King Larsen

by J. Knights

Excerpt 16: The Escape

Larsen gently pushed the large double door so that he could have seen if anyone stood outside. From his angle, he could only see one man. The man leaned against the wall at the side of the door, and he appeared to be sleeping. Larsen opened the door a bit more and dared to glance around the courtyard. It appeared to be empty. The sky was dark, but it seemed to be changing into the light blue of dawn.

Larsen didn’t want to risk the man waking up and seeing him. He placed Gwen on the ground inside the chamber close to the door. He then slipped through the door into the courtyard, slowly placed one hand on the man’s neck and another to cover his mouth, then quickly pulled him inside the chamber. The man awoke, opening his eyes in shock. He tried to make an alarm, but Larsen pressed his hand firmly against his mouth. He then connected his fist with the man’s face, rendering him unconscious.

The man was equipped with a bow and a quiver of arrows. It was not Larsen’s weapon of choice, but it was better than nothing. He only hoped he could remember enough of his training with a bow to help him survive. He placed the bow and quiver over his shoulder, then took Gwen from the ground and went into the courtyard. Now he needed to find Ruena. She couldn’t be far. This was a small fort, and she had to be somewhere outside.

He looked across the courtyard and sure enough, there she was. She stood amongst a couple other horses, her black form standing out, close to a horse trough. Larsen went over to her and she nickered softly on seeing him. “Hello old friend,” whispered Larsen. “Come, we’re getting out of here.” He placed Gwen on Ruena’s back, then untied her. He mounted, placing Gwen on her stomach across his lap.

Suddenly, he heard someone call out to him from the battlements. The man started running towards a large bell. Larsen reached for an arrow in his quiver, nocked and fired. The arrow flew towards the man, but hit the wall directly under him. Larsen cursed to himself, wishing now that he took his bow training more seriously. He was always good with a sword, but never much cared for a bow. Still, he should be able to hit a target like this. He reached for another arrow and let it fly. Again it missed. Now the man was at the bell. He reached for the rope that hung from the centre and pulled. The noise echoed throughout the fort. Larsen cursed out loud. This was not good, he thought. He reached for another arrow, remembering his training he aimed carefully, then released. The arrow flew straight and lodged in the man’s neck, and he leaned back and fell over the edge of the battlements.

Larsen heard voices. He saw several men running out from different doors and about the battlements. “Get him,” he heard one shout. “Don’t let him escape,” shouted another.

He slammed his heals into the flanks of his horse, and Ruena exploded forward into a gallop. He rode through the large opening into the forest. Several arrows followed, but none hit home. Larsen was not sure which direction he was headed, but he just wanted to get as far away as possible.

He looked back and saw he was being followed by three riders. These bandits are persistent, thought Larsen as he looked forward and kept riding, pushing Ruena to her limit. She snorted with determination. They manoeuvred around several trees. He heard the swish of arrows passing by his ear. He looked back again and saw his pursuers were using their bows. He wanted to return fire, but it was difficult enough keeping Gwen secure at this speed. They continued for several minutes. Their arrows seemed to be getting closer. He knew he had to do something, anything spontaneous to catch his enemies off guard.

Suddenly, Larsen pulled firmly on Ruena’s reigns. She immediately understood and quickly came to a stop. It was so sudden that Larsen almost lost his balance. His three pursuers darted past, taking a while to realise that Larsen was now behind them. Quicker than eyes could follow, Larsen reached for his arrows, nocked and fired, nocked and fired, nocked and fired

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Excerpt 15: Scene from a Nightmare

Larsen was thrown into large pit. He tumbled down the slightly steep side wall before finally settling somewhere at the bottom. He lay face down on a rocky surface. His bounds were loosened just enough so that his rough journey down would be able to completely free him. His entire body was in pain. His hands and legs still burned from being tied too tightly. His waist and back felt twisted from the fall. His arms were sore. It was fortunate that he had on a breastplate and a helmet else he was sure his neck and ribs would be broken.

He heard the sound of something metallic impact the ground close to him. Looking in the direction of the noise, he saw it was his sword. It seems the savages kept it just for this purpose. He struggled to his feet with trembling arms and picked it up from the ground, his fingers barely being able to close around the hilt.

