Wonsik’s shoulder throbbed from the arrow wound, pain spreading through his body. But now he had just one thought. Run. Run until he could go no further. His heart pounded, his feet were swollen and cut from the rough terrain, but he had to escape. He had to. He could hear the three soldiers somewhere behind him. He didn’t know how close. He didn’t dare check. The air was no longer a welcome refreshment, it burned his lungs like acid. The shouts grew closer, his head swam. Run. Make for the tree line. And so he did, a tangled mass of thorny trees and gnarled wood. At any other time, Wonsik wouldn’t have thought to enter such a place, but now he barely noticed as he crashed into the woods, immediately scratched and cut by brambles and underbrush. The forest swallowed up the four men, like a living thing, hungry for its next meal. The air was still, and an ancient and sacred aura hung thick through the air. Wonsik could barely breathe anymore, everything hurt, it was as if his body was no longer under his control. Just like that, he felt himself falling, falling, just managing to turn at the last second to prevent the arrow from being driven deeper. He lay on the ground, gasping for air, mind screaming at him to get up, yet unable to move, completely paralyzed. He cradled with clumsy fingers at the smooth amulet that hung around his neck, fastened with a leather strap that had been braided and re-braided from use. It was ‘for luck’, his grandmother had told him in her sweet and steady voice as her old wrinkled hand placed it in his small pudgy one. He didn’t know if he really believed in it, but he brushed against the surface with his thumb, the edges of his vision began to fade. The last panicky thought he had before he lost consciousness was:
They will catch me.