The two remaining necromancers split a dozen of their zombies out of their group to combat Samuel. It was the same tactic they had employed with the forces at the river garrison: leave small groups of combatants to harry, harass, and delay any pursuers.

It was a strategy that had served them well.

Samuel could attest to the tactic’s success. He had seen first hand the results it was capable of achieving on a large scale. Pockets of the undead had slowed the Norasburg forces to the verge of stopping the forward momentum completely. They had successfully delayed the army long enough for the necromancers and their captives to all-but escape: they were beyond the reach of the army as a whole.
Not so much from a skilled and determined tracker of Samuel’s caliber.

They moved faster than Samuel had expected. Up until this point the necromancers had seemed to be almost unconcerned about the events around them. They had left their army behind them seemingly without a second thought. They had shown little concern with their safety or the security of their captives, they would drop immediately into sleep at every stop leaving the security concerns to their undead minions. Samuel had observed them since he first spotted them near the ruined tower and they had never displayed an awareness beyond obliviousness to the world.

Until now.

Samuel watched as the necromancer camp sprang into action. The body of the one he hit hadn’t landed on the ground before they had sprung into action. The prisoners were being herded forward by a handful of zombies, more of the undead formed a wall of cover around the two remaining necromancers, twelve zombies broke off and began to move into the direction the shot had come from.

The change in their demeanour was fast, Samuel was only able to get a second shot before his line of sight was marred by the unliving monsters. His last shot at the necromancers was not fatal, the shot was off and the quarrel sunk into a shoulder rather than a chest.
One dead and another wounded sounded like a win to Samuel.

He let one more quarrel loose and dropped out of the tree. There was one less zombie headed his way but he didn’t like the idea of being caught in a tree surrounded by the living dead. It might provide some safety from the claws and teeth but it would keep him pinned to one spot. Samuel preferred to be free, to be able to move as the situation called for it.

His preferred weapon was the crossbow. His skill with the weapon was beyond expert, the weapon was almost another limb. But a crossbow required distance from its target, distance that could only be maintained if he was manoeuvrable.

His skill with a sword was only passable by comparison to his crossbow expertise. In a one-on-one fight he could hold his own against the average soldier. Samuel had no confidence that his skill would be good enough in a crowd of opponents. He was certain it would result in his being overwhelmed and ended with him becoming zombie food.

They sent the zombies at him like a wall of flesh. They moved toward him with a solid, steady gait their goal to push him backward or catch him and the threat he presented.

It was a valid strategy that worked delaying his catching up with the larger group.

Samuel ducked behind a tree and knocked another bolt into his crossbow. He figured he could use the trees and distance to take down each zombie. It was a simple plan and simple plans worked best: fire, run, load, repeat. As simple a plan as one could get.

The downside to the plan was that it allowed the necromancers to escape with their prisoners. Not for long, Samuel was sure he’s catch up with them again, but they would get closer to their destination. Too much of a delay and he might lose them to the wasteland.

He took a brief moment to aim before he fired. One more zombie dropped and he moved back to the next tree. It was time consuming, he knew, but there was no real way to speed it up as far as he could see. Slow and steady removed the risk to him but increased the chance of losing his prey.

A crossbow could only be loaded so fast. A dozen zombies took some time to be put down. It would also take time to collect the spent quarrels, he could only carry a limited number of bolts on him and he couldn’t afford to leave any behind.

It all added up to a large delay. Their escape was certain if he died.

Load, shoot, back away, and repeat until the last zombie fell. As quick as he could Samuel collected as many of his quarrels as he could before he followed after the rest of the undead.

Three dozen zombies, a couple necromancers, and two prisoners made for an easy bunch to track.


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