Marla hurried across the sand, Terry the talking fish whining from inside his glass bowl. Behind them, a huge metal bird screeched angrily and zoomed towards the girl.
"Look out!" Terry gurgled frantically. Marla turned her head only slightly - and caught the eyes of the malicious metal raptor swooping in on them. She hurled herself to into the sand, Terry rolling down in his bowl without spilling any water.
"RAAAAARK!!" screeched the bird. It landed on top of a grassy sand dune and spread its impressive silver wings. The monster was about the size of a large dog, with cruel ambeer eyes and wings that looked as though they were made from scimitar blades. Its talons were curved sharply to snare prey.
"What in the world is that?!" Marla cried, getting up onto her feet and picking up Terry in his fish bowl.
"That?" said Terry. "That's an Iron Eagle, a pet of the war goddess Svadiri." Terry was an expert on pretty much everything. "Heh, you must have really annoyed her by refusing to be a hero."
At the mention of Svadiri's name, the Iron Eagle got slightly madder. It beat its huge wings and got into the air again. Its yellow eyes, glimmering like topaz, were focused on Terry.
"You had to annoy it, didn't you?" Marla groaned.
"Sorry," Terry squeaked as the mighty bird flew in for the kill.
"I'll have to fight it," the ex-hero muttered. She dodged a deadly peck from the Eagle's metal beak and drew Heraclean, her mighty sword, from her back. With her free hand she gingerly placed Terry in his bowl onto the sand.
"Come face me, foul beast!" yelled Marla, her sword pointed at the Iron Eagle. The monstrous metal bird stared at the sword for a few seconds, before lunging at the warrior with its hooked talons. But Marla was quicker, and Heraclean slashed into the bird with a ringing clang!
"That isn't gonna hurt it, is it?!" cried Terry. "Enchant it!"
Marla drew her hand across the sword's silver blade and many white, glowing runes appeared across it. Magic was very straining, but she still managed to enchant the weapon.
Then...Marla swung Heraclean, and the magicked blade cut through the Iron Eagle's front. With a panicked cry the monster vaporised, leaving nothing but a pile of iron plates of armour.
"You really shouldn't have quit that job," said a deep voice from behind her.