Day Eight Hundred Forty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Snow remained atop the mountain to our front, lasting well beyond that which has disappeared down here on the desert floor. We should arrive at its base in one more night march.

That occasion will mark the extent of the instructions given to us by Quasimo. Elijah intimates that he has a sense for our next immediate destination, but thus far has not divulged it to me, wanting instead that I confirm it independently.

I am asking, but no answer has been forthcoming. Neither between my first and second watch, nor after the second.

I was tired and nodded off.

Perhaps during tonight’s march. I pray for a revelation.

Before drifting off again my thoughts turned to our absent friends.

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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 Forty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

When we reached Mei, Lung estimated that she had slipped deeper into the crevasse since his absence.

We could see the problem right off. Her wedged backpack was pulling her down, even as the crack opened more.

Tomas wasted no time and descended to her. An agony of minutes passed before he could free her from the dead weight. But as soon as he did, we pulled them both up.

We had no respite to savor the moment, for Mei urged us to depart immediately. That whole section of the glacier she felt was in danger of collapse.

So we ended up back with Elijah and the Captain today.

We had to restrain Lung from returning back down the mountain.

Day Seven Hundred Forty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Tomas had been making as many trips back down the trail as forward. A fact that had not escaped Elijah’s notice.

Tomas just returned from a long absence in the rear and Elijah stopped him before he could set off into the advance again. Instead he dispatched him to trace our path all the way back to wherever Lung and Mei may be.

I accompanied him. And Elijah and the Captain set up camp to wait.

We came to the brook, a torrent of rushing water. And there ran into Lung descending off of the mountain. He begged us to return with him to help rescue Mei. She had slipped into a crevasse they had opened accidentally with the flamethrower.

Day Seven Hundred Forty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Lung and Mei parted company from us midday. I thought I detected a little reluctance on the part of Mei to do so.

As I thought, their destination was the glacier on this mountain. They will survey the feasibilities of getting the water locked within, down the mountain to their tanker trucks.

The Captain told me that he saw a flamethrower in the pack that Lung was carrying. He lamented to me that he hoped that they knew what they were doing.

We kept on our way with frequent backward glances. And soon we could no longer make out the figures of our former companions trekking up the mountain, for our trail took us around and down the other side.

Day Six Hundred Ninety Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Every once in a while we could make out two figures on the ridge above us shadowing our movement. We soon outdistanced them, as they were forced to follow the contours of the mountain.

Midday we finally sighted what we thought to be the rear guard of the army, but it turned out to be a field hospital. From what we could tell as we skirted the area there were no battle casualties, only footsore stragglers.

A couple of guards spotted us and came out to check, but upon closer view, dismissed us, I believe, as wandering nomads. They returned to their posts without a backward glance.

Toward evening, Elijah noticed that the two figures were back.

With a third.

Day Six Hundred Ninety #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Tomas returned after one of his side jaunts. He had come upon a section of this mountain that in his estimation we should avoid at all costs.

An enormous crater spans the area between our side of the range and the next ridge that would be our desired destination.

Though judging by its topography we would be able to cross it easily, he is convinced it is a radiated area about which we’ve been warned.

A cloud of fine rock dust floats in a continual agitation above the crater, and one can sense a source of heat somewhere beneath its screen.

Elijah decided then and there, that we must descend down into the pass itself.

Even if we must backtrack.

Day Six Hundred Eighty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The open tableland  came to an end, and with that our ease of movement. Our progress slowed with much time taken up in the descent to a lower elevation.

When the pass below came in view, no one was in sight.

We wondered if we had outpaced the army.

The Captain suggested we halt to wait and see. Elijah, however, said we had things to do further along.

And so it was before the daylight faded, Tomas spotted another force, hidden in ambush in a defile off the trail of the pass.

Elijah took up a position above them and struck the ground with his staff. The mountain quaked and the defile below filled in with an avalanche of rock.