Gathering Clouds, Chapter 8

  • Chapter 8





                           Jorra stacked his notes against each other, evening them out on the small lecturer’s stand. He rubbed his chin apprehensively.


                    ‘You seem on edge, Jorra-jo,’ a Po’ Tun with two long black stripes running down his cheeks noted.


                    ‘I’ve never actually given a lecture before, much less in one of your classes, Torako-jo.’


                    ‘Ach, you’ll be fine,’ Master Torako reassured him. ‘Just say what you came here to say and hope they remember half of it.’


                    Jorra forced a laugh, and fell silent as the kits of Year 182 began to mill into the hall.


                    ‘Uncle Jorra, what’re you doing here?’ Ambarro sniffed and exclaimed loudly, drawing an outburst of giggles.


                    ‘Settle down, everyone,’ Torako said sternly. ‘Master Jorra is here today to give you all a brief overview of different plants in Tamriel and their use in shinobi operations.’


                    ‘What good are a bunch of flowers going to be in a fight anyway?’ Ambarro said out of the side of his mouth, scratching at his eyes. The brown-furred kit beside him – Jorra remembered that her name was Diia – frowned and moved his fingers away from his face.


                    ‘Ambarro-to, you’ve been blinded for almost a year now. You ought to be used to it.’


                    ‘But it itches!’


                    Tradition dictated that every Shadeclaw youngster be blinded at the age of eight, forcing them to rely on their other senses for two years. Jorra still remembered the day his eyesight was restored. He’d done nothing but stare at the village the entire afternoon.


                    Harrow sidled in on the row behind them, stumbling slightly. Even though he did not possess the enhanced senses of the Po’ Tun, he had insisted on being blinded like the other shinobi-in-training and adapted remarkably quickly, learning to how to feel, smell and hear his way instead of seeing. Jorra could see, however, that he wasn’t moving as naturally as the rest.


                    I suppose no matter how intelligent you are, there are some things you just can’t learn.


                    ‘If you want an answer to that question, dunce,’ Harrow sneered as he sat down slowly, the silver in his eyes clouded and unfocused. ‘Keep quiet and listen. If you’re even capable of doing so.’


                    ‘Why, you little…’


                    Torako rapped on the stand and the class fell silent.


                    ‘Rise,’ he ordered, and Year 182 stood. ‘Bow.’


                    Thirty heads and torsos bobbed up and down at Jorra and he felt himself flush, embarrassed.


                    ‘Thank you, thank you.’ He said, clearing his throat. He flipped to the first page of his notes.


                    ‘Ambarro here has asked an excellent question,’ he continued. ‘What good are flowers in a fight? Would anyone care to guess?’


                    After a brief silence, a voice from the back called out, ‘They can be refined into potions and poisons.’


                    ‘Quite right,’ Jorra nodded in approval. ‘And it’s not just flowers I’m going to talk about. Herbs, seeds, berries and even fungi, which are technically not plants, all have different effects when processed and combined in different ways.


                    ‘Talking about all of them here would take years. Indeed, I could spend a week listing the ways one could mix extracts of only two plants, and another week detailing the results. So instead, today I’m going to tell you of the basic florae present in Tamriel, how to find and recognise them, and how to use them when you come across such plants.’


                    Harrow closed his eyes – not that it made much difference – and pressed a finger against his temple as he listened. Despite his love for reading, he never took notes.


                    Ambarro, on the other hand, had taken out a piece of parchment and was scribbling furiously on it with a stylus, copying Jorra’s speech word for word. An exasperated Diia tapped him on the shoulder. ‘Eh, Ambarro-to… you know you can’t actually see what you’ve written, right?’


                    Ambarro covered his face with both palms as he dropped his stylus.


                    Jorra found himself falling into a rhythm as he talked about deadly plants, medicinal plants, plants with numbing effects and plants that could knock out a fully grown Orc in seconds when ingested. I’m actually enjoying this, he noticed with some surprise. To his even greater surprise, he found that the kits were actually listening.


                    ‘…and that’s why it’s recommended that you collect deathbell with gloved hands.’ He finished. ‘Let’s have a short recess for you to gather your thoughts. We’ll continue again at noon.’


                    The class broke out into chatters as the kits gathered into groups, discussing the various applications of plants in excited voices.


                    ‘They seem to have quite taken to you, Jorra-jo,’ Torako said with a smile. ‘You would make a fine teacher should you ever decide to commit fully to the role.’


                    ‘Pshaw, I haven’t the patience for the job,’ Jorra joked.


                    ‘And yet you’ve enough patience to deal with Harrow and Ambarro? Tut, tut, Master Jorra, in the words of Tsing the Sage, “Practice not false humility.”’


                    ‘Ever the scholar,’ Jorra smiled himself. ‘I hear their little rivalry has cooled somewhat.’


                    ‘“Somewhat”, I suppose. Harrow no longer insults Ambarro with every word he speaks. He’s cut it down to every other sentence.’


                    Jorra shrugged. He hadn’t really expected the talk he had with Harrow two years ago to immediately turn his behaviour around anyway.


