The Swordsman’s Alphabet: Barbarian
B is for Barbarian. Outsider, marauder, berserker. A barbarian in the general sense is anyone outside one’s own particular sphere of civilization. A barbarian in the specific sense is the best sort of person to have on your side in a fight.
Barbarians universally come from inhospitable and un-luxurious environments, such as frozen wastes or festering jungles. Civilized folk often assume that barbarians have strong ties to their tribes or tribal gods, but the swordsman will find that sort of barbarian is the reason all of the barbarians of his acquaintance came to the city.
The gods of barbarians are a grim lot, sending ice, thunder, doom and so on upon their nominal worshipers. It’s no surprise that barbarians swear by them only when desperate or severely put off. Barbarians have on occasion been known to enthusiastically embrace civilized gods, though they are as a rule much keener on embracing civilized priestesses.
Empires often outsource their military operations to particularly clever barbarians, their own citizens being much too busy being decadent and taxed (or is that taxed by decadence?) to patrol the frontiers. Such arrangements usually lead to underpaid barbarians marching on the capital demanding back wages and often bloody crowns. These crowns then cap the heads of barbarian leaders, whose armies rejoice, and whose generals become aristocrats of a sort. Within, at most, a century, they are ready to begin the cycle of outsourcing again.
All swordsmen are advised to know or be a barbarian.