Bartholomew Rayleigh

Bartholomew Rayleigh

The story so far….

Childhood
"The man who would eventually become known as Bartholomew Rayleigh was born with the given name of Lissnik Salidah, the son of a poor Sassnid Sudra dockworker in the port city of Surat. Though his younger sister dreamed of social advancement and wealth, Lissnik kept his feet on the ground and his hands on the task before him. As soon as he was old enough to begin fetching things and running errands for the harbormaster, Little Liss became a fixture of the docks, working hard to provide his family with a little extra income to make things easier. Though his sister dreamed of saving up and moving out of their tiny flat in the crowded Sudra housing into one of the relatively spacious single house per family of a typical Vaisya. Though he thought her dreams unrealistic and outrageous, he adored his little sister and did everything he could to help her achieve her dream, as did the rest of their family.
All this, of course, came crashing down the day the pirates came."
First Voyage
It was a hot summer night just a few hours before dawn a week before Lissnik's seventeenth birthday when the Crew from Stormshire boldly sacked Surat under cover of dark. In addition to looting spices and livestock, the pirates also went through the dockside Untouchable and Sudra districts to find new "recruits" for their crew and new women for the town. The Salidah family was one of the unfortunates in the raider's path. Lissnik and his sister were taken as his parents watched in horror. The raiders quickly fled back to their ships as the city's guard roused to repel the assault. His sister considered this to be a chance to escape the rigid class system to which she was born, but all he saw was a new set of tasks he was expected to do. While he worked quietly and avoided upsetting his new overlords, his sister began to flirt and chatter with any officer who came by, seeking to marry up out of the situation she found herself in. By the time the ship reached Stormshire, she had caught the first mate's eye and the two were wed in the traditional Syreni Isles fashion, a drunken public feast and a night of passion. This immediately elevated Lissnik from the position of menial grunt into full-fledged crew member.
From Working Boy to Raiding Corsair
"The next few years consisted of sailing under the flag of various captains as a new leader of Stormshire gained power and the fleet's officers were shuffled around to better suit the new commander. He normally managed to join whatever crew his brother-in-law happened to have been assigned to. One fortuitous trip saw the acquisition of a new ship in the fleet and his brother-in-law was chosen to be its new captain. He immediately offered Lissnik a position as one of his officers. He would sail under the man for almost ten years before the next epoch of his life would begin.
In that time, Lissnik acquired his first two pokemon, a horsea in the bay waters of Stormshire and an Embrago he acquired as an egg on a raid in Wyvernfang. It was in this time that he trained not only in general combat techniques but learned to use heavy armor and shields along with a specialty with the cutlass. "
From Corsair to Captain
"As the crew was returning home to Stormshire one day, smoke rose from the town. They arrived just in time to see two ships from a rival crew out of Shipwreck Cove flee to open waters. The two ships had docked to resupply, and an argument broke out in the town between the two crews and some of the local townsfolk. In the ensuing chaos, several of the less savory crewmen decided to abduct some of the local wives as trophies to show their superiority. Lissnik's sister was among the women taken.
"
"Without a moment's hesitation, Lissnik's brother-in-law's ship set out to pursue the fleeing rogues. They caught up with them just off the coast of Gavent and gave battle. However, despite being faster and better equipped than their enemies, the ship was outnumbered and her crew exhausted. Just before the ship was going to go down, a lucky artillery shot breached the hull of one of the enemy ships and crashed it into the other. The crews of all three ships fled the wreckage and drifted to the shore of Gavent as scattered, half-drowned rats. In the chaos and confusion that followed, Lissnik lost sight of his captain and most of his crewmates. He finally washed up on the southern cost of the country, near the border with Ohtar.
