It took a few minutes, and a couple of wrong turns, since it was like navigating in a really thick fog, but emerging from the cloud was a relief. For about 30 seconds. Then a figure he hadn’t noticed said, “Hello. Pro tip friend, when you’re trying to give someone the slip don’t drag along a lady that’s been tagged with a tracking spell. That dark was down right vexing, then you went and undid it all.”
Kyle turned to face the figure. It was the bounty hunter from the Old Mine Amphitheater. He stood about five feet away and he was holding a personal defense autocaster loosely trained in Kyle’s direction. Kyle had no doubt it had a wide assortment of nasty spells on it, and he was fairly certain he was out of options. Still, at least the sun was visible now, he started to say the prayer to Raven under his breath. Sub-vocalizing a spell was fairly common practice among magi. Magical energy didn’t have to “hear” you to work unless volume was part of the trigger and if you learned to say something quietly you wouldn’t annoy your fellow students or coworkers while you were doing magic.
“I clipped your friend with this here baby last night.” He wiggled the gun a little, “That’s how we got to you. You guys always try to run, but you’re a bunch of nerds and it never works out.” He grinned, “So you want to set your friend down and surrender? Or would you like to fall over on her? I mean, you’ve probably got a problem with me right now, but I don’t need complaints from Thomas when one of you gets hurt. I’m just willing to make it happen if it needs to, but you’re caught. Do the smart thing.”
Kyle nodded slightly, then he started to set Jessie down. Fortunately, the awkwardness of it worked in his favor now. He turned so that he faced the sun, then “took it” hiding the gesture with Jessie’s body as he let her slide to the ground.
“One of the smart ones. That’s what I like. Lay down, and you won’t even hit your head when I set you down for a little enchanted cat-nap.”
“Is your spell safe?” Kyle asked. Or rather, he started to ask that. About half way through “spell” when he figured the bounty hunter would be most distracted he threw the ball of light he’d gathered earlier. The bounty hunter reacted with inhuman speed. In the instant it took Kyle’s hand to come around he realized what was happening, for a second time, and jumped. The jump was inhuman as well it carried him a good five feet strait up and allowed the ball of magical energy to pass under him. Something had definitely been done to the man.
Mentally, Kyle swept the darkness he’d just left forward over them both. He had a tentative plan to run away under its cover and come out somewhere else this time without Jessie who could apparently be tracked. He was fairly sure she’d be safe, Thomas had no reason to fear her as she didn’t even know magic.
The bounty hunter apparently worked out Kyle’s plan because he came charging directly into the darkness before Kyle had a chance to move. The man was big, and strong, and hit Kyle like a bull. Kyle staggered. The back of his foot hit something, quite possibly Jessie as he’d stepped in front of her when he threw his spell earlier. Whatever it was made him lose connection with the ground and both men were carried backwards. Kyle hit the ground fairly well landing on his butt. He wasn’t certain how the bounty hunter hit, but there was a crack that didn’t sound good, and the other man’s grip slacked.
Kyle bounced back to his feet almost slipping the bounty hunter entirely. Only as he was about to step away, further into the dark, something grabbed his ankle. He fell down, this time catching his elbow on the hard surface of the parking lot.
“Has anyone ever told you that you’re an unpleasantly slippery little bastard?” The bounty hunter asked the question while dragging Kyle back towards him. The total blackness made it feel like the words should have been muffled, but they weren’t. Kyle scrabbled a bit trying to keep from being pulled backwards. That failed. There was nothing to hold on to, and the bounty hunter was way stronger than him. He was pulled back well into the man’s reach and felt a knee sink into his back. “Now how about you go to sleep!”
There was a sound, magic probably, but nothing hit him. His darkness spell had probably interfered with whatever the autocaster attempted to do; that could happen if two spells attempted to manipulate the same property of physics. He let himself go limp, as though the spell had hit. The bounty hunter relaxed his grip. Kyle bucked managing to get just enough freedom to twist and throw a blow behind him. He was still fairly full of magic, and could easily grab more, so he charged the shot with energy and there was a loud crack in the dark as he connected. That was enough to weaken the other man’s hold, but not break it. The two wrestled in the dark for perhaps 20 seconds more trading poorly targeted, but punishing, blows.
The bounty hunter had to hold on to Kyle the entire time they fought, but that wasn’t enough to even the odds between them. Kyle was losing the fight badly. His body throbbed in a dozen spots. Gathering up all the magic he could he simultaneously closed his eyes, opened a hole in the darkness around them, threw up his hands, and let random energy boil off of them. There was a loud crack, enough force to jolt Kyle downwards hard into the ground and the bounty hunter up, and most importantly light like twin flashbulbs going off. Under ordinary circumstances it probably wouldn’t have been enough, but they’d been fighting in the dark for nearly a minute and the bounty hunter’s eyes had adjusted.
He yelled something along the lines of “Gah!” He let go.
Kyle was ready. He slammed the darkness back down over them, scrabbled to his feet, and jumped in a random direction, then stumbled away from where he landed. The bounty hunter tried to give chase but he couldn’t move as fast as Kyle through the darkness while using his ears to track. For maybe another full minute they both carried on a halting run totally blind. Kyle tripped over a couple of unseen obstacles and banged into at least one car. He heard a couple of thumps that made him think the bounty hunter had done the same. By that time Kyle judged he had at least a couple of yards of breathing room.
He opened a hole in his spell ahead of him allowing him to see obstacles for the next few feet. Then he took off running. In the darkness the bounty hunter couldn’t keep up though fading footsteps suggested he had tried. After another minute or two Kyle was free.
He thought about getting Jessie but he was pretty sure that was hopeless. Without knowing what tracker spell was on her he couldn’t do anything to counter-act it. He could have tried to get the autocaster that had fired the spell, but even that wasn’t a sure thing, some tracking spells linked two objects some just gave one object a really distinct signature. Either way, there was a pretty good chance the bounty hunter would have circled back to guard against that already.
Jessie was caught. Kyle couldn’t think of a way around it. His best hope for freeing her was to get free himself and then follow through on her plan. If he exposed Thomas’s operation then the authorities would get involved and she’d be fine. Besides, there was a good chance she was safe no matter what. He was the one Thomas wanted.
He worked hard on convincing himself those things were all true as he ran.