The Judges of Law and Merit

A woman stood calm and serene before the young mages. She was tall and toned, standing at 6 feet. Her armor seemed a work of art, painted in hues of gold and red with checkered standards draping from the waist in the same hues.
The colors weaved knotted patterns across the chest plate and the engraving of a griffin in flight on a red field adorned both pauldrons. The Griffin, a symbol of the Xiander tribe in Mhirriah, seemed to be the armors primary theme, as her helmet was shaped and molded with expert craftsmanship into the head of the majestic beast. Feathers had been embossed into the plate throughout the suit and her weapons were equally adorned with the symbols of her homeland. She held a halberd, planted vertically on the ground in front of her. The blade was made from Ozolithian Mold with its edge so fine it was hard to see despite its shimmering black color. The golden spike protruding from the handle reached for the sky. The handle itself was laid out with feathered patterns throughout its length. The long sword she kept sheathed at her side was of the finest steel with a golden hilt and handle with precious stones of ruby and onyx embedded within they added to the regal look of the warrior. The mages gazed at her. Some in awe, some with fear and one, their leader it seemed, with delight. They each dressed in fine red and yellow robes and well-crafted leather. The leader himself chose to embellish his robes with golden flames that rose about the flowing cloth that draped over him.
None spoke, in fact, it was silent for some time as the sentinel appraised them with fierce eyes that blazed behind her avian mask. When she spoke, the group flinch as if the words themselves carried a weight that could harm. Her voice was high but boomed with a muffled metallic sound. She spoke in pauses and chose her words carefully. Whether this was for dramatic effect or to allow her words to truly sink in was unknown to them but they felt as though they had poked the wrong sleeping giant.


Law and Merit

The Judges are a chosen few separated into two orders: The Judges of Law and The Judges of Merit. They are the judicial branch of The Estoyan Government. Their jobs are varied and never done. If the other branches of government are the gears that keep everything running, the judges are the oil that lubricates, the engineer that repairs, and if the need arises, the hangman at the gallows to dispose of the parts.
Judges are given complete authority when enforcing the law, acting as judge, jury, and executioner. They are paid more than even the wealthiest of nobles to prevent corruption and since their inception, the judges have had no cases of corruption even accused.


 

Responsibilities

 
The judges have a specific process in how they operate

Judges of law

A judge of law will travel the lands in their jurisdiction or be sent to a specific place to assist another judge. Once a case is opened they gather evidence, interrogate relevant people involved, and gather potential suspects. As the list dwindles to fewer and fewer people, the judge will apprehend what few remain. When the judge feels they have enough to convict they will analyze the three codes of law and hold a trial. Sometimes the trial never comes such as if attacked by the culprit or after a confession that supports the facts.

Trials can last minutes to weeks depending on the complexity of the case and the confidence the judge has in their findings. After the trial, a judgment is made and sentencing carried out.
by Sungryun Park

Judges of merit

A Judge of Merit will begin their study with a careful review over the Civil Ledgers involved in their current case. They gather information on the individual they are judging and once all information is gathered they compare their findings with the templates The Royal and house standards establish to determines what marks of merit they give, take, or change in the ledgers. As previously stated, Judges of Merit often perform the same responsibilities as a Judge of Law, and vice versa.

Judges of Merit are far more focused on ensuring the system continues to function as needed. Crime investigated by a Judge of Merit will often be centered around embezzlement, civil disputes and fraud.

   
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by Irene Bressel

A War On Two Fronts


The judges form two orders but whether a judge of law or a judge of merit, one's training and outfitting are the same.
Judges often switch orders and assist in various tasks that the other would perform. Each of the two has a specific set of responsibilities to Estoya.



Judges of Law

The Judges of Law are the head of all law enforcement in Estoya. They roam from place to place investigating cases of criminal activity, working with local guards and military personnel to solve these crimes. They deal with criminals in whatever way they see fit. They are zealous and known for their unyielding persistence and imposing presence.


Judges of Merit

The judges of merit are men and women of math and finance. These bankers and accountants are known for their cold logic. They are less zealous than judges of law but equally unyielding in their tasks of establishing merit and assisting the nation as advisors, brokers, and if the need is, bodyguards.
Almost every house has a judge of merit as an advisor who sits beside them in their estate for that very reason. Judges of merit are also the only people in Estoya who can grant marks of merit in every citizens civil ledger.
by ashkey

The Call To Arms

The process of joining either order is long. One must be in their mid to late twenties with marks of merit in warfare and combat. One must serve at least three years in the military as well and these requirements are just the minimum to be considered as a candidate.