"
Having no ship, no captain, no crewmates, and no weapons of his own, Lissnik took command of the situation and rallied what survivors he found underneath his rule. Not wishing to remind the disparate survivors of which crew he was from, Lissnik renamed himself Bartholomew to help disguise which ship he was from. Though they had been enemy crews the day before with ships underneath their feet and supplies in the hold, most of the men he met agreed to serve under him for the promise that they would survive to sail the sea once more. One of the strays he picked up was a young Ningali engineer named Carthan who claimed he could build him a ship if he got the materials for one. Although his heart longed to take his company north and search for his sister, Bartholomew lead them south into the outskirts of the forest of Ohtar instead. He could not rescue her in such a state, and the resources to do so laid on the other side of the Strait of the Sirens. The crew fended off wild pokemon from the forest as they harvested great black trees which Carthan fashioned into an ebon ship he christened the "Moon Shade". A brand new ship in hand, the crew of the black ship Moon Shade set sail for the Syreni Isles to prepare for an expedition to find the rest of the survivors of that shipwreck.
Fulfilling a Promise
Rather than return to Stormshire and betray his crew of origin, the new Captain Rayleigh made for the much less traveled city of Merrin's Grave. The Pirate Lord of Merrin's Grave, a great big man by the name of Johsat, gladly welcomed the crew to his small fleet. After selling off the excess lumber, the newest pirate captain of the seas was barely able to outfit his crew to go raiding for the resources it would take to go on their quest. He spent the rest of the raiding season looting up and down the coast of eastern Issus preparing for the expedition. Along the way he also recruited a healer by the name of Selena from Chandra and a chef named Borisch from the Achean Empire.
At the close of the raiding season, after giving his crew a bit of shore leave back in Merrin's Grave before setting sail for Gavent to search for survivors of the shipwreck. After finding a few more in villages along the coast, they found out that a group of foreigners matching the description of the missing people were apprehended almost a year ago, the men conscripted into the army, and the women places as servants in the Gyanong household, one of the noble families charged with guarding the coast.
News of the difficulty in mounting a rescue mission to free the women did not deter them, and the fearless crew pressed on to the feudal estate, where they staged a rescue mission at night to free the women. Although successful, things went badly and Bartholomew was injured in the escape, forcing them to abandon any attempt to release the men from the army. Along with the Syreni Islander women, about a half-dozen servants chose to come with the pirates and aid in their escape, wishing to flee the patriarchial and harsh system they found themselves trapped in. Pursued by Gaventian naval ships for a full day on their way out before managing to give them the slip at night, the crew of the Moon Shadow returned home victorious.
Brash Young Captain
His stunt at the Gyanong Estate earned him instant status as a wanted man and an enemy of Gavent. This matter was only excaberated when one of the "servants" who had escaped with him revealed herself to be the granddaughter of House Gyanong's patriarch. Fed up with her life as a token to be married off for her younger brother's advantage, she ran off with the first sea captain to come her way.
An inevitable romance followed. He was enchanted by the dark, exotic beauty who enjoyed spending time with him. She was taken in by the strong, dirty pirate who spoke to her on equal terms as if she was the most important person in the world. In typical Syreni fashion, the two married almost at once to the sounds of drunken feasting. She gave up the last of her family heirlooms she had brought with her to buy him a wedding ring with a sapphire as blue as the sea he loved. His entire portion of the last raid was spent to get her a genuine enchanted diamond ring that gently pulsed in time with her heart. The two looked forward to building a life together on the Isles.
It was during this period in his life that he acquired the majority of the other pokemon that would come to be iconically linked with him as a pirate lord. He received a shuckle as a wedding present from a fisherman in Silenco to whom he had given an ornate fishing rod he had looted in exchange for a catch of fish to eat. He found Gaia as an adolescent grotle half-starved near the coast on his way back from looting ships coming in and out of Journey's End. He bested in single battle and caught a rhyhorn on one of their rare expeditions inland in search of a treasure said to be hidden in Wyvernfang along the foothills of the Yengal Mountains. They never did find the treasure that they were looking for, but they happened upon a wealth of pokemon which collectively empowered the crew to tackle more dangerous tasks.
