In the days when the Teberian Empire reigned over the entire Continent, the name of Dalraaen was rarely known. A minor urban deity, Dalraaen was worshipped in a few scattered shrines and but a single temple, a wooden fane on the outskirts of Teber. A single priest maintained the temple and kept the votive candle lit. There were never worshippers: in the wide pantheon of Teberian gods, Dalraaen was all but forgotten. One evening, as the priest - whose name is lost to history - kept the fane’s hearth, he was struck with a vision: from the flickering flames of the pyre appeared two figures. Both were garbed brillantly with flowing robes and tasseled belts. They were androgenous and seemed to eminante a holiness and righteousness the priest had never before experienced or imagined. With a single gentle yet terrible voice, they spake thus:
Hear, O Servant of the Just One! Hear and stand ye before him, the Celestial Judge! Hear and write: "Thus speaks the Great Lawgiver, before whom the world shall be tried, the one that is just and righteous beyond all - I am the Law. I am Dalraaen."
This priest obeyed and, by the Archangels’ dictation, wrote the Didache of Law, the Order’s holy text. After three weeks of endless scripting, the Archangels immidiately ordered the priest to go and spread the Didache across the land as the true Law, ending obedience to any inferior mortal laws or rulers and rightfully granting Dalraaen his true place as the Celestial Judge. The priest did as was commanded and assumed a pseudonym - the Prophet - to disguise himself from inquiring Teberian authorities. The Dalraaenite religion remained small and obscure for some time until the Teberian Empire collapsed. As factions and tribes scrambled to reclaim the lawless lands, the Dalraaenites set to bring order and created a series of affiliated provinces called the Judicial States. These remain as the bastion of order and faith for the Dalraaenites today.
Beliefs & Teachings
While the early Order of Dalraaen honored the other gods of the Teberian pantheon, worship of the Celestial Judge became more focused as the Empire declined. By the founding of the Judicial States, Dalraaen was worshipped as the only true god, and he was officially claimed the sole deity shortly thereafter in the Edict of Justice. Theology gradually progressed and Dalraaen came to be seen as a sort of creator god:
"Before the Falling of the Gavel, the universe was chaos. All things were not, and no-things were, the stars knew not their places, nor the sun its time for rising and setting. The crops grew and withered as they pleased without heeding season or month, and the snows fell in defiance of the wandering sun. For countless time, thus was the world.
And then appeared Dalraaen.
The Celestial Judge, seeing these things in lawlessness and chaos, set to right the world. The All-knowing Lawgiver ordered the stars into their sockets, the sun to its path; the crops he set to their seasons, and the snows he affixed to winter. All things he placed according to the Law, which is his Divine Will, and all was well. With new order in place, Man arose to govern and be governed, to rule and be ruled, to judge and be judged all according to the Sacred and Eternal Law."
-The Didache of Law
According to the teachings of the Order, Dalraaen rules as judge over all the universe. All beings - men, creatures, spirits - come before him at death in the Celestial Court, the heavenly throne of Dalraaen from which he weighs, judges, and rules the universe. A soul will kneel in homage and obedience before the great ivory throne of Dalraaen and, with the thundrous sound of the Elysian Gavel, the trial begins. The prosecution always speaks first, with the Archangel Saint Ajor leading the litigation. The evidence: an account of the soul’s every unlawful, dishonorable, and unrighteous act. Ajor speaks with firey conviction and cold malice, and the defending soul weeps and cowers at its own hateful sins. As Saint Ajor completes the convicting evidence, the soul’s defender rises: Archangel Saint Sephor. Clad in the pure white garments of a Judicator, Sephor eloquently defends the client by making note of every kindness, justice, and benelovence the soul has made, great or small. It is said the soul comes into ecstacy at the wonder of its own capabilities under Dalraaen’s just Laws. At the close of the trial, the Celestial Judge makes his decision. There is no plea bargaining here: the soul will be found either guilty or innocent, wicked or just. The righteous souls are granted entrance into the Heavens where they spend eternity in bliss proclaiming the great justice of Dalraaen. The poor souls who are convicted of their crimes, however, collapse under the immense weight of their sins: as Dalraaen’s gavel falls, the soul shatters and is obliterated. A seemingly harsh justice, but justice indeed from the very mouth of the All-Knowing Lawgiver.
