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Nimbus riding normally requires thick gloves and a steam suit, but Olivette didn’t have time to find hers. She lashes the reins yet again with one hand, just to break the ice continually mounting them, but her cloud takes it as a cue to surge ahead even faster.

To her left, Perreau whoops and kicks with his etheric spurs to keep up: it’s always a game, as long as you’re not the one gambling. Their mounts spiral like sea snakes through the bronze-pink air of sunset. Olivette’s hands are numb.

Behind them, darkly gathering, the iron bellies of the storm.