The pit was in a clearing somewhere in the forest. Larsen could see no trees around. From here the full moon was clearly visible, and its light illuminated the surroundings enough to see around. The pit was rocky and dry, with large boulders scattered about, and dried human bones littering the floor. On one end he could see a large wooden double door in the wall, seemingly covering a cave opening. He surveyed the top of the pit and saw all the creatures with various animal heads surrounding the circumference, shouting and bellowing, jumping and taunting, brandishing their weapons menacingly in the air. Some were beating drums to their favoured rhythm, and others were beating their weapons on the ground.

Larsen heard a new tone in the beat, something metallic. At specific intervals he heard a clashing of metal. He looked around and saw the hawk headed creature standing high on a protruding rock. It held in its hands two large scimitars that it crashed together at the start of the rhythm, and at the point where the pitch increased. The metal echoed and resonated throughout the entire crude arena. Everything looked and sounded like a scene from a nightmare.

Larsen tried to gather his focus, not knowing what to expect, but preparing himself for anything. No doubt whatever he was here for had something to do with the large wooden door. He tried to push the horrific sound out of his mind, and focus only on cutting down whatever was coming, then exacting his revenge on all of these creatures for separating him from Gwen.

He heard a movement of chains and saw some of the creatures turning a huge cog. A long chain attached to it slowly pulled the doors open. The doors came into contact with the wall of the pit with a loud thump. The movement of the chain stopped, and now the doors were fully opened, revealing a dark opening. This is it, thought Larsen.

Excerpt 14: The King of Hansguard

King Malick looked at his guards and saw they were just as concerned as he was. What was that sound coming from beyond the balcony? It was like the sails of a large ship being repeatedly caught in the winds of a hurricane.

He wondered if it was a mistake coming out here tonight. After several failed attempts at sleeping, he decided to go for a stroll and ended up sitting on his throne in the large chamber. Elegant chandeliers lined the roof, brightly illuminating the room. A large red carpet led from his feet straight to a balcony on the opposite end. Soldiers stood guarding every entrance.

He had considered many options to help him sleep: counting the latest income of taxes, having his chef prepare a delicious meal, or calling a beautiful chamber maid to bed, but none of these things had seemed to matter. What he truly wanted was Larsen in a prison, or in a grave. Without the comfort of knowing this, he was uneasy. He would never show or admit it, but he felt threatened by him. He didn’t want Larsen convincing those who still believed in him to revolt, or hire spies to infiltrate his castle.

For these reasons he had sent his captain, along with a battalion of soldiers, to capture Larsen and had hoped they would make haste to Sanity’s End, the tavern where he was last spotted. So many soldiers were sent that it was doubtless he would escape. Malick knew Larsen was skilled with a sword, but not even he could survive the onslaught of over a hundred men.

Just as he had decided to forget his troubles and call on that chamber maid, the strange noise began. It came over and over, and was getting louder. He stood to his feet and walked towards the balcony, his red silk robe going around his enormous gut and dragging on the floor. Peering out into the night, he saw something in the sky. It was coming closer. A quick glance back at his guards revealed they were all gathering around looking out into the night. He had never heard a noise like this before coming from the sky. He had never looked out into the night not knowing what to expect. He felt confused and unsure of what to do. He wanted to turn and run, but felt curious to stay and see what was coming.

Excerpt 13: The Grave Robber

Eventually the rain came again, light at first, but soon turned into a heavy downpour. When Larsen arrived at the large broken main gate of the cemetery, he was drenched. With his shovel in hand, he continued towards Gwen’s grave, his boots leaving deep imprints in the mud. Even though there was no mist, the heavy rain, the dark cloudy night sky, and the lightning and thunder made for an uncanny environment. He reached the tombstone and the overgrown bushes that formed Gwen’s grave. Immediately, he drove the shovel into the ground, pushed it further down with his boot, then scooped up some soil and threw it over his shoulder. He did this over and over, frustrated to be so wet from the rain, but appreciating how soft it made the ground.

When he reached about three feet in depth, his keen ears heard footsteps coming from behind him, followed by the sound of metal slicing through the air. A large sharp object was coming, and fast. Instinctively, he turned, dropped the shovel and drew his sword, bringing the hilt up defensively close to his face. The sound of metal against metal echoed. He was just in time to block a large blade from piercing his shoulder. The sword was almost as long as Larsen’s height, and the blade was three times the thickness of the hilt. His fingers were numb from the force of the strike. The sword’s wielder had great strength, and he found this combination very familiar.

