The Zenith of Herestra
In Ephaesian lore, Couroje is known as the God of Commerce, Disease, and Shelter. He is often seen by the people as the manifestation of everything that civilization has to offer; both good and bad. In legends he is seen as a diseased beggar, languishing in the squalor of the streets. Members of the Votary of Couroje give what they can to beggars, on the off chance that it may be a manifestation of the divine.
While no one can be certain that Couroje has manifested on the material plane, reports of his appearances are rampant throughout lore in major cities. Throughout every rumor it is stated that Couroje manifest as a diseased, homeless, beggar. This is in apparent disregard for the physical texts of Couroje which state that the manifestation will be as the epitome of civilization.
The Beggar of Kejis
One particular tale seems to merit the most credence. When the city of Kejis was its most powerful in 3862 AR with a bustling industry and a wealthy populace, an unheard of beggar strayed into the town. Characteristically, nearly every citizen ignored the disease ridden man save for an orphan child who could only share half of his daily bread. A month later, the beggar disappeared entirely. The week after, the city was struck by a particularly virulent strain of the bubonic plague and the entire city was wiped out, save for the orphan child.
The Votary of Couroje
The Votary of Couroje are the worshipers of Couroje brought together in an organization that spans the continent of Ephaesia. Standards are adhered to and deviation from the standard is strictly forbidden.
Worshipers of Couroje are the poorest individuals of all religions in Ephaesia due to the fact that they are forbidden from holding excess wealth. All wealth which is not for their personal needs is given to The Votary of Couroje. Worshipers of Couroje are thoroughly educated in mathematics, economics, biology, and medicine. The majority of those who worship Couroje are dressed simply in a plain robe, preferring muted tones and natural fabrics.
Those wishing to join the Votary of Couroje must undergo an initiation ceremony known as The Beggars Gambit. The initiate must first sell everything they own and donate the proceeds to the Votary of Couroje, including the clothing off their back. The highest ranking local member of the Votary gives the initiate undergarments, a plain robe, and a half loaf of bread. The initiate must then survive for a month on the kindness of others. Those who live through the month are considered blessed by Couroje and are taken into the order.
Worshipers of Couroje cannot hold excess wealth; it must be given to the Votary of Couroje as soon as possible. Any item purchased must be purely functional, decorations are forbidden. As a part of this, many worshipers in recent years have taken to shaving their heads to further remove decoration from themselves. Worshipers must take every economic opportunity available when the benefits clearly outweigh the costs. They are forbidden from theft. They must provide shelter and hospitality to any who request it.
The Votary of Couroje is organized as an meritocracy with those in positions of power generally considered so through the use of an organized test. Any member of the Votary of Couroje is able to participate in the test scores determine your placement in the Votary of Couroje. Every member of the Votary of Couroje is given a number of votes equal to her status in society which she can use to influence policies. They are also one of the wealthiest religious organizations on Ephaesia, having established temples in every major city on the continent.
Houses of Healing
The Houses of Healing are buildings that have been converted for the express purpose of dealing with the wounded and diseased. The facilities of the Houses of Healing are available to anyone, for a nominal fee. Those wishing to be treated must remove everything they own and place it in a room to be assessed for worth. After the persons wealth is determined, a fee is agreed upon and treatment may begin. Those without any wealth such as beggars, may provide other services for the temple in exchange for their treatment.
While the Votary of Couroje provide obvious clerical services in all of the major cities in Ephaesia, there is growing concern that they are providing not only the cure but also the disease. Recently, apparently healthy people have been falling ill all across Ephaesia, but recover with the aid of the Votary of Couroje. Many also critique the organizational system of the Votary of Couroje for its apparent aristocratic leanings; suggesting that those without intelligence are lesser beings than those with greater intelligence. The Votary of Couroje have chosen not to respond to such claims.