The Hooded One (full name: Briar Harvestar) is an ominous, Grim Reaper-looking figure who serves as the primary antagonist in the graphic novel series, Bone. She is an immensely powerful Veni-Yan-Cari (Dream Shaman) who leads the Rat Creatures and seeks to release the frightful Lord of the Locusts. She is eventually revealed to be Princess Briar Harvestar, sister of Gran'ma Rose and great-aunt of the female primary protagonist Thorn Harvestar.
Briar Harvestar was born the elder daughter of the Queen of the kingdom of Atheia. Since the very day of her birth, her exceptionally powerful Dreaming Eye (connection to the Dreaming: the plane of dreams and source of the entire Bone universe) attracted the Lord of the Locusts, who spoke through her mind and influenced her. She was born the most powerful Veni-Yan-Cari (Awaked One) of the millennium, but the Locust convinced her to hide her power and fail her initiation. Since having a Dreaming Eye is mandatory to rule Atheia, whose monarchs watch over the Dreaming along with the Dragons, Briar's sister Rose was chosen as the heir to the throne. Later in life, Briar would seduce and date Rose's love interest, the Captain of the Guard Lucius Down.
The prequel book Rose dwells on the sisters' youth. One day, when training to master her Dreaming Eye, Rose accidentally woke up the River Dragon Balsaad: a corrupted follower of the Lord of the Locusts. Briar plotted to unleash him on the Valley where Atheia is located, and use him in a ritual to release the Lord of the Locusts. The Locust wanted Briar to use Rose in the ritual, but she jealously refused and tried to kill her. After Rose succeeded in killing Balsaad, she had to kill the first being that she would encounter to restore the balance of the Dreaming. Said being happened to be Briar, but she could not bring herself to kill her sister and killed one of her pet dogs instead. Angry at her failure, the Locust magically ages Briar as a punishment.
The Great War
Rose's reign as Queen of Atheia was marked by the 50-year-long Great War against the Hairy Men, best known as the Rat Creatures, who attempted to take over the valley. (It his hinted that the Rat Creatures were influenced by the Lord of the Locusts.) During this war, Briar secretly sided with the Rat Creatures and informed them of the Atheian army's movements. Rose eventually relinquished the throne to her daughter Lunaria, and when Lunaria's daughter Thorn was born, Briar was appointed as her caretaker.
At one point, the Rat Creatures eventually adopted a strategy of particularly fast and brutal attacks dubbed the "Nights of Lightning", and eventually toppled the kingdom. Fifteen years before the start of the story, Rose and her family went to the northern mountain where the Dragons live, to strike an alliance. There, Briar led them to an ambush, planning to use Thorn in a ritual to release the Lord of the Locusts. Kingdok killed Thorn's parents, but not before Thorn's father sliced Briar in half with a scythe from an abandoned farm nearby. However, Rose and a five-year-old Thorn were able to reach the Dragons. Later, a treaty was signed between Humans (who agreed not to rebuild the kingdom) and Rat Creatures (who retreated in their mountains) and peace returned. Rose left Thorn under the Dragons' tutelage for three years and built herself a farm near the village of Barrelhaven, to restart their life anew away from troubles.
Unfortunately, the Lord of the Locusts raised Briar as an undead so that she could one day release him. Hiding her wounds under a hooded robe and using the scythe that killed her as her weapon, Briar (now known as the Hooded One) disappeared to the Rat Creatures' mountains and became their leader, waiting for the day where she could restart the war. While the Rat Creatures were content living in their mountains, she eventually persuaded them that the "flat landers" unfairly banished them and that they should claim back what is "rightfully theirs".
The Hooded One is a scary figure wearing a greyish green (sometimes depicted dark blue) robe whose hood completely conceals her face. She walks crouched, as if hunchbacked, and carries a scythe. Being undead, she is deathly frail and shrivelled. Given that she was killed being sliced in two, her body consists in two halves held together by a swarm of locusts hidden under her robe.When she was alive, she was a very beautiful woman, tall and slender, with middle-length auburn hair, blue eyes and regal features, looking almost exactly like her sister Rose. Now her face is hideously emaciated and twisted, with demented yellow eyes, deathly greyish skin and dishevelled hair; in stark contrast with her sister who retained rather good looks despite her old age.
Briar has always been aware of the Locust's whispers and seems glad of it, as she describes it as "feeling like being the smartest one in the world", but whether or not she once resisted the Locust's corruption is not known. Briar always felt inferior to her sister, oblivious to the fact that hiding her power made her fall out of favour (making her responsible for her own misery). Such envy later grew into fierce hatred. She would do anything she could to spite Rose, and would later sacrifice her entire family to the Rat Creatures without a qualm.
Briar claims that she was treated as nothing but a nursemaid for Princess Thorn and Rose indeed describes her as such when she tells Thorn the story of her parents' death. However, Rose mourns her death and is genuinely disheartnened when learning the Hooded One's identity; proving that at least her sister loved her. Rose might avoid speaking about Briar to spare Thorn the pain of knowing that her great-aunt caused her parents' death. It is possible that Briar hateful personality alienated her from her family, as Lucius Down's flashback hints that she was already spiteful and malevolent in her youth.
