Open Pirates of the Hard Nox

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Hard Nox

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In a world powered by magic, governed by aristocratic faeries, you either go by their rules or get sentenced to a life of disgrace - if not death. There is an alternative, however. You could find a community of other outcasts, whether because you enjoy living on the thrill of the steal or because there was no other option for you. That’s right: We’re talking piracy.

Welcome to the Hard Nox, a skyship of some reputation, not necessarily a good one. The ship has been operating in some capacity for at least a decade. Perhaps you've been there along, or perhaps you're new. Whatever it is you do, you're fairly good at it, as this ship isn't likely to accept just anyone - but they do have a flair for fitting in unusual talents.

As long as your skills are good and your morals are loose, you can fit right in. It isn't a life of ease, but there's a good amount of ease between the moments of life-threatening terror. Anything that can be bought, bargained, or stolen is fair game. After all, none of you are upstanding citizens.





IMPORTANT NOTE! Illirica and I will be running this and the plan is to sail smoothly, with daily posts if possible. Take it into consideration when you join, though it’s not a set in stone rule, if you hold us back you’ll be thrown out at sea (not really, you can swim back if you want, but we will go on without you if you’re slacking!)



CHARACTER SHEET

Name:
Age:
Race:
Time on the crew:
Backstory:
Appearance:
 
The Whore Of The Horizon
Sinéad Oíche, the Captain

There was a story. It began as many stories do:

Once upon a time, there was a fairy maiden, lovely as the dawn. She wanted for nothing, and was beloved by all who knew her.

This was the beginning of the story... but it was not the end.

It ends like this:

And so, with ichor running in rivulets from the wounds left behind by the shearing of her wings, she fell from the sky.

And so begins another story.

Sinéad and the Hard Nox are more or less synonymous at this time - the Captain and the Vessel: Both a bit worse for the wear, but patched up and refusing to give in. They surfaced around the same time, a decade ago, and there's no real knowing which came first. Some would say whatever it takes to survive, but Sinéad isn't interested in merely surviving. She had everything once, after all - and she intends to have it again.

A trail of abandoned beds and cut throats lies in her wake, sometimes both in the same place. She was beautiful once, after all - and in many ways is beautiful still, despite her scars or because of them, depending on the preferences of those involved. She has no loyalty to anyone save herself and her crew, and her burning passion to take back what should be hers, or at the very least keep anyone else from having it.



Name: Sinéad Oíche
Age: She appears perhaps in her late twenties, perhaps in her early thirties, perhaps something else. Sometimes she seems to age at will. Her true age is anyone's guess.
Race: A fairy, once.
Time on the crew: a bit over a decade, since it began
 
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The Deadly Shot
Caleb O'Cain, the Quartermaster

Unlike some might think, not all fairies are born in wealth. In Caleb's case, he was the son of a butler and a maid working for the royal family. His mistake? Looking at their daughter the wrong way. One look at the princess and he was sentenced to death, with no chance to defend himself, no trial whatsoever.

If it hadn’t been for Sinéad and her crew he’d be hanged to death, and since then he’s been a part of the Hard Nox’s crew, rising in the ranks as those above him left - one way or another - and eventually becoming the captain’s right hand man. At some point he lost his right eye, but it only made his aim more accurate, earning him a reputation of only ever needing one bullet.

Caleb was born with no one expecting much of him, but the life Sinéad gave him got him to taste a little bit of power. And he was getting tired of following orders.




Name: Caleb O'Cain
Age: 26
Race: Fairy
Time on the crew: 10 years
 
The Whisper of the Night
Nessa Mae Rinn, The Thief
He was watching, Mae knew. His eyes did not leave her as she walked through the store. She knew why -- of course. Her clothing was threadbear, patched so many times that little remained of the fabric that had once been. Her age, and the dirt upon her skin were likewise hindrances that marked her for what she was. A starving peasant girl in a room full of food.

And Mae knew full well she didn't have to steal it, her mother had given her a spare coin after all. Yet, the way the merchant’s eyes followed her every move made her feel vindictive. Who was he to judge her? He was not the Goddess, so he had no right.

