From a wooded hill to the rear, warriors moved in silence toward the two men below. Kroll held a fist in the air and his men halted. They were within striking distance of the swordsman for the first time. With a forward arm signal, the Malaxian warriors charged downwards. The heavy thuds made Jorrin swing around. He saw a large detachment of Malaxians storming through the trees. Well-armed, they wore dark leather uniforms. He set the horse off at speed and grabbed onto the saddle horn. The warriors made it to the path only to see the merchant and swordsman making their escape.
As the horse galloped toward a bend, a Malaxian archer aimed his bow high and an arrow arced through the air. With a thwack, it hit Jorrin in the back of his thigh. He grunted with pain. Holding on with one hand, he snapped the arrow with the other. The horse carried them out of sight until Jorrin slowed it down further along and let go. He watched as the horse raced away down the track, carrying the merchant to safety.
Jorrin cursed as he limped through the trees. “The bow is for cowards” he muttered.
Kroll gathered his men and they set off in pursuit of the swordsman. Running in twos, they were a fearsome force. They had lost the boy, but he was only a means of getting at his father. Kroll kept an eye on the ground, following the fresh hoof marks, while other soldiers looked each side for any sign of the man making a break through the trees. Their boots made a rhythmic thud on the gravel as they hunted the elusive figure down. Drips of blood lay on the ground as they proceeded. Further along, they halted at the broken arrow. It was blood-spattered.
Kroll smiled. “We have him!!”
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