"And the winds would cry, and many men would die, and all the waves would bow down, to Loreley"
Loreley is a tall, thin sea elf, as lithe as she is beautiful and the captain of the ship "Sea Hawk". Her Shadow-May-Care attitude and ability to endure conditions that drove others in her crew below decks has earned her the nickname "Sea Queen", though behind her back some of her crew refer to her as the "Ice Queen" in hushed whispers.
She has dark brown skin, golden eyes, ruffled black hair, and wears loose fitting, sea green shirt and pants while on deck, and a sari while below. Around her neck, she wears an anchor pendant on a thin gold chain that looks too fragile to support the pendant during rough sea weather. Still, none on her crew have ever seen it break, or even hardly move, during even the worst of conditions. It is rumored it was given to her by the sea nymphs she communes with at night, but no one knows the truth, except for her. The pendant was given to her by her mother, a family heirloom passed down from mother to daughter back to a time before the Sundering. She never removes it, even when swimming. Some on her crew believe it to be enchanted with a great protective force, due to her ability to avoid any sort of injury during attacks. Others are convinced it summons the winds, as she can be seen gently rubbing it while she steers the "Sea Hawk". In actuality, she has no idea what powers her pendant possesses, and considers it a lucky charm, nothing more. But she does nothing to stop the rumors, as she knows none in her crew would ever dare take it.
Loreley was born on a boat at sea, he mother one of the crew. When the boat finally docked, her mother decided to leave the crew and care for her daughter, but the imprint was made. She spent so much time playing at the docks as a child, the only way her mother could find time to spend with her was to work at the docks as well. After a few years, her mother took a position as captain of a small river sailing boat, which Loreley was more than happy to accompany her on. She grew up on the boat on the rivers in the South of Carasil. Well before she reached the age a proper adult would head out into the world, Loreley joined the crew of a sea-going vessel, as a cabin hand. She quickly advanced in the ranks, until she found herself in possession of a brand new Clipper, the "Sea Hawk". With the exception of the purchase of the "Sea Hawk", she has not been off of a ship in over 6 decades.
She puts into port on a fairly regular basis, usually when short on supplies. While her crew is on shore, she is more often than not making repairs to her boat by herself, dangling precariously off the railing of her boat. No task on her boat is below her, and she will do everything from cleaning barnacles off the bottom and swabing the deck, to climbing the rigging to set a sail, to navigating a course through dangerous reefs. She acts very much as though the boat is an extension of herself, and can handle it in much that way.
Her crew are unquestioningly loyal to her. She has lead them through many a dangerous storm and trashing sea unharmed, standing on deck holding the wheel even as the rest of the crew huddled below deck, away from the cold and the gale winds. No one questions her judgement while at sea, and many in her crew consider it a boon to have her as their captain. Captains of other vessels, however, do not consider it a boon to see the "Sea Hawk" in port with them, or pulling up along side them in the middle of the sea. She is widely reputed for her ability to intimidate captians of other vessels to concede to her desires, ranging from right-of-way disputes to jockeying for supplies.
When the situation calls for it, Loreley does not hesitate to use force where force is needed. She arms herself with a longspear, which is mostly for show, though she knows very well how to use it, and will not think twice about skewering someone threatening or questioning her. She has a rapier on her belt, which is her preferred method of dispatching anyone idiotic enough to try and board the "Sea Hawk" without her permission, and four daggers tucked about her person that she is more than willing to throw into the back of any enemy that has underestimated her, or ignored her.
She is no stranger to ship-to-ship fighting, and has perfected it to an art, it would seem. The minions of the Shadow consider her a pirate, and have a bounty on her head. The good merchants left in the world think little better of her, though she has almost never attacked a ship not manned by the minions of Izrador. She prefers to steal goods that have already once been stolen, but she is not blind to the worth of all things around her.
Loreley is currently at sea with her ship and crew, picking off small transports of the Shadow's goods, and giving good scare to all others that cross her path.
