We were still falling. Halkkor was refusing to let go no matter how violently I struck his face with my fists. And we were hurtling toward the lava with a sense of inevitability. It just seemed that, no matter what happened, we were about to go for a swim in Hellfire Lake.
As we closed the final distance of our descent, I decided that my only option was to play this like a game of chicken. I'd have to wait for the last possible second, when Halkkor had hit the surface but I hadn't, to teleport. The shock of being dunked in a sea of liquid fire would make him let go of me. It had to. And at that moment, I'd be free to make my midair escape.
The lava rushed up at us. Halkkor made eye contact with me and seemed to grit his teeth in preparation for impact. I admired his ability not to stare down in horror at his future source of excruciating pain. I conjured up my destination in my mind, preparing myself for the perfect timing this would require. The instant that I heard Halkkor's voice scream in unbridled agony, I willed my body to travel there.
I didn't time it right.
I landed on the top of the cliff at the spot where we had slipped off. For on brief, beautiful moment I thought I'd made it, but then my brain received some status reports from my nerves and I was suddenly enveloped in the most blinding, all-encompassing pain I'd ever experienced.
My right leg, apparently, had entered the lava just as I was vanishing. It felt like my foot to about halfway up my shin had melted off. The pain was unbelievable--but it wasn't limited to my leg. The lava seemed to have worked its way into my bloodstream and my entire body boiled from the inside for a few interminable seconds. Eventually, as I writhed in agony on the stony ground, the sensation subsided and withdrew like a haunting monster to my foot, where it lurked, waiting.
Once I'd recovered enough to open my eyes, I examined my leg. It was black and charred and peeling alarmingly thick scales of seared flesh. It was, as I'd mentioned, in extreme pain. But as I tested my weight on it a little bit, I decided that it was still mostly usable. I wasn't sure how or if my demonesque body would heal from this, but I was cautiously optimistic that I wouldn't need an amputation and a peg leg.
Suddenly I realized that I was alone. Halkkor had not made the jump with me.