Solo [Alluvion Academy] Outclassed

Gemma takes Herbalism classes at the academy

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[Alluvion Academy] Outclassed

Postby Gemma Parker on March 5th, 2019, 3:33 am

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Spring 2nd, 519av, 19 Bells

Gemma pumped her legs as she dashed down the stairs. She was going to be late! She had planned to get to class early, but she had slept in and now she wasn’t going to make it. Her breath came in ragged pulls as she tried to will her heart and lungs to keep up with her body’s needs.

Finally she got to to the academy just as the bell marked the start of class. But she was still several meters away from the classroom. There was almost nobody in sight, so she kept running to try and get to class sooner. She checked her schedule and compared it with the various numbers next to the doors. Finally she found the right door, and she could already hear Izo’s voice inside. She had had him for herbalism basics a few years back. She stuttered to a stop, tried to steady her breathing, smoothed her skirts, and knocked.

“Come in.” Izo’s voice came.

Gemma pushed on the door and it swung open.

“Hey, Mr. Raphey.” She said, bashfully. “Sorry I’m late.” She said.

“That’s all right! You’re all allowed one tardiness per season, and you just used yours. Such an overachiever.” He mocked playfully. “Well, take a seat with group two.” He pointed over to the far end of the small room, where two students sat at a table that looked like it was intended to double as work stations. She hadn’t had those when she’d had class before. She could see marked jars as she walked across the room, keeping her head down to avoid eye contact.

She took her seat and grabbed her notebook, setting it on the table and preparing for the class. She made it a point never to be late again. She felt like every eye was on her, and she was afraid to look for fear that it might be true.

“All right, well as I was saying, this is the Tier Three Herbalism Elective. You’re all here because you have already gone above and beyond what most of your peers have been able to accomplish academically. This season will be highly practical, and your final grade will be determined based on a series of projects both in and out of class. You are not required to attend all the classes. You are not graded based on attendance. However, unless you have some other way of learning the information we’ll be covering, you will likely want to be here for as many classes as possible to ensure a high mark. For our new student,” He said, turning to one of the students in Gemma’s group. “Your grade doesn’t effect whether or not you’re allowed to take other classes, but it will be cited if you want to get a recommendation from the academy.” He said.

“Today we’re starting with advanced infusion blends.” He said. “By now you should all know how to make an infusion. If not, I hope you catch on quick.” He said, moving on. As he talked, Gemma’s eyes were drawn from his feet up to his face and eyes. He had an aloof, playful quality about him that softened the harsh truth of what he was saying. He didn’t seem to care if someone passed or failed. What they did was their choice. He wasn’t there to hold their hand. But it wasn’t apathy that she saw. It was almost like an eccentric passion, but muted. It was hard to pin him down, but his voice and body language were magnetic. Had he been like this when she had last taken his class?

“All right, everybody up. You’ll be standing for the lab portions.” He said. Everyone stood, scraping their chairs against the floor.

“First, I want you to make a Comfrey Infused Oil.” He said. “You’ll find Comfrey at your tables.”

They looked, and sure enough, there were enough jars of Comfrey for each of them.

“Today you’ll be working alone, but be prepared for collaborations. You are welcome to talk and help your group if you want, but if you miss something I say because you’re talking, or if you don’t finish on time or do something wrong, I will accept no excuses.” He said.

The group got to work making their infusions. Gemma glanced around her table to the other two students present. She didn’t know their names yet, and she wasn’t sure she should worry about that for now. Of course everyone knew how to make an infusion. They wouldn’t be in a class like this if they didn’t. Sure enough, everyone seemed to be doing just fine. The foreign student had a little bit of a different style, but Gemma was sure that the end product would be the same.

She put the Comfrey flowers into her mortar and just bruised the flowers before putting them in her prep jar and prepared her vegetable oil. She poured in the oil until it covered the herbs and then pushed the herbs down a bit until they were under the oil. She then sealed the jar and shook it a bit.

“Now, while you’re preparing this, who can tell me another name for Comfrey?” He asked the class.

A hand went up in team one. A pale, chubby lad in a blue coat.

“Yes, master Masters.” He cracked a smile at the joke. Master Masters did not.

“Comfrey is also called knit-bone because when applied to the unbroken skin around a fracture, it can help to speed recovery of the fracture.” He recited.

“Very good, master Masters.” He said, turning to the rest of the class.

Gemma raised her eyebrows. She hadn't known that. She wrote some quick notes about the application of Comfrey.

The class had all finished the preparations for their infused oils, and Izo brought out a box of infused oils to swap out with the students.

"Make sure your name is on your jar and give it to me, please. Then take one of these already infused oils for yourself." He said.

Gemma marked her jar and gave it to Izo, taking a new jar from him. He seemed so close when he offered her the jar. She could smell some kind of cologne, but it was light, almost hidden under the scent of herbs.

