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Captain Kestrel's Crew - Sorcerers

Valeria de Gallegos: Ship's Scholar

This tiny, unassuming scholar may be, in her way, the most valuable ally Kestrel has. While she is the physically weakest and least dangerous in combat, Valeria is also one of the most brilliant Heroes in Théah. Whatever her education before her arrival on the Ladyhawk, her sponge-like mind has absorbed everything that has come the heroes' way. An undisputed master in many fields, including history, mathematics, both natural and true philosophy, and occult lore in particular, Valeria has proven her worth time and again.

Between her genius, her understated beauty, and her inexperience in combat, she needs a protector whenever Villains are nearby, but no one begrudges her the need -- Valeria's learning and cleverness have saved the crew far more times than they have ever had to save her. Valeria, as it happens, is not merely brilliant. She is also a very sensible, grounded person who takes her duties seriously. The Castillian scholar may vanish into good libraries for hours on end when given the chance, but she is not given to activating Syrneth devices out of mere curiosity or blithely walking into obvious (or even not-so-obvious) dangers.

Her background is as straightforward as she is. Unlike most of the other senior staff, she did not appear mysteriously on the Ladyhawk nor does she have some epic tale of piracy in her history. Valeria quite simply bought passage from Castille to Avalon one day (to study, of course), and came to love the ship and sea so much she asked to stay. Kestrel granted her request and has not regretted it since.

Like her countryman Domingo, rumors and tales have arisen around the young genius. Valeria is said to be an agent of the Explorers' Society, Invisible College or even Sophia's Daughters, with the Explorers being the front-runners. These conspiracy theorists believe the well-known attempts by the Society to recruit her to be a clever ruse designed to throw people like them off the scent. Most shake their heads at these tales; not every Hero can be an epic mystery, even on the Ladyhawk.

Valeria: GM's Secrets

Angelina Vespucci: Sorte Lachesis

With so many enigmas on board the Ladyhawk, it is perhaps refreshing that one of them has been solved. Angelina Vespucci, the First Mate's wife, has been a stable member of the crew for some time now. Her road to the privateer and her beloved, however, was long and harsh.

Born Angelina Lucani to doting parents, her childhood was as idyllic as a potential Fate Witch's can be. While kept away from the books and other "dangerous" areas of education, Angelina learned how to run a household, serve a husband, and behave properly in a court. When, inevitably, her Sorte developed, she took to it with unusual zeal, wanting to make her family proud and become a good potential match.

Alas, she became too good a potential match. Prince Bernoulli made an offer, Angelina's parents accepted, and before either father realized their mistake, Augustin had decided Angelina was his newest plaything. She tried to be the wife she was taught to be, but Augustin treated her like a cruel child with a recalcitrant pet. After one particularly ugly incident, Angelina ran. Her fateful encounter with Carlo really was chance -- she was only a Clotho at the time -- but their bond kept her alive when Augustin brutally reclaimed her. Fortunately for Angelina, the elder Bernoulli was incensed by the whole incident. After learning what his son had done to Carlo, the prince ordered his son to either treat his wife properly or leave her alone. For the most part, Augustin left her alone, the novelty of having a plaything wife wearing off quickly. Out of gratitude to the prince, Angelina organized Augustin's household, endearing her to the servants as she ensured better treatment for them. Augustin's rare returns to the mansion, however, became steadily worse as he realized that his people cared for Angelina more than they did him.

Finally, when she reached Lachesis, Angelina fled again. Arranging for Augustin to require her presence for some delicate negotiations -- the princelings do have some duties, after all -- she then ensured that the ship would come across the Ladyhawk (Octavus 1668). Arranging her rescue was simplicity itself after that (while Carlo and Augustin glared at each other across the rails, her allies snuck her on board as part of the "booty," in a barrel).

Alas, the Tessatore took considerable interest in her after that. How could they not, after all, with Angelina the daughter-in-law of a Prince? She therefore had to disappear again, after all too brief a time with her beloved.

