The Kelrik Pirates
Since 49AIF when Admiral Bramilo deserted the Imperial Navy with his fleet of 10 ships, the Kelrik Pirates have stalked the waters of the Kelrik Isles and far beyond and have become a true thorn in the side of Pelenar Province and the Empire of Turelion. Not only do they engage in the raiding of ships belonging to both the Empire and the Hastellion Trading Company, they engage in the smuggling of good across provincial borders, denying both the provinces and the Imperial Treasury their share of taxes and they both help to foment resistance to Imperial rule through their sheer existence, and help to prop up secessionist regions such as Nova Norgantho and the Abwëfbĩkii.
Since the death of Admiral Bramilo, their founder, the Kelrick Pirates have existed more in name than anything else, to the point that anyone who undertakes illegal, seaborne operations within Pelenar Province can refer to themselves as being associated with the group. With no overarching governance structure, the hierarchy that now exists amongst the Pirates of the Kelrik Isles is quite simple, the more firepower a ship has, the larger a ship’s crew, the more skilled it’s captain is, or the higher a crew’s track record hunting prizes is, the higher a ship’s or a ship’s captains reputation is likely to be, and therefore the more influence a captain or crew is able to hold over others. The captain of each ship demands the kind of respect from their crew that a high ranking naval officer would expect from the ranks beneath them, and they command their ships as individual floating kingdoms. Some crews operate more democratically than others, with some captains instituting council meetings whereby the crew can easily air their grievances and have some part in decision making, whilst others are completely autocratic operations. There are some nods to maintaining an overall official structure though, which is primarily reflected in the holding of an annual Conference of Captains. These conferences are a chance for the most highly renowned and infamous captains to get together to discuss matters that they feel might infringe on their ability to conduct their business. In reality these gatherings are treated as an unofficial holiday for all of the crews who turn up and very little business is actually transacted, but it provides an important opportunity for captains and crews to throw their weight around amongst one another, boast of their achievements, and perhaps poach skilled hands from other crews.
The Six Laws of BramiloAlthough there is no longer an overall power or official that ties all of the crews that sail under the name of the Kelrik Pirates, there are a set of ‘laws’ that are commonly recognised to apply to all crews, regardless of the fact that the Kelrik Pirates are not a coherent organisation. The laws, which are named after the founder of the Kelrik Pirates, Admiral Bramilo, reflect the rules that he instituted should be followed by the crews of the 10 original ships which were under his command in the early days of the Pirates’ activities. The laws are as follows:
- All crew should respect the authority of their captains in battle or ‘emergency situations’ and should refrain from disobeying or questioning orders in such times.
- All crew should sign up for service on a ship knowing their payment terms (including allocation of additional money from prizes) up front, before they sail, or as soon as otherwise feasible.
- Captains are expected to have the best interests of their crew outweigh their own interests when decisions are made regarding the running of the ship, or the pursuit of prizes.
- Captains and crew should refrain from conflict with other crews who sail under the auspices of the Kelrik Pirates.
- Captains and crew should refrain from raiding, robbing, pillaging or other wise harming communities that are known to be safe havens for any crew, and should also refrain from enacting the above on communities that have pledged themselves to specific captains or crews.
- All parties who contract to hunt a single prize together should agree to split the spoils and agree to terms of joint injury or death payments prior to the commencement of the hunt. Once the prize is taken payment of the above should be divided up as soon as safely possible.
The Kelrik Pirates have no public agenda, other than to make themselves as wealthy as possible, and then to spend that wealth on whatever of life’s pleasures they desire. This attitude towards their place in society does not just start and end with ships and their crews, but also extends to the communities that have popped up to serve the Kelrik Pirates, whether covertly or overtly across the Kelrik Isles.
As the Kelrik Pirates are not really an organisation per se, they have no collective assets. Instead each crew will generally have access to a ship, complete with whatever armaments they can cobble together to carry out their trade, a settlement they can rely on to resupply them and give them access to a market where materials captured from prizes can be sold. It is unknown how many ships claim to sail under the umbrella of the Kelrik Pirates, but it is thought to be in the hundreds, with the most pessimistic assessments of Imperial officials estimating that there could be over 1,000 pirate crews operating from the Kelrik Isles . There are enough ships either identifying or defined as being part of the Kelrik Pirates that they would easily be able to muster enough ships to outnumber any Imperial navy thrown at them should they be so minded.
