After the Oratory, the Chores

And there is always more to do, as a healer. When Kaelyn went back into town she found herself quietly surrounded by people who, being good, well mannered people, were nonetheless very much in need of a healer. And it would be shameful to resist or ignore them, regardless of her issues. So Kaelyn went from house to house, doing her job.

And learning a lesson in humility. Her life had been filled with the knowledge that someday she would be an apprentice healer, then rise to Sojourner, then, someday, to Master. She had spent the day among others who have similar arcs in their art, people who knew what a gray cloak meant on a healer.

And now she was spending her time among people who didn't. A few of the people she visited were obviously worried about her getting her “fine new cloak” dirty on their dirt floors, but nobody called her “Sojourner” or anything other than “Miss”. For all the time and effort she put into her studies and the pride she felt at being a Sojourner now, she realized that in the eyes of people who actually need a healer, she was just the younger healer. She was a source of hope, regardless of rank, and they would look to her for as long as she was able to deliver results. A healer who didn't help people was a failure no matter what her master said.

So she helped the sailor who had cut his arm and pretended not to hear the colorful language he used. She taught a poor fishing family that lived near the docks how to boil rags to sterilize them for use as bandages, and how sterile bandages changed frequently helped speed healing. She cleaned wounds, performed minor healing rituals, repaired plague catchers, and did all the little, mundane, often unpleasant things that made you a healer. And this was also part of the puzzle, something that fit alongside what Ellis had told her. There was something right about doing the ugly parts of the job, the boring and unpleasant and repetitive parts. There was no shortcut, and it seemed like Diabolic magic wanted a shortcut all too badly.

And so after the sun had set she made her way back to Colm's cottage, washed her hands and face thoroughly, and helped Mama set the table. They talked about things happening in Strand. Mama was excellent at teaching young healers what is and isn't appropriate information to pass on to anyone else, and gently corrected apprentices who told her things they ought not. Kaelyn and Daisy had thought they were circumspect until the hundredth time Mama told them “that's between you and your patient, dear, nobody else.”

So that evening Kaelyn only brought up topics that would be public knowledge; who was walking out with whom, how far along young Anna Taylor was with her first baby, and a little bit about seeing Mason and Sonja. Kaelyn realized too late that she had put the apprentice before the master but Mama just smiled.

“Sonja is the only person in town who calls you 'Marion' instead of 'Mama', why is that?”

Mama laughed. “She certainly isn't, dear. And that's partially because we're close in age; partially because she's never been one of Colm's apprentices, partially because she believes in the power of names. Did you know that ancient wizards would hide their true names, fearing that knowing a person's name would give you power over them? That practice has gone out of style now, as it seems that fully owning your own name is the way to claim that power, if there is any true power in it.”

Kaelyn paused for a moment. “Mama, We are all of us just as much your apprentices as the master's. You teach so much, and so directly,” Kaelyn stopped, not sure how to put the rest into words. The older woman just smiled.

“Aren't you sweet to say it, dear? Thank you, Kaelyn, for the compliment. It might be half true; Colm and I teach how to be a couple, how to live with mutual respect, love, and consideration. All principles which would hold regardless of what craft you or your spouse might follow. Neither of us look down on the other, both of us work together regardless of the work being done, and overall things work out. The principle of exchanges is a real part of human relationships as well.

“Mind you there might be a few extra wrinkles between, say, a wizard and a healer, but I suspect that they would work those out in time.”

“Mama!” Kaelyn said and laughed while blushing.

“You could do worse, Kay. Just don't get married before you get Daisy back, that's all. She'd be furious.”

Kaelyn laughed a little, but the thought of trapped Daisy sobered her quickly. “I think I can guarantee that, at least. Is Colm coming in for dinner? I need to talk with him.”

“He'll be back shortly. Go change, Kay. It's never a good idea to come to the table wearing clothes that have been out visiting.”

“Yes Mama.” Kaelyn said.


© 2020-2021 Nathanial Dickson. Written during #NaNoWriMo 2020 Contact me on Mastodon