Day Eight Hundred Fifty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I got us out of there as fast as we could go. Which meant climbing down from the rock shelf and feeling our way around its base until we sensed a level path beneath our feet.

At that point the snowfall slowed and soon turned to mist. We kept going. Through the rest of the day and through the night.

Elijah called a halt in a valley created by towering rock formations. They appeared to stretch onwards forever, corralling the slow moving sea of sand within the boundaries dictated by their will.

We looked back from whence we came. The sky was empty, holding the promise only of another hot day.

That’s when Elijah asked if I had any confirmation.

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Day Eight Hundred Forty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We are one night’s march along the corridor of this valley, and the ‘hill’ at the far end has indeed “grown.” We are more confident than ever we are adhering to the path laid out for us by Quasimo. Hence today we have brought our fast to a close.

I had much to ruminate about in my times on watch. Over night it was much colder than ever before. Elijah thinks we may see snow in the next day or so. I can believe it.

The barking has ceased to dog our steps. Whatever they were must have continued on north. Silence instead muffled our ears – then and now.

Two more night marches should bring us out of the desert.

Day Eight Hundred Forty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

More barking. And not just one or two. The thought that a pack may be trying to work up the courage to attack caused us to greet the morning with thankfulness.

We stood down in a valley between two ranges of dunes. We were pleased to see that our hill had gained in stature, in great part due by comparison, I am sure, to our position within this sort of valley.

Elijah pointed down its length and said, “Tomorrow we shall turn the corner.”

On my watch I resolved to rein in my excitement at the new step ahead of us. I knew if I were to fail, it would only eat away at me and sleep would be impossible.

Day Seven Hundred Seventy One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have turned aside after a long day of ascents back and forth across the face of the highest mountain in the area. Definitely our last choice for a way out of the valley.

We turned aside because the way ahead is choked with snow and ice. And Tomas judged it to be too hazardous. Instead he thinks a nearby cavern will lead to a passage that will take us to where we want to go.

So, we made camp inside the mouth of the cavern while he chases down the flutter of air coming from somewhere further on.

Mei begged to be allowed to accompany him, arguing forcefully that no one should undertake this particular task alone.

We agreed.

Day Seven Hundred Thirty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The lake has shrunken. Due to our distance from it, not because of the water taken out of it. Though I suppose, given time, that will have its effect too.

Three tanker trucks were visible, applying their pumps, upon our last view before we descended into a valley the other side of the foothills. Perhaps we will see it again when we climb into the next pass.

Our road parallels a river which carries scarcely a trickle. If it ever reached the lake below, I don’t think it could now.

It seems to me that Tomas is returning to check in more often than he used to. He converses with Elijah almost always. And sometimes the Captain.

Mei notices him.

Day Six Hundred Ninety Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The army still rested in place, and gave no sign of moving on. But we had to act if we were to get out in front of them.

The way I saw it, we only had three choices: one, skirt around to the north side of the valley, or two, go via the trail to the south, or three, stay here and wait for better options to present themselves.

I believed the last would have been the most appealing to the Captain, but he surprised us by opting for the second.

Elijah, then, set us off on the southern route.

Along the way he told us there had been a fourth option – we could have gone straight through the valley.

Day Six Hundred Sixty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

It was strange to see other human beings going about everyday tasks. Such sights seem like forever ago.

We have entered the valley which we found dotted with small farms, and a town or small city rises from its center.

Much of the activity hereabouts deals with bringing water up from the river.

The Captain discovered why. The irrigation ditches are empty, the river being too low to feed them.

My concern grew. What would be their reaction if they knew Elijah was responsible?

We pushed on into the town. And there found an inn.

We plan to stay a few days, as Elijah has now told us he plans to end his fast in four days.

He needs rest.

Day Six Hundred Sixty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Dried up scrub characterizes the terrain we pass through. So all the more we are excited by the prospect of greenery in the distant valley. We should reach it tomorrow.

No doubt it will be refreshingly green, but I wonder for how long.

How long until it’s lushness gives way to the grayness that surrounds us here?

That question paled to nothing when the Captain reminded us that it’s been days since we last glimpsed the army to our south.

We know, per Tomas and later the ex-soldiers, that the warplanes did no damage to its viability.

Are they still behind us? Or have they gained or surpassed us?

I have a premonition that they must come through here.

Day Four Hundred Thirty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

At long last we found a way up off of the beach.

It was during one of our down times. Elijah sat facing the ocean while communing with the One. I found a rivulet that sank into the sand before reaching the sea and followed it back in hopes that it would lead to an opening in the cliff wall. Or perhaps even a valley that could carry us into the interior.

Instead its source was a pool at the foot of the rock wall, fed by a waterfall down its face.

And running parallel to it was a rickety stairway structure. I clambered to the top and there, sitting abandoned was a lovely villa.

I ran to fetch Elijah.

Day Two Hundred Fifty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have retaken our place beside the lake from which we caught some trout, so long ago, the trout that Elijah seasoned with the hazelnuts which were discovered by Clarissa.

Elijah thought it good to take one more day to prepare before launching into the city on our next quest.

So, after a lunch of fresh trout (without hazelnuts) we climbed up out of the valley that cradles the lake in order to get a closer look at the city.

We had to go a considerable distance to rise above the tree line and gain an unobstructed view.

Its wall appears intact, though the skyline beyond is not what I remember. Hit by the fire from heaven?