For a moment we stayed like that, alone in the alleyway, me crying into his shoulder, and both of us clinging to each other as if one of us might disappear any second. And then I felt him stiffen. That was the only warning I received.
One moment we were closer than we had ever been before, and the next I felt myself flung backwards, my body at the mercy of a sudden unnatural wind.
I heard him yell something that sounded like "Heathen!" as I flew, but before even a second had passed I was hitting the brick wall on the opposite side of where we stood. My back took the brunt of the impact and I felt the air rush out of my lungs.
"You're a heathen," Niccolo explained as he approached me, stopping a few steps away from where I was still pressed against the wall, several feet above the ground, "You deserve to die. In fact, you should be grateful that you get to die by my hand, instead of those of the Faceless Ones. They shall return, and they have no mercy on the likes of you," he finished with complete disgust.
I couldn't say anything- I barely had enough air to breathe- but my eyes widened in fear. This was inevitable, and we both knew it. That was why he had told me to run. Mevolent may have left him alone for a moment, but now he had regained his control over Niccolo. I had already lost him again.
The drying tears still stung on my face, irritated by the crushing wind that kept me suspended. Niccolo, I began in my mind, you don't have to do this. You're better than this. No reaction. Still I kept going. You were different once! You can go back to that! He smirked, and I grew even more desperate, practically screaming the thoughts at him. You don't even like the Faceless Ones!
And nothing. His eyes were so hollow, and cruel. It looked like he had grown centuries older in a matter of seconds. I had really lost him again. And it all happened so quickly, I began wondering if those moments were nothing more than an odd dream... But they weren't. I had to hold on to the memories if I wanted any chance at saving the person he used to be.
The air pressed harder against me, straining my breaths even more, and I remembered that my immediate priority was keeping myself alive. But how to do that? I had always known he was immensely more powerful than me.
How many people have you killed? I asked him quickly in my thoughts. Stalling was my only option at that point. How many people so far, just tonight?
"Oh, you'll love this," he began, "I've just wiped out all of Albany. Everyone else will find out in a few hours, but you- because you asked so nicely- get to find out a little earlier. I just wiped out all of Albany. A whole city of traitors to the Faceless Ones, all dead." He finished with a cruel, heartless laugh.
"Mercy!" I cried out with my last bit of breath, my eyes pleading for him to remember, just as Samantha Bliss passed the same alleyway. I saw her eyes widen, saw Niccolo taken aback by my final attempt to break his fanatical stupor, and then my head smacked against the brick wall and the world went black.