Demon Attack

It was over an hour before Beagan called out a warning from the archers’ perch: incoming demons! Within seconds, the largest grizzly bear Lieh had ever seen crashed through the woods on all fours from the west, making little effort to disguise its approach. Lieh stood up and edged around toward it, wary that it might be a distraction. An arrow or two dug into its hide, not slowing it at all—definitely a demon. She began by casting an energy ball spell: calculating where the bear would be, weaving the guide channel in and out between the trees, and finally launching her projectile. The ball smashed into the bear, burning off half its fur and a good deal of flesh, but it kept moving through a haze of smoke and flying sparks toward the center of the camp.

A loud crash from behind jolted Lieh—it sounded like a new threat, and much closer to her. Quickly, she called out, “Senn! Do what you can with that bear . . .” Turning to the southeast, she saw a giant . . . what was that . . . ? A moose? Some of these demons were really desperate lately, judging by the animals they chose to possess. As it thundered up the trail, Rikk Janus slunk out from behind a tree and slashed the moose down its side with his sword. Rikk was a lot slower since his injury from that wolf two years before, but that made him all the more cunning. The gargantuan moose stopped and swung around, splintering a small sapling as it turned. Its huge antlers, twice as wide as she was tall, lashed out in response to Rikk’s sword cut. Someone was pitched through the semi-darkness with a scream. It looked like one of the spellcasters, who would probably spend his last moments regretting the very existence of antlers. Suddenly being a moose didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

How to help . . . Lieh summoned up a black ball of cold energy, and routed it on a channel toward the moose. The energy smashed into one of its front legs just as it regained its footing. The cold froze the leg nearly solid and frosted the ground white around it. Rikk dove forward with his sword outstretched as the moose lost balance, almost hacking the leg off at the knee. The moose fell forward on him and thrashed around, kicking him hard with its rear legs. Artie Tenko entered the fray with his battle hammer, raised it two-handed, and swung at the demon’s head. A shimmer of solid energy shield glimmered next to him as the shield deflected a few solid kicks of the moose’s flailing legs. At least one Adept over there was still able to maintain a shield.

A wolf howl echoed from the north, and Lieh heard a grunting noise coming from the southwest path. It was strange that the demons were approaching from so many directions, several minutes apart. This kind of disorganization was no way to win a fight, but Lieh wasn’t about to complain. She turned her attention to the new threat from the southwest, confident the demon moose was now in good hands. A wild boar was coming up the southwest path at a dead run. At that speed, it would be tough for the archers to hit. She started to create a wall of solid energy across the path. As she built the matrix of the wall, she heard a noise overhead, and looked up just in time to see a huge lynx leaping out of a tree to her left. The muscled cat slammed into Lieh’s side as if the tree itself had fallen on her. She felt a crunch as the impact crushed a few of her ribs, then her head hit the ground hard, and the rest was blackness.