Her "disappearance" was merely to disguise herself, however, ensuring the Tessatore would learn she was still on board and track her down again. Eventually, Augustin tracked the Ladyhawk down and set on her with all the power he could bring to bear. Fortunately, Carlo reached Augustin before he could reach Angelina, and the Vodacce giant "thanked" the princeling for his previous kindness (Secundus 1669). In a duel of honor, in which Carlo fought honorably and Augustin less so, the commoner proved that nobility is no proof against a well-aimed cutlass, sending his rival to St. Rose's Locker.

Not long after, the Prince himself came looking for the Ladyhawk. While obviously not pleased that his son was dead (to put it mildly), he accepted that what had been done, was done honorably. Bernoulli told Kestrel and Carlo, in essence, that as long as they stayed out of his way, he would stay out of theirs. Kestrel, being no one's fool, agreed. At last, Angelina was truly free. She will not learn to read, refusing to endanger the ship and crew by daring the Tessatore's wrath again, but in every other way, she is free. Serving as the Ladyhawk's mistress of Fate and Carlo's wife (as of Tertius 1669), Angelina has a true home again at last.

Angelina: GM's Secrets

Nicole du Paix: Porté Mistress

Now a refugee from modern Montaigne, Nicole is the ship's Porté mistress, though she is no wilting lily of a noblewoman. Rescued from a Corsair ship by the Ladyhawk shortly before the Revolution (Nonus 1668), Nicole was already a competent sailor, skilled in her sorcery yet also an asset at sea. Her upbringing also makes her useful in dealing with courts and courtiers, making her a valuable crew member in a wide variety of circumstances.

While she lacks traditional combat skills, her mastery of Montaigne's blood sorcery more than makes up for this gap in her training. Able to pluck bullets from the air and rip holes in the air in front of attackers, Nicole rarely has to worry about physical assault. On those rare occasions, the torch the bosun carries for her is more than enough to ensure her safety.

Aside from her obvious heritage, little is known about Nicole. Her name indicates a clear desire to keep her past behind her, and given her power, few are inclined to press the matter. Fortunately, when at ease, Nicole is an outgoing, friendly person, and not inclined to belligerence when treated well. She does not suffer fools, however, and while her tongue is not as rough as Moira's, it is keener and sharper, no doubt after years in the Montaigne courts. Her dusky skin hints at some distant southern heritage, but her full-blooded powers mark her as a true daughter of Montaigne.

Nicole: GM's Secrets

Lady Merlin: Bosun's Mate & Captain's Aide

Every bit the enigma her captain is, Kestrel's protege, sidekick, or aide-de-camp (depending on whom you ask) is a remarkable young lady and a hero in her own right. "Lady Merlin" first appeared among the docks and back alleys of Carleon, wielding fencing skills far beyond the ordinary twelve-year-old and wearing a mask blatantly, ah, inspired by Captain Kestrel's. At some point during her time there she learned a Swordsman School. She seems to fight with a Vodacce style, but how she could have learned it is a mystery. While she rescued more than a few Jennies, ending up half-adopted by the local guild, any Jenny who fought Ambrosia style wouldn't likely need rescuing by a child.

Eventually, word got back to Kestrel about her biggest fan (Primus 1669). Carleon swabbies still tell the tale of Merlin confronting a dozen hardened thugs, who all stalked towards the fearless girl until something bade them blanch. Merlin proceeded to gloat about how wise they were to fear her, until they ran, fleeing from Captain Kestrel -- who was standing right behind the child!

Fortunately, Kestrel admired the young hero's courage, and was moved by whatever tale she told of being orphaned (which Merlin was, no doubt). Taking the lithe swordswoman under her wing, so to speak, the captain made "Lynn" her aide and began teaching her the fine art of swashbuckling . The girl blossomed on the Ladyhawk, and has since earned a place as a bosun's mate. Merlin has also begun developing Glamour, her heritage coming to life as she approaches maturity.