"Thank you." She said. She could feel her throat drying. This would be a long class. And she was ok with that.
Last edited by Gemma Parker on March 6th, 2019, 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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[Alluvion Academy] Outclassed

Postby Gemma Parker on March 5th, 2019, 11:48 pm

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The class was only just beginning, and Gemma had to keep herself focused. They were making Calendula Salve, but they were going to add things to it. While she’d been looking under the table for the Calendula flowers, she had seen many other materials including essential oils. Maybe they would be adding those? Her suspicions were confirmed moments later.

“Today we will be making bone healing salve that is more potent than a simple knit-bone ointment.” He said. Gemma remembered that salves and ointments were the same thing. Just another name.

“First, get your beeswax from under the tables and measure out the amount you think you’ll need for this amount of oil.” He said. Gemma looked at the jar and saw that there were still flowers inside, so she would first have to strain the oil from the flowers with cheese cloth. She grabbed one of those, too, along with a bowl, but she kept those under the table in case she was supposed to follow his instructions to the letter.

She didn’t have any philtering equipment, which she was realizing her dad used throughout herbalism, so she had to eyeball it. She could always add more later. Couldn’t she? She thought she would be on the safe side. The jar was probably a pint, but it wasn’t full. And aside from that, it had the flowers. So maybe… half a pint? She grated the bar of beeswax into shavings and estimated half an ounce, which she put on a plate for later use.

Once everyone was done, Izo spoke again. “Good. Now to make this salve more potent, we want to add ingredients. What would be the best type of ingredient to add to an infused oil?” He asked the class. Gemma’s hand shot up.

“An essential oil.” She said.

“Why?” He asked.

“Oil mixes with oil.” She said, simply.

“Why else?” He asked.

Gemma didn’t know what else to say. She had really guessed that because there were essential oils under the table. She hadn’t thought about it more than that.

“I don’t know, sir.” She admitted.

“Anyone else? Why essential oil?” He asked again. Gemma felt that she had let him down.

Another hand was raised. It was pony tail again, and again she did not wait to be called on.

“Essential oils are potent in small quantities, so we don’t have to worry about dilution of the principle element. In edition, essential oils are already applied topically, so it will combine well with our Comfrey salve, which we will be applying topically as well.” She said. Gemma didn’t like that girl. She felt like everyone knew more than she did. She had practiced a lot, but her knowledge was so narrow. Begrudgingly, she wrote down notes on what the girl had said.

“Good. So we know that essential oils are a valid choice. Now the question is, which ones?” He cocked an eyebrow.

Gemma tried to think through the names she’d seen on the labels, but she couldn’t remember anything useful. The whole class was silent for a long moment.

“No one? We’re making a bone healing salve. What essential oil is good for bone healing?” A timid hand was raised as the third member of team 1, a girl about Gemma’s age with short black hair. She waited for her name to be called.

“Yes, miss Devough?” He asked.

“Fir?” She pulled her hand down with a flinch like it was going to get bitten, but Izo’s face lit up.

“Yes, very good! Fir essential oil will be the main additive today, but let’s give the rest a chance to redeem themselves, shall we?” He offered. “What’s an essential oil that improves circulation in an area and speeds general healing?” Gemma thought it might be ginger, but that seemed too easy, so she kept her mouth shut and her hand down for now.

“Cypress.” Pony Tail called with barely a raise of the hand.

“Very good, miss Adams. But please raise your hand and wait to be called on.” He said. Yes, we’ll be using Cypress essential oil as our second additive. But let’s be ambitious. Let’s add a third, shall we? Let’s think of an oil that repairs damaged feeling by reducing inflammation?” He asked, looking from one student to the other.

“No one?” He asked after a moment. Gemma wasn’t sure which one he was looking for. There were several herbs that reduced inflammation, but it sounded like he was looking for just one. If only she had thought to pay attention to the labels on the essential oils under the table. She might have been able to narrow her answer based on that.

“The third oil we’ll be using is called Strawflower.” He said. “You will find each of these oils under your tables. Please retrieve them now.” The students did so.

“Prepare one pan per group with an inch of water and put it on the stove over there.” He pointed. “Take turns making your salves. When the wax is melted, add ten drops of each essential oil while it’s still liquid, mix well, and then pour into the containers.

The students did as they were told. Gemma waited until last, and by the time the other two had gone, the water was low, so she added some more and got to work melting the wax and pouring in the oil she had strained from the Comfrey flower oil using cheesecloth. She mixed the two together and removed them from the heat and turned off the stove, adding in the ten drops of oils that she had measured out while she was waiting. She mixed them together and shuffled quickly back to their table so she could fill her molds before the wax solidified.

