Kroll took the rest of his men to continue the hunt for the boy. They tracked him North-West through the pinewoods. Their prey was moving with care, but still left an occasional footprint. It was enough to expose him to mortal danger. The soldiers carried on the same bearing for another hour until the boy changed direction. Due North. The child was becoming more unpredictable as time went on. Kroll ordered a halt. He paced about, thinking, and beckoned one his best trackers over.
“What do you think?” Kroll rasped.
“Sir, it’s strange. Heading back to Malaxia means…”
“Certain death. Yes, yes… but would he go further North?”
“He may be trying to bypass the swamps of Malaxia and push into NorthBurn and beyond.”
“But that territory is unexplored,” Kroll muttered. “It makes no sense. It’s where the giant creatures live. No one can survive the terrors up there.”
It was a mountainous region and rumours abound the wolves were huge and bears even bigger. The conference ended with a wave of Kroll’s hand. They moved North, with caution. This did not feel right and they took time to look around while they walked. Kroll noticed an increased amount of footprints and snapped branches. The boy may be tired and low on food. The terrain dipped down to a stream and they followed his path uphill on the other side. At a large pine tree, the boy’s footprints disappeared. Kroll looked around in frustration, but Ned was gone. He ordered his men to spread out and pick up a trail. Some went down to the water, looking upstream and downstream. There was sign downstream, but it soon petered out. The boy had just vanished.