                    ‘Ambarro, though, seems more and more intent on outdoing Harrow in everything he does. Magical theory and practice, memorising scripture, arithmetic, stealth training, acrobatics… though he never manages to catch up to Harrow’s level, which makes Harrow’s cold scorn even more unbearable to him.’


                    ‘You understand them well.’


                    ‘One notices patterns when you’ve been teaching for as long as I have been,’ Torako bowed lightly with his head. ‘Have you explained to Harrow his unique… position with Rendanshu?’


                    ‘He’s known ever since he was five.’


                    ‘Hmm. No wonder he’s so resentful. Perhaps you should tell Ambarro of it too. It may lessen his own resentment as well.’


                    ‘Perhaps I will,’ Jorra considered. ‘But in the meantime, let’s resume the lecture.’


                    Torako clapped his hands, and the kits returned to their seats.


                    ‘Thank you, Master Torako. Let us continue.’ Jorra said, raising his voice.


                    ‘I assume you’ve already been taught of the Magicka Infusion Theory? With the abundance of power diffusing down from Aetherius, all matter in Nirn has been exposed to magicka, and living organisms react to this energy in a variety of different ways. It is because of this that sentient beings can weave spells, and why so many alchemical reagents are organic in nature…’


                    Two hours later, Jorra strode out of the lecture hall, his throat dry.


                    ‘I can’t believe Torako does this full-time,’ he muttered, clearing his throat and stretching his arms.


                    ‘Uncle Jorra?’ Ambarro said tentatively behind him.


                    ‘Mhm?’ He turned, only just realising that Ambarro’s fur was almost the exact same shade as Harrow’s hair.


                    ‘Can I ask you a question?’


                    ‘Of course you can,’ Jorra replied, taken aback. The boy rarely asked questions.


                    Ambarro shifted awkwardly. ‘This is going to sound a little strange.’


                    Chuckling, Jorra reached out and ruffled his forehead. ‘Don’t worry about it. You can ask me anything you like.’


                    ‘Well… I… what’s wrong with Harrow anyway? He never stops snapping at me!’ Ambarro burst out angrily.


                    Jorra drew in a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. ‘I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this for some time. Let’s head to my garden.’


                    Normally Ambarro complained that the garden was too bright, too stuffy and ‘too green’, but he didn’t say a word this time as he followed Jorra across the village.


                    ‘Do you know about Rendanshu?’ Jorra asked as he adjusted the pot for his Jade Iris.


                    ‘That’s the thing the Shadeclaw shinobi do to their bodies to make themselves stronger?’ Ambarro asked, puzzled. ‘What’s this got to do with Harrow?’


                    ‘Ancient Akaviri alchemy, yes,’ Jorra said. ‘The variant that’s passed down through Tsukikage is designed for the Po’ Tun physi… that is to say, for Po’ Tun bodies.’




                    ‘Haven’t you noticed how different Harrow is from the other kits?’


                    ‘He doesn’t have any fur or claws because he’s an elf that Grandpa let into the village, right?’


                    ‘Yes. Rendanshu was not tailored for the races of Man or Mer, so naturally there will be… limits to what our techniques can do for him.’


                    ‘I don’t understand.’


                    ‘But you… you come from a family that has always been well attuned to Rendanshu. Your grandfather and your mother were both able to withstand the mutations brought on by the Black Flask, and it’s fairly certain that you will be as well. It’s in your blood.’


                    ‘I will?’ Ambarro tilted his head. He probably hasn’t even heard of the Black Flask anyway.


                    ‘I believe so, yes. This is why Harrow resents you so much… and your attitude towards him hasn’t helped either. All the pranks and boasting and posturing left a bad taste in his mouth, even if you didn’t know it.’


                    Ambarro was staring at the floor, sightless eyes troubled, jaw working. Jorra thought that he was deep in thought, and, rare enough as it was to see Ambarro thinking, he left him undisturbed.


                    Then the kit lifted his head and all Jorra saw was barely suppressed excitement.


                    ‘I didn’t really catch all of that, but what you really meant was that Harrow will never be able to become as strong as me when we both grow up, right?’


                    ‘Well… I… suppose that you could say that?’


                    ‘Wow, thanks, Uncle Jorra! Now I know I’ll be able to get him back one day. I get it now! See you!’


                    Ambarro stood up cheerily, waved him a hasty goodbye and dashed out of the garden, laughing. Jorra saw that the girl, Diia, was waiting for him outside.


                    ‘No,’ he said sadly. ‘You don’t get it at all.’
























4 Comments   |   The Long-Chapper and 5 others like this.
  • Caladran
    Caladran   ·  July 29, 2018
    I like these garden talks. :D Maybe one day Ambarro will learn to be friends with Harrow.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  September 29, 2016
    I enjoyed this. Sibling rivalry or group rivalry makes little difference. Someone's tail is going to get hurt.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  September 23, 2016
    Making fun of a Nord-Elf is gonna one day bite little Ambarro in the tail.  :P
    • The Sunflower Manual
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      The Long-Chapper
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      The Long-Chapper
      Making fun of a Nord-Elf is gonna one day bite little Ambarro in the tail.  :P
        ·  September 23, 2016
      Heh heh heh. On a serious note, I hope I managed to conjure up a believable rivalry in the last two or three chapters. I'm not the world's foremost expert on relationships...