Reynald sat against the side of the trench, panting. Steam rose frome his shoulder where the pitch had landed. The skin crackled under his armor, filling the trench with a smell like roasting pork. Such was the hunger of the men that their stomachs growled at the thought of cooked flesh, even human.
Reynald nodded to Sergei and closed his eyes. Sergei grabbed the collar of the pitch-soaked brigandine and tore it away, hoping for the best. Instead it pulled away a broad sheet of skin, exposing muscle across Reynald's shoulder and chest. A fresh plume of steam perfumed the air. Reynald gasped and started to shake, gripping Sergei's wrist and squeezing against the pain.
Fuck the Germans, thought Sergei. Holding up in their fortress, barring their doors against their fellow men while the Changed marched against the rear lines of what remained of Reynald's army. Even now the masked scouts rode forward to report that the undead were less than two days away. They had to find shelter or keep moving through a depleted landscape, and the men were already dropping from hunger and dysentery.
And now Reynald was going to die. He had almost won back the world. Now just one more corpse to watch.
Sergei turned to the men. "If it's needed, I'll do it myself. Either way, we take the fortress at dawn."