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