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Torkholm Island, the Hebrides, July 1858
"Magnus, look out!"
At the shout from his uncle, Magnus Findlay rolled sideways and slashed upward with his sword at the tentacle slamming onto the dock beside him. The sturdy wood gave way with a splintering crash and the tentacle, now spouting gouts of bluish blood, whipped sideways to wrap around Magnus's waist. The giant squidits head easily twenty feet from end to end and the tentacles four times thatwas the biggest they'd faced yet, in three or more weeks of random attacks from the monstrous creatures.
Someone beside him opened fire with a repeating rifle. Another fired the harpoon gun from a nearby fishing boat. The sounds of the steam-powered engines and gunfire mingled with the screams of the wounded and shattering of wood. Another chunk of the quay splintered as the beast whirled Magnus in its grip.
His sword, enchanted to stay in his hand and aim true, owned by a score of his ancestors, bit deep into the creature's head. The squid pulled Magnus away from its core, squeezing the breath from his lungs. Enraged and wounded, it dove deep, taking Magnus with it. He gave a silent scream before his head slammed on a rock and the world went black as well as wet.
Edinburgh, the following day
"Genny, I need you in the Hebrides."
"I'm busy, Papa." Dr. Geneva MacKay turned away from her father's imposing countenance to face her assistant. "Elspeth, go ahead and lock up, if you please. I'll see you on Monday."
"Yes, Doctor." Elspeth Robertson, a sturdy, middle-aged widow and Geneva's right hand, had already herded the last patient out the door. "Have a good night, Doctor. Sir Fergus." She bobbed a slight curtsey as she left the surgery.
Geneva finished checking her medical instruments, hung up her white coat and locked her medicine cabinet for the night. "You're welcome to come upstairs and join me for supper, Papa, but I'm not leaving Edinburgh. As you saw, my practice isfinallythriving. I can't go haring off on a moment's notice to God-knows-where anymore. Find another doctor."
Sir Fergus MacKay's freckled face turned an alarming shade of purple, clashing with the auburn of his hair. "I can't. Both the Order's physicians are busy elsewhere."
"Why do you need me out on the islands, of all places? It isn't Connor, is it?" Business or no business, Geneva would drop everything for her younger brother, who had recently joined their father in the family businessthat being the Order of the Round Table, the organization responsible for combating vampyres and other monsters throughout the kingdom.
"No. It isn't a Knight." Fergus, his face lined with exhaustion, dropped into a chair.
"Then there are plenty of physicians in Scotland, Papa. I've had enough trouble, being one of the first female doctors in Edinburgh. I can't compound that by vanishing every other week." She picked up a half-empty teacup from her desk and emptied it into the sink.
Fergus grimaced. "I know, lass. You've more than paid back the loan the Order gave you to set up your practice, so you've no obligation. 'Tis justwellI'd take it as a personal favor if you'd see to this lad."