The Order often uses distinct iconography always representing one of three beings: Dalraaen, Saint Ajor, and Saint Sephor.
The Lawgiver himself is rarely portrayed literally. Standard theology dictates that the sheer magnamity of Dalraaen’s presence is impossible to even fathom, let alone fashion into recognizable form. Thus, Dalraaen is often portrayed metaphorically or symbolically. The most common representation of Dalraaen is the gavel, reminding observers of his prime role as Celestial Judge. Many practitioners wear a small gavel amulet on their person for this purpose, and it is often found on the steeples of courts across the Judicial States. Nearly as common is the Del Aleph, a combination of the first two letters of Dalraaen’s name in the Ancient Teberian alphabet. This symbol tends to be used more by the priesthood and finds its way into many signets and seals. Most rare are the scales, used to again show Dalraaen’s status as Judge of the Universe. Scholars and theologians tend to frown on this image, however, as it implies Dalraaen is a mere machine used to measure good and evil rather than the author of Divine and Eternal Law.
The two archangels of the Order’s faith are the most commonly portrayed figures in iconography. Depending on circumstance, St. Ajor is usually portrayed in one of two forms. The first is as one of the mouthpieces of Dalraaen, the heralds who proclaimed the Didache to the Prophet. Here Ajor is seen in pure white robes with a golden diadem, the scroll of the Law in hand; the saint in this image is notably androgenous. This is commonly used by priest-judges and everyday shrines as a reminder of the heavenly origins of law. The other instance of Archangel Ajor is more militant. When used by paladins, soldiers, or peasants during wartime, Ajor has abandoned the robes of an Arbiter for the gear of a soldier. Distinctly male in contrast to the ambiguous herald, St. Ajor appears as a divine soldier, covered head to toe in gleaming armor save a large pair of feathered wings and halo. Always seen armed, he usually carries the two-edged sword of conviction, though occasionally bears Dalraaen’s own gavel as a maul. He is the personification of just vengence and the patron of prosecutors.
Like Ajor, the Archangel Sephor is often portrayed in one of two ways. The first is as herald of Dalraaen, looking nearly identical to St. Ajor bearing the Didache but with a different shaped circlet. Often, however, St. Sephor is shown as a woman wearing the garb of a healer. Here she bears a large shield embossed with the seal of the Order, a defense for all the faithful against injustice and evil. At her hip is a medicine bag, used to heal all those who are wounded by unrighteousness. Many look to Saint Sephor as a protective spirit and healer of ailments, making her popular with physicians and town guards. As defender in the Celestial Court, she is the embodiment of mercy and patron of defense Arbiters.
For the Dalraaenites, law itself is a sacrament. It follows logically, then, that their liturgy and worship derives from legal affairs. A Dalraaenite temple is known as a court, a priest-judge presiding as pastor of each one. When Dalraaenites must settle conflicts - which happens with some frequency, as faithful follow a complex and sometimes apparently contradictory code of law - they come to the court and plead their case before a judge. Usually the both parties arrange for court to be held prior to a formal accusation, though priest-judges have been known to be waken in the middle of the night by parishoners who insist their case be heard immidiately. Once a formal complaint has been lodged with the priest, the Liturgy of the Trial begins. Unlike an ordinary secular trial, a liturgical trial in the Order of Dalraaen is laced with prayers and hymns. The priest serving as judge always begins with the same prayer:
O Great Lawgiver and Celestial Judge, hear now your faithful who come before you to plea! These two parties have chosen to settle their conflict in a most divine and holy way: by your Blessed Judiciary. Grant that they and all present may find your divinity in this trial, your justice in its settlement, and your mercy in its execution. May your Archangels Ajor and Sephor guide both the prosecution and defense, ever seeking the truth by your will, the Law.
