Jalassa the Disciplined, Arbiter of Enlightenment

Overview
Favored RaceCaladaran
Element(s)Water, Earth
Home(s)Within a Crystalline Snowflake
AlignmentLawful Good
SymbolsA scale, a snowflake
PortfolioTranscendence, reason, patience, meditation, restraint, penance
WorshippersMentalists, swordmasters, aristocrats, military officers, ascetics

History in Avendar

In the wake of the Sundering, magical storms ravaged all life in Avendar. The seeds of modern races were sown, growing out of the transformed creatures left in its wake. With this evolution came other divinities outside of the Overgods' original Compact. One such being was known as Jalassa, a planar traveler in search of further transcendence. Scouring the multiverse alongside Chadraln the Seer, the pair encountered young Avendar. Chadraln's interest was piqued by the emerging caladaran race, and foresaw their many future possibilities. Jalassa, as well, was keenly attentive of them. She nurtured their desire for order and reason, and they blossomed under Her tutelage. This would be remembered as the birth of the caladaran monastic tradition.

Settled in the ancient Rirro Jagka, Jalassa instructed the caladaran in the virtues of restraint. Many caladaran scholars and historians believe that this spirit continues to pervade the race to this day. It was then that the young race conquered passion in the name of reason, and Jalassa was pleased by this philosophical victory. As She continued to encourage the unique talents of the mind, Chadraln offered the caladaran knowledge of the Overgods. Although He made clear to Jalassa that He had done so because He had forseen the race's talent for magic, the act drove a wedge between the Two. She felt that this revelation had come too soon; the caladaran had not yet reached the enlightenment She desired, and She feared magic would erode their discipline. Regardless, the caladaran were now divided between introspection and the study of the power of Earth.

Chadraln bade the caladaran to seek out the other children of the Sundering, and emboldened by power and knowledge, many left the glades of the far east. Many of Jalassa's devoted remained behind, still seeking the enlightenment She sought. However, the rising power of human empires in turn drove other races into the Rirro Jagka. The alatharya, fearful of caladaran magic, grew hostile; the kankoran, driven east by the Republic, sought new prey; and the srryn, who fled to escape their deaths at the War of Fire's close, encroached on Jalassa's ascetic paradise. Many caladaran of this era knew little of violence, as neither the Arbiter nor the Seer had encouraged it. In the face of these growing threats, Jalassa spurred the caladaran monks ever onward, guiding them to the revelation of psionics. Although rudimentary and incomplete, this new power preserved Her disciples as She led them westward. Upon their arrival many integrated into the human Republic, while others sought solitude in the wilderness.

Within the Republic, the worship of Jalassa spread within the aristocracy, and by extension, the military's officer corps. Humans and aelin were both keenly interested in Her transcendent philosophy, as both had come to value the art of meditation. This racial interplay suggested additional paths to enlightenment, widening debate and discussion on its nature. Humans brought with them the rigors of Dolgrael and the art of war; aelin brought their own meditative techniques and the art of calligraphy. The resulting intellectual fusion inspired a leading caladaran ascetic, Adrajisk, to immerse himself in these foreign cultures. One of the first recorded chosen of Jalassa, he would achieve worldwide renown with the development of ginta'cham'akan: "thought creating form". As the War of Night spread, the study of Jalassan meditation grew sparse, vastly overshadowed by both tragedy, and Dolgrael's chosen, Marlax. By its conclusion, the coming of the ch'taren would captivate Avendar with the magics of Spirit. In the modern era, Jalassan worship has resurfaced, the relative detente inspiring aristocrat and ascetic alike.