With a loaf of bread in hand Mae walked to the counter and held it up for the man to take, which he did with a grunt. She did not do it when the man looked away to place the bread onto the scale. It would have been easy to claim her prize then, the basket was resting just to her left, but that wasn't the point.

The merchant turned back, and held out his hand. “One copper.” With a nod, Mae reached into her pocket and drew out the smaller coin. Her next movements were fluid; she drew her right hand out of her pocket as she lifted herself up onto her tippy toes. She held the coin between her thumb and forefinger, and when the man’s eyes moved to the coin, so did her left hand to the basket at her hip. It was a slight movement, her index finger rolled the object to her palm and her remaining fingers closed tight. It took only the beat of a heart for her prize to vanish into the loose fabric of her shirt. Mae pressed the coin into the man’s palm, and took the bread as the merchant passed it back.

Wordless, Mae turned to the door, the faint lump in her clothing now shielded by her thin frame, and left the store. The man uttered no goodbye, so neither did she. She squinted against the sun, and slid into a nearby alley. It wasn't smart, she knew, but she could not wait, and it felt like one final snub to the merchant. From her pocket she drew her prize. She lifted it to her mouth and her teeth crunched through its skin. The apple was so sweet she nearly cried.

Name:
Nessa Mae Rinn

Age:
27

Race:
Elf, Vampire
One before the other

Time on the crew:
About half a decade, maybe a little more.

Backstory:
A poor girl from a poor place, with a mother who was just barely scraping by and a father long out of the picture. It bloomed in her heart from an early age a certain distaste for those with means who gathered their wealth and scoffed at the poor who lived on the streets. So, from an early age she learned the art of taking what she wanted from those who didn’t wish to give. There’s a story there, of course, but I’m sure we can all understand it’s ups and downs.

No, life offered her a more interesting wrinkle when she was seventeen. It was night, as these things go, and Nessa found herself following a man she did not know. See, he was new in town, loose with coin but heavy with drink, which together offered Nessa an opportunity she could scarcely pass up. But, unfortunately for her, the man was not a simple man nor was he as drunk as he let on. When Nessa reached for his purse, he turned to her, a mouth full of fangs and amber eyes that glittered in the moonlight.

When she awoke sometime later the sun’s light was hot on her skin and a deep hunger gnawed at the pit of her stomach.

Appearance:
 
The Gentle Breeze
Emer, the Wisewoman


Her people had a home, once. Some time, long ago, told through hushed words that never touched parchment. To write it down was to bind it, you see, and the past - to them - was as fluid as the future, sometimes changed, often embellished. Stories all had a little bit of truth to them, the seed that was planted, but it was the leafy boughs that brought the tree life. It was said - in these whispered tales - that they lived above the sky. Dancing in crystal halls made from the rain, sleeping in beds made of clouds. It was a beautiful life, a carefree life, a life they would have happily shared with any who cared to join them.

There were some, though, who felt the sky too small to share. Their Name was stolen. Not the simple name, the sort we call each other, but their Name - that of their People, that of their Home. Without it, they were lost, unsure of who they were, absent in memory of the paths of their ancestors. They were driven from the sky, bereft of being, and forced to wander aimlessly on the earth below. They were unto the wind, travelling from place to place, never staying long, never finding peace. You cannot, you know, without a Name. Without it, you are little more than a shadow. Without it, you are meaningless.

Yet - they kept themselves alive in stories. Stories told, stories spun, stories that may be all true - or mostly false - but what does it matter? Without a Name, it is your right to Name yourself, and Name yourself they did.

Emer was born into this life. Her mother was a wisewoman, and hers before, and so she learned the trade. She learned what herbs to place on a wound, how to properly set a broken bone, little spells and muttered poems to treat the body and to help it heal. But most of all, she learned stories. From a young age, she was taught about the sky, taught about the Name that had been lost. While she learned her medicinal rights with studious attention, she learned the stories with a rapt soul and an open heart. In her dreams, she saw it. She tasted the dew still-hung in the air, felt the sun so close on her skin. Every moment of her life, she yearned to travel a little higher, to try and see if echoes of the Name still hung beneath the firmament walls.

