Ned walked along the path and feelings kicked back in. His skin was clammy and he tried to catch his breath. The boy needed the safety of the forest before moving on. With a pounding heart, his eyes darted about. Panic set in and he faltered. Leaning an arm against a tree, the boy had to rest. He sat down and thought about the monumental task of evading the remaining armed warriors. Helplessness washed over his deathly pale features. This was his low point. He curled up and thought about giving up. Pulling the wolf headgear low to block out the light, tiredness overwhelmed him.
He opened his eyes and felt more rested than he had done in a long time. Night-time had enveloped the land and he looked through some branches at the starry sky. Wind washed up above and the trees swayed gently. He sat and adjusted his wolf head helmet. Looking through its teeth, he felt at one with the wolves. They saved his life. Ned collected his stuff, pushed himself upright and walked over to the river. It was moving fast, but with a sense of calm. The boy felt good and knew he had to keep going. The doubts were gone. He was ready for anything.
Ned began to run. There was time to make up. The ground was firm underfoot, which enabled him to run for miles. He pressed on through the darkness as sweat tickled down his face. The air was cold, but he was warm from exertion. During the night, he pushed himself to the limit. Through midnight and early morning, the boy kept going. A storm broke and the steady rain beat a rhythmic pulse. It pushed him on. He was soaked by dawn as his sweat and the rain water became one. Leaves rustled as he greeted the new day with a brisk walk. The numbness had subsided after his experience with the soldier and wolves, and the night march had brought him back to reality. The damp forest floor squelched as he continued to advance.