Bathed in moonlight, Kroll dismissed the bandits, who moved to the far edge of the camp and settled down. In the shadows, Ned watched. He grasped his dagger, knowing he could attack Kroll now and slip away in the confusion. It would be possible to take him out from this distance. But these men were relentless. If one fell, another took his place to finish a mission. It was how they worked. The boy held his nerve. He took his hand from the dagger and decided to get to his family first. It was the only way he could try to save them. Kroll may have the upper hand on his father, but not on Ned. The boy flattened down and moved back into the darkness.
He thought about circling around the Malaxians in the undergrowth. But they were so close and he could not see all of them. Guards would be spread out beyond the clearing. They may be hiding in trees. Ned turned and crawled away. The whole area was not safe. He had been caught before and learnt the hard way to be more cautious.
He moved through the undergrowth. Long shadows were cast by moonlight as he pushed his elbows and knees further into the dark of the night. Back by the river, he could still see the glow of their fire through the trees. He had a problem. To circumvent the camp by land, he would have to walk back North and then go far over to the West. It would take too much time. He had an idea.