When the soldiers were out of sight, Ned waited and moved back into the forest. The ground was slippery with moss-covered rocks. He moved South through the woodland and saw the trees thinning out as a steep grassy incline veered to the river below. He decided to stop and scope out the land where the Malaxian were running. He needed to make sure they were gone before he moved further. If they spotted him now, arrows would rain down.
He sat against a tree and watched the Malaxians move into the distance until the last footsoldier dropped out of sight. Even then, he focussed in their direction, in case an ambush had been set. He scanned the landscape for a long time until he was certain they were gone. Then he continued to walk Southward, just inside the tree line. He used branches to steady his progress. The ground fell sharply away as Ned grabbed the trunk of a tree and reached out for a branch further ahead. The ground crumbled underfoot. Mud and stones tumbled down the slope. He held the branch tight and tried to get some purchase on the ground with his boot.
The branch cracked and he fell. Disorientated, he became aware of a skidding sensation on his back. He was sliding feet first on the wet, grassy hill toward a precipice. The river below crashed against large rocks. Ned looked down and either side. There was nothing to break his momentum. He turned to his front and grabbed at tufts of grass. He slowed, but not by much. Getting desperate, he grasped at the clumps, which came away in his hands. A rock struck his right knee and he slapped his hand on it. He stopped with his feet dangling over the cliff edge. Pulling himself up, Ned scrambled clear and sat down, using the rock to support his foot. His heart thumped as he caught his breath.