Day One Thousand One Hundred Twenty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our path as directed by Reuben guided us away from the plain for the morning hours. When we crossed back over the ridge the main body of the army of the North filled the plain. We took the main concentration centered on the side towards us to be the headquarters.

I asked Elijah if we were going to curse them per the wishes of the Supreme Commander.

He replied, “No. They are already cursed.”

With that Reuben hastened our pace to put some distance between us and them.

As they disappeared in our rear view, I could not help but wonder what our adversaries looked like up close. Were they the bloodthirsty barbarians of every report we had ever heard?

Day One Thousand Fifty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah and I went for a walk. First up to the heights to look around. Elijah scanned the view, paying attention to the road that runs to the East.

We then came down and struck out in the direction upon which we had mutually agreed. As we climbed away from the redoubt, I noticed Elijah was making heavy use of his staff. We stopped frequently so he could catch his breath.

Cresting the ridge and descending the other side, he picked up the pace. We halted on a stone bridge that spanned a dry stream bed.

One look at a path that ran beside the stream bed and we knew we had found the way to the plain far below.

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 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 Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We crested a ridge this morning and got a look down into another section of the pass. We could see a mass that just might be the rear guard of the army.

Tomas departed from us down a side track to a better vantage point.

He rejoined us later with the news that it was the object of our interest. Or a section of it. And further, it appeared to be not moving. Stalled.

We were heartened that we could soon catch up, but at the same time concerned for what the reason might be for their inactivity.

Our attention was soon back to navigating the trail with Elijah pressing us onward. Tomas ran ahead hoping to find a shortcut.

Day Two Hundred Seven Morning #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Lyle writes:

From the top of the first dune, I saw the distant point at which I am aiming. A patch of green standing out against all this sand.

I could not see it from every ridge, but often enough to keep my heading.

Now for a time of rest under the tent of my garment.

Day Seventy Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We were blind to all the obstacles. We hadn’t seen the canyon nor the river coursing at the bottom of it. All was hidden from our view before the most recent ridge we traversed.  What wasn’t there one minute, broke into our consciousness the next.

We hadn’t sent up our drones lately, now we launched one in each direction to scout a way across.

It’s a wild, fast-moving river. Too deep to ford and not a bridge in sight. The mountain peak from its lofty height laughed at our frustration.

Looking behind us, we had a clear view of the village, and of a bridge on another road leading out from it. If only it crosses the same river.

Day Sixty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The rest of the night was uneventful. With the dawn the wind died down. Since Lyle stood the last watch I let him sleep in.

I checked around outside. Nothing. Though the message was still on the door.

I brought in some wood to restock the fire and made some breakfast.

Then we prepared to set out as planned. After the briefest of discussions in which we again confirmed to one another our agreement to keep to the plan and continue on into the mountains, we shuffled the dirt from our shoes and hit the trail.

After the next valley and the following ridge, since nothing came to view, we knew we would again be camping out under the stars.

Day Sixty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have dropped down back into the tree line on this side of the ridge, and thankfully the uneasiness has not returned.

Our path has leveled off and is widening with every mile passed. Ahead we see a vast valley pushing the forest to the sidelines. Lyle wasted no time in launching his drone for a better view of what lies beyond the horizon. I put mine up, but just to keep an eye on our immediate location.

We halted when Lyle’s drone sent back visuals of a village at the end of the valley we are traversing.

Lyle maneuvered it through all the streets in sight, and nothing. Not a single soul.

Night came on, but no lights below.