To be a judge of merit additional merits in math and finance as well as an aptitude for writing and lore are required. Judges of law require an additional 2 years of military service along with a wide range of merits in combat with aptitude in several forms of weaponry. In addition, judges of law must be capable of memorizing the law completely and traditionally have the added task of keeping up with their three codes of law.

Regardless of the order joined, only those with a good reputation may do so, chosen and often sponsored by a current judge of the order you want to join. Upon joining, the order will commission a custom made a set of armor and any weapons desired by The Royal Standards themselves. These items are catered and fitted to the new member. Once the member is officially inducted, they are given a small estate, their armor and weapons, and the first tasks to perform.
The judges play many roles but they are transparent in their agenda. Keep everyone safe and keep the nation running. Keep everyone honest, and take care of anyone who would get in the way of their noble goal.  
 

Tools Of The Trade

 
Each judge has a personal estate. These estates are small but luxurious. They also have many social powers that they can employ to accomplish a task. They can enter any Estallian home without warning or authorization if they believe it will be their benefit. They can never be turned away if they need help and they can deputize anyone and pass those powers to them.    

Standard Issue

Each judge has a set of custom armor made for them and weapons as well. These items are made by the finest craftsmen, usually The royal standards of the crown. On top of this, Judges often receive Enchanted layering on the cloth and padding under the armor as well as the armor itself. These enchantments can enhance any who wear the armor and given that it is a custom fit, only the judge in question. Can actually do so properly. Enchantments include increased strength, speed, and perception, as well as resistance to damage or elements. The Armor is designed to make them a one-man army, and it does so to great effect. Its ornamental nature is also protected by enchantments to prevent the need to repair ornamental trappings on the armor.  

Ozolithian Axioms

The judges have a unique gift. Shared with them by the first Mhirrian judge, Ozolithian Axioms are phrases spoken in the traditional language Ozlith. These axioms have special meaning to the judge and allows them to enhance themselves further when belted out like a battle cry.      

Arcana Castigo

The judges also learn a unique form of magic. Judges learn how to neutralize the arcane with Arcana Castigo should they encounter mages on the wrong side of the law. They can outright strip the ability to use magic from a criminal.    

Ornaments

One of the many things that lend to the imposing or intimidating visage of a judge would be her ornaments. Ornaments are often aesthetic elements of their physical appearance. Their armor and weapons often feature decoration and sometimes they are much more than mere art. These ornaments are often enchanted and add to the power of the armor. Examples of ornaments depend on personal taste. Usually, the armor is adorned with animal or religious imagery. Feriah Tekinsa, the first judge ever to hail from another nation, chose to have her armor resemble a Griffin, the symbol of the Xiander tribe in The provinces of Mhirriah . The armor often gave her incredible strength and was resilient to fire. Some have even heard a griffin screeching as she chased them with alarming speed.  
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by Othon Nikolaidis
 

The Three Codes of Law

While the judges have many fancy tools at their disposal, its who is inside the armor that really counts the most. Traditionally, all judges, particularly judges of law, possess what they refer to as The Three Codes of Law.
These are effectively the way the judges interpret the law. They perceive that there are three forms of law. The code of faith, the code of creed, and the code of the crown. In summary, a judge encounters complicated cases often and must find ways to resolve the conflicts in their religion, personal ideology, and the law to be confident in their judgments.
When going out and enforcing the law, they must run their judgments by these three mental filters.

The law of the land

This code of law pertains to the law itself as laid out by the people and the nobility as well as the ruling monarch.


The law of creed

One's philosophy must not be compromised when dealing with criminals. Judges who cannot justify a sentence with their philosophical creed will often postpone sentencing until they find the source of the problem. Often times this means they missed important information or the circumstances of the crime are unique and may call for lighter sentencing if punishment is administered at all. An example would be if a thief who steals food to feed his family and survive, should he suffer the worst punishments related to thievery as dictated by the law? These moral dilemmas pop up from time to time and as such the judges maintain a careful vigil over their ethical natures.

The law of faith

Sometimes the law of the land or the judge's creed calls for punishment or pardoning of a criminal whereas the judge's personal faith does not. Judges are never expected to pass judgment that would injure their relationship with their gods. One will often see a judge carrying three journals or scrolls on their person at all times. Each is a text that pertains to these three codes.

The judges of law and merit have a difficult job. Since the founding of their orders, the judges found that balancing the law with their personal beliefs was exceedingly complicated especially in extreme cases. The early judges petitioned the king on these matters and were met with an exclusive addendum that gave them the ability to consider personal ideologies in conjunction with the law.

