"News, is it?" Hetty Brewer gave her eldest a glance that never had shut him up and never yet would, and it didn't that evening either.
"Aye, Mam. From Anvil. They say Walder's back. Good Walder. O-or his shade, like. A real live ghost, they say."
"That so?" The grey-haired lady jerked her pointed chin towards the kitchen. "There's washing up for you."
He bridled at this clear and evident abuse of parental authority. "But... but. A ghost they say. Walked plain as brass into camp and asked who'd got the Virtue to do as Walder ought, a-and-"
"Aye, and he's doing washing up in back." Tom wasn't looking to see the gleam in his mother's eye, but he caught the chuckle that ran around the taproom easy enough, and his ears burned. "Said he was travelling, headed up to the Golden Downs, to Hay. Came in and asked for a pint of best and a seat at board, and I asked him how he was looking to pay for that. So he's in back now doing your job for you."
"Pride's a Virtue, mother, there's no call to mock." Tom drew himself up, or as far up as the ceiling allowed: lad was growing tall as a weed. "The man who's taken up Walder's way, they call him Tom like you called me, Tom of Mitwold the way I'm Tom of Upwold, and his tale's being told through the Marches even as it is written. And thus it shall inspire-"
"It shall inspire you to do the washing up, my lad." Hetty fixed the boy with a level gaze. "Or did you hear naught of what he was saying, while you learned all of who he was?"
Before the blush could creep from his ears to his face, Tom fled with all the injured dignity his sixteen years could muster.
And stopped dead in his tracks. Because there was indeed a man in back. Thickset and bearded, the sleeves of his plain brown tunic rolled up, suds to his elbows, his back to the door.And just for a moment, Tom fancied that he could see the washing-up bowl straight through the fellow as he caught the dishcloth.
The tale of Good Walder is one that many folk who follow the path of prosperity know well. Bane of the miser, scourge of those who can but won't, open-handed and great-hearted, the bedrock of the virtue of Prosperity, and to those few who venerate him the foundation of the most worthwhile parts of the Empire. But it's not a name that is often spoken of, unless you're one of the enthusiasts that strives to emulate the paragon. But paragon Walder is one of the oldest legends of the Way: his lessons were taught in the Marches and his stories told in Wintermark from long before there was an Empire. Today his lessons are preached in Highguard, and his warnings about the value of good hospitality appreciated as far afield as Varushka and the Brass Coast.
But just recently there has been a strange rumour - that Good Walder - or his ghost perhaps - or maybe just someone very like his ghost - walked into the Marcher camp at Anvil and bold as brass asked for someone to come and do Walder's work. It can't actually have been Good Walder - that's not possible - the whole point of being a paragon is that you pass on to who knows where never to return. But someone - Tom of Somewhere - was doing Walders work perhaps. There was a judgement passed by the Marcher Assembly...
The Marcher Assembly requests 15 mana and 5 Dragonbone from the Sevenfold Path vaults, to pursue Good Walder’s inspiration of rewarding the deserving. You may view this true spiritual inspiration in the spontaneous true aura upon Bastard Tom of Stoke.Marcher Assembly, Martin Orchard, Spring Equinox 382YE, Upheld 80 - 0, Greater Majority
...and so of course now there are rumours flying about it everywhere.
It is the nature of rumours that they further they spread, the more they grow. So now in half a dozen places across Mitwold and Upwold, and the odd place in Bregasland, and even a couple of pubs in the Mourn - they're reminding all and sundry who came past of their village's part in Walder's story. Half a dozen ancient Marcher apple trees on half a dozen lonely hills have been festooned with ribbons, as their congregation decides that this or that local legend means that this is the grave of Good Walder. Nothing unusual, and nothing un-Prosperous, about any of this.
And maybe, just maybe, there is something more to all these rumours.
The Old Stand of Trees
In the Golden Downs, just south of the town of Hay in Mitwold, near the Mourn border, there's an old stand of trees, mostly apples. There's been a local legend, an old story, an old mummers' tale, that maybe the biggest and oldest apple tree of the lot of them marks the grave of Good Walder. Certainly the local friars, have always claimed it was though to be fair dozens of villages across the Marches have a stand of trees that allegedly marks the grave of the paragon.
But there is something unusual about this copse. The old tree at the heart of the copse has never given many apples, but the ones that do ripen are said to taste like none other. Good hearty Marcher apples, the best you ever did taste, for all that they're so few in number.
But this summer, that old tree is groaning with fruit, and so are its neighbours. That whole copse, every apple tree in it: it's like the place has been painted with gold. And so inevitably - with all the rumours of Good Walder flying around - local folk have taken to calling it a miracle.
The friars of Hay plan to make representation to the nation at the coming Autumn summit. If that's a miracle - and they say that it is - then it's a miracle of Prosperity. And that means it's time to roll their sleeves up.
Good Walder's Stand
- Creating a suitable folly would allow the appointment of a custodian who could harvest the apples
- The folly would require 5 wains of white granite and 10 crowns
The friars propose to create a simple shrine on the hill. If someone was appointed to keep the shrine, they could clear the undergrowth, tend the grave, and see to any pilgrims that might be coming by. Such a work would require a commission as a folly and need five wains of white granite and ten crowns but a single senate motion could commission the shrine and create the title of Keeper of Good Walder's Grave.
The Keeper need receive no official stipend for their elbow-grease, but if the friars are right, and there is something special about those apples, then whatever it is would be the Keeper's to do with as they will.
Good Walder's Orchard
- A larger commission would provide votes and liao in addition to the apples
Of course the Marchers may decide that a mere folly is insufficient to mark the site of a genuine miracle of Good Walder. If the Imperial Senate - or a Bearer of an Imperial Wayleave - opted to construct a suitable shrine then it would be easy to design a sinecure, larger and potentially more productive than any folly. Twenty wains of white granite would be a decent size - producing nine liao and eighteen votes in the Synod - but it could be as large as the followers of prosperity choose to make it.
The shrine would offer support and hospitality to pilgrims visiting the orchard and that would ensure that the Keeper of Good Walder's Grave received the benefits of the sinecure in addition to any apples that blossomed.
The Chantry of the Silver Skull are pleased to announce that the Prosperity of the Empire was greatly demonstrated during this year’s miser-smiting festival. Young citizens aged sixteen or under are encouraged to apply to the ‘Young Benefactors fund” for the provision of: 13 Thrones, 2 Crowns, 12 rings, a selection of herbs & potions, 5 Artisan’s Oils, 6 Mana crystals, 12 Liao, 3 Ambergelt, 1 Wain of mithril.Tova of the Chantry, Statement of Principle, Prosperity Assembly, Spring Equinox 382YE
Good Walder's Tomb
- Good Walder has no inspirational tomb
At present Good Walder has no inspirational tomb and their grave is unknown. In place of the above options - or as well as one of them - the site could be turned into an inspirational tomb. It would require a dose of true liao, but if a citizen was given access to that then the tree and/or any shrine could be permanently consecrated to the name of Good Walder.
The Marches and Prosperity
The friars have politely requested that whatever title might or might not get created, it should be the Marcher assembly, or at a stretch the Prosperity assembly, that gets to appoint it. While Walder is beloved in the Marches, his inspiration and legacy stretches far beyond Mitwold - his lessons of rewarding the virtuous and smiting misers and wastrels are relished in almost every Imperial nation.
None of the commissions have been implemented during the Summer Solstice, but they are not time limited opportunities.