Tobal didn't know if anyone had missed him. He left that evening and struggled his way up the cliff leading back to sanctuary. He was well on his way along the narrow cliff ledge as the sun came up and shed it's light into the valley. He didn't want to talk with anyone. All he wanted to do was get away and be alone for awhile. His gut was churning with a mixture of raw emotions.
It wasn't fair, this was his clan, his circle, his people, his friends. For Goddess sake, he was in the middle of the wilderness attempting to become a citizen of a forbidden city. What was the likelihood she would be doing the same thing. The world simply wasn't that small.
He was in a numbed state as he made his way toward sanctuary for the first time. The trip was a blur and he didn't remember much. He ate from his own food supplies and didn't bother hunting for anything but water for his two canteens.
The cheerful, easy piece of mind he had experienced during his solo was gone and he stumbled blindly along. The connection he had formed with nature was temporarily forgotten as the sun beat mercilessly down on him during the day and he slept on the hard ground during the night. The next two days it rained mercilessly and he narrowly avoided a flash flood that swept his camp away with most of his belongings.
Luckily he still had his map and compass in a pouch around his neck and was able to triangulate his position. He was wet, cold, tired and hungry as he trudged across a muddy terrain made slick in spots by red clay that clung to his shoes making every step a challenge. The water had filled his shoes and sloshed between his toes. He could feel blisters beginning to form on his heels from the chaffing.
When he arrived at sanctuary nobody was there. He was a disappointed but also very humbled that he had lost most of his supplies in the flash flood including his jerky. As he chewed down some of the nasty tasting stuff from the machine he resolved to wait right there until someone did show up. There were usually several new people each month that somehow arrived at sanctuary from where ever they came from. Remembering Rafe's advice he stripped completely leaving his gear in a corner and went through the medical exam again getting a new set of robes, pack and med kit and most important fresh socks and a new pair of hiking boots.
Tobal thought about using the new robe as a rain coat or slicker and grabbed several blankets to take back to the lake as a covering for his teepee. He went through the contents of the new pack, med kit and found another knife, razor and toothbrush to replace those he had lost in the flood. He looked at his old wet hiking boots wondering whether he should keep them or not. Besides being soaked, they were almost worn out from the rugged life style of the past two months. He decided to hang onto them anyway. Boots were hard to come by in the wilderness and homemade ones just didn't have the comfort of these heavy duty hiking shoes.
He was feeling satisfied with his pack and starting to feel better in general when he heard footsteps entering the building and a timid "Hello".
He froze in the darkness waiting.