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.

Over the next few days, the warriors took it in turns to run with Ned. He found it tricky running through woodland and the undulating terrain, but tried to stay close to the soldier he was chained to. It was difficult as they were clearly experienced at moving like this and he was just a boy. Ned found it hard to cope. In the evenings, the boy watched the soldiers cooking around a fire. He noticed the man with the big nose was grinning and Kroll looked angry. He was not sure what it was all about. All he knew was he had to keep going. Ned decided to give the smug soldier a nickname. Big Nose.

Day after day, the relentless march continued. Just as Ned thought he was beginning to handle the running, he lagged behind. His lungs burned and he wondered if he could carry on. And then he just zoned out, only really aware of putting each foot ahead, time and again. As the troop ran off a wooded hill, they made it down to a river and flatter ground. The soldiers ran quicker just as Ned weakened. He stumbled and fell, being dragged along the ground by his neck. Big Nose pointed and smirked. Ned slowed the soldier down until he managed to get some traction with his feet to get upright. With less of a drag, the soldier stormed forward to rejoin the group. Ned kept up. He was relieved when evening came and he could rest. It was the second week on the move but he was not sure of the exact number of days or how far they had gone. He ate and slept well.

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