Tired

Post 56

Moonlight at the tree line behind was beginning to fade and the blackness of the forest made movement difficult. When lapping water could no longer be heard from the swamp edge, Ned stood and made tentative steps toward a clearing ahead. As the trees petered out, he noticed a rocky outcrop and carefully stepped onto it. Ned was concerned he had left a trail the soldiers would easily find in the morning. But now, standing on rock, his trail would go cold for the pursuing soldiers.

Ned thought of a way out. He needed to head due South, but the soldiers would be expecting that as it was his way home. Ned set off West. He moved quickly and made sure footprints would be visible and branches were snapped. Coming to a halt, he breathed hard. Sweat dripped off his face from the exertion.

Now he had to backtrack. Walking backwards and carefully the way he had come to disguise his direction of travel, he held unsteadily to branches and tried to step only on his existing footprints. In the dark woods, it took a long time to get back to the rocky outcrop in the clearing. Ned was exhausted. He sat on the rock and put the bag down which Krea had given him. He trusted her and looked inside. In the moonlight, he saw a wooden-handled knife, blanket, leather drinking flask full of water, a supply of biscuits, some flint and a fire-steel. If he made it back to the Foijen, it would be down to her.

Packing the contents of his bag away, Ned looked around the moonlit glow of the clearing. The rock met the ground low on most sides. If he stepped on the earth, his trail would be obvious to the soldiers. Then they would find him. Evasion meant everything now. He moved further along and the outcrop rose to about half his height from the ground. He leant down and felt a pile of crinkly oak leaves. He stepped carefully downwards until his feet touched the ground. Ned made sure the leaves completely covered him. Using the natural insulation, his wet clothes felt warm for the first time in a while. He was tired and well hidden. Soon he fell asleep.

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