Today we hear from my friend Beth Cato, whose story “The Deepest Poison” is out from Harper Voyager Impulse today! This tale takes place in the same world as her novel The Clockwork Dagger, which has been delighting readers since its release last Fall. “The Deepest Poison” takes place before The Clockwork Dagger, but either can be read first. Here’s Beth to talk to us about what a “medician” is, and the key role they play in the world of The Clockwork Dagger:
A lot of fantasy books use healing magic. It’s a necessity to keep characters alive. There’s usually a side character the heroes can turn to for help, or the protagonist relies on a regenerative skill along with a plethora of other abilities.
My Clockwork Dagger series blends epic fantasy, steampunk, and mystery. My heroine, Octavia, is a medician—what I call the class of healing wizards. She’s not a fighter, not in the traditional sense. She’s the sort of woman who can change out bed pans or amputate a limb. She’s not afraid to shoot a man in self-defense, but she’ll also turn around and try to save his life.
In the grand tradition of protagonists, Octavia is also special. She’s more powerful than any other medician, though she would be the first to tell you that the power isn’t her own. It comes from the Lady, a world tree of lore who intercedes on behalf of the injured. Calling on the Lady requires a circle laid of a particular herb, and the act of healing also requires specific herbs to treat particular ailments. To a medician, every living body emits music. Within a circle, they can hear the frantic jig of a palpitating heart, the wail of blood, the wheeze of escaping brain matter.
Octavia’s problem–one of many–is that she can hear this music all the time. Walking down a city street means she’s bombarded with a cacophony of competing songs. Being in a circle makes the sound stronger.
After spending most of her teenage years at the front, Octavia is also adept at doctoring. She can clean and bandage wounds, use common tinctures, and wait out the healing process… not that she wants to, not with her special connection to the Lady. To her, it’s the greatest of blessings, and one she can use to save many. Octavia has a hard time saying no to a person or animal in need. She hates suffering. She hates death. She’d save everyone if she could.
That becomes especially difficult for her in my short story, “The Deepest Poison.” This story focuses on a pivotal event that takes place not long before the start of my novel The Clockwork Dagger: soldiers in Octavia’s army encampment are poisoned en masse, and as matron, she’s leading the effort to save lives. Her mentor, Miss Percival, arrives to lend assistance as well… and Miss Percival is weary of being constantly out-done by her best pupil.
“The Deepest Poison” is 99-cents from all online book retailers. If you like it, go on to read the novel The Clockwork Dagger and be ready for the release of the sequel, The Clockwork Crown, on June 9th!
Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.
She’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager. The newest book, THE CLOCKWORK CROWN, comes out on June 9th, 2015.
Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.