Elminster Speaks

(Part #43) : Doings in Delzimmer, Part 2

To understand -- and therefore survive in -- Delzimmer, 'tis best to understand the kauladd, their system of justice. Travelers should take heed, because the Delzmaer handling of matters legal is typical of what prevails in many trade route settlements across Faerûn, particularly where strong law enforcement is lacking. Hearken, then.

The Kauladd: This term actually refers to the code of laws, but in general practice also refers to courts, judges, police, and jailers. The code is staggeringly simple. My comments in parentheses aren't part of it.

1. These rules shall apply to all who dwell in or are present in Delzimmer and within clear sight of its walls. (In other words, the kauladd binds everyone in cellars, in buildings, and on the ground both inside the walls and for about a hundred yards outside them, in all directions -- but not absentee landlords, owners, and investors situated elsewhere.)

2. Kill not what is not thine. (An owned beast, slave, or one's own child before puberty can be slain without penalty, and suicide is legal.) Penalty: Striking off of a hand, exile, and forfeiture of property. (Portable goods can be sold or carried away by the guilty.)

3. Steal, damage, or destroy not what is not thine. (Theft, arson, vandalism, and permanent wounding or maiming are all illegal.) Penalty: Replacement of what has been taken, damaged, or destroyed, plus payment of matching fines to the city and to the injured, of up to double the worth of the lost item or harm done.

4. Compel not. (Don't force anyone to do something by physical force, armed threat, or menace, including frauds and misrepresentations.) Penalty: Payment of matching fines to the city and to the injured, and/or floggings and jail time.

5. Throw not. (Missiles of any sort intended to harm or damage goods or cause threats or accidents. It's understood that pickers of foodstuffs, loaders, and builders or vendors moving supplies often toss wares to their fellows.) Penalty: On-the-spot floggings, plus arrest under the Third Law, above, if applicable.

The courts are held by day in roped-off rings in the squares and larger street moots of the city in clear public view. Judgments are made by "kala," visiting priests of various lawful faiths who are hired by the "nagra" (police) for tours of one to three months. Their wages and those of the nagra are paid out of fines and property seizures. (The nagra sell or rent out seized properties and presently own dozens of such, plus a deep-vaulted moneychanging bank beneath the largest nagra house, that was founded with fine payments.)

Kala have the power to call in other kala for aid in judgments, to consult (publicly) with anyone before rendering judgments, and to decree jail time for anyone at threat from citizens or deemed dangerous to any citizen or to the public peace and trade (such as diseased or mad persons). They do not have the right to seize or cause loss (by restraint of freedom) of property for anyone except those found guilty. There are usually six to eight kala under hire at any time. The nagra can't dismiss them early, and if they flee or try to resign early, they lose all pay for the month in which they do so. The nagra are free to hire and fire at the end of any kala's tour. (They tend to get rid of judges whose rulings they dislike.)

Any nagra found guilty of a crime loses his standing as a nagra for half a year, but covert slayings or poisonings seem to be the only way to get rid of bad nagra who keep getting hired back by their fellows. At any time, Delzimmer usually has 22 to 28 nagra, who serve as jailers (employing cellars, shackles, and cages); arresting officers; court order-keepers; floggers; seizers of property; fine collectors; and watchers. Court order-keepers restrain accused persons and "sword the circle" to keep citizens from charging through the rope barriers. Watchers patrol in a desultory way with signal horns. They move about in threesomes or larger armed groups and try to be near any citizen who desires to summon or "cry" them.

Most nagra are retired warriors or adventurers who have been injured or discovered a love of (relative) safety and laziness. They wear an orange sash marked with a row of three daggers as their only badge of office over their own clothes (which are usually leather armor with gauntlets and helms). Use of this sash by nonnagra is subject to the Fourth Law.

Elminster's Archives
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