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 Tso immediately following the incident. Tso shed no tears and attempted to retain his tough image, difficult after being revealed as Sphinx’s 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 burning alongside Sphinx’s 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.
Kammani was still buzzing after the night’s dramas, and she left her bed to grab a quick word with Shaozu, the hero of the hour. Shaozu chose not to sleep at all, sitting by the campfire keeping watch over Tso, who lay covered by a blanket, attempting in vain to sleep. Kammani gestured for Shaozu to accompany her and they ventured far enough away that neither Tso nor Lihua would hear them.
“We can discuss this in-depth later. I just wanted you to know that I intend to renegotiate your contract. If the situation arose again I know now I could burn my foes in time, but I wasn’t sure then and you saved the day. How much of Tso’s wages do you require?”
“It would be dishonest for me to take money he’d agreed to.” Tso was broken, his bluster gone. This was not the time for Shaozu to pick the bones. Tso had been injured in the line of duty and deserved some recompense.
“He failed me.”
“It wasn’t his fault.”
“She targeted him at the brothel. If he had not succumbed to his lust this wouldn’t have happened.”