The Bloody Shoals
Nestled between two spits of land in the south-western area of the Kelrik Isles, the Bloody Shoals is the sight of one of the largest naval battles to ever have taken place between the Imperial Navy and the Kelrik Pirates. The huge number of ships involved in the engagement and the treacherous stretch of water they were fighting in resulted in huge number of casualties on both sides and the whole stretch of water is now chocked with the wreckage of the sunken ships. Parts of the sunken ships are still visible above the water line to this day, acting as a warning of the hidden dangers beneath the waves to passing sailors, and as monuments reminding passers-by of the bones of thousands of sailors whose remains rest among the wreckage.
The Battle of the Bloody ShoalsIn the year 269AIF a dangerous trend began to emerge in the Kelrik Isles as the young and charismatic Pelios Marmanal, Captain of the Yearning Heart, one of the 10 ships that under the command of Admiral Bramilo at the founding of the Kelrik Pirates, began drawing together a larger and larger fleet, which he used to command larger and more high value targets across the Centric Sea. Captain Marmanal was renowned for his ability to read the weather and the currents, both skills he used extensively to his advantage. Attacks by his fleet would frequently occur when bad weather was about to break, ensuring that as many ships would be in their target harbours as possible, and his fleet would appear seemingly out of nowhere, strike quickly and brutally, killing and plundering with wanton abandon before disappearing just before the coming storm arrived, ensuring that there was little chance they would be followed or tracked. Whilst the illicit activities of the Kelrik Pirates was by no means new, it was unusual for different pirate crews to work together, even more unusual for them to work together for extended periods of time. The Imperial Navy were becoming increasingly concerned, both with the scale and unpredictability of Captain Marmanal’s attacks and by the worry that this could see a dangerous trend emerging where the Kelrik Pirates became more organised and deadly as a result. Their concern peaked into outright fear when Captain Marmanal’s fleet all but burnt the town of Lazan Bay to the ground in 271AIF and seized hundreds of crowns worth of whale oil that was about to exported to the rest of the Empire. Fortunately for the Imperial Navy, agents from the Imperial Inquisition were able to track the pirate fleet, back to a reef and its sandbars in the south west of the Kelrik Isles. As Marmanal’s fleet was using the sheltered waters of the reef to repair their ships, rest their crews and redistribute their plunder, the Imperial Agents guessing that they would remain there for several days, retreated to make their report. Luckily for them they arrived back in the ruins of Lazan Bay to find an Imperial Navy fleet assessing the damage, which they were able to report to and within hours of the agents arrival, the Imperial fleet set sail. Two days later, on the morning of the 18th day of the month of Kultal 271AIF, the masts of the Imperial fleet appeared on the horizon, making swift progress towards the pirate fleet. Though Captain Marmanal’s fleet was larger in terms of the number of ships, the sheer number of craft that were in the area of the reef and its sandbars meant that it was hard for him to muster a quick response to the rapidly approaching threat. Pinned down with many of his ships poorly positioned to withstand an attack, the Kelrik Pirates suffered huge losses in the opening stages of the battle, but as the engagement dragged on the ships of the Imperial Navy, unused to the shoals and its waters began to lose ships, which were run aground or scuppered on the reef, allowing the pirates a chance to level the playing field. By all accounts, the battle lasted all day and was so devastating for both sides that neither could claim victory. So many sailors were killed that the surrounding waters for many miles were stained red with blood, giving the area its name, the Bloody Shoals which has stuck ever since. Despite their initial advantage, the Imperial Navy lost just as many ships as the pirates, whose remaining ships scattered to the four winds. However, the Imperial Navy had at least managed to achieve one great success, namely the sinking of the Yearning Heart, Captain Marmanal’s flagship, which took the Captain down to a water grave with it. Whilst the battle of the Bloody Shoals did nothing to dampen the overall activity of the Kelrik Pirates, it did result in several quieter decades for Pelenar Province and the Imperial Navy in the region, and it remains to this day the most deadly naval engagement in the Kelrik Isles.
The area that has become known as the Bloody Shoals was originally a nameless area of coral reef, flanked by two sand bars that were barely worthy of the term ‘island’. The reef and its surrounding islands mean that the water level in the area is shallower than the surrounding Centric Sea, but it is still deep enough to allow the passage of even the largest of ships, provided that their captains know the safe route through the area.