Sellswords of Punjar
Lady of Mercy; The Restoring Flame; The Highest Magistress; The Lawbringer; The Holy Judge; Defender of the Weak
Portfolio: Goddess of Justice, Mercy and Righteousness.
Justicia (jus-ti-shuh) is the goddess of mercy, justice and righteousness. She is the patroness of judges, lawmen and knights and she oversees justice in all its forms, whether in the court of law or on the field of battle. The Restoring Flame she is sometimes called, the Highest Magistress, and she seeks to remedy all hurts and redeem all evil.
The 3 Holy Texts:
The Codex of True Law – At the dawn of civilization, Justicia is said to have handed to humanity a moderately sized tome entitled the Codex of True Law. Within it, the Lawbringer laid down a series of laws that, if enacted and followed, would lead to the perfect society. It will not make evil men good, but it would establish a system of government where all are treated with absolute justice and all men receive their just rewards. Sadly – this text has been lost to the ravages of time and these laws have vanished from the world. Only the preamble remains, which (while far from complete) still guides the laws of men today. In it, Justicia instructs men that all law must be based on three unbending tenants.
1) All are equal in the eyes of the law. Justice must be fair and impartial. 2) The just and good must be treated mercifully and defended mightily. 3) Remain ever vigilant for those who would deny justice to others and work constantly to defeat evil in this world.
This, obviously, leaves much room for interpretation and Justicia’s church (The Courts of Justice) works tirelessly to ensure all laws hold true to these three commands.
The Merciful Prophecies – This tome is a collection of Justicia’s canticles on merciful living. Each expounds on the meaning of Mercy and offers her ultimate vision of a Merciful Soul and how to live a Merciful Life. It is her Faithfull’s manuscript for a Moral life, and each prophecy contains a multitude of layers and messages, many of which taking years of meditation to fully unravel. In short, she instructs her followers to Take Good Actions, Speak Kind Words, Empower the Powerless and Help Others. It is Her instruction book to life.
The Hierarchy of Angels – this collection of books is one of the Courts of Justice’s most closely guarded secrets – with full knowledge of its contents only known to the heads of the church and those select few who have need to call on the Heavenly Host. Indeed the large majority of her followers have probably heard little of it, or the angelic beings it described – beyond the most well known of her servants, the 8 Archangels of Justice. Within the pages of the Hierarchy, Justicia’s entire host of angels is laid bare. The organization of its 12 choirs is documented. Specific angels – thousands of them – are chronicled. It is truly a Tome of Righteousness. The Angelic Host’s constant struggle against Evil and Chaos is documented – from the initial war with the Elements of Chaos to form the Astral Sea and allow Divinity to flourish to the Great Fall of 1/5 of the Host – who chose to rebel against the Lady of Mercy, and as a result were cast into Hell and transformed into Devils. It is a crusader’s guide to bringing justice to the evil, and lays out specific instructions for those who would call the Heavenly Host into battle against the spreading evil in the world. In the entire world, only three full complete sets of the Hierarchy are known to exist. Needless to say, the Courts are very particular over who gets access to those.
Justicia is often depicted as a beautiful and statuesque lady knight in silver armor, bearing the scales of justice in one hand and a longsword in the other. Long, dark hair spills from her helmless head, so she may look into the faces of those she judges. Justicia’s two symbols are the scales of justice and a round shield bearing radiant eyes, with a longsword held against its face.
The Courts of Justice: The church of Justicia, while never that large, is one of the most influential churches in the land. In much of the world, the Courts of Justice function as an extension of the legal system of countries – with the Courts in each nation adjudicating the sovereign laws of that country. Needless to say, this can occasionally create some uncomfortable issues in places where some of the laws are disapproved of by the Church.
