20) Derek Spikebeard
Derek Spikebeard is a cad and a villain. So say the merchants of the lands south and east of Gillead, but to the farmers of that ravished land he is something of a hero. The son of a farmer himself Derek left before the formorian horrors descended from their mountainous homes to plunder and destroy. He was strong and wiry, quick and steady in the face of danger. It made him a good candidate for a guardsman of the eastern lords who always needed more swordfodder in their continual internecine conflicts. Derek joined the company of Lord Stonetower whose lands bordered the hills of the far north and who fought the bluemen of the wild as often as his own neighboring lords.
The fighting grew to open warfare during the time of Seven Kings and Derek survived more battles in a year than had been seen in the last fifty. From a novice, untrained with weapons or armor, he became a bannerman, then a sergeant in the service of Lord Stonetower. Then came the bluemen in such numbers as had never been seen before. They overwhelmed the northern lands till Lord Stonetower's keeps and castles became islands in an ocean of death and fire. Derek accompanied the expedition which struck deep into the northern hills, found the black rock and the cavern of darkness that lead to a fortress beneath the earth built by no human hand. Few returned from that expedition. Derek and a dozen others alone and none would speak of what they had seen.
Derek wore the armor of Lord Stonewater and bore his sword, a powerful blade that drank the blood of any it touched. With his small band he made his way through the bands of bluemen, cutting them down when he had to, avoiding them when he could. In the south he waylaid a shipment of ale from the first passing merchant he came across. From there his depredations grew in scale as did his band of followers. From north to south he robs and waylays. Along the eastern coast he sometimes takes ship to the ports of the Empire to sell his goods, but in the west he returns to his homeland and recruits men as the old Lords have done. In his homeland he is generous with his coin and well-liked by the people who are more than happy to give him safehaven when he needs it and thumb their noses at the merchants and Lords of the south and east.