"Look at those fools," Natassja murmured, gazing out from our place of concealment near the ruins of a stone chapel. "They're taking positions in the graveyard."
I wanted to point out that the Marienburgers were almost certainly moving into the graveyard for the long, mostly open sight lines; the fact that their warband boasted a significant number of archers was not lost on me. But then I remembered what happened to Detlef — poor, talkative Detlef — and held my tongue. Our mistress did not appreciate unsolicited comment.
"My preparations are complete, my lady," rasped Streicher from his position across the alley. He was a necromancer, skilled at calling forth the dead to walk — and kill — again. The peculiar strains of his chosen vocation showed clearly upon the dark sorcerer; his gaunt face was cadaverous; his face more skull-like with the passing of every season. I avoided him whenever possible; I didn't like the way he looked at me. Like I had… potential.
"Excellent," she replied, with a wicked smile. "Wait until I give you the word to bring them forth."
There was a long pause as the mercenaries picked their way forward, still in battle line, among the headstones and sepulchres. Natassja's eyes narrowed. "Now!"
The earth in the cemetery, just yards in front of the startled line of Marienburg men, was rent asunder by the emergence of mud-smeared corpses as Streicher's dark magics took hold. At the same moment, more zombies and a pair of ghouls emerged from a ruined smithy along the east side of the graveyard and closed with the Marienburgers. Natassja leapt forward with unearthly speed, followed closely by her pet — the gristly remains of one of the massive dire wolves that haunt the forests and fens of Sylvania. The Marienburger leader only had a moment to see them coming, and then they were upon him. Ludovic and Casimir started forward once the zombies engaged the mercenaries, so I started working my way around the back of the chapel, hoping to catch our foes from behind.
The battle was heated. The Marienburgers were trying to get at least some of their forces past us, no doubt in order to loot the wyrdstone from the collapsed brothel three streets over. Despite our all-out assault on the mercenary line, several of their marksmen made a break for it, scurrying toward a nearby alley and abandoning their comrades.
Natassja and the wolf had reduced the Marienburgers' leader to ghoul fodder, and Casimir had just crushed the skull of a swordsman with his mace when I entered the fray. One of the Marienburger warriors managed to turn at the last moment and catch my mace with the flat of his sword, but he lost his footing in the process, and fell to the ground. While he was down, one of the zombies managed to get its rotting teeth into the throat of the swordsman. The man's screams lasted for a surprisingly long time, before being replaced with desperate gurgling noises, and then, finally, silence.
By this point, the thick of the battle had swept to the east, as our forces pursued the fleeing archers into the alley, and our bloodlust was running hot. Even Streicher stepped from the shadows to sink his blade between the shoulderblades of a downed marksman. The rest of us just kept up as best we could as our mistress and her pet ran down and ripped apart the doomed men, one at a time.
I lost track of how many men we killed, but by the time it was over, but a single Marienburg archer remained standing. Casimir was prepared to go after him, but our mistress called him back. "Let him go," she commanded. "The sun will rise soon, so we must take what we can carry and depart."
Following her instructions, we made off with three good-sized chunks of wyrdstone, and we found a fourth one down a well. I'm not sure what our mistress does with the wyrdstone, but whatever it is, she looked pleased.
May she continue to be pleased.
— Excerpt from "The Black Diary of Rüdiger Holtz"