Somehow he had to outrun the warriors. Ned moved at speed and continued along the track. The boy stopped after a couple of hours for a rest, a biscuit and a sip of water from the flask. He was soaked with sweat, but he would have to ration the water. Looking at his map, the track headed South. He ran and walked all day with little further rest. As nightfall approached, dark clouds loomed overhead. With the moon blotted out, heavy rain began to fall. It would help wipe out any tracks he had left behind. Thunder crashed over the night and lightning flashed. He stopped and thought for a moment. It was almost time to head East. He looked into the forest. It was pitch black and visibility was down to zero. A distant wolf howled. The driving rain was blown at an angle by the harsh wind. It forced him into the sanctuary of the dark trees. Looking behind, the final shafts of moonlight made big drops shine on the leaves. Rain began to penetrate the trees. Branches swayed with the force of the wind. In a thicket, he made a bed of leaves and twigs to keep him off the cold ground. Wrapped in the blanket, he settled down to sleep.
The next morning, Ned edged out of the undergrowth and stood in the oak forest. The pouring rain waned during the night, but drips still came from the canopy above. Branches and twigs occasionally fell from the trees with dull thumps. He walked through the forest, parallel with the pathway for a while over the autumn forest carpet and then carefully into the open. The path was dead straight and deserted. Ned continued South until the sun was almost above him.
He needed to lay another deception trail. Ned stopped for a rest and decided to change direction. Looking up, the weather was turning again. Rain clouds gathered. He retraced his steps, then took wide steps sideways off the path and headed Eastward though thick forest. He moved carefully at first so as not to snap twigs or branches. Bruised clouds rumbled overhead and a persistent drizzle streamed down. The boy ducked under some branches and disappeared into the wilderness.