This addition was done in secret and for a long while, it stayed that way. It became standard for judges to keep journals and law books, sometimes on their person, at all times. They use these to explore all options for each case. Each judge will possess an up to date copy of the laws of Estoya, a personal journal of philosophical musings and debate, as well as a religious text if they are adherent to any faiths.These texts can be books attached to their person or scroll tubes filled with parchments with scribbling the judge keeps at their side.
   

"I am Feriah Tekinsa, a Judge of law." She gestured to the bridge behind her and the river that flowed under it and then took a few steps forward bring the halberd to her side with her right hand. The spiked tip pointed at them as if it too was accusing them.
"This stream marks the edge of my jurisdiction. Due to your criminal acts, I fear I cannot let you pass without trial and due judgment. Come with me quietly and it may help you in the end." The leader straightened his posture. They outnumbered her 5 to one but a judge is no easy foe, even when outnumbered.
He quickly digested the information he was given. A judge who hails from Mhirriah. She was a warrior beyond a doubt.
"Let us pass, please. No need for a fight today." He said,
"You and your circle killed seven people while in Yithwitch. You escaped. You then traveled east to Graysport where your rituals killed another four and leveled the building you had practiced in. You roused the ire of a devil of the Infernum in Erzhabell, leading to the death of a Mhirrian chief and the ambassador of House Dixit among others." Her voice went low, muffled behind her helmet.
"Surrender to me now. Any other course of action will be regarded as resistance."
"They sent you to us because you're from Mhirriah. You know that don't you? The laws against pyromancy , demonology, not to mention the chief. We didn't want any of this to happen. Don't let your bias cloud your judgment."
"No? " she laughed, "I have studied this spree of yours inside and out. Ignatius, your tamed devil, was..." she paused, searching for the right word. "Reluctant to reveal the truth but I am more than persuasive. He has been sent back to the inferno. I know more than you give me credit for. To clarify, i wasn't sent..." she cocked her head and her words seemed to spring forth in a growl.
"I volunteered." She saw a flicker of fear in the man's eyes. He was about to speak. what he intended to say she did not know, and she never will.


Cover image: by Wlop

Comments

Author's Notes

So no, judge dredd is not an inspiration lol i used paladins as the main inspiration along with dragon age templars and the Warhammer inquisitors mainly. The connection to judge dread came after the fact when I wrote the article back when i first started. Let me know of ways to improve and if you enjoy it.


Please Login in order to comment!
10 Jan, 2019 04:40

What mounts do the knights use? Horses, I assume, but there could be some variety as well. I love knights in general, but I like how you made this order more than just military.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
10 Jan, 2019 19:02

There isn't a standard of mounts used but probably horses lol thanks for the like and comment. :)

10 Jan, 2019 18:39

A good story to get the feel for the order.   It says that they can deputize someone as needed. What would cause them to deputize someone who could not meet the stringent requirements to become a judge in the first place?   Also, do they police themselves? Is there an Internal Affairs within their order? What happens if one goes rogue, or manages to fool another judge long enough to become one themselves, only then revealing their true nature? (The last is probably the most unlikely, but still possible)   Excellent article!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
10 Jan, 2019 19:09

Deputizing happens rarely and the one deputized will not be far from the judge who is responsible for them while they are. Deputizing is likely a wrong word for it lol voluntold is abetter, drafted. They are not judges but act an extension of the judge if that clears it up. The powers they have can be used but they would be careful not to abuse them or anger the judge.     Something i really need to clear up about them in the article is that just because they are bound by law doesn't make them good people. People do horrible things legally all the time. Most are but some are complete jerks. The three codes of law act as a personal method of policing oneself. They are conditioned in training to have them and traditionally keep them once inducted. That's a separate article I linked in the sidebar. If you're interested. The three codes of law are existe just for that purpose, to police themselves. Now no corruption has ever occurred and a judge is at liberty to break a law to uphold another more important one.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
10 Jan, 2019 19:09

Also thanks for like and comment. I appreciate it :)

10 Jan, 2019 20:52

Not a problem, glad to do it.   I read the attached article. Is importance assigned based on the order they appeared in the text? Laws of the Land, Personal Code, Tenets of Faith? Or is it up to each individual judge to determine which is more important at the time? If its up to them, is their journal the only record of their decision or do they report it somewhere to establish a precedent? If they report it or if their bias in one direction or another could be determined, could someone manipulate it so that a specific judge oversaw a case against a rival?   Sorry, it's in my nature to look for ways to manipulate the system lol