The Death of Paradise
Alas, it was not to be. Her grandfather offered a barony to the man who could return his granddaughter to the family and end the reign of the pirate who stole her from them. While he was out raiding the coast of Harena one year, a Gaventian knight posing as a silk merchant abducted his wife and brought her back to her grandfather's household. When they learned of her marriage to Bartholomew Rayleigh, an enemy of the state, the law was crystal clear on how to treat a noblewoman who betrayed her house. She was locked in a room on the edge of town and sentenced to death by starvation. The law proscribed for her to receive one glass of water a day to ensure it was hunger that killed her and not thirst.
When word reach Bartholomew, he was mad with rage. He at once sent a message to Johsat asking for ships to aid in staging a rescue and proceeded to sail to Gavent with all speed. It took him almost a month to arrive; by the time he did, she was already dead and buried in an unmarked grave as a traitor. When he received word of her death, something died in him. His crew had expected to find him calling for them to storm the gates of the estate and beheading the patriarch of the house who would sentence his own daughter to such a fate. Instead, he merely bowed his head in defeat and said, "Let's go home, boys. There is nothing left for us here."
The next three years were spent in drunken despondence. Though he would continue to lead his crew on raids, they were pitiful, directionless affairs that often as not wouldn't bring in as much as they cost. One night, after an unsuccessful raiding attempt of a coastal fishing village near the border between the Achamean Empire and Ohtar, he took one of the raiding boats out by himself and drank himself into a coma.
A Woodlands Epiphany
He awoke some time later on a wooded lakeshore with a splitting headache and a chill to the bone with his boat nowhere in sight. An old man was drying out his captain's coat over an open fire and had some fish roasting. "Young man, I know why you grieve. Your heart has been torn out and you believe it buried in the ground. Your aura is strong and says much to me. Know that she is not dead, for your fate and hers are interwoven. You will see her again in this life." At first unable to believe this stranger's words, Bartholomew nonetheless listened as the man spoke of aura and the ways to manipulate the raw psyche of living things and channel it into a force to heal, preserve, and avenge.
He spent almost six months learning to channel the aura energy all around him into tools to accomplish his goals. "Remember" his sensei said one day. "When your crew picks you up and your life returns to you, remember this: you will see her again when you have discovered the greatest gift this world has to offer." The next morning, his first mate arrived in a poleboat up the river and brought him back to his ship.
It was during this stay with the old mystic that he found the sixth member of his elite team of pokemon. Not long after he began his disciplines to help focus his aura, a young weepling began to follow him and imitate his disciplines. When his crew picked him up, the wood spirit came with him. Only the inner circle of his officers know the full story of what happened to him in those six months.
Pirate Lord
"His return to the sea was marked by a radical change in his goals and ambitions. He was transformed from a reckless pirate captain into an indomitable machine of war who lead his ship on successful raid after successful raid. The first thing he did once he returned to the ship was have Carthan craft him a great suit of heavy armor and a large iron shield with a horsea holding a skull on it. His ferocity and unexpected seelie magic he uses while in his armor earned him the nickname ""the Monster"" among his crew when in battle.
It was not long before Johsat came to favor him as his right-hand man. This proved to be a fatal mistake, for, when the two were alone together late at night, Bartholomew drew forth Asyune, a recent trophy from defeating an Attican vice-admiral, and attacked Johsat. The old pirate lord, not one to go down without a fight, drew forth his own blade, Charbodis, and the two fought late into the night. At long last, Johsat lay mortally wounded upon the floor. His last words were an almost inarticulate ""Why?"" He died with a look of confusion on his face as Bartholomew replied ""Where were you at Gavint?""
When he emerged the next morning with a blade of water in one hand and flame in the other, all recognized that Merrin's Grave had a new pirate lord."
Gentleman, Adventurer, Mentor, and Thug
He has spent the nearly twelve years since consolidating his power and finding and hiring private tutors to round out his previously lacking education. he has found that allowing one's mind to be flexible and well-rounded has enabled him reach a new level of inner calm, greatly expanding his focus until he can manage to independent tasks at once. Since becoming the lord of Merrin's Grave, he has at last found himself with the free time to pursue more genteel arts. Though none have divined this yet, his next goal is to infiltrate the royal court in Gavent and repay a debt over twenty years old.

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