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The Thin Holy Line

by Sean Meaney

"You all enjoyed Baron Sherlane's wonderful speech in the Chapel this morning," The Patriarch looked about the classroom of young clerics making a mental note of those not paying absolute attention as he toyed with a small wooden sphere. "About how we must trust our fellow citizens and get along with all those Non human races whose cultures contribute so much to the diversity of our great Kingdom of Karameikos,"

"Well..." The Patriarch smiled. "You are in for a little treat."

"Its all BULLSHIT!" The wooden sphere engraved with the map of Mystara impacted against the head of a student at the back of the class knocking him out. "THE IMMORTALS WHISPERING IN THEIR MINDS ARE NOT OUR FUCKING IMMORTALS!"

"YOU DON'T SEE PRETTY LITTLE ELVES TURNING UNDEAD ON THE FRONT LINES OF THE ETERNAL WAR AGAINST THE UNLIVING!" The Patriarch walked toward the back of the traumatized class and dragged the unconcious student back into his seat by the scruff of his clerical habit. "NO."

The Patriarch spoke the words and the student's injury healed.

"YOU DON'T." Picking up his train of thought the Patriarch snatched up his wooden globe and headed back toward the front of the class continuing his speech. "THE THIN HOLY LINE BETWEEN THIS FUCKING KINGDOM AND THE EVER-MARCHING ARMY OF DARKNESS IS YOU."


"Now you will each be tested this morning." The Patriarch's voice dropped in volume. "Behind the door at the back of the classroom is a stairs that will take you down to an old chapel where an undead Skeleton waits in a cage."

"I will call each of you down in turn and you will turn undead." The Patriarch then proceeded to move toward the small postern at the back of the class room they had spent months concidering the secret of and now watched in horror as he inserted the holy symbol from around his neck into an unnoticed crack and pulled back the locking bar. "Then I will grade your result and send you to your new instructor."

"Acolyte Alexi," The aged Cleric bowed his head slipping through the Postern and down the stairs hidden in the wall behind it. "You will be first."

Acolyte Alexi descended toward a now magically lit chamber to find the Patriarch lifting a dried corpse at the bottom of the stairs to one side, its recently rotted robes suggesting it had been a student.

"We now know where Acolyte Antonov went to." The words issued from the Patriarch's lips.

"Acolyte Antonov," The Patriarch began his interrogation. "How did you come to enter this room?"

"I...searching for treasure," The skeleton answered despite the lack of a tongue. "Skeleton in the cage took my dagger."

Alexi looked at the cage. It was definatly devoid of a skeleton. There was a tight hole in the stone cellar floor of its cage punched through into a tunnel below.

"All right," The Patriarch removed his hands from the corpse. "You may return to your rest Acolyte Antonov."

"Acolyte Alexi," the Patriarch examined the escape hole. "Go inform Father Thakary that there is a skeleton loose in the old crypt escape tunnel."

"Yes Patriarch," Acolyte Alexi hurried back up the narrow stone stairs. "Immediatly."

"Now...back to testing." The words caused the remains of Acolyte Antonov to stand at attention. "Go up the stairs and stand at the far side of the classroom."

The Patriarch smiled as the ragged robed skeleton climbed the stairs to the classroom and waited for the explosion.

"In... in the holy Light of..." The students struggled to turn the undead that was now amongst them, the panic and sound of crashing seats. "B...begone undead thing."

"By the Light of Halav!" The calm voice of Acolyte Gregor resounded loudly down the stairs followed by the fleeing skeleton. One point to Acolyte Gregor.

"Come here skeleton." The corpse marched to the Patriarch who hung an old amulet of protection from turning around its neck. "Go back up stairs and stand at the far side of the classroom."

"Lets see who can handle this one." The Patriarch waited for the panic... "By the Light of Halav!" The panicked voice of Acolyte Franz rose in volume. "By the Light of Halav!"

"Its not working." The voice of Acolyte Haas screamed. "By the Light of Halav!" "Hold your holy symbol properly idiot!" The rational voice of Acolyte Davros gave them sensible guidance. "What happened to the Patriarch?"

"He's probably dead," Acolyte Rolov had a sound of betrayal in his voice. "Now hold your holy symbol properly and turn that damn thing."

"By the Light of Halav!" Sounds of relief were followed by the Skeleton's return down the stairs to the bottom. "Well done Petrov."

"Go stand in the corner over there." The skeleton was compelled by the Patriarch to take up residence in the far corner of the chamber. "Now to allocate Grades."

The Old Patriarch climbed the stairs...