Aparaloka: Scales of War
Mercenaries are irregular fighting forces, usually itinerant, who sell their martial service as a product as opposed to a duty (to a community).
Mercenary forces were extremely tightly regulated during the Pax Rhestilanum. Most would-be mercenary candidates were instead integrated into the imperial power structure either into the Armies-Errant or as Gladiators.
After the Fall of Rhest, many soldiers were left without ties to any remaining community. Some turned to banditry; others to protecting communities against bandits. Most just looked for work doing what they were trained to do: fight.
Despite the chaos, violence, and death, long-distance trade still continued, though at a trickle. Nevertheless, money finds a way.
Formerly-independent trading concerns clustered together into the Elsir Consortium. Hiring these soldiers to guard the precious trade goods, its financial power and merchant culture influenced the embittered soldiers. Soon, they had a new allegiance: Gold.
Nearly a century of interactions with these amoral mercenaries has lead the settled towns to be wary of well-armed travelers. This well-ingrained distrust is a hindrance to the goals of the Guild.