Healers use their magic to reach to a patient's own magic, gain information about the patient's body, diagnose the problem and attempt to heal it. Healing itself is a balance between the healer using their own magic to power changes and convincing the patient's magic to work with them despite their instincts identifying the foreign magic as a threat. Unfortunately, despite the wonders magic can accomplish, communication between healers through the empire is limited and many conditions are still untreatable.
The healing process
Examination and diagnosis
The first step is of course for the healer to go through the patient's external magical barrier—located in their skin—with their own magic. The first instinct of everyone is to reject any foreign magic in their body, and it is very difficult to keep that reaction down. This is even more difficult in patients that are unconscious or not completely aware of what is going on. Patients weakened by what they are going through or magically weak to begin with will present less resistance to the healer.
After the healer has gone through the barrier, they must examine the body and identify the problem. This is difficult because healers can focus on individual cells and lose sight of what is happening globally in the body, or if they keep a global vision they might not understand the more specific mechanisms of the problems.
Once the problem is discovered, the healer needs to find the cause so that they can target that directly. Combining what they see from what the patients or their entourage have told them is key to do this properly and not misdiagnose the problem or only find one of the middle steps and miss the root cause.
Lady Merisse paced impatiently while the healer was carrying out his examination. That was the seventh she had brought in already, and this one straight from the capital. He had to at least be able to find the cause of her son's suffering.
She glanced back to the bed, but the sight of poor Lucien's face torn with pain at the brutal entry of the healer's magic through his skin forced her to look away. All those fancy healers never bother to develop good bedside skills and have no idea how to coax a patient's cooperation.
But she had tried that kind of healers first, and they had not been able to help. She could not afford to be choosy now...
Only after all of this has been done can the real healing take place. For this step, magical power is important as magic is pushed directly at the problem to affect it. The healer's natural magical power is a limitation to what they can do, but they are ways to go beyond that. The first is to elaborate elixirs, balms, or other medical solutions that can be administered to the patients and whose magic will come to supplement that of the healer.
The second is for the healer to coax the patient's magic to act alongside them. Since a patient's magic does not have to travel outside of their body and is being replenished constantly, this is by far the most efficient manner of healing anyone. This is also why completely depleting a patient's magical reserve so that they do not present an external resistance to the healer's magic is a bad idea.
While in the best of case, the root of the problem can be dealt with directly and the rest of the body will heal on its own with maybe a few occasional boosts from the healer or medicines, in most severe cases the healer will need to administer magic regularly for a few days or even months to fully treat the patient.
"I am afraid there is little that I can do, my lady." The healer bowed, his face torn with exaggerated regret. At least he was not prevaricating about it like the others. "Have you considered..." He marked a pause and she stiffened, knowing full well where this was going. "... that it might be genetic?"
Battle injuries are different since the human body will not heal all of them on its own and its natural healing abilities cannot just be boosted. However, healers have perfected the art of using stem cells from the bone marrow to regenerate damage tissues. The best healers are even capable of regrowing lost limbs over a long time period, cell by cell. So long as the brain itself is intact, access to the best healers can save a person from everything.
Injuries affecting a patient's own magic are the worst, as they interfere with their body's abilities to heal, thus also limiting the effects of medicines. This put all the efforts on a healer's own magic and the size of their reserve. Treating such injuries is best done by a team of healers, something only the richest in the empire can afford. This is why such weapons are particularly appreciated on the battlefield.
Parasite caught in the act, by AmélieIS with images from Unsplash
Or almost everything. Indeed, the one major limitation to healing is genetic conditions. As the information coding for genes is located in all of the cells in the body, real healing would require changing them all. With the number of cells in an adult human estimated at several trillions, this is simply not possible even with a hoard of healers at one's disposal. The only thing that can be done in those cases is to mitigate the symptoms. It is common for healers who do not know how to treat a patient to reject the fault on an unknown genetic disease.
Another important limitation is the healers' own skills and knowledge. Throwing magic at a patient will have little effects beyond exhausting them more. The magic needs to be very precisely targeted so as to be used the most efficiently and actually improve the patient's state. As there is no proper school of healing in the empire, such knowledge is transmitted through apprenticeships. Collaborations between allied Estates is frequent and a lord or lady sending their personal healer to help someone is seen as a very generous gesture.
While anyone can learn healing, having large magical reserve helps healers to be among the best of their professions. Similarly, having line-gifts associated directly with healing or that can be twisted to provide some advantages will also do a lot in helping healers' skills but also their reputations.
Lady Merisse hissed. "Might I remind you that my son was perfectly fine a month ago and that he only suddenly developed those symptoms after he was bitten by an insect? Symptoms that are shared by many others in the region? If you do not know how to treat him, have the grace to admit to your lack of skills and do not attempt to reject the fault on us!"
If you want to read more about Lady Merisse's story, you can go here: