Fantasy Careers: Healer
Fantasy Careers is a blog series where I interview characters from fantasy books about their interesting jobs and unusual careers. Interested in taking part? Drop me a line through my contact form.
Elise: Today, I’d like to welcome Sabine Rhyonselle to Magic Writer. Sabine lives in the Human village of Khapor, on a small island in the world of Ceryn Roh. Tell us a little about yourself, Sabine.
Sabine: I am the only active healer in my village. My mentor, Auda, is too old to make regular visits to our patients’ houses. My former partner, Mariel, was recently executed for conspiracy against the Rüddan, the fey race that oppresses my people.
Unlike most women in my village, I live alone in a two-room house outside of the village, on the edge of a forest that everyone else believes is haunted. Better to live near a haunted wood than to share a house with my mother, my sister, and her husband (my former betrothed).
Elise: Yes, I think I might have chosen the haunted wood, too! What is your area of expertise in healing?
Sabine: I am skilled in healing many maladies. While I am not yet as talented as my mentor, I am very good at what I do. The villagers of Khapor rely on me to diagnose their symptoms and tend their maladies.
Elise: So, can you describe a typical day in your job for us?
Sabine: My typical day starts with house calls in the village. I check on any patients currently in my care, then check on any Humans known to have chronic illnesses. I make sure they have the tinctures, oils, and salves they need to keep their illnesses under control. Once that is complete, I check in on Auda, my mentor. We discuss any mysterious symptoms or complicated treatments I have questions about, but I also take care of her as much as she will let me, because she has no family and lives alone. Once our visit is finished, I take care of any personal business I need to attend to before leaving the village, then I go home.
At home, I spend a lot of time working with herbs and other plants making the tinctures, salves, ointments, powders, and oils my clients may need for the ailments they experience. I also work outside in my garden, collect the plants and other materials I need from the nearby forest, and hunt for my food.
Elise: What’s your favourite part of the job?
Sabine: The best part of my job is the time I spend in the woods, foraging for the ingredients I need. I enjoy helping people, but being in the village pains me. I am most content on my own, and look forward the most to my afternoons among the trees.
Elise: Can you tell us a little about your mentor, Auda? Do you get on well with her?
Sabine: Auda is old beyond what is usual in our village and is very wise. She is also saucy, cynical, and unpredictable. Just when I think I have her figured out, she surprises me with something she says or does. She hates the Rüddan as much as I do, but she is so good at hiding it that no one in the village suspects her true heart. Maybe that’s one reason our fey oppressors allow her to live alone, despite their chaperone law—they think she’s too old to be any trouble.
Elise: Did you train with Auda, when you first started your job?
Sabine: (chuckles dryly) Yes, I spent many years studying with Auda, which was no easy task. Her tongue is sharper than anyone I know, even my mother. The only difference is, Auda governs with love, so the training is endurable. Also, Auda believes knowing how to read is one of the strongest ways to fight Rüddan oppression, so she taught me how to be literate as well as how to heal. Although I have yet to read anything outside of Auda’s house or beyond her lessons, I trust some day the skill will come in handy, or else why would she have risked her life to teach me?
Elise: I agree that literacy is a valuable skill, in any job. What made you decide to become a healer?
Sabine: I became a healer for two reasons. First, when the mysterious plague that the Dryht sent killed my father, I knew nothing about medicine. I could have saved him if I had, so I resolved never to be ignorant in that way again. The second reason is because healers have more freedom than other Humans. Due to the unpredictable nature of injuries and illness, we follow no predictable pattern, we move from house to house without suspicion, and we are exempt from curfew. Being a healer also provides me with a reason to spend so much time in the woods, where the Rüddan can’t watch me all the time.
Elise: Those are quite practical reasons for taking on a job. Do you enjoy what you do?
Sabine: I love my job. When my father died, I swore I would never again watch someone suffer as he did without doing something about it. It always pleases me to help those who are ill and to restore the loved ones of others to health.
Elise: Would you say it’s your dream job?
Sabine: Being a healer is the closest thing to freedom anyone in a Human village can experience, and it is the only way I know to help others live a life that is a little more endurable. I may not be able to free my people from Rüddan oppression entirely, but I can bring joy, peace, and hope into the lives of others when I make my visits. That’s why I would want no other job.
Elise: Health is very important. I’m sure your skills are much appreciated in making people’s lives that bit easier. So to finish on a lighter note, do you have any funny stories about your job?
Sabine: I wish I could say yes, because I’m sure you don’t want to hear about my people’s woes, but life under the Rüddan is hard. Humans are constantly watched and perpetually maltreated, and our living conditions are barely endurable. Because of Rüddan oppression, we live in constant fear. We are slaves in everything but name. It is so hard to treat illness that could have been avoided if only we were allowed the basic rights that the Rüddan deny us. It’s even harder to treat the injuries they inflict. That’s why bringing hope with me is so important. (sighs and shakes head) One day I will change all of that. I’m not sure how, but I will find a way.
Elise: I’m sorry to hear life is so hard for you. Knowing you can bring comfort to people is a small blessing. Thanks for joining me here at Magic Writer today, Sabine.
The Healer’s Rune
Three hundred years after a great war shattered the Council of Races, the warrior Rüddan have all but eradicated their cousins, the faerie Aethel. In so doing, they decimated the Dryht sages and enslaved mortal Humanity. In order to save her people from the genocidal plan of the Rüddan, Sabine, a Human healer, must overcome generations of bitterness, suspicion, and fear incited by a betrayal centuries old to forge an alliance among enemy races. But what chance does she have when one of those races is extinct?
By day Lauricia Matuska is a teacher; by night she fights time and responsibility to compose a few lines of her novel-in-progress. Her debut fantasy novel The Healer’s Rune was published by Brimstone Fiction in January 2016.
Currently, Lauricia is working on the sequel to The Healer’s Rune, tentatively titled The Guardian Prince. She is in the early stages of revision, and plans to have the manuscript ready to send to her agent by the end of August 2017. You can watch her progress on this work via the progress tracker on her website.