Thumps came from the direction he had just come. Ned leapt into a run. He could hear the man behind getting closer. Gritting his teeth, he struck between the trees. He weaved in and out, and onto a grassy area with fern either side. Running as fast as he could, his legs burned. The onset of exhaustion was overridden by adrenaline. Looking ahead, Ned saw a glade. Forcing himself onward, he ran at full speed into the clearing. Coming to an abrupt halt, he exhaled heavily and leant forward with hands on his knees. He could hear the man behind getting closer. Ned looked around the clearing. A hill rose up and stopped at the sky line. The cliff and a sound of water crashing against rocks was just beyond.
His blood froze. Up ahead, no more than fifty paces away was a wolf. It snarled and moved forward. Ned could hear heavy footsteps behind. The soldier was almost on him. His eyes darted about. The wolf blocked his path to the river. Ned had to hide. Edging to one side, he kept eye contact with the wolf. He moved into some tall fern at the edge of the clearing. Wading in, he stepped on a twig. To the sound of it snapping, he dropped to a knee in the undergrowth.
The soldier pounded into the clearing. Ned could just see him through the foliage. He was gargantuan. In full black leather uniform, he was armed with a sword, daggers and a bow strapped to his back. Coming to a halt, the man looked around the clearing. He was alone, but the full detachment of warriors would be storming toward them. The warrior looked around and locked eyes onto the wolf. He grinned and drew a sword. A sharp sound of steel cut through the forest air. The wolf growled and moved forward, adversaries ready to fight.