The very structure of the Church itself is set up to handle these issues and further the march of justice around the world. In each nation, every major population center contains a Court of Justice (wicked nations and areas hostile to Justicia’s charge excluded). It is here where the locals go to resolve thorny conflicts. Only the smallest hamlets are without a Justice and must travel to the nearest town when they are in need of one. The local Courts range anywhere in size from a single Justice in the smallest towns to as many 15-18 Justices overseen by 2-3 Lord Justices in metropolises.
In countries where the Courts of Justice is the established legal system of the land, the Court’s responsibility is twofold. 1) Adjudicate the cases they hear with total fairness, and exhibit bias towards none. The law of the land will be upheld in every instance. 2) Consult with the lawmakers of the realm to ensure that all laws are just and adhere to the Edicts of Justicia as closely as possible. The Courts strive to provide wise counsel to the secular rulers whose laws they adjudicate and also make their objections known to those rulers when they feel that certain laws are in violation of the will of Justicia.
There are 4 levels of Justices within the main hierarchy of the Courts. Above the normal Justice, there are Lord Justices, who oversee the more moderate and larger sized Courts in the country. The day to day adjudication of a court’s cases is left to the Justices, while the Lord Justices are responsible for working with the local authorities to ensure that the laws that hold sway in their region are just and fair. They also have the responsibility to object to the authorities in private when they determine any law is unjust. They also forward these objections on to the realm’s High Justices, who preside over all the Courts of Justice within each nation. These Justices are responsible for gathering all objections to the law from around the country and bring those to the supreme ruler of each nation to argue for particular laws to be changed. They are also the only Justices in a nation with the authority to issue a Rebuke.
After a ruler has been counseled that a particular law is unjust, and that advice is ignored, the High Court may inform him that they have no choice but to issue a Rebuke. A Rebuke is a printed letter of objection stating that the Courts have determined that a particular law is unjust, and the reasoning behind this determination. A copy of this letter is then forwarded to every single Court in the nation, where it is posted publicly for all to see. The Courts are still bound to adjudicate cases involving Rebuked laws according to the letter of the law, but they do so while noting the Courts’ specific objection to the law. It also urges the citizens of the country to make their concerns on the issue known to the authorities as well. Needless to say, most rulers stridently attempt to avoid a rebuke being issued, as the Courts of Justice are universally renowned for their complete objectivity and commitment to impartial justice.
Above the High Justices, there are Supreme Justices, who preside over the entire faith. Located in the independent city of Sanction, these 11 individuals are responsible for shaping the course of Justice across the entire world. In addition to overseeing the Courts operating around the world, they also give individual Knights of Mercy their assignments (more below), and oversee the operations of the Shadow Crusade (an organization completely unknown outside of the 11 Supreme Justices and the members of the Shadow Crusade themselves).
In addition to these responsibilities, the Supreme Justices have one, final role. They alone have the authority to decide when a particular nation’s laws have become so onerous that the Courts can no longer serve to advance the cause of Justice within that country. Once this determination is made, a Retreat is ordered. When this occurs (and it has happened only thrice in recorded history), a Letter of Judgment is sent to every Court across the entire world. In the country who is the subject of this Judgment, the letters are delivered by a large contingent of Knights of Mercy. Then, on a prearranged date, every Justice in every Court in the entire world will read the Judgment aloud, for all to hear. They denounce the Judged country as immoral and a hindrance to Justice. Within the country subject to the Judgment, the Justices also issue a mandate to the rulers of the nation to change the laws of the land, and a plea to the citizens to force the government’s hand. Then, across the entire country, every Justice of the Court, accompanied by Knights to Mercy to ensure their safety, departs the nation, and begins a journey to Sanction to hear their next assignment. The Supreme Justices are keenly aware that they lose any influence to shape a country’s laws once they issue a Retreat, and are loathe to do so in all but the most unavoidable of circumstances.
