Brendan was the son of Duke Martin Reed. Reed was the largest Dukedom in Bern until 935 A.S., when King Louis dissolved it for corruption. The land remained lawless until 977 A.S., when King Desmond, Louis’ son and successor, abdicated the land to one of his chief advisers, Lord Yosef, who renamed it Thracia.
Stripped of his family and his lands, Brendan went into hiding. A prodigy of axemanship, the very thought of crossing him struck fear into the hearts of the Bernese soldiers, causing them to leave him alone unless ordered otherwise. The former nobleman caused no trouble, so no such orders were given. In fact, the only sightings of him by anyone – nobles, peasants and soldiers alike – was when he went to villages to stop bandit raids. The shopkeepers repaid his kindness by feeding him, restocking his vulnerary supply and giving him new weapons if he needed them.
On his twenty-first birthday, Brendan decided to treat himself to a casual stroll through the typically peaceful Devlinshire Wolds. To his annoyance, he came across a merchant caravan being accosted by a group of particularly vicious bandits, who he recognized as members of the Taliver Clan – mountain-dwelling marauders from Sacae. The caravan had a group of mercenaries protecting them, but the brigands outnumbered them nearly three-to-one. Despite that advantage, this particular bunch seemed rather exhausted, leading the axeman to believe they were driven out of their lands by mighty Djute warriors. Due to the bandits’ fatigued state, the mercenaries managed to hold their own, but Brendan knew it was only a matter of time before they were overwhelmed. The axeman did not even hesitate to lend his aid, turning the tide of the battle and saving the caravan. His skill impressed the mercenary leader, a middle-aged swordsman named Walker, who offered him a place in his ranks. Tired of traveling on his own, Brendan accepted and soon became a valued member of the band, even earning the heart of Walker’s finicky niece, a sniper named Laurel; the two were married within a year.
For the next ten years, Walker’s company was kept very occupied, as their services were constantly sought out by merchants who wanted (and could afford) the best protection possible. Everything began to change, however, when Walker received word that his son, Dieck, had been forced into pit-fighting. The mercenary retired soon after, leaving for Etruria to try and buy his freedom. Unfortunately he was killed by bandits while traversing the mountains that separated Etruria from Lycia. After learning that he was killed, the mercenaries appointed Brendan as their new leader, and for the next few years he tried his hardest to keep the group going. The former nobleman was not nearly as savvy as his predecessor, and the group began to find fewer and fewer jobs as time went on.
By 958 A.S., the mercenaries found themselves barely getting fifteen jobs per year, albeit high-paying ones. Brendan and Laurel’s sons, Linus and Lloyd, were old enough to fight with alongside their parents, who reluctantly decided to let them. They inherited their parents’ skills at combat (though they specialized in swordsmanship), earning a great deal of renown and getting more merchants interested in employing their services. Still, business was rather slow, and the mercenaries found it difficult to maintain themselves. Shortly before the new year, however, their luck began to change. A nobleman from the Dukedom of Fafnir requested that they guard a caravan transporting pre-Scouring treasures to Kingsborough. In return for their services, the noble promised them fifty thousand gold and free room and board for the rest of their lives. Brendan thought this too good to be true, but despite his reservations he chose to accept. Unfortunately his hunch would be proven correct, as this was merely a ploy to turn the newly-crowned King Desmond against mercenaries; his support of them made many of the others fear this would be a repeat of the Etrurian Civil War a few centuries ago, in which the King’s reliance on mercenaries became his undoing when they turned against him, leaving only the Royal Mage Corps and the small, inexperienced and undertrained Royal Army to defend him.
When the mercenaries reached the border of Fafnir and Kingsborough, they were assaulted by Duke Fafnir’s personal guard – disguised as bandits – and were soon overwhelmed by their numbers and skill. Only Brendan, Laurel, Linus, Lloyd and a handful of the other mercenaries survived. They ran for the nearest village to report this incident, only to find it burned to the ground, with the bodies of their fallen companions – and several Bernese soldiers – scattered across the grounds. A squadron of Royal Wyvern Knights flew in shortly after Brendan and his company arrived; after seeing the carnage, they blamed the mercenaries, who fled. Rather than pursuing them, however, the Wyvern Knights flew to Bern Keep to report what they found.
Brendan later learned that many other mercenary companies had experienced the same thing. Greatly concerned about their futures, he ordered his men to disband. The mercenaries reluctantly complied, assumed new identities and started new lives. The axeman took his family north to Devlinshire – where Bern had no jurisdiction – and purchased a home in a small settlement. To maintain their levels of skill and a steady income, the Reed family joined the local militia and helped defend the village against bandit raids. Their talent did not go unappreciated, and soon the mayor exempted them from all taxes. Unfortunately their happiness did not last long.
