Monday, April 4, 2011


The city of Podroth is orderly and well-policed; crime is handled by a police force that includes some mages, and the courts ensure that everyone gets a fair trial. Bribery and corruption are harshly punished and extremely rare. The legal system allows for several levels of appeals, although it is rare for any case to be appealed more than once. Local judges handle all cases of simple civil disturbances (including, for instance, a mage mis-casting a spell and damaging property); city judges handle larger cases, or those which cross local boundaries; the High Court is almost exclusively for appeals from either of the above courts; the Elder Council, while not normally a judicial body, will hear appeals from the High Court, and the final appeal is to the King in person.

In many cases, the laws are designed to either invoke reparation, or to give satisfaction. For simple property damage, recompense; for simple defamation, a court-ordered public apology, possibly with some compensation to the aggrieved. Possibly the most peculiar punishment system is for accidental damage to an abelith - a fine plus a public flogging, between one and six strokes per aggrieved person.

Abeliths and medals are an important part of Podroth society. When someone does a great act of sacrificial kindness, or nobility, or valor, the beneficiaries of that act make a submission to the Abeliths Committee, and if it is approved, a two-part honor is given to that person: a medal, which he wears, and an abelith, or commemorative stone, which is installed where the act took place (or near the home of those who applied for it). An abelith has an inscription on it, detailing the action and person being honored, and it is maintained and kept visible by those who had it erected. Wilfully damaging or destroying an abelith is a great affront to all involved parties; such an act would be dealt with very severely by the courts. Accidental damage, however, is still considered an act of disrespect; people are expected to be aware of where they are going, and to give these stones the respect they deserve.

In trying a case of abelith damage, the judge normally considers three factors: the extent of the damage, the level of carelessness that resulted in it, and the person's attitude toward that abelith. He will then give a ruling, in the form of a fine (notionally for repairs, but in practice it goes to a collective fund for the eventual replacement of abeliths) and a number of permissible blows, usually between one and six. Every person who came to bring the case is then allowed to lash the defendant that many times. This peculiar form of punishment means that high profile abeliths with many keepers command higher punishments for damage than do small, personal markers which might have perhaps a family of three to watch over them.

It would be impossible to talk of Podroth culture without mentioning its one most noted feature. All the peoples around them know the Podrothians as "the people of the phrasebook", and with good reason. In this highly mercurial city, traders and tourists visit from all around, and not all of them speak Lenqua - the local trade language - and most of the local businessmen don't speak anything else. Yet trade they do, mainly through the detailed phrasebooks published for many languages.

The mercantile phrasebook - in Lenqua, 'eliborlenq', or "little book of words" - is an illustrated booklet designed to facilitate trade. Regardless of the language, every eliborlenq is laid out the same way; page 7 on this one corresponds to page 7 on that one. Consequently, a merchant can simply ask to see a customer's eliborlenq, flip to the page he wants, and point out the phrase or expression he is looking for. Once you have your phrasebook, the only Lenqua word you need to know is "eliborlenq" itself, and you can get around reasonably well.

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