With so many skills and gifts in so young a package, Merlin is the source of more gossip, speculation, and outright tall tales than any crewman save Kestrel herself. Popular yarns make her out as a lost Sidhe child, particularly outrageous tellings claiming her as a child of a Queen. Incredible variants call Merlin Kestrel's daughter, either by a Sidhe lover or making them both Sidhe, a mother and child out of time. After all, what is time to the Fair Folk? More grounded claims speculate about her obviously noble background, ranging from an enemy of Piram's (there are so many to choose from) to a direct descendant of Richard IV's, either by Margaret or Elaine, depending on how much the tale-teller likes the young adventurer. A few stories even give her a foreign ancestry, typically Vodacce to account for her odd fighting style, though Castille is another popular choice (usually tying her to El Vago as a result).

Regardless of the truth, Merlin is a valuable member of Kestrel's crew and fast becoming one of the greatest heroes of her generation. Those who know her see great things in the Lady's future.

Merlin: GM's Secrets

Freya Lingasdottir: Skjæren

Even by the Ladyhawk's standards, Freya is a remarkable woman. She has come of age during one of the darkest times in Vesten history. Freya has faced horrors both in the frozen wastes of the Norvik isles and in the most barren corners of the Vendel cities. She has served with Vesten raiders and in negotiations between Vesten bands as well as between Vesten and Vendel. Familiar with both peace and war, life and death, Lingasdottir has walked a path across the knife's edge of Norvik life with skill and nerve. Having traveled to Avalon and Ussura in search of allies in saving her people (she pities the Vendel, but would not object to their world if she did not see them destroying hers), Freya ended up in Eisen, where she hoped to earn Eisenfurst Posen's help through good old-fashioned barter -- her sorcery for Posen mercenaries. She held up her end of the bargain, which means that even if Legion himself invades Eisen, if so much as one Posen soldier is alive when the war ends, that soldier will pack for Vestenmannavnjar as soon as her wounds heal.

Now that she has served her time with Posen, however, Freya feels the ocean calling again. It is time to serve her people in a more abstract way -- by forging new legends, and ties between legends. For those reasons among others, she has chosen to join the crew of the Ladyhawk and serve Captain Kestrel. While she suspects Kestrel will eventually come to the aid of her people, unlike other sorcerers who have joined her with that purpose (not to mention Freya's own recent past), she has decided to simply do right and use her powers in Kestrel's heroic cause. The mistress of Laerdom has faith that if the gods will it, her people will live. If the gods choose otherwise, Valhalla awaits them.

What is there to fear?

Freya: GM's Secrets

Ilya Drakov: Shapeshifting Warrior

Kestrel's finally got 'em all. When she returned from Ussura, the Golden Phantom had the enigmatic Pyeryem sorcerer named 'Ilya' in tow. While not the cliche'd bear of a man most western Theans expect when they meet a strong, tough Ussuran, Ilya's more than strong and tough enough. He's apparently lived through his share of Ussuran winters, not to mention Ussuran fights. A true survivor, the one story already circulating about Ilya is that he felt "called" to take a griffon skin -- a rare feat even by the high standards of Pyeryem. He managed to trek to the southern mountains that are their natural habitat, avoid becoming griffon chow, and earn the right to the impressive skin. Indeed, his nickname is the "Red Griffon," though exactly how he earned it is unclear. He apparently became acquainted with Kestrel the same way Freya did -- by serving as a translator and general guide.

Ilya may be new, but Kestrel's ability to earn deep loyalty seems to have struck gold again. He has quickly and neatly integrated into the crew, with his sailing knowledge and expertise in combat complemented by the one skill set the crew sorely lacked -- inland survival. Something of a jack-of-all-trades, Ilya should prove to be a valuable addition to an already formidable band of heroes.

Ilya: GM's Secrets