Lith looked at his clock.
There was still half an hour before the Wardens sent by the army would start tearing down the underground complex.
He had no intention of calling off the attack.
Not until he was sure that the orc shaman was no more.
Can you turn off the device Lith asked Ratpack while pointing at the amplifier.
We must wait for master.
Lith cursed his bad luck and used Clean Slate on the barrier surrounding the amplifier to no avail.
The spell required physical contact to work and the paranoid lich had shielded his creation on purpose.
Invigoration too worked in a similar way, so that Lith\'s only way to pass time was to study the pseudo core of the various barriers around the lab, hoping that Solus could reproduce them to improve her tower form\'s defenses.
Zolgrish and Dann\'Kah were locked in a deadly embrace.
None of them could allow to let go of the other because the undead energies kept moving back and forth from their bodies.
Choosing the wrong moment to push away the opponent would have meant to lose all hope of regaining their freedom.
The lich would end up being trapped inside a body even inferior to that of a skeleton forever, while the orc shaman would have been reverted to his fallen state.
To add insult to injury, he would be crushed under the weight of his magic crystal and be defeated without even getting a chance to fight back.
He was able to keep the crystal compressed in the form of a ring only thanks to the undead energies coursing through his body.
They restored the powers his bloodline possessed before the fall and granted him the lich\'s inhuman strength.
Even if it appeared small, the ring actually weighed over a hundred kilograms, something he couldn\'t lift with just one finger in his orc form.
The tug of war of sheer willpower was quite balanced.
The orc-elf drew his strength from the grudge he held against the lich and from the echoes of the past shamans inhabiting his ring.
The moment they perceived the lich\'s mind, they stopped harassing Dann\'Kah and joined his efforts, having mistaken Zolgrish for a member of the dreaded demon race.
Despite his current madness, Zolgrish had the indomitable will of all those who had not only sacrificed most of their humanity to achieve lichhood, but also had survived the excruciating pain that severing part of their soul and mana core involved.
He had the home advantage as well, since it was his body that the undead energies were supposed to inhabit.
Unfortunately, the long imprisonment the lich had undergone and the support the magic crystal gave Dann\'Kah were enough to even the field.
I knew I should have never bestowed upon you such a huge crystal, you ungrateful dog! Without me, you would be no better than a wild beast, only worried about your survival! The lich said.
Without you, I would still have my tribe and my dreams.
You slaughtered them all for your experiments and enslaved me! Yours are no gifts, but curses. Dann\'Kah rebuked.
Zolgrish had Warped them to the Disciplining Hall, where he had killed Dann\'Kah over and over again to break him into submission.
He hoped that both his words and the dreadful memories linked to such a place would give him an edge.
Yet the orc-elf didn\'t flinch.
Contrary to Zolgrish\'s expectations, his maneuver backfired.
Up until that moment, the lich\'s will had been like a black fog, slowly engulfing everything on its path, whereas the orc\'s had been like a fire fueled by his hatred that consumed the darkness on its wake.
Now the fire in Dann\'Kah\'s mind became a focused jet stream of flames that pierced the black fog, forcing Zolgrish on his knees.
Dann\'Kah could feel the undead energies abandoning the lich and submitting to their new master.
You\'re finished old man.
You\'ll spend the rest of your eternal life as a slave in my mines! Dann\'Kah cast the tier three darkness spell Corrosion.
It conjured a thin fog that consumed what little was left of Zolgrish\'s body to finish him off.
Am I Zolgrish replied with a smug voice.
Using magic required focus, focus that Dann\'Kah had to withdraw from their battle of will, leaving himself exposed.
The black fog which represented the lich\'s dominance let the orc\'s fire pass, attacking it from the sides and the back.
Dann\'Kah lost control over the undead energy as well as over his spell, which faded into nothingness.
No matter the form you take, an idiot will always be an idiot. Zolgrish was now dressed in a luxurious golden mage robe.
His face would have been mistaken for a human\'s if not for the red light of undeath burning in his eyes instead of pupils.
To look like a skeleton, a rotting corpse, or exactly as they were on the moment of their death, it was just a matter of choice for a lich.
Rage by itself it\'s useless.
I knew that if I\'d have you worked up enough, you\'d do something stupid.
Once you get an edge, you have to consolidate it, like this! Zolgrish was aware that it was only a matter of time before Dann\'Kah recovered.
He had only a few seconds left before they went back to a stalemate.
So, instead of wasting focus casting a spell he couldn\'t control, he used it to grip the orc\'s finger strong enough to take off the ring and throw it away.
Suddenly Dann\'Kah was alone and much weaker.
Without the crystal, he couldn\'t draw upon the world energy to heal from the wounds that the lich\'s deadly touch inflicted upon him, nor he could use his ancestors\' will to reinforce his own.
I need no crystal! Dann\'Kah said.
Just like Zolgrish had done a second ago, now it was his turn to retrieve most of the undead energy.
His rage burned stronger for having fallen for the lich\'s trickery and allowed him to push the black fog back.
A crown made of world energy materialized above his head and his grip grew in strength to the point of cracking the lich\'s fingers.
Zolgrish inwardly cursed hid bad luck.
Apparently, what his unwilling assistant lacked in cunning, he made up with fury.
Lith had just finished studying the pseudo core of all the lich\'s creations he could put his hands on when a Warp Steps opened right in the middle of the lab.
The humanoid figure who stepped out of it was that of a tall man with pointy ears wearing a golden magician robe.
The world energy accumulated inside his body formed a crown of pure mana above his head and made his skin shine like the god of light had descended among men.
Dann\'Kah defeated master! Every undead for himself. Ratpack had prudently remained near the door and so had Lith.
Yet while the small creature bolted away, Lith stood still with a Warp Steps at the ready.
There was something odd in the orc shaman\'s energy signature.
Zelda! It\'s so nice to see you defeated that treacherous Balor.
I was going to thank Ratpack too, but that idiot ruined the moment.
Again. The lich sighed.
Lith wasn\'t upset by Zolgrish not remembering his name right not even once, as much as worried by the inexorable ticking of time.