It's a strange thing, how opportunities come.

Her kind garnered little favors, and were rarely welcome. Without a Name of their own, how could anyone call land theirs? Itinerants are rarely cared for - beggars and thieves, others claimed, come in the night and slipping away the next with anything they could pilfer. Some of the harsher rumors said it wasn't only goods they took, but children as well. As they say - all stories have a bit of truth - and the more a story is told, the more true it becomes, if only in the minds of those who tell it. On her twentieth year, her camp was put to flame. Emer had been in the forest, gathering herbs at her mother's request. She thought nothing of the smell of smoke - it was nearing supper, after all - but the screams and shouts came after. By the time she'd ran back, the ash was settling.

At first, she didn't know what to do. Her home had been stolen twice over - the Name she had lost with her ancestors, and the Name she had made with her family. Names were what you make, though, and once the ash had again settled - this time in her heart - she began to wander once more. She wandered town to town, selling remedies and giving treatments, wandered through the wild, learning stories of trees caked in moss and rocks overturned with millions of beetles beneath them. Were they the ones that told them? Well, she'd say they were, and all stories have a bit of truth. After near a decade alone, she'd learned every story the earth could tell, learned every tale from every farmer's wife and drunken sop and chitlins playing sack outside their home. Then, her path crossed with the Hard Nox - and there was one more story before her. Pirates weren't the most welcome sorts, but she knew a thing or two about being unwelcome. A ship wasn't much of a home, but she was used to having no place to call one. But most of all -

She couldn't resist the sky. She still thought of the echoes that might lurk there, of the Name stolen so long ago.

And so, she flew.

Name: Emer

Age: 38

Race: Aos Gaotha

Time on the Crew: 9 years
 
The Tempest Reforged

Ciarán Airgetlám, the Master Gunner


Skyfolk hardly ever look down, so why would they ever notice the Fir Bolg? In the few early interactions between those from the Floating Isles and forest dwellers, Fairies called the Fir Bolg clans “unremarkable” and “easily missed” - not that the Fir Bolg minded, they liked their privacy and found the winged outsiders funny in their own way.

However, subsequent visits were less dismissive - especially after they discovered the Fir Bolg’s natural sense for metals and the ease in which they could lift heavy weights. Opportunists “uplifted” the clans with modern accoutrements and sciences, but made it clear these gifts were not charity. Soon entire clans were taken from their homelands with the promise of metal and advancement in exchange for work. They would be sent to mining colonies and to serve as labourers and servants for the wealthy. The new age would be built upon the backs of this neo-working class.

Ciarán was born into this time. He never grew up on the plains or valleys, he was born in the sulfur mining town of Brimstone. His parents always spoke of the lands before, the one with no name where the sky was clear and the people only worked to live, not the other way around. Seeing the state of his family, he sought to uplift them however he could, but they couldn't escape Brimstone on a miner's salary. 

When the massive sky-galleons loomed overhead and the officers came recruiting, Ciarán was first in line to board. The pay was only a smidgen higher, the food was awful, and the days were long - but it was a chance to get away for a time and to try and build something new for his family. Ciarán served for three years aboard that ship, the Intrepid Dawn in all manner of roles that kept him and the other Fir Bolgs far enough away from the officers to feel comfortable - swabbie, cargo hand, and eventually powder monkey. It was here, hauling black powder from the lower decks to the cannons where his talent and drive was noticed, and when the Intrepid's gunnery officer transferred to a new vessel, he requested Ciarán to follow him as a gunner. 

The next seven years of his life were spent aboard Our Lady Tempest, a massive man-o'-war fresh from the shipyards. During his time aboard he rose through the ranks, eventually replacing his sponsor as Master Gunner - responsible for the operation, upkeep, and training of cannons and firearms aboard his ship. His pay continued to go home to Brimstone (or at least that's what the purser told him) and he continued to strive for greatness, but the resentment against his race continued and no matter how hard he tried to break down the barriers between him and the officers, they would never see him as an equal. 

