Edrin entered the small church with the last of the parishioners. His skin began to burn as he crossed the threshold, but he ignored it. The damage wouldn't show until it was near to ending him, and that would take some time. He was used to the pain; the sun had the same effect on him as a holy place such as this.
The church was single, long room, though its essential simplicity was disguised by the delicate arches of the roof and the high, peaked windows along the walls. The public doors were at Edrin's back, and a series of rough wooden pews filled the space before him. Beyond them was the altar, set on a raised platform. The priest, Paer Meassim, stood behind it, dressed in the formal white robes of a minister at Devotion. Edrin squinted, and made out the faint shimmer of Meassim's angel, hovering above and behind the man's head.
The town of Millholm was small, the center of a rural parish. The modesty of this church matched its setting. Its income, by contrast, did not. Over the last five years, it had grown to collect two or even three times what churches like this ordinarily gathered. Perhaps the local population was simply more devout than usual, and willing to give freely from their meager incomes. It didn't seem likely.
So Edrin had come to Millholm, taken a room at the town's one inn, and begun looking around. The town wasn't truly run-down, not yet, but it was beginning to look worn. Decorations had been allowed fade; minor repairs that should have been made were left to wait; and everything cost more than it should.
Paer Meassim's house, on the other hand, was newly built and the largest in town. He lived there with three acolytes, amid rich furnishings and richer meals, and likely other luxuries as well. The townsfolk spoke no ill of their priest, but then they wouldn't. Paer Meassim was their connection to the heavens, and most likely their only source of earthly healing as well. Instead, they spoke of him not at all.
Edrin found that telling. In most places, the local priest was a vital and active part of the community. A town which did not speak of its priest was town that did not want him. From the signs, Edrin suspected that Paer Meassim was bleeding his parish dry. It only remained to confirm it, and then to stop it. For that knowledge, that opportunity, Edrin would sit through the service while the touch of the heavens slowly burned him away.