Under a serious time constraint and in the absence of any viable alternative, I went with my fallback plan—I attacked.
I teleported a few inches forward, past the Firstborn Blade, hoping to blow Azraal to bits once and for all. As I tried to materialize in the space occupied by his body, I felt some unseen force push me out of the way. I popped back into reality just beyond the edges of my unharmed adversary's frame.
"I've picked up on a few of your tricks," Azraal cackled, whirling and slicing the air near my ear. "And I've learned to defend myself."
"But I bet you don't know all my tricks," Talamur grunted.
Azraal went rigid for a moment before abruptly hurling his weapon with expert precision into the heart of one of his subordinates. The demon dropped dead instantly. I looked on in confusion as Azraal calmly yanked the bloody blade from his comrade's chest. The host of demons, including Kezin, appeared just as confused.
Suddenly Azraal lost his composure and emitted an unearthly animal shriek. "Oh, that was a fucking dirty trick! Well done, you brown bastard!"
"I prefer beige," Talamur said with a shrug. "But it's not really overly important anyway."
"What the hell just happened?" I asked him. "Did you just…possess…a demon?"
"It's not as easy as it is possessing a human," Talamur confirmed apologetically, sidling up next to me. "He shook it off pretty quickly, you may have noticed."
"I didn't even know that was possible!" I breathed. Based on the looks on the faces of our enemies, they hadn't known either. Despite a casualty on their side, they didn't look anxious to return fire.
In a rage, Azraal charged Talamur and the two of them began rapid hand-to-hand combat. Though their arms and legs were a blur, I could tell just how close Azraal was getting to scoring a fatal blow on my only remaining ally. I lunged forward to help, but Azraal had been waiting for that moment. As I moved forward, he pointed the Firstborn Blade at me. I couldn't stop—my momentum carried me inexorably toward yet another death. I tried to teleport out, but my focus was broken when my skin was.
I went down heavily, feeling intense pain but momentarily unaware of its source. When I hit the ground and noticed that I was still alive, I realized I'd taken the hit in the shoulder above my heart.
I felt physically and telekinetically weak, but I was pretty sure I could live through this—provided I wasn't wounded again anytime soon.