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Healers

Time: Afternoon, day 4, month 13, turn 22.
Place: Infirmary, Fort Weyr.
Players: Jantha, Isandre.
Scene: Plans are made for mutual benefit, and Jantha's vague thoughts about the future of dragonhealing start to crystallise in a conversation with Isandre.




It's a quiet afternoon in both parts of the infirmary: the dragon part in particular is quite devoid of patients, once the green and her rider who have come for a consultation with one of the dragonhealers depart. Jantha watches them go for a few seconds, then rinses the flask that she was using and dries her hands. That done, she makes her way along the passage into the human half of the infirmary, with her sights set on the stillroom.

As is common on a quiet afternoon, Isandre is puttering about the human side of the infirmary, cleaning her already immaculate workspace and reorganizing cabinets that don't need it. Perhaps it's a way to keep her hands busy when she's lacking in patients, or perhaps its her own personal brand of quirk - whatever it is, the sight that greets any entrant to the room on this winter afternoon is the journeyman's ample rump as she crouches beneath an examination table, scrubbing diligently at a non-existant spot upon the stone floor.

"Good afternoon, journeyman," is Jantha's cheerful greeting as she enters. Cleaning operations are apparently taken as a matter of course. "It looks as if the human side of the Weyr's as fit as the dragons today - you've got no more patients than I have. Do you need the still-room for a bit? I've got something straining in there, and it should be done by now."

The sound of scrubbing pauses, and Isandre's hindquarters wiggle comically as she wriggles out from under the table, turning and sitting back on her haunches as she her kerchief back into place, brushing a stray strand of blonde hair out of her eyes. "Welladay," the journeyman greets in kind, her smile bright and welcoming as she plants her hands on her knees and blows out a long breath. "I'm glad for th' quiet, let me tell you. Gives me a chance t' straighten up a touch afore some aught comes in t' muss it again. I've no need of it that I'm aware of, so enjoy." One eyebrow quirks upwards, and she adds, "If'n y' don't mind my curiosity, what be y' makin' in there?"

"Eyewash," Jantha says with a grin as she moves towards the stillroom door. "It's one of those things that we don't need too often, but when we do, we need a lot of it." She opens the door and flips up the lid of the glowbasket, but a single glance inside the room is apparently enough. The light is extinguished, and she backs out. "It's still dripping, though, so I'll have to leave it a while. Dragons do use such quantities of things."

"Hmm, yes, I imagine they do," Isandre replies, pushing herself to her feet with a soft grunt. Straightening her skirts, the journeyman turns, eyeing the sparkling floor under the examination table with a critical eye before sighing. "Someday, I'll get that spot out," she mutters, before bending over to pick up her scrub brush, then turning back to Jantha. "Never worked on dragons afore. Canna imagine what it must take t' heal one up. Vats instead o' vials." Chuckling, she shakes her head and moves to place her brush by one of the sinks to be washed.

"That's about the strength of it," Jantha agrees, closing the door and turning her back on it. "After Threadfall, we'd get through whole barrels of numbweed salve, sometimes. It's a mercy that the stuff grows so well - though I'm not missing the boiling of it! Or the injuries, of course. But apart from the size, it's not that different from working on humans, I imagine. Talking to the patient's rather less direct, though."

"Oh aye, I imagine it must be difficult for a non-rider t' work on dragons," the human healer replies, sounding a bit wistful. "What with th' whole 'talking in the mind' thing and what not. I thought briefly 'bout comin' t' ye for some trainin' when I got here - t'would be useful knowledge, servin' a Weyr and all, but I can imagine where it might be a bit problematic when m' patient canna make itself understood t' me, ye ken." Because Isandre herself is all about being understandable. "Though might be nice as not t' hear the grumbles as I get from some o' yer riders. Ye'd think they was indestructable, th' way they can carry on when sick or hurt."

"Too right," Jantha agrees. "And they'll keep going as long as it takes to get their dragon taken care of, even if they're dropping themselves. If you want to learn, though, it's not necessary to be a rider yourself - you just talk to them through their rider rather than your own dragon, and in fact it's considered more polite to do that anyway if it isn't an emergency. You could talk to T'zhar, if you're interested." She names Fort's elderly senior dragonhealer. "Though," she adds with a regretful smile, "he'll probably refer you to me. I think his hands are bothering him at the moment, and he's trying not to let on."

"Are they? I know a few things that might help with that," Isandre muses, one eyebrow quirking upwards in thought. "Hot mud packs, some oils, some herbs - if'n ye can convince him he needs it. Not that I want t' be a full-time dragonhealer, mind, but it might help t' have an extra pair of knowledgable hands, an' it can help me when dealin' with the riders at times - if'n they're worried about their lifemate while I'm tryin' t' help /them/. And, well," the journeyman's grin turns sly, "knowledge of any kind never hurts. Th' more I know, th' more I can do, an' the better it'll look when it comes time t' trade up the knots, ye ken?"

