’t believe the rumors and suspects local Brahmin as the source.

When Buddha asks after the King’s father, he’s reticent with his answers and his father’s death, requesting Buddha to take care of himself. Buddha is then led to where the former King is supposedly being held. When he approaches and introduces himself to the man inside, he begins to remember who Siddhartha is and isn’t happy about his presence. Buddha confides what his son had said about him and the former King gets agitated to being helped to escape his prison, instead Buddha inquires to how he was put there in the first place. He’s adamant in declining and tries to bribe Buddha, which is when King Crystal shows up. When Buddha tries to get him to release his father, he reminds him of why he’d taken it into his own hands to stop his father’s charade of a threat to making his favorite wrestler his successor. He then escorts Buddha back to Jetavana, commanding him not to return there and warning his father if he tried to escape he’d stick him in the dungeon. The King’s father then notices a message written in the dirt for him, leading him to a plant, which now he tries to figure how it will be useful in his escape. Then we see what Tatta is up to, which consists of him trying to figure out where Buddha’s gone to. After getting steamed up about how much he hates the Kosalans, a man approaches him to let him know he isn’t the only one and introduces him to others like himself. After accepting their invitation to go to war with them, Yashodara shows up, asking if Tatta is serious about making war. Then she tries to show Tatta must be reasonable and think of the consequences which involves all the Shakya people, but Tatta is set on his resolve to join his compatriots and points Yashodara to speak with their General, Bharanda.

King Crystal comes to Buddha with the culprits of the young woman’s murder, which shocks Buddha. The King then confesses he won’t have long to wait before they capture the guilty party, then we see the soldiers who think they’ve found the murderer, which is Tatta who’s not taking kindly to anyone who’s Kosalan. He has a waking dream, which involves his horse becoming Buddha, trying to make him see what he’s doing is wrong, amusingly, but not in time before more Kosalan troops come to stop him. When a soldier comes back to King Crystal to share what had happened to their band, he is enraged to learn a Shakya, not relating to whom they were searching for, has gone and killed those he’d sent out for the killer, instead he sends out a battalion to stop Tatta, who seems ready for them. Bharanda then sends out his men to help Tatta. Meanwhile, those who didn’t want to be part of the war, left Kapilavastu for Kosala including Siddhartha’s mother and father, whom he meets at the entrance, trying to turn them away, but Yashodara explains why they left. Buddha holds firm to his belief they should have confronted the uprising head on, trying to get them to return and deal with the problem. Then Buddha senses Tatta is involved, not believing what he heard, then King Crystal makes sure Buddha isn’t going to try to stop him from taking out the Shakyan people which he doesn’t, resigning to their fate. King Crystal leaves to wage war and Tatta still faces it head on, soon facing King Crystal who recognizes him as a disciple and gives him the chance to retreat. Tatta refuses, making King Crystal kill him and then he orders everyone’s death. When King Crystal gets back Buddha is under the tree he’d left him and explains what happened, upon questioning. Once the King had gone back to his castle, Buddha walks to the war-zone, noticing Tatta among the dead, now making him think his teachings were pointless.

Buddha’s family is saddened by the terrible news of their country and people as well, but Buddha seemed to feel the worst about it to the point of calling out to Brahmin for guidance for what he should do next for not getting anyone to truly understand his teachings. Then Ananda sees Buddha at his worst moment and is plagued by the evil presence he’s been fighting against, speaking in his ear about Buddha’s failure and weakness, but Ananda goes to Buddha’s aid and reminds him of all the people he has helped. Ananda then begins wondering why Tatta was searching for Buddha, thinking something may be starting in Venuvana. We see Prince Crystal going back to the cage he’s left his father in, being told it’s been a year since he’s been there last. He confesses to his father of what he’d done and agrees to let him out if he agrees to retirement and not to exert any authority over King Crystal, which surprises his father for some reason. Then King Crystal believes his father is too mentally ill to be released and leaves him there since he seems too obsessed with giving up the throne, curses trailing after him. The former King comes up with a revenge-based plan to get him back on the throne, then hearkens back to the note Buddha had left him. We then skip forward a year and see Dhepa has come to deliver a message to Buddha. He then is heard by Buddha himself about the fates of Ajatasattu and his father. He goes on to describe of the fall of Devadatta’s claim to leadership and then the rise again, more monks deciding to join him after Sariputta had convinced them to leave. When Dhepa asks for Buddha to help them by returning, he agrees and requests Dhepa to go ahead, giving a speech to the people before he departs. King Crystal offers his assistance in any way to Buddha’s journey and he asks him only to release his father, which he delivers the orders for to one of his guards. We then see the former King speaking to a hallucination which stemmed from the weed he’d been fostering to survive. Then he realizes the door had been opened and he leaves the place at once, heading for Magadha. When he gets there he asks for King Bimbisara and is told there’s a new king. He waits there, lying in the mud overnight and dies at the door, not seeing Buddha again.

