A handful of unpopular people who claim to have known the young Proster Yolch say he spent his early years in a small commune by the sea. Its members espoused free love, acceptance of diversity and oneness with the natural world. When Proster Yolch was eight years old his beloved older brother was mutilated by a shark, but held on for several painful days before dying of his injuries. The same people also say Yolch was deeply traumatised and spent some time trying to ascertain how bad things happen to good people. He eventually gave up, left his home and travelled inland. Though many have tried to determine his movements over the next twenty years no reliable leads have been found.
It is nonetheless well known that Yolch arrived in Whitewash at the age of 33. This town was only notable for being further from the sea than any built before or since. Yolch put on no affectations; he did not claim to be clever, good, or blessed with any special insight. He only claimed that he had known someone who was all these things, and who willingly suffered a terrible death to ensure no others would.
At first the townsfolk were sceptical, but when none succumbed to shark attacks Yolch began to gain respect. He went on to say the one he had known had banished all the sharks from the town, though their absence was no more remarkable than the lack of dinosaurs. Having thus honoured the memory of the brother he had loved and lost, Yolch formulated further tales whose morals were enshrined as laws. They were very different from the ones he had been taught as a child, encouraging repression, guilt, suspicion of outsiders and rejection of earthly pleasures in favour of others granted on death, but they forged a strong community that continues to expand while the commune he came from has faded away.
Proster Yolch now spreads the word to other isolated towns. He does so from a wheeled pulpit pulled by Mthennibec, an emaciated rabbit who denies himself all worldly joys. The distinctive hat Yolch wears is modelled on the Sharkbenign, the official symbol of his faith. To reach a wider audience he amplifies his sermons with what he glibly refers to as “the miracle of technology.” The alien Xanni carries the speakers to express his gratitude at being rescued from the set of a M. Night Shyamalan film (Xanni is not fond of water, and Yolch stays well away from the sea). Xanni has also provided the means to plant holograms in bubbles. These look like things we think we want but are impossible to grasp.