Back at the cabin, Jorrin thought life was much better without Ned. His wife and other sons all got along together well. Jorrin was proud of the way Merek and Fauder were growing up. Ned was an irritant. It was difficult to pinpoint why he found interaction with the boy so difficult but it had to be Ned’s fault. Jorrin was sure Ned would never amount to anything. When he considered the talents of Merek and Fauder, it was obvious to Jorrin that Ned was heading nowhere. And the boy’s remaining dog whimpered and howled, which Jorrin found annoying. But it was a small price to pay to have Ned out from under his feet. Ned was thirteen, maybe fourteen by now. He was not sure. Anyway as far as Jorrin was concerned, Ned was old enough to make his own way in life.
Hostilities in the forest near the Snook continued. Merchants had protection from the King’s soldiers but bandits still attacked, supported by Malaxian warriors. Sometimes the merchants made it through to the Snook, other times they did not. Those were wild times and tensions between the King’s Empire and Malaxia stopped just short of war. Jorrin continued to look out for the merchants, but the outlaws often fought alongside half a dozen Malaxian soldiers which meant Jorrin was forced to hold back. He was prevented from helping out many a time, but there was no point in storming in when the odds were so stacked against him.