I just need a better title than THE DEFENSE OF CASTLE WINDERMERE. It doesn’t really fit, anymore,. Something with a bad joke involving zombies and cooking would work.
Carlotta had settled on a group of six, evenly divided between Davies’ soldiers and Baxter’s ‘diamonds in the rough.’ On the soldier side she had Lieutenant Jeremiah Witherby, and Sergeants Jones and Robinson; on the other was Jimmy and Loud Mary and Other Billy. All six had shuffled a bit, once it had sunk in that they were actually beyond the castle walls, but Carlotta could hardly blame them for that. After all, she was feeling the same way. Besides, they settled down quickly.
There was always going to be some revenants who might come within scent range, so Carlotta began her spell the moment they were out of sight of the castle.
“Everyone!” she — well, duchesses do not hiss. “Gather close. This spell can be most tiring to cast.”
She was exaggerating, but only a little. Before the apocalypse, she would have assumed that adapting an arcane ritual without books or mentors would have been nigh-impossible to do properly. These days, ‘properly’ was rather more flexibly defined; but so was ‘efficiency.’ Having the party huddle close helped a great deal.
Then again, so would not being masticated first. She used a deadfall clearing to perform the ritual, which would give them at least a little clear space for the inevitable fight. And, as she privately admitted to herself; if her party could not handle a few revenants among the treeline, best to find that out ahead of time.