Mythology: Paths to Divinity

Section 1: Gods and Goddesses

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Mythology

Table of Contents

Preface

Section I: Gods and Goddesses

Section III: Myths and Religions of other Peoples

 

Dicerius, Chief God of Justice and Death - Page 2 -


Precepts of their lives

“Pray that you don’t get a priest as a judge. All they’re after is feeding souls to their master!”

Anonymous convict, on the executioner’s stand,
Faithold, Arrufat Peninsula (ca. 3156 A.E.)

 

“’Are you faithful to the gods?’

“It often seems that is the first question a Dicerius priest asks as a judge. Some say that is his only concern in finding out whether the accused is guilty or innocent, yet this saying is most often heard in a prison cell. Do the clerics of the chief god then make good judges who follow both the law as well as the law of precedent?

“The Darawk Academy of Dauverre, Cayaboré, has been publishing annual studies on Dicerius judges for a little over a century now, on the behest of King Radnalph XVII (Radnalphian Examinations of Legal Cases Tried by Decirius Clerks, Vols. I – CIX). There is a solid foundation for their work since the Cayaborean legal system requires extensive documentation of each case brought before a court of law; indeed the amount of documentation has increased since the introduction of the Magical Session Recording System (MSRS). [Note by G.A.Q.: The author refers to the Dictate Blessing of Darawk priests. A sheet or a series of sheets of paper are blessed so that they will record every word spoken in clear letters. Advanced versions of the blessing allow the magic to include the speaker’s name. In Cayaboré, the blessing’s abilities have been taken to a new level: the sheets are mass-produced and used at every state function that requires reliable documentation. The MSRS needs only be primed by the official scribe – who names every person present to the sheet -, then it works autonomously. Cayaboré exports large quantities of MSRS sheets to other nations.]

“The Academy’s studies have concluded almost every year that less than two percent of cases tried by Dicerius judges have successfully continued to an appellant’s court. (In nine years, the percentage was between four and nine percent. All those years were during wartime, most notably the War of Armyron, from 3139 – 3144.) Sentences by state-appointed judges were overthrown at a rate of between five and fifteen percent (the latter maximum also reached in years of war). Therefore it would seem logical that Dicerius judges are better than their non-clerical colleagues.

“We have to remember, though, that there is also the fear of the gods to consider. As the Academy’s studies have also shown, there are a certain number of sentenced persons who feel treated injustly but do not appeal their judgment because a priest had presided. This unwillingness to question a sentence has indubitably been strengthened by the cleric’s question about the accused’s faith in the gods in the beginning.

“The inquiries were made anonymously, yet the Darawk priests underline that the questioners were still clerics themselves. To quote from their latest study, ‘Although names would not be made public in our reports, our interview partners were sure that the gods would learn about their doubts through the ears of the inquiring priests. Therefore we have to assume that a lot more people doubt the fairness of their trial than would seem from the number of registered appellation cases.’

“On the other hand there are the statements made by both defense lawyers and non-clerical judges. Since they are firmly placed within the system and view the Dicerius judges as colleagues rather than priests, they are less hesitant about offering criticism. From their statements the studies have arrived at a rate of four to five percent of real and potential appeal cases annually, numbers that closely match those of non-clerical judges.

“Therefore the conclusion drawn by the Darawk Academy is that Dicerius judges are as fallible – or as reliable – as their counterparts are, but the fact of their being priests removes the ordinary checks and balances of the Cayaborean legal system. Therefore the Academy has repeatedly argued that only non-clerical judges should be allowed to preside over trials, while Dicerius priests should be relegated to the positions of state or defense attorneys.

“Thus far, though, their demands have not been met, and it appears that the Cayaborean legal system still has a fault within its cogs.”

Ardiel Harv,
Hallowton, Cayaboré
(from the author’s article in “Monthly Gazette of Legal News”, Vol. XI No. 7, Glymarion 3159 A.E.)

 

“What do the village folks always cry when there’s a hard decision to be made? ‘Call a Decirius priest, he’ll solve the matter!’

“What do they say after the priest – or in my case, the priestess – has been there and stated her verdict? ‘That is no justice! Let’s call someone who isn’t on the leash of the gods!’

“I have spent the past five years as a roving judge on the Arrufat Peninsula, primarily in Havencoast. You’d think that as a local I would have known the stubborn souls that inherit this land, but time and time again I have been struck dumb by their reactions to my verdict. Why is it that these people cannot accept any other sentence than the one they want?

“Sure, those whose expectations are met by my verdict, they shout praise to Decirius, and should they be the ones who hired me, I actually get my money. But if it’s the other way around, they claim that the gods have turned away either from them or from me. That’s when they find out how tenacious I can be to get the money I’m owed.

