September 14, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie rolled her eyes at Riensin. “I’m feeling fine. I didn’t sleep all that well last night; I was up working on this paper Pelnyen gave us.”
“I thought it was only a couple pages.” He wrinkled his nose. “That shouldn’t take hours, should it? The last time he did that to me, I whipped it off in an hour.”
“Well, I doubt he did it on —”
“We didn’t take too long, either,” Saydrie commented quietly. “But the thing we noticed, well.” He looked down at his breakfast. “We were working out of some of the older Philosophy books — because those are behind a wall, so if Instructor Pelnyen came in, he wouldn’t see us working together. And we were having a lot of trouble finding anything on the All-Thought School, so we snuck into the more modern works…”
“It’s okay, Saydrie. You’re not saying anything wrong.” Taikie lowered her voice to a stage whisper that gave lie to her protestations of Saydrie’s innocence. “The thing is, the modern books all say that the All-Thought School has been discredited.”
“So why’s he teaching it?” Kekdela wrinkled her nose. “It’s not like it’s a particularly deep or exciting school.”
“Because it started here.” Enrie was glad to be able to provide some information. “And because Pelnyen wrote his thesis on it.” She steepled her fingers. “I think there’s more than that. I hadn’t read about it being discredited — but Taikie, be careful, please. I think he’s laying traps.”
She hadn’t quite consolidated that thought until it slipped out of her lips, and when it did, she wished it had stayed silent a little longer. Taikie and Saydrie were looking at her — but so were Riensin and Kekdela and Tesdes.
It was Tesdes, who never seemed to say anything, who broke the sudden silence. “Because of the goat?”
“Oh, blast the useless goat to the deep waters,” Taikie swore. “If I’d known everything would turn out to be about the silly pissing thing, I would have done something more interesting.”
“I think it was very interesting.” Riensin turned his too-bright gaze on Taikie. “I couldn’t have done it.”
Taikie was curiously oblivious. “Of course.” She shrugged it off. “You’re not Akaizen House.”
Saydrie, thank the Three, brought them back on topic. “What do you mean about Pelnyen?”
“It’s just… I think I know why the All-Thought School was discredited.” She worried her lip with her teeth. “And, ah. Considering the problems with Professor Talmizhaab’s Device, I think Professor Pelnyen is trying to get Taikie to come to ah, the ‘wrong’ conclusion about….” She winced and put her head down on the table next to her food. “Humanic aether,” she muttered into the cold stone.
Tesdes hissed. Taikie sighed. Riensin was suspiciously quiet.
Enrie didn’t move. The cold table was far too comfortable and she did not quite have the energy to see what Riensin was up to.
“Well.” He did her the favor of not making her guess, at least. “I suppose there are two ways to go. Either nobody talks about humanic aether… or we all do.”