The following chapter contains graphic scenes of torture and death. Reader discretion is advised.
Burning agony lanced through the neko's body. Jakun's mouth was stuck open, screaming hoarsely.
"The scroll. I want the scroll."
His master jabbed a needle into a dried eyeball, staring at Jakun. A fresh wave of pain washed through Jakun, his body collapsing in the chains he hung from.
Agony. Burning pain lancing through him. The catfolk screamed again, his body arching. He babbled incoherently, trying to speak around the block his master had put on his voice. He'd do anything… say anything… if he could just get around the spell...
"I'm disappointed in you Jakun. I saved you from a life in the fields, taught you to read and write, gave you a spellbook. You, a lowly slave. And you repay me by stealing from me."
He had no idea where the scroll was. One of the other slaves must have stolen it. And the neko was glad. If his master found that scroll, he'd force Jakun to use his spell, summon his skeletons and bind them to his will.
"Clearly pain isn't working. I will have to try something different," Loran said conversationally. "Theon, fetch Aofe."
In the corner of the room, a pile of flesh rose, shambling toward the room's only exit with a groan. Jakun's eyes filled with tears as he watched the zombie leave.
The cat's mouth moved as he struggled to speak. She heard his silent plea.
With a rush, Jakun felt his soul split, part rushing out of him. His former self, or so she claimed to be, remaining with him to guide him to enlightenment. How he was supposed to reach it was beyond him.
The spirit flew frantically out of the room. It seemed Jakun waited hours alone with his master, his owner, awaiting her return.
Theon returned first, a black furred catfolk clawing at the zombie in terror. Jakun wanted to scream, to plead, but he couldn't get the words past the block Loran had put on his throat when the human had first learned of his power.
"I'll give you one more chance, Jakun. Tell me where the scroll is."
He didn't know. Jakun tried to make something up. Anything to save his mother. She didn't deserve the punishment she was surely about to receive.
Loran let out a sigh.
The necromancer picked up something off a table. Not a knife, no, he would use magic to kill or maim.
"Jakun… kitten… please, tell him what he wants…"
He closed his eyes, tears falling as he heard the scrape of metal on metal. Suddenly the catfolk dropped to the ground, freed from his restraints.
He reacted without thought, scurrying toward his mother. They held each other, terrified of what was coming.
Loran held up a scroll, staring at the words upon it.
"Mora ation duon myther."
Jakun's claws extended slowly as he stood up. He turned toward Aofe, a murderous gleam in his eye. He must do his master's bidding.
No… no… this was his mother… how could he even think…
His claws raked across her throat, cutting off a gurgling scream.
Silence. His voice would not work, save for the quietest whisper. Yet he fell, holding his mother as the spell faded from his mind and the scroll curled to ash in Loran's hands.
Jakun watched the life fade from Aofe's eyes, his mother, dead by his hand. As he wept, Jakun felt Anya's return, far too late to help. But he knew where the scroll was now.
"There's no sense in letting her go to waste."
Arcane words washed over him, and Jakun felt another spell take hold. His head fell forward, lips sealing over the gash in the dead cat's throat. Blood poured down his throat, his mind rebelling against what he was being forced to do. Desecration of the dead, defiling his memory of Aofe…
As the spell faded, he spat out the copper taste of blood.
"Now, are you going to tell me what I want to hear?"
He tried. He really did. But his will wasn't strong enough to break the hold of his master's block. All that came out was a croak.
"Tethao adin nethari."
The body under him lurched, rising up to tower over him. The beast looked like Aofe, it even smelled like her. But Jakun knew his mother was long gone.
He didn't know how he did it, but the catfolk forced the words out. Reduced to a coughing fit, Jakun dropped his head, stomach twisting.
"There, was that so hard? Clean this place thoroughly. Once you have finished, you may resume your work organising the library."
Loran left the room, the two zombies following him. Finally Jakun was left alone to let out his grief.