I looked off of the aft deck towards the small island, called Teramunde by the natives and That Theus-forsaken rock out in the middle of friggin' NOWHERE by civilized people. We'd been here for several days now, anchored at the edge of the world while our passengers did...something...on the island. Not that I'd complained, mind you. Although I was no closer to finding my former business partner, I was rather far away from my other former business partner, and until I found the former I was absolutely fine avoiding the latter.
The island was scenic, in a nostalgic way. It reminded me of my cousin's island, before I acquired the deed and sold it to the Montaigne. Now, where there was untamed nature lay row upon row of tilled land, a mine or two, and of course several Montaigne garrisons to keep those pesky Vesten savages from taking back "their" land. A pity my cousin didn't understand. There were no harsh feelings, of course. It was merely good business, but Arjenson insisted on taking it as a personal affront. Something about selling the soul of our ancestors... I don't know, it didn't seem important so I wasn't paying attention. This island, however, lacked the bountiful resources required of a trading partner. Perhaps a resort for the wealthy? Yes, I could see it now; the top of the mountain would be a lovely retreat, surrounded by nature without any of the inconveniences.
Hmm. Or perhaps not. I straightened my glasses, then said "Pardon me, mon Capitan but, uh, as you may have noticed, the island is now shooting up thick coloumns of foul smoke. Either there is a tremendous fire at the top, or there is about to be a tremendous fire everywhere. May we commence with sailing the hell away?"
The bald Castillian man at my side spat overboard without taking his eye from the spyglass. "First, senor Luccassen, you call me mon Capitan again an' I'll keelhaul you. Second, no, not yet."
"May I ask when, mon Capitan?"
He snorted thoughtfully. "First, senor Luccassen, you call me mon Capitan again an' I'll keelhaul you. Second, either when our guests return or when the island starts throwin' rocks at us."
"Won't it be a bit late then?"
"Ah, quit yer whinin. I can see em' runnin' down the mountain now. I already sent the bosun out to get em, we'll lift anchor within 10 minutes an' we got at least twice that 'fore it gets dangerous." He focused the glass, then chortled. "One of 'em is bleedin' somethin' awful. Looks like it's time for you to earn yer keep, doctor."
Ok, calm down, you can do this. It'll be fine! How hard could it be, a snip snip here and a sew sew there, he'll be good as new! It's like fixing your niece's doll. This is not a big deal.
The man, however, WAS big. A tree-like Avalonian man in a skirt, perhaps a Highlander, was escorted on board by a slight Castillian woman in pants and the dark-skinned bosun. He was still conscious, and could stand, though it obviously pained him. One hand was clutched over his stomach, and a dark stain was spreading through his blouse.
Without preamble, I grabbed his face and started inspecting him, pressing into his cheeks as though he was a dog that had got ahold of something he shouldn't. He pulled away and grimaced, backing away. I rapped his knee with my cane - delicately of course - and grabbed his cheeks once more as he bellowed in pain, shoving my fingers between his molars to prevent it from closing once more.
"Excuse me!" Oh good lord, that shrill voice. "What do you think you're doing? He's hurt! He needs to see the surgeon!"
Once the shivers passed through my spine, I adjusted my spectacles and turned to face her. "Madam, I am the surgeon. Now if you please, I am busy checking your friend for internal injuries. I fear his uvula may have fallen off."
The big man got nervous. "My uvula? Is...Is that important?"
"Only the single most important organ in your head! It's the seat of your soul. According to research I've personally conducted, people become quite violent and incoherent immediately upon the removal of their uvula."
The shrew piped up. "Excuse me, I don't think that's-"
I wheeled on her, clutching my cane tightly. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize there were TWO trained and licensed professionals on board. Perhaps you'd like to give a second opinion? Please, by all means. You'd only be contravening one of the most respected doctors of medicine to come out of the University at Kirk. But no, I'm sure you're just as qualified." She glared at me, but remained quiet. "So you'll let me finish then?" Silence. "Fantastic. Why don't you make yourself useful and run down to my lab? Bring me a set of forceps, a roll of gauze, and some needle and a thread." She shot me a look that could curdle milk, but went below deck.
With the nag out of the way, I returned to the big man, now noticeably paler. "Don't worry, she's gone now and I can proceed uninterrupted. Did you know that Vodacce men are born without uvulas? A little known fact, but it explains so much. Now, say Ah."
"No no no! Follow my directions! Say Ah."
"Much better." I peered into his mouth. I have no idea what I'm doing. "Alright, it appears your uvula sustained some superficial damage, but it'll heal overnight."
The skirt-wearing ogre sighed in genuine relief. "That's great, doctor. Thank you. Now, um, I do have one more ailment I'd like you to take a look at."
"The HOLE in my STOMACH."
I waved my hands in dismissal. "A minor concern, nothing to be worried about." Just then, the hell-cat returned carrying the supplies I'd asked for. "Perfect! Thank you for finding those. Now if you'll please follow me down to my lab."
I consulted my star charts as the she-wolf strapped down the hulk, cross referencing the instructions with the Beginner's Book of Anatomy. "So I make the first incision here..." I drew my finger across the neck of the diagrammed man. Why doesn't that seem right? Ah, of course! The book is upside down. Ah yes, that makes much more sense.
"Doctor? Shall I fetch a basin for you to wash your hands in?"
I chuckled. "Nonsense! We Vendel have passed beyond such silly superstition. You may, however, fetch me a bottle of wine. The cheaper, the better."
I was quickly given a bottle. I stood and uncorked the wine...she didn't skimp on the cheapness, that's for sure. I took a swig from the bottle, then poured the rest onto the wound. The Highlander groaned and began to thrash around. "Hold still, you ape! This'll go much faster if you don't wriggle around. Scalpel, please." One was placed into my hand.
I placed the blade inside the bullet hole and pressed down. In hindsight, perhaps I applied slightly too much pressure. Or perhaps I was on the wrong side of the bullet. I don't know; I'm not a doctor.
There was a sound like air escaping a bladder as liquid spewed from the incision and painted the wall a foul shade of green, taking the slug with it. The Highlander screamed like a sissy, then fainted away.
OH SWEET MERCIFUL PROPHETS WHAT IS THAT.
"Relax, my dear! Nothing to be worried about. A perfectly natural expulsion of bodily waste. It's occurred in every surgery I've ever performed."
Yes. Yes it has.
"Calm down. I haven't lost a patient yet!"
No. No I haven't.
Despite my reassurances, however, the harridan wouldn't stop screaming. You'd think she'd never seen green unidentified liquid spurting from someone's stomach before. I do confess, though, that her panic was beginning to affect my judgment, and so I grabbed the closest thing to hand and crammed it in there good and tight, then quickly sewed it up.
"See? Good as new! I will need to keep him overnight for observation, but I expect him to make a full recovery."
"Doctor, is that...is that a cork in his stomach?"
"...Think of it as his new bellybutton."