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Thorn and Gran'ma Ben remain undecided whether to return to Old Man's Cave or press on to the old capital, Atheia. A troop of Rat Creatures makes that decision for them, blocking the route to Old Man's Cave. A scout party of Rat Creatures discovers their camp and Thorn and Fone get separated from the others. As Ben fights off some of the Rat Creatures, a familiar face appears among them; Bartleby, the Rat Creature cub Smiley adopted has returned!
Meanwhile Thorn and Fone discover Briar is the one leading the Rat Creatures to them. She reveals to Fone Bone that he too has a piece of the Lord of the Locusts' soul inside him (a result of his and Thorn's stumbling into a Ghost Circle). Briar is about to kill Thorn, who is no longer necessary to her plans, when Smiley and Bartleby come charging to the rescue.