Ubulun - Justice Rightly Served Tradition / Ritual in Araea | World Anvil

Ubulun - Justice Rightly Served

Death is no excuse.
  In Tshoggan, justice does not end because of such a trifling matter as death. Ubulun is the city-state's tradition of imprisoning the dead until their sentence has been rightly served, no matter if it takes years - or decades. Such corpse-sentencing is called Ubulun, and only once it has been executed fully can the spirits of the dead know peace.      

Imprisoned Dead

Whatever punishment you face on the other side will have to wait.  
— Amare Xu, Tshoggan Magistrate
  In the Tshoggan legal system, Ubulun is a sentence that continues after the sentenced has died. Most are criminals who perish during their imprisonment and are damned to be trapped within their rotting flesh until they have served their time. Corpses are shackled and chained, then condemned to rot in a cell.  
Depending on their crime, some corpses are left until they've rotted away into skeletons. Others, with less serious offenses, serve only a perfunctory time within a cell or a gibbet before they are released.   The worst - traitors, butchers, kinslayers, and more - are never spared. Such dead are mummified and imprisoned within Tshoggan forever, their spirits trapped within their bodies for eternity.
  These 'Eternals' are carefully preserved so that their sentence does not end before it is time. If a body is destroyed or rot away due to poor mummification, Tshoggan employs artisans to create a fake body of hattick and Chitin to carry the skull and continue its punishment.   In times of unrest, the Magistrates of Tshoggan hang the corpses of the condemned in gibbets around the city as a stark reminder that death offers no sanctuary from their authority.      

Court of Corpses

A crime does not cease to be just because the criminal has died.  
— Amare Xu, Tshoggan Magistrate
  Even the dead aren't safe from retribution. Should a crime be discovered after the criminal has already died, or should they die before sentenced, Tshoggan has special courts that handle the persecution of corpses. They consist mainly of spiritual and religious figures such as Wu and shamans mixed with lawyers. The corpse is dressed as a prisoner and hauled into court, usually with a young child or apprentice bureaucrat sitting right behind it and serving as it's "voice". Most such cases end in a verdict of guilty and a sentence of imprisonment or hard labor. The latter is reserved for those dead with someone to carry it out for them, usually family or even hired hands.  
Such helpers fill a small, specialized niche in the Tshoggan legal system. Usually paid by either a Magistrate or the family of the dead, they perform whatever labors the corpse is sentenced to, so it may find rest afterward. Many do their tasks with the corpse strapped to their backs, so they may witness the work.
  The dead can be accused and sentenced years, even decades, after their deaths, so long as there is a body to imprison. Such courts are often open to the public and become almost a performance with a clear message - even the dead must answer for their crimes.      


What's the life of one in the great span of eternity?  
— Amare Xu, Tshoggan Magistrate
  It isn't clear exactly when the Tshoggan culture began to practice Ubulun, but like many traditions in the city-state, it is likely borrowed from the Xuat, the first humans of the region. The natives of the Khasanganay region have a rich and vibrant culture that has meshed with the trickle of outside influences since the founding of Tshoggan. As old and new mingled, some traditions were kept almost wholly intact - such as the Cull - while others emerged as something unique.  
The Xuat do not practice anything like the Ubulun, placing much less emphasis on what happens to the flesh once the spirit has left it. Whatever revenge they can take on the dead is nothing compared to what already awaits them, according to Xuat legend. Instead, death becomes a time of forgiving or celebration, depending on the life of the deceased.   The death of criminals skews towards the latter, with the intensity of the celebration echoing the severity of their crimes.
  The conquerers of Tshoggan carried the tradition of Shikei with them from their old homes. It combined with these cathartic celebrations of the unworthy dead and the city-state's emerging bureaucracy to become Ubulun - justice rightly served.
Tshoggan   Ubulun is a practice unique to Tshoggan, the city-state among the fetid pools of the Khasanganay region. A city built on old atrocities exchanged between warring people, many of its traditions and rites are amalgamations between conquered and conquerers. Ubulun is no exception, once practiced by the natives of Khasanganay.   Read More About Tshoggan


When the founders of Tshoggan came to Khasanganay, they took the tradition of Shikei with them - the preservation of the skull of the dead to honor or condemn them. Shikei artisan-priests still practice within Tshoggan, maintaining shrines of many skulls and performing their craft on the deceased. Much of their traditional influence has been lost to the Wu, and a quiet struggle continued within Tshoggan that may see the Shikei completely consumed by their political opponents.  
Tradition / Ritual | Nov 4, 2019

The tradition of treating the dead in Araea, both friend and foe.


