Arriving at Salvation Mountain, what Charles and his friends find is not a mountain at all but an enormous construction of tree branches, tires, dismembered car doors, and hay bails heaped together and covered with clay. Everything is painted, even the ground, with kaleidoscopes of colors and messages of repentance and God’s enduring love. The artist responsible for the monument, “The Man of the Mountain,” welcomes the newcomers, referring to the captain as one of “the Seven” and to the other kids as “knights.”
As Charles, William, and Ozzie explore the mountain, Captain Kid and Dawn meet with the mountain-painter to discuss the comings and goings of travelers headed west to a place called Atsuma the Great City. Also, the distant sound of engines and a faraway cloud of trailing dust alerts them to the approach of people the mountain man calls “Kybees” or “moon folk.” Who are these people? Charles doesn’t know, but as they depart Salvation Mountain, the captain warns them to be ready to fight.
Finally, before following Captain Kid back into the desolation of the desert, Charles once again digs in his heels. Where are they going, how long will they be away from their world, and when will they get back home? Charles wants to know. Dawn, the recently instated Chief Officer, goes to Charles, asking him to come along, but even she cannot deny the sensibility of his protests. When Dawn presents Charles’s questions to Captain Kid, the captain offers one thin slice of hope: they will go to a town called Doloptree. There, they will phone the king of Atsuma and tell him of their quest and that the fugitive, Castatine, is headed for the Great City.
Perhaps after that, Charles and his friends can return to the World Below.
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