“I’ve heard any kind of reactions – name one, I’ll tell you the date and the place. Can you fault me if I’ve come to expect cries of complaint, and that I act from the start as if they had been already uttered?

“Perhaps you can. My superior certainly thinks so, but he has never been a roving judge. No, he’s spent all his career in a comfortable courtroom in Faithold, deciding on matters as whether a building site should be allotted to a new Brithur temple or one devoted to Maidoyú. Sure, I know the priests in Faithold, they can be a pretty rowdy bunch. But did any of them ever scream that the gods are not with him or her? Hah! They are clerics, after all.

“Roving judge, that’s what my title is. I should be called a roving sacrificial goat, that’s more like it. People don’t care about justice, they care about serving their own needs, that’s all.

“I’ve had it with my stubborn compatriots. I’ll quit the roving service in a few weeks, and then I’ll see about what I’ll do. Maybe look for a nice little temple where I can bury the idiots. At least then they can’t complain anymore.

“Or I’ll go looking for some other place. Perhaps I can find some folks with more of a sense of justice – and faith – in their skulls than the local fools.”

Lockner Rym Amtaspo, Decirius priestess,
Currently Fowgelstadt, Arrufat Peninsula (3165 A.E.)

 

Clothing

“It is appropriate for the servant of Decirius to wear black, to represent the shroud our lord wears. Likewise the cleric should wear a simple robe, not adorned with anything but the emblems of his rank embroidered on his breast.

“In cold regions, it is recommended that warm underclothing is worn. Special dispensation may be granted to the clerics in these places, so that they may wear trousers and thick vests, both black, and preferably a black cape as well.

“In unusually warm regions, a white robe may be worn during ordinary proceedings. It must be exchanged with the customary black robe for official functions.”

(From “Commandments to the Clergy”, no publishing date)

 

“Blast these rules for clothing! Black robes! How can anybody be expected to ‘rove’ the countryside in impractical clothes like that? If you’re sitting on a horse, the damn robe will hitch up your legs ever so quickly, and the long sleeves get in the way of the reins all the time. And should you be walking, you’re liable to trip over your own hem every once in a while.

“Now that’s a graceful entrance for a judge, falling down facefirst. ‘All rise – especially the honored judge herself!’ It’s no miracle that those priests in Faithold (and wherever else) walk so slowly and majestically. They’re afraid of stumbling!

“Maybe that’s good and fine if you have a permanent residence in a town. You don’t have to journey that much, and you know which way to tread so your hem doesn’t get caught in a bush or on a nail in a doorway.

“Very nice, but it doesn’t do any good for me. So I’ve put the damn robe in my saddle bag, and I’ll put it on in case somebody official could see me. Not that I’m in a great hurry to do so. Should my superior from the days back in Faithold see me now, wearing breeches, a shirt – and a sword! -, well, I’d probably enjoy seeing him keel over in shock. As for the rest, it might make them wonder if they shouldn’t loosen their rigid code of clothing.

“I don’t really care. I serve my god, and I think I do so pretty well. Actually I’ve done a lot better since I’ve ditched the robe. One less reason to be angry about. I’ve become a lot more patient with the local fools – who admittedly are a bit more godsfearing than my Arrufatian compatriots.

“So. There you have it. The robe’s gone, the judge is still in office. I don’t need a robe to level a sentence!”

Lockner Rym Amtaspo, Decirius priestess,
Currently Garrutwold City, Topay Coalition (3167 A.E.)

 

Temples

Note by G.A.Q.: Unfortunately I have not been able to find a text that best describes the Dicerian temples. Although architects clearly take pride in having built a temple to their chief god, none of them have devoted their articles exclusively to the construction itself, but rather have worked snippets of descriptions into long discussions of how faithful they are to Dicerius, and how worthy of worship he is. It would be a tiresome affair stringing the various excerpts together, so I will try to cull the best of my information for the following explanations.

 

There are three major types of Dicerius temples. The first is dedicated to the caring for the dead, which I hereafter call the funeral temple; the second deals only with matters of justice and the law, aptly called the court temple; the third and final is commonly found in rural areas where both previous functions are combined into the dual temple.

One can also find other varieties, such as the small shrines where the chief god can be worshipped, but rarely are any of the other functions served here. The shrines are small houses, holding at best two rooms: the place of worship, with Dicerius’ black shroud at the back, and sometimes a small cell with a bed. A single priest services several of these shrines, journeying to them in a fixed succession from his main temple, to deal with the pleas of the populace, and possibly to arrange for conveying a deceased to the temple. As one can imagine, this practice occurs in thinly populated areas where a village alone cannot support a full temple. (The practice of “roving judges” seems to have developed from this, but in modern times the roving judges are no longer bound to specific shrines or a set route.) Temples connected to a series of shrines are always of the dual variety, since both tasks have to be accomplished by a single priest (or a small group of clerics.)

