Every step felt like lead, the cat being towed back to his executioner. Anya was silent, distant, and Jakun was on his own.
The one good note was they were going to free him. But he knew his master. Jakun would never be free. And he would certainly be tortured to near insanity, his mind kept intact enough that he could create his skeletons.
No, he couldn't do this…
Yet he had no choice. Without Anya, he couldn't escape, and she had already told him she wasn't helping. What was the point of a previous life's spirit if not to help when in dire need?
'You're not in dire need. You will hurt for a week and then we will plan our next escape,' Anya finally said, her voice a heavy sigh in his mind.
If she had a body, he wouldn't be surprised to see an eye roll.
'Easy for you to say, you don't have the physical body. Pain for you is all mental, easier to handle,' he grumbled
Ahead of him, the elf and the cleric were talking quietly, discussing ways to deal with the necromancer. Most seemed to be relatively peaceful solutions, trying to get Jakun away from the man.
No, he didn't just want to be free. Jakun could feel the hatred flowing through him, festering. He wouldn't be at peace until Loran was dead.
But there was no way for them to kill him. Not when he was surrounded by his undead. And finally, the cat admitted his master would have to remain alive. For now.
They neared the manor, Jakun feeling eyes staring at him. He was imagining things; the only eyes here were undead. Still, he couldn't hold back the shiver that ran down his spine.
They passed the pens of human cattle, his captors looking positively green with disgust. Jeremy in particular looked like he was about to puke. Hurrying toward the manor proper, the three all sighed as they approached the house.
"Ah, you've returned."
Jakun screamed at his master's voice, spinning around. He squeezed his eyes shut as he realized no one was there.
Stupid… it wasn't the first time Loran had thrown his voice to scare the cat. Yet he fell for it every time. He did feel a little better when he realized the paladin and the cleric had startled with him.
The entrance to the manor opened, and his master stepped out, waving Theon away.
"Gentlemen. I see you have returned my property. I will take him back now," he said warmly. "Of course, you shall be rewarded for your service."
The paladin and the cleric glanced at each other in apparent surprise.
"Forgive me if this seems… rude. But aren't you a little young to be… well…"
"A plantation owner?" Loran asked, dangerously bemused.
Jakun flinched at his tone, the man scowling at him.
"Forgive me if I am a little lax on providing my life's story. I am a busy man, and my… pet… has set me back quite a bit by wandering off."
The paladin pulled out the wand they had crafted, holding it out for the necromancer's inspection.
"We were looking to purchase him from you."
"For a wand? What use do I have for a wand, as opposed to the company of a cat?"
Jeremy's mouth opened, but the paladin elbowed him, making him fall silent. Jakun frowned at the display of roughness.
"Well, the wand does not need to be fed, nor does it flee at the first sign of trouble. We made sure that the wand does exactly what the cat does. Besides, your pet is… well, dead. Now, I understand that probably doesn't concern you-"
"Oh, but it does. He's… dead? I'm assuming you mean undead. But that is preposterous. I have done everything to ensure he remains quick," Loran scowled.
"Remains quick? I was under the impression that quick slaves were forbidden in Geb," Jeremy said suddenly.
"As a matter of fact, it is the sale of quick that is outlawed. He was born a slave; there was no purchase necessary. However, if you can prove he is no longer quick… then I would be willing to consider selling him, as he would be worthless to me dead."
Jeremy let out a breath, looking at Jakun. In Amurran, the cleric whispered, "Forgive me."
He lifted Jakun's shirt, placing a hand on the cat's stomach.
"By the Drunk God's blessing, I cure you of your wounds."
Jakun cried out as his skin blistered under the cleric's touch. Positive energy burned him inside out, the cat falling to the ground in agony.
"Interesting. You see his freedom as a crusade then?" Loran said conversationally as Jakun writhed at his feet.
Helping Jakun back up, the cleric nodded. Jakun sniffled, trying to fight off the pain. He had felt worse… but not much worse…
"It is a tenet of my faith that all creatures are born free."
"Then why purchase him, and not his freedom?" Loran asked.
Jakun flinched at the words, understanding exactly what the necromancer was doing. If his freedom was bought, but he wasn't, then it could be stolen again, and Loran would have cheated these two of their money, all while keeping Jakun. For the first time in his life, the cat prayed to be bought as a slave.
"That is a good point," Jeremy agreed. "Would his freedom be cheaper than his person?"
"Ah, now we come to the bargaining," Loran leered. "Why don't we step inside? The morning is… disagreeable with me."
The necromancer held open the manor door, the cleric and the paladin shrugging before stepping inside and pulling Jakun behind them. The cat resisted only slightly, before Jeremy turned an almost apologetic gaze on him.
"It will be over soon," the cleric promised in his language, trying to soothe the amurran.
Jakun shook his head in despair. But he really had no choice, his life completely in the hands of strangers and a sadistic master. He had to follow.