Goals and Methods

Jalassa's primary objective is to lead all mortals to enlightenment. Her chosen posit that the Arbiter has already achieved this transcendent state, and that reaching it is akin to godhood. They further suggest that legendary heroes have somehow discovered this path and by it reached eternal renown. Jalassa Herself has little to say on the matter, other than to stress the need of all mortals to reach this heightened state. She seeks the betterment of mortal societies through reason. This contrasts Iandiric or Rveyelhite notions of societal law and order; Jalassa's ideal debates the spirit of the law rather than its letter. It is neither unfeeling, nor does it seek to vilify political opponents. In a broader sense, this hope for progress dovetails into a refinement of extant laws and an appreciation for justice, rather than retribution. Society, to Jalassa, should not impede the individual search for enlightenment.

To achieve transcendence, the Arbiter encourages extensive meditation. Passions, in a general sense, must be subdued to reach the calm state that proper meditation requires. However, this is only a single spoke in the wheel of self-discipline. It also includes concepts such as willful poverty, humility, and penance. The last is particularly important to Jalassa, as genuinely attempting to atone for error is a sign of greater awareness. In a broader sense, it denies the cruelty of vengeance, never allowing society to succumb to bloodthirst. As well, it provides a mechanism by which to settle one's own burdens meaningfully. This is in contrast to Alajian absolution of sin, which requires less action and more faith. Additionally, She encourages Her followers to explore the philosophical underpinnings of psionics, swordmastery, and assassinry. While this obviously reveals a dedication to one's craft, it also suggests that enlightenment is not simply the product of repetition; an important distinction between the Her warriors, and Dolgrael's. Revelation may arrive from many directions: a brush with death, a quiet reflection upon one's errors, or the lessons learned from a simple and earnest life. Jalassa is not so concerned with one's initial orientation as She is with their conclusion. Thus, She looks for the spark of aptitude in Her seekers, which may include many alignments, but never chaotic ethoi.

Organizations and Followings

Jalassa's religion is an intensely personal one, founded upon reflection and introspection. Many monasteries have been organized in Her name, although their peaceful, mundane lifestyles often do not appeal to the adventurer class directly. As a result, the followings of Jalassa within that set are more individualistic, often being limited to a master and student, or simply a single traveler seeking enlightenment alone. Some examples of these followings are:

The Adjudicators

"Harmony is the fruit of careful action."

The Adjudicators are composed of warrior-mediators, intent on the resolution of conflict for the betterment of all. Each acts independently, and may define his own scope; it can be as broad as the enforcement of city laws, or as narrow as resolving individual problems. In all cases, he always seeks the spirit of the issue rather than the letter. Between friends, this may mean the discernment of feelings; between strangers, it could require the distillation of the spirit of a law. The perversion of this process, be it through misinformation, distortion, or aggravation, is a great affront to him, making him an enemy of Serachelian deceivers or Rveyelhite enforcers. As such, he often will meditate extensively to decide a proper course, always considering his own motives and the greater situational consequences. When possible, he encourages penance for one's misdeeds, as no relationship or society function properly without it. An Adjudicator is most at home as a Guardian of Law, as it provides him the most options to ensure societal harmony. Lawful rogues and scholars are the most likely to choose the lifestyle of an Adjudicator.

The Bronze Swords

"Through my sword, I shall find transcendence."

Personal enlightenment can take many forms. Those who seek the path of transcendence through combat are called the Bronze Swords. Much like Dolgrael's Invincibles, the Bronze Swords seek perfection of the self through technique. However, that is where their similarities end. A Bronze Sword spends as much time meditating as fighting, and applies scholarly reflection to his actions in battle. This is rarely as simple as discerning better strategy; instead, it highlights his personal search for the philosophy that guides his weapon. Despite his martial focus, a Bronze Sword is reluctant to interpose himself in the conflicts of other adventurers. He often considers such things a distraction, and ultimately an impediment to achieving his own sublime state of mind. Bronze Swords are often inspired by the legendary heroes of the past and begin their road to the Arbiter by following in their stead. This path attracts primarily swordmasters, officers, and aristocrats.

The Monks of the Scale

"Restraint offers the only lasting peace."

