Day One Thousand One Hundred Ninety Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

There were many roving patrols we had to dodge up on these heights above the altar. And we had to set up even further back as Moglen had positioned an outpost where we hid when last we were here.

After we were in place, we sent Tomas back down the trail. From the hills on the way here we had spotted Sy’s group emerge out of the village into the wilderness. He will meet up with them and lead them up to this position.

Elijah and I made a quick trip down for a closer look. We saw that all its stone work appears to be back in place. But as of yet no golden idol.

Five days to go.

Day One Thousand One Hundred Ninety Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have left behind the area affected by the earthquake and passed the village at the edge of the wilderness, which we note had been severely damaged. We should arrive above Sy’s old redoubt tomorrow.

I had to remind Tomas we needed to select a pathway just outside the village to obtain the heights above our destination. He had another in mind farther along, but agreed that this selection best met the intentions behind our plan.

I asked him if fatigue was overtaking him and if so suggested a halt.

He protested that we had not the time. That’s when Elijah broke in and ordered a halt.

We set him down and laid hands on him, praying for his strengthening.

Day One Thousand One Hundred Forty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Just as Elijah had forced us on day and night, so now that we have reached the village at the edge of the wasteland, he has forced us into a prolonged rest.

The village is still deserted, yet strangely, any vestige of the sentry camps at either end have all been removed.

We had our pick of accommodations in the inn off the square. Reuben took the first watch and the one after that. To me the heaviness of desolation hangs over the place. Reuben felt this keenly too, a fact he confessed to me when I relieved him. And the reason he took the two shifts. I think he dreads the thought of closing his eyes in this place.

Day One Thousand Forty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We passed into the territory that lead to the village at the edge of the wilderness that surrounds our destination. Only at the sight of that town did I realize that we had not encountered the patrolling drones that plagued us on that former occasion.

I remarked on their absence to Elijah. Even as I did so we both knew the answer. They were needed elsewhere for a bigger military operation.

So too with the village. It was deserted. And there, signs were evident of abandoned encampments at both ends of the town. Neither of which had been there the last time we were in the vicinity.

We stopped to rest in the town square, then took up our march.

Day One Thousand #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I was wary about leaving before the arrival of the Purser and the second group, especially since no word has come from them.  And the fact that Jezer and Tomas had not returned from their latest run only heightened that concern.

Elijah, however, was insistent that we pay a visit to Reuben. I was about to protest – when he gave me that look – and I knew I was not to worry.

It was an easy trek to Reuben’s hometown. It’s a forlorn place, not much standing. We shall have to bypass it with the larger groups.

Reuben and Elijah’s pupils greeted us and so did most of the surviving citizens of the village. They all desire to come with us.

Day Nine Hundred Seventy Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Tomas, as always, was out front where he could observe and report back to us what was ahead. I think he has increased the occasions he returns just to check up on us. To be sure we are not succumbing to some adversity or other.

Once it was to ask if we should enter a village off the beaten path. Elijah thought it best, so we found ourselves the focus of suspicion in their midst.

First, they believed we were from the government and bitterly complained about not having their water cistern filled. Then realizing we weren’t, their young men emerged. They were fearful of forced conscription.

We left soon after, it being clear they knew nothing about our friends.

Day Nine Hundred Forty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The wind changed and was at our backs when we walked out of the wilderness into the village. The streets were deserted but we didn’t think it strange, given the time of day- early afternoon.

The only building not closed up was an inn on the main street. We entered and were greeted by the innkeeper. He remained friendly even after we said we would not be staying. When Elijah asked after the news of the day, a youngster sweeping the floor sidled away.

The innkeeper had just finished his account of police patrols combing the area for two strangers, when in burst five men who seized us.

As they placed us in their vehicle I saw the pesky villager.

Day Nine Hundred Forty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We had the wind in our faces all day. Few words passed between us while we were moving. The couple instances when talk was necessary we stopped and huddled on the ground.

The first time we discussed how long to keep going today. We decided to press on while it was light.

We halted the second time when the village at the edge of the wilderness came into view. I wanted to alter course to avoid it and the nosy villager. But Elijah was eager for news, even if it were more than likely hopelessly out of date.

He just had a sense that something important awaited us.

Thus we forged on in silence, retracing our path to the village.

Day Eight Hundred Eighty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We hadn’t quite gotten to the hiding place when another drone zeroed in on ours. In an abundance of caution Elijah made the call to veer away from our destination. And we ended up back on the road that we had followed to Damascus.

Before we reached the next village along that route, Elijah called a halt to stand our ground.

He turned to me and asked, “Do you want to do it, or shall I?”

“You mean sacrifice my drone?”

He nodded, then added, “Unless you think keeping it more useful.”

I thought only an instant, and crashed my drone into the interloper.

I collected some crucial parts and we doubled back and arrived safely in the hiding place.

Day Seven Hundred Eighty Three #DayoftheEndoftheWorld

Mei wanted to march right in and take the Captain back by force. I succeeded in calming her. However, Tomas surprised her further with his wait and see attitude, but then again he knows that they cannot perish apart from one another.

Our hosts had no insight to offer when we met with them this morning. Neither could they tell us what might happen to our friend. They have kept well away from any direct entanglement. All of their contact with those in the city has been through the auspices of the hunters.

That was a confirmation of sorts for Elijah. He asked directions to the village of the hunters’ leader. And set out for it with me in tow.