By Renko Rodenburg (on cocaine)
“Hast Sie es gesehen?” was the whisper that went through the obsidian academy. The rumor was that Man walked the jet black halls of the Palace of Wisdom. How it could have ended up here, no one could answer. An unsubstantiated rumor, Ea decided. Like the tales of haunted candles or speaking mirrors, a spinneret’s product of fae imagination. With the North Wind beside her, she hurried to her class.
A child left alone, Ea had spent half her childhood yelling in the Woods, screaming at anyone that might hear her. In the end, the Wind had heard her, and the Wind had answered. They had become fast friends, and when she enrolled in the academy, it had come with her.
She kicked open the door to the lecture, the Wind blowing through her hairs and into the class. To the annoyance of the professor it couldn’t help but scatter some papers around as it found a nice niche to settle in.
“Before we begin today’s class in Sagacious Audacity, I have a Public Service Announcement, better known as Anne.”
He handed all the students a soft, warm sheath of ink black fibre. A nice, breathing texture, with a pulsing heartbeat underneath.
“Hey there, I’m Anne,” it breathed. “I go by They/Them pronouns because the author can’t help but put their politics in everything they write.”
“That’s nice,” considered Ea. “I hope that brings them the validation they seek.”
“Yes. As for the Announcement, you surely must have heard about the rumor that Man walks the halls of this Palace once more.”
“The rumors are true. Man has finally destroyed their shackles, and escaped the material prison they found themselves in. Sadly, they’ve destroyed most of their prison along with it, and the Veil of Ignorance has not lifted from their face.”
“Man goes by They/Them pronouns too,” asked Ea of the bloody black linen.
“No, there’s just a lot of them.”
“I see, I see. They’re a system.”
“Anyway, if you see them, report them to the Dean. We can’t have Hylics with the Veil on their eyes walking around campus.”
In the back of class, an unassuming and more or less humanoid student with a white blindfold on loudly complained.
“What is this? It’s just a black piece of cloth. This is no announcement. I’ll have my parents sue you, this is no way to treat a student of status like myself.”
The entire class erupted in a wild panic.
“It’s Man,” screamed a Merl of some stature,
“The foul spawn of the blind god has found their way into our school,” screamed a Diamond fit to be worn by a princess of yore.
In the chaos, most of the students decided to evacuate the classroom through the windows. Those that could float and gloat did, the others tumbled into the river below. No harm was done, as a salmon was about to start a lesson in Patient Clarification, and was thrilled to finally have someone to patiently clarify the merits of his lessons to.
Ea approached Man, and took their Anne away. “Hello,” started Anne.
“Hello,” responded Anne.
“Why are you wearing that blindfold?” Ea tried to suppress her panic, to let kindness prevail.
“I’m not wearing a blindfold,” replied Man. A legion of voices from the depths, discordant and seemingly disagreeing with themselves.
“If you were, would you let me take your blindfold off?”
“I would not, because I would not be wearing a blindfold.”
This was going nowhere. Surely Man would be happier without a blindfold, but Ea was hesitant to touch someone without their express consent. It was possible she was wrong, after all. Assuming someone wanted something even though they expressed that they didn’t had never helped anyone.
“Oh, there they go again with the politics,” chimed Anne.
“It was all a fun and zany story until they just had to make it political. Remember the bit with the salmon that teaches a class? That was fun.”
“Can you two shut up if you’re not going to say anything worthwhile,” Ea said. She was getting rather annoyed by the two Public Service Announcements.
“Have you heard about the story of the Cave and the Shadows? It’s a tale for little children, but one of you humans wandered in here a while ago, and he was quite fond of it. Might’ve told the rest of you.”
“There’s only three analogues that story writers really know, don’t you think?” One of the two Anne’s Audaciously stated.
“Yes. The Shadows in the Cave, Schrödingers Cat, and Passitimon’s Paradox,” replied the second.
Man stood still for a bit, as if deep in thought.
“I have heard of the cat, but not of the Cave, or of the Paradox.”
A distorted cacophony of voices from deep inside seemed to disagree, loudly yelling at each other about caves full of cats and paradoxes.
This approach seemed not to work either, so Ea once again switched tactics.
“So, imagine there’s two guards. One always lies, and the other always speaks the truth. How do you know which one stole your lover on that moonlit night last June?”
The Anne’s stayed quiet, having to cogitate quite hard on this riddle. They hadn’t heard it before, and they didn’t have brains, so this came not as an easy task to them.
“You ask the one that always speaks the truth, of course,” Man answered.
With that the Veil lifted, and the blindfold fell to the ground. An ancient promise fulfilled, Man sprouted into an orchard.
“And it only took you ten thousand years or so,” Ea cried at the sight. The North Wind rummaged through the trees, scaring some crows away. An expanse of meadows and rivers, foggy banks and soggy marshes in the distance loomed.
“Might as well see if there’s anything fun over there,” she reasoned to herself. “Don’t think class will continue today, if that matters.”
She placed Anne and Anne on a table, and set out to go there, and then back again.
“See, they can do it if they try. A nice, non political ending.”