DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY THREE
Because we observed much activity in and around the other well in the vicinity, we gave it a wide berth and passed over ground we had previously not covered.
Elijah kept us on course despite its newness and brought us back into more familiar territory. Looking back further along, we discovered our little detour kept us from crossing paths with not one, but two patrols.
We slowed our pace after that realizing that there were most likely similar units prowling the area.
At one point we froze when we heard a firefight erupt ahead of us. We think neither side noticed our presence, but we stayed in place long after the noise died down, then concluded to pass the night there.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR
Far to the west skirmishing between the two armies was ongoing throughout the day as we pushed into the plain.
We proceeded with caution. Our guess that we were behind the lines of the army of the North went unconfirmed, for thankfully we saw no one. Or more importantly – no one saw us.
The sounds of conflict dissipated the further we ventured into the expanse. Our confidence rising we picked up the pace.
Strangely after that my thoughts wandered and I found myself thinking about Moglen and Stan. I recoiled as though burned by just thinking the thought.
I told this to Elijah. He confessed to something similar. But added, “I am certain that they are thinking evil towards us.”
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE
Stop and go all day, in effect slowing our progress greatly. Many units of reinforcements have crossed our line of march, forcing a halt. Sometimes for as long as an hour. The longer halts were occasioned by caravans of wounded returning from the front.
We then knew for certain that we were behind the lines of the army of the North. In one instance we were close enough to see the insignia on their vehicles.
The image of Moglen again haunted my thoughts in between times. When Elijah noticed my absence from the present, he called me back from my revery. I do believe that had I not responded immediately each time he would have rapped me with his staff.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY SIX
All quiet today on the plain. No sign of conflict by sight or sound. By the end of the day it had been so quiet we had relaxed our vigil, especially when we sighted what we took to be the halfway point of our journey – the well to which Sy had led us – the one whose water was too low to access.
To our relief its water table had risen and we easily refilled our water skins.
Elijah volunteered for the first watch but I had no sooner turned in when he raised the alarm.
Alarm turned to joy when we recognized our intruder was our friend Reuben whom we first knew as a guard in the prison near Jerusalem.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY SEVEN
I don’t know who was more overjoyed, or relieved – Reuben or us. Perhaps it was dependent upon whoever was sharing. For we mutually encouraged one another by the good news we were each privy to.
All was well at the hiding place according to his account. And for him to hear from us that Tomas was well gave him immense satisfaction.
The fact that he was here was the result of his search for Tomas. The trail that he had pieced together to follow him, lead him to us.
He strongly considered going on to Babylon, but we dissuaded him. It was very providential to have him with us as we left the plain behind and climbed into the hills.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT
Reuben skillfully tiptoed us around the lookout posts of the army of the North on these heights above the plain. However he did not know the routes nor schedules of their foot patrols, so we did have a couple of near collisions.
In the end I feel it was the hand of the Spirit that hid us from view. For I cannot fathom how otherwise one group failed to see us. They were headed down to a command outpost situated at the base of the hills, and should have been more attentive. Only one soldier at the rear of their column ever looked back. And I know, for one instant, he stared directly at me.
We pressed onwards silently rejoicing.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY NINE
Our path as directed by Reuben guided us away from the plain for the morning hours. When we crossed back over the ridge the main body of the army of the North filled the plain. We took the main concentration centered on the side towards us to be the headquarters.
I asked Elijah if we were going to curse them per the wishes of the Supreme Commander.
He replied, “No. They are already cursed.”
With that Reuben hastened our pace to put some distance between us and them.
As they disappeared in our rear view, I could not help but wonder what our adversaries looked like up close. Were they the bloodthirsty barbarians of every report we had ever heard?
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY
We returned to familiar ground today. Territory that Elijah and I remembered from our journey down to Babylon. From my calculation we were only two or three days from Sy’s redoubt in the mountains.
We described Sy’s fortress to Reuben and he said that he had come across a place of that description on his way through the Galilee region. In fact, he had stopped to spend the night, having been invited to do so by another man whom he took to be someone who belonged there.
Elijah asked our friend to describe this individual.
After he did, Elijah and I looked at one another. His description matched our nemesis Moglen.
I asked Reuben if Moglen had inquired about us.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY ONE
Elijah made the decision. No discussion beforehand. Of course, neither Reuben nor I objected. Rather we were more than glad to comply. Because of what Reuben had told us, we turned our back on the path before us and headed back towards the bivouac of the army of the North.
Elijah had noted another path that branched off near there, so we took that path.
It wound higher into the hills. As we continued we always chose the forks that we judged would parallel our desired course, but avoid the approaches to Sy’s redoubt.
We met no opposition, no patrols. Not even any animals, wild or otherwise.
What did slow us down were those paths that dead ended atop hills.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY TWO
We stayed atop one of those dead-ends last night. We were too tired and it was too dark to make our way back down.
So when the morning dawned clear and bright we had an uninterrupted view down the plain. The army of the North had pivoted towards Babylon and appeared to be preparing an assault in that direction or setting up to receive one.
I admit I stared upon the scene with fascination.