Buddha arrives to visit King Ajatasattu to ascertain what happened and Ajatasattu begins laying down the law, forbidding him to go to Rajgriha indefinitely. Then Devadatta appears to show off how he’s become leader of Buddha’s sect, angering Ananda, but when Buddha replies for him to stay calm, he confesses to Devadatta what he thinks of his abilities, making him feel inadequate, so then he puts Buddha to the test to prove he’s actually chosen. After Buddha chooses and his plan goes awry, he determines his accomplices had chickened out, due to to the possibility of poisoning a great man like Buddha. Then Devadatta decides they should let the disciples decide and lead the way to Venuvana. On the way there it seems Devadatta had a back up plan involving a boulder, which failed again. Ananda figures out Devadatta’s plan and warns Buddha to watch out for anything suspicious, they then run into another trap, but Buddha helps the creature involved before it endangers itself or him. They then finally reach Venuvana where the disciples are pleased to see him, hoping life will go back to peacefulness. Buddha then sees the conditions of Sariputta and Moggallana brought on by the King, Migaila enquiring after about how Tatta had died and Buddha expressing of his single-mindedness to do what he thought was right. Devadatta then comes up with his new plan on killing Buddha, set to go down in the evening as Buddha slept, but his plan turns on him when he falls like a klutz, he still set on taking Buddha down with him. Buddha perceives Devadatta as he’s about to be taken out and shares how he was his own worst enemy, even though he hated Buddha for not being able to emulate him.

We start the next chapter with the Duchess requesting to see her husband, who is up in the tower. She eventually gets what she wants and we hear through the guards how it seems Ajatasattu is trying to starve his father to death. King Ajatasattu then learns about Devadatta’s death and grieves privately for the man was like a brother to him. After two weeks of solitude, the staff becomes worried and breaks in to see what’s going on with the King and they view him in an interesting condition: his forehead developing a lump. The King believes it’s Devadatta’s doing somehow, but the doctor believes it to be a tumor and knows how to cure him, but Ajatasattu doesn’t believe him, he soon falls into a state of pain though and pleads for help. The King still threatens the doctor, even though he’s certain he knows how to cure him. Then we see Buddha arrive and requesting to visit Bimbisara, but the guards let him know they can’t give him access, which is when the Duchess steps in, letting him accompany her on her visit.

We soon realize this day is when Bimbisara is supposed to die, when a guard rushes out saying Bimbisara isn’t breathing, they all run to his cell and observe him to be conscious and speaking to his wife of how he doesn’t blame Ajatasattu for doing what he did, then sees Buddha and is glad to have him there, asking him to take Ajatasattu as his disciple and mentioning his regret of how he treated his son, hoping Buddha would be able to save him as his final request. Buddha then goes to see Ajatasattu and sees how far the tumor has grown, which the doctor explains was done by Devadatta who prepared the drink for the King, so once Devadatta had died, the King started experiencing withdrawal and now they contemplated how they could possibly concoct the same potion for the King, but since they don’t know the ingredients necessary, Buddha figures out a more simple method to trying to heal Ajatasattu. The doctor is skeptical, but sees the effects as soon as he touches Ajatasattu and continues this method for three years. Then after reducing the King’s swelling a bit, he comes to another realization about man and God, deciding he will tell every Human of his discovery. We see Buddha stay on Eagle Peak to preach and meditate, then seeing him sharing a story about a man who was too weak to go on, the animals in the area helping him to survive. The rabbit in particular sacrifices himself so the man could go on, Buddha then describing the person who sacrificed himself to some wolves in the same manner. After this sermon, which Ajatasattu hears, he honors his father and requests to become Buddha’s disciple.

We then see Buddha receiving terrible news about Moggallana and Sariputta, who didn’t survive their travels. Buddha is so shocked he believes it to be a lie, but then he is shown a letter written to Buddha by Moggallana. Buddha is stricken by his heirs deaths and develops physical stomach pain during the night, then thinks he’s hearing Mara asking him to accept death. Buddha then confides in Dhepa, once daylight comes, he’s planning on making one last trip, due to Moggallana’s prophecy. Buddha then mentions to Dhepa he wants him to give sermons in his absence. Buddha begins his journey with Ananda by his side, Migaila also bids farewell before they depart. We are then given the route Buddha and 500 of his disciples took so he could teach the people of all castes.

