But how? The woman hadn’t really moved much since entering the clearing. She stood more or less at its center and blasted her surroundings with fire. Oh well, Jessie thought I’ll just throw stuff at Sorority until she moves the right way. Maybe grab that log from earlier and poke her.
It wasn’t a great plan, Jessie realized. She was starting to get impulsive again, but she decided to go with it anyway. In a fight, tempo is more important than great plans. She jumped through the branches of the trees around the clearing until she could get to the other side from the log. Once there, and incidentally behind the woman, Jessie broke off a pine cone and tossed it at Sororities head.
The tiny bit of wood burnt before reaching its target, and succeeded only in scattering ash in Sororities hair, but she must have noticed anyway, because she turned around and scanned the trees. Jessie watched her carefully, ready to jump if any fire was directed at her. fortunately, that wasn’t necessary. Up in the trees she was in thick shadow and Sorority didn’t seem to realize Jessie was as high up as she was. In fact, Sorority even took a step closer to Jessie’s side of the clearing trying to see better.
That, Jessie thought, was great. It brought her closer to the brass of the magical collector. To encourage that behavior Jessie picked up another pine cone and threw it into the woman’s face. This one burnt up as well, but the ash landed in Sorority’s face. The flaming woman blinked and sputtered before recovering.
“What the hell is wrong with you? Are you some sort of squirrel?”
“I’m Smokey Bear and I can prevent forest fires,” Jessie answered.
“What? Was that intended to be some sort of quip? First, it was stupid, and second Smokey Bear doesn’t prevent forest fires. He tells you to prevent them.”
“Well I’m going to take his advice. I’m going to put you out.”
“You’re an idiot.”
Jessie kind of had to admit that her repartee had been a little weak there. But, while she’d been speaking, she’d picked up several pine cones and tucked them between her left arm and her chest. Now she hurled them in rapid succession, hitting Sorority with five right in the face. Or the ash of five.
Sorority made a sound low in her throat like a growl and took two more steps towards the side of the clearing where Jessie hid. That put her very near the brass. Jessie was thinking she might not even need the log when Sorority looked right up into the canopy at her and shouted, “Gotcha sucker!” Then let loose with a blast of flame.
Jessie jumped again, the flame barely missed her, and it did burn a hole in the tree she’d been standing in a moment before. Her leap carried her out of the trees, over the sorceresses head and onto the ground.
The sorceresses spun, and brought her arms up to fire off another blast of flame. Jessie was quicker. She snatched the log up from where she’d dropped it earlier, and hurled it at Sorority even managing to throw it a bit like a spear so its entire length was aimed right at the other woman. That way there was more wood to burn up.
The plan worked, The fires around the woman flared and started to eat the wood, but they couldn’t keep up. A thick hunk of charred wood got through and hit Sorority right in the stomach. She let out a startled grunt, and staggered backwards – right into the brass.
There was a flash of light, and suddenly her flames were gone. Her eyes widened in fear and she did something with her hands Jessie assumed was aimed at summoning more fire, or more energy for fire, or possibly outside help. It didn’t matter. It didn’t summon anything. Realizing she was now helpless the woman started to run.
That was what Jessie had been waiting for. The brass would have drained her needles as well as it had the woman’s spell. However, when she stepped away from the collector, Jessie was on her in a single leap. She yanked a needle free of her sleeve and plunged it into the back of the fleeing woman right at the correct chakra point. All of the strength went out of her muscles instantly and she folded to the ground completely unconscious.
Jessie rolled her over on her back and quickly frisked her for weapons just in case she woke up unexpectedly. Jessie didn’t find anything, though she still had the pruning shears and the heavy flashlight she’d been given at the van. They were tucked in her back pockets and Jessie assumed she’d put them there when she’d used the sap because if she’d held them they would have burnt up. Of course, her cloths hadn’t burnt off, so maybe not.
At any rate, the flashlight would have worked as a club and the shears looked like they could get stabby so Jessie confiscated both and put them in pockets in her own garments. Then, as she had been firmly instructed by both Charles and Kyle, she dismissed her combat spell and activated her healing spell. The mild burn on Jessie’s arm faded quickly away. Then she felt something that was almost like an itch in her head.
She blinked her eyes a couple of times as it rolled across her. It wasn’t really a physical sensation, and no matter how often she felt it she really couldn’t get use to it. It was her brain returning to normal. Her neural pathways adjusting slightly and her brain chemistry evening out. The forest around her seemed to grow darker, its scents and smells more muted. Though that wasn’t quite right. If she focused on any given thing she could still see or hear it just as she had before. The change was that she had to focus, before she’d just been connected to everything.
She also realized that blindly obeying Kyle and Charles was stupid. Not in the case of the healing spell, of course, they’d had very good reason for giving her that order, and in her right mind she agreed with them. However, it wasn’t like she’d just stab someone for one of them. Oh! She’d also forgotten to call for backup a second time. It always hit her harder than she realized. The itching faded and Jessie decided she was back to normal.
She focused within herself again, in that strange way that let her feel the spells embedded in her DNA. She selected a third spell. This spell wasn’t that useful for people who weren’t Enchanted and looking to burn off their extra magical energy before it activated a spell that made them into a loopy predator. It made a container that should hold 1 cubic centimeter into a container that held .9862347561 cubic meters. Jessie always kept such a container on hand. The spell was also pretty good for airplane carry-on luggage and those times she decided to carry a clutch rather than her normal purse.
Magic thus attended to, she looked around at the forest. As she’d hoped, none of the little fires Sorority had started had gotten that far. She spent a few minutes smothering them by piling more wet dirt on top of any active flames. She had Smokey Bear to think of after all. That left the forest dark, so she clicked on Sorority’s flashlight then walked back over to the downed woman and radioed the interception team.