The Second Great War and other stories
Come back with your shield or on it
In the Archipelago, this saying is unbelievably ancient, dating back to pre-settlement days. It means, “Live as a warrior or die as a warrior.” During the Raiding Era of the Archipelago, the warrior culture was strong enough that cowardice was literally worse than death.
After its founding, the Border Legion adopted this saying, but more in a legal sense. In the Legion, if uttered by a Lord or more powerful noble, this phrase acts as a legally binding contract to absolve someone of their lawbreaking in the pursuit of a worthy cause. It acts as a case of “the ends justify the means” in that it means (literally speaking) “You have broken the law, but in a good cause. If you finish the cause, you will be absolved of this lawbreaking.”
A notable example of this was when then-Scout Aemaea Vargen revealed the existence and weaknesses of a secret escape tunnel to some forty mid-ranking Legion members who weren’t cleared to even know of its existence. She wasn’t even supposed to know of it. Such a breach of the Writ of Secrets usually carries a penalty of death, but the Exalt of Roses instead gave her command of the assault team going through the tunnel, along with this ultimatum. As she ultimately helped retake the Diamond Fortress with this knowledge, she fulfulled the terms of the contract and can never be prosecuted for her indiscretion. If, however, she had failed to retake the Fortress or had died in the assault, her name would have been stricken from the Legion records for treason and violation of the Writ of Secrets. Naturally, if she had committed another, separate, crime while fulfilling this command, she would still have been liable for any criminal penalties for that act.