Three months before Buddha’s fated death, he gives Ananda some wisdom on the subject of death. Buddha stops at a poor man’s house and they serve him mushrooms, due to having nothing else, but of course Buddha is grateful and is even given directions before moving on. After walking for some time, Buddha began feeling ill, and soon showed signs of sickness, his disciples cared for him and upon sunset, he felt good enough to rest. At night, Buddha is again visited by Brahman and told when they will be making their journey together, which is also around the same time a monk appears to visit Buddha, but gets turned away by his followers due to his feeling ill, Buddha though decides to let him come and ask him what he would, giving him advice on the three facts he needs to follow in order to awaken his soul. After giving Suhbadda his answer, he falls back, seeing it’s time for his end. When Brahman arrives to accompany him on his journey, Buddha asks what will become of his teachings, being led by Brahman to show him the answer. We are then given the closing as to where Buddhism had spread to throughout the years. This was one epic comic and I’m glad I read it, eye-opening and enlightening indeed.

Buddha, Vol. 7: Prince Ajatasattu (Buddha #7) Part 5 cont. and Part 6

For the 6th volume in the series. We begin with a horse and rider coming to inform King Bimbisara of Buddha coming with a thousand monks. Yatala, Bimbisara, and Tatta are all excited to hear from Buddha again. Tatta shows off his triplets and Yatala boasts of his new career as part of King Bimbisara’s soldiers, then Bimbisara has his mind eased by Buddha which upsets Prince Ajatasattu who doesn’t understand Buddha’s reverence and feeling hurt his father could believe he would kill him because of what Buddha told him. Devadatta starts sharing his plan to the monks of starting an organization for Buddha’s disciples, which is agreed upon, but not so much as to who will lead it. Ananda runs into Ahimsa who informs of how Buddha could be disrupted by an assassination during his sermon the next day, which the Prince is confronted by his mother since she’d heard from a maid, the Prince does not deny it and supplies it’s for his father who is so much worse for Buddha’s “lies”, he sets up his plan and hatches a diversion for the guards who follow him, waiting for Buddha to appear at the appointed place.

Even though Buddha is warned of the assassin before starting his sermon, he still goes through with it and it does happen as the Prince planned, but he doesn’t expect Buddha to survive, which he doesn’t know for 3 months due to being locked up in a tower by his father once he’d heard of what he’d done. Devadatta comes up with a plan for Ajatasattu to try and get his father to abdicate the throne and leave, making it possible for the prophecy to not be filled, whether the King wanted to or not. Then we see what’s become of Ahimsa, who’s waiting to hear of Buddha’s death and being interrupted by Yatala grabbing him and bringing him to Buddha. At the end of the meeting Buddha unveils wisdom in Ahimsa’s words and makes another rule for his disciples to follow, naming it after Ahimsa and only making him angrier and discovering why Ananda is following him at all. The chapter ends with Ahimsa still trying to enlist Ananda to become what he was once again and join him, but Ananda is adamant in his new role and trying to stay vigilant, leaving Ahimsa once again with the fact he didn’t want anything to do with him ever again.

Ajatasattu is shown still in the tower, but at least missing the cholera taking over the city after a drought. A guard captain eventually takes pity on him and leads him to a part of the tower where he can rest for a little while, soon seeing a woman whom he becomes infatuated with. He learns of the place the woman he’s found interest in, had emerged from were the kitchens and slaves worked there to prepare food for the prisoners and serve them, but not for he, since the honor is reserved for the guards. He makes a deal with the guard and gets him to let the girl he saw serve his next meal. She’s too intimidated by his royalty to talk to him more than giving her name, it being Yudelka. Meanwhile Ajatasattu’s mother is given a potion by Devadatta to help calm the King by ingestion through his meals, without his knowledge, of course. The Queen soon takes offence to Devadatta’s plan in the slow mind changing drug to get him to agree to step down from his throne to let Ajatasattu take over. Then we see what Ajatasattu is up to with Yudelka, who is making a bit more conversation about where her family is, which makes Ajatasattu hope to make amends with her terrible story by eventually getting her out of slavery.

