To be healer-born in the Dominion is to be simultaneously honored and despised. Honored because the service a healer can provide is valuable. The Dominion is a harsh place and its residents mere mortals; even the Tyr'agar himself could need healing. A healer-born son could make a clan wealthy and no matter how little it is accounted in the sight of the Lord, coin is never without power.
But it is not a talent of the Lord. The Lord honors strength, strength enough to render a healer's services superfluous. The strength to bear pain and wear scars proudly, proclaiming to all that this man had not stooped to bear the touch of the healer-born. Healing is said to come from the Lady, a product of her mercy. One so deeply marked by her could never be accounted entirely a man in the sight of the Lord and the Tyrs and Tors echoed that judgment.
To be healer-born in the Dominion is to learn to turn your back on suffering when every part of your being longs to end it. This, in itself, is not so strange. It is a lesson every child of the Dominion must learn in one way or another. But the ability to heal is a gift and it wants to be used. A healer who does not feel a deep desire, almost a compulsion, to heal is an impossibility. But healing is not some merely physical act, akin to putting on a bandage. It is intimate, revealing vulnerabilities few in the South are willing to share, healers and healed alike.
To be healer-born in the Dominion is to use one's talents rarely indeed.
But even in the Dominion, to force a healer to heal is an abomination.
Yet as he who was once proud to be called Ser Laonis di'Caveras looked at Lissa, the woman he was forced to heal: the woman who became his wife and, ultimately, cost him everything he thought he valued – name, country, and honor – he feels that the forcing was a gift. A gift unlooked for and one he would have refused, but a gift nonetheless. It had been the making of him when he thought it would be his undoing.
He is not considered an old man, not yet, but he regrets many things he has done in his life. Few, at least in the Dominion, could truly say they did not. But for Laonis, those regrets each have a name and a face, each someone he refused to heal and who died because of that refusal. Even here in the North, where the wind blows softer, heavy with the scent of the sea, he cannot escape them, for the dead have no country and no mercy.
They are a burden he will bear to the end of his days. And yet even if he could stop his ears and cease to hear them, he would not, for every voice he hears on that wind makes this life he chose to build in the wake of an abomination more precious.