During the course of the story, the Hooded One appears as a calm, collected and frightening figure, extremely devoted to the Lord of the Locusts. She strives to become the Locust's host and expresses strong jealousy upon learning that Thorn is best suited for the role. (Although she hides it behind her concern that Thorn, who is more powerful than she is, could grow into a threat.) She is cruel, vicious and ruthless, relishing the prospect of killing Rose and Thorn, and killing any obstacle (or useless follower) without second thought. She is also a very efficient war tactician and knows how to play with people's emotions to make them vulnerable. She is determined to take back Atheia, without caring whether she would do it as the Locust's host, despite knowing that the Locust would leave no one alive to be her subjects.
Powers and Abilities
The Hooded One is one of the most powerful Veni-Yan-Cari to ever live, second only to her great-niece Thorn. She can dwell freely into the Dreaming and experience prophetic dreams. She can enter anyone's dreams to influence them as she pleases or to compel dreaming people (as seen when she put an unconscious Thorn into a trance). Should she capture someone in their dreams, she apparently would be able to seize them in the Waking World as well; however, she is only seen doing so in the dreams of another Veni-Yan-Cari.
She is also able to reach into the mind of many people at once, to induce mass illusions, and to alter her aspect at will. Within or out dreams, she can appear as anyone, be it her younger self, one of the protagonists or anyone else, being apparently able to delve into people's memories and copy it. Moreover, she controls the Dreaming's influence over the Waking World and can use it to perform magic, such as telekinetically blasting the hulking Kingdok away, disappearing at will, sensing people's presence even far away, among others; and was apparently able to restore Kingdok's ability to speak after his tongue was ripped off. (Thorn was able to understand other languages and even to fly at one point.)
Finally, being a princess of the Harvestar bloodline, the Hooded One is a highly dangerous warrior who wields her scythe with enough skill to destroy several arrows fired at her, and enough strength to cut steel and shatter stone with her blade. Despite her age and her condition of undead, she is much fitter and stronger than most warriors in their prime. Even worse, she cannot truly die as long as the Lord of the Locusts is willing to revive her.
Role in the story
Out from Boneville
The story begins when three toon-like creatures, the cousins Fone Bone, Smiley Bone and Phoncible (Phoney) Bone enter the huge valley that was once the kingdom of Atheia, after being chased out of their hometown, Boneville. (Phoney, a rich but shady businessman, was running for mayor and held a huge party, but his antics got him on the townspeople's bad side.) They get separated by a huge swarm of locusts and find themselves targeted by Rat Creatures, who look for "the one who bears the star", but are protected by the Great Red Dragon, whom the Rat Creatures are deathly afraid of. The nature of the locusts and the "star bearer" having yet to be explained.Fone Bone eventually falls in love with a young girl named Thorn and comes to live with her at her grandmother Rose's farm, while Smiley and Phoney start working at the tavern of the village of Barrelhaven, owned by Rose's friend Lucius Down. Meanwhile, the Rat Creatures report about the Bone cousins and the Great Red Dragon to the Hooded One. The Hooded One then sends a battallion of Rat Creatures to distract the Great Red Dragon and another to destroy the farm and its inhabitants, but Rose and the dragon drive them away. It is then revealed that the "one who bears the star" is Phoney Bone (who wears a shirt with a star motif).
The following day, the Hooded One appears in person to Phoney Bone, but decides against capturing him when Rose, Thorn and Fone Bone reach Barrelhaven, ominously stating that they only gained a respite.
Eye of the Storm
The Hooded One starts plaguing Thorn's dreams to capture her, and she and Fone Bone start figuring that something is amiss. Meanwhile, the Rat Creatures resume their attempts to capture Phoney Bone. As things get increasingly dangerous, Rose is forced to tell Thorn and Fone Bone the truth about Thorn's past.
The Hooded One recieves orders from the Lord of the Locusts to use Thorn to release him, much to her displeasure. She gathers her armies and her allies from the nation of Pawa and starts a new war, wiping out Barrelhaven and forcing its population to move to away. Meanwhile, Rose gives Fone Bone a magic Dream Talisman and Thorn a sword, before going to call the Disciples of Venu, the paladins of the former kingdom, for help.
Rock Jaw, Master of the Eastern Border
As Fone Bone, Smiley Bone and Bartleby, a Rat Creature cub they befriended, venture into the mountain, they meet its master: the giant cougar named Roque Ja (which they mispronounce as Rock Jaw), and later escape the Lord of the Locusts himself. Later, the Hooded One strikes a bargain with Roque Ja to have him capture the Bone cousins and kill Thorn.
The Old Man's Cave
Rose and the Disciples of Venu gather the population of the villages destroyed by the Rat Creatures to safety within the fortified Old Man's Cave, while the Hooded One keeps plaguing Thorn's dreams. While they attempt to raise defences around the cave, the Hooded One appears before Lucius Down and reveals her identity. She uses the aspect of her youth to distract him while the Rat Creatures slaughter his men, and only reinforcements prevent them from getting all killed.
