This is what he felt as he took his first step. There was nothing left for him in the world at the end of this walk. He knew the hour of his death, and he marched toward it. Defiance was the only thing that kept him on his feet. His body screamed at him to drop the two hundred pound stone and collapse to the ground. But he resolved to deny death it's ultimate prize. He resolved not to let death obscure his memory nor those of his companions.
Their quest had been a great failure, but a thing could be remembered for that. Indeed the minds of men only ever recall great success or great failure. He would be remembered the way the likes of Pyrrhus or Varus were remembered, but he would be remembered. All he had to do to ensure that memory was stand the runestone at the cairn.
The nearer he got to the edge of the woods the heavier his breathing became. More than his fatigue or the weight of the stone, it was the blight that sapped his strength. The cold exacerbated his diseased lungs and confused his feverish mind, making him delirious.
Despite being bundled like a Saracen, he shivered. It took every bit of his effort to hold his grip and steady his footfalls. With each step he wanted to fold to the ground and rest his aching body. It felt like a hauberk or two were draped over him. But relaxing his strained muscles would be no relief, he knew. He would ache still. Any debility affecting him was not acted upon him. It was within him.