Part VIII – Desire or Duty?
Copyright 2012 by G Johanson
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Tso still could not believe that Shaozu had not killed him. He had given him the perfect excuse through his treachery and yet Shaozu had spared him. Shaozu had just cause to hate him for what he did to his lady (for all that Shaozu and Lihua were not officially together, the depth of their feelings for each other was apparent to Tso), for supplanting his place and for his general behaviour towards him. Instead Shaozu showed concern for him. Tso did not blame him for chopping off his hand, and Shaozu did not regret doing this as he had had no choice, but he helped him out immediately following the incident. Tso shed no tears and attempted to retain his tough image, difficult after being revealed as Sphinx’ mindless slave, but he could not bring himself to cauterize his wound alone. Shaozu did this for him at his request as Tso bit into a rag. Afterwards Tso threw his own hand onto the fire and witnessed it burn alongside Sphinx’ nose. He would remember this night for as long as he lived, the night his own mortality and weakness stared him in the face. The unscarred warrior now had an unmissable wound. The right-handed swordsman now lacked a right hand. He was finished, though he did not let on to the others how he felt.