Post 25

A steely expression swept over Ned’s face. The heather was thinning out to scrubland and Kroll brought his column of soldiers to a run. Within hours, they were on the edge of hills and interconnecting valleys. Rather than going over the top, Kroll led them on a level bearing to avoid gaining or losing too much height. Ned surprised himself by keeping up, even with the extra weight. But he was weary before even the sun rose to its highest. They kept going and sweat trickled down his ruddy skin. The boy’s chest heaved with the effort, but somehow he pushed on as a pigheaded determination set in. Continue reading


Post 24

After a food stop, the troop formed into a line and began to run. Ned was toward the back and, with the weight lifted from around his neck, he did well. The boy kept up with the men for the whole day, at the end of which they camped at the edge of a pine wood. Ahead was a remote moorland, and it looked like more difficult terrain. A fire licked flames upwards as a boar roasted. Ned felt stronger the more he ran. Every step carried him away from the Foijen, but each one also took him closer to survival. He understood now that failing to keep up with these hardened warriors meant death. An in-built stubbornness was all he had to stop him falling by the wayside. Continue reading


Post 23

In the morning, Big Nose attached the chain to his wrist and sneered. “Let’s see if you can keep up with me, scum.” Continue reading

Death March

Post 22

Ned looked at the soldiers around the fire. It was an unfamiliar part of the forest. The trees were a mixture of oak, fir and silver birch. Ned was chained to a silver birch. There was no chance he could get free. He sighed. Resigned to his situation, he wanted to try to keep up with the soldiers. His legs hurt and he was tired. A soldier walked over and threw some meat down. Ned took it gratefully. The soldier nodded. Continue reading


Post 21

Soldiers tied Ned’s hands together and he was forced to the ground. What felt like a long time passed while the soldiers whispered irritably amongst themselves. Ned was brought to his feet in the late summer sun with hands bound to his front. He looked at the rough soldiers around him and nervousness set in. The man who wanted him dead stepped forward and pulled out a dagger. Ned looked down and held his breath. The blade hacked at the rope, which fell to the ground. Another soldier kicked the rope aside. The dagger was sheathed and the soldier walked over to Kroll. Turning their backs, the two men spoke in whispers. Continue reading


Post 20

A chill shot down Ned’s spine as he hurtled away. But his legs seemed to be made of lead and he made slow work of the bank. The soldier pounded after him and soon made up the ground. As Ned was almost at the top, the soldier brought him heavily to the ground. The wind was knocked out of the boy and a gloved hand picked up the stolen sword. An iron grip enclosed around the boy’s leg. No words were exchanged. Continue reading


Post 19

Ned looked at the soldier barking orders. He was tall and broad shouldered, with a craggy face and creased forehead. His uniform was dark and chain-mail just visible. A large sword hung from a belt to one side and he stood with hands on hips. Ned did not know it, but this was a select band of warriors. The trained killers operated on the forefront of armies and were the best. The leader, Kroll, was the most decorated warrior in Malaxia. Continue reading


Post 18

Dropping his wooden sword, Ned ran. He made it through the main door from the clearing. Once on the other side of the thicket, he crawled over to his secret entrance where he kept some camouflaged clothing. He could hear his father’s angry voice beyond the foliage. Ned hurried to change his trousers and top. He would have to get away. But his father was not playing back there. He knew harm was intended. If only he did not live there, life would be so different. Ned smeared mud on his hands and face. Once fully kitted up, he wrapped a cloth around his face and moved out, careful to make no noise. Continue reading

Sword Lesson

Post 17

Ned spent days carving the blade and handle of a wooden sword until he was happy with its look. He was up early one morning, practising at the edge of the clearing around the cabin. Against a make-believe opponent, he swished the sword through the air. His footwork was improving. There were certain moves he had watched when Malaxian warriors attacked. He studied the way they went in for the kill and how the sword was held. And he had invented a few moves himself such as kicking a foot to unbalance an opponent and using the sword in defence while punching an adversary in the face. Continue reading


Post 16

Ned aimed his catapult at the bigger boy to Gobba’s left. Just as they were about to attack, he unleashed the stone, which hit the big kid in the ear. He hit the ground with a thump, holding his head and screaming. Gobba stared with horror. The other member of his gang stormed toward Ned. As he neared, Ned leant back and grabbed his shirt with both hands. Ned threw the boy over his shoulders. Twisting in mid-air, Ned landed on top and pummelled his face with both fists. The boy screamed and tried to cover up. As the tears streamed down his cheeks, there was no fight left. Ned jumped to his feet and faced Gobba. Continue reading