He felt her passing like a hammer to the sternum. Anya was gone, cut down by Loran's minions. It felt like his life was ending. Gone was that connection to her, the constant presence that had kept him sane as a slave.
Her passing should have been the end of it all. How dare they keep fighting after taking her from him? And yet Amnor Sen and Jeremy continued beating back skeletons, as though the world was still moving.
"Help…" the amurran whimpered, curling up beside the horses.
He didn't know who he was calling to, didn't expect anyone to answer.
But a dry leathery nose sniffled at him, a hyena staring inches from his face. Another friend conjured, another friend to take the fight to the undead chasing them.
He began chanting quietly, digging deep into his energy reserves. Hyena after hyena was summoned, the cat holding onto the magic that ran through him until six of the creatures were standing before him.
"Save us…" he croaked, his throat dry and hoarse.
His summons responded as one, charging into battle and overwhelming the skeletons that still fought to their final death.
His blood ran cold. That voice… it was impossible…
And yet he saw her, shambling toward him, the angry gash on her throat torturing him. Aofe stumbled through the melee, undead eyes fixed on the neko.
"You killed me… you must pay for your crime…"
Her voice was flat, wrong. It sent chills down his back, making his hair stand on end. How was she talking? Zombies didn't speak.
But as her clammy fingers wrapped around his neck, Jakun welcomed the undead. He had killed her. It was only right that she return death with death. He just wanted to rest. There was no harm in that…
Slowly, she squeezed, cutting off his airflow as she lifted. He couldn't breath, his brain panicking as it began running out of oxygen. Dying hurt...
A blade suddenly sliced inches from his face, cutting through the zombie's arm. The fingers relaxed, hand falling with Jakun as the catfolk collapsed.
He coughed, gasping for air as his traitorous body worked to remain alive. Before him, his mother fought with Jeremy, the cleric brandishing a mug of ale at her.
"Drop dead you rotting fucker!" Jeremy snarled, his rapier slicing into the zombie's gut.
Jakun curled up as the sound of flesh tearing filled his ears, his summons aiding Jeremy in destroying what was left of his mother. Tears streaked down his face, cutting through the dirt covering him. This was almost as bad as killing her the first time, the same sense of helplessness filling him.
No, he couldn't be helpless anymore. He wouldn't allow it.
Climbing back to his feet, the cat found Jeremy's arm reaching for him, the sound of fighting fading as Amnor Sen killed whatever was waiting within the tall grass. Why he should survive where Anya had died was beyond the cat. And it angered him, a senseless rage made all the more potent for its irrationality.
"I'm sorry Jakun. I did what had to be done," Jeremy said soothingly.
Jakun's claws extended, his fingers flexing as fantasies of murder ran through his head.
No… what was he thinking? He couldn't hurt Jeremy, the cleric had saved his life.
"Jeremy! Move away from him!" Amnor Sen yelled, hurrying toward them.
"He wants to kill us," the elf said, yanking the man back.
Jeremy paled as he saw the cat's claws, the weapons slowly, almost painfully, retracting back into Jakun's fingers. The amurran sighed, falling to the ground.
"Are they dead?" Jeremy asked. "Where's the werewolf?"
"I didn't see the beast. But there was a ghast and two ghouls. One of them was already dying, the other fell quickly. The ghast escaped though."
The elf held up a bow, a quiver of black fletched arrows in his other hand.
"I figured Jakun can learn to use this. But if he wants to murder the people who saved him-"
The neko shook his head silently, salty water flying from his cheeks.
"This… this had to be upsetting. That zombie. She was your mother."
It was a statement, not a question. Jeremy looked like he wanted to hug Jakun, hold him close. But he wouldn't, not after Jakun had been that close to killing him.
"We need to get out of here," Amnor Sen said.
A sudden trilling note rang out, a songbird landing on Zephyr's back. The horse looked at the bird on his back, a curious gaze becoming sharper, more knowledgeable. Amnor Sen gasped, his head bowing slightly to the bird. Jakun frowned, unsure what to make of the display.
Even Jeremy straightened, his eyes staring at the bird.
"Lady Shelyn," the human breathed.
Shelyn… what was the god of beauty doing here? Jakun's confusion only grew as the songbird took flight, landing on his shoulder.
'Your mother loved you to the end. Mourn her passing, but do not forget the one responsible.'
The feminine voice in his mind was soothing, a calming platitude. The amurran found himself nodding, fresh tears flowing. As the bird took off again, the catfolk let out a shaky sigh.
"I hope you're able to walk," Amnor Sen said, frowning at Jakun.
The catfolk nodded, studiously avoiding the remnants of the battle. His summons were fading, returning to where they had come from, though the body of his mother remained.
Jeremy approached the zombie cat, pulling grass up to cover the corpse. Once the area around her was free of flammable material, the man poured the remnants of his alcohol out over her, before setting a torch alight.
He held the burning stick out to Jakun, the cat taking it uncertainly.
"I know it is not a proper Amurran farewell. But it is all we have time for. Let her be at peace," the cleric said gently.
Nodding, Jakun set the torch to the grass, the dry tinder exploding in a rush of fire. This wouldn't consume the body, he knew. But for the sake of the moment, he pretended that this would make a difference, and allow his mother to pass on to her next life.