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The demon was smarter than Staever had given it credit for. Every swipe of its beak or talons pushed him nearer the eastern cliff. He could have run for the bridge, but the clan was still spread pell-mell across it.

“Everyone, remain still!” Graphus shouted. “Do not move! You’ll attract its attention.”

Grunting with frustration, Staever beat back another attack, nipping at the bird’s unguarded neck. Xander had made it onto the bridge, but Graphus was still urging on stragglers from behind.

The air demon’s shadow covered him. His heart jumped into his throat–too much motion at the bridge, not enough from him. Tail feathers brushed him as the demon took flight after the fleeing clan.

Staever threw Arcite’s shell-blade.

It bounced off the demon’s tail, but the thing turned around, planting its talons between Staever and the bridge.

“You want me to move?” he shouted. “I’ll move!”

This time the massive creature dropped its beak, Staever lunged for its legs. One heavy talon scratched his shell. Air whipping through the scratch stung like a lash, but he didn’t slow down until he’d passed under the bird.

It tied itself in knots trying to find how he’d vanished. He’d confused it, buying the clan time, but now he had to get back into its field of vision before it lost interest.

Something crunched inside the tower. The bird lifted its head, then launched itself up the earthwork, attacking the packed sand wall as Staever called after it in vain. “No! Not Ev and Arc! Keep fighting me!”

I’m a self-supported artist, and I rely on donations to keep bringing you The Glass Thief. Check out my Patreon to see the bonus content you can get if you pledge. Even $1 a month helps–and gets you a personal shout-out!

Thank you to Lynne, Pauline, David, Paul, and Thomas for their continued support.

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