His life's work aboard the Tempest came crashing down along with her. During a patrol of the eastern horizon, their ship came under fire by a pair of fast pirate brigantines. The officers struggled to react fast enough, and by the time they committed to a retreat, they'd been boarded. Ciarán rallied the marines and managed to push off their boarders, but their defiance was met with destruction. The brigantines came around, and broadsided her from both sides.

Ciarán was left adrift on a piece of barely floating debris, alone and broken. 

He floated for days, the magic on the mast about to dissipate when the Hard Nox found him. He was pulled aboard and healed by their Wisewoman. She set his bones, cleaned his wounds, and managed to salvage what was left of his left arm, his sword arm. 

When he awoke he was quite alarmed to find he was in the company of pirates, but when he did not recognize them as the band who had scuttled his ship he thanked them. With nothing of value to trade for the medical care and food, they offered to let him work until they made next port - or take a long walk off the plank. 

Slowly he grew more comfortable with the crew, making friends with their healer as she'd insist on checking his wounds, and found himself assisting the Quartermaster with the upkeep of their weapons. He found himself comfortable and even welcomed amongst such a motley crew, quite unlike the strict and homogenous crew aboard the Royal Navy ships he had served previously. When time came to make port, Ciarán instead chose to speak to the captain and make a case to keep him aboard. 

A day past seven years have passed now, a day longer than he'd been aboard Lady Tempest. He's found himself in the role Master Gunner, where he finds himself in charge of the weapons compliment aboard the Hard Nox, ensuring the cannons are clean, rifles fire straight, and the crew are ready for engagement. Most of the time he can be found drilling newer crew on proper weapons usage and conduct.

Gods know this ship could use the discipline. 

Name: Ciarán Airgetlám

Age: 37

Race: Fir Bolg

Time on the crew: 7 years
 
The Man-Shaped Monster
Lucien Kilta, the Navigator

Once there was a man. Aristocratic, elegant. A man of wealth and taste. Life was a task, and the only worthwhile pursuit was collecting coin. That, and using said coin to find ways to extend one’s own life. For when you have a fortune that would take multiple lifetimes to spend, you naturally seek to acquire those lifetimes.

Thus the man lived in fear of death, of the unknown. He sought elixirs, rituals, whatever may be used to grant him immortality. His quest consumed him, friends slipping away, any reference to him diluting to the rich hermit, locked away in his castle. Some even whispered that his journey had ended in his own death, twisting him into some terrible monster.

Until one evening, the man emerged.

He never returned.

None knew where he had gone, but the figure that returned, stepping foot into the man’s home was certainly not him. A shock of white ran through his hair, and he held himself in a distinguished manner the man had never held himself in. But he bore the same scar, slashed across his left cheek. None dared look close enough, but they would have noticed two distinct marks on his neck, a couple inches apart.

Thus Lucien Kilta was born.

He no longer feared death, he no longer craved wealth. He saw the tedium of his old life, and desired nothing more than to get rid of it. Coin remained unspent, doors remained locked, and most thought the recluse had simply returned to his ways. Only a few knew of what would truly happen on dark nights, when the clouds blanketed the sky. The bodies were always found though. What were they going to do, when corpses were discovered with vicious wounds, torn flesh, and bloody smears?

Lucien didn’t know, nor did he care. His hunger was insatiable, and thus the blood ran thicker and thicker. Bounties were offered, and those who were foolish enough to take them were added to the feast. The lawmen stopped coming, the bounty hunters cowed, the citizens terrified. An intolerable feeling crept upon Lucien, an itch that needed to be scratched, a hunger that needed to be fed, lest it consume him. Not his bloodlust, no, but a desire for risk, for danger.

