The White Banshee
The Infamous Pirate of Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky
Istriona Catalain Bairr
One of the most famous pirates in the world, little is actually known about Istriona Bairr- often called The White Banshee among sailors operating near the eastern coast of Tolara.
Known as one of the most feared Pirates in History, her reputation is well deserved according to those seafaring individuals who have been unlucky enough to encounter her throughout the course of her career. She is also known to be the current Captain of a ship called the Banshee's Wail- and the self professed "Pirate Queen" of the seafaring nation of Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky... A title won through the brutal razing of the Ar'lasang port city Nunila.
What little additional information exists about her comes almost exclusively from The Almanac of Piracy: A collection of biographies focusing on Pirates, compiled by Archivist Roridan Norclair... However, it's well known that while the first edition is largely accurate, the second edition (claimed to have been updated after he spent time with some of the Pirates whose biographies were recorded) may be far more embellished.
Birth & Early Life
Insofar as records can tell, Istriona Bairr was born in 6574; her mother Marasilia Naseed (a housemaid) had married an unknown sailor from Bán Ródh. They lived together for two years and had one child together- a son named Tomac- before the sea would eventually call him back to it; he would die at sea just prior to Marasilia discovering that she'd become pregnant from an affair.
Attempting to hide her pregnancy (and her affair), Marasilia went on to live with her sister Eithrin in the small town of Coryn- a rural community on the border of Catrìona and Finola, in Castrillis. After moving to Coryn, however, Tomac contracted Black Lung and died. Marasilia went into labor only a handful of days later, giving birth to Istriona... The illegitimate daughter of Marasilia and Emer Bairr- grandson to Niall Lùlachláin, the Càer Rótàrlach of Finola.
Under significant pressure from her sister Marasilia went on to disguise Istriona as her dead son- even going so far as to call her by her brother's name. She would then use the lack of knowledge of his death to receive the support of her late husband's family; never having met the child, and being unaware of the affair, her late husband's family provided her with enough of an allowance to support herself and Istriona with a functional lifestyle.
Their life in Coryn was relatively normal and, overall, they integrated into the community well enough. Istriona, however, was well known for her short temper and was constantly getting into brawls with the other children- something only made worse by bullying; disguised as a male, the children of Coryn found her appearance to be too feminine, and teased her about it mercilessly... Eventually the 16 year old Istriona would attack one of the local kids- beating him to a bloody pulp and stabbing him twice. Afterwards she would flee town and make her way to Bán Ródh.
First Marriage & Introduction to Piracy
New to Bán Ródh and out of the clutches of her hovering mother, Istriona would finally shed the disguise of her brother and live freely as her own sex (and name) for the first time since her birth. Living on the streets for a bit, she eventually took up work as a serving girl in a tavern near the docks. It was here that she met Captain Luthias Pàirda, who would take her on as a housemaid.
After 2 years of service, Istriona and Cpt. Pàirda would formally announced their betrothal, and marry on 2 Amir 6593...The union would last no longer than a handful of months, however; angry that Cpt. Pàirda had married one of his servants, his parents would cut him off from his inheritance and petition the Càer Rótàrlach for an annulment. Their petition was successful, and the Càer Rótàrlach annulled the marriage on 15 Alarius the same year.
Newly divorced, outcast from her household, and angry, Istriona would take up with a local street gang. Thanks to her brutal efficiency in a fight, she would then go on to make quite a name for herself among Bán Ródh's underground.
Istriona eventually offered her assistance to a rival gang attempting to take a ship from port. Initially they would decline, thinking it a ruse by the gang she ran with. But after unsuccessfully trying to take the ship again two weeks later, they sought her out to make good on her offer. Later she'd lead a raid that would successfully take another ship anchored in port- this one a Galleon called The Harrow.
