Walking through the forest, Ned’s breathing quickened, not quite believing he was still alive. He was lucky to get away. Blinking, he looked behind. The rest of the Malaxian detachment was out there somewhere. Sweat trickling down his face, the boy stopped and took deep breaths. Calming down, he looked at the map and direction of the sun. He made a decision and moved on. The next few hours would be more about getting some distance than caution. There was enough room between the trees for him to run. But not too fast as he needed to keep moving. The boy ran and walked all day until he halted for a rest. It was early evening and Ned listened to the birds. He rasped deep breaths and sat against a tree.
The wind had picked up above the forest, but inside it was sheltered. Cold rain began to fall and soon pummelled down. Ned’s wolfskin offered protection from the elements in the undergrowth. After a drink and biscuit, he stood and ensured his bag was closed tight. He checked the new weaponry of bow, arrows and dagger were secure. The boy moved purposefully into the dimming light but, after another hour, the black of the pine forest meant he had to stop for the night. Ned wrapped a blanket around his shoulders as the torrential rains came down.
He was still warm from the day’s exertions and watched as his breath frosted in the cold air. Puddles formed close by and Ned listened to the steady rain hitting the branches overhead. Rain bounced in the closest puddle. He pulled the wolf head down. The owls were quiet that night, but wolves howled in the darkness. They were some distance behind him now. He smiled.