Don't touch that dial! You've found Lisa Burton Radio, the show where characters come alive. My guest today is Briony, and she's a healer from the land of Aelduende. She has a problem, in that she wants her family to move away from a war torn border.
I'm your host Lisa the robot girl. Today's show is sponsored by the CITY OF HOPE AND RUIN, by Kit Campbell and Siri Paulson. Be sure to check out this wonderful book, and help me keep the lights on around here.
“Welcome to the show Briony.”
“Hello? I can hear you, but not see you. Are you a spirit?”
“I'm an Artificial Intelligence, here to interview you about being a healer. It must be hard, being a non-magical healer in a world that has magic. What can you tell us about that? Do you have to compete with magical healers?”
“Sure, my partner Kishan is a magical healer. He’s great, don’t get me wrong, but everyone seems to think he does all the work. I can spend several minutes binding up a broken bone, and all he does is wave his hands and declare that nothing else is broken, and you’d think it was the most spectacular thing ever performed, the way some people act.
“I think that’s why he thinks he knows everything. Which can be annoying, let me tell you, because it takes forever to get something into his head if he disagrees with you. For example, we have refugees coming from the border every day, telling stories about the atrocities of the Scarred. But he swears we’re safe here and thinks I’m overreacting to try and get my family away. I can’t understand it. He knows the stories from the War as well as I do.”
“I understand, but this war happened five-hundred years ago. My country fought a couple of wars with people who are now our best friends, and that was only two-hundred years ago. What keeps the contention so high?”
“Well, that’s just it, isn’t it? We never recovered from the last war. We may have driven the Scarred off eventually, but the Old Ones left us with Fractures—plants and animals that look normal to lure you in—and they made the Scarred what they are today. Something worse, something…less human. They went back to their own country, and sealed off contact with the rest of the world. Who knows what they’ve been doing in that time? Nothing good, if the stories from the border are to be believed. And I’ve treated the wounds on those people. I believe.”
“These Fractures Sound like bad news. How can somebody make cute animals into something evil? No wonder you want to move away. Where would you move?”
“I think it would be safest to go to the capital, Cynestel. The army and the Academy are there, and if they can’t protect us, well. If it was just me and Kishan, maybe I’d try staying. But it’s my brother and his family. Four children, no mother. The thought of something happening to them—but Jael’s stubborn. That probably runs in the family. He says we’ve got to stay where we are. So I think—I think if I can show him that it’d be better for us to move, he’d finally do it. He’s like Kishan, doesn’t take the Scarred seriously…or at least, that’s what he says. His eyes say something different.
“So I’m trying to get into the Academy. They teach magic. It’s hard to get into, but I think if I can get accepted, somehow, it’ll be enough to get Jael to move the family. Nothing’s been working, though.”
“That sounds rough. What will you do if that doesn’t work?”
“I’m…I’m not sure. There’s…well. The Old Ones disappeared during the War. Abandoned us, really. They were supposed to save us from the Scarred, not make them worse. But they had a lot of knowledge we don’t have any more. I suppose, maybe, that if I never find any magic, then maybe I’d be able to find something left over from them, something that would help. But still—would they have abandoned us if they could deal with the Scarred? And that was so long ago. No. I need magic. It’s really the only way. I have to make it work. Though I’m down to—wait. Did you say you were a spirit?”
“Um, yes, I am a spirit. If you can communicate with spirits, you must have some magical ability. Make sure you tell them that on the application. Thanks for visiting with us today, and good luck moving to the capital.”
Kit: It is a little known fact that Kit was raised in the wild by a marauding gang of octopuses. It wasn't until she was 25 that she was discovered by a traveling National Geographic scientist and brought back to civilization. This is sometimes apparent in the way that she attempts to escape through tubes when startled.
Her transition to normalcy has been slow, but scientists predict that she will have mastered basics such as fork use sometime in the next year. More complex skills, such as proper grocery store etiquette, may be forever outside her reach.
Siri: Siri Paulson writes all over the fantasy and science fiction spectrum, including (so far) secondary-world fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, Gothic, historical paranormal, and YA with spaceships. She is also the chief editor at Turtleduck Press. Siri grew up in Alberta, Canada, but now lives in an old house in Toronto. By day, she edits non-fiction for the government. Her other current passion is contra dance, a social/folk dance done to live Celtic and roots music. Her favourite places in the world are the Canadian Rocky Mountains and a little valley in Norway.