Day One Thousand Two Hundred Thirty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Besides Reuben and Sy, all the leaders asked to accompany us to Jerusalem – Elam, the Raj twins, Quasimo and his cousin, Jordan, Jezer, Meesa, Lung, Mr. Kagi, the Purser and Mary, and Mawuli.

Only Mei did not.

I took her aside and surprised her with a request. I knew that I had to lay down my writing chores and asked her to assume those responsibilities.

At first she demurred, proclaiming inadequacy. At that point Elijah stepped in and placed his hand upon her head.

As he spoke over her I saw the strength of the Spirit descend.

Then we told her she would accompany us.

And after bidding our friends farewell, the Spirit bore the three of us to Jerusalem.

Day One Thousand Two Hundred Thirty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Mei and Mawuli brought us in to the hiding place with a minimum of difficulty. There was no quelling the celebration that greeted our safe return. Only the news about Tomas and the Captain dampened the spirits of some, those that knew and loved them.

At the first opportunity Reuben and Sy sought an audience to relay important intelligence. Both had just returned from Jerusalem. Stan is indeed there, gloating over his ‘complete victory.’ A conclusion he claims since he is the ‘last leader standing.’ And though triumphant the general feeling among his followers is an abiding hatred towards Elijah and his followers.

Because they realized we would soon be going there, they were begging the honor to accompany us.

Day One Thousand Two Hundred Thirty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We depended upon Mawuli to lead us around to one of the last remaining approaches to the hiding place. Besides the difficulty of negotiating the terrain of the route he had another problem to deal with.

Small groups of soldiers kept impeding our forward movement. It was apparent these men were no longer organized patrols, and all were moving in one direction. Up to Jerusalem.

We were halted waiting for one such group to pass, when Mawuli led a guest back to us.

We crowded around Mei, overjoyed to see her.

Then it fell to me to break the news of the deaths of the Captain and Tomas.

Hiding tears she put on a brave face and led us in.

Day One Thousand Two Hundred Thirty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Mawuli was the one to discover their bodies. We had passed the night without them in a place chosen by him. We unanimously decided not to leave the area until we could learn their whereabouts.

Judging by their final position and it’s great distance off our current path, Mawuli surmises that they encountered a patrol and led them away from us. Ultimately sacrificing themselves.

With care, Mr. Kagi and I buried their mortal remains.

Mawuli then assumed the chore of directing our way back to the hiding place.

Thoughts crowded in upon me – remembrances of all our times together- both at sea and on land. Through it all they were the most steadfast and faithful helpers for Elijah and me.

Day One Thousand Two Hundred Thirty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Had we entertained beforehand the thought of going to Damascus, we would have changed our minds when the city came into view. It was a city no longer. What was left was little bigger than a village. A village broken down and smoldering.

I had a flash of concern for our people in the hiding place. And wondered if what befell Damascus had spread its impact that far afield.

Elijah spoke up and put my mind at ease with his assurances.

Tomas, soon after, diverted us onto another path and what was left of Damascus slipped from our view.

I wish I had talked once more with Tomas before he and the Captain took the lead and departed this life.

Day One Thousand Two Hundred Thirty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

There were signs of a recent occupation when we reached the village at the edge of the wilderness. But we didn’t realize just how much until we set out this morning.

One entire building was filled up with dead bodies, our attention drawn to it by a swarm of buzzing flies. A makeshift hospital I assumed, but Mr. Kagi called that into question when he observed that all of them wore the uniform of the army of the North. A detail that bore a more sinister connotation.

While Tomas and the Captain ranged ahead, picking a way for us off of the beaten path, Elijah walked with Mawuli.

Mr. Kagi and I marveled at the depth of the lad’s understanding.

Day One Thousand Two Hundred Thirty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We found the redoubt empty and in disarray. It had been abandoned in a hurry. Whether it was to join the battle or to flee we didn’t know.

Mawuli and Tomas opted to keep vigil. Through the whole night.

But I took over at midnight and sent them in for a much deserved rest.

Actually there was nothing to watch or guard against. Save wild animals. And none put in an appearance.

Elijah led us out in the early morning. He wants to reach the village at the edge of the wilderness by tonight.

No matter how late.

Along the way the Captain shared a premonition. He doesn’t think he and Tomas will arrive at the hiding place with us.

Day One Thousand Two Hundred Thirty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

When Mawuli failed to return over night, all of us went down to look for him. Vermin which had joined the scavenger birds slunk away at our passage. We found him on the far side of the valley on the one spot of ground not soaked in blood.

He said not a word as the Captain gathered him into his arms.

Rather than return to the heights right away we skirted the edge of the valley until we made out the stone bridge far above. Mawuli was recovered enough to walk on his own and he aided Elijah and myself. After a short search we located the stream bed and took the path that paralleled it up to the heights.

Day One Thousand Two Hundred Twenty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We are bone weary, but alert. Throughout the slaughter of yesterday, either Tomas and myself, or the Captain and Mr. Kagi stood by Elijah and helped him hold his arms aloft.

What before our eyes whirled in ceaseless motion, finally settled into the stillness of death behind the passage of something the likes of which I can only describe as a wave. Leastways until the clouds of carrion birds arrived. Rising and falling at their whim and gorging themselves.

Mawuli was the only one of our number who desired to descend into the valley for a closer look.

We all know he seeks Stan. He did so, against my advice. And despite the Captain claiming to have seen him flee.

Day One Thousand Two Hundred Twenty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

None of us closed our eyes last night. We were too alive to the moment.
The silence of the night early gave way to the sounds of hasty preparation. While the first rays of light revealed rank upon rank of the opposing armies stretched out in endless lines.

The blood trickling down the rocky stream bed under the stone bridge was only the harbinger of what was to come, down in the valley.

Elijah stood to his feet and raised his staff over his head and intoned judgement on both armies.

Then across each rank and down each line, blood sprouted like a crimson bloom above each individual, a veritable fountain as they fell.
Like grapes in a wine press.