“I heard a rumour that a fallen king could sometimes be seen at this forgotten cemetery. I came to investigate and instead found a grave robber disrespecting the past queen’s grave. Imagine my surprise to find out that this robber is you, Larsen.” Larsen immediately recognised Carder’s deep, gravel-like voice. Carder followed through with his strike with such force that Larsen was pushed back. “What do you think you are doing?” said Carder. He stood up straight with his arms to his side, his sword clamped in one hand, rain trickling down his blade. The rain made his long black knotted hair stick to his thick face. He was wearing his metal armour which suited his short but large frame. His grip on his sword tightened as if indicating the wrong answer could be met with death.

“Carder, its Gwen,” said Larsen, trying to catch his breath from defending the attack. “She’s not dead.”

“What’s in your head?” responded Carder. “We checked her vitals. She had no pulse. Her heart stopped. You buried her yourself.”

“I know. But I was told that it wasn’t death, that it was an illness.”

“Told, by whom?”

“A beggar, the one in black rags.”

“A beggar? So you’re taking advice from beggars now.” Carder shook his head in disbelief.

“I don’t have to explain myself to you,” said Larsen with a frustrated tone. He moved towards the shovel in an attempt to continue digging.

Carder sneered, slowly baring his teeth in anger. “You have to explain everything to me,” he bellowed, raising his sword high and rushing in for another attack. “I traded my loyalty to Vingstead for your life, Larsen. All the remaining soldiers did, hoping one day to follow you again.” He brought his sword down towards Larsen’s chest. Larsen parried by striking upward. Carder pressed forward, swinging his great sword left to right, forcing Larsen to either block or parry every blow. Carder continued shouting angrily as he attacked. “We saw the army coming. We waited for your commands, for your leadership. And when the time came to fight, you did nothing except sit at her bedside, even when the castle was under siege. Everyone thought your spirit was broken and the battle was lost. Better you had open the gates of Vingstead and welcomed your enemy.” Carder lifted his sword high above his head and swiftly brought it down with aggressive force.

Larsen turned his sword and blocked, and when the impact came he swore he felt his feet sink into the ground. As their swords locked, Carder tightened his grip on his hilt and continued to apply pressure. Larsen’s arms felt like they were burning from blocking Carder’s attack. If they continued fighting with just brute strength, he knew he would lose since Carder was always stronger. He could see that Carder was really releasing anger bottled up for some time now. He decided to use encouraging words to try and calm him. “My friend, I am truly sorry,” said Larsen. “I promise I will leave this place at the break of dawn, and one day I will return. But, I just need to prove this to myself. I need to know that Gwen is dead.”

After a moment, Larsen felt the force on Carder’s blade ease. Carder slid his sword off of Larsen’s and struck the tip into the ground. “Fine,” said Carder. “Do what you must.”

Excerpt 12: Descend from the Sky

Lezell stood in the rubble covered streets of her ruined village. The night was cold so she placed her hands around her shoulders, the long sleeves of her blue dress also helping to keep her warm. She had heard a loud explosion followed by the crackling of fire and came out to investigate. She glared out into the night at the fire that blazed somewhere in the forest, brightening the dark sky like a small sun that was setting in the distance. She wondered what could have made such an explosion. Could it be the result of siege engines that she heard elder Furdon talk about on several occasions? But why would it be there? What could it be firing at?

Maybe those bandits got their hands on a new weapon and were experimenting with it by just firing randomly in the forest before they used it the wrong way and blew themselves to oblivion. She hoped this was the case and her village was finally rid of them. The thought almost put a smile on her face. It would be great to be able to rebuild their village uninterrupted. Her people would finally be able to clean the streets and build proper living quarters. Maybe the younger ones would actually stay alive to become adults or not be corrupted by the chance of quick money and join their gang.

As much as she would like that scenario, she doubted that would happen. Most likely, they had mastered its use, and would come this way first thing in the morning, laughing and blasting, taking all the provisions they had worked so hard to sow and reap. She shook her head at the thought. Why did their village have to suffer this fate? She wondered if she would ever see the better tomorrow that she believed in for all these years. While she always expected the worst, her faith was still strong, and sometimes it was the only thing that kept her going through hunger and despair, just like tonight.

