League of Latona
Friedrich "Freddie" Mercurius
Human Fighter, Unaligned Sellsword
Friedrich Mercurius was born to humble farmers out in the hinterlands. As a youth, he loved sitting on his late grandfather’s knee and hearing the old man’s tales of fighting alongside the legendary dwarf Snorri Irongrond in the Trolltooth Wars (he never realized that his grandfather’s constant nightmares were a result of fighting in the Trolltooth Wars). Less fond was he of his time spent bent over his father’s knee for shirking chores and other mischief. At 16, the restless youth took his grandfather’s old sword and left home, unwilling to continue toiling on his father’s farm. He had hoped to become an adventurer, a fighter like his grandfather. Of course, youthful naivete is no match for harsh reality, and Friedrich promptly lost his heirloom sword in an unfortunate encounter with a rust monster. Weaponless and penniless, he considered returning home in shame, but instead found employment with a blacksmith, cleaning his shop in exchange for regular (but meager) meals and a place to sleep (on the floor). If he did a good enough job, the smith promised to take him on as an apprentice, an arrangement that was quickly forgotten when the smith’s nephew showed up in search of work.
It was in midsummer of Friedrich’s 18th year that Gothmog Gutspike’s orc tribe, the Broken Necks, came down from the highlands to raid. After a year of infighting, the orc chieftain had united the disparate goblin tribes to his ragged black banner. The venerable Snorri Irongrond mustered his militia of dwarfs and humans, and put forth a call for volunteers and sellswords. Upon hearing the call, Freddie stole some weapons from the shop and ran off to join Irongrond’s army. However, the aged dwarf didn’t recall Freddie’s grandfather, and assigned the cocksure youth to guard the army’s baggage train, which is where Freddie honed his skills at gambling and drinking.
Contrary to Irongrond’s boasts, the War of the Broken Neck dragged through autumn and into the winter, and his army’s supplies ran low (the Broken Necks avoided this problem by simply eating their casualties and captives). Irongrond’s soldiers had to forage, and Irongrond himself seized the harvests of several halfling villages. Naturally, this engendered resentment among those Irongrond was ostensibly fighting to protect. The halflings marched on the baggage train, demanding their harvest back. Freddie’s commanding officer insisted that the food had been requisitioned for vital military purposes and that anyone found stealing food would be considered a seditious traitor and dealt with accordingly. With anger in their breasts and hunger in their bellies, the halflings advanced on the baggage train, pitting pitchforks and slings against swords and armor. The baggage guards were few and the halflings were many. Freddie ducked back to avoid the scrum, he had signed on to fight orcs, not hungry farmers, but he soon found himself in the middle of the riot. He beat his opponents with his shield and the flat of his sword, but still they kept coming. He saw a comrade get bashed in the face with an axe handle, and saw his commander gleefully hacking into his tiny foes before being pulled to the ground and finished off with farming implements. Suddenly, the fighting was interrupted by a calamitous explosion—the dwarfs’ precious whiskey still had become a casualty of the fighting, sending shrapnel into guard and farmer alike. In the ensuing chaos, Freddie turned and ran.
Snorri Irongrond eventually won the war, coming down from the highlands in the spring with Gothmog’s head on a pike. On a victory parade through the halfling village of Hogshead, he was thrown from his horse and died from a broken neck (some suggest that his horse had been struck by a stone from a sling, but that is just hearsay). Friedrich Mercurius deserted during the Battle of the Baggage Train, and could not share in Irongrond’s short glory (nor did he wish to). Instead, he took to the road, offering his services for a (reasonable) fee and fighting for the one cause that he can truly believe in, himself.