His salvation came with the thunder of cannons and the scream of the commoners. The Hard Nox had come for treasure. His treasure. And in those moments of fending off the filth, dancing with the death they brought to his doorstep, the hunger was filled, the itch was scratched. He needed more. Stowing his blade, Lucien struck a bargain with the captain. His treasure was theirs, in exchange for a position aboard the ship. His years of time spent cooped up had given him a keen eye for charts and maps in his quest for eternal life, and he intended to put them to use. That is, when he wasn’t slaking his thirst on the deck of another vessel, a whirlwind of steel and claw, blood and fang.


Name: Lucien Kilta

Age: Appears to be in his mid-40s. The crew has been given ages ranging from 45 to 500, with no consistency between stories.

Race: Vampire, that much he's honest about

Time on the crew: 7 years
 
The Lost

Argent Klein​

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Sometimes you aren’t given a choice.


Argent had been but a boy, small in stature as much as in mind, when the ship flew low over his village. The Fae Empire’s reach was thinnest at the edge of the desert where he was born, and though the occasional airship could be seen high in the sky it was quite odd to find one low enough that they, too, could see the village. Like the other children he had whooped and hollered with excitement and chased the ship’s shadow over the sand as it sank ever lower.



The adults were a bit more sensible, as adults usually were, but the village had known only peace for generations. Though they held back, waiting patiently at the village’s borders, they also held what goods they had to offer. It was a rare occurrence for ships arrive and the hope to trade was stronger than the fear of the unknown. They were not people of the sky, they did not know to look to the flags flying upon the ship’s mast. The Fae had strict rules for flying, and if a ship had come to their village then it must certainly have been under the Empire’s rule.



The distance of his youth made the memories difficult, scattered and fuzzy like a half remembered dream. He remembered the rush of air that blew the sand into a billowing cloud beneath the ship, a heat to it even higher than the arid desert breezes he was so accustomed to. He remembered the shadowed figures of the men who disembarked, some by wing and other by clambering over the side of their ship. In that same memory the sharp buzz of warning still rang through; though he had been young the shine of steel in the shadows’ hands had tempered his enthusiasm.



He had once heard that the mind protected itself from the worst of what we experienced, and Argent could only assume that was the reason he couldn’t remember the attack. He knew he had to have been somewhere in the midst of it, as his next memory saw his shirt sticky with the blood of others while he cowered in the bottom of the ship that had come to take his people’s goods and lives. All he felt was fear, and even recalling the event after so many years drove chill blade through his heart.



The pirates had found him after their plundering was done, and though he fought against them with every ounce of his strength the roughened hands had bound him rather quickly. He had expected to be killed, cut down like so many of the villagers. The pirates debated around him on how to do exactly that while terrified tears streamed down his face. Some suggested simply tossing him overboard to the sands below while other offered to take care of Argent personally.



He still, nearly eighteen years later, wasn’t sure if it was good fortune or ill that saw the captain of that ship arrive as his crew debated. The man’s footsteps were heavy with the authority he carried, and the crew parted like curtains before his path as cruel eyes settled on the silver-haired boy. Argent couldn’t speak for himself, even if he hadn’t been gagged, for the sheer terror the Captain inspired, and it seemed that effect was shared with the pirates that served under him. There were several moments of silence as he was appraised, ticks of time that he knew marked the end of his short life.



The Captain didn’t order the child to be thrown overboard or fed to the dogs belowdecks. Instead he turned away, a dismissive gesture cast over his shoulder toward Argent as he commanded his men to “put the boy to work.”





Sometimes you have too many choices.



Argent worked for that ship for fifteen years; initially barely trusted to scrub the decks or care for the dogs but eventually working his way into the crew’s trust. When he was old enough to hold a sword he was put to battle in addition to his work, and as the years passed he found himself looking to the other pirates, to the men and women who had slaughtered his small village, as a new family. The fear of the scarred and rowdy group faded away, and Argent found himself becoming more and more like them with each passing day.



It was intoxicating having the power of the crew behind him; raiding and stealing with the edge of his blade. Perhaps if he had been older when they had come to his village Argent might have found a moral issue with the work he had been thrust into, but he adapted quickly to the new life and didn’t look back. At least, he told himself he didn’t look back. It was a special summons to the Captain’s chambers that threw his world into disarray again, the rumors that the man had taken ill confirmed by a single glance.



