Mrs. Rancipopple was talking to the yeast. The yeast was talking back, though rather slowly. It seemed to be a poor conversationalist, but that wasn't stopping Mrs. Rancipopple. It had taken her thirteen years to learn how to cast this spell, and she was going to make the most of it while she could.
Jermander sighed. Like most of the rest of the class he was bored; talking with yeast was a trivial application of the spell, which allowed a person to converse with anything that presently had a mind. Some of the lecturers at Gorillamumps had become legendary for their uses of the spell: they'd spoken with the nascent crystalline minds of mountains, they'd spoken with the titanic, pattern-obsessed mind of El Niño, and they'd even managed to talk with the hive mind of a hornet swarm. And here he was, sat in a crumbling classroom in a draught, listening to Mrs. Rancipopple talk to yeast.
Mrs. Rancipopple was not one of the great minds of Gorillamumps, and was largely employed so that the careers master could point to her and hold her up as an example of what would happen to you if you didn't apply yourself to your studies and pass your exams. She was also, though she quite possibly didn't know it, one of the first lines of defence at Gorillamumps: in the event of a supernatural intrusion or a supranatural attack she was considered a disposable unit who could be used as a shield, a distraction, or a sacrifice.
"Have you reproduced today?" asked Mrs. Rancipopple, seeming engrossed in her conversation.
"Have you?" whispered Jermaner to the Young Mummy sat next to him. The Young Mummy tried hard not laugh, and ended up shaking tomb dust everywhere, causing the Fungi of Yuggoth behind him to start sneezing, and everyone else to look at it, trying to work out where its nose, or even its mouth was.
"Pay attention, students!" snapped Mrs. Rancipopple looking up from her yeast. The answers to these questions will form part of your exam. What... What is that noise?"
"H'brr'k, miss," said Nadine, one of the left-aligned Ancients of Mu-Mu. The Fungi from Yuggoth held a wet, dripping appendage up in what might have been an apologetic fashion, but actually sent chills of horror through everyone who looked round at it. "He's sneezing."
"Swearing," said Mrs. Ranipopple. Everyone stopped looking at H'brr'k and looked at her instead, mostly puzzled. "She's swearing," said Mrs. Rancipopple, looking slightly puzzled herself. "Quite... inventively."
"You can understand its sneezing?" asked Jermander, knowing that he probably shouldn't draw attention to himself. The faculty were still trying to track down who had let Taurus loose on the campus last Janusday.
"Her," corrected Mrs. Rancipopple. "And yes, she's not sneezing, she's swearing. Something about... mummy dust all over her good frotcockle."
"What's a frotcockle?" asked Nadine. The whole class was entranced now.
"I don't know how to translate it," said Mrs. Rancipopple. "It's like... it's like vagina-carrier, but you have to have a frot first, and it needs to be cold enough that it's partially collapsed, and needs to be far enough away from a knertrudle that there's no frilletting, just cockling."
"You're making this up," said Nadine, but she didn't sound certain, and the Fungi from Yuggoth was undulating in a way that made everyone feel nauseous but was generally agreed to be their way of saying Yes, yes.
"No," said Mrs. Rancipopple. "The yeast has always been able to understand the Fungi, it thinks she got a lovely fruiting body."
The silence in the classroom was thick enough to cut up and build igloos with.
"Um." said Nadine, trying to break it. The word hung in the air as though unable to fall to the ground and slink away in shame.
"Oh my," said Mrs. Rancipopple. "Have I just found a way of decoding Yuggothian?"
Somewhere on the other side of campus, as though resonating psychically, the careers master let out a scream of anguish.