5123 EA - 5139 EA
Joshuan Rowe was a young Seruic man who, due to his visions, was considered to be a conduit for Nereus, the Lord of Water. He is also known as the Martyr of Nereus. Although he was originally recruited as a member of the priesthood, he left after disagreeing with the way they were run. His assassination led to the reformation of the temples and priesthood of Nereus, and the way they provided healing services to the general public.
Joshuan was born during a summer squall in Fisher's Bay, a fishing village on the tiny island of Saltmire, off the northern coast of Serukis. When he was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and he was grey and floppy. His maternal grandmother, Keren, one of only two midwives on Saltmire, was able to clear his airway and get him breathing. According to the stories, Joshuan took his first breath as a roll of thunder crashed through the sky. His father, Rylan, was a fisherman. His mother, Thea, was the only other midwife on Saltmire, apprenticed under her mother. At the time of Joshuan's birth, they had two older children, Anya, 4, and Peter, 2.
After he was declared dead by the village healer, Joshuan's father came to see the body of his son laid out on the healer's table. As he smoothed his hand through the boy's hair, Joshuan coughed and vomited up seawater, his eyes flickering open. He had effectively come back from the dead. In the months that followed, stories about the drowned boy who lived again began to spread to the mainland. Joshuan's parents and the other villagers, however, sheltered him and turned away any outsider who showed an interest.
When Joshuan was 4, he was playing on the rocks by his house with his older siblings when a rogue wave came and washed him into the sea. The other children ran for help, but by the time their father got there, Joshuan had disappeared. He washed up several hours later about a mile along the shoreline and was found by a couple of teenagers from the village who were out foraging for cockles during the low tides. The two boys rushed the lifeless Joshuan back to the village, abandoning their haul.
VisionsFollowing this traumatic event, Joshuan began to have regular seizures. After these episodes, he began to speak of things he had seen: crashing waves, bright lights, and, most of all, Nereus, the Lord of Water. Occasionally, during the seizures, he would babble in a language no one else understood. Understandably, his parents were frightened by this, and Joshuan was mostly sequestered in the house where they could keep him safe. They worked together with the village healer to try to calm or stop the seizures, but nothing helped.
The light was so bright, Mama. And there was so much water. And Lord Nereus was there, like Papa's statue, and he smiled at me. It was so warm, Mama. I'm cold now. When can I see him again?
PriesthoodBy the time he was 10, rumours had spread to mainland Serukis about Joshuan. Sceptical, several priests of Nereus visited the island to see him for themselves. Whilst they were there, Joshuan had a seizure and subsequent vision, where he warned them about making the trip back to the mainland that night. One of the younger priests, a man called Asher Keene, heeded the warning, but the others did not; the boat they were on was caught in a sudden storm, killing everyone aboard. Their bodies and the wreckage of the boat washed up on the shore of Saltmire before the dawn. Upon seeing the bodies, Keene was convinced. He persuaded Joshuan's parents to allow him to take the boy to the mainland to the Temple of Nereus in King's Rock. The villagers of Fisher's Bay believe to this day that the priest bribed or threatened them, as until that moment they had proved fiercely protective of their son. Keene took Joshuan to King's Rock with him, where he was initiated as a priest of Nereus. Unlike the other initiates, however, Joshuan was kept secluded, and the senior priests would charge members of the public a silver thorn to be able to see him.
We have the means to help people. Why would we not?
By the time he was 14, Joshuan had grown sick of the corruption he was witnessing in the temple. He left in the dead of night, determined never to return. For several hours, he wandered through the city, unsure where to go or what to do next. He found himself an empty alleyway to sleep in, but was instead taken in by a brothel madam who had spent no small amount of money seeking his advice. Living in the brothel known as The Blushing Rose, Joshuan began spending his time with the common people of King's Rock. He offered the blessings and the healing knowledge he had learned during his time as a priest for free. Over the course of several months, attendance at the temple dropped, with people flocking to see Joshuan speak instead. The brothel's steps were often lined with offerings of shells and flowers. Other priests of Nereus, seeing what Joshuan was doing, began to leave the temple to follow him instead. Like Joshuan, they began to offer their healing knowledge for free, instead of charging copper seeds like they had at the temple.
AssassinationThe popularity of Joshuan did not go over well with the senior priests at the temple. After two years of seeing their numbers dwindle, they began to get desperate. They wanted Joshuan gone. They paid a beggar the sum of one gold rose to do the deed. Joshuan was giving his now-daily sermon when the beggar approached him, asking for Nereus's blessing. Joshuan smiled at the man, stepping forward and resting his hand on his shoulder. As he began to speak the familiar words, the man stabbed him in the stomach with a knife he had concealed up his sleeve. Joshuan collapsed to the ground and the man fled, using the ensuing chaos to disappear into the city. He was never caught. The priests that followed Joshuan did their best to save him, but it was no use. Within ten minutes, Joshuan Rowe had bled to death on the streets of King's Rock.
Following Joshuan's death, the priesthood of Nereus began a reformation. The fact that senior priests were behind the assassination was quickly discovered, their corruption laid bare for all to see. The civilians of King's Rock were outraged, demanding justice. The priests behind the plot were stripped of their titles and put to death. The remaining priests, through a mixture of belief in what Joshuan was doing and public pressure, began to work to restore the reputation of the priesthood. The temple in King's Rock was turned into a hospital, where all comers could seek medical attention for free. A new, much more modest temple was constructed across the street from the hospital. The priests of Nereus who call this new temple their home staff the hospital, alongside non-religious healers. Over the next few years, the reformation spread outwards from King's Rock to the rest of Serukis. In major cities, temples were converted into hospitals with new, smaller temples attached. Temples in smaller towns or villages are no longer allowed to demand coin for healing, although offerings to Nereus - monetary or otherwise - are still accepted. Priests found to be violating these rules are relocated to one of the city hospitals to be reminded of their calling. The tenets laid down by Joshuan are still followed to this day.
The Tenets of Joshuan Rowe
- Healing is Free
- Be Kind to All
- Never Turn Away Someone in Need
- Shun Material Goods
- Live Simply, but Live Well
- Expose Corruption