Circumventing the misty hill, they left enough tracks to give the impression their direction was beyond the immediate vicinity. Ned knew how quickly the Malaxians could move. The trees were more crammed together as they reached the thicket. Pushing on, the boy and his father crawled into the thorns and branches.
Jorrin paused. “It took guts to get me out of there… thank you,” he whispered.
Ned looked over his shoulder. “You make for the main door. I’m going another way.” He pointed over to the right.
Jorrin dragged himself through some heavy vegetation. When he was no longer in sight, Ned edged over to his secret passageway. The hawthorn and holly thickened, and drew blood on Ned’s hands. It looked different and he scratched around in the mud looking for the trapdoor. It was not there. He scrabbled at the earth and felt the wooden entryway. With a sigh of relief, he lifted the trapdoor. It was wet and had moss growth. Into the passageway, he splashed through puddles of water. On the other side was another small trapdoor. He could hear sniffing. Lifting it up, he was greeted by his dog, Skar.
“Hello doggo.” Ned smiled.
Skar snorted and sniffed and wagged her tail. She licked his face as Ned kneeled. He looked around the clearing and saw the cabin. Skar jumped up and scrunched her nose, excited to see him again. Ned patted her head and hugged her. Then Skar turned her head toward the main door to the thicket and growled. Ned put her on the ground and the little white dog trotted forward and stood still, snarling.
With the rain and sun glinting through the trees, a haze obscured the far end of the clearing. A silhouetted man appeared through the mist. The huge figure of Kroll stood on the grass and stared at the cabin. More danger lurked in the thicket as Malaxians rushed through the door. Ned heard the pounding boots before more foggy shadows emerged. The boy hesitated for a few seconds as Jorrin limped out of the cabin to face them. He drew a sword. Despite the number of enemy, he attacked. As he met a Malaxian in combat, an arrow hit the warrior, who fell on the battlefield. Kroll looked over and saw the boy holding a bow.