The Guild has a fine guildhall in the center of the city - powerful masts of ships forgotten serving as columns; thick boards that drunk deep of the Sea, more stone than wood today; and rocks that served as ballast while cruising all the oceans. Old seadogs as youngsters, that haven’t yet spilled their lunch, pass the building in honor, a finger to their cap. The captains and older mates will dare into the majestic place, to pen down the records of their ships and crews into the massive books.
Above the entry, a crude circlet of iron is hanged on delicate chains, to remind of the past and of the future.
Rostral-Crown: The Naval crown(medal) anciently awarded to the individual who first boarded an enemy’s ship. A great honor among warriors.
From the ‘Ye Olde English’ thread.
A thousand years ago, the central region of what is today called Asakra was a small country living off piracy, erm, naval mastery, and the spoils it brought. With a powerful fleet it ruled the seas, and men of courage would seek the path of a sailor, for fame and fortune that could be only gained on the Eternal Blue.
Back then, the captains and admirals (captains commanded single ships, admirals several, that was the only distinction) would award trophies to good sailors and warriors. The most respected was the Rostral Crown, for the first man to board a hostile ship.
As any act of cowardice would result in its denial, and dead sailors were the last to get anything besides honor, a Rostral Crown was proof of bravery and skill, coming with an additional share of the loot, along with respect of others; a promotion or even a small plot of land granted after important battles were not unheard of.
A common weapon on sea was a belaying pin, or any club at hand, occasionally sailors would add a nail for a more threatening look. For the bravest man, nails were pulled out of the enemies’ clubs, and from the captured ship*, and hammered into a circlet, all points and edges carefully beaten blunt. This primitive crown was awarded in a great drinking ceremony when the dangers were over, the whole crew celebrating their hero.
And it was one of the few heroes, who received more than one crown, that founded a guild for the sailor-men, to hire them out to the captains, and to provide for the widows and orphans of those who didn’t return. His name is not known anymore, maybe it is lost somewhere in the ancient records that survive today. It does not matter.
*) If no hostile ship remained to pull nails from, then the nails and wire of their own ship were put to use, the sailors arguing that this honor voluntary bestowed by friends is almost as good, as that taken from enemies
Eight hundred years in the past, the Guild has grown into an institution respected by everyone. The small kingdom became a part of a larger kingdom, but the navy remained strong.
This was the heyday of the Rostral Guild, power coupled with popularity in a way never seen before or after, admiral being the only title worthy of a Guildmaster. Any activity sea-related could be empowered or hindered by them, as no sailor would embark on a journey when the Guild said no. They effectively ruled their city, indeed, the whole region was under their influence, and the baron always took heed of their advice.
Only two hundred years later, there was not a Guild less influential, and more detested.
The corrupt guildmen overplayed their cards, and an alliance with a hostile power cost them whatever support remained after all the politicking. Some were hanged for treason, and the guild was stripped of any real influence on the royal navy. Only heavily controlled, under special laws and levies could it remain in operation. Their splendid seat was turned into the city’s townhall, and another could not be built, except from the remains of docking or capsized ships. That was the age, when simple fishermen ran the guild.
Later, when the kingdom fell apart, creative seamanship was asked for again, and the guild could provide. It grew to resemble the shadow of its former glory. Of course it could appear bigger. But captains of coastline ships know to stay down. There is business to be done, sometimes of the shady kind. Live and let live. Let the peace reign… and let there be profit.
This was the first time, when non-humans were allowed to join. Some called it travesty, most just let it happen. They have sailing along for centuries anyway.
...they still like to remember their roots, even if the politicians downplay the piracy of old. But the guildmasters are merchants, wealthy and far above the common sailors. Their fortunes are rising. Some say history will repeat itself.
The one hanging above its gate is of course a replica, but it is said they have still a few originals, that gift their wearers with seacraft and luck. Sadly they are very fragile now, and must be carefully preserved. To borrow one, you have to have an excellent relationship with the Guild, for a start.
At two occasions in history has a crown been stolen. Once, the thief was pursued by a throng of sailors that has beaten the culprit to a bloody pulp. The second time, seven assassins were hired by the then-almighty Guild, to take care of the thief; it is rumored that it took seven days until they tortured him to death.
Even today, losing a crown will not be taken lightly. In addition to the crews combing the land and sea, men of trust may be hired, to find and recover it. Assassins will not be sent… well, maybe one or two.
Don’t even think of it.