The Frostenhorn bellowed, and Nex felt power surge through her, converging on the helpless shadow cackler caught beneath her claw. With a pitiful squeak, it imploded into smoke.
This wasn't how they had envisioned the battle going. The plan, as far as Char knew, was simply to show up, seize the Monolith, and leave. Now they were fighting creatures from another universe and Zaros was nowhere to be seen.
Char took a breath, raising the Frostenhorn to her lips once more. But at that moment a vast, dark talon penetrated the swirling smoke, sweeping her cleanly off her feet. An enormous, chthonian-like beast of pure shadow towered over her, blocking out what little sun could still be seen.
"Char!" Nex screamed as the other claw struck down.
With fractions of a second to spare, Char heaved herself aside leaving the claw to violently rake across the earth, tendrils of shadow oozing in its wake. A light flashed. Char threw a hand across her face as the creature roared in agony.
"Be cautious!" Saradomin called from somewhere behind them. "It's more powerful than the others!"
As if Char couldn't tell. With the creature distracted, she jumped to her feet and raised the Frostenhorn once more. The creature readied to strike, but from nowhere a ball of shadow collided with its chest. It let out a howl of rage, lurching towards the source of its pain - Nex. She launched into the air, priming a second attack. Saradomin hurled a fresh lightning bolt at the beast, causing it to stagger, yet still it wouldn't fall.
"What manner of creature have you summoned?" he barked.
"A shadow behemoth," Nex retorted. "And we didn't summon it."
"Merely let it through the gate, then." Saradomin replied. "Watch out!"
Bellowing something between a shriek and a roar, the monster shook from head to toe, sending globs of oily shadow piercing in all directions. Char sidestepped them with ease, readying once again as they coalesced into small, angry shadow cacklers.
Before she could strike a ball of shadow flew into it at full speed and it dissolved, instantly. Char backed off, annoyed, and yelled up at Nex:
"Focus on the behemoth!"
With a grin, Nex did just that, swooping down to claw at the monster directly. Another cackler rose from the puddle at Char's feet and she whirled into action, blasting it with a jet of flame just as a third popped up.
The air crackled and hissed with magic. The creature howled as Nex and Saradomin wore it down, spell by spell.
"We have to keep it away from the front lines!" Saradomin yelled.
Nex glanced over her shoulder at a small group of humans struggling to put down a limping shadow cackler.
"Agreed," she hissed, drawing the behemoth back towards the Monolith. The shard of shadow deep within her heart thudded with adrenaline, eager to strike.
As if she'd read Nex's mind, Char blew the Frostenhorn again as Nex flapped her wings. Acrid smoke enveloped the monster as it swiped furiously but fruitlessly at the air where Nex had been just seconds before.
The beast seemed to shrink and shudder, almost collapsing in on itself. Nex landed beside Saradomin, savouring the chance to catch her breath.
"Good to see you cleaning up your own messes," Saradomin said, eyebrow raised.
"The fight's not over yet," Nex snarled. The shadow behemoth strained to its feet once more, snarled, and lurched around to face them. Its massive body flickered, and then it vanished entirely. Invisible.
Nex turned to the god.
"Your turn. Good luck."