After the Storm
May I have eyes to see the truth;
May I have wisdom to understand the truth;
May I have courage to defend the truth.
Verena is the goddess of Justice and Learning and in both of these things of Truth.
She is a benevolent but stoic goddess popular with the learned and studious. She is not a goddess of war but does not shy away from the need to fight for justice – she was the only one of the gods to come to Ulric’s side when he first warned of the threat of Chaos, shaming the other gods to follow suit.
She has long been known and accepted among the Gods of the Empire, though her worship is stronger in the south. In the classical faith, Verena is part of a Pantheon as the wife of Morr, with him parent to both Shallya and Myrmidia. She is often depicted seated in judgment with a blindfold to represent her impartiality, with a book in one hand and with her great sword of truth across her lap. As her husband judges the dead, so she judges the living.
Verena favours fairness rather than the letter of law, all law being seen as a mortal invention. The written word and historical records are greatly respected by the cult, to the extent it will preserve texts most other sects view as too dangerous to permit to exist. The Vereran response is that ignorance is a greater risk.
Verena’s faith does not dictate what justice means in particular instances (e.g., which crimes are capital offences) only that the “truth must out” and justice be done. This usually means whatever the local laws call for, unless these laws as seen as corrupt or inherently unfair.
That said, Verenan legal philosophers love to debate the correct framing of law and topics such as “when is banishment an appropriate alternative to execution” are popular subjects of debate among them.
Symbols and Clothing
Her most common symbols are the Owl, the Balance and the Sword (sometimes combined as a sword pointed downwards, its pommel an owl, and its cross-bar supporting a balance). Her priests often carry a sword decorated in this fashion, and those who favour her often wear owl amulets.
Her priests favour white, seeing it as representing freedom from bias.
Some believe that Verena can appear in the world in the guise of an owl or a venerable scholar (of either gender).
An owl seen at night is considered a good omen but one seen during the day is an ill-omen.
Verena’s cult has no central hierarchy, each temple or other institution operating independently but usually with collegiality. All her clergy learn to read and most are educated at a university or college, institutions themselves often founded or supported by Verena’s cult.
In the Empire, Verana’s cult competes with Sigmar’s Church for influence in the judicial system.
The cult cult has two primary branches.
The Scalebearers focus on justice and acting as arbitrators in disputes. Many judges are members of this order. The Lorekeepers focus on the preservation and discovery of knowledge.
Verena’s temples are built in the style of classical colonnades, a style native to the southern regions of the Old World. Large interior halls are illuminated by high narrow windows, and usually dominated by great statutes of the goddess. Chambers open off the main hall leading to priest’s quarters and libraries.
Verenan temples usually have libraries that they permit anyone to use (this means entering to read books, not to remove them), though donations are often expected from those with the means to make them.
Verena’s temples also provide meeting rooms where parties may come to negotiate agreements and have them witnessed, and if desired have a priest advise on ensuring they are fair. By custom, anything said in such negotiations is kept in strict confidence.
Smaller shrines to the goddess are often simply a roof supported by columns, housing a statue of the goddess.
Verena’s cult celebrates the start of each year, praying that the year to follow will be blessed with reason and justice. Minor holy days at the beginning of each month and week see renewed prayers for the coming days.
Verena appreciates sacrifices in the form of knowledge shared or passed on, such as finding a lost text and copying it (the latter being a potential costly process), in any case the sacrificed text being given to a Verenan temple or library that does not currently have a copy of it.
Up to three fortune dice may be granted to a Piety check with a well-received sacrifice.
Verenans are sworn to:
Stand up for truth and justice.
Pursue knowledge for its own value and show its value (sometimes seen by others as showing off how clever you are).
Settle disputes whenever you can, judging or arbitrating without bias or favour (remember the balanced scales of Verena).
They must never resort to violence unless reason has failed (reason is assumed to be inapplicable to servants of Chaos, the undead and similar creatures), but must not fear to fight for justice (remember the sword of Verena).
Verenans greet each other by holding their hands cupped upwards, facing outwards to their sides – mimicking a balance. When parting it is customary for one to say “May the Truth be Heard” and the other to respond, “May the Truth be Heeded”.
Verenans are well-known for taking their time to make decisions and preferring to see all sides of a question (a stance those who see only one side to questions find infuriating). They also respect confidences and see a difference between being discrete with dangerous information and suppressing knowledge (e.g., a murderer cannot be allowed to go free, but if pointing him out immediately would cause a riot, then perhaps a more circumspect approach should be taken).
Verenans use a number of hand gestures to signify their views of arguments that are underway. The left hand raised or tapping on a table shows disapproval or disagreement, the right hand shows approval or agreement, tapping one’s throat is a polite way of indicating one has something to say, pulling an ear is a sign that another has made their point well enough and should stop belaboring it and lastly stroking one’s chin is a sign of disbelief, even that one believes what one hears is a lie and proof of its veracity is required.
For example, in a debate if one Verenan stokes his chin and two others tap their left hands the speaker might continue and chin-stroker shrug. However, if others tapped their right hands, the speaker would be required to give proof of their statement or withdraw it.
These customs have been adopted in some universities during disputations (verbal arguments which are the basis of most learning and exams in the university systems of the Old World).
Verenans who are about to make a weighty decision or judgment often close their eyes and pray silently that it is the right one.
Fanatical devotees of the Goddess of Truth sometimes insist that any falsehood or failure to speak one’s mind completely is forbidden.
The dominant view of the Verenan clergy is reflected in the sermon of Benedetto Valentina of Tilea on the subject, delivered in 1458 I.C. but well preserved in many texts. Valentina first provides the rationale why dishonesty is so abhorrent by equating it to coercion when used to get someone to act against their true preferences, of theft when used in commerce, of assault when used as slander. His fundamental proposition is that it is a form of violence. He then asks which of Verena’s daughters’ views of violence is more correct (pacifist Shallya or honourably martial Myrmidia) and chooses the latter.
Valentina preaches that as with violence, dishonesty is not preferred as a first choice but must sometimes be employed to avoid greater evils. The peasant need not speak his true opinion of the tyrant to suffer an unjust and disproportionate response. The victim need not tell the robber where all their valuables are hidden, and so on.
Valentina ends by cautioning against abuse of this doctrine, and noting that dishonesty is never justified as a standing policy and always requires a specific greater harm to justify it and that when in doubt the advice of a Verenan priest should be sought.
Priest of Verena may replace the Charm skill on their career card with the Observation skill.