And with a fall of the priestly gavel, the trial begins. As several priests are assigned to most courts, the highest-ranking priest present always serves as judge. Lower-ranking priests usually serve as barristers for the two parties, and initiates are summoned as clerks, baliffs, and other minor duties. The liturgy proceedes as one might expect a normal trial to: the prosecution makes its case, the defense theirs; witnesses are called, questioned, and cross-examined; final statesments are presented by both sides. Strewn throughout on both sides are prayers and hymns to Dalraaen, Ajor, and Sephor, reminding all present that this is indeed a sacred rite. After the final statements are made, the presiding judge retreats to the court’s inner chambers and prays for guidance and discernment from Dalraaen, the True Judge. After his recess, the priest-judge returns to announce his verdict and consults the Didache and any other relevent laws for the sentence. If a party disagrees with the judge’s ruling, an appeal can be made to a higher court, such as those on the ward or district levels.
OUtside of the Liturgy of the Trial, Dalraaenites make daily prayers to Dalraaen. Each court has an atrium with votive candles and places for oblate donations which are generally given to the poor. Those who can afford it often have their own private shrines to Dalraaen in their homes. Many courts have smaller shrines dedicated to the Archangels, though no court or shrine is exclusive to them. Aside from the Didache, a number of popular hymnals and prayer books circulate the Judicial States; The Office of Blessed Tymion, named after and partially based on a famous Magistrate, was particularly popular during the Sectarian Wars.
The priesthood of the Order of Dalraaen is, like much of the faith, structured and orderly. A priest’s primary purpose is to serve as a guide to the Law, through which the faithful can find truth and fullness with the Lawgiver. Theologically, only those who feel the sacred call and duty to the priesthood ought to - indeed, must join. Practically, those that wish to become lawyers of any prominence will join in order to advance their career. Adults of either gender are welcome to the priesthood, though about three-quarters are male. As outlined in the Didache of Law, there are six distinct ranks of the priesthood:
- Counselar - An initiate priest. They are apprenticed to Advocates or Arbiters, and serve as clerks of the court: consulting law books, making subpoenas,
- Advocate - A low-ranking priest, they have at least six months of training as a Counselar under their belt. They may serve as attorneys at trials.
- Arbiter - The highest ranking priest in most courts. They normally serve as judges, but may serve as barristers in higher courts.
- Warden - Considered the lowest ranked priest in an "second tier" of the priesthood. Wardens serve as guardians of justice, going from court to court in their ward to ensure that trials are held fairly. Many also serve in the Order of the Gavel, a paladinic sect that soldiers in times of war.
- Magistrate - A high ranking priest who serve their district. Cases appealed from trials judged by Arbiters come to Magistrates. They serve as governor of their districts and are responsible for the well being of their constituents. They also have the power to ordain priests.
- Judicator - The highest ranking priest of the Order. There are no more than nine Judicators at any time. They serve together in the Sacred Judiciary, the highest court of the Order. Appealed district cases are brought before the Sacred Judiciary. Judicators also are the political authority of the Order, overseeing treaties and other international relations.
The territories of the Order are divided into three units: courts, wards, and districts. Courts are headed by Arbiters, wards by Wardens, and districts by Magistrates.
As the second largest religious group on the Continent, the Order of Dalraaen maintains a stable and rather influential position. From the Judicial State capitol of Justice, the Sacred Judiciary wields considerable influence over neighboring freelands and even Modoal Imperial politics on the border. The Modoals and Dalraaenites have maintained a somewhat uneasy truce over the past couple centuries. As the two groups began to establish themselves after the fall of the Teberian Empire, they fought a long series of holy wars with each other that resulted in little territorial gain for either, and heavy casualties for both. Since then, they have attempted to maintain peace despite long standing cultural and religious differences. The establishment of several courts in the Modoal Empire has complicated the issue as Modoal law requires oaths to the state god and faith. The Dalraaenites that have refused to submit to the Modoal demands have not yet been deported or have their citizenship revoked, but tension continue to rise.
The Order has consistently held the line strictly against the Vautuans, a mutual hatred that has existed since the establishment of Elysian-Infernal War theology. The existance and veneration of the Celestial Gavel only adds to the conflict. The Sisters of Yamasatra are largely ignored by the Order, at most viewed with curiosity by the faithful. In secret, chief members of the Sacred Judiciary have met with the Abbess in an attempt to establish friendly relations and mutual understanding.