Simon was too busy running to look back to see if his trick had worked. Since he wasn’t dead, he thought it safe to assume it had been effective.
He dropped the helmet the moment it ceased to be of use. It was hard enough to run without all this extra weight, but there was little he could do about the rest of the armor. There wasn’t enough time to pause to take it off.
The safety of the forest seemed endlessly far away. His breath burned in his lungs, his legs felt as if they were about to give out, and he was getting blisters from the too-big boots. He was falling farther and farther behind his Aechyed savior, but the prison guards were gaining on both of them.
He wouldn’t last much longer. Either the guards would overtake him, or he would collapse in the middle of this vast, exposed field. One way or another, it was nearly over for him.
Yes, maaadboy, the voice of Snake whispered in his head. Give up. There is no point in going on.
Apparently, Snake had not yet gathered that its words tended to have the opposite effect on Simon than it wanted them to have. Simon Marandur Edmund did not like to be told what to do.
Galvanized by Snake’s message of discouragement, Simon forced himself onward, his feet pounding into the ground, the world buzzing around him. He would reach that forest, and there was nothing that could stop him.
He forgot the heavy armor. He forgot the pain in his legs and the raw stinging of his feet. He forgot the coldness of the air and the brightness of the sun. None of that mattered now.
And suddenly, nearly without his realizing it, he passed into shadow and found himself crashing through underbrush. Birds scattered from the trees above him, frightened by his presence.
Having achieved his goal, Simon stumbled to a halt, collapsed to his hands and knees, and was violently sick onto the forest floor.
“Get up,” the merrow panted, seizing him by the arm and tugging. “We…aren’t safe…yet.”
“Can’t…” Simon groaned, promptly retching again.
The Aechyed pulled harder, jerking Simon to his feet and dislocating his shoulder in the process. “We…have…to…go!”
Simon was nearly delirious with pain. Objects spun around him, colors blurring into one another. Somehow, his legs were moving again, running once more, but he didn’t seem to have any control over them. The only sound he could hear was that of the blood pounding in his ears.
He lost consciousness just as they reached the first horse.