Jantha nods several times. "I know. And if the healer craft had a better attitude to riders as crafters, I'd be offering to trade knowledge with you. But if we have an emergency, it'd certainly be useful to have more people who can help out. Apart from the goldriders, we have very few at the moment. I'd be very glad to show you what I can, anyway." She glances round the infirmary, eyes resting on the beds and a couple of pieces of equipment. "I was all set to be a healer, before I was Searched."

"Healing, as ye know, takes time and dedication such as a rider might have trouble devoting, with all your duties," Isandre says gently, though her smile is quite understanding. "Still, anything as ye wish to learn, I'll teach. It never hurts t' share knowledge, and who knows but what I know may help ye with th' dragonkind - after all, we're always after finding new techniques t' treat any as need it. However," she adds, more briskly, "I think it would do me and ye both a bit o' good if I at least take th' time to learn basics. A healer must be flexible." Abruptly, she grins. "In mind, anywho, canna say my body has seen flexibility in many a turn."

Jantha looks a little cool at Isandre's response to her comment about healers, but admits, "That'll certainly be true once we have another class of weyrlings. For now, I'm not doing anything I'd be missed from, if the truth be known. Other than the dragonhealing, of course, and there isn't the need during the Interval that there is in the Pass. Still, I'd feel happier if we had more knowledgeable people: T'zhar's not getting any younger and there isn't anyone lined up to take over, when the time comes." She frowns, appearing rather concerned about that. "Well, we're going to have to find someone. But still, I'd be very happy to share what I can, and I'd be interested to learn what I can." With a grin, she adds, "Sounds like a deal?"

"I mean no slight," Isandre replies, unruffled by the rider's cool look. "It's as ye have noticed yourself, a craft policy, not my own. I offer knowledge, an' I mean it. There's never too many skilled hands in th' infirmary, on either side o' the wall. A sharing of knowledge between us two should help t' even things up a bit, I'm thinking." She replies to Jantha's grin with one of her own, adding a firm nod to her response. "It is a deal well made, I think, and I'm grateful for it." Her expression softens from cheer to pleasure. "An' I'll let you in on a secret. I love t' teach, I do, an' I've no apprentices here. Ye give me two things I love - th' chance to gain knowledge, and t' give it, which makes me think I get th' better end o' the bargain."

Jantha smiles at that, the warmth reaching her eyes. "Well, I'm glad then - I also love to teach, and it grieves me still that I stopped studying in the craft. It sounds as if you and I have a certain amount in common. A bargain well made indeed!" She moves away from the door and stands with her back to one of the cabinets. "I'm not sure how long you've been at the Weyr. Is this your first posting as a journeyman?"

Unable to stand still, Isandre finally moves away from the sink, bustling over to a counter and begining to idly rearrange the various jars stacked upon it. "Me? I've been here a few months, at least. Feels longer, some days, let me tell ye what." Her lips curve in a faint smile. "And yes, it be my first posting. I came late t' the craft, an' though my early training counted some aught t'words the knot, I walked as a Journeyman a bit later than normal." A wry smile is sent towards Jantha. "So obvious, is it?"

Jantha raises her eyebrows a little, though her expression and tone remain pleasant. "Not at all, if by that you're asking whether I think you seem inexperienced. But, if you'll pardon the comment, you hardly look old enough to have completed a posting somewhere else. Or perhaps I'm simply old enough that everyone's starting to look young to me. How are you finding it, at the Weyr?"

"It's me youthful good looks," Isandre replies, affecting a haughty expression before giving voice to a boisterous laugh. "Aye, I'm young, and this be my first. Wouldn't mind bein' here for a good long time, neither. It's interesting, quite a change from th' backwater where I grew up, or the Hall. I enjoy it though," she admits readily enough. "Enough work t' keep me on my toes, and not so much as I feel overwhelmed. "

"That sounds an ideal balance," Jantha chuckles. "Though, in this climate, I imagine your busy season must be approaching - colds and fevers and the like always seem to peak after Turn's End, in the north." She looks thoughtful for a moment. "Tell me, in your time at the Hall, did you ever pick up any suggestion that the Healer Craft might consider taking an interest in dragonhealing?"

Isandre's lips purse as she turns, leaning against the counter and setting her hands on the edge behind her. "There's always those who think as we should look more int' the non-human healings, such as beasthealing or dragonhealing, but last I heard, it was still considered th' Weyr's deal, an' not th' Hall's. I'm afraid, though, that a very junior journeyman isn't much on th' inside o' the Masters' councils. I could send a discreet inquiry, if'n it's something of interest t' ye?"