Once robust and ruddy the Captain’s bearded face was sunken and pale in the flickering candlelight, the ship physician at his side with a cool compress and a mixture of herbs. Argent stood stock still in front of him, appraised as he had been in that previous lifetime when he had snuck aboard the ship. This time, though, something in the Captain’s eyes told Argent he held more worth than before.



”A far cry from the mewling child I saved from the crew, aren’t you boy?” The Captain’s voice had once booked from the top deck with enough force to shake the entire ship, but now sounded more a hoarse whisper for his sickness. The Captain had always called him “boy,” even after the rest of the crew had given him the title of White Reaper. ”If I had known then how this would end…” the Captain trailed off and a fit of blood tinged coughing overtook him. Though Argent’s eyes narrowed in concern he didn’t move an inch to assist the man. It wasn’t his place, and physician knew far more to help the Captain than Argent did.



”There isn’t much time left, I’m afraid. Even a Captain cannot outrun his sins.” Argent’s face twisted, concern and disbelief mingling together. The Captain had never shown any regrets and it was disturbing to see him so weak. ”You must run, Argent. You have been loyal to me, far more than I deserved considering. The crew will see you as a threat to whomever they place as captain after me.”



A weak gesture beckoned Argent closer, and without hesitation he obeyed. Frail and thin skinned, the fingers wrapped around his wrist with a startling tightness that seemed out of place upon a dying man. ”Leave! Be free of this life! Consider it my last order to you, and a small atonement for what I have done to you.”



Argent shook his head, face a stone mask as he slowly pried the Captain’s hand from his wrist. ”You’re going to be fine, Captain. A little sickness can’t take out a tough bastard like you.” As he smiled against the tears in his eyes the Captain also broke into a grin that was torn away by another fit of coughing. The physician gave Argent a look, one that couldn’t be misinterpreted.



”Where will I go?” His voice was soft, an echo of the scared child the Captain had spared.



”Anywhere! Everywhere! You can go wherever you want. Do whatever you want. I release you from my service.”


The Captain passed while they were docked in the city of Leimor, and in the dead of the night Argent slipped from a porthole and into the water to escape a fate he wasn’t quite sure truly awaited him. The Captain had given him an order, however, and so he obeyed without question. With an entire world of possibilities opened up before him Argent wandered the streets for days, using what coin he had tucked away to pay for a room and meals while he surveyed his options for a potential future.



The sword at his waist kept most honest people from giving him the time of day, and he quickly came to realize that his Captain might have been wrong about his future. Argent was a pirate; had spent his life in the sky hauling rigging and taking what he wanted at the tip of a blade. He knew nothing of tilling land, tending livestock, or any of the other mundane facets of normal life. Even with the world opened before him by the Captain’s word Argent found himself unable to take a step in any other direction but the docks.



One couldn’t exactly offer themselves to a ship with the assumption of piracy, and so Argent found himself working the docks instead. While loading and unloading goods the elf would make note of the crews he met. Pirates did not openly advertise their work when in port, but their mettle always shone through whatever act they chose. The goods they carried, the men they left behind were as good as brightly colored signs. A few passed through, their ships even smaller than his old one, their treasures almost pitiful compared to what his previous crew would amass.



They hadn’t been particularly well known, no comparison to the massive Truth Teller or the infamous Hard Nox, but a damn sight better than the pitiful excuses that Argent found in his search. There would be no room on those ships for him, and he let them pass with a sinking heart each day, fearing that he would work the docks for the remainder of his life. Perhaps it had been desperation that lead him to Aamir, or perhaps it had been his new Captain’s eye that found him. The Cloud Cutter had presented itself well enough, even so well as to fool Argent for a time. He had not expected the offer for work from the captain. The drab of Leimor had grown burdensome enough, though, that Argent hadn’t hesitated. After more than a year he didn’t regret the decision, a ship in the air being far more comfortable than timber locked to the shore.


Name: Argent Klein

Age: 27

Race: Elven

Time with crew: N/A
 
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