The Mercenary Guild
"Are you down on your luck, and don't know where your next jetra will come from? Ever wanted to see the world, but were unable to afford the trip? Do you crave recognition for your accomplishments?
Make a small fortune, travel to exotic locales in Antaron, be a hero in the eyes of fair damsels!
Think that you have what it takes? Inquire within and see if you can be a Twilight Rider!" -recruitment poster outside of the Mercenary Guildhouse in Throthgard, Drannon
Throughout Antaron's history, the powerful - and those that would be - have relied upon military force to enforce their boundaries, defend their homelands, and impose their will upon others. However, many great and small powermongers alike have faced a common problem - quality, loyal military might can be rather hard to come by, be it due to a lack of trained troops, a lack of local manpower, or a lack of inclination among the locals to support their lord's position. Thus, the mercenary was born.
Originally, the process of hiring mercenaries was rather haphazard at best; chance had more to do with an employer finding suitable troops than any other factor. Nevertheless, the demand for mercenaries remained fairly constant, even growing over the years, as political maneuverings led to inevitable conflict. Feudal lords could certainly conscript their peasants to fight for them, but as they saying goes, one does tend to get what one pays for, and professional soldiers repeatedly demonstrated their superiority to farmers pressed into involuntary service.
When the Drannese Empire collapsed, a unique situation was created. Many of the imperial garrisons, being locally born to the provinces of Ertain, Coria, and Pardinal, identified more with the lands of their birth than the source of their training, and thus seceeded with their respective lands. Once the war ended, a glut of professional soldiers existed, and with no local lord to serve, they began working for the highest bidder. Due to their training and discipline, these new mercenary units came into high demand in the new fledgling kingdoms.
Then, in 34 b.E.R., the first Mercenary Guild was founded in Dergeroth, Ertain. Originally created as a means to centralize the local mercenary trade, the concept caught on quickly, and guildhouses began opening in major cities all across Antaron. While each individual guildhouse is free to set their own local policies, there are some standards that are universally maintained, ensuring that the reputation of the guild remains noteworthy.
Currently, Pardinal and the city-states of the Taskarran Coast are among the largest consumers of mercenary trade, while Ertain and Coria are two of the largest suppliers of such warriors. Naturally, not all mercenaries or mercenary companies belong to the guild; many employers find the guild regulations to be a bit restrictive, as do many mercenary commanders. However, guild companies are free to obtain non-guild contracts - provided that they do not violate regulations.
A company may not accept a guild contract using any non-guild soldiers. Naturally, all guild soldiers and companies must pay yearly dues. There are quite a few benefits to being a guild member, namely:
Ransom. The guild will ransom any and all of its members at current rates, provided that no other ransom is available. Certainly, this cannot always be said of many employers, including several of history's kings!
Arbitration. The guild will act as an impartial arbitrator between individual members or companies, or between members and their companies, or between companies and their employers. All such decisions are strictly enforced.
Contractual benefits. Member companies have the benefit of checking with any guildhall to find posted contracts; obviously, potential employers may post their contracts through the guildhalls. The guild serves as a hiring agency for new members, if requested. Further, the guild will strictly enforce contractual obligations upon reluctant employers - no one in their right mind would risk angering the mercenary guild.
Discounted services. Guild members can usually expect to obtain equipment (weapons, armor, and related materials), lodging, and other supplies as discounted rates, subject to local availability. While not tremendous, these discounts frequently range from ten to twenty percent; certainly enough to be worth the trouble!
Of course, all guild members and companies are expected to fully observe the Mercenary Code and Mercenary Company Code, respectively. Failure to do so will result in heavy fines and/or permanent expulsion from the guild. Gross violations can result in a guild contract being placed upon the offender.
The Mercenary Code
I am a professional soldier. My equipment and comportment shall reflect this.
I shall uphold my contract and perform my duties to the best of my ability.
I shall not betray my employer.
I shall not rape.
I shall not loot nor pillage without my commander's consent.
If my employer betrays me, I shall seek redress through the Guild.
The Mercenary Company Code
The company shall uphold its contract and perform its duties to the best of its abilities.
The company shall not betray its employer.