"Well, it does make sense for the Weyrs to take the lead on it, I suppose. But..." Jantha hesitates, then comes to a decision. "Yes, thank you. You see, the Weyrs being largely autonomous, and sort of co-ordination between dragonhealers is down to individuals sharing knowledge. And we do, of course; I'm in close touch with the dragonhealers at Southern, for example." She continues more slowly, feeling her way. "At the moment, people like T'zhar and the senior dragonhealers down at Southern, or me, for that matter, have a great deal of skill in treating Threadscore, doing major wing repairs, and so on. We're going to lose all that, in the Interval, and there's no central place to preserve what we know."

"Have the Weyrs never considered settin' up a dragonhealer's hall then, of the kind?" Isandre looks interested in the conversation, her eyes fixed curiously on Jantha's face. "Seems t' me, s'pecially durin' an interval like this, that might be more productive than tryin' to get the Hall t' take it up. But my mentor's a good man, an' I can send him a message none th' wiser, he'll let me know what's on the Masters' mind, if it's come up at all. It might be good," she adds musingly, "for th' Hall t' consider, just as I wish they'd consider allowing riders t' 'pprentice if they have the time. D'you know what a boon it'd be for us t' have healers who can get where needs getting in an instant, without all the hassle of finding a free rider?"

"I can see that it would be extremely useful in emergencies," Jantha agrees, nodding. "And indeed for serving a circuit. And where a healer apprentice Impresses, I quite agree that they should be allowed to continue, and to qualify. When I Impressed - after three years at the Hall - things were rather different, but now that we don't need every dragon to defend the planet, I can see no reasonable objection to that." Her forehead furrows, and she nods again, more slowly. "A dragonhealers' hall. I won't say it's never crossed my mind, but usually one or other of the Weyrs has been the place with the most knowledge at any one time, and we've looked there for expertise. At the moment it's probably Southern..." She grins. "But that could be just my bias showing."

"Southern's probably th' most likely place, as I hear it. Though anywhere would be good, s'long as you get a good concentration o' dragonhealers. Since most of ye are riders, s'not even necessary for ye t' live at th' hall or Weyr or whatever - ye can come in as needed for lessons or what not." Isandre is clearly considering the idea as thoughtfully as Jantha. "Like I said, I'll talk at me mentor an' see what he says, but are ye sure ye want th' Healers overseein' what is, after all, something strictly for th' Weyrs? Seems t' me they don't have quite th' same politics as a Weyr, though such things should have no place in healing." She is not, however, so naive as to believe that politics plays no part in the Hall.

"Overseeing? Certainly not." Jantha sounds quite emphatic about that. "Though I can see some value in having the ability to award a recognised rank to those who are trained and competent. But acting as another safeguard against the loss of knowledge and of physical records that inevitably comes with time? I can foresee a time when each Weyr will have only one dragonhealer for many many turns, and if that person neglects to pass on his skills or to preserve his records...." She shakes her head. "Even the Healer Craft has lost much knowledge over the centuries, or so I was taught. I think we need as much protection against that as we can get."

"Aye, I see th' value in a repository, an' I'm sure the Hall would love to have the knowledge, even if they have no practical application of it in their current form. But - well, let's see what my master says, shall we? There's a lot t' consider here, an' many different factors to think about." Isandre's grin is wry. "For sure, if I was you, I'd consider startin' to take a log o' what ye know, and keep records here, if nothing else, 'til all of this is thought through?"

"Perhaps," Jantha says carefully, "you could sound him out a little without conveying any actual... suggestions? I would be very interested to know whether anyone there is actually thinking about this, and my own contacts there wouldn't necessarily tell me, as I'm no longer in the Craft. As for keeping a log, we do have written records, in fact, but much of our practical knowledge is passed on orally so there are few copies, and I'm certain there must be things, techniques, that have never made it onto-" She breaks off, staring into nowhere for a few moments, then says, "I'm sorry, I have to go. Imoth tells me there's a brown coming in with a wrenched wing muscle. I'll see you later, I expect." She heads towards the tunnel that leads back to the dragonhealers' area, adding with a smile as she leaves, "If you come down in a few minutes, though, you may get to see how we make a very large ice pack."

Isandre nods thoughtfully. "I'll be along in a moment," she replies, pushing away from the counter. "I want t' think about what I'll be sayin' to my master in that missive. Thank you," she adds, with a soft smile for the weyrlingmaster. "I appreciate yer willingness t' let me learn a bit o' what ye have to teach me."



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