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The Hundred Kingdoms

Fate of the Legions: Ash and Argent

The Legion of Ash was perhaps the most unorthodox of Legions; they were the wandering trackers and slayers of all manner of monster and beast that beset the population of the Empire. In the early empire, the Emperor was forced to place bounties on the heads of those beasts and monsters that preyed on his population. At first, only well-trained groups would undertake such tasks, mostly hardened veterans and accomplished sell-swords, whose experience outweighed the passing of their prime. But as the fame of these individuals increased and the bounties grew in number, so did the mercenaries who flocked to earn them, thinking it a quick way to make fame and fortune. It soon became clear that rules and guidelines had to be established as these mercenaries would start ambushing each other rather than the monsters, while the truly proficient among them would demand higher bounties or turn to less… official contracts. Rather than establish a Bounty Hunters guild, the Emperor created a new Legion, dedicated to the task. The Legion of Ash kept institutionalized bounties as their reward structure rather than a steady wage, and demanded they organize in units to promote skill communication and transmission, while offering better and specialized training. While it was not the only group of bounty hunters, the Legion of Ash was by far the most populated and rewarding. After all, the largest employer of legal bounties was the Emperor and they all but monopolized their fulfillment. This monopoly, however, would prove to be the Legion’s downfall. With the collapse of the Empire, the financial demands of the dissolution itself as well as the limitations and supervision imposed on the Chamberlain’s Office by the Conclave swiftly saw the imperial bounties discontinued. The Legion of Ash disbanded almost by default, with little to no protest by its members; an unprecedented number of swords for hire became available, almost overnight, adding to the chaos of the time. Without a doubt, many of the Legionnaires of Ash found their way to the ranks of those nobles that could afford them, while others would begin fulfilling bounty contracts of a less-than-savory nature. Still, the need for monster slaying never seized and if one were to scratch the surface of the Hunter Cadres, who knows what one might discover?

The Argent Legion was by far the largest force the Emperor could muster. It more accurately should have been described as the Argent Legions but by keeping them as a single force he made it harder for his opponents to accurately measure his standing army. During the dissolution of the Empire, the decommissioning of so many soldiers was a delicate matter, as no lord of the realm wanted an Imperial army on his lands when its Legionnaires found out they were no longer employed. As a result, the decision was made to recall the Argent Legion and guarantee their full pay, ostensibly with the goal of dismissing them when they were gathered on the Klaean Fields of Argem. This matter was crucially decided before the establishment of the office of the Imperial Chamberlain.

What nobody had counted on was the sheer scope of the project. As the Legionnaires started pouring in, it quickly became evident that paying this many soldiers would be a daunting task in and of itself. As the weeks stretched into months, temporary structures were erected to house the Imperial bureaucrats who would pay the soldiers. As the months began piling upon each other and the Legion still streamed to Argem, the ranking officers ordered the temporary construction of barracks to house their soldiers, expanding into the slums that had surrounded the Fields for decades, and commissioned the digging of proper sanitation as latrines were simply no longer enough. Another complication resulted from the long-established payment terms for the Legions. As the rules stood, a Legion had to be active to receive full pay, and the Legionnaires refused to spend months waiting on half pay, so they continued their regular activities, training and recruiting throughout the process.

By the time the last legionnaire had been paid off, years had passed and the coffers of the members of the Conclave had been bled dry, a factor that no doubt damped the flames of aggression that could have torn the Empire asunder in those vulnerable years. Still, the fabled Argent Legion of the Empire was no more. Or was it? Drilled perfectionists and life-long soldiers, the Legion’s officers would not spend their time idly during the years of waiting. Their training regimes would be revisited and refined during the endless drilling sessions, while theory and strategy would be discussed almost daily in the officer lounges. In time, the temporary residences and training fields of the Argent Legion would become the foundation of the War Colleges, where the best soldiers and officers in the Hundred Kingdoms still receive their education to this day.

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