Scrambling up a bank, Ned stood and walked up an incline on the North-Easterly shore of the lake. He slipped on pine needles and had to hold onto tree trunks to pull himself up. As it got steeper, he used the base of trees as footholds. The trees grew close together, but it was dark up there. The denseness of the pines meant the moonlight was restricted. The boy was forced to rest many times. Sweat dripped down, despite the cold setting in. It was steep and treacherous, and he had to take time to place his feet on secure points. Ned skidded and stumbled upwards. But perhaps the greatest danger was the noise. He could not help it, but sometimes a branch snapped. And sound travelled further at night. If the Malaxians were out there and heard anything, Ned silently hoped they thought it was a wild animal.

When he neared the halfway point, the boy had to rest. Ned sat and leant against a pine tree. It towered upwards from a slope of about forty degrees. Pushing the bow to one side, he opened his bag. The boy felt around for dry biscuits and a pouch containing some blackberries. He allowed himself one biscuit and a few berries. Sipping on water, he could just see through the foliage to the lake below. He squinted and leaned in. Four separate fires were on the far side of the lake. The Malaxians were down there waiting for him. Ned sat down with his head in his hands. But all was not lost. They still did not know where he was. The boy got up and continued to climb. He was not beaten by this mountain. Ned strapped the bag back up and rubbed his hands against his thighs. It soothed his aching muscles. He guessed it was about midnight and all he could hear was the wind rustling through the trees.

Author: callumstanford

Writer, blogger, outsider, survivor.

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