Day One Thousand Sixty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

It was not the carnage of battle that we surveyed on the summit of that mountain, but rather the aftermath of a wanton sacrifice. An altar had been raised over the source of the stream and an untold number of bodies lay strewn about – the bodies of animals contorted in their death agonies. All under the sparkling gaze of an idol of Stan, which presided over the scene.

Mawuli toppled it with a well aimed stone from his sling, and we crushed it under foot.

Elijah had us return to our camp near the stone bridge for the night, and from there this morning we set out towards the east, following Mawuli’s lead.

Elijah held his staff aloft in praise.

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Day One Thousand Sixty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I had a dream over night. Everything about it was unexpected, but not unsettling. In fact, I found it a comfort and an encouragement.

In it Grazie came to speak to me, though uttering not a word at first. Her countenance beamed with serenity. Which enfolded me like a hug and communicated more than her voice would have.

And, in effect, shut down a nightmarish vision that lurked at the periphery of my consciousness.

Only after she had my complete attention did she speak.

She simply said, “A child shall lead you.” And smiled.

And was gone.

I shared the dream with Elijah. And at the moment I finished Mawuli walked into our camp. And asked when we were leaving.

Day One Thousand Sixty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We left the redoubt, but did not leave the area. Here, at day’s end, we still await a sign. So, we set up a camp with the intent to stay until we do.

We can see activity down on the plain, but Elam tells us that it is only minimal. And he is sure it can mean that more are operating beyond the rear guard well beyond our field of view.

Sy concurred and added that he expected to see more troops being moved up from Damascus soon.

Mei asked if that might be the sign we are awaiting.

The Captain weighed in and said he was sure that it would be something else, something dramatic and unmistakable at once.

Day One Thousand Fifty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our surprise was mutual. Raj P recovered first, brimming over with thanksgiving for answered prayer before he even said a word to us.

He had accompanied Quasimo into the Galilee, and had been dispatched by him to go in search of us and bring us back to help persuade Sy to leave.

I asked if Elam had made it back and was overjoyed to learn that he was safe and sound in their midst.

We made it as far as the road before making camp.

We inquired about everyone else and buoyed by his good report turned in.

Today was an even longer day.  It takes so much longer when you’re not riding in the cab of a tanker truck.

Day Nine Hundred Eighty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Another day and everyone in the Purser’s camp should be recovered enough to travel.

Everyone, that is, except that ex-army surgeon. He died. Shriveled away to nothing during the night.

The Purser now believes he was working against us and was the one behind all their losses, including his daughter Retha.

When I sensed that our friend was slipping away to a very dark place, Elijah and I took him and his wife aside to comfort them.

At the last, Elijah was able to convince them that in no manner were they responsible for the dead man’s perfidy.

Afterwards I joined Mawuli at his sentry station and helped him through this renewal of grief by simply standing with him.

Day Nine Hundred Eighty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have settled in for the night after a long day of travel. So thankful for the camel Mawuli has with him, as we thus were enabled to offload our burdens.

Unlike usual Tomas kept close contact to us throughout the day. Still he was the first to spot a young man approaching on another camel.

Thus we met one of Mawuli’s counterparts on his way to the well, one of the volunteers on the all important rotation that supplies water for the Purser’s group. Unlike Mawuli he wore a uniform.

When I asked Mawuli about it, he laughed and said there are more than one type of uniform in their camp, from practically every land they have passed through.

Day Nine Hundred Eighty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I almost didn’t recognize him, he’d grown so much in the past year. But he had no difficulty recognizing me, and positively could not stand still in his excitement in our presence.

After a brief exchange he filled his water skins and begged us to remove our camp away to where he had set up.

It was a caution he always practiced. And as it proved, a more comfortable place to pass the night.

Today we filled the rest of his water skins and we set off for their place deep in the desert.

Mawuli explained that they have been stranded there for months now. Their numbers keep growing as his parents invite injured and castoff people into their group.

Day Nine Hundred Eighty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

As preparation for the next stage of our search, I suggested we replenish our water skins at the desert crossroads before heading into the desert.

As we all deemed it necessary, it was an easy decision to make the detour. As always Tomas was happy to go anywhere he’d never been before, especially with the additional incentive of seeing where we had first encountered Jezer.

It took longer than we remembered for it was late in the day when we finally arrived. We had the spot all to ourselves and set up camp.

While we filled the water skins, Tomas explored the area.

Our surprise was great when he returned minutes later with a struggling youth, my youngest friend Mawuli.

Day Nine Hundred Thirty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

My slumber was disturbed by sounds of movement without our camp. My thoughts landed on the pesky villager as the likely culprit. But when I arose to check, I encountered a wild dog instead. I chased it away and Elijah continued sleeping.

It was all a preview for the day ahead. If it were not curious critters, it was the occasional passing drone that kept us alert.

At one point along the way, Elijah deviated off the path to climb to the top of a round mountain.

At the top he stood silently. His eyes behind the mist of memory flit here and there around the scene.

And as suddenly as he had stopped he asked pardon and we left.

Day Nine Hundred Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I kept the drone here with us, the better to secure our position. Besides, Elijah and I will have charge of a larger group, that of Tomas and the Captain’s together, and we’ll need it to maintain overwatch when we are on the way.

I should ask Jezer for sufficient parts for another drone, for Quasimo’s sake. He seemed so sad when he handed it off to me.

Elijah passed the time with Raj P. They talked about his brother and mused about his whereabouts with his contingent.

While I did keep the drone aloft circling the camp I caused it to linger each cycle over the approach that Jezer should take upon coming to us.

All day long – nothing.