The boy was about to get off the hill when he saw something over to the left. Ned shuffled around and looked at the ridge-line. A soldier jumped onto a rock. From the black leather and headgear, it was obvious he was Malaxian. He was well-built and armed with a huge sword. The man stared East, toward the river. He must be looking for sign of the main troop of soldiers being followed. Ned backed toward a tree growing near a rocky outcrop. He stood and peered around. The soldier was in clear view. Ned carefully removed his bow and fed an arrow in. If he could hit this man, the troop would be down to fourteen men. Still far too many for him to take on, but one less would eliminate the immediate danger.
The soldier was close enough to hit. Ned had practiced, but this was real. Part-hidden by the tree, he pointed the bow at the target. Drawing the arrow back, the bow creaked. He closed one eye and held the bow still. He aimed for the man’s thigh. Holding his breath, he let the arrow go. It arced over the valley below and clattered on a rock to the right of the soldier. He spun around and saw Ned. Instantly, the man jumped from the ridge onto a boulder below and then to another rock. He stopped for a moment and fixed his eyes on Ned’s location. He jumped from rock to rock downwards, like a mountain goat.