"There have been other people whose camps have been destroyed", she said. "These attacks seem to be coming more frequently and I don't know what we are going to do about them. They are centered around this area but we have been told the rogues live in a settlement about two hundred miles west of us. That doesn't make sense to me somehow."
"A settlement to the west?" Tobal asked.
Ellen nodded, "It's a village made up of people that decided to drop out of training and not be citizens. You may have heard rumors about it but only we medics know where it is. I've actually checked it out and there are children and old people in it. None of them wear med-alert bracelets and we don't really know anything about them. If these raids continue I've heard rumors that the city might attack the village and close it down."
"Is that what happened to the gathering spot by the waterfall?", Tobal asked, fishing for information.
"You must never mention that place to anyone", she said sharply. "It is a forbidden area and we have been told to keep people away from it."
"Why is it a forbidden area?" Tobal said belligerently. "I should be able to go anywhere I want. This is a wide open wilderness and no one has ever told me that certain places are off limits."
"Well they are", she said matter of factly. "We don't tell people about them unless they stumble into them like you have. I don't really know why myself", she said. "I think is has something to do with the rogues and keeping clansmen safe from them. There are some other areas that are "off limits" because they are dangerous for people on foot."
It was mid afternoon and Ellen said she needed to get back on patrol. She was sorry to hear Tobal had been burnt out and was going to make a note of it in her report. She advised him not to stay in the area as it might be dangerous and she recommended he get another med-alert bracelet the next time he was in sanctuary.
Tobal was in agreement and headed straight for sanctuary. He knew the route and more importantly knew a small cave where he could shelter for the night. It would give him a location where his med-alert bracelet would not give him away as he slept. Somehow that felt very important right now. He didn't know who he could trust. He had been very lucky Ellen had been the medic that found him.
It was dark when he turned sharply to the left and stepped along a ridge he remembered having a small cave in it. Cautiously he poked his walking stick into the opening making sure no one else was using it before crawling inside. He wrapped himself in warm furs and fell into a sleep of exhaustion with eerie dreams of his father and mother in a cave doing some type of ritual.
Before dawn the next morning he was back on the trail toward sanctuary. He was prompted by a sense of urgency and a sixth sense that told him he was being followed. It was only a half hour later when an air sled circled and waved. He waved back and continued on. This time at a dog trot that ate up the miles. That day two more air sleds circled overhead making certain of his destination, but none stopped him.
That night he again crawled into a small cave and slept without a fire of any kind, munching on cold jerky and rinsing it down with water from his canteen. He was making good time and with any luck at all should be at sanctuary the next evening. The sense of being pursued stayed with him that night and all of the next day. Again he was up before dawn on the trail and again an air sled appeared, this time only fifteen minutes after he had gotten under way. They had obviously been out looking for him and wondering what was wrong with his med-alert bracelet.