Jasperine collapsed against the tall stone wall, panting hard. She wanted to keep running, but her burning lungs needed some time to snatch at air, her aching limbs a moment to relax. Otherwise she would never make it.
As her breath steadied, she gently patted her inside jacket pocket, reassured by the firm lump she felt there. But as a flock of startled birds flapped, squawking, into the sky not far away, her relief shattered into fear. Her pursuer was approaching.
Jas perched on her tip-toes to peer through a watch-hole bored in the thick wall behind her. The small opening looked out over the expansive empty field she had traversed not long before. Her only route home was back in that direction, where she would be in plain sight and horribly exposed. The coast appeared to be clear, but for how long? Adalbert was surprisingly fast for a troll of his size; once he got up to speed, with his large strides, he could easily outpace her. And she did not want to be within reach of his spiked truncheon.