Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
The mate was fixed by the bosun's pike
The bosun brained with a marlinspike
And cookey's throat was marked belike
It had been gripped by fingers ten;
And there they lay, all good dead men
Like break o'day in a boozing ken
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
The Reaver Isle is a large island located in the mysterious land Codarshool. Its shore is lined with submerged shoals that make it dangerous for ships that wish to alight there. Rotting piles of weathered timber mark the graves of numerous ships that met an untimely end by impaling themselves on the treacherous shoals. Jagged spurs of black rock lined the stony shores and packs of feral dogs and wolves can be seen feasting on the rotting carcasses of whales and dolphins that occasionally beach themselves. All in all, it offers a less than congenial vista.
The island itself is occasionally rent by subterranean tremors. Whenever one of these occurs, the ramshackle wooden hovels and shacks that line the winding dirt lanes of the main city, begin to tremble violently. Keening winds often lash the island brutally, their harsh breath scouring the flesh of those who newcomers who have yet to be accustomed to the rigours of life on this bleak little island.
It is said by the Reavers that the wind is but the echo of the furious screams of Drogath. Eons ago, when the world of Decrathos was created, one among the divine pantheon rebelled against his brethren. The gods following the creation of the world decided that divine laws would have to be imposed on all beings, with themselves being no exception. If creation itself were to be protected from extinction, chaos had to be forestalled. A careful balance would have to be maintained and no god would be permitted to seek supremacy over all the rest of creation. Otherwise a divine war would result and a horrid cataclysm would engulf Decathros.
But in creating the world of Decathros, the gods unwittingly spawned the seeds of destruction. In the course of exerting their divine energies to summon the nascent world into existence, they underwent tremendous ordeals. Agony wracked their celestial bodies as the strength and vitality was leached from them. In order to replenish their lost vitality, they were compelled to devour the life-force of surrounding stars. Thousands of stars were swiftly extinguished by the merciless, heedless gods. Out their misery, emerged Grushaal, the embodiment of envy and greed. Consumed with the searing thirst for vengeance that his begetters had unwittingly bequeathed upon him, this ominous entity sought to wreck vengeance against those who had engendered his accursed existence.
The gods finally completed the creation of Decathros and entered a deep slumber to regain the cosmic energies that they had expanded thus far. It was then that Grushaal begun to enter their dreams, plumbing the depths of their minds to seek out the instrument that would allow him to undermine the great feast for which they had so ruthlessly sacrificed the vanquished stars. Dugrath's mind quickly drew his attention. The strongest and most prodigious among the gods, Dugrath had slain the most stars by far. Where the others had experienced some remorse over the demise of the stars who existence they so abruptly snuffed out, Dugrath alone remained untouched by the cosmic screams of agony that reverberated throughout the galaxy. The stars had been cold and sterile, devoid of all life. More to the point, they had lacked the strength to prevent him and the other gods from requisitioning what they required. It was the duty of the weak to serve as fodder for the strong so that the latter could embark on glorious undertakings that reflected their grandeur.
The naked callousness of Dugrath blazed like a fiery beacon, drawing the roving eyes of Grushaal. The spirit of greed wormed its insidious way into the god's mind and engendered the seed of lust within him, painstakingly nourishing it with all its barely contained malice and hatred. Utilizing Dugrath's own philosophy, it conjured images of Dugrath ruling as unchallenged ruler of multiple plans of existence, all united in their unquestioning obedience to him.
Eons passed and the gods finally awoke from their slumber, ready to reign over the new world that they had created. But the previous state of equilibrium that had once prevailed among them was soon to be rudely shattered. As they gradually removed the psychic barriers that they had erected to shield their minds from any disturbance, an ominous sonorous voice resounded within their collective consciousness. Dograth demanded the immediate submission of the other gods. Only their abject submission would avert their destruction. They were to become his slaves and do his bidding. Otherwise, eternal oblivion would be their fate.
Filled with outrage and revulsion, the other gods immediately moved to attack him, hurling bolts of destructive energy towards the vast, pulsating expanse of meteoric rock that protected the god's heart, his most vulnerable spot. Great was the conflict that raged between Dograth and the other gods. The discharge of such potent strength and power eradicated vast swathes of the cosmic fabric that underlay the very existence of the universe. Countless sentient beings died in the course of this bitter struggle. Indeed, it seemed that the war of the gods would doom themselves as well as the rest of creation to annihilation. Ultimately however, the gods prevailed against the tyrant among them. Finally vanquished and stripped of his powers, the defeated Dugrath was hurled into the vast sea of Codarshool. At the command of the victorious gods, a large island landmass emerged out of the frothing waters of the ocean. From henceforth, it would serve as a prison for the fallen god, imprisoning his dismembered remains and the lingering remnants of his once near omniscient mind.
