Get Ready

Ned looked toward his direction of travel the next day. He could not see the waterfall in the darkness, but the foothills to the South-East led that direction. He peered at the forest on the South-Western shore of the lake. Fires continued to flicker in the woodland. Faint wisps of woodsmoke rose above the trees and the contrast against the night sky was just visible. It was careless. Then something else caught his eye from the North. Another fire, but this was moving. It went along the Western side of the lake toward the fires. It must be more Malaxians carrying a lit torch. Ned figured one troop must have gone for the lake to cut him off, while the other tried to follow his trail. He knew Kroll’s men were well trained trackers, so he had done well to evade them. But they were no longer clandestine. And at least Ned knew he had shaken Kroll from his tail. From now on, they were ahead so he intended to track them. Tomorrow was going to be different. Feeling sleepy, he curled up and settled down for the night.

Continue reading “Get Ready”


He took a deep breath and stood, adjusting the bow on his back. Scrambling around a tree, Ned used it as a foothold and struck upwards. His determination kicked in. Further up, the trees were sparser and intermingled with rocks, so he got more traction with handholds and footholds. And the ground was drier up there. The moon shone through to give greater visibility. Even though mountain climbing was dangerous at night, at least he could now see where to put his hands and feet. The wind rose to a howl and rain clouds swept overhead. After another hour of clambering over rocks and through trees, Ned paused to look up. The vegetation petered out and a craggy ridge dominated his eyeline. It spurred him on.

Continue reading “Summit”


Scrambling up a bank, Ned stood and walked up an incline on the North-Easterly shore of the lake. He slipped on pine needles and had to hold onto tree trunks to pull himself up. As it got steeper, he used the base of trees as footholds. The trees grew close together, but it was dark up there. The denseness of the pines meant the moonlight was restricted. The boy was forced to rest many times. Sweat dripped down, despite the cold setting in. It was steep and treacherous, and he had to take time to place his feet on secure points. Ned skidded and stumbled upwards. But perhaps the greatest danger was the noise. He could not help it, but sometimes a branch snapped. And sound travelled further at night. If the Malaxians were out there and heard anything, Ned silently hoped they thought it was a wild animal.

Continue reading “Upwards”


The dawn sun streaked over the treetops and Ned slowed to a walk to have food and water on the go. Feeling uneasy, his eyes darted about the trees. He did the fastener of his bag up and began to run. The boy did not care if he left a trail now as the soldiers had probably lost him. Speed was essential. He was careful to check the map at regular intervals. There was no room for mistakes as any loss of direction could be fatal. The day wore on and he walked more than he ran. As the sun dipped to his right, he traversed over a wooded ridge and saw the turquoise waters of the lake through some branches.

Continue reading “Elusive”

Upper Hand

Dusk settled in but Ned was still on the move, despite the failing light. Undaunted by his predicament, he resisted the urge to find refuge and rest up. The boy was unsure as to whether his plan had worked, but figured he needed to get past the lake before the Malaxians got there. The moon was bright, which helped him continue his journey. Over the sound of his breathing, all he could hear were snapped twigs underfoot.

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The warriors gathered back at the big pine tree while Kroll considered his next move. One soldier noticed a bent branch behind the tree and went to investigate. Standing carefully by some pine cones, he peered in. All of a sudden, a branch whipped back and a sharpened stick stabbed through his leather-clad shoulder. The man roared in pain and stepped back to the main group. Kroll’s men formed into a defensive circle and drew swords. The injured soldier was taken inside the circle and the stick was removed from his shoulder. Blood streamed down the punctured leather of his uniform. The soldier was sewn up. It was clear they were not under attack. The boy had set a trap and it worked. Kroll punched the pine tree with a meaty fist.

Continue reading “Trap”


Post 82

Kroll took the rest of his men to continue the hunt for the boy. They tracked him North-West through the pinewoods. Their prey was moving with care, but still left an occasional footprint. It was enough to expose him to mortal danger. The soldiers carried on the same bearing for another hour until the boy changed direction. Due North. The child was becoming more unpredictable as time went on. Kroll ordered a halt. He paced about, thinking, and beckoned one his best trackers over. Continue reading


Post 81

Kroll gave fresh orders. Eight were to head back to the lake. On its Southernly shore was a waterfall and then the river struck toward the forests bordering the village closest to the boy’s home territory. It was where he expected Ned head for. Those soldiers were ordered to speed march and set up camp close to the waterfall. The surrounding woodland hills would make good observation areas. Kroll spread a map out on the ground and pointed to rocky outcrops where they would take up elevated positions to look for the boy. He led his other six men on Ned’s trail. Continue reading

Change Direction

Post 80Ned’s feet splashed in the shallow stream. Not wanting to move too far along, he saw a part of the forest where the floor was thick with pine needles. With eyes searching for any movement, Ned stepped on dry land and walked in a South-Westerly direction. Once out of the water, he moved like a ghost through the trees, hoping the deception would work. A few hours later, he stopped to look at the map and then up at the sun. Gauging the correct bearing, he avoided contact with any branches and only stepped on pine needles. Then he adjusted his direction Southward, each step now taking him toward the area he knew like the back of his hand. He could not afford to leave even a single footprint behind. Ned decided to go back to the lake where he had been spotted by the scout. And then keep going for home while the Malaxians wasted time trying to track him. After an hour, he ran through the trees, intent on increasing the gap between him and the soldiers. Continue reading

Night March

Post 79

With an idea to spur him on the night-long march, Ned walked with only the moon and occasional hoot of an owl as company. Trudging through the semi-darkness, his thoughts turned to his family and their life in the forest. He would try to meet up with them, but was too independent to go back to his old life. Maybe he would pass through the Snook and find another place to stay further into the Kingdom. He might join the army when he was old enough. Ned’s mind turned to Krea. If it was his decision, he would still be working on the farm. But Kroll took that away from him. A burning anger rose from within. Krea had saved his life by forewarning him of the danger, and he would be eternally grateful. He ate and drank water on the move, reflecting on his past but also thinking about the immediate future. Ned suspected Kroll and his men would be in the forest somewhere around a comfortable campfire. He knew their routines and how they operated. A beam of moonlight shone down to reveal the hint of a smile. Continue reading