First of all, I did go into details about the Mercenary Life back in December of 2015 HERE.
Yet, I can’t leave them out of this weekly topic because they are a big factor when it comes to big military encounters. Kingdoms, villages, armies, and individuals hire these people for jobs. The reason is because they can do more than a regular army. As much as they hate to admit it, mercenaries can skirt treaties and certain laws to put a quick end to hostilities. Many try not to get involved in deals that require unsavory actions, but the career has always had a soiled reputation. It takes a lot of work for a mercenary to become know as an honorable agent instead of a less subtle assassin or expendable goon.
There are two big mercenaries in the Legends of Windemere series. One is Delvin Cunningham who had an easier time establishing his reputation. This is because he was trained by a respected teacher and he took a risk in his mercenary career. While it was known that he could be tough and intimidating, Delvin never took jobs that harmed innocent people. He demonstrated that he had a conscience and would say no to orders even if it put him at odds with his team. After a while, his friends learned to trust his judgment because they would see their own reputations improve. Better jobs with a safer and higher exposure level came to them.
Now, Delvin would not be able to do this without the other mercenary who came before him. Selenia Hamilton began at a time where women were soldiers, but those that went mercenary tended to be thieves and casters. She grabbed the entire mercenary world by the face and dragged it into her vision. This is why they have a central town for communication, more respect as a profession, and an overall leadership in Ralian known playfully as the Mercenary Royal Family. These four mercenaries aren’t related, but they have earned the King, Queen, Prince, and Princess titles, which helps them with jobs. Selenia did this by starting with a small group and making an impact then amassing the biggest mercenary army history had seen to that point. Tzefira, the current Mercenary Queen, probably has her beat in numbers. These large armies are expensive to hire, but are seen as important factors in war because you don’t want your enemy to be the one to get them. On the plus side, there aren’t many mercenary armies out there. Five or six at most.
This unaffiliated faction certainly makes an impact, but they do lack one thing that the armies have. They need conflict to survive. Most mercenaries have no second job or government paycheck. If a mercenary takes on a guard position then they are made stationary, which makes it harder to find freelance work. They may do this in large cities, but it puts the other job at risk. So many become seasonal or find easy sources of money like thievery or underground fights. There’s also no easy retirement with most mercenaries either dying, retiring due to injury, or crossing a line that gets them put in jail. Selenia is an exception since she quit to start a school, but her reason for quitting was a major loss that haunts her to this day. So, there is a higher risk of mental trauma when you’re a mercenary.
In regards to the three ‘Powers of the Land’, I would put the mercenaries in the middle of the other two. They get involved with the armies of Windemere and possess a similar role when it comes to battles. Yet, they’re freelance and move about like the third force that will be mentioned on Friday. This is why a mercenary can easily move into one of the other two categories.