A wall comprised of at least thirty or more Batal were glaring down at the party. At the very front was a familiar creepy face. He stood on his back two feet while the front two hung limply at his sides. It grinned a disgusting batty grin.
“Food! I introduce very angry family. Angry, hungry family!”
“How many of them are there?” Perceval growled. “If we combine our fire power with the kids’ Fire Gems we can easily take out thirteen or so.”
“That’s not enough. There’s no way we can evade the other twenty,” Tipper moaned. He was shaking and he gripped his hands tight. “Glue Pot. How fast are you?”
“A trifle, sir.”
“Can you carry the kids?”
“I know I can.”
“Digitalis. Help the kids up onto Glue Pot. You go along with them. You’re strong and can keep them safe.”
“Is this the only way?” Digitalis stared at Tipper with regret and admiration.
“It’s the only way I can think of right now.”
“Wait, what are you talking about?” Gasped Gabbie. “You’re coming with us, right?”
Digitalis nodded and as quick as a striking lizard, scooped Zane, Lila, and Gabbie up and onto Glue Pot. She heaved Ginger and Alastair on last. She smiled up at the buckling Glue Pot. “I’ll run with you. I was faster than Johnny Legs on Race Day, so I’m pretty speedy.”
“You go with them, too,” Tipper told Perceval. “They need you.”
“They need you, too,” whimpered Perceval. “I need you.”
“I’d be a lousy babysitter if I let the babies turn into o’devours,” Tipper smirked, letting some of his old self come back. Perceval padded over to Glue Pot and Digitalis.
“Want the boy. Want for me and just me. Got it?” The Batal yelped at his fellow carnivores. “You can have the rest.” The other Batal cheered and roared. They reared up, pawing at the air in their eagerness.
Tipper made a series of motions with his hands, too fast for the children to properly make out. Glue Pot stood transfixed. He was reluctant to move. Digitalis bumped the centaur with her shoulder as if to say that staying any longer would void Tipper’s sacrifice.
The Kitsune held up his palms.
“Wait, Tipper! You’ll burn out if you use that spell!” Perceval yelled.
“So be it!” Tipper snapped his fingers and a thick wall of black flames shot out from the left to the right in a heated explosion. They could hear the Batals squeal and roar from being blocked out and away from their intended prey. “I can hold this up for about ten minutes. That should give all of you a proper head start.”
Glue Pot heaved, his eyes dark and mouth frowning, and began to gallop along the tree line. He could see the path that hugged the beginning of the Mountain Ring Pass and a couple shadows. He’d need to get to that pass before those ten minutes were up.
“Tipper! Tipper!” The children screamed. “Tipper!”
“Keep running!” Digitalis said. She may have meant to encourage Glue Pot and Perceval, but more than anything, she was trying to encourage herself. They couldn’t turn back. They had to take what Tipper gave. They could still feel the heat of Tipper black, flaming wall, and they fought with every muscles sewn within their skin to run, run, run.