The First Reavers
Thus did Reaver Isle emerge. Following its immediate creation it remained a stark, barren wasteland, devoid of all life. No living thing that partook of the essence of the gods, could hope to flourish in a land where the very air seethed with the raging malice and hatred of a fallen deity that was antithetical to the balance of creation itself. About five centuries ago, this situation ended abruptly. A small vessel ran aground on one of the treacherous shoals ringing the island. Dragging themselves from its rapidly submerging wreck, the few remaining occupants waded desperately through the shallows, determined to die on dry land. They had previously been the children of a reigning king, brutally deprived of their inheritance by a ruthless usurper. Now, devoid of all hope, they prepared to resign their shades to the afterlife.
As the life ebbed from their tortured flesh, the imprisoned god of the isle seized his opportunity. From beneath the black sand, emerged a vast hoard of black crabs. The shrill, screech of their incessant chittering filled the air as their scuttling forms moved to engulf the beleaguered, dying shipwreck survivors. A dim sense of terror filled one of the dying princes as he realized that he and his comrades would end their days a feast for the ruthless crustacean hoard that would literally pick the flesh of their bones. But death was but a breath away and this grim though thought was soon obscured by the overwhelming sense of oblivion that was already descending on him. The last thing he recalled was the excited gibbering of the crabs as they burrowed into his flesh.
A renewed sense of strength and vitality flooded the emaciated forms of the mariners as the dark energy of Dugrath infused them, subsuming their own feeble, paltry minds. The dark, seething power of the god suffused every particle of their being, sinking deep tendrils into their very souls. From that fateful moment onwards, they were extensions or avatars of Dugrath himself. Not in the sense that they were mere drones, utterly lacking wills or impulses of their own. On the contrary, their most base and primal desires burned within them, amplified to unnatural levels.
Finally, the truth dawned on them. The gods did not exist. Nor did the morality that the gods supposedly upheld. They were merely foolish stories fed to the stupid and gullible in order to ensure their servitude to their superiors. Had there been an iota of truth to these foul lies, the revered high priest would not have treacherously slain the king in order to seize the throne for himself. The only thing that truly mattered ultimately was power. The ones who wielded it would devour the ones that did not. Such had always been the way of the world. It was the distilled essence of naked ambition itself that ran in their veins now, whispering to them with its inexorable voice and demolishing the years of false propaganda ng that they had been subjected to. All that truly mattered was the fulfilment of one's most material and animalistic aspirations. This then was the secret that the mysterious force dwelling here had imparted to them. Of all the allegedly divine forces in existence, it alone was worthy of worship since it alone understood the true nature of creation which ultimately was an incessant struggle for supremacy. Thus did the first Reavers first come into existence.
The Pirate Kingdom
In the following decades, thousands of desperate criminals fled to the island, lured by the promise of sanctuary offered by the island's new rulers. Desperate for sustenance, the new arrivals were emboldened by their overlords to turn to piracy. Crude ships were constructed from the wreckage of previously wrecks and the most promising among the individual refugees were given command of their own vessel and crew. Soon, the pirates begun to prey on the occupants of the fishing and trade vessels that arrived from other lands. Great was the brutality that the Reavers inflicted on these unfortunates. All able-bodied men would be enslaved in order to be put to task foraging for fish and other marine resources. Meanwhile, any attractive young women would be savagely gang-raped as an initiation into the lives of sexual bondage that awaited them at the hands of their vicious captors. Little children or the elderly who were deemed useless for the purpose of labour were quickly dispatched and thrown overboard to feed the sharks.
Indeed, the Reavers have a certain ironic fondness for the voracious predators of the deep, regarding them as kindred spirits. Whenever a Reaver vessel sails onto the waves, a shoal of sharks quickly follows it, expecting their benefactors to provide them with a feast. In this hope they are rarely disappointed. Some pirate lords extend their generosity even further to these predatory fish by choosing to rear some of them as pets in specially constructed corals along the shoreline. As an occasional treat, the sharks are fed a rebellious slave or a hostile subordinate.
A pirate confederation soon arose, led by a quasi-aristocracy. The descendants of the original avatars of Dugraath have long since been displaced in the course of the many power struggles that take place with disturbing regularity. Overall authority is exerted by the most charismatic and wily pirate lord who has no qualms about using a combination of brutality and bribery to scheme his way to the top. Many a pirate lord has risen to power by treacherously murdering his predecessor after first buying the support of most of the Reavers with purloined gold. The very power structure of the Reavers contributes to the chaotic nature of the pirate state since each chief exercises absolute power over his own small, fragmented realm, ruling over his following of corsair and slaves who dwell in the weathered wooden shacks that crowd around the large timbre stockade of the resident pirate lord. In this domain, his word alone is to be respected and any individual pirate who displeases him in any way is instantly put to death.