Suddenly, she heard a noise ridding the wind. It sounded like the gusts of a tornado battering a large closed door. Where was it coming from? Looking around, she noticed something in the distant night sky. Something was definitely coming. As she gazed on curiously, a foreboding feeling came over her. Briefly she considered hiding, but she continued to gaze into the sky. When she finally saw it, her eyes widened in shock, her jaw dropped and horror filled her. She cringed from the approach of a great black beast that was descending from the sky. Its dark complexion made it difficult to see, but now it was clearly in her vision, and it seemed too late to escape. Its wing span was vast, stretching far beyond the width of the street. Two horns curled upwards from its head. A large maw opened, revealing huge curved fangs. A mighty bellow echoed out into the night.

Lezell turned and ran. Her breaths were frantic. She lost any form of order and composure. Never before had she seen anything like this. What a fearsome beast and it was coming straight for her. She ran as fast as she could, but it didn’t feel fast enough. Everything felt as if it was moving slower than usual. Her legs felt heavy. In her mind she saw herself being taken into the great jaws of the beast and chewed. It would be a painful death.

She tripped, scraping her skin on the ground. Daring a quick glance back revealed flames flickering in its throat. It appeared this thing could even breathe fire. She imagined flames throwing forward, burning everything. She would be set afire, and her skin would melt away. She was not sure which death was worse. She tried to get up, but fear froze her. She huddled on the ground, trembling, crying out in terror. This is it, she thought. My death has finally come for me. Never did I think it would come like this.

She heard the powerful beat of its wings pass over her. Looking ahead, she saw the creature was now flying away into the night. Her breaths were long and deep. Her heart was pounding. Sweat trickled down her forehead. It felt as if death itself had left her alone.

Now she knew what it was like to be confronted by a dangerous beast. She had often heard the stories from her husband about facing a fearsome creature in the forest while hunting when he was still alive. There were times he would ward it off, sometimes even killing it. Other times he would run. She was always amazed by his bravery and often wondered what she would have done if put in a similar situation. After this experience, she hoped to never confront one again.

She was certain the dragon had seen her, but for some reason, it had spared her life. She wondered where it came from, why would it suddenly appear, and where was it going? Doubtless it was responsible for the explosions. Whatever reasons the creature had, she hoped it would never pass this way again. She knew the thought was crazy so she would never repeat it, and dismissed it as her imagination, but she swore she had seen someone standing on the monster’s back.

Excerpt 11: Dirk the Juggernaut

His vision was a blur for just a moment. His focus came just in time to glimpse an enormous hammer head closing in on him. He rolled to the side and fell off the table. The hammer slammed into the table causing it to shatter into splinters under the tremendous pressure. One of the burly men was sent flying back from the force of the blow, the other three leapt back. Larsen sprang to his feet and readied himself. Dirk changed his stance and twisted his body to bring the hammer around for another attack, lashing out in a great arc. Larsen ducked. The hammer caught the second burly man on his side and he was sent crashing through the tavern wall. The two remaining burly men leapt back again, a bit further this time. Dirk stepped forward releasing a series of powerful blows. He repeatedly swung his hammer right to left, followed by a crushing blow to the ground, then right to left. Larsen evaded every attack by either ducking or quickly stepping to the side. Every time Larsen avoided an attack, the hammer connected with a bystander in the crowd, sending him soaring across the room into another crowd.

One person tried to avoid the painful swing of Dirk’s hammer and accidentally bumped into another man. The man thought he was being attacked and lashed out with his fist. In another corner of the room, a man shoved another out of his way while trying to avoid a human missile. The man became enraged with the person who shoved him and rushed in with an attack. Another drunken man was hit by someone who was sent flying by Dirk’s attacks. Without even knowing who was at fault, and acting on his intoxicated intuition, assaulted the nearest person. Soon the entire tavern was an all out brawl.

Larsen contemplated the situation. He observed how Dirk’s hammer smashed into the floor, and shattered furnishings. What strength, he thought. Dirk was even stronger than Carder. He could not possibly parry one of Dirk’s attacks without breaking his own hand or arm. He also did not want to draw his sword against him for fear of cutting down a valued friend. He considered tackling Dirk to the ground.

