“I know it looks a little silly, but you try kicking at head height in denim,” Jessie answered. Then she did a backwards handspring away from Sorority. That wasn’t practical, but despite the flames, Sorority didn’t seem that scary, and it did demonstrate the advantages of her couture.
“Right, sure, because ninjas is what this night needed. I suppose you’re who Phil was yelling about earlier?”
“If Phil is an overweight guy with flame pouring off his body, then yeah, probably. He’s most likely down by now. I don’t suppose you’d like to make this easy on yourself and surrender?”
The woman didn’t respond, instead she tossed both hands out and a cloud of flame rolled off her. Jessie had been expecting that. She jumped, straight up, caught hold of a low branch, and flipped to the other side of the clearing behind the sorceress. She landed there and waited, ready to jump, for Sorority to spin around and direct another blast of flame at her.
That didn’t happen. Instead the woman stood with her back to Jessie moving her head like she was looking around. Jessie smirked night vision again. These guys should stick to daytime assaults. Jessie picked up another stick, walked up behind Sorority, and tried to bash her over the head with it. That stick was also reduced to ashes, and the flames once again dimmed. The woman didn’t even seem to notice the hit. Jessie turned her stick and jabbed the wood at the woman like a spear reasoning that burning away more matter would consume more energy.
None of it made it through, but the woman noticed because she spun around and launched a sloppy blast of flame. It missed Jessie, she’d jumped the instant the woman started to turn, but it did hit a patch of leaves and lit them on fire near where Jessie had been standing. Jessie’s jump had taken her to the edge of the clearing, she quickly stepped out of the open circle in the trees into the deep shadows of the woods. She was pretty sure she was out of sight again.
There she selected another stick. Or, more accurately, a fallen log. It was the heaviest thing she could lift, and with her battle spell running she was much stronger than a woman her size had any right to be. In the clearing Sorority was once again looking around for her. The leaf fire was still smoldering and it was brighter in the open area so the other woman didn’t look quite so owlish, but the light didn’t make it very far into the trees. Jessie wondered if the fire would spread. She doubted it. It had been rainy.
Sorority turned her back on Jessie again and Jessie leapt from the trees in a flying attack. She swung the log as she moved through the air aiming to whack the other woman in the shoulder. She would have aimed for the head again, but the log was big enough that if it got through the fire shield a head shot stood a good chance of killing Sorority. A hit on the shoulder wouldn’t do her any good, but at worst, it would break a bone.
That consideration proved moot. The flames cut the tip off the log before it reached the woman. Jessie did manage to ruin her top with the sooty remnant of the wood, and it looked expensive, so she was willing to count that as a small victory. Jessie jumped away and the woman fired a bolt of flame after her, but missed. This time, however, the woman didn’t lose her in the darkness.
Actually, Jessie noted, there wasn’t much darkness left. Like she’d hoped, the flames weren’t spreading. However, it seemed that each burst of fire was hot enough to boil a patch dry and light it on fire. There were now a half-dozen little smokey fires going around them.
Worse yet, the woman wasn’t a total fool. She had readied a second burst of fire while Jessie was already in the air. She didn’t get it off fast enough to catch Jessie before she landed, but she did launch her attack while Jessie was still off balance. Jessie had time to drop her log and jump, but only just barely. A corner of the lance of flame caught a loose bit of her shirt and set it on fire.
The air from her leap fanned the flames, and when Jessie landed the fire was almost to where it would burn her skin. Stopping, dropping, and rolling wasn’t really an option, so she ripped the whole sleeve off instead. The fabric of the Shinobi shozoku was tough and it held out for just long enough that Sorority managed to get off another bolt of flame just as the sleeve tore away.
Jessie jumped. She was hurried this time, and she didn’t aim. Instead she just hurled herself off the ground with all her strength in the general direction of the nearer edge of the clearing. It was just barely enough. Fire hit where she’d been standing, but she made it to a thin tree limb high enough up and far enough out that it was still in shadow.
Her current strategy wasn’t working. Or rather, it was, the woman hardly had any fire left, but it wasn’t working well enough. If Jessie left the shadows again, she was going to get cooked. She needed some way to suck up all of the woman’s remaining flame in one pass.
Jessie scanned the ground for a rock. It would take vastly more energy to destroy a rock than it had to turn sticks to ash. The problem was, she couldn’t see any good-sized rocks. There were probably a few around, but with the darkness, the fallen leaves, and the forest undergrowth they just weren’t obvious. Then, while scanning the forest floor, she spotted something better: the metallic framework of another magical collector. If she could get Sorority over that all of the magic would be vacuumed right out of her.