With the peace negotiations at U'Ghamaro a resounding success, the long and bitter conflict between the kobolds and the people of Limsa Lominsa at last drew to a close. It was a joyous occasion that marked what many hoped would be the beginning of a new age of harmony and cooperation.
Her duties done for the day, Admiral Merlwyb Bloefhiswyn retired to the command room and—as was her custom—began polishing the two muskets that were her constant companions. No sooner had she started than she found herself adrift in bittersweet memories...
In 1562 of the Sixth Astral Era, Lominsan merchant vessels were regularly raided by the savage Sahagin, who coveted the crystals housed within. Crystals were the foundation upon which the nation's metalworking industry flourished, and should the supply be interrupted, the furnaces would go dim, and smithies forced to set their hammers aside.
Fortunately, one man had a mind to set the situation to rights: Bloefhis Bloefhisyn, former captain of the League of Lost Bastards, and one of the most dangerous pirates in the realm. While he had yielded his command to his daughter Merlwyb some years ago, he still wielded much influence among his fleet.
When he announced a campaign to eliminate the Sahagin threat, all answered the call, and his daughter was no exception. And so it was that Merlwyb would plot a course for the Rhotano Sea, in hopes of doing her father proud.
A chance came one day when her vessel, the Lively, received a distress call via linkpearl from a nearby trader. The Orion was under attack by a Sahagin raiding party and requested immediate aid. Knowing that time was of the essence, and believing the situation to be within her power to resolve, Merlwyb chose not to alert her father and request reinforcements, and elected instead to hurry to the Orion's aid on her own.
The Sahagin enjoyed a natural advantage in battles at sea, but owing to Merlwyb's masterful tactics and the unerring aim of her first mate and gunner, Lorens, the Lively was more than a match for their foes. In no time, the Sahagin threat was quashed—all that remained was to escort the Orion to port, and her duty would be done.
Unfortunately, it was not to be.
A lone Sahagin straggler, scarcely breathing after one of Lorens's bullets had torn through his gut, marshalled what remained of his physical strength and spirit and offered a fervent prayer. By the power of the crystals housed in the Orion's hold, his desperate plea was given form, and the Lord of the Whorl emerged from the depths.
Gazing upon the colossal form of Leviathan, far larger than any sea serpent, Merlwyb knew the battle was lost. The first thrash of the primal's tail snapped the Lively's keel like a twig, and it would be but a matter of moments until the once-proud vessel capsized.
Amidst the churning waters, Merlwyb led the fortunate members of crew who had not been cast overboard to the still-afloat Orion, where they lay battered and beaten, all but resigned to their fate. Their captain's eye, however, caught sight of a glimmer of hope in the form of several ships headed their way.
Taking aim at the primal's massive tail, Lorens breathed a sigh of relief. Merlwyb, too, was joyed, though she cursed her naivete. The title you may hold, but he is still the true captain. You have much to learn.
The battle raged on, the primal and its beastman thralls claiming countless victims, but in the end, Bloefhis and his fleet managed to drive their foe back beneath the depths. It was this day that the Lominsans first grasped the sheer power of Leviathan—a deity that could single-handedly nigh sink Limsa's mightiest pirate fleet, and in defeat, live to fight another day.
Less than a week after the battle, and with nary a word, Bloefhis sailed off onto the horizon with a patchwork crew of men from several ships. The Bastards that remained clearly acknowledged Merlwyb's authority as captain—there was no danger of mutiny—but a sense of confusion and unease at her father's unexplained departure permeated the ranks.
In the months that followed, the Sahagin attacks on trade vessels grew more frequent and intense. More troubling, however, were the rumors the survivors brought back to port—that the beastmen fought not alone, but with Lominsan vessels at their side. These pirates named themselves the "Serpent Reavers," and were said to be commanded by none other than the legendary Bloefhis Bloefhisyn himself. The revelation that their own beloved hero now sailed with their hated foes cast a pall over the city and its people, who began to dread what grim tidings would come next.
Under the cover of a moonless night, a single vessel departed from the docks unseen. On its deck stood Merlwyb with a hand-picked group of her most trusted sailors, her grave face unflinching as the chill winds bore down upon them. Word of Bloefhis's unholy alliance had seen the Bastards fall out of favor with the other pirate bands, and for many to regard them with distrust and suspicion—Merlwyb most of all. They would assume the worst.
Yet despite her precautions, she was soon joined by an unwelcome visitor. Hearing footsteps, she turned and found a veritable mountain of a man standing before her. Though the iron mask obscured his face, it nevertheless spoke to his identity as none other than Mistbeard, notorious pirate and her father's greatest rival. Come to deliver justice to the turncoat's daughter, I'll wager.
"You mean to bring him back, do you?"
Though muffled somewhat by the mask, she sensed a measure of sympathy in the booming voice.
"No. I mean to kill him."
For a long moment, the gargantuan pirate regarded her in silence.
"And there I was thinking I'd have to knock some sense into you," he said at last. "Here, take these."
He brought forth two muskets and held them out to Merlwyb.
"Yours, now. If you will have them."
"I'd be a fool to refuse. But why?"
"The sun has all but set on the age of us old buccaneers. Bloefhis knew this as well as I—that's why you lead the Bastards now. If you've a mind to do your duty, then let me help you see it done."
Merlwyb had no idea if there was any love lost between Mistbeard and her father. Nevertheless, holding the twin muskets close to her chest as the ship struck out into the black waters, she could not help but feel heartened by his words.
