- "They came out of a clear blue sky, showering crossbow bolts onto our packed ranks. But before we could react they’d flown off only to return from a different angle, emptying their quivers into our unprotected backs once more. Of course we surrendered."
- —The mercenary Gunter-Friesheim, in his account of the Crookback Pass fiasco.[1a]
The Birdmen of Catrazza are a famous band of Dogs of War mercenaries that hail from the Tilean city-state of Verezzo. Wearing their trademark bird-mask, these Mercenaries are famous throughout the lands of Tilea for their ability to fly across the battlefield by using a pair of wings made entirely of canvas stretched out over a light wooden frame. This is strapped to their shoulders by means of a harness that leaves both hands free to shoot a smaller variant of the crossbow. In flight, the wings can be flapped by means of a stirrup attached to the feet, allowing the Birdmen to glide up and down the battlefield.[1a]
This ingenious invention was made and manufactured by the famous inventor Daddallo, who was a well-known craftsman and windmill builder within the city of Verezzo. He became obsessed with trying to fly like a bird after he acquired some lost manuscripts of Leonardo da Miragliano. Inspired by the ideas these contained, he began experimenting with flying devices. Only later did it emerge that these manuscripts were clever forgeries. However, by then it was far too late; Daddallo’s obsession had quite literally taken over his life, ousting any vestige of common sense from his fevered brain and putting him on the path as a Mercenary of Fortune.[1a]
- "Tis simply my lord, I have a cunning plan!" said Daddallo, "First we buzz in low, hedgehopping for good measure. Then its "up and under" and in from the sun. Keep an eye out for Archie' of course. Corkscrew and puff out, trying not to prang. Then the wingies will strafe. My number two is in and out and we're away!"
- —Daddallo, telling a confused Merchant Prince his ingenious plan[1a]
Daddallo’s early attempts to fly met with no success. His efforts caused much amusement among the citizens who gathered in the piazza to watch him jumping off various towers. Fortunately for him, Daddallo’s version of Leonardo’s parachute was one thing that did work.[1a]
Daddallo fell foul of the powerful Batta family of Verezzo when he plunged through the roof of their country villa and landed in the marble bath where the mistress of the house while she was bathing in it. Quite apart from this impolite intrusion, Daddallo landed on top of the captain of her bodyguard (who for some reason or other was also in the same bath), killing him outright. Daddallo was immediately imprisoned in the leaning tower of Verezzo, both as punishment and as a way to avoid further embarrassment to the Republic he once called home.[1a]
Determined to escape, Daddallo whiled away the days by ingeniously constructing a pair of wings using bed sheets stretched over a framework of wooden spindles cut from the furniture. Soon, he was ready to jump from his prison window, which had no bars since it was so high up that it was thought no one could escape. Daddallo’s exit was rather spectacular. Miraculously, he swooped over the rooftops to freedom instead of plummeting to his death in the piazza below. Flying into exile, Daddallo spent the following year training a mercenary band which he called the ‘Birdmen’. Only the best and thinnest marksmen were chosen for the role in his company.[1a]
The Birdmen went into action for the first time at the Battle of Motta Zorella and snatched victory by descending on the enemy general and carrying him off into captivity. Afterwards, Daddallo’s Birdmen were immediately hired by Alfeo Romeo of the city-state of Remas. Prince Alfeo was determined to rescue the beautiful Isabella Dellecta from the bent tower of Catrazza, where she had been imprisoned by her family until she agreed to an arranged marriage to Prince Grobbo, a very rich, ugly, and cruel Merchant Prince from the city of Miragliano. Daddallo’s Birdmen succeed in this dangerous task despite a number of marksmen guarding the tower. Henceforth, the regiment took the name ‘Birdmen of Catrazza’, and has been in much demand ever since.[1a]