Of Kings and Men
“In the lands by the seas, and in the distant isles, many cities and villages lack war hosts of any sort. For us, who dwell in the lands of the Great Clans, this may seem unusual, but it is the presence of the Condotierri that causes this situation.
Many years ago, the first great mercenary captains established themselves – figures as illustrious as Odo Blackshield and Aethelring One-Ear, or as infamous as Rickhardt the Piker, Horsa the Fierce and Sarana the Killer. Over time, so many veterans, widowers, farming men and youths fled their masters to join these captains as mercenaries that their hosts grew beyond the hundreds and into the tens of thousands.
Such was the start of the Condotierri – mercenary generals who lead entire armies against the foes of their employer. Some may have up ten or twenty thousand or more troops under their command. Their name originated in the isles of the Deep South, having the original meaning of “Those who Fight for Anyone”.
So great is their wealth and power that many knights serving them wear gilded armour and use swords studded with jewels.
Unlike most mercenaries, the Condotierri are considered honourable and will go to great lengths to ensure that others buy their services during war time. However, competition is great as well. There are many stories of groups of Condotierri clashing – which may sometimes even end up in the eradication of an entire host of one mercenary general.
There are many famous Condotierri generals, but the most well-known and feared is Ser Godfrey the Burned, who is said to have received hideous scars and great patches of charred skin in a siege he had began to win a young lady’s affection. It is rumored that upon seeing his horrid visage, the lady was struck by great horror and died right in front of him.
There are, however, many more generals well known for their prowess – from Lady Eryn Ironchain to Sergus the Fortunate -, who are simply waiting for that old and powerful relic to die to become the greatest and, thus, the most wanted."