Stallbourne Court of Mercy Organization in Totania | World Anvil
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Stallbourne Court of Mercy

The Stallbourne Court of Mercy was an ancient judicial body that assisted in governing the city of Stallbourne, which was at the time of their existence the largest city in the world. The Court of Mercy is most famous for evolving into the global organization known as the World Court  

Half of an Empire

In the city of Stallbourne, an empire had pieced itself together during the year -197. An Empire of Halflings, who had built an enormous city to rival the floating city of Zephys.   This empire was known as the Helft Empire, or Half Empire, a diminutive term used to describe it at first due to its rulers and subjects being half a man, but eventually the empire used it to describe their goal of conquering half of Elone.  
Korras Commonbrush by Jarhed
There were two branches of this government, with one subordinate to the other. In charge was the Empress of Elone, a title that was more hopeful than it was truthful. With it, the Helft Empire wished to manifest this reality into being.   She ruled over Stallbourne and the people, making all laws on a whim.   The rest was for the second governing body to deal with: the Stallbourne Court of Mercy, who interpreted the laws under the orders of the Empress. They made decisions while the Empress made the laws.   Initially, they were a body with little power, made up of twelve Halflings appointed personally by the Empress to do what she wanted. As time passed, however, they increased in power, with the Empress refusing to appoint them. They, in turn, began appointing new members themselves. The Empress didn't care, as long as they still did as she wanted.

Stallbourne

The Ringed City, Stallbourne was not always the place it became under the World Court. Once, it was the center of a sprawling empire of Halflings, where the Court of Mercy formed as a branch of the government that, eventually, usurped it as the sole ruling force.   Nearly every settlement the Halflings built, aside from Stallbourne itself, fell. The Dwarves, Draconians, and Goblins tore them down, leaving at most ruins or, at least, no trace of an empire at all.   All but Stallbourne, which at the time was a large city in an incredibly strategic location. Raids on Stallbourne were met with failure.   Despite its size, being at the time of the World Court's founding the largest city in the world, it was still called small because of its residents.   During the Age of Heroes, the Demi-God Myrine died while attempting to climb the central tower, the Marshal, and her fall created a crater around the tower that would become a lake, destroying a large chunk of the city with her demise.
However, without the Empress appointing them, the judges began to be less and less alligned ideologically with her. They realized they could interpret the laws however they wanted, and slowly but surely began stripping power from the Empress and granting it to themselves.   Soon, the Court of Mercy was not subordinate, but equal to the Empress. For a time, they were complacent with that position.  

Commonbrush Reforms

It was around that time that a new figure arrived in the Court of Mercy: Korras Commonbrush. Korras was a low-ranking judge with the court, as he was a recent addition, but he immediately began spreading new ideas to the court.   The major reform he suggested was to ditch being entirely composed of Halflings. If they wanted any legitimacy on the world stage, they should be a court for everyone.
"Stallbourne is the largest city in the world, housing more than just Halflings, and those that do not yet live here have a place to. If we can have voices from all over the world, we could truly be a global entity.   In that way, we could influence the world at large and, if the Empress so wishes, have more claim to the land. More than that, new perspectives means a more robust view of justice."
— Korras Commonbrush
The other judges agreed, some for the same reasons as Korras, but others because it suited one of their plans.   The Court of Mercy had seized property at the very center of Stallbourne, destroying everything that stood there so they could build a tower for themselves in the space. To fund this tower, which the Empress refused to pay for, they wanted outside funding. Besides, the Helft Empire had been spreading itself thin across Western Elone building new cities and waging wars.   The first ones to agree were the Secci Gnomes, closely followed by the Draconians. The Gnomes simply liked the idea and thought it could give them more influence, while the Draconians appreciated getting a say in this court, introducing their God of Justice, Phrixus, to the Court. The Court immediately took to Phrixus's ideals.   The Goblins and Emetians refused the offer, and the Court of Mercy simply accepted this, not believing it was worth bringing them in if they didn't want it. This was not the same with the Elves, who refused to help. The Court of Mercy, who initially wanted the Halflings to stay leading the court, agreed to have all judges hold a voice on the same level as the others, and the Elves agreed.  
Phrixus by Jarhed
Not long after the Elves agreed, the Dwarves jumped on the opportunity. They had been at war with the Helft Empire, but they saw that as a battle against the Empress, and figured joining the Court could undermine her power.   The Mammen were next, as they held a crucial port across the Strait of Ildial west of Stallbourne, and from that the Kamejin closely followed at the other end of Elone, as they controlled access to the sea to the east of Elone. With global reach now, the Court considered stopping, but Korras decided this was not an accurate picture of the world yet.   Then, the Southern Nereids that lived right in the sea outside of Stallbourne were invited.   Finally, the Court of Mercy invited four more species from Udai. First, it was the Korvians, who had great influence among the Beastmen. Then, reluctantly, they invited the Orcs. They knew the Orcs were crucial, but did not know if they were suited to a Court setting.   The Ophidians, then, came about because of the growing Ophidian nation that would soon expand into a monstrous rival on the opposite end of Elone. The Empress particularly warned against this, but the Court refused to listen to her at this point, adding the Ophidians.   The final species to join the Court of Mercy were the Lizardfolk. A struggling nation in Udai, the Court of Mercy hoped to help them stay afloat and gain their aid on their own continent of Elone.   The tower was fully funded, being built in the shape of scales and coming to be known as The Marshal. Now, with only one Halfling on the Court, others took up different positions. Korras Commonbrush took on the role of an enforcer for the Court, taking on the same title as the tower, being the first Marshal of the Court.   Alongside this, Korras reformed the way they did trials, making what were once public spectacles into private decisions that would be published in records later on. This made decisions less subject to public influence and more about the actual justice of the case.  

