I sprinted down the stone gray hallways, my heart pounding. There was no pretending to be fearless. Too much could go wrong. What if- I shuddered involuntarily at the thought- Mevolent found me again? Or worse, what if Niccolo wasn't himself when I found him? What if I had detained the wrong Sensitive? I pushed the thoughts out of my mind. The 'what if's don't matter. What's happening right now does.
Niccolo! I took a huge risk by projecting my thoughts- anyone could've heard that. Still, I thanked God that Niccolo had taught me how in case of emergencies, because by now it was looking like the only way I'd be able to contact him. Suddenly, I stopped in my tracks. Pounding footsteps, sounding more like frantic gallops, were clearly audible now, and the sound grew louder and louder... And then I was sure someone heard me, because a full-fledged vampire was racing down the hall towards me.
My first instinct was to take a deep breath- the attempt to calm my flying heartbeat was in vain, but that didn't matter- and sink into a fighting stance. Vampires are fast, but that one will have a lot of momentum in this direction, and if I time it right I think I can sidestep it and jump on its back. But just as I darted off to the side the creature leaped into the air, taking me by surprise, and landed with its claws pressing down hard onto my chest. The knife I had been holding flew out of my hands and across the floor. Fat lot of good that did me- not that I was counting on it, anyway.
In mere seconds, my situation had gone from bad, to really, really bad, to not-even-worthy-of-the-word-bad. The breath rushed out of my lungs when I hit the ground- that was a sure sign of likely defeat. I kicked upwards into the vampire's midsection- it didn't help much, but it didn't have to. I just needed it to not realize that its claws were inches away from my heart. Niccolo! I screamed again, not really caring anymore whether or not the eavesdropper was still listening. Maybe I could get out of this on my own, and maybe I would have to, but it wasn't looking too good.
Then the vampire was gone- simply vanished, right before my eyes- and in the next second Niccolo was standing in front of me, panting just as heavily as I was. I knew I shouldn't have, and I knew it wasn't anything close to safe, but I couldn't help running to close the distance between us, wrapping my arms around him in a tight hug. And I was more than a little surprised when he returned it. "I missed you..." I whispered in between breaths, "And we need to talk."
"I know," he replied, his dark voice painfully soft, "But not here. There's something I need you to find." I felt the slightly dizzying sensation of teleportation, one I had grown quite used to over the years, and then we were at a dead end next to a row of cells. "I left something hidden for you here, but I can't tell you what it is- I blocked it from my memory. But it's important." I felt his arms around me loosen and I hugged him harder as he tried to pull away, unwilling to let him slip though my fingers again. "Don't worry," he assured me, knowing exactly what I was afraid of, "I'm just going to pick up the sensitive. I'll come back for you."
At that, I decided to let him go, and he took a couple steps away from me before looking back and adding, "But if I'm not here in 10 minutes, leave without me. Run." And then he was gone, and yet again I had to wonder if I'd ever see the real Niccolo for more than a few seconds. Still, I reminded myself, that's longer than anyone else has. And I started looking for whatever it was he had hidden for me.
Author's Note: Make note of the title- it will make sense later on. *evil laugh*