Once taken, because of her part in forming and executing the plan that had lead to its capture, Istriona was unanimously voted Captain of the ship by its new crew... Due to her lack of knowledge concerning ships and sailing, however, she was quickly replaced by the crew with someone more experienced; having ousted Istriona from her position and fearing her retaliation, the new Captain would abandon her at port in Rusatar the next time The Harrow docked. By this time, however, Istriona had already had her first taste of piracy- and she'd liked it.
Second Marriage & Desertion
Istriona Bairr's life in Rusatar is even more vague than other points in her history. What is known, however, is that at some point she met and married one Syong "Sami" Tsu- a small time Pirate operating in the north of Rusatar. They sailed together in Rusatar for a bit before eventually settling in Eris'ka in 6596.
Shortly after settling in Eris'ka their ship, The Disgraced, was captured and boarded by an Eris'kan Galleon in 6597. The crew was executed and Sami and Istriona were forced into the service of the Eris'kan Monarchy- something Sami openly embraced, but Istriona vehemently opposed. They went on to settle in Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky afterwards, as it was known for being a refuge for Pirates (especially their port city of Nunila).
What followed was a year long raid that saw 5 of the most prominent ships responsible for the disruption to Eris'kan trade captured, and their crews put to death.
Istriona remained unhappy with the deal, however, and continuously voiced her opposition to her husband's actions. Still, for the most part she played her role in these raids well enough- becoming a fierce Pirate and sailor in her own right... All the way up until her Husband betrayed his own crew; Sami had chosen to cut a deal and turn The Disgraced over to Eris'kan authorities in exchange for his own Captaincy in the Eris'kan Navy. Before The Disgraced could be boarded, however, Istriona confronted her husband about the deal- having suspected it for a while. When he confirmed, she slit his throat in full view of the crew and dumped his body overboard.
Assuming command of the ship, Istriona ordered the crew to open fire on the Eris'kan Galleon, and turn tail towards Nunila. When the Eris'kan Galleon finally caught up, they found the ship sunken off the coast; presuming her and her crew dead, they returned to Eris'ka to report on her death... It's now known, however, that Istriona and the remaining crew of The Disgraced had intentionally scuttled the ship and, with the help of another ship, made it safely to the city.
Revenge, Third Marriage, & Child
Safely in Nunila and free of the clutches of the Eris'kan Monarchy, Istriona set her sights on revenge- frequenting the Taverns and mingling with the more well known crews and Captains in the region. It was during this period she's believed to have met Captain Quintis Odelram and Adelia Corbin, his wife and First Mate; their ship, The Sorrow, had been one of the many victims of Istriona's late husband Sami.
When she finally revealed her part in the sinking of their ship the three parted ways for a short period of time. Eventually, however, they reunited- raising a new crew, and taking a Galleon from port. Renaming the ship The Vindication, they set out to sea- going on to terrorize Eris'kan trade routes for several years between 6598 and 6599, and causing widescale disruption.
Surviving information suggests the three (Bairr, Odelram, and Corbin) were married in a ceremony at Sea later in 6599- and in 6601 Istriona became pregnant. Accounts of later events vary, but the most common story is that the The Vindication eventually went to port in Martova, where they overwintered until Istriona gave birth. Records of the child have never been found, however... What is known is that the three continued on afterwards in their mission to attack the Eris'kan fleets. But no more than a year after the birth of their child, things would finally go wrong for the crew of The Vindication.
Accounts are vague, but from what can be gathered, the Eris'kan Navy utilized similar tacticts to those originally employed against Istriona and her second husband Sami. As a result, instead of attempting to take what The Vindication had thought was an incapacitated Merchant Vessel, the crew was met with a fully outfitted Galleon- and 8 additional Pirate vessels waiting in ambush.
During the ensuing battle Odelram is believed to have taken a shot from one of the enemy ships' Heavyweight Ballistas. It's unknown from which ship it was fired, but the shot was a direct hit- killing him instantly. Later during boarding, Corbin (who was pregnant with Odelram's second child at the time) was swiftly gutted by an enemy blade. Istriona was the only one of the three who escaped with her life.
