House of the Eleven
Each of the establishments on Koshepa’s central square trade in the exploitation of human vice or false hope and sadly, the cavernous House of the Eleven is certainly no exception. Within this austere adobe structure, the poorest of Diamond Lake’s poor huddle in a torch-lit sanctuary listening to the fiery sermons of Jierian Wierus , a bombastic orator whose populist rants appeal to the best virtues and values of the common man while at the same time preying upon their fears and superstitions. Wierus endlessly preaches a creed of common sense, honesty, and self-sacrifice, encouraging his faithful to give penance to The 11 by whipping themselves in repetitive acts of self-mortification. His growing cult, now some 150 strong, gives succor to the dregs of Koshepa society and is seen as a menace by the town’s mine managers, government, and other religious figures. Many claim that the flagellants seem to follow Wierus as much as they do The 11 (or The Defender, his patron diety), and it is only because the charismatic firebrand somehow keeps his followers from breaking the law that his sect has been allowed to thrive.
Weirus is frequently absent, so those visiting the church for healing must deal with a secondary acolyte such as the scrupulous Hameneezer, a hard-working cleric who manages the day-to-day affairs of the church facility and who can nearly always be found within. Hameneezer and an assortment of acolytes also offer healing potions and spellcasting services to the general public at standard rates. Members of the flock receive these boons for half price, so The 11’s faithful constantly drone on about the value of regularly attending church services.
Wierus performs three sermons a week; each fills to capacity at least an hour before the high priest arrives and is a rambunctious affair. Not all devotees whip themselves into religious fervor, but enough do that those who abstain mark themselves as outsiders. Wierus views new arrivals as thrilling challenges, and tailors his sermons to first-time visitors, urging them to join his growing congregation and reclaim Koshepa under the banner of community and strong values. “Dark times is coming,” he says, eyes afire. “Writhing times. You best be ready when the clouds snuff out the sky.”