They were free! Well not exactly free, but Jakun was no longer under the control of the necromancer.
'Free but still mute. Free but the bastard who did this to us still breathes…' Anya growled in his head.
"We need to go to Mechitar," Jeremy urged as they walked away from the necromancer's plantation.
"I know. But that's almost a hundred miles away, and the horses can't carry us all. So keep your pants on," Amnor Sen sighed.
'If they can find someone to free my voice in Mechitar, we should help them, right?' Jakun asked.
'You know how you summon cats?' Anya said. 'Maybe you can summon a horse.'
The cat frowned, nodding slowly. His hands were free; he should be able to make the gestures. As long as his voice held…
Amnor Sen and Jeremy turned toward him with twin frowns. Their expressions changed to horror as a zombified horse appeared, complete with tack. Jakun smiled proudly, looking at his summon.
Amnor Sen grabbed at Jeremy, the cleric about to destroy the horse.
"No, wait. We can… we can use this," he said.
"This is… not good?" Jakun coughed out. "I can make more."
"Can you make living horses? Undead is evil, and it will ruin your soul," Jeremy said, moving his hand from his sword.
Jakun nodded, focusing. He tried to cast the spell again, his voice catching on the words.
"Yasau ji… jivi…"
Energy pulled at the neko, dissipating harmlessly as the spell fizzled. Frowning, the cat cleared his throat, trying again.
Another horse appeared, leathery skin drawn tight over its dead bones. Jeremy recoiled back, shaking his head with a sigh.
"Well… I suppose living creatures are harder to call," he said. "You don't know how to ride, do you?"
Jakun shook his head. He'd never actually been on a horse before.
'I remember how to ride,' Anya assured him.
"Okay," Jeremy sighed, oblivious to Anya.
Hoisting Jakun onto the zombie horse, Jeremy mounted his own horse, who seemed very leery of going anywhere with the undead. He grabbed the reins of Jakun's horse, holding them in a guiding grip.
"Just hold the horn of the saddle and try to stay on. I suppose this will help us blend in, at any rate," he said.
Jakun shrugged. He had tried to call living horses, but the cat seemed fated to summon undead exclusively.
"We'll get you to a cleric. It shouldn't take too long to reach the city on horseback," Jeremy continued. "You'll have your voice back in no time."
'And then we can figure out what was so important about that ritual,' Anya smirked.
After all, they hadn't paid attention to the ritual beyond it being important to the necromancer. Copying down sentences Anya read to him didn't mean he understood what he was writing. Especially not when those sentences were in a strange language.
'It has to do with undeath, right? Maybe a way to gain power. We could use some power.'
Her voice became a constant nag, poking at him, suggesting ways for him to kill Loran. Jakun hated when Anya got like this. Still, coming up with plots was what the spirit did best. She didn't have much of a chance for anything else, being stuck in his mind. Jakun just did his part by listening quietly.
They rode for most of the day, Jakun's spell keeping the horse up for nearly six hours. But finally, the mount began breaking down, peeling flesh warning the party of the spell's end. Pulling off of the road, Jeremy swung easily off his horse, before helping a stiff cat off the zombie. The undead horse vanished in a macabre scene of collapsing flesh, made worse by its silence.
"I… don't want to.. do that again…" Jakun forced out.
Jeremy patted the cat soothingly.
"We don't want you to either," he said as Amnor Sen began work on camp for the evening.
Jakun began helping where he could, remembering nights of field research when Loran would make him set up camp. Those nights invariably ended with them on the run from farmers upset about Loran taking apart a zombie or turning a skeleton, but the lessons had stuck, and Jakun and Amnor Sen had the camp up in a matter of minutes.
"Thank you for your help," the paladin noted as they settled down, Jeremy handing a mug of warm wine to the two of them.
Jakun blushed at the words, having never been thanked for anything in his life. It caught the paladin's attention, the elf frowning.
"I never realized undead could blush like that…"
He approached Jakun, a finger prodding the neko's cheek.
"Tell me something. The necromancer never wanted you to be undead. How did you become undead then? You still breathe like a living creature."
"Do you think he might be alive?" Jeremy asked, taking a swig of his drink. "Maybe we cheated that necromancer. I wouldn't mind; he was an ass."
Frowning as he massaged his throat, Jakun looked for a stick. He really didn't want to talk any more.
A small book fell in his lap, Amnor Sen setting a vial of ink next to him.
"Sorry, I wasn't thinking about your voice. If you don't mind, can you keep the writing small? This is my-"
"Your diary," Jeremy snorted.
"-journal, and I'd like to continue using it."
Jakun nodded, dipping the pen into the ink. He thought for a moment, before carefully inking the page.
"I don't remember being killed. He experimented on me, made me eat my own flesh, drink my mother's blood. But there was nothing that made me an undead being."
Handing the book back to the paladin, he watched nervously as Amnor Sen's face darkened.
"I'll kill him…" the paladin snarled.
Jeremy looked up in shock.
"What? Who?! What happened? You've never killed anyone before!"
The elf passed the journal to the cleric, Jeremy's face turning green as he read.