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.

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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?

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.

Day Fifty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have made it back to the valley and now have to decide which of the other paths to take.

Neither of us have a deadline so neither of us is in a hurry. I just have the need to be efficient. I hate waste. Lyle laughed when I stated my thoughts on this. I guess he just does not equate any loss of that nature with waste, rather it can be chalked up under the failed experiment column, providing a narrowing of possibilities. Something was learned, one just needs to capitalize on the knowledge.

And that is what he was about today, eliminating the paths that won’t take us where we want to go. Tomorrow we’ ll have it.