Life in the Courts


Bances Amblerash

The primary religion in the Courts is the Church of the Serpent (also sometimes called the Church of the Dragon). Its high prelate is Bances of House Amblerash, and his House is probably the most well known in connection with the Church and its administration. There is also a small Oracular House which works closely within the Church of the Serpent, by the name of House Delacroix. That said, any denizen of the Courts who has a true calling can attend the Thelbane Seminary, which is attached to the Cathedral of the Serpent, to train for the priesthood. There are no restrictions on gender or marriage within the priesthood.

Most Houses have a primary Church of the Serpent within their Ways: if nothing else, so that no-one decides that they might be heretics. However, levels of devotion within the Houses do vary. In addition, both Houses and individuals also sometimes have their own private temples and their own beliefs, and have small personal shrines to those they wish to venerate.

There have been seven High Prelates of the Serpent since Great Cornelius gave himself to the Logrus:

  • Theodore, son of Cornelius + Titania (1,000-3,853 ALC)
  • Ambrose Amblerash, son of Swayvill and Alberta (3,853-5,497 ALC)
  • Cybill Amblerash, daughter of Ambrose (5,497-6,735 ALC)
  • Rufus Amblerash, younger brother of Cybill (6,735-9,180 ALC)
  • Roshan Amblerash, younger brother of Ambrose (9,180-10,604 ALC)
  • Isaura Amblerash, daughter of Roshan (10,604-13,701 ALC)
  • Bances Amblerash, son of Isaura (13,701 ALC to present)

The most Holy day of the Thelbane calendar is the Great Festival of the Serpent, at the Thelbane Summer Solstice, which commemorates the sacrifice of Great Cornelius to ensure the safety and stability of the Courts, and involves a week of family and religious celebrations. The second-most important festival is Creation Day, on the Winter Solstice, which celebrates the drawing of the Logrus and again is the start of a set of week-long festivities. Other major holidays include the Thelbane Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, and the four Cross-Quarter Days Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain.

As Prelate of the Church, Bances’ official line is the truth that worship of the Serpent is the one true way for all who love the Courts. That said, for the most part he has not gone out of his way to stamp out other beliefs, and declare the heretical. The exception is his hearty dislike of the almost religious devotion show to some members of the Amber family, by some denizens of the Courts, that has arisen since the War Between the Powers.


Given the life expectencies of the Cornelians and the Lords and Ladies of Chaos, the concept of marriage being “Until death us do part” isn’t really appropriate. Long, loving marriages, like those between Swayvill and Alberta, or Graham Helgram Junior and Joan, do occur in the Courts, but are in the minority. It is far more common for marriages to be of a set duration, with binding pre-nuptial agreements (perhaps related to disposition of children, or certain House assets, or the possibility to extend the duration of the marriage), and ending in no-fault divorces. Many Thelbane nobles undertake multiple marriages of this kind during their lives, which explains the interconnections between different families and lines.

Law and Order

Law and order is an interesting process within the Courts of Chaos, given the split between House Law and its enforcement and Thelbane Law.


Each of the individual Houses has their own police or militia which deals with crimes committed within their Houses. There is also a central Thelbane Police Force, which maintains law and order within Thelbane and the neutral territories of the Royal Ways and the wider Courts of Chaos. This is split into two divisions.

  • The Ordinary Police: this division is effectively the “beat constables” of Thelbane and the Courts. They are usually the first on scene, and deal with everyday crimes and misdemeanours.
  • The Criminal Police: this division comprises the specialist who deals with felony-level crimes.

The Justice System

For the most part, with respect to offences committed within the individual Houses’ Ways, they deal with their own legal matters, both civil and criminal. In addition, they have the right to try non-House members for crimes committed on House soil, although the accused is entitled to legal representation from their own House. If found guilty, sentencing is also taken place within the House and the resulting punishment is administered within the House. For non-House convicts, their own House has the right to ask for extradition, with such requests being heard by three judges: one from the House where the crime was committed; one from the convict’s House; and a third Crown Judge representing the Dragon Court.

There are, however, certain cases when the the Crown Prosecutors can ask for the trials to take place in the Royal Courts of Thelbane. These are as follows:

  • If the crime(s) was committed in Thelbane itself, or in those parts of the Royal Ways and the Courts of Chaos which are not deemed to be part of a House Ways.
  • If there is uncertainty whether a crime took place in a House or on neutral soil.
  • Inter-House crimes when the House of the accused has objections to the trial taking place in the House of the victim of the crime.
  • If the accused has committed crimes against multiple Houses in multiple jurisdictions.
  • If an offence has been committed against The Dragon Throne, for example treason against King Swayvill.

In general, criminal prosecutions usually go through the various Royal and House Courts more quickly than civil suits.

With respect to legal qualifications within the Courts, there are two degees of these: House Lawyers, and Crown Advocates. To become a Crown Advocate, the candidate needs to have gained their own House legal qualificaitons, and then needs to attend the Thelbane College of Jurisprudence. Only Crown Advocates are allowed to practice inter-House Law and defend cases within Thelbane and the neutral territories of the Royal Ways and the wider Courts of Chaos.

Crown Advocates can choose to study further to become Crown Prosecutors. These are employed by the Royal Courts, and act for the Crown in all cases tried in Thelbane.

The Royal Courts are split into two divisions:

  • The Lower Courts, which handle the day to day trials for those accused of committing lesser crimes within Thelbane and the neutral territories of the Royal Ways and the wider Courts of Chaos. Trials are conducted by the Crown Magistrates.
  • The High Court, which tries the most serious cases, such as serious assault, kidnapping, rape, trafficking, murder and treason. Trials are conducted by the Crown Judges.

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