|Colour by:||Steve Hamaker|
|Published:|| November 18, 2002 (original release)
August 8, 2008 (scholastic release)
|Published by:|| Cartoon Books (2002)
|Previous Book:||Ghost Circles|
|Next Book:||Crown of Horns|
After returning to the city of Atheia, the Bones, Gran'ma Ben and Thorn hide their identity by wearing disguises. Phoney Bone is determined to find gold in this city, even when it means threatening their own safety.
The survivors from Old man's cave are on their way to Atheia and are led by Lucius and Ted who can see past the ghost circles. Wendell advises The Headmaster to bring out the water skins, knowing they have enough supplies to make their way to Atheia, but the Headmaster believes Atheia didn't survive the explosion and he along with the veni-yan don't trust him, Wendell than tells him Lucius is trusted among the villagers and don't care about how Lucius refused to become a veni-yan warrior when it conflicted his duties as captain of the royal guard. The headmaster contradicts claiming their trust issues had nothing to do with his interests in Rose or Briar, but in the Big War Lucius led a route only to be led to a rat creature army and believes Lucius was responsible and believed he intentionally led them to the rats due to him being the only one who knew their route that night. Wendell demands more proof to his treachery and answered by explaining what Jon oaks had told him the night at the failed ambush where he saw Lucius in the arms of the Hodded one. The headmaster that believes Lucius is still a traitor due to them finding the foot tracks of a Rat creature army, Lucius interrupts the two claiming that finding the tracks were a stroke of luck and bids that their army follow the tracks knowing ghost circles kill Rat creatures as well and so where ever they can walk the army can walk. The headmaster refuses to allow Lucius to put everyone's lives in danger, but Lucius tells him he doesn't have much of a choice since he sent Ted on ahead so He along with the other Veni-yan can either follow the tracks or stumble into a ghost circle on their own.
The Gate of Atheia
Fone Bone and Thorn are at the gates and are dressed in disguises and the gang have all agreed not to tell they are royalty until they see what's the city's situation. Thorn and Fone Bone see a shrine which looks like Gran'ma Ben in Thorn's dream, when the two come across the statue, they come across a little girl named Taneal who reveals the shrine is of Ven the first human queen along with several others such as Mim and the Locust. The strange girl surprisingly asks how Thorn was able to travel to the city past the ghost circles, Thorn and Fone Bone leave, but she gave her a prayer stone Phoney and Smiley have arrived with a hay cart they claim have been abandoned when found, as Gran'ma Ben arrives she knows that Bartleby is in the hay-cart, she orders Smiley to turn around and take him out of the city, buy Smiley refuses believing it wouldn't be right to leave him when he helped them during their journey to Atheia in the first place. A young man comes and helps them enter the city without question. Phoney's only reason he wanted to come to Atheia was because he believed an ancient royal city had to have gold coins and vowed to find it or else his name wasn't Phoncible P. Bone. Gran'ma Ben sees the prayer stone Taneal had given Thorn and notices secret handwriting and decides to visit an old friend in the city. The group walk and find a roof kitchen and meet an eldery old man. The old man welcomes the group and offers food and bids them to eat it or else he wouldn't be able to tell of their doom.