Before we get to far into today's post we must say goodbye to Cairon. we will not be seeing him again but we do learn that "His destiny was to lead him over a very different and unexpected pathways but that is another story and shall be told at another time." I have to say that this refrain is one of my favorite things about this book and I will point it out every time it comes up.
So Atreuy leaves on his jurney but he really has no clue what to do or where to go, just that he needs to go. Luckily Fantastica is a magical place so direction comes from a some what unusual place a dream. it is a dream that repeaters over and over again. it veries but in each Atreuy is unable to kill a particular Purple buffalo. remember the hunt Atreuy was pulled away from to go on this journey was the one that would have mad him a man. these dreams crisendo to a fiinel dream where the buffalo gives Atreyu guidance, he is instructed to go see morla the ancient one.
there is a problem though, Morla lieves in the swamps of sadness, but before we get to that place Atreuy and Artax have to go through the Howling Forest, and there he sees for the first time with the horror that is the Nothing. Now if you have seen the movie you know that thethe nothing is protrayed as a Storm. this makes the Nothing active and agressive, which the nothing is but in the book the noting is just there. here is how Atreyu describes it:
"The tops of the trees nearest him were still green, but there leaves of those father away seemed to have lost all color; they were grey. a little farther on, the foliage seemed to become strangely transparent, misty, or better still, unreal. And father still there was nothing, absolutely nothing. not a bare stretch, not darkness, not some lighter color; no, it was something the eyes could not bear, something that made you feel you had gone blind. for no eye can bear the sight of utter nothingness. Atreyu held his hand before his face and nearly fell off his branch. he clung tight for a moment, then climbed down as fast as he could. He had seen enough. at last he really understood the horror that was spreading through Fantastica." (58)
It is there and growing but it happens slowly and not devastatingly though the world like a tempest wind. it is painless, Atreyu meets three bark trolls who have lost a part of themselves to the nothing and they say:
"You don't feel a thing. there's just something missing. and once it gets hold you, something more is missing every day. Soon there won't be anything left of us." (57)
It is almost more frightening this way. to actually see nothing is hard to really understand. but it is there and more things are becoming nothing.
on that depressing note let's talk about Morla the ancient one who lives in the swamps of sadness.
Now the Swamps are named as they are because as someone walks through them they become sad and lose hope. which makes their hearts heavy and they sink. Thanks to the GEM Atreyu NEVER Sinks beneath his knees. It protects him, but not his horse Artax. I should mention here that in the book Artax is a talking horse.
First Artax loses faith, in his master, in the dream, in their ability to complete their quest. then he loses hope, lastly the horse says he can't stand his own sadness and that he longs to die. Artax sinks despite Atreyu's begging and pleading. It is a scene I can't describe and give it justice. Basian is so moved by what he reads that he literally weeps.
The result is a very small thing, something which can easily be tossed aside as unimportant Atreyu stops worrying about where to set his foot down.
it seems small but it is when he lets go that he is able to be led by the forces which are guiding his quest. before he knows it he get so the Tortoise Shell Mountain.
Morla is the Tortoise who makes Tortoise shell Mountain. she is Old, very old and apathetic. she simply doesn't care. interesting that the one person who lives int he Swamps of Sadness is a old complacent tortoise. She doesn't care about the nothing, about Fantastica, weather she lives or dies, weatheror not the childlike Empress Lives or dies. She Describes her point of view thusly:
Morla does know the answer to his question, but she at first she won't tell him. she sees it as a fools errand, but Atreyu is persistent and she tells him.
the Childlike Empress needs a new name, but no one in Fantastica can give her a new name.that is why Morla thinks the task is pointless, the only person who might know where the Empress can get a new name is Uyulala, the Southern Oracle, but she is 10,000 miles away. "your life is too short" she says, "you'd die first." (65)
If it isn't enough for Bastian to learn about the hopelessness of the quest, if it isn't enough for him to weep over the death of the loyal little pony. Bastian learns that something has followed Atreyu to the swamps and is gaining on him.
but what about our hero? what about Bastian? well I'm glad you asked. he thinks about he classes he is suposed to be in, mostly geography and gym. He momentarily wishes that he was a strong as Atreyu, then his class mates and gym teachers wouldn't laugh at him when he can't climb the rope. but mostly he thinks how starnge it is that all the Childlike Empress needs is a new name. because thinking up new names is the one think he is good at.
anyway that is all for now, till next time. God Speed and Open Roads.