The animal rose up and staggered. Growling, it limped forward, then stopped abruptly. Ned moved back and rested on his knees. The wolf leant in and sniffed Ned. It was a familiar smell. The animal hobbled toward the tree. Ned did not feel threatened. The wolf lay down and watched, submissive. For a long moment, neither Ned nor wolf moved.
But the reality of his predicament brought Ned back to the dangers of the Malaxian hunters. He had to act. Moving carefully so as not to spook the wolf, he opened the soldiers’s bag and emptied its contents onto the grass. Sifting through, he collected a dagger, an archer wristguard and some dry food. Stuffing them into his own bag, Ned focussed on the bow and arrows strapped to the soldier’s back. With difficulty, he got the weapon off the man and slipped them onto his own back. The soldier had a rabbit slung from his belt. Ned unhooked it and tossed the carcass toward the wolf, which slunk forward and began to eat.
Ned collected the rest of the man’s belongings. A map, blanket and spare boots. He filled the Malaxian bag and walked to the cliff edge. The torrent raged below. He threw the bag over and into the water. The white froth engulfed it hungrily and forced the bag downstream. The boy hoisted a blackened helmet and shield over as well. Then some spare clothes pirouetted through the air and into the current. He picked up the warrior’s sword, leaned back and hurled it over the rock face. It span through the air and disappeared into the raging waters.