Just then the last two burly men looked at each other, nodded in agreement and rushed at Dirk. They crashed into him with a combined force that appeared as if they could take down a tree. The impact caused Dirk to drop his hammer. He was pushed back a bit. Just as he was about to topple, he pound his right leg into the ground to regain his balance. Looking down at the two burly men by his waist, he plunged his elbows into their shoulders. The men slumped to the ground in pain. Dirk then connected his fists with the face of the man on his left, sending him flying behind the counter, and kicked the man on his right into a table. Another man came up behind Dirk and locked his arm around his neck. They both wrestled for a bit and disappeared in the scuffle of bodies.

Larsen looked around the tavern. Fists flew everywhere, bottles were being thrown, and furnishings were used as weapons. It was madness. He knew he had to get out, but Gwen was upstairs. He would have to get her first, which made things difficult. In his mind he saw himself being hit by a stray bottle, or being attacked by some drunk. He even saw Gwen being pushed out the window. He shivered and became terrified.

Easy, thought Larsen. No need to become paranoid. Just get Gwen as quickly as possible and leave. He moved cautiously, shouldering his way through the violent crowd. He noticed the bartender hiding under a table. He kept looking left to right, and appeared to be trembling. Larsen wished he could help him, but now was not the time. He had to keep moving.

Suddenly Larsen was pushed face down to the ground. He felt the weight of a fat man on top of him. The man held Larsen’s hands behind his back. He felt another pair of hands fumbling through his pockets. What was going on, thought Larsen? Was he being robbed? He tried to wrestle himself free, but the man applied too much pressure.

Then he felt an immense wind pass over him. The weight was instantly gone. He looked up and saw Dirk once again, swinging his enormous hammer. Immediately Larsen realised what had happened. The two men who assaulted him were sent soaring by Dirk’s attack. Larsen was grateful for this, but now Dirk was once again an obstacle. Dirk didn’t seem to have a specific target. He lashed out and smashed everything: tables, chairs, supporting beams, people, everything within range was hit or smashed. He bellowed in anger with every swing. The veins on his arms and neck bulged. Dirk was now a hammer wielding madman with no reasoning.

Larsen slowly stood to his feet, and tried to move around Dirk. He crept around behind him, and slowly moved towards the stairs. Just then someone bumped into him, and he tumbled towards Dirk’s back.

Excerpt 10: Belief of Madness

He heard the footsteps of someone approaching. From out of the gloom came the grey haired man. He stopped in front of Larsen’s cell, looking at him. Larsen returned his glare, his eyes widening when he saw who was cradled in his arms. “Gwen,” said Larsen as he quickly rose to his feet and rushed to the cell gate, reaching his arms through the bars. The man held her just out of arms reach.

“So, my suspicions were correct,” said the man as he looked at Larsen. “This is Gwen, Queen of Vingstead.”

“I told you that I have no kingdom,” said Larsen with an annoyed tone. “Vingstead has fallen. I am not king anymore.”

The man’s facial expression looked as if he understood. “Now it makes sense,” he said. “You lost the battle, and you’ve come all this way seeking great power for your revenge. There is only one mystery that remains. Tell me, why are you dragging this carcass along with you?”

“Gwen is not dead,” snapped Larsen. “She is ill.” The man looked confused as Larsen continued. “Tell me you’ve heard of it.”

“Heard… of what?” asked the man.

“Of the illness that suspends life, and preserves body. It originated north of here, and there is where I will find the cure.”

“I have never heard of such an illness. It sounds like madness to believe something like that even exists. This woman is dead, do you hear.” As the man bellowed these words, he moved his arms allowing her fall to the ground.

“No,” shouted Larsen, stretching his arms through the bars in a desperate but futile attempt to catch her. She hit the ground with a thump. It sounded as if her head impacted the surface too hard. Larsen swore he could see blood in her hair. He clenched his fist and looked balefully at the man, his face distorted with anger. He developed a complete hatred for the man, and not for the first time he wanted to drive his sword through the man’s heart.

“So you still don’t believe,” said the man. “Let me prove her death to you.” As he said so, he drew his sword, held it over her stomach and pointed the tip downward. He raised it over his head, then plunged down.

Larsen felt a pain in his stomach. His heart raced. It sounded like a drum in his ears. He couldn’t believe what was happening. Gwen was about to die right before his eyes. He could not bear the pain of losing her all over again. “No, please,” shouted Larsen as he dropped to his knees.

