Day Seven Hundred Eighty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah has been kept on his feet all day, as he and Mei (and I) have been lead from village to village. He was thronged in each place.

Story after story emerged about how these people have been lead to this place by dreams and visions, at the center of which has been the likeness of our friend Elijah.

And in place after place he worked mightily to redirect their focus onto the One who sent the Spirit.

There was much rejoicing in our wake.

We returned to our host village at day’s end, tired, but elated. Tomas and the Captain had traveled all the way to the city only to be refused entry.

We made plans for the morrow.

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Day Seven Hundred Seventy Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our hosts who accepted us into their village are refugees from the East and thus have an affinity to Mei. Indeed, we learned that most of the inhabitants on the rings of villages are new to the area, but unacceptable and kept out of the sprawling city. Only the hunters, having been here longer are allowed into the city. And that for trade only.

That intelligence set off warning bells in my head, and I made the case to Elijah that we waste no time in going to the city.

But Elijah was not persuaded. He confirmed that we would indeed enter the city. Just not yet.

Instead he wants to explore the reason behind these people’s reaction to him.

Day Seven Hundred Seventy Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our final decision to pick a village and enter it, was taken out of our hands. A boy and his dog spotted Tomas and raised the alarm. We gathered together before contingents from three neighboring villages surrounded us.

Though armed they seemed more curious than threatening. That is, until their leader showed up.

He was more suspicious and demanded to know why we were sneaking around.

Mei was able to explain that we had business in the city.

Her statement brought a sniff of incredulity from him. It was plain to see we were not merchants.

Then Elijah stood (he had been seated), and the contingents vied with one another to take us into their village, despite the leader’s protests.

Day Seven Hundred Seventy Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We took the Captain’s usual advice and gave wide berth to the hunters’ village. Yet time after time Tomas had to adjust our way again as village after village cropped up across our path.

The whole process moved us steadily away from our desired compass point.

Finally, Tomas brought us all atop one hillock to see rings of villages between us and a city at the edge of the prairie.

I looked to Elijah and he nodded.

I knew this city was our next stop. But then we debated how to get there.

Did we dare enter one of these villages? They were more than likely responsible for the attack we had overheard.

And had they driven out the Hamashiachites?

Day Seven Hundred Seventy Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The wide prairie was lost to our view as we wandered among the hillocks. There being no clearly marked path, Tomas kept us pointed in a northerly direction as best he could. To that end he would climb one of the hilltops to check at regular intervals.

On one such occasion, he returned to us to report an armed group passing through on the other side.

We stayed in place while Tomas and Mei climbed to the top of a higher hilltop to observe them.

They were gone quite some time.

It turns out that Mei left Tomas to follow them, bringing back the news that they entered a village not too far distant.

She believes them to be hunters.

Day Seven Hundred Seventy Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The sound of two gunshots and an answering fusillade crashed out of the pathway to our left.  Before their echoes trailed off, we made our easy choice, the right-hand fork, and hurried out of the area.

Tomas ran ahead to sweep the path and to ensure we wouldn’t come up against another surprise.

Mei took up her favored position,  keeping a constant watch behind us. The Captain dropped back also to keep her company and lend additional support.

Thus we continued all day.

I walked with Elijah. With not a word between us. A whole new vista was opening up before us – the hills flattening into rolling prairie to which we could see no end.

“Almost there,” said Elijah.

Day Seven Hundred Seventy Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Yesterday was a refreshing day of rest for all of us. We each drew apart at times for communion with the Spirit.

Both Tomas and Mei desired to venture on to see what lay beyond our line of sight, but we prevailed upon them to just wait.

This morning, therefore, we were more than ready to depart. So, we let loose the young people to tumble down the mountain ahead of us.

More switchbacks eased our descent and we remained bundled up against a bracing cold. And thankfully no sign of Stan’s presence, brooding or otherwise, disturbed our peace.

The Captain and I lagged behind and filled our time with conversation on many topics. But  at their center was Jerusalem.

Day Seven Hundred Seventy Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I startled awake at an early hour, for a moment disoriented, left wondering where I was. That I was in a cavern was immediately apparent. But I must say I was flashing back to another time and another cavern – when Elijah and I were accompanied by the young bearded man, Stan.

I could not but conclude that he was somewhere near at hand, roaming about seeking our trail.

I arose and cautiously went outside. The sun’s morning rays were stretching over the eastern horizon, feeling their way around the mountain towards our position. Nothing else stirred, not even on the winding path just emerging from the darkness.

Elijah joined me and declared we would stay put for one more day.

Day Seven Hundred Seventy Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our young people returned with good news.  Indeed, there was a passage under this mountain that disgorges onto the other side.

With this comforting knowledge we settled down to pass the night in the safety of the cave.

Come morning we pressed onward led by Tomas and Mei.

There were a couple of tricky sections where we had to descend a good height by handholds chipped from the rock by persons who had explored this way before. Who knows how long ago?

Once through to the other side, Mei and Tomas waited for us to catch up. Tomas collected our firebrands and suggested that we rest up and spend the night again in the cave.

His thoughtfulness was very welcome.

Day Seven Hundred Seventy One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have turned aside after a long day of ascents back and forth across the face of the highest mountain in the area. Definitely our last choice for a way out of the valley.

We turned aside because the way ahead is choked with snow and ice. And Tomas judged it to be too hazardous. Instead he thinks a nearby cavern will lead to a passage that will take us to where we want to go.

So, we made camp inside the mouth of the cavern while he chases down the flutter of air coming from somewhere further on.

Mei begged to be allowed to accompany him, arguing forcefully that no one should undertake this particular task alone.

We agreed.