Ariella spun around to face Jessamine, whose umbrella was at the ready. "As a matter of fact, yes. I am looking for something." She loosed her Icicle from her belt and slowly raised it, shifting into a fighting stance. "Now leave, or I will have no choice but to fight you."
Jessamine rolled her eyes. "Oh, please. I could defeat you with my hand behind my back."
"Knowing you, you'd have a dagger in that hand.”
"If you lay down your weapon, I will give you what you need."
"You don't even know what I need."
"Athelas, isn't it?"
Ariella was a bit startled, but then she realized that Jessamine had probably overheard her murmuring that word to herself. She narrowed her eyes at the lady in crimson. "No. I'm searching for something entirely different,” she lied.
"Whatever it is, I can find it."
"If you knew why I needed it, you wouldn't be so quick to help me."
Jessamine smiled, and when she spoke her voice was sickly-sweet. "I was not offering you my help, dear little Newheart. And you see, I already know why you need it. That is why I can't let you find it."
"I won't let you cause any further hurt by withholding the cure."
"Who said I even had the cure?"
Ariella tilted her head in confusion. "You did. Didn't you?"
"I said that I would give you what you need. And what you need is to be put in your place." The red umbrella jabbed forward, and Ariella jumped to the side just in time as the dagger-sharp tip was driven into the table that had been behind her.
Jessamine was simply toying with Ariella. Trying to confuse her with her words and get her to let her guard down. Well, Ariella wouldn't make the same mistake twice. She made the next move, slicing the Icicle down toward her opponent's shoulder.
The other girl yanked the tip of the umbrella out of the wood and dodged away, bumping into another small table which was covered with papers. The white pages scattered everywhere, and Ariella was distracted by them for a moment. That moment was all her opponent needed to make another jab at her. Ariella felt a spike of pain go through her shoulder and she instinctively swung her cane toward the source. She batted the umbrella away as hard as she could, then kicked out her foot, making contact with her enemy’s shin. Jessamine hissed out an almost unintelligible curse, her green eyes blazing brightly.
Ariella knew she couldn't keep this up for long. What could she do? Run? As much as she hated to turn her back on her opponent, she had to. She was no match for Darkfeather. Turning around swiftly, she made a dash for the door and yanked it open. Jessamine was right behind her, her weapon a blur of red at the edge of Ariella's vision.
Clutching her bleeding shoulder with one hand and her Icicle in the other, Ariella ran. "Scarlet Man, help me!"
The dry leaves crunched loudly beneath her feet. She began to feel a stitch in her side, but dared not slow. She shot a glance over her shoulder at Jessamine and her red umbrella.
Red umbrella. Ariella felt as if she could make a poem about that. A poem about how the umbrella tried to take over the world, but failed because of--
The sound of a pistol being shot caused Ariella to duck behind a tree trunk. They were now relatively far from Aislinn's house, in the trees surrounding Evergreen Meadows. Perhaps Ariella should try to lure Jessamine back to No Man's Landing.
"Newheart, you are becoming increasingly annoying. Come out and make this easy, or it will be worse for you."
Ariella pressed her back against the rough bark of the tree, her breaths coming raggedly. She glanced at the ground a short distance away, two things catching her eye. The first was a feathered fog dart. The second was a plant: Athelas. It looked exactly like the pictures she'd seen. Just a weed growing in the forest. She had to get it for Aislinn and Krystal--after dealing with Jessamine.
In this moment of respite, she was able to activate the defensive vambrace which she wore on her wrist. It hummed and crackled with electricity. Jessamine had been quiet for a while. Where was she? Ariella looked around frantically, then spied a shadow on the ground beside the tree. She aimed her vambrace at the source of the shadow.
At the same time as Ariella's bolt of electricity was released, Jessamine fired her fog pistol. Both projectiles hit their marks. Ariella felt a pain in her arm that she remembered all too well and yanked the dart out as quickly as she could. She saw that Jessamine had been hit square in the chest by the electricity and was now sprawled across the ground, dazed.
Even as Ariella began to feel the effects of the fog dart, she snatched a large handful of Athelas from the ground and put it in a pouch at her belt. Then she turned to take the pistol and umbrella cane. She had to get as far away as possible before Jessamine came to. And before the fog overcame Ariella completely.