The Malaxians ran further and found the point where the swordsman entered the forest. Studying his footprints, it was clear he was limping. Kroll saw a spot of blood on a leaf. They followed him through the forest, moving quickly. The disturbed mud and occasional snapped branch meant they could easily follow the injured man’s trail. He stood no chance against this band of bloodthirsty hunters. Kroll grunted in satisfaction. It had taken patience and skill to get this close to the swordsman. Jorrin headed into a dene between two wooded hills. Kroll sent three scouts over to the right, while he led the rest of his men straight ahead in pursuit.
The scouts rushed up the incline to the brow of the hill and heard movement over to the left. They continued downhill until the trees thinned out. They spotted the man half-running, half-limping. He was dressed in brown clothing and had a large sword strapped to his back. Jorrin struggled toward a clearing. The scouts increased speed. The swordsman was theirs. Sprinting toward him, the soldiers were just about to overwhelm the man as wind rushed passed Jorrin’s ear. And again. He looked around as a soldier was hit in the neck by an arrow and fell. Another arrow thumped into the second Malaxian’s chest and took him down. As he slowed, Jorrin was hit in the midriff by the third scout. He fell backwards and landed with the soldier on top. Grabbing the man’s leather tunic, Jorrin kicked a leg upwards and rolled sideways. He pulled a knife and stuck it into the soldier’s stomach and wrenched it upwards. The man’s eyes widened as his life ebbed away.
With three dead enemy soldiers before him, Jorrin stood and looked around the surrounding woodland hills. A small figure emerged from the trees. He wore wolfskin and stared through sharp teeth. His face was smeared with mud. It was only when Ned was up close that Jorrin recognised his son. A smile did not cross the man’s face.
“The prodigal son returns… and you still can’t fight face-to-face,” he sneered.
“There’s no time for that. More Malaxian soldiers are just over there.” Ned pointed at the nearest hill. He looked toward the sound of boots moving at speed. “Come on, we have to go.”