They walked out into the failing light of the day. Elysia was trying to digest what had been said. The fat man’s voice echoed in her mind ‘that thing’ he had called her. Worst of all, she knew he was right. As long as Sovos kept to his code, he would be in danger.
‘I can’t let that happen!’ she thought ‘I would be so bold as to call these three my friends, I can’t be responsible for their deaths!’
“You do know he’s right?”
“The man back there, as long as you protect me, you are in danger as well.”
“I know. You don’t think I hadn’t already thought of the implications when I offered my services?”
“But, your contract with me is terminated. You agreed to protect me while I was in the city.”
“No, you asked me to protect you while you were in the city. The Code says ‘any woman within in your sight’ remember? I can still see you. True that the initial contract was for in the city, but now that we are out, I must protect you. Promise or no promise.” Sovos explained.
Elysia was silent for a moment. She was still shocked at his devotion to his Code.
“Can’t I just say that I no longer need your services?” Elysia asked.
“You could, but my Code is binding. Surely as chains bind a criminal. I must follow the mandates of the Code.”
“Is there a way I could break that bind?” she asked again.
“Yes, two actually. First, I could die. That would release me. Second, the woman I am protecting could beat me in single combat, thereby proving that I am incapable of protecting her, and that she is more than capable of taking care of herself.”
“Really?” Kurt blurted out “Are you serious?”
Elysia jumped slightly at his exclamation, she had nearly forgotten that Kurt was there.
“Honestly though,” Sovos started again, “the first way is more likely. In the fighting option, I am permitted by the code to use all at my disposal to attempt to disarm her.”
“So a code that has layers of rules for the protection of women, also says that you can fight one?” she asked, confused.
“A bit strange I’ll admit. But the ones who wrote the Code thought that the results were worth it. To live in disgrace is often times fatal to a Geomancer.”
“It often leads to suicide. He wasn’t able to protect a woman he swore to protect. She was either killed or beat him and left. That is too much for most. Protecting a woman with body, heart, life and soul is worth it, I think. Call me old fashioned, but isn’t that what men are supposed to do?”
That stopped her in her tracks.
‘So, it all comes down to chivalry?’
They continued to walk until the sun had dropped out of sight and the city was lost to the horizon. An outcropping of rock just off the road served as a windbreak for their camp that night. Sovos built a fire and threw medium-sized rocks into it.
“Why did you do that?” Kurt asked
“They will stay warm for hours after the fire dies.” Sovos explained.
Elysia sat in the shadow of the outcropping, away from the fire. Kurt looked concerned. “Are you cold over there?”
“No, I’ll manage.”
“If you insist on sitting there, at least take this.” Sovos said as he tossed her his cloak. He used the end of his staff to knock a rock closer to the center of the fire “You’ll have to wait awhile for a rock though.”
The cloak was warm, she wrapped it around herself along with her own. Within a few moments, she was asleep. No dreams or nightmares came, only a peaceful sense of right. As if she no longer needed to worry, or be afraid.