The Kelrik Pirates have not always been rogues and criminals, in fact, the origins of the faction stem from the navy of the Empire of Turelion itself. When the nation of Turelion began its concerted effort to bring all of the world of Kelbonnar under its sway, the Turelite navy naturally found itself with a lot of work to do, ferrying transport loads of troops to the edge of the known world, escorting trading convoys and tracking and engaging enemy vessels. The most hotly contest nautical battleground was the Kelrik Isles, whose myriad islands, hidden harbours and naturally seafaring peoples caused no end of troubles for the Turelite navy. Though eventually, the Isles were subdued and brought into the Imperial fold as Pelenar Province, dissent still threatened to boil over there, which meant that a constant naval presence was always needed. Pelenar Province was and is still known as ‘the gateway to the farlands’ amongst those from the southern and eastern continents, and it was a vital staging post for all trading travelling to or from the Continent of Hunar. The naval defence of Pelenar was entrusted to a Commodore Bramilo, a commander in the newly formed Imperial Navy, who had shown great skill, valour and promise throughout the campaigns of Machestaro I and who was thought to be a safe pair of hands in the Kelrik Isles, despite his relatively young age for such a task; he was 32 when he received orders to head up the defence of Pelenar’s waters in 2AIF. For decades, Bramilo diligently patrolled and defended the thousands of straits, inlets, islands and reefs of the Isles, but he was beset by constant problems. Illegal activities took place in the Isles by the bucket load, with smuggling and the evasion of Imperial taxes being but the lesser of the many evils. Though he is estimated to have thwarted at least 5 rebellions between the years of 2AIF and 48AIF, Bramilo always complained that his fleet was too small to police the whole area of the province effectively and that he needed smaller ships to effectively patrol the narrower waterways. No one knows precisely what changed in Bramilo’s mind, but the cracks in his resolve towards the Imperial cause began to show after the coronation of the second Emperor of Turelion and Kelbonnar Machestaro II in 47AIF. Things started to slip through the cracks. More smuggling deals were successfully transacted, more frequently, and the size of these deals grew in size and value. Whispers started to go around the Imperial court in Meltaro that, Bramilo, the darling of the Imperial Navy had become jaded with the cause in his old age and was being paid to turn a blind eye to all manner of illegalities. Eventually, Machestaro II heeded the warnings of his councillors and summoned Bramilo to appear before him and answer to the circulating rumours, that were swiftly turning into formal charges of treason. It is not known whether the missive from the Emperor actually reached Commodore Bramilo or whether he simply heard the rumours himself. All that is known is that in the year 49AIF he shut himself up in the cabin of his flagship the Sea Drake and no one from his crew, or from outside the ship heard anything from him for a whole week. Eventually, Bramilo emerged and summoned his perplexed crew, along with the captains of the ten ships under his command. He told those assembled that the rumours were true, he had been receiving bribes for sometime to turn a blind eye to things along with other more pernicious crimes than that. He also told them that he was tired of following the orders of a man he had never met for a cause he no longer believed in, risking his life day in and day in and day out for nothing near the rewards he felt such service was deserving of. He proposed to the crew of the Sea Drake and his attendant captains that they secede from the Empire of Turelion and live out whatever time they had left looking out for themselves, taking what they wanted from the bloated Imperial coffers and living like free people again. Reportedly, Bramilo was expecting his crew to execute him there and then on the spot, but to his surprise, and to the horror of the Imperial authorities, who found out about this weeks later, nine of his ten captains and all of his crew accepted his proposal, denounced the Emperor and took to celebrating their new found liberation. The tenth captain and the men across all eleven of the crews who dissented, were not killed either. On the contrary, Bramilo let them leave on the captain’s ship, The Restless Seeker, and they weighed anchor and set sail for the nearest Imperial harbour as quickly as possible. From that day on, the Kelrik Pirates were born under the command of the newly anointed Admiral Bramilo and within a week of their declaration they were praying on Imperial merchantmen and sharing the spoils of their prizes with the smugglers and criminals they had once hunted. The pirates secession led to the flourishing of the vibrant criminal network that still thrives today in the Kelrik Isles, and which continues to be one of the banes of the Empire of Turelion. For over ten years, Bramilo led the Kelrik Pirates as one unified body until his death in 61AIF, when he was pitched overboard in a storm and never seen again. After his death, the captains of the fleet were unable to agree on who should take on the Admirals mantle and so the first and only fleet of the Kelrik Pirates broke up and each crew began to operate independently, though it is not unheard of for crews to band together to chase particularly rich prizes. Over the years more and more ships and crews have joined the ranks of the Pirates, so that now it is unknown how many ships claim to belong to the group. What is known is that all ten of the original ships, including Bramilo’s flag ship the Sea Drake, still sail and fight, having been painstakingly kept in good working order over the hundreds of years in between. Places on these crews, and the crew of the Sea Drake in particular are highly coveted, and people will kill to be able to say that they served on one of the ships in Bramilo’s original fleet. Conversely, the eleventh ship that Bramilo let sail away, The Restless Seeker, continues to ply the waters of Pelenar Province and the Centric Sea, but as one of the most heavily armed ships of the Imperial Fleet stationed in the region, living up to its name by relentlessly hunting the ships of the Kelrik Pirates.