We do not know when humanity surfaced on Coda. Most stories of our beginning have become myths and legends. Our earliest records of existence point to our enslavement under the Urgoth overlords. They were bigger than us, bigger than our colossus javelins; they dominated over mankind for a very long time.
The Urgoth needed us to manipulate ember, a natural resource formed from the Anthem of Creation itself. What they did with this precious resource, we don’t know. But if not for humanity, the Urgoth would remain in a perpetual darkness, without ever knowing the ember’s usefulness.
Through their strong olfactory sense, the Urgoth could detect the presence of human settlements and capture them as slaves. Days became years, decades became centuries, and humanity remained enslaved. But how long could a sentient being with free will remain under another’s control without any insurgency? Those that rebelled, if caught, were severely disciplined through beatings and lashings. But there were others who cleverly escaped the clutches of these slave mongers. These became the Free Peoples. They operated behind the Urgoth, communicating through ancient runes—a ‘way’ that was passed down from arcanist mentors to apprentices— which revealed hidden messages under the blue moonlight.
Once such mentor was Grey-eyed Idris. He escaped with his young apprentice, Arden. Following the secret messages of the runes, they reached humanity’s first stronghold, called the Haven. As they entered, a proclamation was etched on its walls: All are safe within these walls. The Free Peoples in the Haven welcomed them, for they knew the knowledge these scholars possessed could free humanity when the time would come. Meanwhile, young Arden Vassa and another boy, Hrennan, continued to learn the ‘way of emberlings’ and secret ingredients from Idris and other mentors. The scholars made new discoveries to use against the Urgoth.
Other slaves who knew nothing of the ‘way of the runes’ found alternative ways to escape and remain hidden from the overlords. Some knew the only way was to fight. Two free women, Helena and Liatrelle, went from village to village, trying to rally the people to fight against the Urgoth. But the villagers would rather hide than face their inevitable captivity. Yet, the brave women fought the Urgoth while the villagers escaped, and then escaped themselves. One such time, Helena and Liatrelle were overpowered by the Urgoth. Although they continued their battle, they were exhausted; at the brink of their deaths, even. They knew they could not escape this time. However, the villagers rallied—inspired by the unbroken resolve, they would fight against the Urgoth enemies. Many perished, but many also survived whilst chasing the Urgoth away from their settlement. Then, they would follow their new General Helena Tarsis and Liatrelle the Unbroken, to chase the Urgoth away for good. Witnessing such moments of unity, Garred, Helena’s husband spread inspirational stories of his wife’s bravery. This rallied even more people to join the cause.
While humanity was joining hands, Urgoth continued to enslave small settlements. The fewer humans they captured, the hungrier they became to capture them. When raiding one such settlement, most adult humans were either killed or ensnared after a skirmish. A little girl, scared, hid inside a basket. The Urgoth could smell her and her frailty, so they deemed her useless. They left her to die in the ransacked village. With no family or a place to call home anymore, and fueled by resentment, Magna Stral vowed to become strong.
Time had passed, and Idris had passed on. Arden Vassa, no more a boy, met General Tarsis. Tarsis understood the knowledge Vassa had, would prove vital in deciding their fates against the Urgoth. Vassa would continue to engineer armaments and technology for the Free Peoples. Along with Liatrelle, Garred, and Vassa, Tarsis began recruiting more people. With this the Legion of Dawn was born.
Magna Stral, alone and unarmed, learned about the Legion. She followed the secret runes which now led to the Sanctuary—the headquarters of the rebels. When requested to join, Tarsis, seeing revenge in Magna’s eyes, denied her saying that she wasn’t ready yet. Unable to accept that answer, Magna went alone to fight the Urgoth. She defeated many Urgoth and returned to the Sanctuary with trophies of her conquest for a while. Eventually, Tarsis spoke to Stral. When asked why she would want to join, now that Stral had her vengeance, Magna replied that the Legion was where she belonged. Tarsis knew she was ready and welcomed Stral to the Legion.
