He dodged the first blast, but the second one caught him in the shoulder and knocked him to his back. The force had hurled him back about twenty feet and spun him around a few times. When he looked up, she was gone.

“Not part of the plan,” he said, standing up, then falling down, then trying to stand up again, looking out across the field to the treeline to see where she had gone. A squeal, loud and shrill, attacked him from inside his head and he was face down in the mud, hands covering his ears, unable to stop the blade of pain that was cutting through his head.

“You were saying?” she asked, reappearing ten feet in front of him, just as the squeal stopped. Her long, silver cloak was shimmering, fluttering as he tried to focus on her face. Instead, he concentrated on her cloak, moved his arm through the air and she was spinning away from him, staggering to keep her footing.

As she turned to face him, he was dropping from above, uncrossing his arms in a wide arc, and the air between them seemed to move in a wave into her body, doubling her over.

He landed twenty feet in front of her and waited.


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