After almost a week going by and Yudelka’s visits stopping, he enquires a guard about where she’s gone, percieving she’d gotten ill from the plague going around, making him break out of his tower and rescue her from the boarded up Shudra house of plagued slaves. When the King is told of what Ajatasattu had done, he at first wants to take a drastic measure and instead decides to give the Prince a doctor as he wished, but only if they got the girl back into the Shudra house for treatment. The doctor does end up helping the girl get better and gets a mind-opening conversation from the Prince. After talking with Yudelka about her country the Prince, aching to get away from their torment thinks of a plan to get them both away in an impromptu escape plan. He asks her to think it over and by the next morning she’s been given a death sentence, surprising the Prince. Devadatta shows up after the Prince is convinced Yudelka has been killed, accusing him of treachery, not believing his father could go through with such a heartless sentence. Ajatasattu vows not to forget what his father has done, waiting out his own sentence in the tower, ending the chapter.

The next chapter begins with Buddha still recovering and how the illness in Maghada did impact his life in some way during his convalescence, also making him age rapidly with the effort healing is taking. Buddha asks Ananda to go search for a man like Assaji after some of the disciples worry over his ability to get better, confiding in him he’s the only one who can do this task and he’ll become a Sotapanna when he succeeds. We then see later Buddha has given him a robe, his own robe from years before and he goes to locate the man Buddha wished him to seek, running into people in a village who recognized him and accosted him, but he passes through without fighting back. After making it back to a river, he sees Assaji in the water, who apparently shows up at certain times to Ananda, he stating he won’t give up his search for the man, despite all the trouble he’s confronted thus far. On the almost deserted path, Ananda meets a man whom could be the one he’s been searching for, he introduces himself as Sariputta, but then we are introduced to Moggallana who seems to have more powerful seeing powers when he observes Sariputta on the road with Ananda. They go back to their master to update him about what Ananda told them of Buddha, to which he doesn’t believe anything of and eventually all of his disciples leave him to go follow Buddha, which makes him angry, understandably. When they’re on their way, Ananda learns his future which surprises him. Buddha sees of Ananda and the group returning from whispers from Assaji and requests Dhepa to prepare to greet them; when they do arrive Buddha introduces Sariputta and Moggallana as his successors, ending the chapter.

The beginning of the next chapter shows nobody is happy about Buddha’s unexplained decision to have Sariputta and Moggallana take over his cause. Especially Tatta, another monk whom dissolved his sect and Devadatta who immediately decides he must go to Buddha to share what needs to be done. Buddha listens and Devadatta is firm about how Buddha’s sect, which could be a lucrative business, must be run by someone who can manage everything, believing it should be Buddha’s main priority, rather than it being about helping people realize peace and happiness. Devadatta goes overboard with his rambling and flirtatious case though and Buddha puts a stop to it, giving the desired affect of scandalous comedy. Sariputta and Moggallana then deduce how dangerous of an enemy Devadatta will become, which won’t be far away. After which we see a woman barge in, fat with child claiming Siddhartha knocked her up and to beware of his true nature, soon confronting Buddha himself. He’s taken aback by her forward accusations, but soon Moggallana uncovers her ruse and who was behind it. Moggallana predicts accurately this was only the beginning and rumors begin to spread of Buddha which were in bad taste. Ananda then shares with Lata of what Moggallana had predicted about him, after Tatta had commanded he stand sentinel to make sure no one attacked Buddha, what with all the protesters about.

They soon both fall asleep and Ananda is woken by his old demon who offers him the fantasy of being able to marry Lata if he leaves Buddha, which he refuses and so she sends a snake to attack Buddha, but Lata tries to save him and gets bitten. She doesn’t survive her courageous act and they lay her body to rest in the tradition of the times. Buddha then informs Ananda they must continue to do more for the cause in honor of Lata’s sacrifice and then, Buddha gets a visit from Brahman to remind him he hasn’t been as vigilant to his vow he’d made 10 years before as he claimed and when awoken by Ananda and he confides his plan to go to Kosala which he asks whether he would join him, he of course accepts. The other monks soon hear of the rumor and ask Buddha if he does plan on leaving them, which he confirms. Ananda and Buddha have begun their journey and it starts to look hard-going on Buddha once they get to the swamp Buddha is now revisiting since his first trek across it with Dhepa, which took five days. Ananda thought they would be able to rest, but Buddha told him how Dhepa, Assaji and he had to rest the last time around, which didn’t seem possible this time with Buddha’s condition, so Ananda was about to be relieved by spotting a log, but it was already being used by some spiders, which he would’ve disposed of, but Buddha refused letting him, for all living things being connected and the possibility of one of them being Lata reborn, so they keep moving and it begins to rain, like the first time Buddha had made the journey. It doesn’t seem Buddha will have the strength to make it, but they soon see the wall to the town he’d stayed in before. Buddha leads Ananda to the same spot he’d stayed in before and began speaking of his memories of the first time he’d been there until Ananda had prepared their supper, but Buddha soon notices himself alone whilst Ananda had gone off exploring and detecting fresh footprints in the dust, which he follows. Soon he discovers a woman in a hidden wine cellar who seems to have gone mad, Ananda wondering out loud if she is Visakha.

