The dawn sun streaked over the treetops and Ned slowed to a walk to have food and water on the go. Feeling uneasy, his eyes darted about the trees. He did the fastener of his bag up and began to run. The boy did not care if he left a trail now as the soldiers had probably lost him. Speed was essential. He was careful to check the map at regular intervals. There was no room for mistakes as any loss of direction could be fatal. The day wore on and he walked more than he ran. As the sun dipped to his right, he traversed over a wooded ridge and saw the turquoise waters of the lake through some branches.
He held back and pulled the cloth map out. By the failing light, he studied its features. He had options. Heading to the West of the water would be less hilly and easier terrain. But it would be the most obvious and dangerous. Otherwise, he could head for the East side where it was mountainous. He leant over and looked up. There was a rocky outcrop. From up there he would have a commanding view of the territory ahead in the morning. Instinct told him to go for the higher ground.
But first he had to replenish his water supply. The boy moved downhill toward the lake where the trees grew close to the water’s edge. Crawling forward, he scooped some water in a cupped hand and drank. Undoing his bag, he drew the near-empty flask and it bubbled in the water. Lifting the container slowly up, he froze. Scanning the banks of the lake, he lay still. Nothing. But he felt uneasy. Something was out there, he knew it. He moved back into the cover of pine trees.