The Others discovered war as a concept a long time ago, and indulge it as they would any other passing fancy. Something about the blood, the explosions, the shouts and screaming, the way a war sprawls across a landscape and scars it — it has its appeal. Some of the Others like to participate firsthand; more prefer pushing their armies around like living, bleeding pieces on a map. The Soldiers are veterans of those wars, bent but not broken by the unending, insane conflict.
Some run mad, of course. Post-traumatic stress disorder is all the worse considering the stresses of a war in Faerie. Others find the mortal world to be the peace they’d longed for all their time away, or at least the promise of potential peace. A Wizened Soldier may have a mouth full of curses and a brutal knack for violence, but the mortal world gives him something to fight for that he never had in Arcadia. The mortal world gives him a cause. It gives him hope.
If the Wizened look somehow shrunken, the Soldiers look almost compacted. They don’t seem to have lost any weight — it was packed more densely along their frames, making them tougher and more resilient. A Soldier’s musculature and joints may look a little off, a touch twisted or knobby. Soldiers’ skin often looks somewhat seared and blackened around the tips, powder burnt from peculiar explosions. Some have elaborate scars that form unusual patterns across their faces and entire bodies, the work of battlefield surgeons playing at artistry or encrypting some odd message into the Soldier’s flesh.
Only the most senseless of mortal wars can compete with the utter madness of an Arcadian conflict. The Soldier is a veteran of bloody, frenzied battles that lasted for years, all with a purpose no greater than capturing a small yellow flower that caught his Keeper’s fancy when he visited a neighbor’s garden. The battles themselves were often the tortures that remade him.
Broken, half torn apart by elf-cannon and balefire, he was dragged back to his mistress’s surgeons and sewn back together in time for the next conflict. Some Soldiers never fought in largescale battles at all, but were pitted against one another in gladiatorial contests or set to patrol the Keeper’s grounds for threats that could come from any direction.
The soldier often appears in fairy tales as a displaced soul returning home from war to a home that no longer has a place for him. From there, he must make his fortune — and the otherworldly appears to him. The hero of the story “Bearskin” pacted with the Devil out of desperation and become something less than human until he won his freedom — accidentally delivering two more souls to the Devil in the process. Another soldier wins a magic tinderbox from a witch, and uses the three dogs that are its guardians to win his fortune. The Wizened of his kith share a similar fate, struggling back home to find that they have no place.
Cannot attack a person wearing white, must keep belongings well maintained, bane of lead shot, cannot injure a woman, may not enter a churchyard, repelled by a widow’s tears.