Using the cover of battle as a distraction, she and several other crew members snuck aboard one of the smaller enemy vessels. There they slaughtered what small amount of crew remained, and sailed away. In retaliation, their attackers executed the remaining crew and set fire to The vindication.
Life & History
Year of Birth
6574 (51 years)
Coryn in Catrìona / Finola; Castrillis
Captain Luthias Pàirda (m. 6593)
Captain Syong "Sami" Tsu (m. 6595)
Captain Quintis Odelram (m. 6599)
Captain Adelia Corbin (m. 6599)
1 Unknown (b. 6601)
Pirate Queen of Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky
Captain of the Banshee's Wail
The Vindication (c. 6598 - 6602 sank)
The Disgraced (c. 6595 - 6597 sank)
The Harrow (c. 6594)
Attack on Port So'Lae
Devastated by the loss of her spouses and infuriated at the Pirate Captains who aided in the raid that sank her ship, Istriona and her remaining crew returned to Nunila once more. According to various sources, she spent her time in and out of Taverns- often too drunk to even remember her name. Eventually the original crew abandoned her, taking on a new Captain and claiming the smaller vessel they'd made away with as their prize.
At some point, however, Istriona started to gather a group of sympathetic followers who'd heard of the exploits of The Vindication (by then a legend among Pirates). Eventually a plan started to come together among them to track down and get retribution on the ships that aided in the attack- many of whom had forsaken Nunila entirely after having thrown in their hats with the Eris'kan Monarchy.
Whether someone convinced her of the idea, or she convinced them remains unknown. But what is known is that Istriona took the plan to heart, leaving for the Eris'kan city of Port So'Lae only days later... Once in Port So'Lae, she's believed to have utilized an old trick from her childhood to hide her identity.
Doing as her mother had when she was younger, Istriona disguised herself as her deceased brother. It was under that guise that she then enlisted herself in the Eris'kan Navy... And as if fortune was smiling upon her, Istriona's first posting was on The Gal'Dea- the very Galleon that had sunk The Vindication and killed her spouses.
She worked aboard The Gal'Dea for several years, slowly gaining the trust of her fellow crew mates and Captain- all while plotting the ship's demise. Eventually, in 6607, the perfect opportunity finally presented itself.
The Gal'Dea would be returning to Port So'Lae in a few months time. At the same time they were expected to dock, the The Golden Queen and The Golden King (as well as their three children) were set to embark on a cruise to Olienn for a diplomatic summit... It presented her with not only the perfect opportunity to destroy The Gal'Dea itself, but also a chance to significantly cripple the entire Eris'kan Navy.
On the night of 27 Moras 6607, two days after The Gal'Dea returned to dock again in Port So'Lae, Istriona set fire to the ship. As The Gal'Dea burned, it ignited the mass of powder barrels that had just been loaded and stored in the lower decks earlier that day- causing a chain of explosions that decimated the dock district of Port So'Lae.
Unfortunately the Eris'kan Monarchs hadn't yet boarded their ship when the explosions occurred... Regardless, by morning all that remained of Port So'Lae's docks- and nearly half its Naval fleet- was nothing but smoldering ash and rubble.
Barely a glimpse of that mad idiot was had before everything just went tits up! There wasn't even the light from our candles to show us what happened... Just a flash- then suddenly the entire dock's up in flames... The rest of the crew, the cargo, the passengers... I was lucky to get out of there. No one else was left alive!
The Razing of Nunila
Returning to Nunila, Istriona set about enacting the second half of her plan: Luring the remaining 8 ships who'd participated in the attack on The Vindication, back into to port. To accomplish this, she spread rumors about a Galleon that would be transporting a large share of the Eris'kan treasury to safer harbors in the wake of the attack on Port So'lae; she was meticulous about the plan, releasing just enough information to make it seem as if returning to Nunila was the only way to learn more about this mysterious ship.