 

One unifying element of all the temples is that they are not the living quarters of the priests but only of the god himself. (There are a number of statements, especially by clerics serving the other deities, about this. The most edifying, though, is one made by the roving Dicerius judge Lochner Rym Amtaspo, “They’ve just gotta set themselves apart from the rest of the clerics. Can’t be like the rest, right? We serve the lord of the gods, so we’re better. But look at Faithold, and there are places where the living adjunct is bigger than the temple itself. So, who’s the better here? The god, or the clerics?”)

The cleric’s quarters are built next to the temple itself, never less than five feet apart from the temple wall. In some cases, the so-called parish house is connected by a tunnel, leading to the Holy Entrance in the temple. There are no rules for how the secondary building is constructed, or what it should contain. Indeed the refreshingly direct Lochner is right in her comments. Occasionally a parish house will outgrow the temple itself, with a priest’s family growing and demanding more and more space, while the temple remains as it has been for the last decades or centuries.

Priests who replace their predecessors often have to fight long legal battles with the family so that the new cleric can move into the parish house. After all, it has now become the family’s home. (For that reason, there is also a dynasty of priests in some areas. The father demands that his eldest also join the Dicerian order, so that the house can remain in the family’s possession.) Sometimes, after the legal battle has been decided, the new cleric will have the parish house torn down and replaced by a “more suitable” smaller building (which may have been expanded to its old size by the time this priest has finished his tenure).

The parish house always contains at least one office, where the priest will receive visitors and take care of his daily business, such as sifting through documents of law for a new case, or to write the sermon for a funeral. In larger temples, commonly in cities, the office space often becomes the primary function of the building, since the high priests of these temples have to direct their subordinates in other places, such as rural temples, or the roving judges. There are large libraries in these city temples, treasuries, map rooms, as well as debating chambers for legal topics.

 

But let us return to the design of the temple itself. Since it is the abode of the god himself, there is no need for any rooms aside from that devoted to the worship of Dicerius himself. (There is an exception in the case of court temples: a small room is added to the back where an accused will be held before and after the trial; it is connected to the main room by the Convict’s Entrance.)

The base outline is rectangular, keeping to a measure of nineteen to eight. Nineteen is the number of gods of the first two generations, eight the number of the prime gods (strangely excluding one of the first generation, the Dicerian order has not decided whether Shenaumac or Olmawi is the one not counted). This ratio never varies since it is considered a holy edict, as are several other measures in the building.

The height of the temple is set according to its length, the main roof being seven nineteenths as high as the temple is long. (Seven is the number of life-giving primal gods.) A dome rises from the end where the altar stands, coming to a height of nine parts of the length of the temple. (Nine is the number of all primal gods. Therefore the height here is the same as the width of the temple.) The dome merges with the main roof, while its outer side curves gently down to the ground. It is topped by polished metal that will gleam brightly at noon.

Inside, ten parts of the length are given to the benches of worshippers, which are secluded from the remainder by a bannister. (Ten is the number of the secondary gods.) Thus, nine parts remain, of which one part is devoted to the altar of Dicerius. The other eight parts depend on which of the major types of temples this is.

So, let us first consider the altar. It is placed on a dais which measures five seventh of the width of the room. To its right, there is the Holy Entrance, to its left, the Convicts’ Entrance. (In funeral temples, this door is only painted in, as a reminder of the legal aspects of Dicerius.) The altar itself is a table measuring five seventh of the width of the dais. Customarily it only holds a bell, otherwise its top is equipped as the priest sees fit. (In the case of court temples, that would be documents and books of law.) Behind the altar, on the curved dome wall, a black shroud is hung as the symbol of Dicerius. In some cases, such as Cayaboré, the nation’s flag also adorns that wall.

 

In court temples the space not yet described is devoted to trials.

The witness stand is centered before the altar’s dais, while a measure of one fifth of the temple’s length separates it from the stand of the accused. Both stands look the same, a square box made of wooden rods with no chair. The idea here seems to be that the witness and the accused must look each other in the eyes, which of course happens rarely.

To the right of the altar, the table of the prosecuting attorney is placed. On the opposite side, the defense attorney’s table is located. Unusual enough, there are no precise measurements for either size or placement of these tables. They differ widely, apparently according to the needs of the various lawyers.

Additional tables are next to the witness stand, aligned with the dais. On the prosecuting side are displayed the pieces of evidence against the accused, on the defense’s side those that are supposed to prove his innocence.

 

Funeral temples have a similar layout to the court temples.

Here the stand of the accused is replaced by the bier of the deceased. In lieu of the witness stand are seats reserved for the children as well as the husband or wife. Replacing the prosecution table are seats for the paternal family, while the maternal family finds seats on the opposing side reserved for them.

