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Gryphons,” Bruise muttered. 

“Where?” Tuesday asked, straining his neck to see further down the road.


“Only six of them,” Bruise said. “Not too bad.”

“Six?” Tuesday said. “Six? Gryphons? They will probably attack us from the sky,” he said, looking up at last.

“Think so?” Bruise muttered. He pushed Good Idea and Pink under a huge elm tree on the side of the road. “You should be safe enough here. If any of them land and try to grab you, get on that little horse of yours and run like a speercat, okay?”

She nodded, and Bruise took Axe in one hand and stood in the middle of the road, waiting.

Tuesday stood a few feet away, dancing from one foot to the other, waving his sword in the air. “Just come and try,” he yelled. A gryphon, accepting the invitation, folded its wings and dove straight at Tuesday, flexing its huge talons. The elf fell to his knees and covered his head. The gryphon, still intent on the bright blond curls, got close enough to the ground for Bruise to strike it dead with one brutal swing of Axe.

Good Idea’s mouth dropped open. This was her well-trained ally? Yelling in the middle of the road, swinging his sword wildly without hitting a thing?

“Oh, dear,” she muttered to herself. This was not what she expected.

“Good move,” Bruise yelled. “Try to get another one down here.”

Tuesday staggered to his feet, threw Bruise an incredulous look, then turned his face skyward again, waving the sword. “Who’s next?” he cried.

Two gryphons took him up on the challenge, crisscrossing each other as they gathered speed, coming at him from two directions. A third had circled behind Bruise, and the orc now had his attention divided. He shifted the Axe from one hand to the other and drew a short, ugly sword from beneath his tunic.


Good Idea watched in growing fear and amazement as one of the small eyes moved across the yellow face, past the ear, until it was on the back of Bruises’ head.

“Whoa,” she said softly. She tugged on Pink’s rein. “Did you know he could do that?”

Obviously, the gryphon didn’t, because it dropped slowly behind the orc, thinking it was unseen and safe, only to have the short, ugly sword thrust backward, directly into its breast. It fell to the ground, screaming.

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