Rather than descend once more among men, Zarathustra ascends to the highest mountain and waits there for people to come to him.
Sitting outside his cave, Zarathustra is joined by the soothsayer from Part II. He tells Zarathustra that he must confront his final sin: pity. Zarathustra hears a cry of distress that he assumes comes from "the higher man," and so goes in search of him.
On his search, Zarathustra encounters two kings on the road who are driving an ass. They have abandoned their kingdoms, as they have been made nauseous by the "good society" of mediocre people who are eager only to please and to enjoy small pleasures. The kings are delighted when Zarathustra tells them he is searching for the higher man. Zarathustra directs them to his cave and invites them to wait for him there.
Next, Zarathustra literally stumbles upon a man lying down in a swamp, trying to attract leeches to his arm. He represents "the conscientious in spirit," one who wishes to free himself from (or "suck away") all the prejudices and assumptions that underlie his thinking. As with the kings, Zarathustra invites him to wait in his cave, and then continues his journey.
Zarathustra encounters a magician writhing on the ground, tortured by a thought. After a while, Zarathustra becomes angry and accuses him of counterfeiting. The magician confesses, saying he was pretending to be an "ascetic of the spirit" in an effort to test Zarathustra. Zarathustra points out that he wasn't totally pretending—that he is, in some senses, an ascetic. The magician wants to convince others that he is a great man, but he knows himself that he is not great. Zarathustra admires the magician for wanting to be great and for admitting that he is not. As with the others, he directs the magician to his cave and then continues on his way.
Zarathustra encounters the last pope, who is mourning the fact that God is dead, and who seeks out Zarathustra as the most pious of all those who do not believe in God. He tells how God died from pitying humankind too much. Zarathustra criticizes God for having made us so poorly and then punishing us for being unable to do his bidding. The pope is impressed with Zarathustra, and Zarathustra directs him to his cave.