The "Sea Hawk"
The "Sea Hawk" is the pride of Loreley, and her crew. A 100-ft broad-beamed clipper ship, it is equiped with 2 main masts, as well as a bowsprit. Each mast is equiped with a gaff-rigged main sail, and the foremast has a rectangular top sail, allowing the "Sea Hawk" to reach speeds comparable to or greater than any other ship on the sea. It's bowsprit supports three triangular headsails, providing the maneuverability necessary to escape from Shadow's warships. The hull has a cross-section that is heart shaped, and the ship is equiped with short keels and a raking stern.
The "Sea Hawk" however, is no trading ship. It has a ballista harpon mounted on its forecastle, and two weaponry ballistas on its aft deck. The harpon is capable of piercing any wooden hulled ship within 500 ft, and is attached by a thick rope to the anchor heads at the fore of the ship. The aft ballistas can alternate weaponry between standard bolts for crew attacks, oil-doused flaming bolts to attack the sails of an enemy ship, and large bolas that can be used to shatter the masts of enemy ships. The bolts and fire-bolts have 300 ft ranges, the bolas are accurate to 150 ft, but can be used for general mayham and to attack crews at up to 300 ft.
Below deck the "Sea Hawk" has an armory that the hands make use of in the event of a boarding. The armory is stocked with 15 light crossbows (with quivers holding 30 bolts), 40 daggers, 20 cutlasses, 20 ropes with grappling hooks for boarding, and 10 pots of alchemist's fire, which remain double locked, and can only be accessed by Loreley. During normal sailing, all weapons remain locked up, and no hand is allowed to wield any blade, with the exception of weekly training that is conducted. Loreley is armed at all times with her spear, but her rapier and daggers remain locked below in her quarters.
Recently, unmarked boxes of weighty materials were brought on board into Loreley's chambers, where they remain still. No one knows what she is doing, but she can be seen muttering to herself just after leaving her quarters. A few have had the courage to ask her, but she only replies with an off-hand "just working on something..." before becoming pensive.
The "Sea Hawk" is crewed by a band of loyal sailors, who are unquestioning in their trust of Loreley and her ability to handle the "Sea Hawk". Most are Sea Elves, but humans and other races of elfs are not turned away if they are willing to to their share of the work. Only one gnome has joined the crew, and no halflings or dwarfs are found aboard. Loreley despises the orcs, and would never speak to one, let alone take one aboard. (This is partly the reason she does not go ashore in occupied towns, as she does not want to start trouble. The occasional orc will try to board and start trouble with her, but the "Sea Hawk" is quick to leave, and the orc more often than not 'goes missing'.
For all their skill, the crew is a small band, hand-picked by Loreley herself. Consisting on only 30 sailors, they do the work of double their number. Before being taken on, all new crew members spar on the deck with one of the crew, usually the Master of Arms. Inevitably the new member winds up unconcious and bleeding, but they awaken to closed wounds and a new membership in the crew.
Significant crew members
Truilan Olithu - Truilan is the Master at Arms aboard the "Sea Hawk". A sea elf, and childhood friend on Loreley, he has bested all the crew in one on one battle, save the Captain herself. He is Loreley's most trusted confidant, and has saved her life from certain death over a dozen times (about as often as she has done for him). He runs the weekly crew weapons training, holds the keys to the armory, and conducts most of the business matters on land when the "Sea Hawk" is in port. He is a hard, tough man, strong but not stupid. Loreley holds his opinion in highest regard, and turns over all matters of battle to him, so she may relish in the simple spilling of blood.
Gunthal Ruftumbelton - Gunthal is the only gnome aboard the "Sea Hawk". Nominally the navigator of the ship, some of the crew have noted that Loreley seems to do most of the navigating, with Gunthal just looking on over her shoulder. He is also nominally the cook, which seems to mostly involve him eating as he hands out salted pork and sea biscuits to the crew. None have ever seem him so much as boil a pot of water, and most feel he would cut himself before being able to chop any vegetable. Still, Loreley keeps him around, so no one questions. He is a trusted friend of Loreley's, going back to the first days of her ownership of the "Sea Hawk". A very few of the crew have noticed (and none have dared speak of it) that everytime Loreley is is desperate chase of a vessel, Gunthal goes belowdeck to his quarters, and within minutes an unnatural wind has whipped up, and brought the "Sea Hawk" to within striking range of the vessel. By the time the heat of battle is over, Gunthal is sitting topside, fingering through maps, apparently looking for something. Those same few have snuck peaks at his maps, but all they can see is the Sea of Pelluria with what looks to be depth contours drawn on it. However, the contours on his map differ greatly from the standard depth markings, and his are spotty in many places. He can be seen adding to his contours, which seem to form no known pattern, or have no known center, and he has no way of gauging depths. He can be heard to mutter how it must be here somewhere, but of what he speaks, none (save Loreley) are sure.
