"Aretha, my dear," Niccolo Croatoan purred in a dark chocolate voice as he slipped through my window with ease, "I have news for you. And you're not going to like it."
"You don't give me enough credit." I replied, moving around him to close the window. "Last time you brought me bad news, I ended up killing three vampires in one go. I don't see anything bad about that."
"You seem to have omitted the part where you were nearly decapitated."
"The keyword there is nearly."
He shrugged, and tossed his long black leather coat into my bed. "Fair point."
"So..." I pressed, reclining on the round, chocolate brown couch opposite the bed, "The bad news. What is it?"
He gave an exhasperated sigh. "You're so impatient. You haven't even said hello to me yet, or asked how I've been. Isn't that just as important as anything else? I think you don't give me enough respect. Maybe I should kill you."
I chuckled and lightly responded, "But you won't. And you know exactly how important you are, but worrying is your job. I'm the inexperienced newbie, remember? You're the one who follows me around to make sure I don't get myself killed."
There was protest in his dark eyes as they met mine, and I could tell he wanted to argue, but he didn't. It was true. As much as he pretended he didn't, I knew he cared about me. He had saved my life often enough to prove that, though he was never the type to get emotionally involved.
"Just tell me already." I continued, breaking the silence. He took a long breath and, eager to change the topic, finally conceded.
"Mevolent is back."
My hazel eyes opened wide in shock, and I was silent for a moment. "What?" It wasn't a question. It was a statement. Mevolent was dead. Long dead. There was no way...
Croatoan raised his hands in mock surrender. "Look, sweetheart," He began sarcastically, "I don't know how it happened, it just did. He's out there, and he's raising an army."
I stood quickly, my face darkening. I would accuse him of joking, but I was certain he had never told a joke in his life. He wouldn't lie, either. Not to me. "You're sure this is the real Mevolent?"
"Would I be telling you this if I wasn't?"
"I have to go after him." I declared, finality in my voice. I shrugged on my leather jacket and started towards the window, and he darted in front of me, blocking my path.
"No. Kid, I know you love to play the hero, but this is out of your league."
I glared at him fiercely. "I'm not playing the hero. It's my job. I work at the Sanctuary now, silencing people who need to be silenced. You know that. I became an assasin so I could save the lives of the innocent. I'm not backing down now that-"
"It's not a matter of bravery," He cut me off, "It's common sense. If you face him he'll tear you to pieces. Simple as that. Then you'll be no good to anyone."
"I still have to try." I said quietly, looking down. I knew what he said was probably true, but I couldn't just let Mevolent have his way with the world. If he did, it would be over my dead body, quite literally in this case. He sighed, but before he had a chance to argue any further, I added in, "At least let me find the Grand Mage. Zafria Kerias is a friend of mine, and she's my boss. I'll talk to her, see what she wants me to do. If she tells me not to go after him, I won't. Is that good enough for you?"
"Fine. But I'm keeping an eye on you." He declared begrudgingly. I smiled gratefully, and steppped behind him, gracefully sliding down the roof outside the window. I would check at the Sanctuary first, and if she wasn't there, there was no one I knew better at tracking than Niccolo Croatoan.