As Ned edged toward the tree line, another sound dominated the air. A whistling sliced in from above. THUD!! An arrow landed just in front of his head. It was so close he could almost touch it. Ned froze and stared at the arrow. The flight was made from goose feathers and it reverberated as its arrowhead stuck in a grassy mound.
Breathing heavily, he crawled sideways and struck for the trees. Within seconds, he was in the pine. Standing, he looked over the lake and saw the Malaxian warrior charging North. The speed he was going, he was well under an hour away from Ned. The boy sprinted and crashed between the branches, moving as quick as he could. Stealth was pointless now. He had to get away. Ned looked up at the shards of sunlight piercing the canopy and stayed on a bearing more or less due East. The hillside veered steeply up toward the mountain on his left. He had the presence of mind to take the lower ground through the foothills, but was in a panic. He had to get a grip.
After some time struggling through dense pine forest, his energy was flagging. Then he pushed through some thick brush. It was almost impassable and hard-going. But the trees were becoming more mature, which left some space on the ground. He could run at last, but had no idea how close behind the warrior was. Ned kept moving, aware he was leaving an easy trail to follow. The Malaxian must be closing the gap, so he had to think of something else. Out of breath, he was forced to rest and leant against a tree. His mind was spinning. Holding his temples with both hands, he closed his eyes. His life depended on this moment. And then it occurred to him. Further East, there was a cliff and a river. He remembered it on the map. It was his only chance.