Ned went along the edge of the pine forest, looking for an entry point. The branches were low and thick, so he crawled into a bush and kept on his hands and knees through a bed of pine needles until there was enough space to stand. It was dark and impossible to walk in a straight line with all the dense trees. But it was not long until the ground fell away. Moonlight flowed through the canopy. Moving slower, he realised it was getting dangerous. He walked upwards and carefully around to a less steep part of the wooded hill. At its base, he looked up at the white-blue light. He had to keep going. It was a clear night and the forest was opening up so he moved with care by moonlight.
Ned rounded a bend and the trees gave way to the lake. It was entirely surrounded by forest. He stood at its shore and stared out at the black waters. Moonlight shone on the ripples. On the opposite side, a mountain rose up and Ned could see trees on its outline. Kneeling down, his legs hurt. He cupped a hand in the water and drank. Despite his finding the stream earlier, a raging thirst gripped him and he continued to drink. The exertion of previous days had taken its toll. Ned sat down and took in the moment. Water lapped at the rocky shore. A breeze flowed between the tree tops. He smiled, despite the danger lurking behind.