Just before the first rays of dawn broke across the horizon, Merlwyb's ship came ashore on the small island that the Serpent Reavers were said to have claimed as their hideout. And indeed, after she had disembarked with a party of axemen and ventured a ways inland, they were set upon by a motley band of pirates and Sahagin sentries. The rumors are all true, then...
With muskets firmly in hand and a heart of steel, she shot and killed one after another. Among her adversaries were former companions and childhood friends, though their wild-eyed expressions rendered them nearly unrecognizable. Alas, though she fought bravely, her foe was legion, and one by one her axemen were wounded or worse. So this is how it ends...
Merlwyb had all but resigned herself to her fate when a shot rang out, and a Sahagin a few feet ahead of her crumpled to the ground. She whirled and came face-to-face with Lorens, her trusted first mate, from whom she had gone to great lengths to conceal her departure. And failed, clearly.
"What in the seven hells are you doing here!?"
"It'd be a sorry first mate that lets his captain get ‘erself killed on a suicide mission, no?" Lorens fired back with a grin.
Merlwyb scoffed. "If you'd taken any longer, that's exactly what would have happened."
"What can I say?" Lorens shrugged. "Ye were gone by the time I climbed out of the hold, and ye didn't have the courtesy to leave a map.
The captain and her mate carried on with their spirited banter as they engaged the Reavers in perfect harmony—Merlwyb taking deadly aim with her muskets as Lorens supported her from a distance. They made short work of their foe and gave her allies a chance to regroup, and when the dust had settled, she sent them back to the ship with the injured. Together with Lorens, Merlwyb forged ahead towards the center of the island, where they came upon the entrance to a cave.
It was deep within the caverns that they finally found Bloefhis—or at least, what remained of him. The once-imposing figure had wasted away. His pale skin clung to his emaciated frame, and his flowing locks and beard were flecked with white and grey. His slack jaw hung open, and spittle pooled on the earth below. Merlwyb and Lorens could only stare in horror as Bloefhis began to speak, his voice a muffled gurgle.
"My daughter...Lorens...have ye come...to join us?"
Lorens glanced at Merlwyb, who stood in silence, before answering in her stead.
"What in the name o' the Navigator happened to you, Cap'n!?"
"It is impossible for mere mortals to stand against the power of a god," Bloefhis intoned as if in a trance. "Swear allegiance to Lord Leviathan, and we may live free beneath the waves..."
Had it been years later, when the nature of primals was better understood, they would have known then and there that the former captain had been tempered, and regarded him not with scorn but pity. But on that cold morning in that darkened cave, all Merlwyb knew was that the people would condemn her father as a demented traitor. Still, a part of her believed her father's words were no longer his own.
"Impossible is a word coined by the weak! You taught me that! And you know bloody well that freedom isn't gifted by a god, but claimed by our own hand!"
Bloefhis shook his head and sighed.
"My poor, wayward daughter... I thought I raised ye better than this..."
In her heart of hearts, Merlwyb had known from the start how it would have to end. She had come not to reason with her father, but to hand down his sentence—and treason was a crime punishable by death.
"There are none but us on this island now." she said, her tone measured and firm. "I hereby challenge you to a duel to the death. Should even a shred of a pirate's honor remain in you, you will accept."
The sickly, mocking grin slowly faded as Bloefhis rose to his feet and met her gaze. Though he said nothing, his answer was clear. Lorens would serve as the sole witness, and there would be no seconds for either party. A sorry excuse for a duel, but it will suffice.
Father and daughter came together, and then—exchanging no words—turned their backs on one another. Their footsteps echoed hollowly as they walked farther and farther apart. Malms away now.
She recalled the day she'd lost him—doomed him to this fate with her arrogance and recklessness. They came to a halt at opposite ends of the cavern and awaited the sign.
Lorens extended his right hand, slowly opening a clenched fist. The gold coin caught the light as it began to tumble through the air. Orphaned while still a babe, Lorens had known no family but the Bastards, no father but Bloefhis.
It'll be my bullet. My burden. Even so, I'm sorry to make you a part of this.
The clink of the coin striking the ground resounded throughout the cave, and in an instant, father and daughter spun to say farewell.
Merlwyb's bullet flew straight and true and buried itself into her father's left breast. Musket still dangling from his hand, Bloefhis fell to his knees.
"Merlwyb, Lorens... I'm sorry I had to put ye through this..." he managed between ragged breaths. "Promise me...ye'll do me proud..."
The smile in his last moments was that of the father Merlwyb knew and loved. Lorens stared down at the motionless body of his former captain.
"...This ain't over. That godsdamned primal is still out there, and our ragtag band ain't equipped to finish the job."
Clenching a fist, Lorens continued.
"So I'll go on a voyage. Aye, find myself a few good men—more'n a few—and see if we can't build ourselves up into a force to be reckoned with. ‘Least I can do to redeem his memory."
Lorens said no more, and simply looked Merlwyb in the eye, but the question was clear.
You've your plans...but what have I?
The barrels of her twin muskets polished to a fine sheen, Merlwyb put them aside, and strode to the window to gaze out upon the sea. This was not the first time the memories of that fateful day came unbidden, and it would not be the last. And each time, she gave thanks to the two men who had seen her through that most terrible of trials. One had since set aside his mask and serves to this day as one of her closest advisors.
The other, alas, disappeared in the days following the Calamity. Yet deep down, Merlwyb knew that he was out there somewhere, waiting to make his return when dire storms again threatened the seas.
After all, if I am my father's daughter, then in all but blood he is my father's son.