The Order of Saint McDonald the Munificent
One of the most enduring legends of the lands of Nourika is surely that of Saint McDonald (1) and the religious order founded in his name. Already an old man at the time of the Fall, McDonald is described in the Order’s ‘Historium Victus Velox’ as ‘…a giant of a man, with curly red hair, a cherubic red nose, possessed of an unearthly pallor, dressed all in motley…’ One can assume this description has been embroidered over the centuries somewhat, but even today, Brothers of the Order wear white facemasks and bright red wigs when in public.
McDonald was said to have been born to simple farming folk in a town near Sanlu (2) sometime in the decades immediately preceding the Fall. Like the rest of Nourika and indeed, the rest of the world, Sanlu and its environs were wracked by unprecedented destruction, famine, and plague during that time. Old stories claim that hundreds of millions died in that region of the continent alone, though it is hard to credit that many souls ever living, much less dying, the great central vastnesses.
McDonald, like his father before him, was a farmer. By the time of the Fall, he was already well-known and respected for his charity work; he had established a string of hostels across the land for relatives of sick children to stay in while the children were treated in the Sanlu’s famed medical schools.
When the Fall began, McDonald lost nearly everything he had – his lands were poisoned, his family was dead, and he himself was deathly ill. He was taken in by a wandering Catholic monk (whose name has been lost to history). The monk journeyed nearly two hundred miles through the decimated land, dragging McDonald on a makeshift sledge behind him. When they finally arrived at the monk’s monastery, somewhere in Kansia, McDonald gave thanks to God and pledged whatever remained of his life to rebuilding the great land that he once knew.
A fragment of his joyful thanksgiving remains to us:
…(I) shall build a farm! And on that farm I’ll have some chickens! And on that farm I’ll have a cow! And on that farm I’ll have some pigs! And those (illegible) will allow us to feed a family, and then a village, a city, a nation…
And McDonald did build his farm. After recuperating in Kansia, he returned to his home near Sanlu, where he took vows as a Monk Itinerant. For nearly two decades, he selflessly fed the poor, the dispossessed, the helpless, the hopeless. When he finally died, at the incredibly advanced age of 93, the Church in Sanlu canonized him. Fifty years later, Pope Marcellus II of the Reconstituted Nourikan Catholic Church decreed that an Order of monks should be founded in the Saint’s name. Headquartered in the town of Brindle just west of Sanlu, the Order has remained true to its charter. For nearly four centuries, its members have travelled the roads of Nourika, feeding the hungry, helping farmers stop crop blights, building aqueducts and granaries, and generally bringing a ray of hope to this ruined land.
The symbol of the Order is a pair of golden arches, patterned after the symbol of McDonald's pre-Fall charities. It should be noted that even today, ruins are being uncovered which bear this symbol, some as far away as the Coasts. It is considered good luck by travellers to stumble upon one of these ruins.
(1) It is unknown whether ‘McDonald’ was the Saint’s first or last name. One faction of scholars in Atlanta claims his first name was Ronald, based on obscure fragmentary records obtained from an ancient Order monastery in the Kansian Veldt.
(2) Sanlu is a prosperous city-state which sits at the confluence of the Mizoura and Great Rivers. It is one of only a bare handful of pre-Fall cities to remain relatively intact down through the centuries.