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The Academy

"Aright," Professor Vale said loudly, rapping his slim wooden cane on the tables in the front row. “Lessons!”

The few students in the front row roused quickly from their mid afternoon naps, sighing as their bodies almost immediately sagged again.  The morning’s physical training had been just as exhausting as Timothy had expected, and like his briefly startled companions he was in no mood for Professor Vale’s long, raspy speeches and sneaky, whip-like cane.

“Lessons, lessons!” he repeated, banging his cane on any nearby resonant surface. “Today we review villains.” More sounds of exasperation.  More raps of the cane on desks and the dusty blackboard. “Villains, as every young adventurer must know, come in four distinct types. The first are of course the greedy,” which he wrote in bold letters on the board using a flaking hunk of chalk. “Those who are motivated to evil for want of wealth, knowledge, or power.  Timothy!” Tim blinked and his back shot up straight as his name was called, his body fearing Vale’s cane before his mind had time to process what was happening.

“Sir!” Timothy blurted.

“Some examples, please.”

Tim reminded himself not to roll his eyes and instead recited the text he had memorized years ago.

“The greedy cover villains such as thieves, burglars, and guilds thereof.  Organized criminals, necromancers, litches, and last but not least dragons.”

“Correct,” Vale’s cane shot up in the air, it’s point landing just underneath the words he had written: ‘The Greedy’.

“And we must not forget wizards, sorcerers, and mages, as well as scholars, and erstwhile bards.  Man’s hunger for knowledge can be just as nefarious and all-consuming as his passion for wealth and power over his fellow sentient beings.  We must be on guard for all types of greed, hoarding, and secret keeping.  A cache of books can poison a person just as sure as a vault of gold.”

Tim felt annoyed.  He had said necromancers and litches, he thought that had covered it.  Sorcerers and mages weren’t always villains, were they? And certainly not bards.  Robert was majoring in song, and was a whizz with a wand too.  Tim looked to his left to peer bleary-eyed at his friend sitting next to him.

Rob was no villain.

“The second class of villain are the vengeful,” Vale continued and wrote ‘Revenge’ just below ‘The Greedy’ on the blackboard.  “Examples?” Vale asked as he turned to his somnambulant audience.  A yawning silence, saved from the perforation of Vale’s cane on the ankle of an unsuspecting student by Robert’s answer.

“The wronged, either real or imagined.  Any who believe they have moral justification in seeking vengeance and reprobation in wrongs committed against themselves, their property, or their loved ones.  Examples include but are not limited to the undead: ghosts, witches, ghouls, vampires, wights, and zombies.”

Tim smiled inside.  Rob had been quoting from the text as well, the same dog-eared, moth eaten tome they shared in their first year.  It made Tim happy to know that he wasn’t the only one who was bored with this and didn’t mind showing it.

“Good, but be careful. Any being who seeks lethal or unsavory or illegal means to establish what they personally believe is fair is capable of falling into this category. Due to the long life of various undead beings, they most typically fall into this category.  Next?”

It took the class a moment to realize that Professor Vale was asking for the next classification as he stood at the board, chalk held inches from the black paint, just below ‘Revenge’.

“Chaos,” Timothy said, tired of waiting.

“Let someone else have a chance, Master Leeroy. You there, Lady Hollander, say it another way.”  Sabrina Hollander slowly inclined her head up from her desk to look at Vale and said simply,

“The insane.” The professor cleared his throat and began writing ‘Chaos’ on the board.

“That’s right,” he said, “those who wish to create discord and unease in the world.  With no regard for the laws of man or of any decent moral law.  They burn the world.  They are psychopaths and the criminally insane.  Any race may fall here, though likely they are immortals, or those cursed with long life and have spent too long amongst the laws and ethics of civilization.  They grow tired of the world, and the Sickness beings to set in.”  Vale became quiet for a moment, and no one in the room spoke.

“And finally,” he continued eventually, “the fourth and final classification of villain.  One that most adventurers will never see, and by far the most immoral, the most infernal.  Those who will never cease to justify themselves, and win over others to their cause.  These are the villains that attempt to save the world,” Vale said as he wrote ‘Heroes’ on the board, at the bottom of the list.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
Beautiful, man. Beautiful. Bravo.
Jan. 15th, 2013 08:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks Duncan. There's details and flavour I wanted to add when I was transcribing this, but it was late and I just wanted to get it done. Might grow into a short story.

Thanks again!
(Deleted comment)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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