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.

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Day One Thousand Two Hundred Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Another change to our prospects. Sy and I did find some more foodstuffs, untouched under an opening clogged with rubble. Sy says it dates back to his former occupancy of the redoubt.

This development may not, however, influence Elijah’s decision. He still thinks most should be sent back – especially Mawuli.

We had more time to contemplate the situation on the way past the stone bridge. Tomas wanted to show us the extent of the forces that are tied up in this death struggle.

I was not prepared to see the aftermath of a battle spread out below that high position. A crimson carpet of bodies left drying in the sun, all bearing the uniform of the army of the East.

Day Nine Hundred Eighty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

A hush hung over us all morning. Not a breeze was stirring anywhere atop the table plateau. All our conversations had the same quality, carried on in undertones. In fact even my thoughts seemed muffled to me.

The anticipated return of the water couriers was no doubt responsible.

I discussed my suspicions with Elijah about who among us may be the tares. Surprisingly of the half dozen I have identified (and the Purser concurs) only one is in uniform.

We thought it wise to have Tomas descend to the camel pen to keep a lookout- for them, and for the return of the water couriers.

The day was far gone when the couriers came over the rim followed by Jezer.

Day Nine Hundred Eighty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have settled in for the night after a long day of travel. So thankful for the camel Mawuli has with him, as we thus were enabled to offload our burdens.

Unlike usual Tomas kept close contact to us throughout the day. Still he was the first to spot a young man approaching on another camel.

Thus we met one of Mawuli’s counterparts on his way to the well, one of the volunteers on the all important rotation that supplies water for the Purser’s group. Unlike Mawuli he wore a uniform.

When I asked Mawuli about it, he laughed and said there are more than one type of uniform in their camp, from practically every land they have passed through.

Day Nine Hundred Seventy Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I had much to ponder as Elijah and I plodded along. What was left that would fit the description of Mei’s words? Perhaps Damascus? But we would not know anything from that quarter until we heard from Jezer and Reuben.

Somehow I don’t feel they are there.

I contented myself with interceding for the Purser and his family and their charges, wherever they might be.

Shortly after we came across a shepherd and his flock. The aged man told us a story about a large group of people away off deeper in the desert. Our excitement was squelched when he added they were in uniform.

The sighting was repeated by the next encounter, a traveling merchant.

What do we do?

Day Nine Hundred Sixty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Jezer helped us out of the tank at a remote place in the wilderness. The guards in the other vehicles soon joined us. From here we’ll make our way to the hiding place, while our trio of rescuers return the tanker trucks.

Before parting Jezer took pains to caution us. There had been many less checkpoints than usual, so he fears they have been shifted, possibly athwart the route we would be taking. Or perhaps something more sinister was afoot.

Magwich asked and was allowed to accompany Raj G.

Reuben took to the trail, walking up front with Elijah and me. With his uniform and that of the other guards we could pass for an army or a police unit.