They writhed out from their cocoon of cool earth as pebbles and rocks shot out from either direction. Alastair could hear the woman laughing a hearty laugh as the Bull Fists bustled into a half moon formation around them. One of the beasts licked its teeth with a black forked tongue. The Bull Fists immediately charged, leaving no room for the company to think through on how to defend themselves. The beasts split into three groups of ten and attempted to catch any of the company with their oversized fists.
Tipper rounded to the left, angling himself northbound. He still held onto Alastair. Alastair dared not impair Tipper. If he accidentally tripped the Kitsune up by trying to get down, they could both die in an instant. He saw Ginger from the corner of his eye using her long legs to her advantage. He could also see the woman in her disgusting yellow dress follow just behind the group of Bull Fists. She was still grinning as if she ordered a large pizza with extra cheese and was about to watch her favorite television show.
“I can’t shake them,” Tipper panted. He had been attempting to zig zag through a copse of trees to no avail. The Bull Fists were always hot on their trail.
“This is stupid!” Ginger yelled. “Why did sub-queen Faeley give us these weapons if we weren’t going to use them?” She looked over her shoulder, and while still running, threw one of her knives with all of her might. Although she had greatly improved over the past four days, she could not pierce the Bull Fist’s thick skin. The knives hit one of the creature’s jaw and bounced off like a measles gnat. Ginger repeated Tipper’s curse.
Alastair expected Lila, despite running for her life, to correct Ginger.
“Don’t say those words.”
But Lila said nothing. Alastair frantically looked around for his sister. She was nowhere in sight. All he could see was the Bull Fists, the yellow dress woman, and Ginger. The Bull Fists had separated them.
Lila wanted to follow her brother still on Tipper’s back. She felt her feet turn to do just that. A Bull Fist lumbered right in front of her. She yelped.
“This way!” Perceval urged. He flicked his tail, indicating Lila to follow. Lila had no choice but to trust Tipper to keep her brother safe. She gulped and darted over to Perceval.
“Woah! What about the others?” Zane called out.
“They’ll be alright,” Glue Pot said. He didn’t really sound convincing. He galloped over to Zane and Lila, reached down, and picked them both up. “I know I said never again, but I seem to be breaking all of my preset rules lately.” The centaur set the children on his back. “You can keep up, right, Perceval?”
“Give me some credit. I am, how to the Earth people say it, swift as a fox!”
The four dove into the forest. The Bull Fists were never too far away. They broke branches and made the forest floor shudder. Lila hurriedly tried to think of a way out of this. She had the advantage of sitting on Glue Pot’s back where she could think of a plan. Could she use her shoes like last time to fly? No, there’d be no way she could fly through a forest. There were too many trees and she’d more likely make it easier for the Bull Fists to catch her.
“Zane, can you use your arrows to hit those things?”
“My…oh!” Zane fumbled for his bow. “I don’t know how good a shot I can be.”
“Just try it!” Lila examined the closest Bull Fist. It was larger than the other nine following it with heavier muscles and red eyes. The jaw was completely bone and its skin looked tough. “Try and hit the eyes.”
“They’re so small,” Zane replied. Yet he still notched the arrow. He pulled the bolt back.
“Stay still. You’re shaking like a small dog.”
“You try and hit a moving, tiny target while you’re life depends on it,” Zane shot back. He forcibly went still, aimed as best he could, and let the arrow fly. He had the force required for the arrow to sing through the air, however his aim was off. The bolt smacked against the Bull Fist’s tusk. “No, no, no.”
Zane notched another arrow and let it fly. This time the arrow stuck on the tender flesh next to the beast’s slit nose.
“Look at that, Lila! I got him!”
“I don’t want to ruin your party,” Lila said.
“Tell the truth. You want to.”
“Buuut, that arrow did nothing. It’s still coming after us. We have to think of something else.”
“Perceval, can’t you do something? Throw a fire ball or something?” Zane yelled down to the fox creature.
“I can’t do fire spells anymore. Not in this body. I can only eat access fire and keep Tipper safe with what I collect. Besides that, I can make high level shields—only at full health, though.”
Lila was struck with an idea.
“Shields where monsters stay out but we can still throw things at them?”
“Oh,” Glue Pot said. “Yes, that would be good.”
“Yes, I can design the shield like that,” Perceval panted. “It won’t last long, though. Four or five minutes.”
“Zane, you still have your Fire Gem. You can use that. Glue Pot can make use of his arrows,” Lila said.
“If we stop and we can’t take those Bull Fists out in time, that’s it. They’ll have us surrounded and we’ll be finger food,” Zane said.
“It’s better than them running us to death,” Perceval pointed out. “I’m willing to do it if everyone agrees.”
Faced with this line of reasoning, Zane agreed with his companions.
“I hope they line up like bowling pins. I may be mediocre at the bow, but I play a mean game of bowling.”
(PS: What did I do to myself?)