The most philosophical of Jalassa's following are the Monks of the Scale. They often come from, or deeply respect, human or caladaran monastic lifestyles. Monks are the most likely to vocally advocate the abandonment of passions, prompt ideological debates, or otherwise interject themselves into the lives of others. Although they are rarely aggressive, Monks are often formidable combatants when prompted to self-defense. They are also the most likely to defend or repudiate others with a word, leading them to question both their allies and their enemies. Enirra's Thalean Speakers, in particular, find a welcome sounding board in the Monks of the Scale, as the latter do not espouse any form of personal balance; instead they favor patience, restraint, and rejection of radical views. A Monk often avoids the potentially hermitic lifestyle of his brethren, instead seeking to broaden his knowledge through constant interaction. Psionicists, spirit scholars, and druids find personal growth in the way of the Monk.

Individual Followers

Jalassa appeals to the killer as well as the scholar, attracting a grand diversity in supplicants. What they all share is an earnest desire to become greater than they are; to expand themselves beyond the mundane, in terms of skill or understanding. A follower of the Arbiter will often meditate, considering his own feelings as well as the ramifications of his actions. He seeks to act reasonably, to judge others with consideration, and to broaden his knowledge of a variety of subjects. He is an individual of many interests and takes pleasure in the smallest of actions. One of Jalassa's chosen is as fulfilled by partaking in the beauty of calligraphy, tending a garden, or a spirited debate as they are in high adventure. As a result, he is centered, scholarly, and ever seeking the calm that heralds his most sublime truth.

The worship of Jalassa is strongest in cities and monasteries. She is embraced by many races, including caladaran, humans, aelin, or ethron. Shuddeni and ch'taren are rarely followers of Jalassa, as their own racial philosophies or proclivities are often in stark contrast to the subdued life of the Arbiter. Many adventurer professions are attracted to Jalassan ideals, but foremost among them are swordmasters, assassins, psionicists, and Guardians of Law. Within mainstream society, hereditary aristocrats, intellectuals, and military officers find much to appreciate in Her notion of transcendence. This creates an almost paradoxical alliance between the hardline, monastic devoted and a wealthy, indulged upper class. However, in keeping with the simplicity of Jalassan tradition, there are no ostentatious temples built in Her name. Her worship remains a quiet, mostly internal affair.

Those who find favor with the Arbiter are marked with the Sigil of the Bronze Scale.

Relationships

Jalassa is a moderate voice amongst the gods of the light. Her acceptance of warrior lifestyles earns Her the muted favor of ch'taren deities, tempered by Her long consideration and resistance to rash action. Aeolis appreciates Jalassa's methods but finds Her advocation of the mundane a stumbling block toward a more thorough union. Elar, in particular, finds the Arbiter's quiet way a pleasant contrast to other deities of the pantheon. The Father of the Seas has the closest ideology to that of Jalassa, as Her monastic lifestyles mesh well with His great compassion. Iandir and Jalassa share a positive relationship, as Her desire for societal harmony reinforces His perfect law. Gods of darkness are split on Jalassa. Those who favor action feel She is little threat because of Her overall lack of aggression. Conversely, those who thrive on ideological supremacy, such as Serachel or Rveyelhi, feel She is a potentially threatening rival. Ashur's Diviners of Silence, in particular, provide a stark and perversely parallel ideology to Her own. Gods of chaos find the Arbiter unbearably dull most of the time, and thus tend to ignore Her.

Chadraln is perhaps the closest deific entity to Jalassa, although Their longstanding disagreements over the respective value of intelligence and wisdom separate Them. Perhaps the most telling proof of the strength of Their bond is the birth of Alajial, who represents both Their shared affection and Their concern for the developing caladaran people. It should not be understated that while Jalassa is suitably impressed by the Seer's prescience, She trusts more completely in the dedicated pursuit of self-improvement and individual transcendence. By extension, Jalassa and Alajial both intend to help mortals shed their burdens, but Jalassa believes that the Alajian preoccupation with personal feelings conflicts with the greater systemic good.

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