Tobal thrilled at being called ‘brother' but a chill feeling of dread swirled around his tailbone. What had he gotten himself into, he wondered. The events of last night's party were hazy and he didn't remember much. He did remember the initiation though and how powerful it had been. He said as much to Rafe.
"You'll have plenty of opportunities to participate in other initiations and experience them more completely." "In fact", he grinned, "you can have an active part in every circle and initiation from now on if you choose. It is an important part of your spiritual training. That's how we do it out here."
As they walked toward the center of the camp Tobal was surprised at how big it was and how many permanent log buildings had been built. This was his first real opportunity to see the camp in daylight. There were permanent structures like the sweat lodge nestled near a clear pool of mountain stream water. Others seemed to be just empty sleeping quarters. The larger log building where they were headed was the galley and stood out from the others.
Teepees were being taken down and put away. It seemed some of the empty buildings were used for storage. The teepee seemed to be the favorite for those desiring a little more privacy. They were built with long poles lashed together at the top and spread out in a conical shape at the bottom. They were covered with the gray woolen material that seemed to be used for just about everything out here. Many were insulated with heavy furs fastened over the woolen material and tied into place. Tobal wondered in an amused way how many trips through the sanctuary building had been made to get that many of the gray blankets.
They were not the only ones getting ready to leave. Many others were already leaving or saying their final goodbyes. Tobal was trying to remember the names of people he had met and failing miserably. He felt good though and found himself looking forward to next month when he would see them again. In the galley they had a final breakfast of cooked venison, wild onions and sweet potatoes. With bellies stuffed, packs and canteens full, they picked up their walking sticks and headed out of the camp.
They didn't go back up the cliff but went down further through the valley and into the foothills. Rafe explained that nobody stayed near Heliopolis. His camp was about 40 miles away from sanctuary and there were other camps even further out. Most people stayed no further than thirty to sixty miles from the gathering spot though. Everyone was expected to find plenty of food and game in individual areas that were not over hunted and fairly private. It was mainly a nomadic existence, especially during the training phase. So you followed the food.
At various times of the year animals would migrate and move out of one area entirely and into others. Winters were hard and people set up permanent camps with stored food caches to help survive when fresh food was hard to find. This time of year the weather was mild and the days were warm and beautiful. The snow was rapidly thawing and new shoots of green vegetation ensured they wouldn't have to worry about adequate food in a few more weeks.