In the morning, Ned woke and lay for a moment. He rubbed his eyes and peered up through the roof of branches. Breathing in the smell of pine, he listened to water lapping at the shore. But there was something else. A twig snapped. Ned looked to his left. A branch moved. His heart pounded. A deer came into view. He breathed a sigh of relief and stood to look over the open waters. It was an incredible view, but he was still in enemy territory. Ned kicked dirt over the remnants of his fire to cover up his camp. He packed his gear away and moved off toward the Northern edge of the lake.
His idea was to head up and then over to the Eastern shore. Maintaining a quickened pace, despite the rocky shore, he stopped only once to drink from the lake. The far side of the water veered inwards, almost opposite to where he had camped. It had not taken long to get over to the other side, maybe an hour. He looked upwards at the woodland mountain to the East. He had to maintain this direction for now as the Malaxians would still be expecting him to head South toward the Kingdom. Being unpredictable could save his life.
About to leave the lake, he needed to drink. He decided to be cautious and approached the water on all fours. Drinking now would mean he could last longer without using up his water supply. He looked up. Something caught his eye on the far side of the lake. Movement from where he spent the night before. Ned stopped and stared. A Malaxian warrior, but he was alone. It must be a scout. Ned hunkered down further into the rocky lakeside shore. The soldier looked over in his direction. The boy remained still. As the soldier turned to head South, Ned crawled slowly backwards, hugging the ground. He needed to get inland, toward the undergrowth. A horn pierced the air. Ned flinched, then lay still. It was a signal to the rest of the warriors.