Four days later we are before a mighty edifice, mountains such as I have never seen. Impossibly high, solid, and seemingly impassable.
After the journey fording raging rivers, picking our way carefully in shifting sands, then racing like the wind across firmer turf, I had hoped for an easy passage beyond.
Hanna glances at me. “This is why Arc survived. There is no gap. When water or rock races across the plains, it fetches up at this barrier. What lies beyond is untouched.”
There is logic there. “We climb?”
“Joseph’s map shows us a the pass. My hope is time has not covered it too much.” Hanna flicks her horse and leads the way along the rock curve, moving south.
Hours later, we halt under an overhang, and Hanna points. “See those boulders set in a diagonal line? The ancient markers, I believe.”
Hope surges in me. It does in her as well, for she smiles brightly.
We make camp, for night falls. Any attempt requires hours of daylight. We are up before dawn, horses packed. We will lead them up.
There is no pass that deserves the term. There is no narrow path either. Time has covered over what was. What there is, however, is an easier route through the scrub and loose rock, if we keep the boulders ever to our right when climbing north, and to our left when ascending south. The horses find the way easier than we do, thank the stars.
We sleep cramped in a level area when it gets too dark, and continue on with the new dawn.
Then it is before us. Arc, in all its magnificence.
Rolling, emerald hills. Rivers and lakes. Warm air, mighty trees, birds in song. Buck play in wildflowers.
It is paradise.
Here we could be safe.