Great masses of flame fell from the clouds above and burst in the midst of the undead army. Soon, the air was full of thick, greasy smoke, and the stench of burning bone and charred flesh. For a time, the walking dead at the wall continued trying to assault the defenders, but soon turned back. As for the fate of the black-robed necromancers… they could not be seen in the smoke and flame, but Garkhen could only assume they were faring as poorly as their minions.
The storm of fire continued for several minutes, then ended as abruptly as it had begun, leaving only the smoldering corpses in the scorched field behind. Except… there was movement. The robed figures still lived.
The Loyalist forces seemed frozen with shock for a few moments, but soon, a great shout went up as they sallied. Some of Garkhen’s squad seemed inclined to follow, but Sergeant Gerim’s stern gaze kept them in place.
They didn’t hold position for long, however. Soon, orders came to gather at the gate. A rushed commander looked over them as they arrived, then handed them off to a lieutenant, who slotted them into place with a few other squads in the gathering formation. Then a shouted order sent them marching out of the gates.
It seemed to Garkhen that they stepped into a different world. While the battle on the walls had been bad enough, this… this was like gazing into the Abyss. Charred remains smoldered around them on ground burned clean of grass. Smoke drifted around the fields, lit by weak moonlight filtering down from above mingled with the light of dying fires below. Garkhen could hear the retching of those soldiers who lacked strong stomachs above the clink of weapons and armor.
A shout arose ahead, and soon after flashes of light and the crash of weapons. Garkhen quickened his pace, trying to keep in step with the faster cadence of his formation as they marched towards the sounds of battle. Soon enough he could see, through the smoke, a small group of armored soldiers… and a handful of large, fiery figures battling them. The soldiers were losing ground quickly, retreating before the face of their foes. Towards Garkhen’s formation.
As they drew closer, he could make out these foes more clearly. There were perhaps half a dozen of them, varying in size from only slightly taller than a human to twice as tall. All were terrifying, misshapen creatures, vaguely resembling different races of Men (and trolls), but horribly twisted, with auras of sickly flame about them.
“Infernals,” Garkhen breathed.
Infernals, or demons, or devils, or… there were more names for them than reliable sightings. While he had read of them in tales, yet the more trustworthy religious and scholarly texts generally agreed that such creatures never came to the world—or if they did, only in small numbers, and with the blackest of dark summons. Supposedly, they were the end fate of souls so twisted and evil that they changed after death into monsters. Seeing them, Garkhen could not help but think it was true.
Their power, however, was clear. The once orderly retreat of the soldiers they were marching to reinforce had become a full-on rout, as they fled before the fell creatures. The largest of them swatted a man aside with the back of one hand, sending him flying several feet before landing and laying still.
The archers in Garkhen’s formation halted, took aim, and loosed. The arrows flew true, arcing over their allies and striking the Infernals… to no effect. They ricocheted off the abyssal creatures’ skin as if off steel. Remembering something, Garkhen focused, calling to mind a spell-prayer he had once read. Holding aloft the symbol of Bahamut, he called on his god for holy power. A silver-white glow formed on the weapons of the soldiers closest to him.
“Now we may harm these creatures!” Garkhen exclaimed, pulling his mace out as their fleeing companions reached their ranks. They let their injured comrades through, then closed ranks again just in time to meet their foes.
A troll-like Infernal, with red-black scaly skin and huge claws, the largest of the six Garkhen could see, was first to meet their lines. It locked its eyes on the Warder and, with a roar, swept its clawed hand down. Garkhen raised his shield and braced himself. The black claws of the Infernal bit into his shield, cutting down to his arm, but was stopped by his armor. The half-dragon grunted at the impact as his left arm was borne downwards by the blow, but he managed to keep his feet. Somehow, he got his mace up and struck down at the creature’s arm as it started to pull it back.
It roared in pain as a holy light flared around Garkhen’s mace. Quickly it pulled its hand back, but just as quickly it lashed forward with the other. Garkhen stumbled backwards, the Infernal’s claws again thwarted by his armor, but the force of the blow no less for it. But by now the soldiers around him were at work, and several blades cut deep into scaled arm.
So, yeah, sorry for the disgusting scenery, but… mass fire spells make a mess of things. And also apparently don’t work on demons.