The mercury wanted through, but Hector wasn’t budging. He could see the brain growing slowly larger with each passing moment.
‘I think you owe your shield an apology,’ said Garovel privately. ‘It’s clearly not a piece of shit, and it’s definitely saving your ass right now.’
‘I’ll make an iron girlfriend for it later,’ said Hector. He felt his bones cracking under Darktide’s constant pressure, but it wasn’t fast enough to be a problem for Hector’s undead regeneration. The bones just kept breaking and healing again and again, though it wasn’t exactly comfortable. He couldn’t even move.
“You cannot win,” came the calm double-voice of Darktide. “Give up Duvoss, and we will let you live.”
‘Don’t answer,’ said Garovel.
Hector didn’t intend to. The fact that Darktide was trying to bargain now seemed indicative of a stalemate having formed, and a stalemate was in their favor, because all they needed to do was buy a few minutes for Xuan.
But it was going to be a long few minutes.
Abruptly, Hector felt the crushing pressure let up for a moment, only to be replaced by a dozen points of spinning force. Mercury drills, digging into his arms and back and neck and skull. And they were making progress. He tried to fight them with iron, but it wouldn’t even materialize in here. The field density of Darktide’s soul was much too strong for him.
Hector didn’t know what else he could do. He was plainly overmatched, and Xuan still needed a lot more time.
Then Garovel decided to intervene. ‘HEY!’ he shouted, making Hector blink. ‘WE’RE STILL ALIVE IN HERE! AND WE COULD REALLY USE SOME HELP RIGHT ABOUT NOW!’
Then Darktide’s belly splattered apart with gravitic force, and Lord Salvador’s huge arm reached in. Liquid metal was on the man in an instant, but he already had a grip on Hector’s forearm and yanked him out. Melchor still held Hector’s legs, but Dimas was there to pummel the liquid beast with invisible bullets until Hector was finally free again.
Hector hit the ground rolling. His armor clattered off his body in sundered chunks, and the clothes beneath were full of rips and bloody holes and still-writhing mercury as his skin and muscles regenerated. But Duvoss and Xuan were safe in his arms, and Hector hoisted himself onto one knee, watching Dimas and Salvador engage Darktide in unison.