Day Eight Hundred Sixty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We got in for closer views of all three entrances, but we kept on the move to avoid scrutiny of ourselves. And as a consequence, we became quite familiar with the paths connecting the two motor roadways with the footpath entry.

The whole area is filled up with rubble that must have been carted out of the city after its destruction.

I sighed to think about all the new buildings beyond, and the people within them, facing the destruction of destruction in the day’s ahead.

We learned that very few on foot went through the motor road entries. And the central path was exclusively for those on foot. Even many not bearing the mark, by all appearances doing forced labor.

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Day Eight Hundred Sixty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have Damascus in sight. Meesa led us off the road to a ridge above its outskirts, where we have a commanding view of the road and a neighboring one to the west. We can see where each enters the city. And are in a good position to evaluate our options.

Meesa had listened to our explanations with avidity, and peppered us with questions. Before leaving she had proposed another solution by offering to affix a mark like hers upon our persons – an offer we both declined.

We shall not stoop to subterfuge, but we shall oppose Stan and his ilk face to face.

That being said, we shall stay put until we have clarity as to when and how.

Day Eight Hundred Sixty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The villages we passed through yesterday and today were quiet and almost empty, for their inhabitants were out laboring in the fields. The requisite posters of Stan increased in number as we grew closer to Damascus.

And as we were getting closer, Elijah and I strategized about our entry.

We decided that we would hold up at a distance and observe the patterns of movement into and out of the city.

It would also need to be an out of the way site, the better to seek the Spirit’s direction.

We have noted already that at certain times of the day the road traffic slows due to an increase in vehicles and backs up. This may prove an important factor.

Day Eight Hundred Fifty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I thought Jezer merely unscrupulous in his business dealings. Clearly his attempts to sell to people not bearing the mark (Elijah and me) would make him guilty in the eyes of the authorities. At the time I guessed that his view was just a matter of – no witnesses – no crime.

But that he bore a phony mark didn’t change my estimation of his character. And that was at the crux of my apprehensions to being in the same city as him.

As ever Elijah is unconcerned. He points out that we have no idea how we will be treated much less whether or not we will be allowed to enter the city.

He just knows that we must go there.

Day Eight Hundred Twenty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The skies were clear above the megapolis for most of the day. Only the occasional drone could be seen making the rounds on its patrol. Quasimo opined that the warplanes were no doubt back to their job of running sorties against the army of the East.

I asked him if he had knowledge about the conflict.

He replied that any contacts between these forces were minor by Stan’s design. And only used as a means to draw the army of the East where he wanted it.

We ended our day near the point of our parting from Tomas and the Captain, and Mei and Raj P – where the road to the west crossed the northern approach to the towerless city.

Day Eight Hundred Twenty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We divided our attention today between watching our steps and observing the activity in the skies over the megapolis. The ground was uneven, so at times treacherous. Hence our caution. But the presence of fleets of drones and circling warplanes over the city were a another source of concern.

Quasimo thinks we have no need  to worry.  He was certain that they are celebrating his “successful” assassination of Elijah and myself. Even if he had to bring down the building to accomplish that end. (Though he joked that Stan would not be above charging him for the value of the structure).

I just hope we can make it out of the area before they ascertain that our bodies aren’t there.

Day Eight Hundred Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

With each step the city seems to grow taller, towering over everything in sight and blotting out half the sky to the south of us. One can sense the hum of industry going night and day without cease emanating from its presence. I commented on it, but Elijah brushed off my sense of foreboding and remained focused on our march to the city.

Posted signs appeared after that with the message praising the one responsible for all this plenteous new growth, printed beneath the smiling picture of our nemesis, Stan.

Next a drone confronted us. It stood stock still, scanning the two of us.

Elijah stood at ease; his staff remained at his side.

The drone went vertical and fled.

Day Seven Hundred Ninety Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Only a few hundreds from the villages gathered at ours, prepared to set out. Mei was disappointed that so many were choosing not to go. I came along side to encourage her and remind her that it is always this way. And to remember to rejoice that some have responded to the call.

Elijah led us out, first to the city. There the Captain met us. Thousands were prepared to accompany him. It was obvious the authorities had been holding back more than Raj P.

P was surprised to see in their number a couple of his former jailers.

After a brief discussion about our marching order, Mei led off with her people, then the Captain’s.

Lastly Elijah and me.

Day Seven Hundred Eighty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We waited until mid morning to set out and put Elijah’s plan into motion. It took those earlier hours to sort out and stabilize the situation in the hunter villages, reeling from the power vacuum created by the loss of their leader.

His overall unpopularity among his own people made a realignment of relationships among the rings of villages easier to negotiate.

We left Mei and Tomas behind to continue organizing. The Captain accompanied us again at his insistence. (I was concerned that his motivation wasn’t what it should be, but Elijah said to let him come anyway).

Soon after we arrived at the entrance to the city, the head of the tribunal rushed to meet us.

His attitude submissive.

Day Seven Hundred Eighty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah and I arrived at the hunters’ village just fine, and were even allowed in without fuss. And no ceremony. Not that we were expecting any deference; in fact just the opposite.

I chalk it up to the Leader being absent and they didn’t quite know what to do.

When told he had gone to the city, we replied that we would wait.

He did not return until this morning.

It was a long night, but we sat patiently under the gaze of an image of Stan.

Upon entering his face was lit with a glow of triumph. Before we could say a word he turned to his guard and barked an order, and the Captain was brought in, bound.