She poured the fragrant liquid into several small jars and tins, leaving the lids off while they cooled. There was still a little dry wax on the side of the pan, but she could live with that.
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[Alluvion Academy] Outclassed

Postby Gemma Parker on March 6th, 2019, 3:22 pm

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With the tins now cooling, Gemma washed the equipment and set it to try, noticing that her peers did not do so. She didn’t say anything about it, though. She went back and stood with her classmates and waited for more instructions. Each student had the same thing in front of them. It seemed that each of them had done their work correctly.

"Good. You have now made a broken bone salve. Apply this topically until the broken bone is healed. Any questions?" He asked. There were none for now. So he went on to the next item. Gemma took the moment to write down the combination he had suggested in her notebook.

“On to part two.” Izo said. “We want to make a cold and flu remedy to bring to The Catholicon to help with the wave of patients they’re about to have. First question: What herbs should we use?” He paced back and forth and Gemma was a little bit distracted by his presence. She wanted him to walk close to her again so she could smell the herbs and cologne. What was happening to her? She wasn’t like this…

While she was distracted, the foreign student in her group raised her hand and was called on.

“For cold and flu, you want garlic, ginger, and probably Elder.” She stated.

“Ok, why?” He asked.

“Elder for flu. It can reduce symptoms and duration, and also tastes good, which is important when parents and kids are sick together.” She said. “Ginger is for the stomach symptoms, and garlic is for preventing the sickness from worsening.” She said.

Izo nodded. “Good choices. What else can we use?” He asked the class. Gemma’s second teammate raised her hand.

“Master Calebs.” Izo called on him.

“Oregano essential oil?” He offered.

“Is that a question?” Izo asked.

“No, sir. Oregano essential oil.” He said.

“All right, and why?” He asked.

“I don’t know why, actually, my mom always gets it around this time of year for the family.” He admitted shyly, drawing laughs from his peers.

Izo made no attempt to calm the laughter, but it was short lived anyway.

“Hey, does it matter where we learn something? Master Calebs is correct. Oregano essential oil should absolutely be a part of any cold and flu treatment. That said, oregano doesn’t grow well here, so we import it, making it hard to get in large amounts. So we can’t just go around giving everyone pure oregano essential oil, we have to blend it with something to add potency rather than to be the core treatment. But now we have our blend.” He said.

“Four ingredients. How should we prepare and combine each?” He asked.

Masters raised his hand.

“Yes, master Masters.” He smiled again at the joke. It never seemed to get old for him.

“Elder should be made into a syrup for longer storage and immediate ingestion when needed. With that as the core of the blend, the flavor will probably mask the garlic and ginger pretty well.” He said.

“We’re focusing a lot on the flavor. What about the function?” He asked.

Gemma raised her hand.

“Miss Parker?” She could have sworn he cocked an eyebrow. Her heart skipped a beat and she flushed.

“Didn’t we just say that Elder is only good for the flu? But you said we want flu and cold, so if we make Elder the core ingredient we’ll need to mass produce two remedies.” She suggested, her heard pounding as she hoped she was right.

“That is very true. Logistics are a necessary concern for any professional herbalist. That doesn’t mean we can’t use Elder as the base, but miss Parker, what do you suggest as an alternative?” He asked, turning back to her.

Gemma wracked her brain for another solution. “I would say we have to focus on overlapping symptoms, but they aren’t always there. So maybe start with a core that just strengthens the body and helps fight sickness, then add essential oils and other ingredients to help more specifically with each set of symptoms.” She almost ended her thought in a question, but she quickly corrected herself to not result like her peer.

“An interesting idea, but that doesn’t give me specifics. If not Elder, what do we use as a core ingredient?” He opened this up to the class, and Gemma went back to taking notes. It was scary trying to contribute in class. She was used to doing things on her own or with her dad. The other students were so intense. And the last thing she wanted was to look bad in front of Izo.

“Tell you what.” He said after no response. “I’ve given you the problem. I want you each to solve it. You have ingredients at your tables. You’re allowed to help each other, but you don’t have to.” He said. “You have until the end of class today to write a recipe and complete all steps that can be done today. Go.”

There was a scramble of movement and action. Gemma flipped through her notebook to see if something would spark an idea. She wanted to look around and see what others were doing, but she didn’t know how much time was left. She had to move. But what could she do?

She got to work, having an inkling of an idea, and hoping it would pan out. She went over to the stove and put water on, then returned to her table and measured out seven spoonfuls of honey, seven spoonfuls of lemon juice, and seven inches of fresh ginger root. She figured a one to one ratio would work well, and she was making enough for the whole class, though that was probably excessive.

The water came to boil and she brought the steaming bot back to her work station. She grated the large amount of ginger into the vessel she was using, and poured the hot water over it. She tried to estimate how long it would take, but she figured she could just leave it in and make it as strong as possible while the class was still going.

She doled out the honey and lemon into seven cups, with one spoonful each. That could sit there until the steeping was done. But that had been the easy part. Now she needed to think of a way to make something that would last longer on a hospital shelf.
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Gemma Parker
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