After hearing the truth from Lucius, Rose sets out to confront her sister, who got Phoney Bone and a seriously wounded Thorn brought to her by Roque Ja. The Hooded One reveals that she had prophetic dreams about a "Star Bearer" from a foreign land. When the huge balloon in Phoney Bone's likeness which he used when running for mayor flew to her mountains, she mistook it for an omen. She needs to sacrifice a weaker Veni-Yan-Cari during a full moon to release the Locust and become his host, and plans to sacrifice Phoney Bone. (Should she sacrifice Thorn who is mightier, she would be the sacrifice and Thorn would be the host, hence her reticence.)
However, Rose barges in and reveals that Thorn is the only Veni-Yen-Cari, and she is too badly wounded to serve as a sacrifice. The incensed Lord of the Locusts turns back the Hooded One into a corpse and attempts to take control of Thorn, but Fone Bone drives his locusts away with the Dream Talisman. The Locust then imparts the unknowing Thorn and Fone Bone with fragments of himself, before destroying the mountain in a volcanic eruption.
As the Hooded One's armies are launching a final attack on the Old Man's Cave, the Hooded One herself is revived by the Lord of the Locusts. She covers the entire Valley with mirages of waste and destruction and spreads the Locust's Ghost Circles (invisible gates between the Spirit World and Nothingness that erase everything they touch from existence) all over, trapping thousands of souls between life and death. Thorn is able to guide the protagonists around the Ghost Circles and Rose decides to head towards the capital city of Atheia.
On their way, they are attacked by the Hooded One who attempts to capture Thorn and sacrifice her during the next full moon, no longer caring about who will be the Locust's host. Upon realizing that Fone Bone bears a fragment of the Locust and that he is the real Star Bearer (his Dream Talisman bears the symbol of the Dreaming, which includes a star), she decides to capture him instead and attempts to kill Thorn. However, they are saved by Smiley Bone and Bartleby. Alas, the Fragment of the Locust within her threatens Thorn's life and she collapses a while after peeking into a Ghost Circle, where her mother's spirit tells her to "seek for the Crown of Horns".
Upon entering the capital, the protagonists soon discover that it is now ruled by Tarsil: a maniacal, dragon-hating, rogue Disciple of Venu who blames Dragons for the Ghost Circles and outlawed the Dream Masters. Meanwhile, the Hooded One learns from Thorn's dreams that she heard about the "Crown of Horns" (the very heart of the Bone universe). Given that the fear caused by the Locust's Ghost Circles will soon enable him to break through his prison on his own; she decides to launch a full-scale attack on the capital to kill the now useless protagonists. As the Atheian Dream Masters heal Thorn, the Hooded One attempts to conjure a Ghost Circle inside the city but they thwart her attempts.
Later, the Hooded One meets the General of the Pawan army, who upon her instructions has besieged the capital and isolated Tanen Gard, the sacred lair of the Dragons, to prevent the Dragons from intervening. Upon learning that the Hooded One plans to destroy life, the Pawan General attacks her, but she swiftly kills him and appoints his frightened second-in-command as his successor.
The Crown of Horns
As her armies approach the capital, the Hooded One confronts Tarsil and appears to him under his own aspect when he was young to lower his guard and kill him. She then launches the assault on the city, whose defences are led by Rose, and attempts to kill her sister with a bow. However, she had her troops retreat not long after and starts spreading terror throughout the city with awful visions.Such fear cause the Lord of the Locusts to escape from his prison while still possessing the host he used in the beginning of times: Mim the Dragon Queen. When Thorn, followed by a reluctant Fone Bone and Bartleby, sneaks out of the city towards Tanen Gard to reach the Crown of Horns, Rose and Phoney Bone rush after her to confront the Hooded One. However, she ambushes them and reveals that she sent Kingdok to guard the Crown of Horns. The two sisters do battle while Phoney Bone rushes away seeking for help. Just as Rose is about to get overwhelmed, Lucius and his friends rush in and kill the Hooded One's soldiers. She wounds Rose and prepares to finish her off while cackling madly, but Lucius tackles her from behind.
Meanwhile, Thorn slays Kingdok and manages to touch the Crown with Fone Bone's help. She channels her Dreaming power into the Crown of Horns to destroy the fragment of the Locust within herself, causing a chain reaction that completely obliterates the Lord of the Locusts and blasts the Hooded One, reducing her to a charred skeleton and killing her once and for all. Alas, Lucius gets caught in the blast and does not survive.
With the Locust and his enforcer dead, the Ghost Circles gone and the Valley restored, a newly freed Mim returns underground with the Dragons. Thorn then restores Atheia and becomes Queen of the Valley, setting durable peace with Pawa and the Rat Creatures. The story finishes with the three Bone cousins and Bartleby biding a tearful farewell to Thorn and Rose before heading back towards Boneville.