The court temple’s evidence tables are present here as well, but they are moved next to the bier. To the right, there are signs of mourning, gifts given to the bereaved family as tokens of sympathy and to help them through the next weeks. To the left there are gifts which shall be buried with the deceased.

It is important to note here that the funeral temple is not only for the funeral itself, but also to hold remembrance mass for an ancestor.

 

Finally, the dual temples serve both primary functions. Therefore they can assume both configurations, and the elements – such as tables, stands, biers, seats – can be easily moved or replaced. That is commonly not the case in single purpose temples.

 

Blessings and Curses

The Blessing of the Summoning

“If the portents of doom are visible in a soul, and if the soul’s faith in our lord is strong, then allow it to journey onwards to the Divine Realm for its final judgment. Send your calling to the Messenger of Death, that he may relieve the soul of its pain.”

(From “Commandments to the Clergy”, no publishing date)

 

I find this a troubling blessing. On the one hand, I very well understand the desire to lessen a person’s agony. Then again, I have seen so many miracles performed in my lifetime – when priests of healing have managed to cure somebody of what I had thought were mortal wounds, or a fatal disease. It seems that a Dicerius priest would take away a chance at living with this.

From personal experience I cannot say how frequently this blessing is applied. I would hope it is a very rare occurrence.

 

Blessing of Truth

“Let the truth be spoken, with no words held back!”

(From “Commandments to the Clergy”, no publishing date)

 

As so much about Dicerius, this blessing is also a two-edged sword. It is an ordinary part of courtroom practice, where it is clearly welcome. A person thus blessed cannot dissemble and must perforce speak the absolute truth. Unfortunately this can also lead to the person speaking on more than just the trial’s topic, and then very unpleasant truths are spoken. The reader surely can imagine that these are words which the speaker would have rather held back.

That doesn’t always happen, though. It seems to depend on the cleric’s skill in this blessing, as well as the subject himself or herself. If the latter bears many secrets which are a burden on the soul, then the cleric needs a lot of experience to keep the subject on the topic at hand.

Moreover, there is the duration of the blessing. Some priests can time it precisely to the duration of the trial, but occasionally the blessing will still affect the subject after leaving the witness stand. Then the truth must still be spoken, with the results easy to imagine.

 

Blessing of the Cold Heart

“Lest emotions cloud the judge’s mind, cleanse your heart of all passion. Make it as the stone, that only the facts may be put on the scales and weighed according to their truthful relevance.”

(From “Commandments to the Clergy”, no publishing date)

 

This is one of the few blessings that are commonly cast on the priest himself, although they can also be applied to other people. Their effect is most curious, for it indeed removes all emotion from the subject for a certain amount of time. The face hardens, resembling a statue, and the eyes seem devoid of life (though not dead, a common misperception made by people who have not seen truly dead eyes).

For the duration of the blessing there won’t be a smile, or a frown, or any other reaction that we associate with living persons. Questions and statements are made in a coldly dispassionate voice, without any subliminal emotions. It is a frightening affair to witness this, how a person seems to take a leave from humanity.

I would also like to note that true dispassion is very different from an un-blessed person trying to push emotions aside. In that case, you can sense the emotions underneath the layer of functionality. You can feel that this is a human being, not, say, a statue come to life.

 

Curse of Silence (directed/blanket)

“If a listener shall disrespect the court, stay his ambling mouth with a curse that he fall silent for the time you desire.”

(From “Commandments to the Clergy”, no publishing date)

 

Although the priest casting this curse may consider it a blessing, I can assure you from personal experience that it is indeed a curse. Your mouth seems to dry up, like the hoarseness of a cold, and however you try, you can only croak unintelligible sounds, at a very low volume. The sensation fades over time, and your voice will return to its normal resonance after that time.

I should also note that Dicerius priests do not feel bound to use this curse only in a courtroom. They apply it rather freely, whenever they think they aren’t paid proper respect. (In particular, the Roman priests of Jupiter also have access to this blessing, and it was one of those who, quite literally, dumbstruck me for a few hours.)

That is the directed form which can be cast by a low level cleric as well, though the duration is limited by his magical strength. Yet there is also a “blanket” version which can affect a group, such as a rowdy courtroom. This second curse requires a great deal more effort and experience, wherefore it is limited to the higher-ranked clerics, for which I am quite thankful.

A cleric of Jupiter served in the Senate during my own tenure there, and I believe that my colleagues would have slain him on the spot, had he tried to silence all of us. (When he tried the curse on one of my fellows, he soon learned that his efforts went for nought. The remaining senators shouted him off the speaker’s dais, although the priest still had half a clepsydra’s – or waterclock’s – time left to speak. Aquam perdere, that’s what he always did anyway, waste our time.)