Garkhen braced himself behind his shield, realizing just as the huge Infernal reached him that such a tactic was unlikely to work this time. The demon’s fist struck his shield with a tremendous crash, and the half-dragon found himself lying near the door of the cathedral, the ruins of his shield hanging limply on his broken arm. Gritting his teeth against the pain, Garkhen murmured a spell-prayer of healing, waiting until his arm felt whole enough to use again, then shook what remained of his shield free.
Only then did he look up to see how the battle was progressing. It seemed his allies knew better than to allow themselves to be struck. Tirel seemed to be baiting the creature, slashing at it then darting back when it struck. Jesil was more wary, striking only when its back was turned, then quickly backing away. Khera and Mirthin stayed well away, firing spells and arrows at the beast. They were doing well… but the creature showed little sign of injury.
With a growl, the half-dragon launched himself back into the fray. With his free hand he seized his holy symbol, lifted it in front of his mouth, and breathed lightning through it. Holy lightning blasted into the Infernal, and for a moment, the spot struck looked… ghostly, somehow. Then the moment was gone, and it whirled and roared at Garkhen.
“Back for more, half-breed?” The demon was smiling, clearly having the time of its life. It swiped at Garkhen, who was wise enough this time was enough to back away.
He grazed its hand with his mace, and again Garkhen noticed the odd, momentary transparency. Then he had to dodge again, though this time there was a screech of claw on metal as he did not quite dodge enough. A roar from behind the Infernal brought his attention again, however, as Tirel slashed at its ankles with his green-glowing claws.
“It does not… seem injured,” Jesil gasped as he came up next to Garkhen. The Warder simply nodded in mute agreement, even as another bolt of lightning from Khera struck it.
Wait… Under the sounds of battle, Garkhen noticed an odd pattering after the strike. It sounded almost like… small stones striking the ground. But he didn’t have time to ponder what it might mean, as the demon whirled again to strike at the two armored figures behind it.
A couple close calls later, and Garkhen was next to Tirel. “It’s like it’s made of stone!” The tiger growled.
Garkhen looked over at him, surprised he could still speak in tiger-shape, but again had no time to consider it. He and his allies were growing weary, and the Infernal showed no signs of fatigue. Indeed, he got the impression it was toying with them, secure in its invulnerability.
Wait… made of stone… the odd moments of transparency…
It was not really here.
In a flash of insight, he realized the reason for its confidence, its seeming invulnerability. Somehow, it was not truly here. Perhaps it was animating a statue, or perhaps a construct of magic, but regardless, the demon was in no physical danger. However, there was a weakness to such an arrangement.
“Help me get close,” Garkhen whispered urgently to Tirel. Then they had to split apart as a huge claw descended between them.
Garkhen began chanting under his breath while the tiger circled behind the Infernal, jumping in to slash at it whenever it seemed it might turn its attention elsewhere, then jumping back before it struck. As soon as he finished his warding spell-prayer, Garkhen began to chant again, this time while charging forward.
The demon whirled, striking out with a claw. Garkhen focused on his ward, and its attack stopped inches from his arm. He clenched his teeth, forcing himself to finish the chant despite the waves of fatigue washing over him from maintaining his ward. He raised his symbol.
“Begone from this place, fiend!” He shouted. “Return to your pit!”
He thrust his symbol forward with one final word of spell-prayer, striking low on the demon’s belly. Bahamut’s power flowed through the young half-dragon, and the demon’s outline began to fade.
“WHAT!” it shouted. It started to raise its arm to strike at Garkhen, but its movements slowed as it became increasingly transparent, revealing a rune-covered statue underneath.
Finally it stopped, one arm held up to strike, as the last traces of demonic shape vanished from the statue. Wearily, Garkhen dropped his hand, and was surprised to find himself shrinking, his spell of strength and size exhausted with his energy. But that was not all… he was slowly falling to his knees. The world around him seemed to be getting darker…
The last thing he saw before unconsciousness was that the statue above him was starting to fall to pieces.
Garkhen! Quit knocking yourself out! It’s not good for you! Especially while giant stone statues are crumbling above you.