Outside the Walls

The gray-robed cleric stepped into the homely, ramshackle walls of the pilgrimage center. By his side, Aerrin walked in, wearing a warm, but firm, smile. He tried his best to do the same. Despite all the stresses and worries of late, and the paranoia and fear of his… investigation… he was not going to let it all dampen his spirits during this wondrous, festive season. The Dawn of the Disciples was meant to be a time of familiarity and goodwill, of giving and happiness. And for that, he needed to be buoyant, cheerful, and generous. His many brothers and sisters all but depended on it.

He glanced around the room, seeing much of the same as he had every morning of late. One of the last mornings before they would set out on the open road, and not much to show for it. Donation boxes, all but empty. A cookhand scurrying off with a bag of spices in hand. Blossoming flowers on the leaves dangling outside the window. An ornate chest overflowing with gold pieces—wait!

“By the Goddess!” Aldus gasped. “Oh, Sister Aerrin! Take a look over there, at the Duldrus box!”

Aldus hastened over to the chest, and beheld the gleaming sight of gold with childlike wonder. “Two hundred thousand gold pieces… exactly the sum needed to maintain the work we’ve done in Duldrus! And not a moment to spare!”

“Ah, very good, Brother Aldus. The benefactor?”

“It’s unsigned… but oh! Right here, beside it—fifty purple shirts! Our mysterious anonymous benefactor—they’ve come to the rescue yet again! I was beginning to think we’d have nothing but empty hands and bad news to bring to that poor mining town… what a delightful surprise!”

“Aye, Brother. And look—there’s some more here for Port Gast, as well. A clean fifty thousand. And just in time, too.” Aerrin walked briskly toward the window. “Full moon is upon us, now. We’ll soon be in motion once again.”

“Yes… ha ha ha!” Aldus clapped his hands and spun around, to Aerrin’s quizzical brow. “But there’s no need for haste now, Sister! Truly, Father Vei extending the pilgrimage to last until the Full Growing Moon was one of the best decisions he’s made this year.”

“Aye, most seem to agree. Though I have heard some grumblings about taking too much time away from the temple. I, for one, will appreciate the added rest—our ministry will not be so rushed, this year. And with all that extra time… who knows what else we might be able to accomplish… outside.”

“Yes… outside the walls.” Aldus felt a chill run down his spine. “Goddess watch over and protect us all.”
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