“Where are they coming from?” Saradomin exclaimed as he shot a bolt of magic right through a shadow behemoth’s torso. It shuddered and growled, but continued undeterred along its path toward the mortal armies.
“Less talk, more fighting.” Nex hissed, launching into the air to try to draw the behemoth away.
After three weeks of almost nonstop fighting, they were all exhausted. Even with the Frostenhorn’s power, each new behemoth was taking all their resources to bring down – and if Nex wasn’t mistaken, they were getting stronger.
The last time she’d even heard of a shadow behemoth they were described as denizens of the deepest shadow realm – but now that she’d fought a few and sniffed out the differences between her powers and theirs, she couldn’t help but wonder if these ones might be from somewhere else. Somewhere even worse.
“Nex!” Char called, somewhere far below. Nex hardly had time to look down before a sweeping, almost-invisible claw knocked her from the sky, sending her tumbling down towards the ground. She’d gotten tired. Sloppy. This was a war of attrition, and they were losing hard.
Dizzily, Nex got to her feet. The very ground seemed to shake as the behemoth roared and started towards her. She prepared an attack – a shadow ball or three would do the trick – and then found herself stumbling off-balance.
“What now?” Saradomin cried. Nex wasn’t imagining it after all – the ground was shaking, splitting, even. A wave of heat washed over her as the earth split and the behemoth howled, slipping inexorably into the chasm.
One shining obsidian claw reached over the edge, followed by another – and then, with a stony thunk, a creature the likes of which Nex had never seen pulled itself up and out of the pit.
“We are TokHaar,” it said, “This body is TokHaar-Hok, who speaks for all. We come to crush the invaders.”
Nex could only nod, dazed. She’d heard of the TokHaar – in legends, Azzanadra's intelligence reports – but never for a moment believed that she might see one for herself.
“Unbelievable,” Saradomin exclaimed, floating down to join them, “The World Guardian managed it.”
TokHaar-Hok bristled, turned, and fired a jet of flame at the behemoth, which was struggling to make its way out of the pit. It yelped and thrashed, and finally, in a desperate flail of shadow and claw, launched itself directly at its tormentor, clamping down around TokHaar-Hok’s middle and dragging what parts it could latch onto back into the pit as it fell.
Nex and Saradomin stared in shocked silence. A rock – maybe once part of an arm – fell to the ground with a soft thunk.
“… I was led to believe they would be more effective,” Nex managed.
But then the ground rumbled again. The pile of rocks that was TokHaar-Hok shuddered and clinked together. The heat intensified. Saradomin took a step back. Nex bared her teeth.
A shining, obsidian claw reached over the edge, followed by another, and another, and another. Where one TokHaar had fallen, five more stood. The smallest of the five scuttled across to the pile of rubble and began gathering it up. The largest one stepped forward.
“We are TokHaar-Hok,” it said, “Do not be concerned. The body is easily replaced.”
The creatures raised their arms, chanting in some primordial tongue Nex found impossible to place. With one last desperate howl from the behemoth, the great chasm zipped shut, leaving nothing in its place but scorched earth and the smell of burning shadow.
The largest of the creatures turned back towards them.
“This place is filled with impurities,” it said, idly twirling its massive claw.
“We will eliminate them.”