Throughout the history of the Crimson Empire, one rule was regarded as absolute by the Imperial Guard: no surrender. Legions of the Guard could be defeated; they could retreat; they could be annihilated. But they could not surrender, and only in instances where legions changed allegiance from one claimant to the throne to another was anything of the sort not punished in the harshest terms.

The 83rd Legion was particularly well-respected in the Empire; of the original 100 legions, it was one of only seven that had never been defeated or disbanded. As such, it was assigned to one of the most volatile areas of the Imperial frontier, a sector where quiescent tribes and petty kingdoms forever seethed and were one spark away from rebellion.

During the Imperial Crisis, when Emperor Sejan IV was besieged in the capital by rebellious troops seeking to remove him for his alleged insanity, the 83rd Legion found itself abandoned on its flanks as the soldiers moved north en masse to support one side or the other. Sensing their opportunity, an alliance of the tribes and small kingdoms surrounded the 83rd legion and demanded their surrender.

Cut off from resupply or reinforcement, the legion’s standing orders were to break out or fight to the last man. The former was impossible, as the Legion was outnumbered five to one, and the latter was complicated by circumstance. As a border unit, the 83rd had many camp followers including the wives and children or many officers and men. To fight to the last would have been to sacrifice their loved ones.

What followed would rock the Empire for a hundred years.

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