The wagon bumped over the road, Jakun wincing as his head knocked against the side of the cart. Rubbing at his head, the amurran glared at his spellbook, the tunic script starting to hurt Jakun's eyes.
"I don't know how you do it," Jeremy yawned widely, leaning against the side of the cart. "I can't read on the move."
"Jeremy, you've said that every morning for the past four days. Find something else to complain about," Amnor Sen grumbled, guiding Zephyr around a larger pothole.
Jeremy glared at his husband.
"Hey Jakun. Do you have anything in that book to speed us up?"
The catfolk shook his head with a sigh, finger running over the vigil spell. He'd been awake for the last four days, time starting to blend at time. Had it only been four days? He couldn't actually tell now… maybe it had been six… The only thing that seemed to change was the light. Even the river they followed east was an ever changing constant, a murmur in the air.
"Someone else needs to take watch."
Jakun shook his head slowly, looking up at Amnor Sen.
"I need you to take watch tonight. I need to sleep," he said.
"So sleep now," Jeremy pointed out.
"I can't. I'm awake."
"That… makes no sense. But okay…"
The catfolk grunted quietly, trying to focus on his spells. A sudden rumble told him there was no chance of that happening.
A fog sprang up around them, a sudden hiss following.
"Nag- AAH!" Jeremy screamed as he was yanked out of the wagon, a giant iridescent snake wrapped around his body.
Jakun tumbled out of the wagon, grunting painfully as he landed on his back. Amnor Sen joined him a moment later, the cart rumbling away.
"Zephyr. He'll wait for us… I hope…" the paladin said, glaive in his hand.
Jakun strung his bow with a grunt, reaching for an arrow.
"It's female… I think. They usually have brighter scales. Don't bunch up, they like to strangle victims."
Amnor Sen nodded, taking a step away from the amurrun. Jakun fanned a hand, a light breeze springing up. Slowly, the mist began blowing away, revealing the naga completely.
The snake hissed, fangs dripping venom from a feminine face. Jakun hissed back, his own face noticeably bare.
"Anya, free Jeremy," he said, the werewolf flowing from him to launch herself at the snake.
The catfolk nocked his arrow, a hand stopping him from drawing it back.
"No! I'm not letting you shoot while she has him!" Amnor Sen nearly snarled, his face a picture of fear.
"Then help her!" Jakun said sharply, his fur puffing out.
Amnor Sen raced toward the naga, his glaive sweeping around to glance off her tail scales. The snake hissed at the three fighters, trying to slide out of their reach, even as she held onto Jeremy.
Skeletal hyenas answered a whistle, charging into the fray, snapping at the large snake. She let out a sudden screech, four silvery missiles flying at Jakun.
Each missile slammed into the cat in quick succession, the amurrun stumbling and clutching his gut in pain. It was like being rammed by a goat… four times in a row.
Landing on his hands and knees, the amurrun coughed up blood, spitting painfully. He grabbed his bow, trying to pull the string back, aim for the head… the snake's human face…
The arrow slipped from the bow, pushed forward by a mystical force. It passed Jeremy's face, the cleric yelping as the missile met the face behind his.
A loud screech escaped the naga, the arrow sticking out of her cheek. It hadn't done what Jakun had wanted, but it had hit, and for that, the amurrun was grateful.
Jeremy slipped out of the snake's coils, dropping next to a hyena's fading corpse. He ducked under a thrashing tail that caught Anya, the werewolf flying back in shock.
Jakun crawled toward the fallen spirit, touching her, pouring energy into her.
"Get up Anya… we need you," he murmured, spitting up more blood.
The spirit shook the injury off, getting to her feet. She hurried back to the fight, calling to Jeremy.
"Jeremy! We need your wand!" she yelled, jumping onto the naga's back and trying to pin the snake.
"I seriously doubt pissing on her is going to help anything!" Jeremy shouted, dodging a strike.
"Not that wand you fucking moron!"
The cleric's eyes widened, and he disengaged, sprinting toward Zephyr. A few seconds later, he ran back, panting heavily as he thrust the dark wand against Jakun.
The amurrun yowled in agony as his innards rearranged themselves, bruises and cuts healing in an instant. Spitting out one last glob of bloody mucus, the catfolk rolled over, climbing to his feet.
"That fucking hurts…" he grunted, grabbing his bow.
"We'll see if we can get you fixed later," Jeremy said, patting his shoulder.
"Wait, Jeremy. Tepoha calti ingowil."
Jakun pressed a palm against the human, the cleric smiling.
"I don't know what that means, but I feel better," he smiled. "Thank you."
He raced back to the fight, moving more lithely, Jakun letting out a quiet sigh before imbuing himself with the same spell. His eyes sharpened, his body growing more dexterous. Feeling emboldened, the cat set two arrows on his bow, aiming them both toward the naga.
"Jaw and throat," he breathed, before releasing the missiles.
Both struck their marks, the naga's voice silenced by the arrows. Jakun silently thanked the spirit in his quiver, grateful they no longer had to deal with spells being thrown.
The snake suddenly vanished, proving the catfolk wrong. He lifted his nose, trying to sniff the naga out, following the scent of blood leading back to the river.
"She got away," he called, pointing to the river.
"Fine," Amnor Sen panted, leaning on his glaive. "Do you mind getting rid of these skeletons? Please?"
Nodding, the cat released his summons, the remaining hyenas crumbling into piles of bones before fading.
"Is everyone okay?" he asked.
"I think so," Jeremy said. "Jakun, back up a bit. You too Anya."
The cat and the werewolf backed off quickly, a wave of energy washing off of Jeremy. The cleric staggered almost drunkenly, letting out a happy sigh as various scrapes and bruises healed.
"Well… that was exciting. Are we stopping to look for her lair?" he asked.
"I'm not planning to," Amnor Sen shrugged. "No point in killing her."
"Really? Even after she nearly killed Jeremy?" Jakun frowned.
"We were probably in her territory," the paladin shrugged. "Our mistake, not hers."
He whistled, Zephyr trotting over with the wagon.
"Now, we're a day out of Quantium. Who's driving?"