August 28, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“Something interesting?” Tairiekie doodled a diagram in the margins of her notes. From the looks of things, it was something involving humanic aether and the balance of the Three. Enrie decided it was best to ignore that.
Enrie nodded. “In the Estya House lounge. A couple students were talking about —”
“Hsst.” Saydrie flipped his book to the page they were supposed to be studying. “It says that the philosopher Akebviedkeb believed that any being that could breathe could think. That led to a whole school of biological studies, actually – determining if insects breathed, if fish breathed. Akebviedkeb didn’t eat a lot of meat, or indeed — well, he idn’t eat much at all. It says that he died attempting to have a conversation with a wildcat.”
Professor Pelnyen leaned over Saydrie’s shoulder. “Akebviedkeb,” he repeated, enunciating each syllable. “You Bitrani have a habit of swallowing that last keb.”
“Akebviedkeb,” Saydrie repeated dutifully. Enrie did her best not to roll her eyes.
“Well, I suppose that’s the best we can expect. Akebviedkeb had a great deal of wisdom; there is much to learn from him.”
“Including not to talk to wildcats?” Enrie raised her eyebrows. “I’m not sure what breathing has to do with thinking.”
Pelnyen graced her with a sour look. “Well, perhaps, Lady Enerenarie, you might try doing one without the other. I’m told it doesn’t work well.”
She ducked her head in a polite bow, all the better to hide the surprise in her expression. Pelnyen was not in the habit of talking back to her. “Of course, Instructor Pelnyen.”
She waited until he had moved on to terrorize someone else, even going so far as to move on to the next achievement of the wildcat-eaten Akebviedkeb. “It says that, in addition to founding the whole school of biology known as the Akebkeb School, he also created an entire branch of philosophy — which makes sense, I suppose. Since we’re learning about him in philosophy.”
“Was it about not getting eaten?” Taikie giggled.
Saydrie coughed. “It looks like it was about the nature of thought. Is it a thought if it has no words?” He ran his finger over the page. “It seems like he thought – ha – that anything which directed a purpose counted as thought.” He looked up at Enrie and smirked. “Like, perhaps, overhearing something?”
Enrie smiled back at him. “I’m sure overhearing your House-mates talking counts as thinking, if, I suppose, you direct your purpose from it. If it flows in one ear and out the other, I don’t know if that would really count.”
“I suppose the question is, then, what sort of thing were you overhearing?” Taikie leaned forward.
“And how, exactly, does it relate to Akebviedkeb and the All-Thought School of philosophy?” Instructor Pelnyen leaned forward over them. “All of you, a two-page paper on the subject by the end of the week — separate work, if you please, and if I find one inkling of collusion, you’ll be writing ten-page papers in a supervised room.”
“But we’re supposed to work together—” Taikie began. Enrie cut her off before it could get worse.
“We can do this, Taikie. It’ll be a challenge.” She bowed from a seated position to Instructor Pelnyen. “It will be done, Instructor.”