River Kings Myth in Prethoria | World Anvil
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River Kings

The story of the last River King, a leader of a pirate group that terrorised the Great Plains after the humans invaded them, is still a mystery to this day. Despite some of the pirates claiming to take a huge trophy during one of their raids, none of those pirates who actually held that trophy ever showed up anywhere.


Many years ago, after humans conquered the Great Plains and the Human Empire just started to collapse, all the rivers soon became swarming with pirates. Most of the rare resources from the Endless Forest, along with usual trade, were mostly moved by rivers that fall in the Krisna.   In a started chaos when everyone with a few dozens of swords and men to hold them could declare himself a ruler of his own small country, often the size of a hamlet, there was almost no power able to stop the pirates. Soon, the pirates established their own kingdom. The most fearsome of their captains became the River King, and nine other captains became River Barons.   Their kingdom grew in strength rapidly. The pirates built refuges all over the Great Plains and numbered more than 30 ships with 2000 men. The river trade became less frequent, except for big, well-guarded caravans. Several years later, once the situation in the Free Duchies more or less stabilised, a war against pirates was waged and some of their leaders, including the current River King, were killed.   Despite the severe blow, pirates quickly adapted and restored their numbers, and the River Baron named Marek became a new River King. His authority was not as strong as the previous King’s, partially because many pirates believed that the former Sea King was sold out to the Duchy of Roria by his successor. There is currently no proof of that, but Marek still seems to have needed to improve his standings.   As a way to do that, the new King decided to assemble a considerable fleet and go through the entire Great Plains, pillaging all on his way. He took his 400 men on 6 ships, and he also bought the support of two more River Barons with 500 men and 7 ships more, amassing a total number of 900 men on 13 ships. That was almost half the entire pirate fleet. With them, Marek went up the river, captured every ship and burned every village on his way.   One day, he got an even bigger prize. A caravan of three good ships, obviously heavy loaded, was attacked by the pirates. The fight was hard, almost 200 men guarding the caravan have been selling their lives dearly with two of the pirate ships sunk by a fireball and three of them seriously damaged. The pirates won the battle, but they still lost more than 300 men, most of whom were from the Marek’s crew.   They took a great deal of gold, silver and other variables, but something just seemed to be wrong. The ships carried no sigil of any duchy, and people so rich could not be just commoners. The answer came soon when some of the pirates looting the bodies found the dice made out of bones on one of them. The ships belonged to the Listeners of Kimentar, an ancient and mysterious criminal organisation.   The pirates immediately started to argue. Some wanted to take the gold; some insisted they should return the treasure to its owners, being too afraid of them. River King’s crew wanted to keep the shares as they were negotiated at the beginning of the raid, others wanted to renegotiate the shares in accord to the reduced part of the Marek’s crew. A short fight started on the deck of the flagship, and almost 50 pirates died in it, including the River King and one of the River Barons.   The remaining River Baron took command over the remaining 550 men, a number too small for their 14 ships including the captured ones. He promised every man an equal share, which was not that good for the former Marek’s crew, and lead them back to the pirates’ informal capital.   The pirates planned on replenishing their supplies, repairing ships and taking care of the wounded in their nearest refuge. However, about 70 men disagreed with the plan, too opposed to taking that loot, and they escaped at night on one of the ships. That group of pirates attacked a small trade ship, seized a prize of their own and returned to the safety only to learn that the rest of the fleet was never to be seen again. It is still unknown to this day what happened to the rest of the pirates or, for that matter, to their treasure.

Historical Basis

Most of the things described in the legend happened during 1 AC - 8 AC, but aside from the words of the pirates there was no proof of the whole story with three ships believed to belong to the Listeners, and no duke has put forward a claim of taking those pirates down. Eventually, the mysterious death of half the pirates in the region was one of the leading causes of their demise.
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