Monday, March 5, 2018

Looking Southward and Backward, Part 10.

Sarq seems nearly to faint for a moment, though likely more from disbelief at what Elrusyo has done, than from actual distress at the sight of blood. He shakes off his nonplussed shackles after a few moments in a scramble of quick movement which too, in a few moments, he fights against. Something approaching a focused calm comes over him, and a not-quite-authoritative voice comes from his mouth as he requests this, that, or the other thing of Ciudo and Hraela- his bewildered, brand new surgical assistants, it would seem.

They both shift closer to the flanks of their beleaguered colleague and offer what assistance they can- an apparently permissible act in Elrusyo's eyes, and an effective utilization of the resources at hand. Ciudo looks the most morose now, being unused to such carnage, but he tries to keep a steady hand as he fishes around for the proper tools and implements packed away in Sarq's small cases. Hraela seems more annoyed that they must now dote on this disagreeable man than bothered at the blood. Before long she subsumes her distaste underneath classic Gertisch stoicism- which is to say, she offers her silent, withering glare to everyone-and-thing, and not only their patient. She does however look favorably upon the bloody blade belonging to Elrusyo which sits nearby. Whether because of its craftsmanship, or the way he handled it, I cannot say.

Elrusyo himself seems to demonstrate the greatest self-control and composure of anyone in this cart, both myself and even the draft horse included. His fingers occasionally twitch and spasm as if from damaged and misfiring musculature, but from the elbow up he remains absolutely cool and composed. He even continues to offer casual advice and commentary to Sarq, though he keeps returning to the passage of time as imperative. The dark blood running from his self-inflicted wound is now forming a small puddle in between our huddled bodies.

"Careful with that tourniquet now, boy. Do you want me to permanently lose the use of my fingers?"

"It would be admirable of your foresight to get someone looking for an artery clamp or two."

"While it is permissible in this short-term scenario, I loathe to imagine what corruption that thing could cause without proper cleaning."

"Excuse me, nurse, could I please get a warm, damp towel on the brow? I am feeling a little faint and clammy... Oh come now, you feisty Gert. I was not singling you out for your womanhood! In fact, I was referring to your mute little linguist and trying to get him to speak up finally."

"Gah, careful with that! Apply the antiseptic, don't drown me in it! And don't you hold out on me, either. A patient--and their doctor--benefit far more from sharing a shot or two than any medical institution will admit. Come to think of it, just give everyone here a round. Especially if it will shut Robber's damned quill up."

The initial time limit is beaten, with the worst of the bleeding stopping before the pool of blood becomes frighteningly large. Still, the reek of iron is strong enough for people up and down the line to turn and wonder what is happening, and Elrusyo himself seems pale, weakened, and even a little quiet. Esgodarran brandy burns my throat and stomach, but enough that I am able to pretend it is fortifying me against the cold wind which still dips down through the high, hilly valleys to whip across our caravan.

But the real work of knitting everything else together begins now, and is far more grueling. It seems to be that Sarq has forgotten exactly what was requested of him, but Elrusyo does not seem inclined to stop him if he is indeed on a roll. Muscle, sinew, and skin will have to come together of its own accord, if it will at all, but steps can still be taken to foster it.

So involved is he, that he doesn't even notice the way his assistants shift away down the bench once more.

Or the fact that the other arm belonging to the hedge magician is now raised, hand extended to receive and shake the medic's. Elrusyo smiles the sort of smile normally reserved for professional False City grifters.

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