October 19, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Taikie was still mad the next day. Enrie could tell by the way she was walking, even before she said a word. She could tell even by the way her hair was braided. Taikie, like many Calenyena, used more braids the more formal the situation, and Tairiekie seemed to consider being pissed off a very formal situation.
“They shouldn’t withhold information,” she muttered over her rice porridge. “It’s against the whole spirit of being a teaching institution.”
Enrie managed to side-track her onto another topic before Riensin and his teammates arrived, but she was back to muttering by the time they reached Biological Systems.
Taikie looked up at Enrie as Instructor Kaasmasik walked into the classroom. “I have a plan,” she declared. “Or, at least, I have the framework for a—”
“Today, we are going to discuss the way that the aether of Reiassan affects and is used by several animal species: the lesser weasel, the greater weasel, and the tarpani. We begin with the most common, the lesser weasel. I have here Instructor Davenpor’s favorite weasel, who serves more as a visual aid than a demonstration.” Instructor Kaasmasik held up the weasel, dressed in a small vest and skirt. “Now, this can be a bit of a controversial subject, so I am going to work only on facts here, not on the speculation that surrounds the subject.”
The instructor pulled down a series of charts and diagrams from his seemingly never-ending supply. The first showed a drawing of a weasel, the notes next to it written in what Enrie thought was early Calenyena. “As you can see…
Enrie’s pen flew over her paper as she tried to keep up. It seemed to be something about the way early weasels had changed to use the aether, something about their speed. Someone in the front of the room raised their hand, and Enrie took a moment to breathe.
“Ah, yes. Domestic weasels have often been bred for specific traits, as this one is for docility and the ability to look good in a vest.” The class, obligingly, tittered. “But what would be the way to get around that in research? Enerenarie?
She was not going to say uhhh; she was not going to say uhh. “Well…”
“If the problem is that domestic animals are bred specially for traits, and we are looking at how the traits change over time naturally…”
It could only be more humiliating, she thought, if he tried. Or if Tairiekie tried to feed her the answer… She turned so she couldn’t see her teammates.
She could answer this. She cleared her throat. “You’d have to go with the wild animals then, maybe one of the mountain breeds where nobody lives. But then you’d have less historical documents to go on, so… bone and fossil records? Or the old explorers’ notes for some things, although those are often unreliable.”
With historical records, she was on much more comfortable footing. Instructor Kaasmasik smiled brightly at her. “Very good. And, indeed, the bone records and the occasional tar pit or resin deposit make up much of our knowledge of earlier wild weasels. Explorers’ notes provide an interesting counterpart to the information we can gain from more reliable sources, although, as Enerenarie points out…”
This, she could follow. Enrie leaned forward finally relaxing into the rhythm of note-taking. Aether-using weasels! That was nearly as bad as thinking cougars!
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