Noblemen from Bern, in an attempt to stop the influx of bandits from the Sacaen mountains, sent their best soldiers to raid the border. On their way, they crossed through Devlinshire and destroyed most of the villages in their path, including Brendan’s. This action was the last straw for him; he took his family south to Kingsborough, where he hoped to one day get revenge on all the nobles who had wronged him over the years. He purchased a small house for his family, but he himself left to further his skills. Laurel sometimes went with him, but she forbade her children from ever joining them. One day, a group of bandits tried to raid an armory, but were almost singlehandedly defeated by the armorer, a Sacaen-born fighter named Jan. Those few who he could not handle were stopped by Brendan, who had intervened when he heard the commotion. Seeing how skilled the armorer was, the former nobleman requested that he join his cause. Apparently Jan had his own quarrels with the nobility; he gladly accepted Brendan’s request. Reed soon introduced the armorer to his family, and they became very close. So close, in fact, that Jan risked his reputation to call in what favors he had so he could find people who might be willing to join Brendan’s cause. His connections told him of two people who may have been willing: Palatine Pascal Landskron and a Sacaen nomad named Uhai, who had traveled to Bern around the same time Jan had. Meanwhile Laurel had found and adopted three street kids who showed a great deal of potential, Jerme, Legault and Aesha.
Feeling confident that they were prepared to start an organized group, Brendan took Laurel, Jan and his three adopted kids to seek out Pascal and Uhai and bring them into the fold. First, as a warm-up, they went to hunt bandits. Coincidentally, the Palatine was doing the same thing. Brendan approached Pascal and asked him to join his new group – which he and his companions elected to name the Black Fang – but the paladin refused, afraid associating with mercenaries might result in his execution, undermining everything he had been working toward. He added, however, that he supported the former nobleman’s actions, and wished him the best of luck. Brendan understood his reservations and left to pursue Uhai. The Sacaen warrior proved easy to find, as his Sacaen garb was most conspicuous in a sea of Bernese civilians wearing normal attire. Uhai was much easier to persuade than Pascal, as he had an instinctive hatred of nobles, believing them to be extremely discriminatory. Brendan was somewhat offended by this, having once been a nobleman himself, but understood why the Sacaen felt the way he did.
Pascal later had a change of heart, figuring doing the right thing was more important than having a good reputation, and sought out Brendan. When the Palatine found them, the axeman was more than happy to welcome him into the Fang. He, along with Linus and Lloyd, helped train Jerme, Legault and Aesha, and after a few months the three adopted children felt ready for combat. Realizing that the group was now large enough to be noticed, Uhai suggested that the members take on new names. Brendan agreed, and assigned appellations to his friends and family. He became the Commander, Laurel became the Brown Eagle, Linus the Mad Dog, Lloyd the White Wolf, Jan the Wild Bull, Uhai the Soaring Hark, Pascal the Crazed Beast, Jerme the Death Kite, Legault the Hurricane, and Aesha the Storm Crow. Unfortunately the King’s spies found out about them beforehand, put bounties on their heads and labelled the Black Fang a terrorist organization. In addition, he stripped Pascal of his position as Palatine, though out of “mercy” allowed him to remain Count of his homeland, Landskron. Pascal took advantage of his position as Count and provided the Fang with a safe place to live.
Eventually, their coffers ran low, as solely fighting bandits and corrupt noblemen did not earn them a lot of gold, so Brendan decided they would accept work as mercenaries for merchants and other respectable fellows. One day a sorcerer named Nergal came along and offered them a large sum to kill one of his “corrupt” enemies. Brendan agreed without a second thought, and the sorcerer led them to the village where his enemy, a sage named Juge, resided. Seeing that they were actually a peaceful people, the Fang refused to cooperate. Nergal responded by using his own magically-created soldiers to burn the village to the ground, kill Laurel and capture two children orphaned by his attack. Brendan and his companions were horrified by what they saw; Pascal and Jerme were traumatized to the point that they went insane.
The Black Fang built a new hideout in the mountains between Queensborough and Fafnir, where they operated as a force that solely killed corrupt noblemen who abused villages, accepting in return only what the villagers could supply. For the next two decades they fulfilled their promises to the people, earning the love of the common folk and the hate of the nobility. Eventually, however, Nergal sought to use them to further his own ends, and had Sonia seduce Brendan. Brendan could not help but fall for her, much to his sons’ disapproval.
Sonia’s control over Brendan and his organization only increased over time. Her actions resulted in the corruption, and eventually the destruction of the organization. In 981A.S., she revealed her true intentions to the Commander and killed him.
In 982A.S., Legault and Jan, the only two remaining members of the original Black Fang, sought to restore the organization to what it once was, but were unsuccessful. Marquess Pherae knew the full story, and using his influence, he made sure the Black Fang was forgotten by time; otherwise they only would have been remembered as criminals.
Stats in “The Mission”:
Axe – S
Bow – A