We next see it’s morning and Ananda is anxious to leave, relating to Buddha he’d constructed a raft for them. He gets Buddha to follow, until Visakha appears and Buddha starts wondering whether the town is still inhabited after all, whilst Ananda tries to get him to ignore her and leave, but once Buddha recognizes her, even after being told she’s gone crazy, he tries to make sure it isn’t her by going to Visakha’s home after the woman had run off. Buddha, even though they don’t know whether it is Visakha yet, decides he must help her, first disposing of all her dream potions. Ananda meets her outside and she soon realizes what he’s up to and runs back to the stash, Ananda trying to warn Buddha she’s caught wise. Buddha soon is met by her and senses she must be holding on to a small bit of sanity, since she hadn’t tried to kill him with the knife she was wielding, which he relays to Ananda. Visakha, after being quite upset with the knowledge she had no more drugs, comes down and is able to communicate for only a short time and after they must leave without her, but Buddha refuses to let her stay there alone since it would be the death of her. She doesn’t want to leave though, and fights until getting her on the raft, where she slowly descends back into her fogged mind, which includes getting fresh with Buddha, Ananda percieving it hard to watch and is told he can look elsewhere, Buddha believing she couldn’t do anything much about it anyways. He turns out to be right, since she descends further into her madness and withdrawal of the drugs, tipping the raft over instead and everyone going to the shore to spend the night. They move on to another town, Buddha delivering a sermon since requested to do so, but is soon cut short by Visakha’s madness interrupting with her “kissy kissy” talk. They then travel farther and Ananda is having trouble gathering enough food for all three of them, gathering only enough for one, which Buddha offers to Visakha, but she’s getting weaker and can’t drink the water Ananda tries to give her. Soon he believes she’s died and convinces Buddha to leave her body to the vultures, but after a few miles he’s overcome with the idea she hadn’t died yet, he decides to go back for her, which he realizes he had been right, being met by her on his way back, her now knowing who she is and they continue their journey to Kosala.

As they get closer to Buddha’s country, Kapilavastu, he has been targeted by an arrow, shot by Ahimsa. He still believes if he takes Buddha out, Ananda will want to rejoin him in his criminal activities, Ananda threatening to end him if he tries to harm Buddha any further. Buddha tries to end their fight to the death before it begins, but Ananda is adamant in defending him. Ahimsa is bested, but not for a good run, soon being trapped in a hole, Ananda wanting to leave him for dead, but hearing his cries. Visakha offers to try and see if she can help him since she is able to fit in the hole, realizing Ahimsa had been trapped by rocks falling after him. Ananda offers to go for help whilst Buddha and Visakha await his return. They don’t make conversation with Ahimsa until he begins wondering why it’s so quiet above him, so Buddha begins asking about his reasons for wanting to kill the world’s greatest monk, in Ahimsa’s words. We then see Ananda arrive at the soldiers base and they instead take him for questioning once they discover why he’s there. Soon Prince Crystal discern Buddha is near and so gets his soldiers to go and bring him back. We skip back to see Ahimsa accepting Buddha’s help to change his outlook, due to being so near death and he accepts him as his disciple before Ahimsa stops speaking altogether. Prince Crystal’s soldiers soon arrive after, Buddha and Visakha being greeted by Prince Crystal himself, the Prince arrogant and reminding Buddha where they’d met before. He then shows Buddha all the people he’d given hard labor to and how terribly they were being treated. The Prince then showing him a man in a jail, quite old and unrecognizable to Buddha until the Prince reveals the man being the King of Kapilavastu.