But Elijah did not allow us to linger long. The view of our route ahead was also clear, at least as long as we could carry the memory we thought we should be able to avoid the next few dead end paths.
And so it proved.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY THREE
We passed the furthest point of our path that we were able to see from last night’s summit. But that has made little difference to our progress today, due to the fact of very few branching paths.
What did slow us down, however, was the time we halted to investigate the flash and rumble of conflict far to the south.
We presume that the army of the East and that of the North were at one another’s throats.
What rooted us in place so long was curiosity over what the army of the world government would do, whose lines of defense were then in view to the east of our position.
When they did not budge, Elijah urged us on.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR
The struggle to our south has dropped completely from our view, instead we can see rank upon rank upon rank of the army of world government massing behind their defenses at the mouth of the valley below.
Reuben expressed to us his dismay at the sight of this vast array of power and might. I feared that this feeling would sink him into a kind of paralysis.
That’s when Elijah took him aside and talked to him. By their gestures and the look on Reuben’s face afterwards, I knew that my old friend had introduced him to the angel in whose shadow we move.
The change in Reuben was complete. And I took the opportunity to counsel on other things.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE
My old dream disturbed my slumber over night. The one in which blood dripped incessantly. But this time there were bodies afloat on the flood. There were stacks of them across the plain that disentangled from one another as the tide rose.
Once underway I broached the subject with Elijah. He was silent for the longest time after I finished speaking.
Reuben, who had been listening from the beginning, asked me if our angel were responsible. He meant for the carnage depicted, of course. Elijah broke in and confirmed this guess, but also went on to explain that he most likely was responsible for the dream itself.
At that instant we rounded a bend and saw Stan’s sacrificial high place.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY SIX
When viewed yesterday, the high place seemed only to be a day’s journey more, but the actuality turned out otherwise.
We got a peek at it every so often as the path weaved to and fro. It is unmistakable that the idol of Stan has been replaced. And it is now even larger than the one we destroyed days ago.
I am sure that it is clearly visible to his troops far below in the valley.
We saw no movement in its vicinity, but we knew something was going on.
A wisp of smoke commenced at noon, and thickened into a column by day’s end.
The uppermost question now is – what will we do when we arrive on the scene?
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY SEVEN
We stopped short of the sacrificial high place yesterday. And still were undecided as to our next course of action. Elijah thought it best that we seclude ourselves for the day and seek direction as to our way forward.
This we did together, but only briefly, as we almost immediately were convinced that we should proceed in alternation.
So, one stood watch while the other two interceded.
There was little to see when the time for my vigil came around – just that towering column of smoke that has been billowing since we first witnessed it.
Then on my second watch a figure appeared and tended to the altar fire. I was certain that it was Moglen, up from Sy’s redoubt.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT
No answer yet. And we are still convinced of the need to wait upon the Spirit for direction. However, we did agree with Reuben to move around to the other side of the high place in order to be closer to the routes that will take us to the hiding place.
This we accomplished during those times Moglen was absent from before the altar. And none too soon. We had just settled in when Moglen reappeared, escorted by a drone.
It ascended above the altar and began circling the same.
Without warning it streaked out to the point where we had been and hovered there.
We held our breath until it slowly flew back to its station above the altar.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY NINE
I fell to talking with Reuben when we exchanged positions at the watch turnover. It started normally enough, but turned rather serious when he told me that he and Elijah had answers to our two questions – what are we going to do, and when.
I wasn’t prepared for the answer to the first question (nor the second for that matter).
According to them we will stay and destroy the idol. Or to clarify- we all are staying but only I have been selected to destroy Stan’s idol.
The second question, however, hinges upon whether or not I have the same leading.
So I knew what I’d be doing during the next watch. I joined Elijah to seek that very confirmation.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY
The wisdom of the directions only became clear after the events unfolded. I received confirmation of the instructions as related by Reuben (and reiterated by Elijah), but they gave me great difficulty, for they required me to break the covenant struck between Elijah and me – to never separate.
But I set my mind to obey and we did.
When Moglen left the high place, I crossed over to it while Elijah and Reuben distracted the drone.
I crushed the idol with any rocks that came to hand and tossed the pieces into the fire.
After giving the drone a chance to record the proceedings, Elijah brought it down with his raised staff.
Swiftly I rejoined my friends and we departed.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY ONE
Reuben was the one who discovered the cave. He said afterwards that it was as though he was pulled into it. And I marvel that he did, for no way was the entrance visible from the path below on which we were fleeing.
And we gained its safety none too soon for otherwise the swarm of drones would have overtaken us.
And here we have stayed put through the night and all of today. Reuben was restless and made frequent forays to take a peek around. He reported the movement of soldiers in the distance, happily, headed in the wrong direction, but was shaken to his core the last time when he spotted Moglen standing nearby, watching in silence, alone.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY TWO
Once his fright was past, Reuben grew quiet. And thoughtful.
By this morning he was the old Reuben. Until he went out to check again. He rushed back in to exclaim that Moglen was still out there. Not in the same spot as before. But there. Watching and waiting as before.
It took both Elijah and me to settle him down. We were not dealing with fear this time, the more he thought about the situation the more enraged he became.
