As he reached the shore and sped across the shingle, there was a cry above him. Already the Hunters had seen him and the hounds would soon enough. The tide was running south, away from the chase, hard and rough. Drowning might be an easier death than letting the dogs catch him. If it wasn’t for Sulaire. He must save himself for her sake.

Breath coming in hoarse gasps, heart bursting in his chest, he pounded on. The dogs were in full cry now, their baying drawing closer, and there was nowhere to hide. His eyes darted from side to side as he ran, looking for something, anything to help him. Merak he cried in his heart, Feorag! As if they had heard him, he saw, further down the shore, a log caught in an eddy, knocking against a spit of rocks running out from the shore. He put on a frantic burst of speed. Hurtling into the water, he waded towards the log and grasped it with one arm.

Grasping his sickle in one hand, he shoved off, kicking into deeper water until the tide took him in. Men and dogs threshed through the water after him. A spear grazed his leg. Another bruised his buttock, catching for a moment in the fold of his kilt, then falling into the water. Then the tide, whipped by the north wind, carried him southwards faster than the Hunters and dogs could run along the shore.