The Rulers of Stallbourne

The Commonbrush Reforms that Korras suggested did not come without concessions. He had to give in to the other judges ambition.   At the time, the Empress was busy in other cities with wars, and she was losing. The Court of Mercy decided that they were done being equal with the Empress, and seized power over Stallbourne while she wasn't there. All other public offices were vacated and replaced with those loyal to the Court, either former judges or foreign agents that had come after the Commonbrush Reforms.   They didn't bother concerning themselves with the rest of the Helft Empire, seceding with just Stallbourne and becoming the sole rulers of the largest city in the world, taking with it the strategic and geographical importance of the land.   The Empress attempted to leave behind her war with the Dwarves and Goblins to take her city back, but ultimately she was killed before returning to Stallbourne. Whether it was the Goblins, Dwarves, or even the Court of Mercy that did her in is unknown, but the Court officially released a statement saying:
"It was a mercy that someone put the Empress of Elone out of her misery before she realized the futility of her dream and before the crimes of her war could be prosecuted. An official state funeral will be held next week, but the Court of Mercy has no plans to take up the reigns on the remainder of the failing Helft Empire."
— The Court of Mercy
The other settlements were destroyed or taken over, and the Helft Empire collapsed, leaving only Stallbourne and its Court of Mercy.   The Court of Mercy did expand beyond Stallbourne, taking control over an island off the coast that had strange properties to it that granted immortality while on it, deciding to leave it barren until they could find something to do with it.  
Amukk by Jarhed

Name Origin

The name for the Stallbourne Court of Mercy came from two places, and later was given new meaning by an important figure. Of course, its first place of origin is the city of Stallbourne where they came from.   The second was part of their initial role. The Empress rarely expected radical rulings, generally handing off cases to the Court for them to grant merciful punishments to criminals. It was only as the court started getting more power that this mercy grew more and more twisted.   However, they began embracing mercy more when the Orcish warrior Amukk came onto the scene, a man who led an army of people from around the world, the United Holy Front, in what he called "The War of Mercy." While he did not ever go to Stallbourne as far as anyone was aware, he had taken on the mission of mercy when the Court didn't.   Due to his popularity, the Court of Mercy not only embraced their name, but sent a representative, Korras Commonbrush, to aid Amukk.   They kept the name for 15 years as they supported Amukk, even embracing his faith when he became a God. They officially followed the laws of two faiths: Phrixus, the Draconian God of Justice and Protection, and Amukk, now the Orcish God of Justice and Mercy.   All of this only to change their name not long after Amukk ascended to Heaven.  

The World Court

There is little explanation for how Humanity arrived on Totania, but in the year -10, they appeared in northern Elone.
Gellark Lionrage by Jarhed
  Whatever the case, the Court of Mercy refused to aid them in their struggles. When petitioned to relocate the Humans so they were not interfering with the Goblins and had a place of their own to settle, the Court of Mercy refused. When petitioned to send aid to help Humanity survive, the Court of Mercy refused.   They were only spurred to actions when Varth Dreamless began rampaging across Elone with divine power at his side, only being stalled by Gellark Lionrage. The Court of Mercy sent a joint force to stop Varth, but even they were unable to.   Gellark led Varth, an unstoppable killing machine, to Stallbourne so the Court would have to act, and eventually they did, imprisoning him on the island they had taken control of some few years prior, turning it into the World Cell.   Gellark spotted the flaws in the Court, telling them of how he believed they could be reformed, particularly adding a thirteenth member so they had no chance of being split 50/50 on decisions, to which he introduced a Human as the thirteenth judge.   These changes were aided by other prominent figures. Priests of Phrixus, including Archpriest of Protecton Velthen Saseth, helped ease these changes, and Korras Commonbrush was always there to suggest ideas and make the process smoother.   This thirteenth judge ended up taking power more often than not, being a figurehead that would lead deliberation and had the final say. One judge claimed, of this:
"Gellark has reinstated the Empire, and subjugated us all under Humanity's boot."
Judge Beta by Jarhed
  Gellark did become King of Humanity, but that did not extend to the Court of Mercy, now renamed to suit their global image, being called the World Court.   Amukk ascended to Heaven at this point, ushering in the year 0 and the Age of Heroes, as per the World Court's ruling.   At the same time, the Court began wearing new robes, all homogeneous black, yellow, and purple. More mysteriously, they began blindfolding themselves and wearing masks that shrouded their face. It is said that the few people that have ever seen the faces of the World Court were cursed and arrested for eternity.   This had not been the case when they were the Court of Mercy, as Korras Commonbrush demonstrated by being a public figure who often showed his face.   No one knows what the deal with the helmets or their faces are or why that coincided with Amukk's ascension to Heaven, Gellark's reforms, and their rebranding as the World Court.   All of it happened at once, with no clear explanation.  

Court of Mercy's Remnants

The Court of Mercy dissolved to become the World Court, but some parts of them still remain. They still are the sole rulers of Stallbourne, and they have all but outlawed the death penalty, saving it only for situations it is most needed for. Some death penalties still exist, such as the Warrior's Execution, where those who are particularly fond of battle are given warriors deaths by dying in a battle against the Judges.   More often than not, though, criminals are sent to the World Cell, with the most dangerous among them staying there for eternity unable to die due to the island's special properties.   Alongside this, they kept the faith of Amukk and his Justice, distorting it but remaining officially supported by his faith. Phrixus's justice, on the other hand, became a bit more shaky.   After all, it wasn't a God's justice the World Court followed. It was their own. It had been since Amukk became a God, since Gellark reformed their practices, since they began wearing those robes and masks, since they began to be called the World Court.


Cover image: by qimono

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