Dominic Schropp: The Old Solider
Born in the capital city of Skargan in the Kingdom of Longstan, Dominic Schropp was born to a small merchant family who owned a small general store. His mother had a troubled pregnancy but was able to slowly recover in their second-floor residence above the store.
His mother raised him, and by the age of six, he was helping downstairs with his family’s business. Even as a small child, he showed a temperament to do menial work that would aid him in his life. Along with cleaning, he would also help restock light items on the lower shelves closer to the floor.
Their family life was a relatively happy one until his mother became pregnant again when he was nine years old. While his mother was relegated to the bed, more was expected of the young Dominic. It was given to him not only to clean their living space and help in the store but also to cook with verbal instructions from his mother.
While all of this was difficult for him to handle, he set about his tasks with a seriousness and dedication beyond his few years. It also gave him something to set his mind to in order to distract from the worry for his mother and watching his father sink further and further into depression and alcohol.
At the age of ten, both his mother and his would-be sister died in childbirth. This was devastating to both Dominic and his father. While Dominic suffered in silence, his father relied more on alcohol and ventured into gambling to distract him from his pain.
By the age of eleven, Dominic was working to keep the store running while trying to take care of his father. His family’s reputation suffered as customers noticed the absence of his father and heard the rumors of his shameful drunken exploits throughout the city, which caused business to dwindle.
It was in this same year that his father bet the store and lost. Now without any income or a place to live, Dominic and his father were thrown to the streets. Unable to stand the sight of his father after this final betrayal of their familial ties, he left his father to his fate and began begging and trying to find odd jobs to survive.
This continued for two years, with only a single, short reprieve when an alcoholic widow twenty years his senior took him in. While she was verbally abusive, often intoxicated, and occasionally attempted to seduce him she did provide shelter and food for his work around the house.
After two months, she sold him to a group of mercenaries. During the evening, she entertained a few of these men in her home, making Dominic cook and clean for them. After bedding each of these men in loud fits of ecstasy, and their revelry was over, she collected the gold. The men greeted Dominic, bound him after a short struggle, and took him away.
Leaving the city of Skargan, they traveled for weeks, taking Dominic far from everything he’d ever known. As he had for his family and the widow, he cooked and cleaned for this band of rough, brutal mercenaries. The hard work, however, did not deter him. Knowing he didn’t have much chance of surviving in the new lands they went to, he decided to stay rather than to run away. Over time, they also taught him how to fight and how to use a sword. Three years after having been sold into their captivity, he was allowed to participate in some of the work the mercenaries were hired for.
After a year of working part-time as a mercenary, when he was seventeen, the band was hired to ransack a small settlement. The noble who hired them had informed them of the wealth they could find there but left out that the people living there were dying of a mysterious illness. After a week, only Dominic and a few others around his age were left alive.
Together, they traveled back to Skargan and joined the military. Along with the money they took from the dead mercenary band and the regular work they now had as soldiers and city guards, they were able to establish themselves, purchasing homes, and starting families.
At the age of eighteen, Dominic met and married the daughter of a widower named Emma. They found a deeper emotional connection over their shared experiences of losing their mothers at a young age and having to take care of an unappreciative and alcoholic father.
Within a year, and in the following two years, the couple had three children, all daughters. When he was twenty-three, they had their first son and final child. Although they had some difficulties adjusting to their young married life with so many children so quickly, they had a relatively happy life.
Dominic had regular work and an affectionate wife who took care of the house and their children, and Emma was devoted to a man who appreciated her and provided a comfortable life for her and their children. The future looked bright and welcoming, which was a heavy contrast to the lives they’d had up until their time together.
Work as a soldier for Longstan saw relatively little danger. Other than being sent to handle bandits or occasional skirmishes with neighboring kingdoms, there hadn’t been a full-scale war for centuries. With the power and influence of the Heimio people wandering the lands, they were able to force the many countries to remain on relatively peaceful terms.
Through the years, the group that survived the mercenary band stayed close. The holidays and children’s birthdays were celebrated together, along with weekly get-togethers for the men at their local tavern. The wives also got together often for tea, and this sense of community kept the families tightly knit together.
When he was thirty-six years old, a war on the scale none living had ever seen was declared. The western kingdoms had formed a coalition to fight an equally powerful collection of eastern kingdoms. Half a million soldiers were gathered to face off with sword and shield. Although none of these low ranking soldiers knew, all these men were gathered to fight, but not who they initially thought. As expected, the Heimio gathered in numbers rarely seen. In fact, it was roughly eighty percent of all adults of their people.
The order was given, and the powerful but few in number (comparatively to the hundreds of thousands of coalition soldiers) were targeted. The battle was nightmarish and beyond imagination for many of the commoners who’d never seen the magical prowess of the Heimio. While Dominic lost his eye, almost had the side of his face crushed, and his lower leg lost, each of his beloved friends died in battle. Each losing their life to a summoned demon and suffered a horrific death.
Dominic’s unlikely survival was followed by a lengthy recovery time. During this year, his wife and children were forced to work to support the family by any means they could. A couple of the wives of his friends had to resort to prostitution to support their own families.
Traumatized by his experiences, Dominic was a changed man. His nights were plagued by constant nightmares, seeing his body wither to monsters, and his friends torn asunder on the field of battle. Like his father before him, he turned to alcohol to cope. With drink and an unstable mental state, he began abusing his wife and children.
At the age of thirty-nine, after a night of heavy drinking, he beat and yelled at his wife and children worse than ever before. His eldest daughter, Kelly Ann, who had recently turned down another marriage proposal to continue supporting her family, took up a cooking pan and defended her family.
With the sound of sobbing from the rest of the family, she threw him out. After a month of sleeping rough and unable to convince them to take him back, he left the city and the family he’d betrayed. Once he was gone, the families of the widows and Dominic’s wife pooled their resources and lived together to better their chances for survival.
After months of wandering, Dominic came to the town of Breeches Rack. The town often hired traveling workers, and so hired him. While the work was harsh, breaking rocks in the heat of the sun or the cold of winter, he made a new lonely life for himself.
At the age of forty-three, he was drinking at the Stone Picker’s Inn, as he often did, when one of the few remaining wandering Heimio, named Kelsie Copper, showed up in the tavern.