Mons. Hilthurst is an old man, and he wears every one of his 109 years as both a boon and a terrible bane. At such an advanced age his skin has become almost papery thin and his health is equally fragile. Despite being nearly blind and unable to speak above a stage whisper, he continues to conduct services in his diocese, holding himself up for the duration with a walking stick that seems as old as he is.
Most of his parishioners would be surprised to discover that at one point the Monsignor was once a young and foolhardy man. Considering his age, most of his parishioners were born after he was already 50 himself so they have never known him as anything other than as the Monsignor, or simply the old priest. But it is true, he was once a young man fresh from a rigid upbringing in a scion family of Sangreal. his two older brothers were groomed for positions in the Gold Talons, and to later take over administration of the Hilthurst estates in and near the city. Having been the third son, William was shuffled into the religious role and sent to study under tutors at the Grand Cathedral of Sangreal. He did as well as any other pupil who had been sent out of pragmatacism, passing his studies but not excelling in any of them.
After completing his education, William was sent to the garrison at Soixane where he was expected to continue his theological studies as well as assisting the garrison in dealing with the constant threat of ogres who would wander up out of the Great Woses. While he resented the continuation of training, standing in the field with the knights and soldiers of the Arms Militant was quite another matter. The garrison commander took a liking to the young priest who seemed more interested in wearing chainmail than a cassock and had no fear of taking up the iron mace of Belex and riding into battle with the rest of the troops.
William and the Hermit Vagool
Vagool was long considered an outcaste among his fellow ogres and lived on the edge of the Woses. The garrison knew of the lone ogre and so long as it did little more than tinker with it's herbs and minded its own business they were content to not send a group of soldiers to kill it. Upon learning of the hermit, William suggested that the soldiers eliminate the lone ogre while it was alone. It was simply sloth that held their hand, or perhaps cowardice. Not to be called out by a priest pretending to be a soldier, one of the garrison undercaptains accepted his challenge and with the priest in tow, they sat out to eliminate the hermit. The battle was short and the hermit was given a mortal wound. Intending to see it dead, William gave chase and followed it back into it's lair. He was shocked to discover that the hermit was a wise man and scholar of his kind and had been exiled for proposing peace with the men of the south as they had made peace with the witches of the north.
Old Blood Runs Deep
After seeing the consequence of rash actions, William entered a period of introspection. He spent a great amount of time in meditation as well as delving into the religious tomes at Soixane. It can be said that it was during this time that William in heart came to the Faith. While there was still heat in his blood, he was less fervent to ride out and meet the ogres in battle. After his time serving at Soixane, William was recalled to the Holy See at Sangreal. Several examinations later, William was deemed worthy and was initiated into the ranks of the priesthood. Little of note occurs for the next two decades as William evolves into Father Hilthurst, leaving behind the impulsiveness of youth for the wisdom of maturity.
After celebrating his 40th birthday, Father Hilthurst petitioned the clergy to go on a pilgrimage to the west. After a short deliberation, it was granted, and Hilthurst went on his pilgrimage. He then passed from Sangreal on to the Grand Cathedral of Ozea. After a short visit there, he proceeded on across the hinterlands, passing through Iacon decades before the rise of Layton Frost and his cold faith of Sciomachty. He spent a week praying at the Great Fortress of Ankara, sitting in the Cathedral of the Sun and Fire.
After that, he passed into the demense of the Western Domain of the Kingdom of Trinistine. Becoming a stranger in a strange land, he visited the churchs across the Midlands and seeing the Grand Cathedral of Kesselry reswore his devotion to the faith and it's reunification. Two years had passed since he left Sangreal and he had arrived at the Grand Duchy of Aohd. On the border of the ancestral lands of the Elves, a place of both idyllic beauty and racial tension, Hilthurst decided it was time to return home.
The trip home was shorter, and he was in Sangreal in six months, taking a ship from the port of Glenn. Upon his arrival, he was greeted by the Bishop of Sangreal and granted the honorific title of Monsignor. Hilthurst took this title with great dignity and resumed his position within the Faith at Sangreal.
Of Wars and Trials
It was during this time that the ogres mounted a major push out of the Great Woses, a Zehini Witch appeared in the south, and a plains tribe declared a blood feud with the nobles of Dreifach. The Mons. Hilhurst ended up involved in the hunt for the Witch, and in a great feat of daring for a man of his age, helped her escape back to Zehin. Doing this ended the warmongering of the ogres who were being goaded on by their northern allies. While not listed in the names of the sages and chieftains who signed the Peace Accord of Garudia, outside of Dreifach, Mons. Hilthurst with a band of other like minded clerics and paladins had been involved. The band had prevented a splinter of the tribe from committing a murder and turning the treaty signing into a blood bath.
