“My name is Pars. I was born in the year 1474 in the Swedish city of Arboga, where my father’s father’s father had built a living making shoes. My grandfather Sigurd had two children who grew to be men, Andhers and Halstein. Andhers was born first by two years, and it was he that would inherit Sigurd’s legacy. As Halstein grew into manhood, he was left to make his own way in the world. His efforts found him in southern Europe, making a decent living as a mercenary in Italy and Germany. He eventually settled there, with the help of his German employers, taking a German wife and starting a German family.
Halstein is my uncle. My father Andhers inherited Sigurd’s property and business and made a comfortable and quiet living for himself. My older brother Peder and I grew up there in Arboga, where our father worked us hard and taught us the basics of working leather. As we grew older, Peder was given more and more tasks directly related to shoemaking, and I was given more and more tasks related to keeping out of their way. My father loved me and raised me well, but I was his second son. Peder, by rights, would inherit our father’s business and property, and I would have to make my own way in the world.
I spent some time doing work for the city guard, running whatever odd errands they didn’t feel like doing themselves. I became somewhat familiar with the principles of fighting during this time, from what I could observe as the guards trained. It was also during this time that I began to write letters to my cousin Godafrid, son of my uncle Halstein. Godafrid, I learned, had followed in his father’s footsteps and was working as a mercenary.
He told me of the Austro-Hungarian war, of the hardships he faced and the glories he won. He told me of the men he served, and the men he fought beside who became as brothers to him. When he told me of a German bastard who had formed a new company, and that he would put in a good word for me should I decide to follow the company to Grenada, I made up my mind.
With some money, advice, and a few recommendations from my uncle Halstein, I made my way south from Sweden and through Germany, and skirted southern Europe all the way to Spain. Spain was a chaotic mess as men worked to surround and cut off Grenada, and I had more than one close call as I searched the battlefields for my cousin. I caught up to him while the company regrouped after a battle at Moclin. Godafrid brought me directly before an Englishman I would later learn was the Willensstark master-at-arms, where he went on and on about virtues I never knew I had.
Before I knew it I was a mercenary. My first taste of battle was at Iznalloz. To put things gently I will say I performed well enough to last the day. To be more accurate I will say I would have died if not for a pair of Germans named Hanz and Wilhelm. In battle my voulge was knocked from my hands, and I surely would have been skewered had they not been at my side defending me.
I will not claim to be a great warrior now, but I adapted well enough to a mercenary’s work during the siege of Grenada. For eight months I practiced, fought, and came to know the men I fought beside. Hanz and Wilhelm became my first friends. We helped each other in camp, practiced our fighting skills together when we had time, and stood by each other in battle. In time I repaid my debt to them in battle, and earned more debts than I care to readily admit.
In Arboga I had blood relatives. People I knew and understood I could look to for help, and that I was supposed to help in turn if I were able. But there in Grenada, I had a family. I had people I trusted implicitly, with my life, who I would risk everything for with not a moment’s hesitation.
I am pleased to say I made it out of Grenada with my life and my health. We did good works there in Spain. We weakened the hold of the Moors, and they were eventually driven out of Europe entirely. From Spain we went to Italy. I will admit to understanding little of the political intricacies of our time in Italy. Truth be told I did not make much of an effort too. The Captain understood why we fought, I only listened when he told us who to fight. Italy became much more for me than more battles with the French. I don’t know whether it was from a sailor during out travels from Grenada, or from some Italian while we waited in Naples. But somewhere, someone gave my cousin Godafrid that most deadly disease, the plague which once killed so many people in so short a time, and has continued to remain so serious a threat. I cared for him as best I could, and learned much about the disease and the miasma that it came from. But in late 1494 Godafrid was overtaken, and we were forced to leave his body behind as we made our way north.
We fought many battles in Italy, and now we fight more in France. We fought for many different men, but as long as I had my brothers-in-arms at my side, and a little gold in my hands, I was happy with the life I risked.
Now we find ourselves in northern France, in Calais, protecting the holdings of the English. It is easy enough work, fighting of the French. We usually don’t have to do much more then wave at their backs as they run away. And I am growing to like fighting beside the English. They may be loud and offensive, but more often than not their bite is bigger than their bark. The Willensstark is growing as well, and I grow fonder of it on a daily basis. There is this one Norwegian though, calls himself Torgeir the Wolf. Seems kind of pretentious to me, claiming a name like that, especially as a damn Norwegian. But he fights well enough, so I guess we’ll get along. For now.”