Ah, healers. Anybody who’s ever played a Dungeons & Dragons or other roleplaying game can tell you how essential it is to have a healer in the adventure party along with a thief, some fighters, and a mage. D & D healers could usually fight a little, too, but their primary usefulness came from casting all those Cure Light Wounds and Cure Heavy Wounds spells on their fallen comrades. They were necessary, but I never felt the urge to play one. Perhaps because the healing spells always sounded so boring. Perhaps, because in codifying the rules for easy play and reducing life-threatening injuries to ‘hit points’, they sucked all the life-and-death drama away from healing.
D & D made healing too easy. A healer/cleric character simply called upon their deity and was instantly granted the ability to magically heal a certain number of times a day depending on the character’s level.
And yet, conversely, fantasy novels that relied only on medieval types of healing such a herbal medicine often frustrated me. They were too hard, too limited. I grew tired of willowbark tea. I craved the endless possibilities and sense of wonder that magic could bring.
In my novels, Gate to Kandrith and Soul of Kandrith, Lance is a healer. Like a D & D cleric, his power derives from Loma, the Goddess of Mercy. His healing can do wondrous things, but his path is anything but easy. He pays a heavy price for the ability. The exact nature of the price he pays is a spoiler, but I will say the original title of book one was Sacrifice. :)
Having a healer character opened up a whole world of plot possibilities. Characters made different choices than they would have otherwise.
When Lance regained his composure, he rejoined the others. They were arguing about how to free Sara—the key had been lost—and getting nowhere.
Sara listened, saying nothing. Wenda, Marcus and Esam talked over and around Sara as if she were a lump of rock. Unable to stand it, Lance interrupted Marcus’s speculation on where they might find blacksmith tools. “Sara, what do you think we should do?”
The others fell silent.
“You could leave me here,” Sara said, as if it were obvious.
Wenda flushed—the thought had obviously occurred to her.
“Never,” Lance swore vehemently.
“Then use a sword.” Sara’s expression was completely unperturbed, as if what she was suggesting was easy. Lance wished he could take it as a sign of faith in him, rather than indifference.
“Who has the sharpest blade? Marcus?” Lance asked.
Marcus handed Lance his sword.
Lance tested the edge. An axe would have been better for shearing bone, but this would have to do.
He raised the sword, then moved it down in a swift cut, severing Sara’s forearm just above the manacle.
Blood spurted everywhere, including—curse it!—into the stone mouth. Fortunately, the Dark God didn’t wake. It had lost two priests in quick succession and must be hurting. Sara watched the whole procedure calmly, neither flinching nor screaming.
“God of Death,” Marcus swore. The hardened legionnaire looked sickened as Lance handed him back his sword.
Grimly, Lance pulled Sara’s severed hand out of the shackle, then rejoined it to her wrist. “Goddess,” he prayed. Loma answered his prayer. The two pieces of flesh melted together into an arm once more.
What are some of your favourite healing scenes from fantasy novels?
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