In the late 19th Century, the blind immortal Mr. Murk started conceptualising the Codus Immortus as a voluntary and secretive organisation and code of laws that could be offered to immortals.
He spent the most part of 20th Century refining his thinking and seeking out immortal contacts. This included study of philosophy, ethics, and law.
By the early 21st Century, the Codus Immortus was written and Mr. Murk started offering immortals the choice of joining.
Immortals face particular problems that mortals do not. Firstly, there is the issue of endless torture or inhumane treatment which could not be applied to mortal men.
Secondly, Immortals face risks from the mortal world, who, out of understandable fear or envy, would wish to eliminate them or try and steal their immortality. Throughout history, some immortals have suffered horrors both out of science and mysticism. Priests and theologists viewing them as an affront to divine order, sorcerers trying to extract some magical quality from them to gain immortality, and scientists attempting to experiment on them to understand their immortality for the greater good. In other words, until immortality is the normal, immortals are at risk.
Thirdly, there is the issue of redemption. If an immortal truly lives for ever, then it is not a matter of if, but merely of when and to what frequency, they will commit a horrific crime themselves. Equally, in the case of an immortal criminal, it is also not a matter of if, but of when, they will repent. Hence, if both criminal act and redemption are inevitable, can killing an immortal ever be justified? This is not to say that punishment and incarceration cannot be humanely meted out, or that action does not lead to consequence, but the act of termination seems hard to justify as it will apply to every immortal sooner or later, despite the fact that every immortal will repent and rehabilitate. There is also the matter of punishment. If deprivation of life might be considered an infinite punishment for a mortal, as it robs him or her of infinite years.
The Primary Laws
The Codus Immortus is strictly voluntary. It comes with responsibilities and benefits. There is no compulsion to remain, either. There is, however, a codified section that serves to prevent people leaving and entering as it when it so suits them, by ensuring that there is a three month period between every “move”.
Aside from various by laws and legal flourishes, the Codus Immortus has three main rules that act to protect Immortals from their particular threats.
1: An obligation to protect Immortal members from inhuman treatment or torture (such as might be termed Promethean torment). The scope of this is not easy to quantify. It clearly means not directly inflicting such horrors on another. It also usually means not handing over an immortal to another organisation who would in all probability do the same (such as certain dictatorships around the world). Allowing such torment to happen by inactivity is a more grey area that may need careful consideration based on risk to self and degree and likelihood of inhuman or torturous treatment.
2. An obligation to protect immortal members from death. This is very similar to law 1, and would prohibit deliberate murder of another immortal. A difficult area is the death penalty which still exists in some parts of the world. Whilst this would not mean rescuing an immortal from death row, it would mean trying, with reasonable effort, to prevent the death penalty from being instituted and if possible to have the immortal tried and convicted in an area with no capital punishment.
3. No fighting or violence in Club Immortus.
As a final refuge, Immortals are expected to treat these clubs as safe havens. It does not mean that they cannot be expelled at all, but this requires a majority vote and a process of debate and consideration by the members.
The secondary laws of the Codus relate to the first and are predictably numerous, despite Mr. Murk’s best attempts at keeping the issues simple. However, some key secondary laws are:
The principle of secrecy.
The codus primarily works to keep immortals safe from threats peculiar to immortality. This includes the envy and resentment of mortals. Hence, there is a principle of secrecy, in that the Codus, the Clubs, and the status of immortality should not be revealed without very good reason. It is not absolute, but nobody wants the existence of the Codus to become more than rumour in the public consciousness.
The Court of Three
In cases where the Primary (or indeed secondary) laws are broken, three other immortal members should consider the facts and come to a unanimous decision that the law was indeed broken. If there is no unanimous decision, the case must be passed onto another group of three. If three groups of three cannot decide unanimously (all three groups are split), then it falls to the Lawmaster to consult with all nine members to see if he can obtain a consensus. If none can still be agreed, the Lawmaster has the “decider” vote.
The Will of All
There will come times of crisis, when the fate of all immortals is at threat. When the immortals must go to war, or change their way of living, or the Codus itself. Perhaps there might be a state that has captured and is experimenting on immortals, and they must be rescued. Perhaps the fate of the world hangs in the balance, and both mortal and immortal must come together.
In this case, a grand meeting is held where all immortals are invited. If all present agree, or all bar one lone dissenter (to allow for crazed outside views), the members of the Codus will act as one in these matters.
The Lawmaster is master of the Law of the Codus. He or She must demonstrate good knowledge of philosophy, law, and ethics. The Lawmaster has no particular powers other than as described above in final arbitration of the court of three. He or she may be called on to advise on the word and meaning of the Codus, or technical points, but this is advisory only. Otherwise, his or her powers are no greater than other member. He or she may still vote in the above formats.
The Lawmaster has, to date, only be held by Mr. Murk who is author of the Codus. If he resigns, or is ousted by the will of the immortals, an election will be held.
The Codex Immortus
The Codex is a splendid red leather bound booked inked in fine calligraphy. Its first part details the laws and principles of the Codus Immortus, its second part details its signatures of those who have entered (or indeed left). It is written in English and Latin (although copies exist in other languages).
There are of course copies of the Codex. To preserve secrecy, it is not held in electronic format.
The Bookkeeper is an official title that indicates the immortal member who holds responsibility for the care and maintenance, copying, translation, and indeed security of the Codex. In addition, the Bookkeeper will act as Lawmaster in case of absence or incapacity of the Lawmaster (as deputy).
The Club Immortus is a privately owned by Mr. Murk. It is forbidden by the Codus to engage in violence there (unless in an emergency such as self defence or protection of others). It is a “safe haven”, although one can be expelled for poor behaviour.
Technically, other places could be deemed to be protected Havens by the Codus, but this has as yet not happened.
Club Immortus was originally set up in Soho, London. Further clubs have been opened up in Cairo, Delhi, Rio, Hong Kong, and Paris. They are technically private residences in the eyes of the local law but are of course open for Immortals. They all have a certain antiquated air (other than Freedom City, due to its relatively recent history!), with a flavour and style that matches the locality.
Of course, superficially in the first rooms there is no particular evidence of association with immortality. The bar and lounge, the kitchen and dining room are all quite unremarkable other than in style. However, the clubs also contain mystic portals to the other clubs around the world, living quarters and even infirmaries (where injured members can recuperate safely).
The Club is not strictly for immortals only. Some mortals are aware of the Codus, if a member can vouch for somebody else in terms of discretion and behaviour, they can be invited in.