Joshuan Rowe

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.  

Early Life

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.


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.
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.  


  Following 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?
— A transcription of Joshuan's first vision
  After a few months, however, fishermen from the village began to drop by and ask Joshuan to give them Nereus's blessing before they went to sea. Other villagers would leave offerings of shells or stones outside their dwelling. Soon, people from other villages on the island would travel to do the same. Saltmire began to see him as a conduit to the god, though it would take several years for his parents to embrace this.  


  By 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?
— Joshuan Rowe
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.


  The 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

  1. Healing is Free
  2. Be Kind to All
  3. Never Turn Away Someone in Need
  4. Shun Material Goods
  5. Live Simply, but Live Well
  6. Expose Corruption

Cover image: by Shifaaz Shamoon
Character Portrait image: by Artbreeder, Emily Vair-Turnbull


Author's Notes

This article was originally written for Summer Camp 2020.   Prompt: Describe an important religious leader in your world. How has their character changed the status quo?

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Sage Timepool
Garrett Grace Lewis
3 Jul, 2020 00:02

I quite like this, he's a very christlike figure, something about the brothel becoming a more righteous space than the temple has some really nice vibes for me. You've got a pretty believable arch here!

3 Jul, 2020 06:44

Thank you so much! I agree, he definitely has some Christ-like attributes. :) This article went in a completely different direction than I was planning but I like it.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
5 Jul, 2020 15:35

What Time said. Did you use artbreeder for that portrait or you drew it yourself? It's very nice!

5 Jul, 2020 19:01

I used Artbreeder, but after Summer Camp I intend to replace it with art I drew myself. :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
3 Jul, 2020 10:10

That's a beautiful story. Lovely touches of detail bring it to life and make it wholly believable. Sad but inspiring at the same time, with some lessons that could be learned by certain organizations today. Another great article; not only fab to read but educational for me as I learn more about worldbuilding! :)

3 Jul, 2020 10:15

Aww thank you. I really enjoyed writing this article so I'm so glad you enjoyed reading it! :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
6 Jun, 2021 01:09

Oh, this is very nice! I like how it's put together and how the story flows through the article. He's surprisingly young, but that is a good touch. Looking forward to reading more!

Lilliana Casper   I don't comment much, but I love reading your articles! Please check out my worlds, Jerde and Tread of Darkness.
6 Jun, 2021 10:43

Thank you <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
6 Jun, 2021 13:05

This is a great article, I really like Joshuan story and how he managed to change society durably even if he didn't live long :(   What was Nereus' reaction to his assassination? Since he killed the priests who didn't believe in his premonitions, I can't imagine the assassin got to live for very long...

To see what I am up to:WE list of articles and goals.
6 Jun, 2021 16:04

No, I can't imagine Nereus was best pleased about it (if he exists, which I like to keep ambiguous :D).   Poor Joshuan. He was a good kid. Thank you for reading! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
10 Jun, 2021 00:12

Every section had a great turn to it. I kept thinking "this kid can't go through anymore," and then he did. But I guess that's par for the course for religious leaders.   Great work!

Check out my progress on WorldEmber 2022
10 Jun, 2021 00:42

Thank you! I'd love to write his story in novel-form one day. :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
10 Jun, 2021 11:31

Oooh, that would be good. Definitely something to keep on your to-do list.

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Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
15 Jun, 2021 05:38

This is such a touching story. I enjoyed reading about Joshuan and his legacy. It's sad he died so young, but I wonder if his influence would have become this big without his assassination.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
15 Jun, 2021 05:40

Oh, and I forgot. I think under the article title his date of dead is wrong?

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
15 Jun, 2021 13:17

Aaah! You're right - thank you! :D <3   I don't think his influence would have spread so quickly without his assassination, but I'm still sad it happened. :(

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
16 Jun, 2021 15:53

It truly is sad. He seemed to have been an amazing and caring person.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
1 Jul, 2021 14:36

I feel like I would have gotten along with Joshuan, he sounds like an amazing man. Too bad the corruption of the world he was thrust into was what killed him, It would have been amazing to see what else he could have done with his life.

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
1 Jul, 2021 20:33

I know, poor Joshuan. At least he reformed a lot of stuff in his short life - he'd be happy to know that. Thank you <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Sage SailingOcelot
Sailing Ocelot
11 Jul, 2021 05:46

I really enjoyed reading the story of this character, the writing grabbed my attention from beginning to end. Very high quality article!

~~~~~~~~ SailingOcelot
11 Jul, 2021 15:52

Thank you! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
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