Daily Life on the "Sea Hawk"
The "Sea Hawk" has a faithful, hard working crew, who are not afraid to do what must be done to keep their ship afloat. To that end, it is a rare sight indeed to see a crew member shirk a duty, and such an event is usually met with swift and harsh reply.
Night watch changes every third hour, and consists of two crew members whole patrol the deck at regular (~15 min) intervals, looking out for any passing ships. They spend the remainder of thier time fashioning ropes, crossbow bolts, bow strings, or any other odd or end that needs to be done. If traveling by night, a five-man skeleton crew is used, with the additional 3 people navigating, at the wheel, and up in the crow's nest. A large bell at the stern of the ship by the wheel can be used to summon the full crew in case of attack or dangerous seas. Typical response times are 3 to 5 minutes, with any crewmember who takes longer receiving the sharp side of Loreley's tongue. Drills are conducted every few weeks and random intervals to make sure the crew are on their toes.
During the day, there are always at least 2 people in the crow's nest. When not running the sails, the crew spend their time swabing the deck, repairing the riggings, and patching the extra sails in the cargo from damage done by the inevitable rats. Meals consist mainly of sea-worthy food, namely sea biscuits, hard tack, salted beef and pork, jerky, nuts, and the occasional potato. Loreley eats with her crew, not forgetting her time spent as a hand. When at port, the "Sea Hawk" takes on whatever fresh fruits and vegetables that can be found, and the crew eat well, usually for a week before resorting to sea rations again. Fresh water is taken on at ports, as well as being collected from the heavy rains that often plague ships at sea. An intricate systems of high-walled barrels helps catch the rain while restricting the ocean spray from contaminating their supply.
The foremast is topped by the crow's nest, while the aft mast is topped by the nest of a hawk, which also helps keep the ship free of rats that venture to the deck. The crew have grown accustomed to the bird, and treat it as a sign of good luck, though none know where it came from, or why it nests at the top of a swaying mast. The occasional night watchman will see it take flight, and land on the railing of the ship by the entrance to Gunthal's quarters, and some say they hear it speaking, though most chalk it up to Gunthal talking in his sleep.
Be it from battle, age, or the other perils of the sea, a crew member of the "Sea Hawk" will occasionally die. A burial ritual is performed upon the dead, including a ceremonial beheading with a sacred sabre that has never seen combat, a hymn to the sea, and a returning of the dead to sea upon which they lived. Rivals and enemies who deserve no such honor will have a stone from ship's ballast chained to both of their legs, and they will be dumped into the sea head intact, to awaken as Fell trapped underwater for all eternity.
The sails of the "Sea Hawk" are changed as needed by wear and tear, usually around once every week. The riggings are changed weekly as well, long before they might tear, as Loreley does not want to risk one of her crew falling at a critical moment. These changings usually take place on the same day as Truilan runs his weapons training for the crew. On the day that follows the changing/training day, all base chores are suspended (save night watch), and the crew are allowed to rest and relax when not actively maning the sails or riggings.
When the "Sea Hawk" calls into port, the crew are usually given 3 days of shore leave. Loreley stays behind always, and two other crew members stay aboard during the daylight hours. Gunthal will do business in town, but spends more time than not in his cabin. Truilan spends most of his leave arranging for supplies, trades, purchases, sales, and deliveries to the "Sea Hawk". All crew are expected to return to the ship at night, and most do in the event a hasty retreat is needed, but no punishment is doled out to those who find themselves out overly late. The crew are drinkers, but rarely get into fights, and are forbidden from starting them (while on land).
The "Sea Hawk" always pays its docking fee in advance, and for more days than they plan to stay, so they may leave at night or at will, in the event stealth or haste are needed.