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
10 Jan, 2019 21:13

I welcome it, man. The judges are actually a solution i thought up when trying to manipulate the system of the nation's government. All judges keep them but only a judge of law or a judge of merit acting as a judge of law would use them. It's not about which law is more important but more about interpreting it. It's about resolving conflicts, do i punish a thief who steals for no other reason than to feed his kids? Do i commit theft to prove a murder? Do i save the child or the ten adults? I can't save both. These conflicts are best resolved before the case appears. I will add this cause you did inspire me with the question. The judges operate out of special safe houses when not on their estate. These state houses are called forums and they do compare notes and debate their views and interpretations of the law with each other. Judges are asked to refrain from bias so likely they wouldn't even accept a case on those grounds but it is possible. A judge however does have to prove their judgment was sound to any who reviews the case. This is usually a judge of merit as the two order act as a check and balance to each other. Cases are brought before a judge of merit to be reviewed. Judges can lose their title but there has to be proof and that proof is very hard to fabricate.

11 Jan, 2019 17:24

A pretty basic concept of a bunch of knights keeping law and order in check, but really the detail placed here for how their codes work is something else. At least they also know how to investigate the case instead of attacking, then asking questions.   The only thing that kinda bugs me is one of your headers saying "Law and Order", while the second form is called Merit. As for a question: Are they known to use any particular weapons? Swords, axes, crossbows, firearms?

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
11 Jan, 2019 17:37

I agree the way they are presented is bit basic. I considered adding those defining details like examples of how they operate with other branches of government but it was long enough lol as far as law an order goes, merit is used to establish order but ill likely change it to avoid the confusion.   A judge will use a multitude of weapons, and its a matter of preference for each judge. Polearms are remarkable popular though along with sword and shield. Ranged weapons are likely to be avoided as lost judges want to capture alive without risk of death due to bleeding or infection.

11 Jan, 2019 17:53

It's not bad to say, basic is always a good thing to have! If you can keep it simple, keep it simple!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
11 Jan, 2019 17:55

Oh no not at all. I understood. Lol it's hard to make an article stand on its own and not rely on too much outside articles. Basic is a good way to do it. :) i considered it a compliment. Lol thanks for the comment and all your kind words.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
11 Jan, 2019 18:11

Lol and the like :D

Sage Dejers
Dejers Garth
12 Jan, 2019 20:44

This is a really cool order of knights that gives a really solid basis for backstory and an understanding of how they operate and are structured. I am intrigued, this order seems to be rather powerful and based on geographic boundaries over anything else?   I would recommend drastically rewriting the huge quote that opens the article, there is a lot of unnecessary information that can be stripped while retaining the feel and ideas of the work. Such as the first ~3 paragraphs of pure description. It's just a bit overdone in my opinion.   Something I didn't see; was the deposition of these judges. How can they be removed? Can they resign? Can they be told to be stand down?   Thanks for sharing this neat article! :D

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
12 Jan, 2019 21:58

im glsf you liked you liked them. On the quote, i agree. its way to long but the descriptions are relevent to a degree as the armor worn by the judges are part of the order.. Ill rework it tho. i didnt like how it turned out. i was going to space it out and put the story throughout the article, or break it down into spoiler boxes and write the entire investigation as a short story. went against it due to time. either way i agree and will rework it soon.   then your question. thanks for pointing these things out as i missed it when i wrote it. they cannot be removed but they can resign if they wish. the order runs itself and while they likely do have a process for removing judges, the fact that none have had reason makes it kind of useless. as far as being told to stand down, no.unless its another judge who can demonstrate that they that should, nothing can really stop a judge from doing their job, except death....maybe...

19 Jan, 2019 06:52

Though there are a few grammatical mistakes, there are only a few, and the writing is fantastic! You catch the reader's attention by bringing the scene to vivid life. The concept behind these two groups is really cool too. Additionally, you've also selected a great assortment of corresponding artwork. Well done!

19 Jan, 2019 06:53

Did you do the art by the way?

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
19 Jan, 2019 07:10

Thanks for the like and follow and your comment as well. I did notice a couple here and there as well. i always miss somthin lol thanks for the kind words. The arwork is not mine and credited below the images. i assume you mean the cover which is at the very bottom. gotta find a better way to credit that. i hate the first thing you get to see is credited at the end. It took a long while to track some good images down and i might change a few in the future. again thanks so much!

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