Garkhen braced himself for its first attack, raising his shield and gripping a seam in the stones of the plaza with the claws of his feet. The demon didn’t even try to slash at him—it simply crashed into him with all its bulk. The noise of the impact was tremendous, with the clash of armor on armor and the screech of Garkhen’s metal-sheathed claws on stone… but he moved only a few inches.
Silently, Garkhen reminded himself that blunt force could still injure him even through his armor. But he was too busy bringing his mace to bear on its arm to think too hard on that point. The demon pulled back, roaring in pain at the injury, and swiped at him with the other hand. Again there was the horrible screech of claw on adamantine, but this time Garkhen replied with a bolt of lightning to the Infernal’s face.
It stumbled backward, shaking its head to try to clear it, and the Warder stepped forward, lashing out again with his mace. He struck a solid blow on its side, but not enough to injure it seriously. The demon raised its claw to attack… and then an arrow sprouted from its throat. Howling in pain, it clutched at it, only for another arrow to bury itself in its cheek, then one final one in its eye. It collapsed, its corpse disintegrating.
He looked to one side, and saw Jesil stab his large sword straight up through the white demon’s chin into its skull. It fell to the ground, also dissolving into dust. As Garkhen looked about him, he could see the last remains of the others doing likewise. Tirel was already sprinting for the doors of the great cathedral, and Garkhen followed. He could hear the others falling in behind him, then catching up to him as they mounted the steps.
When they reached him, Tirel had his ear pressed to the door. “Someone’s chanting,” he reported in a whisper. “Deep voice… sounds like he’s big.”
“We should prepare,” Khera said, then began chanting a spell. Tirel nodded and did likewise, and Garkhen quickly followed suit.
After a few moments, they had protected and strengthened themselves as well as they knew how. Wards against fire and claw, enchantments of strength and holy power, and what more, the half-dragon knew not. Then Jesil stepped forward and pushed open the door.
It swung quietly into darkness, pierced only by a dull red glow from the far end of the great hall beyond. Garkhen could hear the deep voice Tirel spoke of suddenly stop.
“What have I… Oh, mortals.” The voice went suddenly from anger to amusement. “What are you doing here? Come to make a deal with me?”
Jesil stepped into the darkness. “We have come to stop you, demon.”
The deep voice laughed. As Garkhen peered into the darkness, he could make out a huge shape around the glow… huge as Kherkhlan, at least, though it stood on two legs.
“You? Five puny mortals? Well, come on, then. Let’s get this over with.”
Garkhen and his companions advanced forward. The light on the other end of the hall went out, but they could hear solid, heavy footsteps approaching them. Then Khera murmured a spell, and the room lit up bright as day.
Their foe towered above them, a huge, rough figure of black-scaled muscle. His overall form seemed vaguely trollish, but no troll had grown to such huge size. He smiled, showing wickedly pointed teeth.
“Mashano grant me strength,” Jesil murmured.
A spell-prayer he had seen once sprang unbidden to Garkhen’s mind. It was a difficult and draining one, one he had never attempted… but before he could think, he was chanting it. He felt strength flow into him, and he swelled up to twice his normal size, dwarfing his companions. The demon looked unimpressed.
Garkhen heard a growl next to him, and he turned his head slightly to see a huge tiger, nearly as tall at its shoulder as a man, where Tirel had been. He turned to face the huge Infernal in front of him.
It was smiling.
“This might be mildly entertaining,” he rumbled, and then charged.
There’s a reason all the biggest Infernals look like trolls. Maybe sometime I’ll tell you. If you can’t guess.