Hjalstone massacre » Penance
Penance is a tradition of the church of Anduiras, and is still used in modern times amongst follwers of Haelyn and Avani.
When a follower has done something morally wrong (but likely not illegal) they would state their 'crimes' to the person they had wrong and before a priest, and accept a Penance that was laid upon them by the priest. The offended party then had the option of forgiving those who had wronged them. Penance is generally public, and often includes making reparations to the wronged (or in their absence the church) or making good injury that has been suffered by another due to the guilty parties actions.
The practice lives on in contemporary chivalry, and it is one of the ways a nobleman can maintain his honor in the face of mutually conflicting obligations.
Traditionally, penance was viewed as a punishment, and varied with the character and heinousness of the offenses committed. In the early days of the Anuirean Empire "doing penance" often involved severe and/or public discipline, which could be both harsh and humiliating but was considered edifying.
It should be noted that doing wrong and committing a crime are separate things. Typically penance is imposed by a priest on someone who is morally in the wrong. Committing a crime is breaking the law of the state.
A modern visible (if rare) act of self imposed penance is the Khinasi saying "Sei bhada hejj-sayim"" (I am without face), where the Khinasi lives in self-imposed exile for a period until they have atoned for their sin.
An example of where penance might be sought is where a noble's troops sack a village - the noble has not committed a crime (unless they ordered the sacking in an illegal manner) but might well seek penance for not controlling their troops properly. Penance for this might involve paying compensation to the families of the dead, rebuilding property, buying new animals, forfeiting rank, etc.
Elements of this page were originally drawn from Wikipedia.

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