The Knights of Mercy – The Knights of Mercy is the more militant branch of Justicia’s faith, tasked by the Supreme Court to travel the uncivilized world and be the instrument of Justice where none is present. Frequently operating solo, they journey across the wilds to find pockets of civilization too remote for a Court and serve as a roving Justice, adjudicating disputes between the locals. They are also responsible for seeking out places where justice is denied to people and punishing the wicked. Finally, they are tasked with questing to discover and retrieve the Lost Laws contained within Justicia’s Codex of True Law. This is the one overarching task given every Knight when they are inducted into the order. Needless to say, most adventures who worship Justicia belong to this organization.
The Shadow Crusade – Long ago, it became evident to the Supreme Justices that there were simply some places in the world where the authorities were too wicked, and their control of the populace too complete that even the Knights of Mercy could not operate within the country. Rather than leaving these areas completely outside the Realm of Justice and instead of launching full scale invasions to right these wrongs, they chose to create a separate organization known only to them. The result was the Shadow Crusade and it is their most closely guarded secret.
The organization operates in a highly compartmentalized structure with each member knowing only the names of their direct superior and any agents located directly beneath them. There are essentially 4 layers to the group. The first are the Masters. These individuals receive their instructions directly from Sanction and are responsible for the organization’s entire operations in one country or large geographic area. They may live within that country or may oversee operations from the outside. Each master formulates his own plan, and the specifics of those are not even entirely known by the Supreme Justices themselves. Because of the wide range of discretion given to these individuals only the most devout and dedicated individuals are ever even considered for this role.
Beneath the masters are the overseers who are responsible for operations within a single city or similar geographic location in the targeted country. Because of the compartmentalized nature of the Shadow Crusade, the overseers know they are serving in a larger organization whose goal is to over throw the existing government of the country they are operating within, but beyond that much is left unsaid. Some may suspect that they are serving the church of Justicia directly, but just as often they are blind to the real masters behind the Crusade. All each of them know is that they are engaged in a fight against evil and wickedness and are serving behind enemy lines where they must use all of their resources and wits to succeed.
Below them are the individual Agents, who report to the overseer. Most often drawn from the population of the city where the overseer operates (but almost as frequently recruited from foreign nations where the Courts have a larger presence), these agents are tasked with infiltrating the structures of power across the city and building their own power base to be used to bring about the complete collapse of the government when the time is right. Again – what these agents know of the Shadow Crusade is very limited. They know who their overseer is, and that he might (or might not) have additional agents operating within the city. They know that they are seeking to infiltrate the power base of the city in an attempt to lessen the wickedness that surrounds it. Beyond that, they too are kept in the dark, for the most part. Some may know about a connection to Justicia (particularly if they were members of her clergy prior to being recruited), but most do not.
Below agents are the contacts and associates that the agents develop over time which allow them to further inject themselves into the power base of society. These contacts have no idea about the Shadow Crusade at all, and as often as not will be as wicked as the societies they are found in.
There are two rules of the Shadow Crusade that are sacrosanct. First – NEVER discuss the Shadow Crusade (and beyond the masters, none know the actual name of the organization). Second – members of the organization must obey ANY direct order given to them by a superior. Each member is given the widest possible latitude to perform their duties, and the only time a supervisor will issue a direct order for some action is when the success of the entire mission hinges upon it. Beyond these rules, agents are given complete latitude to perform their missions.
Using ANY means necessary.
From the Supreme Justices on down, each member of the Shadow Crusade is under no illusions that this will be neat and tidy. The very nature of the countries they seek to destroy dictates that wickedness will surround the Crusaders at every step along the way. In order to get agents in any position where they can affect change in these bastions of villainy, do-gooders in gleaming armor shouting “Halt evil doer!” at every turn will be useless. Agents are instructed to be merciful whenever possible, but never compromise the mission, regardless of what actions you must take. As long as each action an agent takes truly does advance the missions, Justicia will forgive their transgressions, and the Church absolves any involved from all sins committed while in the Shadow Crusade. They know that Justicia herself will one day judge those involved who commit wicked acts with wicked intentions.