When the Bishop of Ozea passed away at the seemingly young age of 80, Hilthurst was nominated for the position. He took a week to meditate on the matter and eventually returned to accept the position, but only until a more suitable candidate was found to take his place. Mons. Hilthurst stood as Bishop for another decade before officially passing on his position to a young, at age 54, dynamic woman, Argarmet of Tekne. The clergy took a radical step and named Argamet Bishop-Regent and should Mons. Hilthurst ever decide to return, she would be required to abdicate her seat without question or hesitation.
The Current Day
After a long and sometimes tumultuous life, the once and still Bishop of Ozea, pilgrim, peacemaker and warrior officially retired. He is now the often overlooked Abbot of a suitably large and comfortable Church. With his 110th birthday approaching, he has simply become 'the Old Priest' or the 'Old Abbot' or 'Monsignor Grandpa'.
Monsignori Cassock - This floor length robe is made of high quality linen and dyed to a royal shade of black and trimmed with a small fringe of red tassels. A purple sash is worn around the waist. While not a magical item, this cassock is the uniform of the supernumerary monsignori and denotes their position within the Trinitine Faith. Much like the enchanter's djellaba, this form of dress was adopted from Ankaran style robes.
Ring of Belex - This onyx ring is dedicated to the Trinity god of death and the afterlife. Crafted of silver, it allows the wearer to turn undead, exorcise spirits, and perform soul and spirit related divine magics as if they were a level higher. There are currently 7 of these rings, each held by a monsignori. Two reside in Falhath, both in Ozea. One can be found on the finger of the bishop of Ankara and the other four are located in the Midlands.
The Role of the Monsignor
It is easy for elders of the Faith to be tucked away and overlooked as nothing more than scenery and functionaries. What is more sad is this is something that happens all to often in real life. While it is easy to look at the elderly, with the Mons. 109 years being a tad extreme, and think of them as having always been old, tired, sick, crotchety and set in their ways. it is all to easy to forget that they have fought their own battles, vanquished foes and been defeated themselves, yet have survived.
The Mons. Hilthurst is a dry old man. But he has lived a life of service to the church which has not been all dusty books and creaking sermons, but also a life of danger and peril.
Love's Labor Lost - It is easiest perhaps to forget that the elderly were once young and as hot blooded as the youths of today. The Zehini Witch who Hilthurst saved so many decades ago in her teens has returned to find her savior, herself now in her forties. She hires the PCs to find out whatever happened to the dashing priest with the salt and pepper hair, and they have to follow an old trail to find a bent old man.
You Kids These Days - A world is a dynamic thing, and things within it change. When the PCs bemoan how little a certain healing spell does, Hilthurst the Fossil can tell them what it was like when a healing spell only healed 1D4 health instead of 1D4+1 like these new-fangled spells do.
A Young Priest, and Old Priest - In a cleric heavy PC group, the Mons. can have a larger influence as a patron, mentor and benefactor to them and their trials. he could be a foil to the more traditional younger clergy who often play at power games, attempt to usurp thrones, and create theocracies and such. (Sorry, recently watched the 3 Musketeers)
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? Responses (8)
A great charecter despite his age.
A good solid NPC :)
I like this crochety old fellow. Nicely done!
Not despite his age, Cheka, just a great character! :) Nice use of pertinent links as always.
And I love a good cassock! (not to be confused with a cossack)
A likeable NPC. While I doubt he would have much of an impact most of the time (being 109), the old man can still show a little spark.
Plot hook: Familiar faces
An opponent (or friend) of the heroes flees as soon as this old man approaches the scene. Thing is, he could recognize the person, that looks _exactly_ as fifty years before, and that is rarely a good sign.
As he senses his death nearing, Monsignor Hilthurst could need assistance resolving the 'loose ends' of his life. These could take the form of old issues long overdue to be resolved: Timeworn angers, old loves, or debts of honor.
I picture him fathering a child as a young man, a child that he would have conscientiously cared for (keeping his relationship secret), as is the custom with noble by-blows. The ancient priest might hope to locate his secret descendants, so that they could be remembered in his will...
Look what nicety I have found. Spellcheck, please, and a link to the Sisters of Lutgardis.
And now I see the nastiest rumor that could stain the name of both the Order and the Monsignor. Oh, oh, oh...
Heck of a sub ... good as the senior prelate for pretty much any faith in a large city.
Great character, love how well you have him integrated into your world.