“Are you sure he will be up here?” Jeremiah asked, his voice weak from the thin air and lack of water.
I nodded, my eyes fixed on the top of the incline. The journey up the mountain had been difficult, and strenuous, but not altogether dangerous. It was more of a matter of inconvenience–a deterrent from frivolous matters being brought before the White Robe. “I saw him once, a few years ago, when I came here with my father.”
We reached the brow of the hill, and there the two of us, being weary, stopped to rest. Jeremiah looked visibly agitated. “I don’t see anyone. We’ve made this trip for nothing.”
I said nothing and looked around. A small campfire, perhaps recently extinguished, an old wooden crate, and a few sparse flora before the sheer cliff face…I became curious and stood, sauntering over to the cliff. Carefully, I peered over. There, on a cleft of the adjacent rocks, sat a person, robed in silvery white, meditating inches from the thousand-foot drop. I opened my mouth to speak but the person spoke first.
“Hello, travelers,” the Judex said, not looking up. Her voice was full of authority, but also calm and serenity. “Please, feel free to sit down and rest before speaking to me. There is water in the crate near you. Please help yourselves.”
I turned to see Jeremiah opening the crate to reveal some rations and water. He plucked one of the glass bottles out and opened it.
I looked back over the cliff. “I don’t want to take much of your time…we just need a conflict resolved.”
“Go on,” the Judex said softly. “Jeremiah has been moving his land markers for months, encroaching on my plot. I have tried to stop him and believe it violates the Laws…he says he is not taking it by force and that those markers were always there.”
Jeremiah wiped the water from his chin and waited.
“And you’ve come to me to declare whether the markers were or were not moved? Seems hardly a reason to involve the Judex. But you’ve made your journey here. So I will try.” She raised her hand, and white glowing writing began to scrawl across her skin, the hive-mind of the Law spinning through her connected consciousness. “Jeremiah. Did you move the markers?”
Jeremiah stiffened, his eyes becoming unfocused. “Yes. Yes I did.”
The judge lowered her hand. “Then you are guilty of attempting to claim another’s property by force. The penalty for which is death.” She looked up at me. “But you knew this already. I told you this answer when you visited me six days ago.”
Jeremiah shook himself back to reality. “Wait, I thought you said–“
But his words were suddenly consumed by a scream as I pushed him off the edge of the cliff into the fog below.
The Immutable Guardians of Law
The Span has but 7 laws, which are considered to be the unquestionable truths of society:
1. No person or law may contribute to a loss of Sympathy in another person or persons.
2. No person who has shunned his Sympathy shall be allowed to live.
3. No person or law may prevent a person or persons from contributing to the goals of his Guild, nor deny him the rights and privileges thereof.
4. No Guild shall trespass on the duties of another.
5. No person or persons may take the property of another by force or coercion.
6. The rulings of the Guild of Judex shall not be infringed.
7. The Waste is forbidden. None may go there.
These laws, which supersede all local laws of Wardens and their jurisdictions, are enforced by the Knights and by society itself, but the interpretation of those laws is sometimes a matter of dispute. What one Warden interprets as a violation of the Laws might be interpreted as completely legal by another; and the resolution of those conflicts becomes a matter for the Judex.
Becoming a Judex is a choice to give up all a portion of oneself in order to serve the greater good. This is not to say that the Judex are all the same; in truth, they are diverse and retain their own identities and personalities. However, they give up their privacy and loan out some of their reasoning skills to others; in this way, when one talks to a Judex regarding the Laws of the Span, one will always receive the same answer. The answer and the legal ramifications are, in essence, crowd-sourced. This neural connection among all guild members is called The Contemplative.
Even in retaining their identity and sense of self, most Judex become more contemplative and logical over time as The Contemplative intertwines with their own personality. Not every person is suited to be a Judex: only those who can handle conflict and analysis are chosen to finally go through the Ascension–the ritual connection to the shared consciousness–and join the ranks.
Structure of the Judex
Judex are unique among the Major Guilds in the fact that they have no structure or factions. The highest-ranked Judex in the Span who sits on the Supreme Council, is referred to as the Grand Judex, but this title means nothing; the Judex chosen to fill this seat changes often, and regardless of the person holding that tile and rank, the Laws of the span are well represented at the table. All Judex are of equal station regardless of Rank, and are given tasks to fulfill from The Contemplative itself in the form of instructions from the Grand Judex.
Judex do, however, fill roles called “Orders” based on their skills. Unlike factions, these roles do not report to a head and do not have a chain of command; they are simply tasks that various Judex fill. Judex can even change roles with relative ease, unlike factions.
Magistrates are an order of Judex assigned to certain Wards to act as local adjudicators. They are often found in more populous places, and handle many different legal matters including local ones. These are either new Judex who are becoming accustomed to the connection to The Contemplative, or older Judex who are less able to travel abroad.
This order, like its name implies, is tasked with traveling to different Wards, resolving their disputes, and moving on. Some Wards only get a visit from a Judex every few years, and there is much tension until those conflicts are resolved; others may have a Traveler visit a few times a month.
This order wanders much like the Travelers, but instead of following specific routes, the Detectives are sent by the Council to investigate specific breaches of Law.
This Order is comprised of those whose social grace and prowess make them very useful as guides for others. They act as advisors to leaders in the ways of Law. A vessel, station, or town that is assigned a Dignitary is somewhat of an honor; it implies that the population is important enough to the Span as a whole that it warrants additional support from the Council itself.