With an idea to spur him on the night-long march, Ned walked with only the moon and occasional hoot of an owl as company. Trudging through the semi-darkness, his thoughts turned to his family and their life in the forest. He would try to meet up with them, but was too independent to go back to his old life. Maybe he would pass through the Snook and find another place to stay further into the Kingdom. He might join the army when he was old enough. Ned’s mind turned to Krea. If it was his decision, he would still be working on the farm. But Kroll took that away from him. A burning anger rose from within. Krea had saved his life by forewarning him of the danger, and he would be eternally grateful. He ate and drank water on the move, reflecting on his past but also thinking about the immediate future. Ned suspected Kroll and his men would be in the forest somewhere around a comfortable campfire. He knew their routines and how they operated. A beam of moonlight shone down to reveal the hint of a smile.
Ned allowed himself a brief rest to watch sunrise in the pinewood canopy. He stood and continued in a North-Westerly direction. He came across a series of rocks by early morning and decided to not stand on them so he would leave tracks. Ned checked the map and headed due North. He snapped branches to make sure the soldiers would follow this way. Down an incline, he spotted the stream he looking for. Ned refilled his water flask. He walked downstream, making sure he moved rocks aside so fresh moss was underwater. Ned carefully backtracked to where he originally entered the water. Wading to the far bank, he headed uphill. At its crest, he stopped by a large pine tree. The boy went around the pine and got to work. He emerged and walked backwards down the hill until he came to the running water. Then he moved upstream, taking care not to dislodge any rocks or slip on the larger pebbles. If he lost his footing, his direction of movement would be discovered.