Malcolm Somerled is a great bear of a young man, his shaggy hair and beard obscuring the fact that he’s only seen 19 summers. At six and a half feet tall and 20 stone, he towers over most people he meets. He wears leather moccasins, barely holding together, over old and patched socks. He wears a massive belted plaid, its dark colors matching the dark leather of his breastplate, but off set against the bright shock of fox fur that makes his belt pouch. The leather breastplate is joined by a pair of vambraces, contrasting with the lighter tone of his long roughspun tunic. Across his ring belt from the pouch is a leather sack of heavy stones. His backpack is out of character with the rest of him, crafted of heavy black leather with iron clasps.
When headed into battle, he wields a massive sword, with three and a half feet of blade and over a foot of grip. If he weren’t so tall himself, he’d never wield it one-handed. As it is, he sometimes pairs it with a large wooden shield, a fresh leather tacked over the splintered timber.
Malcolm Somerled was born in the 80th year of the Last Age of Mankind. His father was also named Malcolm, chief of Clan Somerled, a part of the devastated House Davin. Clan Somerled barely deserved the name anymore, consisting of a dozen fighters and their families. The clan spent most of their time in hiding or on the run. When young Malcolm was born, the elder Malcolm’s wife, Ainsley, pleaded with him to leave the north and find a place where they could care for the child properly. Malcolm sent six of his more cunning warriors to prepare the way in Baden’s Bluff. After two months, the family, along with two of their most trusted friends, travelled to Port Esben to make their way south.
They never made it out of the city. The clan chieftain was betrayed by his best friend, Eamon Killcannon, who sold him to the Traitor Prince in Port Esben in exchange for clemency. Eamon had long been in love with Ainsley and took her as his wife, keeping the young child alive as insurance of her good behavior. Malcolm grew up not knowing his true heritage, nor that his five younger siblings were only half so.
Prince Esben created Clan Killcannon and gave Eamon the right to have soldiers of his own. Malcolm was raised in this environment and trained to be a soldier in Izrador’s army from the time he was seven. He never doubted his parentage, even as it became clear he resembled no one in his family – tall, pale, and hair as red as flame. He proved a more than competent soldier and demonstrated an odd flair for languages, proclaimed “nearly Orcish” by one martial legate.
In 97 LA, Eamon’s troops were selected to escort an arms shipment across the Sea to Baden’s Bluff. Eamon led the troops himself and brought his 17-year-old son, who was the spitting image of his real father. Eamon hoped that, should any of Malcolm’s men still be in the city, the younger Malcolm’s presence would draw them out and fetch him a bounty (Eamon’s lifestyle had left him in debt). What the treacherous older man did not count on was Ainsley, who had waited, patient as a spider, for this opportunity. When it came time to leave, Ainsley gave her son a small box, telling him to open it on the ship when he was alone. Inside was a letter, detailing Malcolm’s true family history and the treachery of his father. It also contained Ainsley and Malcolm’s original marriage contract, old letters between husband and wife, and a torn-down copy of the declaration of the Clan Chief’s execution. Malcolm spent the voyage in shock and, with the scales fallen from his eyes, he saw his “father’s” true nature, and that the older man was scared.
Eamon may have been scared, but he wasn’t wrong about Clan Somerled. Four of the original six were still in Baden’s Bluff. When one of them sought out Eamon, he made arrangements to meet with all of them, along with Malcolm. Malcolm overheard the conversation and intercepted the man, an old hunter named Fergus, outside of the inn where they were staying. Malcolm revealed Eamon’s deception and asked to meet with his true father’s men. Fergus, now nearly in a panic, took the boy to a smokehouse near the edge of town. Malcolm’s box and the word of these men came together in a story that turned the boy’s world upside-down, but drove the older men to action. As a group, they fled the port town that evening, moving south.
The next year became a blur of villages and towns. Malcolm’s size made him stand out too much in places where everyone knew everyone else. In places where the war had produced sufficient upheaval, the men could claim to be refugees from a nearby destroyed town, and they’d spend a few months in peace, but it never lasted. Malcolm’s outrage at himself for having been a dupe of Eamon and the Shadow for so much of his life burned in him and it came out in bursts of fury at perceived injustices. He beat a town mayor within an inch of his life and tracked down and killed a legate asleep at his camp. Lord Somerled’s men took responsibility for finishing and improving the boy’s education, teaching him the true history of the north, as well as improving his combat training. Hamish, the Clan’s former huntsman, taught the boy herb lore and woodcraft. His size and strength enabled Malcolm to find work as a laborer in towns where the group stayed for a while. When a village just north of the Plains of Ash and Blood was cleared to pillage the resources, Malcolm and his mentors followed the refugees into the great forest of the Caraheen. Hamish spoke fluent High Elven, and had been teaching Malcolm, so it seemed as good a destination as any.
The older men parted ways here, scattering throughout the villages (In truth, they had fallen to squabbling several times and were near to coming to blows by this point). Malcolm was a welcome addition to one of the larger refugee settlements, as his herb lore and hunting skills made him a rare resource to the beleaguered humans and halflings. His knack for languages has made him into something of an intermediary in disputes, and he’s looking for people to teach him halfling and improve his comprehension of Trader’s Tongue. He keeps his skill with Black Tongue and Orcish to himself.
With the parting of ways with his mentors, Malcolm is largely on his own for the first time in his life, but he’s determined to make the best of things. He never considers going home – he’s certain he’s a condemned man if he gets within ten leagues of Baden’s Bluff and no one here forbids him from carrying the large sword that Angus, the Clan master-at-arms, informed him was his birthright, along with the signet ring he wears on a cord around his neck (The sight of the heavy gold makes him uncomfortable).