The Prince is quite eager to anger or upset Buddha into goading him to fight, but Buddha reveals to him he only pities the Prince, soon explaining the reason he pities him, which makes the Prince lash out for Buddha deducing correctly. Then he decides to detain him with Ananda since he saw the usefulness of keeping him alive because of the King of Magadha having his back, hoping to teach Buddha a lesson or two. When Buddha is brought to the cell of Ananda he gives him the 411 on his brief encounter with the Prince. Ananda offers to break out his family but Buddha is against this, for it isn’t the reason he brought him, then “The King of the slaves” shows up, being a citizen of Kapilavastu and having the permission of the Prince to visit Buddha. Bhaddiya, the King of slaves, requests Buddha to speak at their assembly and states if he agrees, he will take care of getting Prince Crystal to agree to their gathering, which the Prince readily does, expecting a riot and planning to be ready for one to condemn all to death. Then we see Yashodara expressing to Siddhartha’s mother he’s returned and how they’ll enjoy seeing him at the assembly. We then see Buddha being led to the assembly area for his sermon and wonders if he’ll see his mother, wife and son; they of course, watch him as he goes to his place to begin, everyone falling silent, Prince Crystal keeping his soldiers at the ready for any sign of disorder.

Buddha wonders how he will keep their spirits up, upon seeing their worn and defeated countenances and physical appearance. His long pause is starting to confuse the people, but then Buddha begins, apprehending inspiration in the clouds. When Buddha mentions his son’s name, the boy is so excited he runs up to Buddha on the platform. Parts of Buddha’s speech  stirs up first Prince Crystal’s guard and then himself, because Buddha begins speaking of Prince Crystal’s terrible acts which hit close to his heart. The guard wishes to put Buddha to death immediately, but the Prince holds him off and retreats for a nap, soon wondering if he regrets any of the deaths he’d caused through the years, denying he does, upon listing them. Then we see Buddha’s son asking to join him to be taught by him, but Buddha informs him he must undergo the trials given him where he was and learn from them, then he is called upon by the Prince and a guard shares how much he’d gotten from his sermon, he and a few other guards wanting to become his disciples and he accepting them. After, the Prince states to Buddha how the “lies” he’d said of him had kept him from his nap and he would kill him also for the fact there wasn’t anything to stop him now, he would be able to go through with it, but is overcome with such pain he asks Buddha how he can be rid of it, letting him stay for over five hours. The Prince doesn’t get anything useful from his preaching and adds he expects him to be gone by noon, Buddha confessing to him he hadn’t told him everything required to rid him of the pain and to meet him at a certain spot.

The Prince goes to the designated area and asks Buddha why he’s stayed, in return being asked why he showed up, which the Prince told him he had to come see him because it bothered him he was sitting there. He then sees Rahula, Siddhartha’s son and commands him to get back to work, despite being a new disciple of Buddha’s. Buddha then lists what is required to end the Prince’s pain, but the he is affronted by Buddha’s answer confirming his first statement stands, if they stay there, he will send his troops to kill them. Meanwhile, a rebellion is still being planned to go down in 12 nights when there isn’t a moon, then the King of the slaves walks in and threatens of they being caught if they don’t disperse, then realizing Anurudha planned on an attack again, continually suggesting for him to give it up, but he believing it too late to stop what he’d started. Then the lookout advises of the night-watch coming and Bhaddiya makes up a reason for why they were all out.

We then go back to Buddha who is still sitting where the Prince left him and some of his guards come to inform him of his banishment being revoked and to go back to the castle, which Buddha agrees to, but in the morning. The Prince sees them coming and when Buddha arrives, the Prince explains why he’d requested his return. The Prince agrees to have a service for his mother and Buddha will lead it, but he mustn’t mention his mother’s slavery. Buddha shares with the Prince what he planned won’t help him, because he’d still be ashamed of her caste. We then see Rahula getting a beating to make sure he realizes, whether he’s royalty or the great monk’s son, at this moment it doesn’t matter, because he’s a slave. His mother sees the condition he’s in and hopes Buddha is praying for his son, knowing how bravely he’s facing his fate. Meanwhile, Buddha and the Prince argue constantly for 12 days until making a decision his adviser was surprised and hesitatant to carry out, but the Prince commands it and notifies Buddha of when he’d gone through with his command. Then we see the rebellion is about to begin, when one of them spreads the news: of their freedom. The Prince, upon hearing the cheers, asks Buddha if he will come to Kosala to preach more to him and his father as well, Buddha accepting the offer. The fact the Kosalan army was withdrawing would bring a tragedy, but no one could know of this, ending the volume. This leaves me in the dark wanting to uncover the final bit, so now, on to the concluding installment!