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Captain Kestrel's "Three Hermanos"

Carlo Vespucci: First Mate

Though easily eclipsed by the legend of Captain Kestrel, Carlo is unquestionably the most famous member of the Ladyhawk's crew after his commander. He doesn't have any flamboyant nicknames, though he is widely known as "the bald Vodacce monster," and it fits. Nearly seven feet of muscle, scars and bad attitude - but not a single hair in sight - makes him imposing at first glance. Add how well he's learned to use both muscles and appearance and Carlo becomes a figure of almost primal terror for enemy fighters and disobedient sailors under his command. As one might suspect, beneath all that muscle and scar tissue is, in fact, a heart of gold...but it's buried deep.

Once, Carlo was merely a Vodacce commoner, a simple man with enormous strength and little ambition. He worked the docks of Amozare hauling cargo, dreaming of becoming a sailor himself one day. Tales of the Seven Seas filled his head and captured his imagination during his youth, instilling in young Carlo a passion that fills him to this day. He always thought the "Mother Ocean" of the Avalons would never have a rival in his heart...until she came into his life.

Women had starting throwing themselves at him shortly after he hit puberty, which amazes the few people who know him. Carlo wasn't impressed by these tarts, but she was different. Beautiful, elegant, polite (even to a giant dock rat like him) and graceful, she seemed like an angel even before he learned her name: Angelina Lucani, a young noblewoman who was clearly in over her head. She taught Carlo to believe himself more than a pack mule. He protected Angelina from less caring dock rats and convinced her she was worth something.

It couldn't last. Angelina was also a talented Fate Witch and betrothed to one of Prince Bernoulli's sons, Augustin, whose appetites for women were legendary. Carlo did everything in his power to help her escape, but he was a lone commoner against the richest man in Vodacce. Prince Bernoulli himself respected Carlo's courage and honor, and ordered him spared, but Augustin had no such compunctions. When the Lord's Hands finally caught up to them, Carlo was slashed half to death, forced to watch Augustin consummate his marriage a bit prematurely, then thrown into a vat of something horrible to die.

Carlo was made of much stronger stuff than Augustin ever imagined, however. The concoction seared his wounds, marking him forever, but it also closed them, saving his life. He was also made forever hairless. After gathering his strength and dragging himself out of the vat, Carlo managed to drag himself onto one of the many ships trading in Amozare - the Dark Hawk. Young Rufier was intrigued by the man, who was easily impressed by the Montaigne's wits and quickly won over by his egalitarian ideals. He threw himself into learning everything about sailing and the sea, and proved an amazingly apt student. In a few short years, Carlo became Rufier's First Mate and best friend, never forgetting Angelina.

Yet Carlo's devotion was to the idealist he met in Amozare, a man who slowly vanished as Captain du Sanz became drunk on power. The giant Vodacce led the mutiny, furious at what he perceived as Rufier's betrayal of their ideals. Kestrel now has his loyalty, though how she earned it is anyone's guess. Carlo, more than any other feature, is what makes people suspect that the Ladyhawk was once the Dark Hawk. Nevertheless, Carlo keeps the captain's secrets close, and for all that she has the love of a Vago, two other "hermanos," a near-worshipful apprentice, and another Vodacce who has sworn absolute service to her, no one is more devoted to Kestrel and her dreams than Carlo. No one.

Of course, that loyalty comes in part from her aid in rescuing Angelina from the Bernoullis. They came across her literally by accident during one of their raids. Angelina was smuggled off the merchant ship, earning Augustin's ire. The Bernoulli princeling hunted them down, but when they finally faced each other, Augustin learned to his very brief sorrow that Carlo was no longer the untrained brute he'd tortured those many years ago. Vespucci took Augustin apart like a rag doll, leaving what remained for the sirens as the Ladyhawk sent his ship to St. Rose's Locker. Now happily married, with Prince Bernoulli himself having negotiated a sort of peace between his family and the ship, Carlo continues to serve with efficiency and passion, his wife at his side as ship's Strega and at peace with himself, knowing that what he does serves all that is good in the world. He is content.

The bald Vodacce monster is more than just a tower of raw force. He is a master of brute combat, having mastered the basic Rogers fighting style and learned to fight with nearly anything to hand or nothing at all. Anyone who ends up gripped in his arms is not long for this world, though fighting with sword or axe isn't much of an improvement, given his talent for finding new and unpleasant ways to discourage enemies.

