Tales of the Legion

These are the Tales of the Legion, written by the Lorekeeper for the campaign described in the topic “A Minuet of Moon and Lightning”. Be forewarned that they are pretty long.

Tale of the Legion’s Founding

By Mehslav Dinovna (footnote 1)
Recounted by Violet Flowing Tempest in 848.16
We acknowledge with great sadness the passing of Maz Beylich, Midnight Cascading Thunder, Intendent Alidraius Orate, and Admattus Torio Rosso. They were legionnaires, and so did not die in vain. To consecrate their sacrifices we must recollect who we are and why we struggle in this year, 848 OEF.

The Legion was founded in the year 422 OEF during the reign of Emperor Tantarus during the era now known as the Time of Troubles. There were nine calamities that threatened the stability of the empire, and they are enumerated as thus:

  • The Aurelian Plague, with its pustular boils and infernal fever, laid low to nearly a third of the empire (footnote 2)

  • The Seven Year Drought in Dar

  • The schism resulting from the appearance of the self-named Prophet Bat-Tzion

  • The Twin Behemoths of Panyar and Talgon

  • The Drowning of Kargil

  • The Rise of Moonbiter’s Tumen and their invasion from the Wastes

  • The Teachings of Sitarkha Baurmah and introduction of Duetism

  • The Marzonite Worker Insurrections

  • The Westlake Rebellion

It was during this period that the old Legate system (footnote 3) for passing Imperial decrees and correspondence collapsed. Widespread was the corruption among the Legate contractors, as were the rumors of attacks on the few Legates of honest repute. Frustrated by his inability to manage the empire during the Troubles, Emperor Tantarus saw fit to deputize one of his chief advisers, a stranger from the East named Zhuche Lang, better known as the Bronze Man, to form the Legion as the Emperor’s personal legates (rechristened as the Legion) and be its first Quartermaster (footnote 4).

The Bronze Man was a placid and calculating man who was always thinking one step ahead of the rest of the court. He was an unparalleled strategist and the inventor of the Standing Stone Maze, the Kumming Lantern, and the Seal Immaculate. The Bronze Man set up a bureaucracy with many specialists such as engineers, surveyors, logisticians, and couriers, creating the Nine-Rank System for assessing Legion candidates. The examination, which had a strong emphasis on the analysis of classical texts, was designed to identify those with the proper integrity and intellect to be entrusted with the Seal Immaculate. By solving the material challenges of organizing the voices and the ears of the Emperor, the Bronze Man discovered a wider conspiracy.

It was not long into the formation of the Legion that the first attacks began. Oathsworn of the Thurmentakis stalked and eliminated couriers (called rooks), raided depots, and even made an attempt on the Bronze Man himself. In response, the Bronze Man appointed the former consul Mekuna Mehal as Marshall of the military arm of the Legion and Mehslav Dinovna as the new Quartermaster. The Bronze Man himself became the first Commander of the Legion, and entrusted Marshall Mehal with the Tantari banner, in which was affixed the Seal Immaculate.

The Legion spent much of its first decade helping the Emperor to understand the concerns of the many parties impacted by the Troubles. The legion helped smooth over the discontent among the Bartan faiths from the challenge posed by Duetism (footnote 5), aided in the negotiations that led to the labor communes that still exist today in Zemya (footnote 6), and was instrumental in events leading to the Treaty of Rhaanda. The legions efforts to mediate between the Blooded and Bat-Tzion however were sabotaged, leading to Bat-Tzion’s martyrdom. Unlike the Legion’s previous successes, the Westlake Rebellion was a bitter pyrrhic victory, where the Legion (in conjunction with the Imperial Army) had to resort to force of arms and brutal suppression.

The Legion had known for some time that there were three Chosen who were behind some of the Troubles (footnote 7), but it was only from the aftermath of the Battle of Hodow that confirmed the presence of the One at the Eye, head of the Thurmentakis. The location of their lair became known to the legion from captured correspondence found at Hodow and a raid was initiated, led by Marshall Mehal and the Bronze Man himself.

