Chapter 5: Unfinished Business

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The bartender of The Flying Pig, who was still eyeing me suspiciously after my little bar fight, put down two steaming bowls of stew in front of Rowan and me. "Enjoy," he grumbled and left us alone.

I picked up my spoon and wasted no time to start eating. "Hmm, this is definitely as tasty as it smells."

"Good. I paid ten copper coins for it," Rowan said, his tone bitter. "Why did you start a fight, anyway? What did that woman say to you that pissed you off?"

"It wasn't only what she said, but what she did as well. She's just a nasty old cow." Rowan raised his eyebrows, refusing to drop the subject. I rolled my eyes at him. "If you insist: she was talking about you in a rather ... disrespectful way."

"She was talking about me?"

"Yeah, I'm not going to repeat her exact words, but let's say she was a bit too interested in your ..." I let my eyes wander over his delicate features and broad shoulders. "Physical qualities."

He chuckled. "And you got upset because of that?"

"Well, yes! Nobody should talk like that about another person! Damn it, Rowan, someone needed to teach her some manners!"

"Perhaps, but that doesn't mean it had to be you who did so." He gave me a reprimanding look, reminding me a bit of Head Sister Ursula whenever I had ruined my dress by playing in the mud again. "Look, Kenna, I appreciate it that you wanted to defend my honor, but I'd appreciate it even more if you would try to stay out of trouble. We must keep a low profile." He lowered his voice even more, so that I had to lean forward to understand what he was saying. "Dark Sorcerers may already be searching for you and getting into a bar fight draws too much attention."

I groaned. He was right. Again. "Fine. Next time, I'll just let her strip your clothes off in the middle of the bar. Maybe you'd even like that."

The corner of his mouth twitched. Was he laughing at me? Unbelievable.

"Hmm, maybe, except that she wasn't really my type," he answered, amused.

"Oh, I see. Let me guess, was it her teeth? Her hair? Or the overwhelming stench of rotten fish?"

He burst out laughing. It was impossible to remain serious while he sat there laughing his head off, and I decided to join in by snorting in a very unladylike way. It just made him laugh harder. Three men who were playing a game of cards at a table not far from ours looked up and watched us curiously.

"By the Light, it has been a long time since I last had such a good laugh," Rowan said, a wide grin still plastered on his face.

"Depressing life you have, then."

"Haha. Welcome to the adult world. It only gets worse." He glanced at the broken table next to ours. "By the way, where did that woman go after you smashed her on the table? I didn't see her leave."

I shrugged. "She's probably licking her wounds right now."

"I guess." His gaze turned back to me, his dark eyes lingering on my face.

"What?"

"I obviously had no idea what I signed up for when they told us a certain Dark Sorceress needed protection."

I frowned in confusion. "Signed up for? Weren't you assigned the task of being my personal bodyguard?"

"No, I volunteered." A soft smile played on his lips when he saw my surprise. "You're probably asking yourself why I would do that, considering all the other kinds of missions I have been sent on in the past. What challenge is there in guarding another person?" He took another mouthful of stew before he continued. "You see, Kenna, you are considered to be quite an important person in our world. They say you're one of the most powerful Sorcerers who's ever walked the Earth, although that's yet to be confirmed." I scowled at him and he chuckled. "That's why they wanted one of the Academy's elite soldiers for the job. I'm proud to say that I've proven myself enough in the last decade to belong to that privileged unit."

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