- "I suffered most grievously when I first fought them. They were slow enough in reacting that I saw an opening to cut the first one almost in half with my sword. I was expecting him to drop to the ground, and that's how he got his own sword into my shoulder. I fought on, but by the time we beat them, those of us who lived were all bleeding, most of us from several wounds. It wasn't enough to out-fight them -- we had to try to out-last them, too."
- —Stemahr Holst, Empire soldier.[2a]
Grotesquely reanimated corpses, Zombies are compelled by the Dark Magic of a Vampire or Necromancer, and driven by the will of their master to commit acts of extreme violence. They are a truly foul thing to behold, living corpses that is wroth with decay and unclean flesh. A Zombie's skin hangs in strips from his tattered frame, revealing withered muscle and bloodless veins. With the use of Dark Magic, these Zombies stagger towards the enemies with grasping arms and teeth.[1a]
Yet Zombies are often made from more than corpses, for when the Vampire Counts are on the warpath, their Necromancers are often forced to improvise in order to amass a truly unstoppable horde. Spiked and rusting railings from graveyard fences are substituted for missing limbs; broken backs are buttressed by mouldering planks or hammered into a semblance of solidity with rusted coffin nails. Fingers hacked off by wild sword thrusts are replaced with jagged spikes and Elven arrowheads. Any debilitating wound they suffer is compensated for with stomach-churning expediency, for all that a Zombie's masters require of it is to stumble into battle.[1a]
For all their horrific appearance, Zombies are slow and clumsy, making it easy for local militia and adventuring warbands to destroy individuals or even to bring down small groups without any casualties. Unfortunately, the Old World boasts a rich supply of corpses, and thus Zombies can be raised and set loose upon the living in overwhelming numbers.[1a]
These sickening Undead have no skill to speak of, but are instead driven only by the insatiable urge to rend, kill and consume the living. Any warrior unfortunate enough to be pulled down by a Zombie horde will find himself torn slowly apart by a mass of desperate clawing fingers, his flesh gouged from his body in grisly, glistening chunks. The fortunate die quickly, but those unlucky souls who are trampled beneath the horde spend their death throes in miserable agony as their innards become a crimson feast.[1a]
Soldiers who have met in battle with the Undead before, or who hear the terrifying tales whispered at campfires, know the best methods with which to slay the restless dead. A blow to the skull with a hammer or axe will slay usually a Zombie outright, and severing the head is an even surer method of destruction. But precise strikes such as these take focus and skill, and Zombies are seldom found in ones or twos. Instead, these death-walkers are raised in large numbers, gathering upon the battlefield in their hundreds. Against hordes such as these, even the strongest sword arms tire, the stoutest hearts can falter, and the most skilled blades can become lodged in putrid flesh. Even those of surpassing skill will eventually feel the clammy touch of dead hands upon their skin.[1a]
Zombies are easily sustained by the powers of necromancy, jerking back to their feet like jangling puppets as invisible force swirls around them. Their numbers can seem almost infinite as they press relentlessly forwards, those that fall in battle compelled by necromantic power to stagger or crawl towards the foe moments after being cut down. Such shuffling hordes are often used by Vampires to exhaust the regiments of their enemies, slowly overwhelming the foe in a ceaseless tide of blood-slicked, maggot-ridden flesh.[1a]