Imprisonment & Industry

When not even death is an obstacle to what is reasonable, sentences grow longer and longer. Criminals are often press-ganged to serve as labor for whatever project the city-state or Magistrate requires them for. In theory, such work should reduce their sentence according to a complex formula shrouded in legalese. In practice, such leniency depends greatly on what Magistrate the prisoners belong to.    

The First

Also known as the arch-traitor, the First was a Warlord who tried to conquer Tshoggan to rule as a king. After a brutal civil war that only ended when an unexpected migration of nomadic monsters invaded the city, the arch-traitor was dead and needed to be punished. Though there's some dispute about the title of the first to suffer the Ubulun, the mummified corpse of the arch-traitor is still kept in a cell within the city.  
On occasion, the mummified body is dragged out of its cell and paraded around the city in a gibbet-cage. It is customary to invent new insulting songs about the arch-traitor to sing as the gibbet passes.

Cover image: by Richard Dorran


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Dec 29, 2020 09:59 by Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)

What a unique, special, yet horrifying tradition! I would say this can only happen in Araea, but I would not be surprised if somewhere in our past there was a culture with a similar practice. It would be amazing if one day you could pour all of this in one big book dedicated to this world. With artwork specifically made for it.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Feb 13, 2021 16:24

Thank you <3 :D   The end goal would definitely be that book. It will be awesome!

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 29, 2020 12:31 by Chris L

A really cool take on crime and punishment. Really enjoyed it!

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Jan 1, 2021 11:41

Thank you! :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 29, 2020 15:21

The part about "their spirit is trapped": Is this a religious belief, or is it some sort of clerical magic?

Jan 1, 2021 11:41

It's superstition. :)

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 29, 2020 16:39 by Sloqush

That is a very cool and interesting tradition, great work Q I really enjoyed that one ^_^   Also, the Magistrate would probably feel right at home in your Necro-Industrial Complex :D

Author of Cenorad ; a bleak-dark sandbox of creativity.
Feb 13, 2021 17:18

Thank you ^-^

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 29, 2020 19:03 by Maybe Stewart

Utterly fascinating and fantastically morbid. I love it! I do also wonder if the idea that the spirit is trapped is a religious belief, or a cruel reality.

Feb 13, 2021 17:18

Thank you <3   And it is a religious belief, but leaving it ambigious I feel is best because then people can feel really spooked! :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 29, 2020 20:29 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

This is a really unique tradition, Q! I found the image of a small child puppeting the corpse in court rather horrifying, hahah. And people doing hard labour with corpses strapped to their backs. Yikes. I love your mind.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Feb 13, 2021 16:33

Thank you very much <3 My mind can be a strange place but sometimes it works out for us all

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 29, 2020 22:36 by Ademal

That's wicked cool and wicked scary! I like it!

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Jan 1, 2021 11:47

Thank you!

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 30, 2020 15:09 by TC

Jeez that was interesting to read, I loved the use of mummification as a process meant to punish, its like the complete opposite of its original purpose in egypt which makes it really fascinating. This was awesome!!

Creator of Arda Almayed
Jan 1, 2021 11:42

Flip it and reverse it! :D   Thank you <3

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jan 1, 2021 09:55 by Bart Weergang

Wow what an extraordinary idea. And very well executed too.

Jan 1, 2021 11:41

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jan 3, 2021 02:48 by Grace Gittel Lewis

This is a fantastically horrible punishment, love the detail thrown in on labor, mummification, and the opposite tradition!

Feb 13, 2021 16:32

Thank you :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Mar 13, 2022 22:22 by Secere Laetes

Hm, this region is really merciless. In my world I would say that this is what happens when the God of mercy dies and no one takes care of the aspect, but this way it is really interesting to see what kind of blossoms justice can produce. I really like it, also the reason that led to this punishment. And after all, they are upholding what they consider to be a just measure, as laid down by law. Thank you very much for this inspiration and the beautiful idea behind it, which has been taken further.

Mar 14, 2022 13:04

Thanks for reading! :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
May 13, 2022 22:44 by JRR Jara

Crime and death as a show and a warning for the living! great article

Creator of Hanzelot and many more.
Jun 22, 2022 06:16

Thank you :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.