The Dying Age
Veridian, The Harmonic
The organized worship of Veridian, the patron of unions, compacts and promises, occurs in temples throughout the Dragon Empire that are collectively known as Harmony Houses. Harmony Houses are both temples and guildhalls, where worship is a private affair between faithful and god above; the priests do not lead services inasmuch as they bring the gifts of the god outside the temple, for the good of society.
Veridian’s social importance is inescapable in a mercantile society. Where there are merchants, kings, councils and treaties, there has to be a god to whom these sorts of agreements are sacred – and a mechanism by which breaking these treaties is rendered anathema. Priests of Veridian are, to a man, known for their diplomatic abilities, bartering skill and facility in formalizing agreements in writing.
Veridian’s priesthood has not, in most cases, set itself up as an alternative to secular law; rather, Veridian’s priesthood has, in most cities and principalities, completely supplanted secular law throughout the past few centuries with little objection from the Dragon Emperors. The how’s and why’s of this are many and varied: but in most cases, the priesthood simply ordained the best legal minds, used the temples to provide a guild-structure through which families could pass down the trade to legacies and friends, and completely shut out the ability of non-members to compete against the amassed resources of the guild/temple.
The fact that all priests of Veridian are required to acknowledge the Dragon Emperor’s divine right to rule probably didn’t hurt.
Independent practice of law died out for the most part, and the temple structure partially redeemed the reputation of those who practiced law in the Dragon Empire: allegations of impropriety became less common once the profession was monopolized, sanitized, and dressed up in ritual. The wealth of the Harmony Houses has ensured one social advance that has, thus far, been an unmitigated success throughout the Dragon Empire: breaking an agreement notarized by a member of Harmony House is heresy, and heretics are stigmatized and declared anathema across the lands.
The result hasn’t been perfect, of course; hiring a priest to oversee an agreement is expensive and beyond the means of most of the men and women who live in the Dragon Empire. Most people simply shake hands to mark an agreement – it’s free, and the social stigma of breaking an agreement doesn’t bear any penalty other than social stigma. But that hasn’t stopped the Black Notaries, men and women who aren’t afraid to set up shop in back alleys in the Seven Cities of the Dragon Empire to make official the illicit dealings that occur beneath the upturned noses of Harmony House’s priests.