Around this time, the Legion recruited several skilled humans: Artinia, who never wasted a bullet, Cariff, who was surrounded by rings of dead Urgoth when found, Gawnes, whose melee techniques were legendary, Yvenia, who could build anything, Alnwick Marigold, the most skilled sniper, Sanadeen, who was as quick as lightning, Verithan , Felux, and Duwnwin were all invited to join the Legion. They became their General’s most trusted, and were present during every meeting of Tarsis’ inner circle as her Legionnaires.
Arden Vassa, now a skilled inventor, knew it was time for humanity to defeat the Urgoth overlords and free the slaves. But human weaponry wasn’t the most effective tool against the colossal urgoth. They needed something more. Utilizing his fellow scholar, Hrennan’s invention of the Gateway, Vassa used embers to build a powerful weapon for his General in only five days! Tarsis could not only use it, but wear it as an armor—the Javelin of Dawn.
The Urgoth continued to enslave more people while the Legion plotted. No one knew how long it would take humanity to begin their coup. While remaining underground his entire life, a boy heard the stories of the Legion from his Arcanist parents. This underground hiding place was his whole life, where he studied everything the Arcanists taught him. But he longed to see what was outside. One day, this little boy, aged 10, left the safety of the Arcanists to look for this ‘legion’. Coda was, is, and always will be a dangerous world. Naturally, a chimera had a different plan—to feast on this child. Children raised by Arcanists can have a few tricks up their sleeves. This little boy, Midderon, laid false trails for the chimera, always remaining one step ahead. The chimera always followed him, but could never catch Midderon because of his ingenuity. More hunters joined this party—the Legion. Tarsis was testing her new javelin when she noticed the chimera stalking the boy. The General did not fully comprehend her javelin; even Vassa, its inventor did not fully understand it. She lured the Chimera to a different place while Liatrelle took Midderon to their camp. When Tarsis returned, the boy was being questioned about his people and where his parents were. But Midderon simply replied that the Legion themselves were his people. When the others tried convincing him to return home, Tarsis stepped in and proclaimed that Midderon was already home. From then on, he served as a Page to the general.
The Legion grew in numbers as more and more people, such as the legendary fighter Nal Jarra, joined the cause. Vassa designed new javelins for them, but never built any apart from the first one. Tarsis knew that neither the Haven nor the Sanctuary would be sufficient to house them all. She asked Vassa to build them a new Haven. Arden Vassa constructed a monumental gilded citadel, a new stronghold, a fortress for all the people. While building it, he accidentally scorched the ground beneath it, making it difficult for enemies to traverse. The bridge between Morning’s Edge and the Fortress’s lower courtyard was the only way to enter the new stronghold. Large colossi statues stood guarding the doors of the fortress to scare away the Urgoth if they dared to approach.
On the day of the mass evacuation from the Haven to the Fortress of Dawn, word came that the Urgoth were planning a coup on them. Around 50 people stayed back—lancers, cooks, arcanists, mentors, and more. They created the illusion that all of humanity resided within the Haven. While Tarsis and her trusted Legionnaires led the expedition to take the Free Peoples to the new Fortress, the Urgoth killed every remaining faithful soul back inside the Haven.
Vassa had etched a declaration on the walls of the Fortress through the secret runic writing: All are safe within these walls. The Fortress also carried within it a gauntlet for anyone who showed the courage to enter in the hopes of joining their cause. Those that endured it for even a second, would be given a javelin and a position among the lancers—the javelin pilots— of the legion of Dawn.
It was nighttime when the journey from Haven ended at the Fortress. The Volume of Tarsis splendidly accounts for the auspicious moment when the people arrived at the Fortress of Dawn:
As the moon chased itself across the night sky, that declaration was revealed to the free crowds, and they wept.
Tarsis removed her helm to address the throng. "Free people. Know this is only the first of our cities. When the Urgoth are nothing but ash, we will build palaces and gardens and homes. We, the Legion, promise you and your children yet unborn... all will be safe within those walls."
And so, with this, thousands of free people settled within the fortress. The Legion of Dawn began preparing for its most important fight: the fight for humanity’s freedom—our freedom.
Next time: Dawn of the Legion
• Anthem Cortex Entries
• Vassa and the Runes
• Legends of the Legionnaires