Day Three Hundred Fifty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Upon stepping onto the bridge, we were greeted by the Purser, not the Captain. He had stood watch the entire night, and was beside himself about the prolonged absence.

He was at the point of deputizing me to take the watch and dragging Elijah along with him in search, when the Captain was returned under armed guard.

His countenance was combustible, but he calmed down enough to give us a rundown. Because the First Mate bears the mark he has been given undisputed claim to the grain ship, and because the Captain won’t take the mark we are being expelled with these guards to accompany the shipment.

But the Captain swears that he won’t leave without a new first mate.

Day Three Hundred Fifty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I misread the reason behind the presence of the soldiers. They were there as escort to the last item mentioned by the Captain. Everyone was kept away from the area while it was winched up and stowed aboard. We were held in a makeshift guardhouse.

Then we were vetted before being allowed back aboard.

The soldiers will keep their station until we depart.

And we don’t yet know when that will be.

The Captain, in conversation with the commander of the soldiers, picked up a few pointers on pursuing his claim to the grain ship.

He has gone ashore today to follow them up. He asked if we wanted to accompany him. But we declined, preferring a day of rest.

Day Three Hundred Forty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We will indeed be longer at this port. All shipments for this city have been off loaded, but not everything consigned to ship has arrived to be stowed aboard. But even if they were, the Captain would not depart before he gets satisfaction for his claim on the grain ship.

Elijah was happy this time around for we landed and traveled about on solid ground.

First call was at the Customs house, where we were referred to the Port Authority.

We departed from the Captain at that institution and struck out on our own. Elijah and I are seeking those not bearing the mark, and those new followers of Hamashiach.

Our efforts were crowned with success, the Captain’s were not.

Day Three Hundred Forty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

A long day. This despite the choice to take a boat across the harbor to the grain ship. The Captain thought it quicker.  Elijah was not happy because he desired to be on land.

The boat master seemed starved for business, at every opportunity he was touting this or that tourist site off the route determined by the Captain. Elijah and I paid close attention for future reference.

When we arrived at the ship that the Captain considers his by right of salvage, a vast throng was milling about awaiting handouts of grain or locusts, all rationed under the supervision of government officials.

The Captain was denied access and ordered away. But he promised to seek restitution and their punishment.

Day Three Hundred Forty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We are still being held offshore, awaiting someone’s decision to allow us to enter the harbor.

All appears peaceful in the vicinity of the grain ship’s anchorage, but that is most likely due to the rather large security presence surrounding her.

The pilot has been tight-lipped and taciturn, and when spoken to, changes the subject when questioned about conditions in the city.

Elijah broke through when he asked after the pilot’s family and how long the famine has endured. This reduced the man to tears and it all came tumbling out.

Food has been scarce in the area since the descent from the north of a great plague of locusts. The survivors have taken to consuming the dead invaders.

Day Three Hundred Forty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Well, our doubts have vanished. We arrived off the harbor of our destination port, and were awaiting a pilot to take us in. From our vantage point we could see clearly that the grain ship had preceded us.

Through his glass the Captain made out a commotion engulfing that vessel. Her deck appeared to be aswarm with scavengers, and an ever growing number of soldiers was arriving to combat them.

The Captain confessed that he felt conflicted at the sight. On the one hand satisfied at the misfortune of his subordinate, and on the other filled with pity for him.

News that we will be kept here longer arrived with the pilot.

Elijah had already come to the same conclusion.

Day Three Hundred Forty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The grain ship has disappeared from the sea to our front. The Captain’s immediate concern was for the missing vessel’s engines, fearing that they may have failed, and we passed them by during the darkness. He considered coming about and going in search of the vessel.

The Purser spoke up and opined that it made more sense that they pressed on to the port, which he calculated was only a one day sail away.

The Captain was unhappy with that conjecture as it cast a bad light upon his First Mate, calling into question his motivations.

With what we suspected we could not help coming to the same conclusion as the Purser.

Elijah took him aside to explain our suspicions.

Day Three Hundred Thirty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Fair seas and following breezes accompany our little convoy. The Captain estimates that we have only lost three days in our roundabout passage.

The crew had a happier frame of mind, though the sight of Elijah or myself on deck is cause enough to send them to anyplace we aren’t.

The grain ship, which once trailed us, is now out in front, having found some extra speed. The Captain has signaled them not to go too far in advance.

Elijah has asked the favor of being transferred to the other ship. The Captain briefly weighed his request before deciding in the negative. He does not want to lose the time it would take to grant his wish.

Ultimately Elijah agreed.

Day Three Hundred Thirty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The Captain was concerned about the narrowing gap ahead between the bloody morasses on both sides of us. Elijah pointed out that the gap is narrower behind us, and indeed has closed off at a couple points.

We are committed now. The Captain has ordered both vessels to full speed ahead.

Some time in the afternoon we came upon the missing lifeboat from the grain ship. The Purser wanted us to close and investigate, but the Captain denied that notion. Timing is too crucial.

When still a ways off we could see nothing but birds on that craft. As we passed near by our wake rocked it, setting the birds to flight, revealing the picked clean bones of three men.

Day Three Hundred Thirty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The sea continues calm. With the grain ship in tow, our speed has dropped, despite that favorable circumstance.

Seabirds discovered the locust laden vessel and gathered from all points of the compass to partake. This alarmed Elijah. He insisted that a watch be set to shoo them away.

The Captain had to go over anyway to help his First Mate with a problem (which slowed us down again, as they had to stop to effect a transfer), so Elijah made the trip too, to practice what he preaches.

They have succeeded in getting the grain ship underway on its own power.

And Elijah has returned with the Captain. But only after a crewman was assigned to fend off the birds.