Traders moved carts aside and the elite warriors strolled through, staring with hate-filled eyes. More soldiers patrolled the edge of the swamp, stabbing swords into clumps of grass. They neared the boy’s position and a warrior thrust steel ever forwards. Ned remained still as a sword hit the water near his face. The blade was close and splashed his eyes. The black waters frothed and bubbled. With a grunt, the soldier withdrew the sword and moved on. It was going to be difficult and dangerous to get away. There were so many people congregated in the openness. And Ned was getting cold. He shivered in the foul decay of the waters.
There was no way he could get out of the swamp where he was without being seen as there were too many men around. He decided to slide ever so slowly further away. He was unable to warm up as he moved. After hours of shivering and slow movement, the noise faded to his distant left.
The full moon was his friend going across the dangers of the swamp, but now it was his enemy as it was bright enough to expose movement. When the shouts and sounds of horses subsided, Ned waited to make sure there were no troops spread out that far. The grasses were taller at this point. Ned slid out of the swamp and stayed low in the vegetation. Every now and then, although in the open, he lay still and listened. He had to get into the trees for concealment. Keeping as near to the ground as possible, he closed in on the forest. He fought an urge to get up run the rest of the way. Ned remained down and made it into the trees. He continued to crawl through the woods, not daring to raise up off the ground.