All that was left to do, then, was wait for the crews to finally show themselves. She was hardly idle during this period, however. Instead, she set about gathering as many allies as she could; her circle expanded significantly at this time as several Captains were brought into the fold at this time- some of whom where longstanding allies, while others newly gathered... And all of whom had a bone (or ten) to pick with the very crews she sought to destroy.
As expected, the rumors drew in crews from around the world. Among them were counted each of the 8 who had played a role in The Vindication's demise, and on 10 Alarius 6610, Istriona Catalain Bairr (by then known as The White Banshee) rounded up every member they could find. They were transported to a warehouse at the docks, and locked away under heavy guard as she stood upon the largest dock in Nunila... It was there, with her allies' ships blocking the harbor, that she challenged the city- giving them until sundown to make their decision:
Join her, or die
Without access to their ships, many fled Nunila by foot or wagon- escaping into the interior of Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky to avoid the coming confrontation. Those who remained made a valiant attempt to retake the ships and city... While they were successful at driving back Istriona's forces from some parts of Nunila, however, their efforts ultimately failed; her forces were easily larger than any remaining group of ragtag stragglers- and Istriona herself was, by then, a force to be reckoned with in her own right. As a result, the small rebellion was easily quelled, and those who weren't killed outright were driven back outside Nunila's gates.
Come sundown, with one flick of her porcelain wrist, Nunila was razed in a storm of magic and fire as promised; anyone left within the city walls perished alongside it.
It's often said that the city burned for months after the razing. But when it was over, Istriona didn't simply return to a life of Piracy... Instead, she set about rebuilding Nunila- raising it from the ash and rubble that she herself had created; streets were cleared of debris and fires were quenched. Homes and businesses were rebuilt. Fields were re-tilled. Public works such as sewers were installed, and Marketplaces were reopened. And law and order were enforced by her trusted allies.
Within just a year's time, the once razed city of Nunila was nearly rebuilt in its entirety- with Istriona and her allies sitting at its head.
It was only after Istriona created a Council to govern the city, and appointed several of her most loyal Captains to its positions, that she'd finally return to the sea- this time sailing as Captain of The Banshee's Wail (one of the only ships in port at the time that had survived the razing of Nunila unscathed). She sailed around the world for several years afterwards- from Martova to Eris'ka, and even Olienn- taking a number of additional prizes and amassing a large amount of treasure. How much treasure she amassed during this time is unknown, but it is known that she periodically returned to New Nunila (now renamed Krána) in order to offload and check on the city's progress.
Eventually, after rebuilding Nunila and amassing a significant treasury of her own, she set her sights on the country's interior; dubbing herself The Pirate Queen, she commanded the whole of Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky to bow before her... And after the razing of Nunila, no one dared to question her decision; they'd seen what she'd done to those who crossed her- and those who'd simply been caught in the crossfire.
No one knows exactly why Istriona chose to raze the city of Nunila... Likewise, her reasoning for naming herself "The Pirate Queen of Ar'lasang Vaerda'ky" remains a mystery... The lack of specifics, however, has not stopped many an Archivist from speculating about her reasoning.
Some believe that the loss of her spouses had driven her mad, and that's why she would commit such an atrocious action... Others, that she'd eventually become consumed by the same greed that had led to the fall of so many other Pirates of her time- including her second husband... More believe that it was her destruction of Port So'Lae that had given her the idea for the razing, and that becoming Queen was simply an afterthought... Fringe theories, on the other hand, claim that becoming Queen was always the point- a way of ensuring a safe and secure future for her child with Cpt. Odelram (who many proponents of this theory believe she has every intention on reclaiming).
But by all accounts, however, both actions are widely accepted by the Archival community as having been unnecessary... She'd won, after all- successfully rounding up those she'd deemed her mortal enemies. She could have simply executed them and been done with the ordeal that had caused her so much pain.
Regardless of her motivation behind razing the city and naming herself Queen, though, she still did. But while these motivations are unknown even to this day, one thing is undeniable: While she came to her throne through cinder and blood, the country has prospered greatly under her rule- and Piracy itself, right alongside it.