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Chapter 291 is titled "I'm Right Here".

Cover Page

Ace's Great Blackbeard Search, Vol. 17: "The Marines' Top-Secret Intelligence Ship Returns To Port".

One of G-2's many scout ships returns from its latest voyage.

Short Summary

Mont Blanc Noland leaves Jaya and prepares to set sail towards North Blue. Mousse tells her father Kalgara the reason why Noland and his crew cut down the trees of their ancestors. Kalgara races to tell Noland he will ring the Golden Bell every day, until Noland's return.

Long Summary

Mont Blanc Noland briefly reflects on his friendship with Kalgara, from the latter suggesting that Noland remain in Jaya and marry his daughter Mousse, to all of a sudden being told that Kalgara never wants to see him again. Noland returns to the golden city of Shandora, convinced that Kalgara will be there. He implores Kalgara to explain his sudden shift in attitude towards him, but Kalgara responds by throwing a spear at Noland. Noland barely manages to dodge the spear, being sliced on the cheek  as it passes by. Kalgara warns Noland to leave his presence if he doesn't want to be killed, and Noland complies without objection. 

Noland and his crew continue their work in the forest, as the Shandians eagerly await the departure of the crew with passive-aggressive attitudes. The small snake that befriended Noland and Kalgara is deeply saddened by Kalgara's refusal to ring the bell, as Kalgara states that it no longer means anything. Later that night, Noland's crew notices that Noland hasn't eaten anything as they discuss their imminent departure from the village. They again note that the bell did not ring, and that the villagers seem to be full of murderous intent for reasons they do not understand. Noland, Mousse, and the snake all observe the full moon in different mental states: the snake is still saddened at the bell not ringing, Mousse appears to be in deep thought, and Noland is still upset at the broken bond between himself and Kalgara. Mousse decides to leave, and the crew doctor also observes the moon and drinks as the rest of the crew has gone to sleep. Mousse approaches the doctor from the shadows hoping to talk, as the doctor is greatly startled at her presence. 

Kalgara sits among a multitude of tree stumps in the forest of Jaya, confused and frustrated that Noland's crew has chopped down so many of their trees. He asks if this was all the sacrifice for Noland's healing, lamenting that he ever allowed Noland to stay. Mousse explains to the crew doctor that the trees they have cut down are known as the Forest of Embodiment, and they house the souls of the Shandian ancestors. The sound of the bell guides the souls to this forest, where their souls rest. To the Shandians, it is their duty to guard the forest, as it is more important than their lives. The doctor finally understands why the Shandians are upset with them, and Mousse further explains that they haven't acted on their feelings because they are still grateful for the crew saving their lives. Although the Shandians understand that there was no way the crew could have known this, they are nonetheless upset at the desecration of what was considered holy ground. 

The next day as the crew prepares to leave, Noland finally understands his transgression. The doctor attempts to justify the crew's actions as necessary, but Noland states that they can't find excuses for themselves. In an attempt to set things right, he orders his crew to give back all the gold that the Shandians allowed them to take. Mousse runs back to the Shandian Village in haste, seeking her father. When she finds him she drops down before him in tears, asking if the Shandians would have chopped down the trees as well if they knew that the trees were making their people sick. She begs her father to let the crew stay, emphasizing that the Shandians will regret it forever if they allow their relationship to dissolve like this. Remembering Kalgara and Noland's bond, she tells her father that he will make the "Savior of Shandora" sad for the rest of his life if he does not rectify this. As Kalgara demands for his daughter to explain, Mousse recalls more details of her discussion with the doctor the night before: The doctor explains that the Forest of Embodiment was actually already dead, to Mousse's shock. He notes that Tree Fever spreads by using the trees themselves as a medium for infestation, so anyone who enters the forest became infected. Furthermore, the disease has claimed countless lives, so the one hundred casualties that the Shandians suffered is truly nothing compared to what would have happened without Noland's intervention. Once an infected tree is found, it, as well as all other surrounding trees must be cut down in order to prevent the infestation from spreading. He concludes that they have dealt with the infestation in it's entirety however, so the island is now completely safe. The trees were cut down out of necessity, not with the intention of disrespecting the Shandian's ancestors. The Shandians are horrified by their grave error in judgment, finally realizing that Noland was protecting Shandora as well. Kalgara quickly races off, despite the cries from the Shandians that Noland's ship is probably long gone. 

Aboard Noland's ship, the crew is excited to head back to Lvneel, though there a few crewmates that are saddened by having to leave the gold. As Kalgara races through the forest, he thinks to himself about how he was wrong about Noland, hoping that his friend will wait for him. As Noland's ship departs the cost, the crew notices that the bell is finally ringing once again. The entire Shandian village is working together to ring the bell, apologetic for their treatment of Noland and determined to make sure that Noland hears the bell. Kalgara runs to the shore and shouts for Noland, who happens to still be close enough to see and hear him. Kalgara pleads for his friend to come back some day, telling him that he will be waiting and ringing the bell for him. He promises that the Shandians will guard this place no matter what, and to not let any storms stop him from coming back, as the bell will always be ringing for him until he does. Kalgara states that they will once again be friends, and Noland tearfully promises that they will meet again. 

Quick Reference

Chapter Notes

  • Kalgara desired for Mont Blanc Noland to stay in Jaya and marry Mousse, but Noland reveals that he has a wife and child of similar age to Mousse.
  • The small snake spends the majority of its time in Shandora, and really enjoys hearing the bell ring. 
  • The source of tension between Noland's crew and the Shandians is revealed.
    • Noland's crew has chopped down the Forest of Embodiment, a sacred place to the Shandians where they believe the souls of their ancestors rest in the trees. 
    • The Shandians were still grateful for being saved, and thus did not act on their frustrations. 
  • Lvneel Expedition Doctor explains to Mousse the effects of Tree Fever.
    • The disease infests the trees themselves, and thus the only way to stop contamination was to cut down the infected trees, and all those surrounding them. 
  • Noland orders the crew to leave all the gold behind as they finally depart, as an attempt to reconcile for desecrating the holy ground of the Shandian ancestors.
  • Kalgara's deepest regret, initially mentioned in Chapter 276, is finally shown as the Shandians realize their error in judgment for the treatment of Noland and his crew. 
  • Kalgara tells Mont Blanc Noland he will ring the Golden Bell until they meet again.




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