Steeple Chase

On approaching Peloria, Damir notices a large glow like that of the setting sun on the horizon; this glow is given off by the reflection of the sun off the golden temple. There is a hovel outside of the city, but the people there are well cared for, especially compared to most beggars. Damir tosses 20 silvers out to the children who gather to bid him welcome and beg; they thank him kindly for the money. The city is laid out in three rings, lower class, middle class, then the temple in the middle. There is a large throng of people gathered in the bazaar, and some spare children are running to and fro, playing or dragging little handmade kites. Pelor's main temple has four entrances, one facing each cardinal direction, with a mini-temple that could rival the regular temples for the other deities, and stairs leading up towards the main temple. The townspeople and visitors are mostly gathered around the southern staircase, where 30 or so followers of Pelor are leading the people in a hymn. It's a lot like at church, where the choir has these amazingly trained heavenly-sounding voices, and they sing a verse, then the crowd sings the verse with them, and 90% of the crowd doesn't know how to sing, but everybody's so happy to be singing that it really doesn't matter. It's wonderful. Damir absently begins to sing along, only half-participating; he is still wrapped up in his thoughts. After the song has ended, the head priest present announces to all who have just joined that the Nevermoor Crisis (see above) has just ended, and situations are improving. Damir, interested, later asks around to find out more; his knowledge is also noted above. Getting back to the priest's speech, however: the priest next introduces a man who has seen the horrors of the Nevermoor Crisis and has fought against them - Mr. Grgur Krupalija. Damir, startled, snaps out of his funk at the mention of his surname.
"A gnarled old man stands and ascends the stairs to where the priest has been giving his address… now, strike that. When he begins to speak, he sounds as if he is only in his 40's. But his face is worn and weathered, creased with wrinkles from frowning as well as natural aging, and his posture is poor, his skin unusually pale and pasty from a long lack of sunlight, and his fingers gnarled and bony. He walks with a noticeable limp, and his forearms tremble a bit as he addresses the people. He tells the crowd his story, about how he grew up in a small village in Nevermoor, the son of a farmer. How every year, the crop yield seemed to decrease. His family moves several times, each time further away from the lord of Nevermoor's castle, seeking to lighten the burden of both taxation and the slow rot that seemed to seep gradually throughout the land, ruining entire fields, one small plant at a time. Slowly but surely, the older towns and the villages emptied and fell into ruin, everyone who didn't leave is assumed to have died. Eventually, the only real settlements left were at the mountain passes leading out of the area. People fled by the hundreds, and more often than not were killed by the hundreds, buried alive in rockslides or ripped apart by ravenous monsters roaming the mountains. But eventually, some of them made it through safely, and months later, the steady stream of aid by the people of Pelor began to arrive. Their powers were weakened, but they never gave up. And eventually, with the help of the equally noble order of St. Cuthbert, the day finally came when Grgur saw the sun again for the first time in years. Grgur starts to break up a little bit at the memory… "the children… some of the younger ones couldn't comprehend it… they asked what was going on? What was that fire in the sky…?" And here Grygur breaks up completely, crying the broken wail of a twice broken man. The priest who was addressing the crowd moves to embrace him, to steady him, and Grygur just collapses against him, sobbing helplessly. The priest speaks to him soothingly and strokes his hair, and casts a spell. Grgur pulls himself together, and goes on. "Now, thanks to the aid of… all these fine compassionate men and women of the priesthoods, the evil that once plagued my homeland has been vanquished. We are finally free to leave… go back to our old towns… do whatever we wish… and I just wanted to let the outside world know that it REALLY IS FINALLY OVER!" He chokes up a little more, tears of joy this time, and the crowd cheers at his declaration. He hugs the priest again and shakes hands with him, and then returns to his place in the crowd, and the priests lead the crowd in another song, this one thankful and rejoicing." After Grgur rejoins the crowd, Damir attempts to make his way through the throngs to speak with him. Damir and Grgur try to find an ancestral connection but fail; Damir offers Grgur some money as recompense before he leaves. Grgur refuses all money, but insists that Damir make donations to the temples instead. After a short negotiation, Grgur asks Damir to distract the head priest so that he can wander off unmolested. Damir doesn't openly agree but is considering doing so; he "accidentally" drops a GP in Grgur's lap and heads off to donate his promised 3 GP each to Pelor's and St. Cuthbert's temples.
When Damir walks up to the priests, a voice near his ear says that Heironeous is much better than Pelor, distracting the head priest. The head priest asks if Damir said this; Damir replies that he did not and asks to donate some money to St. Cuthbert and Pelor. After Damir does so, he returns to see that the old man is missing. The priests question him and ask him to go look for the old man. He reluctantly agrees and wanders semi-aimlessly for a few hours until he finds a beggar who will tell him where to look for a price. He finds the old man and lets him dine and drink for a couple hours before talking him into returning to talk to the priests.


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