“Billy! We should pull back to the gate – it will be a choke point, and we’ll be able to contain them better!”
Billy shouted, “Pretty is right – everybody run back to the gate!”
The other squads followed us, and we all rallied at the graveyard gates. It didn’t take long for our company to organize into three large squads, one to defend the gate, one to stay in ready-reserve, and one resting and preparing to take over the hot zone and let everybody rotate through the duty stations. The other company split into four units, two attack teams, and two reserve teams. One set of units, an attack team with a reserve team, went to the left of the graveyard gate, while the other set went to the right, patrolling the fence and dealing with any outbreaks.
While the leaders were organizing the defense, I looked out over the graveyard and did a little mental math. There were more than a thousand grave markers that I could pattern count. That meant we had to kill at least ten zombies each – and that was just for gravestones! It didn’t include anything from the crypts deep in the graveyard. It didn’t seem impossible as long as we could control the flow. It was the unknown that the crypts posed that had me really worried. If there were smart undead, especially ones that could command the stupid ones, we wouldn’t be able to hold. The undead would be able to pile over the fence anywhere they could gather in numbers and bypass us. The town walls would be a much better defensive position.
I walked up to Billy and waited for a break in the conversation. Quietly, I ask, “Billy – this plan is a delaying tactic where we all sacrifice ourselves for more time to let the town prepare. Why aren’t we pulling back to the town?”
Lil’ Billy leans down to quietly respond, “Nearly everybody in the squads is a newb. You don’t have the endurance or gear, bikes or some other vehicle, to let you get back to the main gate before the hoard overtakes you. You could run straight to the town walls, but there’s no way to get you up them. The zombie hoard may do that same thing, run straight to the walls. If they do, they will eventually follow along the wall, searching for a way inside. The guards on the wall will easily pick the dumb ones off. Crypt bosses, and other special ones, will take a large number of guard resources to keep them out of the town. There will also be fewer guards on the walls since the town should be expecting other places to fail and have their teleporters in the hands of the undead. That means the guards will prepare to fight in the streets while defending the walls. We can significantly impact the battle if we can cull the majority of the hoard before it gets to the wall. You are right in the assessment that this is a suicide mission – none of us see any way around that. If we could get everybody back into town, you might be able to be deployed somewhere better, but most likely, you would be assigned to the walls to put down the hoard we are about to face, and you would only live a little longer – until the bosses started showing up.”
“I understand. Earlier, I said I might have a way to buff us up. I don’t think this will last very long unless you are already in a fight – and you need to have something prepared beforehand to complement it. Essentially, raising the cost above normal cantrip levels. Would you like to try it out and proof it before we need it?”
“Sure, what have you got,” asked Billy?
Pulling a mug from my inventory, I chant, “Spice Islands: Canned Spinach.” I hand him the mug. “Ok, you need to shout, ‘I’ve had all I can stands – I can’t stands no more!’ – just like I did, and then swallow the contents of the mug. It’s stewed spinach greens, so you don’t have to chew, but it’s going to be a little ‘slimy’ going down. At the minimum, I expect it to give you a large boost to strength.”
Billy’s right eyebrow raises in skepticism while he smells the mug. “You really think this is going to work?”
I was grinning, “Oh yes! I am sure this is going to work. I’ve got another one, but I don’t think the newbs will be able to use it. If the leaders fill their mugs with canned spinach, they can use the minor cantrip to gain a big boost!”
Billy gives me one last hard look before shouting, “I’ve had all I can stands – I can’t stands no more!” He then chugs the spinach. Instantly there’s a shockwave of air flowing away from him, and we see him gain bulk and a slight glow around his body. He grins manically and then slams his club into the ground – the earth and grass explode into the air leaving a crater while a ripple in the soil expands from the impact site, knocking a few of us to the ground. He leaps into the air – at least 10 feet high and comes down like Superman slamming into the earth and doing it again. He continues his antics, doing crazy things, like punching a tree in half, while we all stand agog watching him. About five minutes later, the glow subsides, and he shrinks to his normal size. He’s left a path of destruction as he stomped, punched, and slammed his way through the field. There are small trees knocked over and craters in the ground. Looking back at us, he’s smiling like the cat who ate the canary. “Pretty Kitty just gave us a huge advantage. Anybody with five mana needs to come over here and see a squad leader – and bring an empty drinking mug! Squad leaders gather around! We are going to give these newbs some zombie-destroying superpowers!”