In the aftermath of the skirmish, all of the Legionnaires involved were heavily wounded at the hands of the One, who was not to be seen again for many years. The Chosen left a parcel for the survivors to deliver to the emperor. After the commanders recovered from their wounds, they brought forth the sealed envelope to Tantarus, who broke the seal and banished himself to his chambers for ten days. Upon the end of his voluntary confinement, he summoned the Bronze Man and asked Zhuche Lang to stab him with an ancient dagger. The Bronze Man notarized Tantarus’ mark on the enclosed parchments with a mixture of imperial blood and urine, and it was shortly after this act in which the Troubles faded and an age of relative tranquility began. It was from these experiences that the Bronze Man wrote down in "The Admonition to His Children’’ the following:

“It was from this crucible of fire in which I learned the following truths: that the Gods are terrible to behold and their servants aberrant. That mortals will always need an intercessor and a herald to open the eyes of the divine and to remember the past accords. Let it be said thus that we, the Legion, are destined to Bear Witness to the Gods. Though we may bow before them, we will never forget our ultimate patron.”(footnote 8)

These annals demonstrate the following Legion precepts:

  • The Legion’s repute, the trust in our integrity, is what sets us apart from others.
  • The Chosen are to be feared but not scorned. And they alone cannot do what must be done. They are our opportunity and our burden.(footnote 9)
  • Strength of arms alone is insufficient to survive the divine. It is through preparation and cunning that we will find the path to victory.

(Historical foonotes, part of the private notes of the Lorekeeper).

  1. The Lorekeeper did not become a position in the Legion until shortly before the fall of the Old Empire, only added as a direct consequence of the Renunciation. These annals are the product of the diary of Mehslav Dinovna and various records that date over 100 years after the events in which the Troubles took place.

  2. The Aurelian Plague actually took place some twenty years prior to the next earliest Trouble, Sitarkha Baurmah’s ascent of Mount Patan.

  3. The Legate system was an Old Empire system for tax collection, public works, and relay services. Contracts for the provinces were sold to societas publicanorum, which could retain excess revenue obtained and collected interest from their bid.

  4. The appointment of Zhuche Lang was widely seen as a demotion and the result of Zhuche Lang’s falling prey to court politics, likely due to his immense ego and his tendency to humiliate his perceived lessers (i.e. everyone). The Bronze Man was a matter of significant speculation at the time. Men that had his appearance were only found in the ancient oral tradition of the Bartans, and he never spoke of his past. In fact, he was from the lands east of the Windward Isles, from the same larger land mass from which the Bartans fled many generations ago. How he managed to make the journey from there is a mystery, as the currents make travel from that direction implausible, as chronicled in the Mahayana of the Bartan people.

  5. Duetism is characterized by practices of pacifism and meditation. Although popular for a time in Barta, it eventually faded in prominence due to reforms by the priests of the Seven. Oddly enough, most of its current adherents are in remote sections of Or and Panyar.

  6. In some ways, the impact of Marzonism had a stronger indirect effect in its homeland of Or, as its rise is at the minimum contemporaneous with the demise of the indenture system and the rise of the burghers which continues to the present time. The slogans of Marzoni however are most popular in the existing communes in Zemya.

  7. Whether Sitarkha Baurmah, Bat-Tzion, and Carlo Marzoni were Chosen is a matter of some dispute. What is known is that only Bat-Tzion claimed to be Chosen (of Melqart), and Bat-Tzion’s claim was vigorously contradicted by the Hierophant of Royin and the other blooded. Carlo Marzoni himself claimed to be an unbeliever, and Sitarkha Baurmah founded her own mystical faith, proclaiming a unitarian belief. What is not disputed is the existence of reliquaries associated with the movements of each of the three. Also of note is the memetic contagion of each of these Troubles-- Duetism spread from Barta to many parts of the East, Marzonism took root in parts of Zemya and inspired congresses all throughout the empire, and Legion annals indicate that the Westlake Rebellion was incited by Bat-Tzion’s zealots. Legion annals also indicate that each of these movements, whether directly through their leader or through some other key lieutenant or adviser, were in contact with each other and with the One in the Eye, Zora.

  8. This treatise was Zhuche Lang’s attempt to guide the Legion long after his death. The early passages were eerily prescient in anticipating dangers and opportunities for the legion for the first ten years after his death, while the later passages had long lasting influence on the operating principles of the Legion to this date. It can be said that the Legion was molded in his image-- as an efficient bureaucracy that used technocratic means to solve political crises. Although there were elements of a military and an espionage arm of the organization, these were not the focus or the strengths of the organization as a whole. The Legion also based its political future on its organizational reputation for integrity and on its utility to the Emperor as advisors and troubleshooters. During the early period of the Legion, it was relatively poor at forming transactional relationships with imperial power brokers.

  9. The actual phrase used in Mehslav Dinovna’s diary is “Don’t mess with Zora”.