Branches slapped against my arm. The brush was too thick. I couldn’t see a thing, but I couldn’t stop. I’d never catch up. A sudden opening left me with three steps before the drop. I never slowed. Boughs broke my fall. Loose stone groaned under my feet. Something else crashed through the brush, off to the left. He was close. I ran again, taking great leaps whenever I could, hoping to avoid any holes.
The trees thinned. Bushes nipped at my ankles, trying to hold me back. Turning, I saw him rushing through the thinning growth. In the distance a staff stood waiting, its smooth surface glistening in the morning light.
With the end in sight I poured on the speed, ignoring the cries of protest as every inch of me began to burn. I reached the staff, never slowing as I wrapped my fingers around it, staggering slightly as the earth grudgingly gave way.
“You beat me,” he said, watching as I knocked a stray clump of dirt from the end.
“Good.” He smiled. “Do it again.”