I found myself in a graveyard; in front of me was one large tombstone with three names engraved; the names of my brother, father, and mother. There was just enough room for one more name. They must have saved it for me, in case I wanted to be buried with them. How nice. Yes, very nice. I would like to lie cold in the ground, like them. I dropped the single red rose I had brought with me, tied a cloth around my nose and mouth, and waited for that now familiar darkness to take me again. This time there would be no one to drag me back out.
But before my lungs began to dispair, I felt someone untie the knot in the back, and it fell to the ground next to the rose. "Come on, kid," said a familiar voice, as smooth and rich as dark chocolate. "We both know you're better than that." I whirled around and he was there, and I darted forward, flinging my arms around him and not caring that he stiffened beneath my embrace.
"I thought you were dead," I admitted, my voice slightly muffled by his black leather coat. "How did you make it?"
"You know me," He purred mysteriously, "I've always got a few tricks up my sleeve."
"So what do we do now?" I asked hopefully, still not letting go of him.
"We go after Mevolent, of course." God, it was good to hear his voice again.
"But how will we do that?" I asked, my voice already just as bright as it had been before. "I still have Mevolent's binding symbol in my neck, remember?"
"Oh, that's no problem," Niccolo said plainly, "I figured out how to fix that. We'll just cover it with duct tape; then, he won't be able to see it, and if he can't see it he can't control it."
"But he can't possibly be looking at it all the time, can he?"
He nodded. "You don't see it, but he's always watching you with his mind vision. There's so much you still don't know about the world," He continued, "And now that you know I'm not dead I can teach you everything I know, and we'll go on adventures together for hundreds of years to come!"
"Yay!" I yelled out loud, finally letting go of him so I could jump into the air, using the air to push me higher and bring me back down gently. As soon as I touched the ground, my stomach started growling.
"Are you hungry?" He asked gently. I nodded apologetically.
"I've been sleeping in cold alleyways and I haven't eaten anything in a while..." I conceded.
"Well then," He said brightly, resting his long coat on my shoulders, "Let's head to the cemetary kitchen and I'll make you a nice hot steak." He started walking and I moved to follow him, but I couldn't move my legs; when I looked down I realized it was because I was standing in a pool of black abyss, just like it was after Jubi had stabbed me.
"Wait!" I called after Niccolo, "I'm stuck! Please help me get out!" But he couldn't hear me; he just kept walking forwards, away from me, till he was no more than a black speck in the distance, and without him to pull me up I sank into the darkness, and I felt my emotions dying as even the fingertips of my outstretched hand were consumed.
I woke up still curled against the hard brick wall of the alley. I thought I must be sore, but I couldn't really feel anything anyway. Today I had a new goal; I was going to bring Zafira Kerias back to Mevolent. As I got up to leave I felt something wet on my face- I had been crying in my sleep.