"Mother of Rezyn," Seoc breathed. "Here it comes."
Fern glanced back over her shoulder. They were nearly to Alyaport now, so their pursuer was still a safe distance back as it emerged from the dunes, but that was not particularly comforting. It was huge and hideous, and although it was too far away to see clearly, it seemed to have the face of a bat, the twisting horns of a ram, and an armor of scales that formed a ridge of spikes down its back. Skeletal, dragon-like wings spread out from its shoulder blades, but apparently it had not yet figured out how to use them. If it had, Fern was fairly certain that both she and Seoc would have been dead by now.
"Think you can run again?" she asked Seoc.
"From that," he replied, "yes."
They raced into Alyaport as fast as they could, Fern pulling Seoc by the wrist. The newly-risen sun made their shadows long and distorted. Up the hill they sprinted, panting and gasping, scarcely noticing that their feet were beginning to stumble. At the top, they stopped briefly to look behind and saw that the demon had reached the edge of the desert.
"It's...gaining...on us," Fern observed.
"Let...sgo then," Seoc suggested.
It was significantly less effort to run down the other side to the beach. The challenge was to avoid tripping over their own feet. They could see Cedric ahead, waiting with the horse and the unconscious detective by the ocean's edge. He waved at them, but they could not muster the energy to return the gesture. Fern looked over her shoulder once more and caught a glimpse of the demon at the top of the hill. She could hear screaming from Alyaport.
The soft, white sand of the beach slowed their pace, but they struggled onwards. Fern glanced back yet again, just in time to see Jhra spread its wings and launch itself off the hillside.
"Into the water!" Seoc shouted at Cedric.
Fern did not see how this would help. Perhaps Seoc had read somewhere that Jhra was afraid of water or something, but since it was now airborne it could easily pick them out of it. However, she had no better ideas, so she ran into the shallows behind Cedric and the horse.
"Deeper," Seoc gasped weakly. "Where...we can go...under."
Cedric pulled his unconscious uncle from the horse and into the water, leaving the animal to fend for itself.
Tremendous wings beat overhead.