Occasionally, in order to forestall the rise of an overambitious subordinate, the reigning pirate ruler will dispatch his followers to raze the stronghold of a pirate chief and brutally slay him. All the slaves, fighters and treasure of the suspected rebel will subsequently fall into the possession of the ruler should his incursion prove successful. Some unscrupulous rulers have had especially successful subordinates executed on spurious grounds in order to seize their possessions and enrich themselves. As a consequent of the ever present danger posed by his overlord, each pirate lord has taken the trouble of fortifying his stockade. Typically scrounged together from the wreck of a large ship, it is surrounded by rusty caltrops meant to deter any invaders.
Unsurprisingly, there is no stigma attached to this type of fratricidal conflict that prevails among the denizens of the island. Among the Reavers, no sin is held in contempt, save one alone, namely hypocrisy. It is for that reason that the vast majority of them would rather choose to die than live in other lands where the most grasping power struggles are played beneath a cloying, toxic layer of pseudo-morality. The brooding presence of Dugrath gradually but inexorably inserts itself into the minds of any who spend more than a month on the island, overwhelming any remaining vestiges of moral affiliations and inculcating in them a severe hatred for conventional religions. Indeed, the Reavers have actually developed a parody of divine faith. From among themselves, they have elected the most savage and twisted to become honorary priests to honour the Â‘'Lord of the Isle'' as they refer to Dugrath.
No temples of images of Dugrath exist for they would be obsolete on this island where the shattered remnants of this fallen god infuses the very souls of his rapacious flock. Instead, his followers engage in an orgy of sex, gluttony and boozing with wild abandon, secure in the knowledge that the god approves of those who do not refrain from indulging in their most bestial desires. Such is their way of paying homage to the Lord of the Isle.
However, the deranged priests of Dugrath take this worship a step further. Some of them will invite their brethren to watch them as they enact their warped fantasies and urges against hapless slaves. There have been occasions where the saner pirates have watched with horrified fascination as some deranged lunatic proceeds to flay alive his victim or alternatively, proceed to rip out the testicles or entrails of some wretched captive while the latter screams for mercy. Another favourite entertainment offered by the priests is the sight of them sodomizing an especially comely female with a variety of metal implements. Some of the more extreme among the self-appointed clergy even go so far as to munch on the flesh of still struggling victims in front of their enthralled audience since cannibalism widely regarded as the ultimate taboo, is justly celebrated by the followers of a deity who delights in consigning all restrictions to the realm of the puerile and sentimental. This is a god who enjoys witnessing such displays of absolute power over other living souls. In this way do Dugrath's devotees honor him. As the atrocities that are enacted by his followers reach a fever pitch and the cold air is rent apart by the screams of agony unleashed by the dying, the Lord of the isle demonstrates his pleasure at the sacrifice and sends waves of intense satisfaction coursing through the souls of his devoted followers. In that fleeting moment, the assembled pirates find themselves suffused with an ecstasy so raw and searing that no words can do it justice.
Diplomatic and Commercial Ties
The Reavers are a wild, uncontrollable force held in contempt and hatred by all others in Decathros. The only reason why they continue to exist is due to the fact that they are employed as proxies in various conflicts among the great powers of Decathros. Not averse to serving as privateers, the Reavers sometimes aid certain feuding kingdoms by preying on the merchant shipping of enemy nations in exchange for a certain share of riches, slaves and provisions that are obtained from these depredations. So integrated are the Reavers into the mainstream of global politics that they actually have diplomatic representatives in several capital cities.
On a more informal level, the Reavers also have agents that represent them in their dealings with the various underworld organizations that operate throughout Decathros. These gangs serve as a conduit and intermediary through which the Reavers sell their their pillaged goods. Several criminal bosses actually regard the Reavers as reliable suppliers of discounted luxury goods that the latter have plundered from unwary merchant vessels. However, the Reavers also conduct business in a more legitimate and legal area as well. Slavers are especially fond of trading with them since the Reavers can always be counted upon to sell good quality slaves at a reliable price. In fact, several of the large flyblown huts dotting the shoreline are actually warehouses where prime quality slaves are displayed to visiting slavers. Any pirate who robs or murders a slave merchant is quickly dispatched by the resident pirate chief for self-interest is the one virtue that the Reavers hold in high esteem.
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? Responses (3)
Update: My second addition to Decathros. As far as pirates go, this is not terribly original but I have done my best to put my own spin on a well-worn cliche.
Nice work, try to think about opposing factions and how they operate against the reavers.
Rum! You have rum!?
Good sub Maggot :)