The Metropolitan frowned as he saw the crowd there, almost festive in its attitude. Indeed, he even saw a few Lemonaders walking among those gathered with tanks on their back. It brought to mind Processions of the Holy Dead the Metropolitan had attended with his father as a lad. For a moment, he was back in them, hearing the murmur of the crowd, and trying to get closer to see the bier of Great Talos, making his way through the legs of the adults.
He shook his head. He had not been a child for a long time. He was a man, and had a man's duties to the gods. "What has brought you here?" he declared grandly, in the voice he used to deliver sermons. "Why do you disturb the sacred authority of the Ancients?"
A voice came from the crowd. "I see a man in the robe of the Master of the Yellow. But I hear the voice of the Metropolitan--who should be in prison, let alone being a member of the Ancients against custom and law."
The Metropolitan looked over the people, hoping to make out who had spoken. "And is it in custom and law to imprison your Metropolitan, he who gives you spiritual guidance?"
"You are not the first," came a voice.
The Metropolitan frowned. He wasn't sure if this was the same voice that had spoken earlier. "That error has been made in the past..."
"Down with the false! Up with the true!" came what was definitely another voice from the crowd. "Talossa, free! Now and forever!" There was an appreciative cry from the people.
"Do you truly believe that?" shouted the Metropolitan. "Can you not look at all this, all that has been done and not see how far this city has fallen? We have forsaken Leonais! We have allied with a Dark Lord! The folk of Night walk this city, unafraid! Was it like this in your father's day? Would you have it like this in your son's?" That seemed to wrong foot the crowd--the Metropolitan heard nervous murmurs where he'd earlier heard them calling for his head. "Go home, people! Go home and trust in the Ancients to lead you in righteousness!"
"Will the Ancients answer some questions?" came a new voice. The speaker strode out of the crowd--a tall man, the Metropolitan saw. And then he noticed the slight oddness in the gait.
"Nightfolk!" spat out the Metropolitan. "You dare interfere with our ways! Leave this place! By the Holy Light, retreat back to the Darkness."
The Erl stood there, impassive. "And now that you've said that, I am going to speak." A slight smile came to his grey face. "Hopefully you won't find it too distressing. It's only to be the truth, or... near enough as I figure it."