I'm going to intersperse what LF has already written (either in quotes or paraphrase) in the startup thread with some more background of his military exploits here.
The nation of Seldar was born out of conflict with the neighboring Hild over 400 years ago. Tensions between the two countries have always been high, but for a time, they learned to be neighbors. The two countries shared a border that stretched north and south on the eastern edge of Forest Lake. The border ran through the city of Rótel, which grew prosperous and strong through busy international trade. As a border city, both nations lay claim to it, although it by rights sat just inside the Seldar border. As the city grew, parts of it edged over into Hild, and conflict arose over the city and rights to access Forest Lake.
The people of Seldar valued their freedom, and shunned authority, only sparing their rulers as much as was necessary to avoid a war with Hild. Hild, on the other hand, was a strictly authoritarian military government. Although smaller in size and population, their military might slowly built, and they quietly amassed an overwhelming force. These troops were tested against monsters in the foothills of the Great Barrier Mountains, and in skirmishes with the elves to the north over logging and environmental issues. Most troops were battle hardened, and all were willing to fight.
Seldar, despite its lack of organization and regular troops, was not unaware of their neighbor's doings, and discovered Hild's plans to attack. They quickly mounted a force to strike first, hoping to use the surprise of the swiftness of their attack to buy themselves time to raise conscripted armies to defend their land. Despite a promising first few weeks of battles, the more well trained and seasoned warriors of Hild easily pushed the Seldarian forces back, driving the Seldarian forces westward along Forest Lake almost to the Rëanvane border, assuming control of most of the shores.
Fortunately, the Seldarians had superior ships on the lake, and routed what attempts the Hildeans made to attack them on the water. Supplies and troops were transported across the lake, and Seldarian forces harried the Hildean shorline garrisons. The Hildeans ran into further problems with the hill dwarves of northern Seldar, who viciously defended their homes from the invading forces.
The hill dwarves, coupled with a superior Seldarian navy and the onset of winter, stalled the Hildean advance. The quick advancement of their troops had stretched their supply lines to the limit, and food was in short supply for the winter. Finally, the spring came, and the Hildean troops prepared to receive fresh supplies, reinforcements, and advance to annex all of Seldar for good. But the supplies and reinforcements never came, as the elves of Anorien to the north had joined the fight, using guerilla tactics to disrupt supply lines and troops. The elves bargained with Pandar to supply Seldar, and together, the elves, the dwarves, and the Seldarian humans pushed back the Hildeans, routing them to the original border and beyond.
The Hildeans were driven deep into their own land, back to the Telanisch River. Here the dwarves and elves halted their troops, having had their fill of bloodshed. They supervised peace accords, and helped draw up new borders--effectively halving the size of Hild.
Years went by, and the Hildeans stewed, shamed and brooding over their losses. Though generations passed, hatred for the Seldarians, the elves and the hill dwarves was strong. Hild skirmished with the hill dwarves, but more particularly with the elves of Anorien, as they were easier targets. Small numbers of troops were allowed through northeastern Seldar by sympathetic peoples that felt they still owed allegiance to Hild, and such troops usually skirted through southern Tarvel to harass the elves' southern border.
Skirmishes with the elves became a way of life, annoying to the elves, but not particularly dangerous. Through the years, the elves began to accept that this was the way of life along the border, and those that made their homes there learned to be prepared. It was near the Tarvelian/Anorien border that a boy named Sterling Blackthorn was born to a forester and his wife. Even as a young boy Sterling was big, and he enjoyed helping his father with his work as a forester among the lush trees of Tarvel.
Sadly, this idyllic life was cut short when his parents were both killed in a raid by brigands when Sterling was only 7 years old. The brigands attacked Sterling's parents and set fire to the house in moments. Sterling's father, also a big man, fought hard and killed or wounded all of the brigands before being brought down. Sterling himself, seeing the last two wounded brigands killing his mother, picked up his father's axe and slew both men. Sterling was too young to recognise that the 'brigands' were men of Hild on an early raiding sortie. HIldean raiders, notorious for being unscrupulous, had decided to ignore their flimsy agreement with Tarvel to avoid harming their people in exchange for free passage.
The elves of the forest noticed the smoke from the burning house, and investigated. They found Sterling orphaned. The elves, having few children of their own and seeing the lone child in a remote forest house, took him in and cared for him, teaching him some of the ways of the forest folk. He grew even bigger during his time there, reaching the size of a full-grown man by the age of 12. He grew to love and honour the elves, thinking of them as his own people.
However, again tragedy struck, when another raid attacked the elven village. Accustomed to such raids, the elves hid the children, including Sterling, in a secret grotto, safe from the marauders. This raid was not a small skirmish, however--it was the beginnings of escalation between the elves and the Hildeans, and the force was a regular army unit in size and training. The troops tore through the village with alarming speed, headed further into the country.
Hearing the sounds of battle past, and not hearing the normal call of the adults to bring them out of their shelter, Sterling mustered up the courage to break from the hiding place and survey the village. When the children emerged they found the village destroyed; all the adult elves had been cruelly butchered and left to lie where they fell; the houses were burnt; livestock was maimed or stolen Even family pets were killed mercilessly, being used for target practice. Several of the village elders had been beheaded or hanged, dying before they revealed the location of their young. Sterling organised the children to honour the dead in the elven way, and cried the last tears he would ever cry that day.
Sterling knew the paths of the forest, and led the other elf children past the front lines and to another village deeper in the forest, warning the elves there of their experience. Sterling then left the forest and went to join the Seldarian army to fight Hild. Although only 12 he was able to pass as much older owing to his prodigious height and strength, and he devoted himself to learning to be a soldier, eventually earning a place among the elite ranks of the myrmidons.
Years passed, and Sterling grew into a giant of a man, becoming a fearsome warrior. He was loyal to the Seldar authorities and dedicated to fighting the hated Hild. As a young man, his assignments mostly revolved around defending areas in Seldar, but as he grew, his superiors saw his potential, and began training him more regularly and assigning progressively more difficult tasks. Soon enough, he was among the elite ranks of the soldiers, being sent wherever fighting was the most dangerous. He fought the likes of the Hildeans, orcs, goblins, gnolls, and even bugbears. These monstrous troops sapped the morale of the normal men, but they only served to enrage Sterling, who cut them down with his fellow elite soldiers. He witnessed many tragedies that others only heard rumors of: the evil Hildeans using dark magic to immolate large numbers of troops in moments; monsters able to see in the dark murdering soldiers in the night; elves being captured and sold as slaves; elven women and children being cut down as they fled; surrendering troops being killed rather than captured; the atrocities went on and on.
Through his travels, he saw many different military units of the Seldarian army, and made quite the impression with his two battle axes and giant stature. In time, he was given command of his own unit, but this also proved to be his despair. As a sergeant of a small platoon, he was privy to much of the news and planning of the Seldarian army. Through this position, he discovered that King Barten had neglected to come to the aid of the elves when Hild mounted their invasion that had destroyed his village. His heart torn, and his loyalty split, he left the army to make his way as a soldier of fortune.
Let's go do whatever was the last thing that Morlan thought was a bad idea.