Excerpt 9: Ride of Dreams

Suddenly it was a clear morning. Larsen rode over a ridge of a field behind his old castle on his black horse, Ruena. The grass was a lush green and his castle stretched out to the sky in the distance behind many trees. Gwen galloped beside him on a white horse. She wore her favourite white dress, her blonde hair waving in the wind. Around her neck was the gold necklace. He noticed she was not wearing her crown, and neither was he. Maybe they had decided to leave their crowns back at the castle, and just wanted to spend time together the way they use to, before the weights of king and queen came onto them.

They rode together, a broad smile across her face. Seeing her smiling filled him with joy, and all his problems seemed to vanish. Larsen became lost in the dream, not caring how he got there, and forgetting all about her death. He rode ahead of her and gave a quick glance over his shoulder, taunting her to try and catch him. She willingly accepted his challenge, easily matching his speed. Now they were neck and neck, their horses obeying their commands of galloping at full speed. Then Gwen pulled ahead of him and he was left behind. He looked on at her as she rode. She was always better at handling horses than he was, and she proved it again in this race. What an amazing woman, thought Larsen.

Just then, as he looked on at her admiringly, she fell off her horse and rolled several times on the ground. “Gwen,” shouted Larsen, bringing Ruena to a stop and running to her side. Getting down on his knees, he held her close, checking to see if she was hurt. “Gwen,” said Larsen, giving her a slight nudge. She looked pale and didn’t appear to be breathing. “Please, no,” said Larsen. “Come on, get up.”

Then everything vanished, only Larsen and Gwen remained. She hovered in the darkness, then slowly began to float away. Larsen called out to her, and stretched out his hand to hold her, but she was too far. “Larsen, save me,” she screamed out. This time, it was even louder.

Excerpt 8: A Scream in the Night

Larsen awoke to the sound of a high pitch scream. He looked around frantically, wondering what was going on. He looked at the sky. It was still dark. He quickly stood to his feet, reached for an arrow and drew the bow string back to his cheek. He surveyed for targets, but saw none. “That scream was too loud to ignore”, said Larsen just under his breath. He looked at Ruena, and then looked at Gwen, half expecting one of them to reply. He knew none of them could, but it was comforting to pretend he had company who shared his concern.

“Call me if anything happens,” said Larsen while looking at Ruena as he cautiously walked forward, keeping the tension on his bow. As he did so, he looked in all directions. He also kept looking back at Gwen to make sure she was unharmed. Further and further he walked into the gloomy night, passing several trees, each footstep crunching several stones on the rocky floor.

Looking into the night, he started to see the outlines of moving figures. He raised his bow and took aim, just in case something attacked. As he approached, the figures slowly became visible. Sitting on a large rock, he saw a slim woman. Her face was slender and attractive. Her hair was a fiery red. She wore a short green dress that had the texture of leaves. She appeared frightened and trembled as she stared off into the distance.

Excerpt 7: A Friendly Face

Larsen quickly opened his eyes and pushed himself upright as if expecting a fight. He hastily reached for his sword, but clutched at nothing. He looked around and was surprised to see he was on a straw mattress in a small wooden room. He lay in his breeches, but his breastplate, jerkin, gauntlets, and helmet had all been removed. Bandages wrapped his stomach and went all the way up his chest and down his right arm. He felt a bit of pain from his sudden movement, but it quickly subsided. His throat was no longer dry, and his stomach felt satisfied. What had happened, he wondered?

For a moment he thought that he woke up from a bad dream. Maybe he had gotten injured in some battle and was now back at his castle where Gwen had tended to his wounds. “Gwen,” he whispered. Where was Gwen? He looked around frantically and tried to stand. As he did so, he felt some of the pain returning. His muscles felt stiff and were slow to respond. The door to the room opened, and a young woman in a dark brown breeches and jerkin entered. Her face was slender, and her black hair only reached her shoulders.

“No, you must not move,” said the woman. “Your wounds have not completely healed yet.”

“Where is Gwen?” asked Larsen, holding his head as he returned to rest on the straw mattress.

“You mean that woman you were travelling with? She is safe in another room. She has not moved for days. Is something wrong with her?”

“No, nothing is wrong, she’s fine,” responded Larsen. “At least, she will be once we’ve reached our destination.” Larsen’s eyes widened when he fully understood what the woman just said. “You said for days?” asked Larsen. “How long have I been out?”