The village of Holtston has been clinging to existence on the edge of civilization for many years, despite the storms, monsters, bandits, and other calamities that have nearly destroyed it on several occasions. Its people have always drawn on the strength of their faith to carry them through hard times. Though they have no church of their own, they send offerings to and receive guidance from a temple of Pelor located 100 miles away, beyond a wild forest.
This unusual custom began 102 years ago, when a combination of blizzard, blight, and orc raids nearly wiped out the town. A wandering wise man named Versivious arrived in Holtston and suggested that a wagonload of goods be sent to the Temple of Pelor as a sign of the village's faith.
Though the villagers could scarcely spare a wagonload of goods, they agreed, and Versivious himself took the shipment through the woods to the temple. Orcs attacked him along the way and wounded him badly, but he managed to get the offering to the temple before expiring. Shortly afterward, Holtston experienced a rash of good luck. The blight ended, a group of heroes drove off the orcs, and a particularly rich crop came in. The town was saved, and Versivious became a local saint.
The offering to the Temple of Pelor has now become an annual tradition. Although a few priests and wizards have offered to simply teleport the goods safely to the temple, Holtston's tradition requires that the wagon bearing the tribute travel the same route that Saint Versivious used a century ago. The date is more flexible -- the goods can be delivered any time after the fall harvest and before the first snow of winter.
In the 102 years since that first offering, the goods have been delivered every year except one. Forty-seven years ago, the shipment was lost in a forest fire. That winter, a terrible blizzard nearly destroyed the town, and a blight struck the crops the following spring. Because of these events, the villagers believe their prosperity depends on following the tradition of the offering to the letter.
This year, the first wagonload of goods never made it to the temple, and its escort never returned. A second wagon was sent, but it also disappeared somewhere in the woods. The village has now lost two wagonloads of goods, as well as the best and bravest of its young people, and the remaining villagers can only barely afford to put together a third wagonload. The temple has offered to send help, but the people of Holtston believe that the goods must arrive without direct aid from the temple. Outsiders can help, in the tradition of Saint Versivious, but no one from the temple may do so.