He wanted to go out and eliminate Moglen.
Elijah made the breakthrough by explaining we were not dealing with what can be seen but rather with what we can’t.
And most importantly- our rage can never bring God’s justice.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY THREE
This morning Elijah sent Reuben out again to check. He returned almost immediately. While he watched, Moglen who was still lurking, turned about and left.
With this news, Reuben and I thought we should leave as soon as possible. But Elijah surprised us by insisting that we wait a while longer. Adding that we have an appointment to keep.
He waved aside any further query and asked us to be praying for his two bands of pupils. He said they were in sore need of our support.
This we did until Elijah announced it was time to depart.
At every turn of the path I expected to see one of Elijah’s pupils. Imagine my surprise when we came upon Tomas.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY FOUR
Here at day’s end and I’m still recovering from yesterday’s surprise appearance of our young friend. Elijah kept our greetings brief, enforcing a strict regimen of silence and driving us onward by his example. Continuing through the night.
Our pace only slackened with the dawn of the new day, yet we kept onward. At one point it was as if we entered a space of our own reality in which nothing else and no one else existed. Only then did Elijah allow us to converse.
Everything came tumbling out as we pressed Tomas for information.
Most startling was the news that the Supreme Commander is dead. And the army of the East has allied with the army of the North.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY FIVE
Reuben was ebullient to be in touch with Tomas after his epic search for him. The feeling was mutual since they had much in common to discuss as they went along.
It was from their discussion that we learned about a side effect to my destruction of Stan’s idol.
The alliance between the armies of the East and North had been forged while the Supreme Commander was still alive. When the government forces left their fortifications to mount an attack on them, the leader of the Northern army suspected he had been betrayed and slew the Supreme Commander. When the government forces retreated for no apparent reason, the triumphant leader concluded it was from his action.
But we know differently.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY SIX
Just as Elijah had forced us on day and night, so now that we have reached the village at the edge of the wasteland, he has forced us into a prolonged rest.
The village is still deserted, yet strangely, any vestige of the sentry camps at either end have all been removed.
We had our pick of accommodations in the inn off the square. Reuben took the first watch and the one after that. To me the heaviness of desolation hangs over the place. Reuben felt this keenly too, a fact he confessed to me when I relieved him. And the reason he took the two shifts. I think he dreads the thought of closing his eyes in this place.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN
We stayed another day in the village at the edge of the wasteland. But this time it was not Elijah’s call. Both Tomas and myself sensed the urge to remain – for some crucial reason.
While roaming about the town Reuben discovered a cache of food in tins half buried under a trash heap. Wild animals had uncovered them and made off with that which they found interesting.
But that ultimately was not the reason behind what held us here. That became clear before the sun set.
A group of a half dozen men came out of the west under Tomas’s watchful gaze. With a cry Tomas sprinted out to meet them.
They were all that remained of Elijah’s two bands.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY EIGHT
I was shocked to hear all that Elijah’s disciples have been through. They have borne the brunt of the enemy’s fury in the region. Steadfast and uncomplaining. And they have kept the hiding place safe. No word of its location has escaped their lips.
Elijah was deeply affected. He went around the circle and hugged each one and prayed over them.
We agreed with their advice that it would be good to set out in the dark immediately, and we concurred to do our traveling at night going forward.
We maintained a strict silence enroute to where they passed last night. And held up there through the day.
Lots of martial activity-in the air, and down in the valley.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY NINE
Elijah desires to make all haste to the hiding place. Governed by the restrictions dictated by circumstances, of course. But his disciples would rather have him come with them to Jerusalem.
They consider his presence there as crucial. And more importantly a call that cannot be put off to another time.
For his part Elijah is equally convinced that the next goal should be the hiding place.
This has raised tensions among us, so I suggested we all ask that a united vision be given us.
I pointed out we have at least a day or two before we reach the location at which those paths diverge.
In the meantime we will listen for the Spirit’s approval as to direction.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FIFTY
Three of Elijah’s six disciples have left us. They continued on after we halted at daylight. They felt keenly the need to do so. Elijah did not stop, nor even try to dissuade them. Instead he gave each his blessing.
I watched them as they disappeared from sight, and silently prayed for their safe passage.
As of the time we set out this evening, agreement has still eluded us. But thankfully contention has not raised its ugly head.
And a good thing for it was a challenge dodging the patrolling drones even with seven pairs of eyes on the alert.
After a couple of close encounters I could not but help think of our departed comrades and how they fared.
DAY ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FIFTY ONE
One more night and the decision will need to be made. Last night we moved forward in our uncertainty. At least, the amount of patrolling drones has dropped to nothing.
Consequently, Elijah lifted his prohibition on talking, so his three disciples filled their time up with arguments for Elijah’s going to Jerusalem tomorrow night.
The whole matter seems to amuse Elijah, who remains silent and just smiles. He has made it plain that they are free to go to Jerusalem on their own.
Who knows, perhaps that will be what ultimately happens.
Reuben and Tomas are still keen to be back at the hiding place, too, but afterwards they do intend to go up to Jerusalem together.
Elijah didn’t comment.
ONTO MONTH FORTY