The company shall not rape, nor pillage from civilians. Looting shall be confined to the battlefield, and be at the company commander's, or the employer's, discretion.
The company commander shall not accept impossible nor suicidal missions for his company.
The company may repurchase a contract, at the full face value, at any time, but may not seek employment with the original employer's enemies for a length of time no less than the length of the original contract or current conflict.
If the company has been wronged by the employer, it shall seek redress through the Guild.
Mercenary Companies of Note
This list is not intended to be exhaustive; this is merely a sampling of prominent mercenary companies across Antaron. Many others do exist!
The Silver Wyvern Mercenary Company (Calestra, Coria)
Commanded by Lord Captain Aliex Unthar. One of the focal points of the Calestran mercenary trade. Due to the Silver Wyverns' success, they tend to lack any shortages of potential contracts or potential new members. The unit's standard is a silver wyvern against a blue sky.
The Redwall Guild (Calestra, Coria)
Commanded by Aeric Jalstone. Much like their commander, this company has more of a reckless reputation than do the Silver Wyverns; opinions are often divided on whether this is positive or negative. The unit's standard is a red brick wall.
Calen'rimae (Green Runners) (Palil, Coria)
Commanded by Talinthonel Matenintras Palil, Sylvarian by birth. The Runners are light and fast, and considered to be one of the premier reconnaissance units in existence. The unit's standard consists of a rapier with vines wrapped around the blade.
Tongar's Hammers (Relegas, Sendia)
Commanded by Tongar Ralbane, a brute of a man, and a deadly warrior. The Hammers specialize in dirty, hotly-contested fights, and carry a reputation for getting the job done. The unit's standard is a battered war maul.
Ebony Vipers (Davnor, Sendria)
Commanded by Ri'leas Alderbranch, a renegade Sylvari, this company is known for specializing in nonconventional operations. "Move fast, strike swiftly, disappear" is their motto. The unit's standard is a coiled black serpent, poised to strike.
Nightmare Legion (Davnor, Sendria)
Commanded by Captain Bardis Keth, the nephew of master necromancer Dedrix Keth. The Legion is rumored to use dark magics to aid them in battle. The unit's standard is a skeletal fist on a field of black.
The Scarlet Gale (Bayris)
Commanded by Jalian Drenis, a former captain in the elite Marteal Guard. The Gale specializes in amphibious operations, which ensures that they never run out of clients. The unit's standard is a thunderbolt over a scarlet field.
Cultubar's Eagles (Dergeroth, Ertain)
Commanded by Captain Filtas Cultubar, a veteran of several small conflicts, and a respected warrior. The Eagles are a cavalry-heavy unit, focusing on tasks that are best accomplished on the traditional battlefield. The unit's standard depicts a diving eagle with talons extended, on a field of purple.
Fortune's Blades (Targos, Ertain)
Commanded by Captain Damask Pordian, a landless knight-errant. The Blades have a penchant for taking the side of the underdog, which naturally boosts their popularity among the common folk. The unit's standard is a pair of crossed blades over an orange field.
The Lockshir Regulars (Lockshir, Ertain)
Commanded by Strom Durmis, the Regulars are one of the oldest mercenary companies in existence, tracing their roots back to a local militia that took part in the Independence War with Drannon. The unit's standard is an alternating checkerboard of green and black.
The Iron Storm (Einal, Drannon)
Commanded by Kuldar Stonecleaver, a clean-shaven Khordaldrum. The Khord seems to wear his shame paradoxically almost as a badge of honor, and has never offered to regrow his beard after whatever sin caused his exile. He is, however, almost maniacal on the field of battle, and a brilliant tactician; his heavy foot troops and his own personal axe have spilled an enormous amount of Ertainian, Sendrian, and Drannese blood over the years. The unit's standard is a double-bladed axe imposed over a gray storm cloud.
The Twilight Riders (Throthgard, Drannon)
Commanded by Lord Cilian Toricus, a powerful Drannese noble who appears to prefer warfare to his inherited life of luxury. This company has served as far south as Pardinal and as far north as Rayther. The unit's standard is a crescent moon against a field of midnight blue.
Thanks to Lurker25 for this contribution!