Old Man's Cave is the sixth book in the Bone series. It collects issues 33-37 of Jeff Smith's self-published Bone comic book series. It marks the conclusion of the second part of the saga, entitled Solstice. The book was published by Cartoon Books in its original black-and-white form in 1999, and in color by Scholastic Press in 2007.
This book reveals more of the plotting between The Hooded One and the Lord of the Locusts, and follows the inhabitants of the valley as they pick up the pieces after the attacks by the Rat Creature army.
Dragons in the Earth
Thorn has left in the night in search of Fone Bone, while Phoney Bone and three of the villagers head for Old Man's Cave, where they are met by Gran'ma Ben and Lucius. Meanwhile, Fone and Smiley have made it down from the mountains. They are ambushed by Rat Creatures, but Thorn finds them and fights the Rat Creatures off. The Rat Creatures are terrified to discover that she and the Bones were the ones who wounded Kingdok.
Deep in the mountains, The Hooded One tells the Lord of the Locusts of the Bones' latest deeds. The Lord of the Locusts has doubts that “the one who bears the star”, with whom The Hooded One seems obsessed, is as powerful as The Hooded One believes, but allows the search for the "star-bearer" to continue.
Thorn, Fone and Smiley lay low for a few days while planning an attack on The Hooded One. Thorn explains how she believes The Hooded One plans to use her and Phoney to speed the release of the Lord of the Locusts from where it lies trapped in the stone of the mountains. She also explains her mistrust of Gran'ma Ben - Thorn believes the tale of how her parents were betrayed by the nursemaid is a lie; she never had a nursemaid. Meanwhile, The Hooded One approaches Roque Ja and asks him to recapture the Bones.
At Old Man's Cave, the survivors of the Rat Creature attack are gathered, along with a large group of Veni Yan warriors. Gran'ma Ben gives Phoney Bone a history lesson, telling him the story of when dragons ruled the world; their Queen, Mim, kept The Dreaming in balance until the Lord of the Locusts entered her mind and drove her mad. The other dragons were forced to turn Mim to stone, trapping the Lord of the Locusts inside her. The Hooded One, she tells him, wants to sacrifice him to free the Lord of the Locusts.
Thorn returns to the farmhouse to collect her belongings. She plans to take on The Hooded One alone, after a conversation with Fone and Smiley - during which it is revealed that the three Bone cousins are orphans, and Phoney, as the oldest, raised the other two - she is convinced to trust Gran'ma Ben, and the three set off for Old Man's Cave. Meanwhile, a patrol of villagers and Veni Yan warriors, led by Lucius Down, scout the area for Rat Creatures. Lucius comes across The Hooded One, who reveals under the hood a young woman, the same woman who was killed along with Thorn's parents, alive and not looking a day older. However, it soon becomes clear The Hooded One is trying to distract Lucius to allow a Rat Creature party to attack.
Later, at Old Man's Cave, with no word of Lucius Down and his scout party, Gran'ma Ben continues filling in Phoney on the history of the valley and the nature of the Dreaming. Just then, Gran'ma Ben suffers another attack of her “gitchy” feeling, and sure enough trouble is afoot; a cloud of smoke rises from the Eastern mountains, where the Lord of the Locusts lies. Soon after, Lucius' party arrives back at the cave, many of them wounded, and with a pack of Rat Creatures still in pursuit.
Lucius Down relates to Gran'ma Ben his meeting with The Hooded One, that she is in fact her now-undead sister Briar Harvester. Gran'ma Ben tells him that despite pleading with the council of dragons at Deren Gard, they refused to get involved in the fight, meaning the valley folk must face her and her Rat Creature armies alone. The villagers argue over whether or not to hand Phoney Bone, “the one who bears the star”, over to The Hooded One to appease her, and in the confusion Phoney slips away, leaving his star-bearing shirt behind. Gran'ma Ben goes after him, catching up with him in the mountains, but Roque Ja, who has been tracking them, catches up and she and Lucius get into a vicious brawl with the colossal mountain lion. Thorn and Fone meet up with them and enter the fray, but she and Phoney get knocked out and taken away in Roque Ja's jaws. Fone Bone, also knocked out in the battle, sees in his dreams the Great Red Dragon, who hands him the royal medallion and orders him to save Thorn.
Some time later, at the ancient temple high in the mountains, The Hooded One prepares to sacrifice Phoney to the Lord of the Locusts. Phoney insists it must be a case of mistaken identity, but Briar reveals what led her to believe he was a person of great power; a huge inflatable likeness of Phoney, a runaway balloon from his disastrous election campaign back in Boneville, has drifted into the valley. With its fierce expression and the banner reading “Phoncible P. Bone will get you” (the end torn off; intact it read “...will get your vote”, Phoney explains), Briar took it as an omen that he would be the Veni-Yan-Cari, the Awakened One. Gran'ma Ben arrives on the scene and confirms Briar's mistake. The locusts that supported Briar's shrivelled body leave her, a punishment by the Lord of the Locusts for her mistake. The locusts swarm on and try to enter Thorn, but Fone Bone drives them away with the royal medallion. Awake again, Thorn leads the others to safety away from the collapsing mountain temple, drawing her cloak around her head like a Veni-Yan warrior.