Silence ruled the night, not even the chirping of crickets reaching Jeremy's ears. He hated this place, hated the death that was all around.
The man sighed, sitting next to Amnor Sen. The elf was snoring quietly, though he would deny it vehemently if called on it. Jeremy didn't mind; he thought the tiny snores were adorable. Why the elf hated the thought of snoring was beyond him.
Pulling out a silver tankard from his bag, the cleric worked one of his minor gifts from his god, filling the cup with pure water. He set the cup aside, pulling out a small wooden box filled with tiny vials and a wand. His hand ran over the vials thoughtfully. What did he want to drink?
Scorpion venom was always nice and sharp, especially the greensting he had. But a nice deathcap would taste great. It wouldn't get him drunk, but then, Jeremy wasn't trying to get wasted.
Pulling out a vial of mushroom powder, the man sprinkled some into the water, poisoning it. Stopping the vial up again, he returned the glass to his case, before calling on Cayden's powers again.
The water bubbled slightly before turning brown. Jeremy sniffed at it, frowning slightly. The taste would be a little weak, but this beer would work.
Holding the tankard up, he murmured, "To the wisdom of an empty glass."
Pouring a sip out, the cleric began gulping the beer down, enjoying the bitter, almost nutty, flavour. The Drunken God provided for his clergy, even if he was a bit preoccupied in other ways. Jeremy wondered how Cayden Cailean felt about him being with a paladin of Shelyn when the god himself had never gotten into Shelyn's pants. Not that he was trying to one up the god of competition. He was just happy Amnor Sen had acknowledged his advances.
A sudden laugh startled the man, Jeremy's tankard sloshing brew over his hands. He would have cried over the split beer, but that laugh… something was alive out there!
Taking a large gulp to finish his beer, the cleric unsheathed his rapier, mentally running through the minor prayers he still had memorised.
Grass rustled as something ran through it. A body suddenly flew at Jeremy, slamming into the cleric.
The two tumbled, Jeremy grabbing a thin wrist. He held tightly as the runner let out a strangled merp.
It was so weird, Jeremy nearly let go. His fingers clenched the hilt of his rapier, a prayer spilling from his lips.
"Let the Drunk God's light shine upon my blade!"
A ball of light appeared on the top of his sword, Jeremy frowning as he realised he was holding a catfolk's wrist.
"Hey, hey, calm down," he said, trying to remember what little Amurran he had learned in Anuli. "What is the big hurry?"
The blue glow around the cat's legs faded, Jeremy's captive struggling to escape. A collar was bound around his neck, tight leather with a lock chaining it shut. Jeremy scowled at the mark of slavery.
"Now what's a pretty amurran like you doing in a place like this?"
The man nudged Amnor Sen with his foot, the paladin grunting as he awoke.
"Is it my watch already…?"
"No, we have a visitor. A living visitor," Jeremy explained, still holding the cat.
The paladin stared at the catfolk, a gleam in his eye. Jeremy knew that gleam; Amnor Sen had used it on everyone who came into his store.
"You're one of the necromancers here, aren't you?"
Jeremy frowned, looking between the elf and the cat.
"He can't be-"
"Jeremy, let me handle this."
Amnor Sen lifted his glaive, touching the tip to the cat's throat.
"Who collared you? Did you kill your master? Must have. You radiate evil worse than I have ever seen."
The cat's mouth opened, a whispering croak escaping it. His free hand motioned to his throat desperately.
"You're mute? That's rather… convenient," Amnor Sen frowned.
"He's a runaway, for sure," Jeremy muttered. "What did you do that was so evil? Amurran aren't evil natured."
The cat trembled under his hand, eyes tearing up.
"Well… we certainly can't just let him go free," Amnor Sen sighed. "Not only is he evil, it is clear he has no respect for the law of the land."
"A land that allows for the farming of human meat?" Jeremy pointed out.
"It is still the law that a slave belongs to his master," Amnor Sen continued. "Should we go free all the slaves here merely because their masters live in a place that is friendly to the living dead?"
"I don't like it."
The cat suddenly fell, twisting out of the cleric's grip. Jeremy lunged for him, but he already had a stick in hand, scratching into the dirt.
Amnor Sen froze, watching words form in the dirt.
"'He killed my mother'?"
The neko nodded quickly.
"So you ran because he killed your mother. That was the one evil thing you couldn't handle."
Jeremy rolled his eyes.
"Look, just because he's evil doesn't mean he should be forced into a life of slavery."
They froze, staring at the cat. He was rubbing his throat, looking rather pained.
"You can talk. Why didn't you talk before?" Jeremy frowned.
The cat wrote again, the cleric frowning at the words.
"A curse on your throat. To keep you from talking?"
"That's usually done to slaves who cast spells," Amnor Sen scowled. "You are a mage?"
The cat nodded.
"Then you are making undead for your master. Why did you run? Surely he treated you as a prized slave."
The cat shivered, turning around and pulling up his shirt. Numerous scars ran down his back, some fresher than others.
"Prized slave my ass…" Jeremey scowled.
He placed a hand on the cat's back, seeking out the fresher wounds. A wave of energy flowed through his hand, washing into the cat.
The neko yowled as his flesh burned. Jeremy cut off his healing, staring in revulsion at the cat's bubbling back.
"You're dead… you are one of them?" Amnor Sen growled, gripping his glaive.
The cat mouthed something frantically, his head shaking no.
"It could be a curse. Undead are evil. If he was made into one…"
Jeremy frowned deeply.
"I can still heal him, but it would require some… rather dark spells."
"There's no point. We're taking him to the plantation we passed," Amnor Sen growled.
"You would send him back to a life of slavery?!"
"What choice do we have? We can't take him with us; his owner would track us down."
Jeremy chewed his lip.
"How much do slaves cost?" he asked suddenly.
The cat shrugged helplessly, holding up six fingers in a halfhearted gesture.
"For the love of free air…"
The cleric grabbed his bag, pulling out a coinpurse.
"Jeremy, no. There is no way we have enough," Amnor Sen said.
"Then we'll make enough. Or… or I'll see if his master will take my wand as payment. What spells did he use you for?"
Making a face, the neko cleared his throat, the noise persisting for near on a minute before he squeaked out, "Dronihr calti…"
A skeletal cat suddenly appeared, silently staring at the two. Jeremy gasped scrambling for his sword, but Amnor Sen was already in motion, the butt of his glaive slamming solidly into the undead's head.
"Necromancer," he spat as the bones crumbled away.
The neko stared up at him, a terrified look on his face.
"He was taught this. There is no way this is natural. You male a slave summon dead for too long, his soul is going to be in danger," Jeremy said. "If we get him away from there… legally… perhaps we can save him."
"Do you wish to turn your life around. Do you want to repent the summoning of undead?" Amnor Sen asked harshly.
The cat nodded rapidly, staring at the glaive.
"Fine. I suppose… we could take a day to whittle a wand. Between the three of us, we should be able to make it work, and it would be more than an appropriate payment for him. I hope."