The party came to a halt, and Cerys’s eyes widened as she stared straight ahead. There was the gate, bent and rusted with age, and in front of it, hanging from a particularly low root, was the biggest bat that she had ever seen. It was as tall as a young child, wrapped in its own wings as it dozed. A few of the smaller star bats flew around it, but they seemed to be leaving it alone.
“What is that?” Cerys whispered, grabbing James’s arm.
“That’s the lead star,” he whispered back.
“Is he dangerous?”
James shook his head. “She would only hurt us if he hurt her or the bats in her charge.”
“Which means bad news for this goblin,” Sir Carter pointed out. “And us, if she thinks we are with it.”
The lead star’s body seemed to sparkle is the diffuse daylight that came in through the cave, like stars set against a peaceful night sky. It dozed peacefully, its wide ears no doubt picking up the sound of their footsteps, though it did not react to them.
The goblin, on the other hand, did not have the same sort of peacefulness. It struggled in its rope, and when that did not come loose, it began stomping its feet and grumbling loudly. The bats did not like that at all. A few of the smaller ones began landing on the lead star, screeching as they clung to her.
The giant bat began—ever so slowly– to open its eyes. Cerys felt it looking straight at her, and she shrank back behind James.
“Can’t we just go around it?” she asked him.
The goblin was yelling louder new, and the lead star did not like that idea at all. It let go of the root on which it had been hanging, and crawled across the floor toward the grumbling creature. It screeched at it, and the goblin snarled back.
“I think that is exactly what we need to do,” James finally replied.
“I have half a mind to let this bat have the goblin,” Sir Carter said. “It probably killed several of her brood.”
“Maybe so,” Lord Ridley told him, “but if that goblin manages to hurt her, you would regret it. She’ll fight to the death, if she has to, and we have to reason to leave her with an enemy that might necessitate exactly that.”
“Very well,” the knight sighed. “Your majesty, if you and the others could go ahead…”