Carlo: GM's Secrets

Domingo de Castille: Ship's Master

The Ship's Master, like most Castillians, does not seem half as passionate as he truly is. Far more educated than one would expect of an ordinary expatriate, even a Castillian one, Domingo de Castillo remains a mystery to all save those who share his secrets.

Serving as Ship's Master and navigator, Domingo can pinch Guilders until they scream and pack cargo until the barrels themselves complain about the tight space. Knowledgeable in everything from mathematics to philosophy, he'd seem out of place on a pirate (or privateer) vessel were it not for his brilliance in logistics, cartography and navigation. Domingo speaks every major language in western Théah, and can bargain frighteningly well in every one of them. He also plays a mean guitar and can dance like a true son of Castille.

Easily the most soft-spoken and least known of the three hermanos, Domingo is in many ways the heart of the Ladyhawk, though Carlo and Ambrose would never admit it to him. When Kestrel goes adventuring ashore, the Castillian is the most likely of the trio to remain on board and ensure everything runs smoothly in her absence. During battle, Kestrel may run logistics and Carlo may bark orders, but the enigmatic Ship's Master is the one who can cut through the fog of battle and keep them both informed. Domingo knows every inch of the ship, from bow to stern and crow's nest to keel. Much of the Ladyhawk's success is owed to this quiet young man, and Kestrel freely admits it (even if his "brothers" only do when he's out of earshot).

All this makes everyone in the know wonder how this brilliant Castillian ended up on the Ladyhawk in the first place. Few can imagine Domingo, who remains deeply loyal to king and country, ever serving on the Dark Hawk. Other, darker rumors swirl around him, ranging from him being a runaway priest to one of the rare Fuego sorcerers. Most, however, believe him to be a member of the Invisible College, an inventor and alchemist who works with Kestrel because of her opposition to the Inquisition. No one knows for sure, though, and Domingo apparently prefers it that way.

Domingo: GM's Secrets

Ambrose du Paix: Bosun

Carlo's past is fairly well known. Domingo's is almost a complete mystery. As with so many things, Ambrose lies somewhere in between. While he clearly wishes to leave his past behind, between his known abilities and the Revolution some parts of his life become clear.

At some point, Ambrose was a Musketeer. He is obviously (to a Montaigne, at least) not of noble blood, yet he is fairly well educated and has learned both the arts of war and the ways of wit. Mastery of Valroux has given him a blazing speed that even other Montaigne envy, and he uses it both to taunt and cut down his foes with equal ease. Unfortunately, it is unlikely he left the Musketeers on good terms, so this reality is largely ignored when he is in Montaigne. Even Musketeers can turn a blind eye when politics demand, if there is no injustice in it.

Unlike his hermanos, Ambrose has never become more than a competent sailor, capable of keeping his feet in most circumstances but otherwise at ease with his place as bosun and master at arms for the Ladyhawk. An excellent tactician, Ambrose also knows the value of morale, and has earned the trust and respect of his men.

Though not as much of a ladies' man as the Montaigne cliche would have it, Ambrose is nonetheless popular with them. In fact, his more innocent charm wins him more success than many more...deliberate colleagues have. His relationship with Moire, the brilliant Inish pilot, is fairly well known, though they have since gone their separate ways (amicably). More intriguing is the strange dance he and Nicole, the Porte mistress, do around each other. Clearly (given her strength in Porte) Nicole is of noble blood, but that can hardly matter on board an Avalon privateer ship.

Ambrose's relationship with Le Conseil Révolutionnaire is equally complicated. Since he was a wanted man during L'Empereur's reign and helped the Ladyhawk thwart Leon's desires before the Revolution, the former Musketeer is something of a folk hero to the Conseil and the commoners of Montaigne. On the one hand, it is a notoriety he does not want; on the other, he sees the advantages of his fame in a land teetering on the edge of the abyss. He hopes to help keep Montaigne from falling in...if it is not already too late, that is.

His loyalty to Kestrel is more understated than that of Carlo's or Domingo's, but it is not to be underestimated. Ambrose has gone through hell for the first leader he feels has earned the right to command him, and he will do so again without hesitation. Though he is no longer a Musketeer, Ambrose still holds to many of those old ideals, ideals he continues to serve under the Masked Knight.

Ambrose: GM's Secrets