62 Chapter Sixty One - Rodent Zombie Hoard

    To say it was a hoard of zombie rats was too simplistic for it soon became apparent that there were numerous zombified rodents in the rotting mass moving swiftly towards the wall.  The smallest, the mice and voles were the most numerous, weaving in and out of their larger cousins, making themselves very hard targets to hit individually, but still crushed in volume beneath the weight of fist sized rocks that had been manipulated by gravity, making them much more deadly.  Rabbits and hares, the largest leapt up at the wall, launching themselves at it, fortunately the wall was high enough, at least in the beginning, for the rodents began to pile up at the walls, creating a platform from which the creatures could jump.  This pile was also a larger target for balls of black fire that once touched the dry flesh and bone, quickly ignited and spread.

    Smoke from the burning corpses filled the air with the pungent smell of death and disease, threatening also to mar the defenders vision, however a deft breeze dispersed the worst of it.  Lightning paralysed a squirrel that had scampered up the walls and this was finished off by a bludgeon weapon.   Ice pinned down several monstrosities at a distance.  Paul, who was throwing knives and projectiles, as were a few others, noticed the oddity first.

    "Look," he cried out, flinching as a gunshot sounded.  "Look at what the rats are doing!"

    Of course their attention was captured by that scene for a moment, however what the rats were doing actually occurred in many places at once.  The rats were not as numerous as first thought and happened to be spread out amongst the mass of rodents.  Their movement was much more stilted as well, for they paused from time to time before running along with the rest.  And during that point in which they stopped, they bowed down to consume the squashed or killed remnants of their companions, eating the rotting flesh in large mouthfuls!

    "It's like when the herd ate the dogs," Paul murmured, before a ball of lightning whizzed past his head and electrocuted the gerbil about to take a bite.

    "Pay attention!" Dexter demanded.

    The rats paused before the burning mound of former rodents, while those around them leapt into the inferno, without any form of self preservation.  A few squirrels fell from the wall, captured in blocks of ice.  Their frozen forms disappeared into the spreading flames, but there was no calming of the flames with the melting of the ice.  One rat squeaked angrily as a heavy flint fell from the heavens towards it, however it managed to dodge, unlike the rabbit beside it.  The creature looked at the rabbit, then turned to the rat nearby.  These tricky rodents seemed wiser than the rest of the seething, brainless mass and began to back away, hissing and squeaking in fury.

    "Woe, **!" Jimmy shot an undead squirrel that had scampered up the wall from the other side, it's tail no more than a flat scrap of rotten flesh.

    "They breeched the walls?"  Indeed, a smaller, nearly unnoticed run of rodents was running along the ground inside their fortifications, having breeched the walls of the southern most mansion at some point.  The stairs were steep enough, though that only the squirrels could still clamber up them, though a rabbit tried its luck, hopping up them only to be blasted away by a force of air.  A series of fire balls followed, red fire rather than the deadly black, but still enough to kill and burn many of the rodents.  Vines hidden within the hedges snatched at the ones to escape the flames.

    Chang Min's stone rain suddenly paused.  "Master!" He yelled out in a panic.  "I heard a scream!"  Ren Zexian paled.  A Cultivator of Chang Min's ability naturally had hearing above and beyond, it would not be beyond his scope to hear loud sounds from the main house.  It seemed that the small breech from the southern walls had not been the only one.

    Without consideration for others, Ren Zexian leapt down from the wall and rushed towards the house.  He was followed by Jonah, though at a slower pace, however there was no way this man would not try and protect his lover and child from whatever was threatening them.  Unfortunately, with Ren Zexian missing, the flames stopped their endless spread and simply burned the corpses at a more sedate pace, the heat no longer as intense.  The red eyes of the rats twinkled in realisation and no longer hesitated.  The continuous mass began to smother the flames with their rotten bodies.

    "Cole, attempt to create spikes using the earth!" Chang Min instructed.  Cole's twin abilities, despite their namesakes were the manipulation and the alteration of earth, meaning he could use the dirt of the ground make varying shapes or move it to where he wanted it too and he could change the soil into sand.  Chang Min had advised him that as his abilities developed, he would also be able to shape and manipulate stone, chalk and sand, and even alter these thinks into other types of earth.  He'd been practicing turning soil into sand and moving soil, hence being able to make those pits.  He had not tried much else as the Winter had frozen the ground for a long time.  Still, he knew the theory.

    Gritting his teeth, he gestured and a series of small spines grew upward from the ground.  Unfortunately, the damage was minimal, the rodents either too agile, or the spines too small.  Chang Min's spikes had better effect, but even then, they only speared a few rabbits and squirrels.  "Min, it's not working.  They are too fast!"

    Chang Min switched back to creating a rain of rocks, however more of the rodents were reaching close to the height of the wall.  Arthur batted a rabbit that leapt in range and sent it flying.  Jimmy blasted several through the skull with bullets, but his ammo was running thin.  Harry resorted to kicking the squirrels and mice with his steel toe cap boots.  Tyler suddenly had an epiphany.  He'd been so focused on creating ice, he'd forgotten that trick!  Water rained thickly upon the thickest mass of rodents, including several of the tricky rats.

    "Dexter!  Send some bolts now!" He yelled out, before summoning another deluge.

    Dexter's eyes flashed, catching on with Tyler's meaning and a blast of intense, white lightning descended onto the soaked bodies and was drawn outward like a web, crackling over the water and zombie rodents.  The smell of singed fur joined the rank air and many of the bodies twitched as the electricity continued to course through them.

    The few remaining rats fled and for a moment, the hoard continued its mindless attack upon the wall, before things became chaotic.  That wasn't to say that a few rodents did not leap at the columns of fresh, living flesh upon the wall, seeking to taste, just that a few of the rodents turned on each other.  Mice ate the remnants of the unmoving rabbits, squirrels bit and scratched at the voles and one hare raced after a hamster before biting it in half.  The hare then found its own demise on the spire of earth that formed from below its body.

    Perhaps the most noticeable thing was that these few rodents targeted the most vulnerable, the heavily wounded or paralysed, in the mass or ate that which had died.  Otherwise, the humans were still a much more interesting a choice meal.

    Oh, but it happened that the rats did not flee very far, before many met their end at the vengeful teeth of a large black dog that appeared from a sudden fog.

    Cole wobbled upon the wall, his stance becoming precarious and he found himself held up by Arthur as he panted for breath.  Patrick was also looking worse for wear and unashamedly used Harry and Winston as his shields as he caught his breath.  Dexter and Tyler gritted their teeth as they continued to plow through the smaller numbers along with Chang Min, who hadn't yet broken a sweat.  Later, someone would ask him why he hadn't opened a big pit in the ground and buried the undead within and he would say that the wall would not cope with the tremors such a sudden crack may cause.  However, this would become the basis of certain traps formed for ground sieges such as this at a later time.

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    "How do you reckon things are back at the house?" Jimmy asked Monika, who accurately pinned a squirrel to the ground with a thrown blade.  She could only shrug in response to his query.

    They would find out soon enough, she thought, once they had cleared away the last of this threat.  But she sincerely hoped that they would not have to face another one as soon as they returned home.
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