The undead was confident in his abilities, yet taking on two Awakened at once with a mage specialized in support magic backing them was a risk that he wasn't willing to take.
Phloria was the weakest link in the chain, and once he took her out of the picture, the advantage from having endless energy coupled with his immunity to damage would be enough to ensure Gremlik's victory.
Kalla was on his same page, so she stood in front of Phloria and activated the weapons Scarlett the Scorpicore had made for her, the Bear Claws.
Kalla had no martial training, so any kind of human weapon would be wasted on her. For that reason, Scarlett had Forgemastered metal covers for Kalla's forelegs, allowing her to keep using the innate fighting style that she had developed as a bear first and as a Byk later.
The Grendel slashed at her with such strength that, even though Kalla weighed over half a ton, she was almost thrown aside. The impact had even left nicks on her weapons and allowed Gremlik to get past her.
'Dammit! Not even Invigoration can keep up with an undead feeding speed while fighting inside a living being. Magic is useless against the Grendel and he's physically superior to us.
'Losing Phloria means losing our tactical advantage. If she falls, we'll follow soon after.' Kalla thought.
Watching Lith fight had given Phloria's eyes the time to get accustomed to Gremlik's speed and movement pattern, so the moment he appeared in front of her she was ready.
Dodging and blocking were pointless, so she chose to escape upwards with a flight spell. Gremlik jumped to intercept her, but she suddenly changed her trajectory and moved back, gaining distance since the Grendel's inability to use any kind of spell prevented him from moving without touching the floor first.
"Oh, fuck me…" Gremlik said while Phloria unleashed all of the spells in her rings at once without even a single one of them missing their target. Knowing that she would face only undead, most of them were darkness based.
Most of them because for Phloria creating an opening was more important than dealing damage. The darkness element ate a good chunk of Gremlik's mana, but it was the fireball mixed with it that worried him.
It sent him flying through the air, bringing the Grendel further away from the ground and close to Lith. Ruin was engulfed in darkness magic to the point that the blade was hidden under the thick layer of energy.
'Fuck, fuck, fuck! I can't let them bounce me to death.' Gremlik thought. As long as he was in mid-air, only gravity determined his speed, making his physical prowess useless.
'The dimensional blocking array is gone.' Solus didn't have Friya's keen spatial perception, but her mana sense worked just as well. Aside from her and Friya, no one else was aware of the change that the ritual of the Chosen had brought to the fight.
At least until Lith Blinked as well, following Gremlik like a shadow.
Kalla's and Phloria's eyes sparkled at the idea of having their full battle prowess restored, whereas Gremlik felt his undeath slipping away from him. Ruin was a prototype, yet a very powerful weapon.
His Dryad body was as durable as paper if compared to his Grendel form. To make matters worse, the darkness infused in the blade was the bane of the undead, and now that he wasn't infused with the elements anymore, it damaged both Gremlik's body and blood core.
Luckily, Gremlik had Blinked near the ground, so he only had to grit his teeth to endure the pain and revert into a Grendel. Ruin was now trapped inside his body, and thanks to his plant physiology, Gremlik had shapeshifted so that, even though Lith had stabbed him in the back, they were face to face again.
Gremlik was now taller than Lith and his huge mouth came down on the human to bite off his head while the Grendel's claws lunged at his lungs.
Lith Blinked away, leaving his blade behind along with another kind of present. He breathed a short jet of Origin Flames right inside Gremlik's mouth before disappearing.
Not even dimensional magic was fast enough, so Lith found four claw marks on both sides of his ribs once he reappeared. The Orichalcum had barely managed to stop the wind blades generated by the Grendel's slash.
As for Gremlik, he recognized the Origin Flames and put them out at the expense of another chunk of his life force. Together with darkness magic, Origin Flames were one of the few things that could make an undead feel pain.
With Ruin still planted in his chest, releasing wave after wave of darkness, Gremlik couldn't afford more distractions.
'How the heck does this thing keep working without its master? I need to pull it out and feed.' The Grendel thought.
Unfortunately for him, Kalla begged to differ. She Blinked to his back, slashing with her full force behind her Bear Claws. Not only were they as sharp as a razor and as hard as a diamond, but they were also capable of channeling darkness magic and give it physical form.
It served both to extend Kalla's attack range and allow her to exploit her mastery of the darkness element in close quarters as well. Yet the senses and reflexes of a Grendel were enough to allow him to perceive the threat and react accordingly.
The moment Kalla's claw grazed his weakened skin, Gremlik managed to spin on himself, sidestepping the Wight and moving to her back. He managed to slash at her twice before Phloria could Blink Kalla to safety.
Kalla's was deeply wounded, but not in vain. The Grendel was getting weaker by the second thanks to Ruin still channeling Lith's magic. All the wounds Gremlik had sustained as a Dryad had been carried over so that if he didn't feed soon the accumulated damage would kill him.
If they managed to keep him under pressure, it was their win. Yet if the Grendel tapped into the Sapling again, they wouldn't get another opportunity.
Gremlik was aware of the stakes as well, but while the matter of who controlled Laruel was a life or death matter for the humans, no matter who won the battle, it wouldn't do him any good.
If Leannan killed Erlik, all the undead in the room would have to run away or die. If Erlik triumphed, the Grendel would be forced to bend the knee, and once the Draugr Awakened, things would get even worse.
Erlik would betray the Courts and fall from their grace, dragging Gremlik with him. Yet While the Draugr would achieve his Awakening and obtain a place in the Council for it, Gremlik would be left with nothing but an eternity of servitude ahead of himself.
Erlik wouldn't Awaken him and the Courts would mark him as a traitor, turning Laurel into his prison.