Chapter 9: An Unexpected Twist

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Although I still wasn't fully recovered from my magical outburst the night before, I insisted on helping the Dwarfs repair the damage to their village the next morning. They kept eyeing me suspiciously, though, but I chose to ignore them. They could show at least a little gratitude for helping them rebuild their homes, damn it. After going to so much trouble to save them last night, I wasn't planning on burning it all down again.

Strangely enough, they weren't so cautious and wary around Rowan. Several women approached him during the day to examine his wounds. Yet, the cut on his forehead was already healing and he felt as healthy as ever, so the medical care was just an excuse to hang around him. Eventually, the excessive attention got on his nerves and he went into the woods to hunt some deer or rabbit, escaping the women's ardent looks. He planned on giving the game to Ellie as a way of thanking her for being so hospitable.

Since the Dwarfs couldn't wait to see us leave their village, Rowan and I would resume our journey in the late afternoon. That way, we would still have enough time to find accommodation for the night. I just hoped that the Dark Sorcerers wouldn't ambush us as soon as we had set foot outside of Nuara.

The sun had just reached its highest point when Rowan returned from the forest, two rabbits slung over his shoulder.

"Couldn't find any deer?" I asked him as he approached Ellie's house.

"Nope. The rabbits will have to do."

I followed him inside, but we both stopped dead in our tracks upon seeing the mess in Ellie's living room. The entire room had been turned upside down; clothes, toiletries and other personal stuff littered every available surface, and Ellie herself was bustling around the house, mumbling to herself. She only noticed us standing in her doorway after she nearly bumped into us.

"Oh, hello there! Have you come to pack your things?" Curious, she peeked at the rabbits which Rowan was still holding in his hands. "What are those for?"

"They're for you," he answered while offering them to her. He ignored her surprised look and glanced around the room. "What happened in here, Ellie? Are you going somewhere?"

"In fact, I am!" she exclaimed, excited. She walked to the kitchen and put the rabbits on the table, next to another disorderly pile of clothes. "I'm coming with you!"

My mouth fell open. "What?"

Rowan looked just as bewildered as I was. "Uhm, Ellie ... I don't think that's a good idea."

"Why not?" The resolution in her eyes left no room for debate. Whether we wanted her to or not, we couldn't stop her from coming along.

Rowan tried to change her mind anyway. "Ellie, you don't know what you're getting yourself into. You don't even know where Kenna and I are going. What our purpose is. Our quest is a dangerous and risky one, and I wouldn't want to see you hurt."

"Who the hell do you think you're talking to, lad?" She placed her hands on her hips, clicking her tongue with irritation. "I'm not exactly the fainthearted housewife type of woman. I can handle myself perfectly well, thank you. As for your quest, you think I don't know what you two are after? I saw what missy there did last night, and I can tell you one thing, soldier: I have never seen a Sorceress use both Light and Dark magic at once. She's the one from the prophecy, isn't she? Oh, you didn't think I'd heard about that, huh? Well, guess what, I did, and I want to help you. I want to see this world rid of Dark Sorcerers as much as you do, so I'm coming with you, whether you like it or not. I dare you to try and stop me."

Her rant left both Rowan and me lost for words. Satisfied with our silent permission, Ellie turned around and continued dividing her stuff into two groups: things she was going to bring along and things that had to stay behind.

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