By Jason Chambers
Carrow Brayth is the property of the author, Jason Chambers and is used with permission by Candlekeep.
Carrow Brayth was born in Cimbar in 1350 DR to Rand and Danys Brayth. Rand Brayth was a working-class merchant who struggled to make a living for his family. An ill-fated “partnership” with Blain Tenfold left Rand with nothing. Shortly after losing his business, Rand learned that Danys was pregnant with their second child. Faced with another mouth to feed, in 1354 Rand took work as a dockhand to make ends meet. After the birth of his daughter Scylla, Rand became increasingly despondent over his situation. Miserable with his life, and obsessed with the betrayal that led him to poverty, Rand turned to drink, eventually leaving his family in 1361 to work on a merchant ship sailing from Cimbar to Selgaunt. A year after he set sail, Danys had heard nothing from Rand, believing him dead, told her two children the terrible news. Carrow was heartbroken, but more importantly, he was determined not to work himself to death as his father had. With his father gone, twelve-year-old Carrow was left to care for his mother and his young sister.
Carrow took to the streets, surviving on his wits rather than the backbreaking labor that had destroyed his father. Carrow found that he was a decent thief, picking pockets and running scams on travelers. By the time he was fourteen, Carrow managed to provide a comfortable living for his mother and sister. Carrow was taken in by an upstart thieves’ guild in Cimbar known as the Dock Street Rats. It was during his time with the Rats that Carrow learned to fight. He had taken to carrying his father’s old dagger, and he became pretty handy with it. His best friend in the guild was an older boy named Ioz. This friendship would have a lasting effect on Carrow since it was Ioz that began calling him “Crow” and the name stuck. Soon he was known throughout the docks simply as “Crow.” Ioz also taught Crow how to open locks, as well as find traps and disable them. Crow never took to second story work; the idea of stealing from someone’s home just didn’t sit right with him. However, he had no problems stealing from the wealthy merchant warehouses and ships docked in harbor, and was able to buy his mother and sister a nice house in the better part of Cimbar, away from the docks.
The sixteen year-old Crow thought he had found his life’s calling until the day he stole from the wrong ship. While working the docks, Crow slipped into a merchant ship and lifted several hundred gold pieces from the cargo hold. The “merchant ship” turned out to be the Umberlee’s Fate, captained by the infamous pirate Flint Ganzalee. Crow was caught on his way off the ship and faced certain death at the hands of the pirates. It was at this point that Crow learned of his father’s true fate. The “merchant ship” that his father had sailed with was in fact the Umberlee’s Fate and his father was alive and well, working as one of the mates aboard the Fate. Rand bargained with Flint for his son’s life, and Flint agreed that Crow could work off his debt by sailing with the crew of the Fate.
After making arrangements with one of the dock workers to deliver a message to his mother, Crow set sail the following day to begin his life as a pirate.
The skills that Crow had learned on the streets of Cimbar served him well, and soon he was well respected among the crew, although the anger he felt toward his father for abandoning his family kept father and son apart. Crow honed his fighting during the many ship-to-ship battles that are part of a pirate’s life. Crow became deadly with his cutlass, and learned to be as good a sailor as he was a fighter. Once he had repaid his debt to Captain Flint, Crow was free to go, but he stayed on as part of the crew of the Fate. His newfound freedom allowed him to take shore leave whenever the Fate was in dock, and he relished his hard won freedom. Each time the Fate docked in Cimbar, Crow would visit his mother and give her a portion of his share of whatever the crew had stolen during its voyage. Crow never told her of his father’s true fate, preferring to let her believe that he had died trying to provide for her and his children.
During a shore leave while stationed in Luthcheq, Crow saw two thugs shadowing a fancy-looking halfling. With no real reason for doing so, Crow called out to the halfling that he was being followed. The two thugs panicked and ran toward the halfling, but were quickly rendered unconscious by rocks hurled with deadly precision by the halfling. The halfling looted the unconscious men, and then introduced himself to Crow. He introduced himself as Baron Phlensos Ursuma, of Ursuman Amusement Emporium in the Adder Swamp. In recognition of his well-timed warning, Phlensos invited Crow to his fiefdom for food, drink, and room and board. Though just a small area of less than two square miles in the Adder Swamp, and situated between the constantly warring factions of wererats and werecrocodiles, the Ursuman Amusement Emporium is a thriving community. Phlensos is a bard of renown, and bards from all around Chessenta come to the Emporium to study and trade information. Phlensos has even enlisted a werecrocodile named Grevas as the Captain of the Ursuman Guard. Ursuma at once fascinated Crow; so many halflings hard at work and play was something Crow had never seen before. The Emporium itself is a halfling sized stone keep, but there are human sized dwellings scattered throughout Ursuma for visiting “large-folk” and for Grevas. Crow spent much of his time with Grevas upon his arrival to Ursuma, but that changed when he became enamored with a female halfling. Zania Brightflower, a female halfling bard, had developed quite a crush on Crow, and the two became inseparable. She taught him to juggle and stand on his head so he could remain in compliance with the few rules of the Emporium. He trained with the halflings in whistling, knife throwing, distance spitting, wrestling, foot races, and log rolling. While some of these seem to be quaint halfling pastimes, all of them are actually barely hidden drills in home defense. Knife throwing and wrestling are obviously applicable, although disguised by the presence of ale. Other defense mechanisms are more devious.
First, the Ursumans have developed a set of whistling codes that can alert anyone nearby of danger. Simple messages ("fire" or "wererats," for instance) can be relayed across the entire barony literally in seconds. Next, most Ursumans carry small vials of hot pepper powder somewhere in their belongings. The powdered pepper is painfully hot in a person's mouth, but outright caustic when it gets in someone's eyes. Finally, the swampland of Ursuma is littered with logs that the halflings have dragged in place. When wererats or unruly werecrocodiles decide to attack the barony, the Ursumans lure them onto these slippery logs and begin rolling. Anyone caught on a log with an Ursuman halfling must succeed at an opposed Balance check or fall prone into the swamp muck. Zania taught Crow to make Ursuman Pepper Powder, and showed him the proper way to spit it at foes.
Crow and Zania were married four months after he arrived in Ursuman, and they spent the remaining two months of his leave in matrimonial bliss. When the time came for Crow to head back out to sea, Zania offered to go and stay with Crow’s sister and mother in Cimbar, but Crow refused, not wanting her to leave her people and her life behind. Crow told her that this was his home now, and that he would return as quickly as possible.
In Flamerule 1369, the Fate was attacked by a rival band of pirates led by Thanos Blackiron, andbarely managed to escape intact. Many crewmen were killed, including Crow’s father. It was during this battle that Crow lost his left hand and eye, but gained his magical cutlass “Azerlan.” As fate would have it, Crow ended up in melee combat with a large half-orc wielding a softly glowing cutlass. Crow managed to dodge the first attack, but stumbled against the ship’s railing. Crow watched in amazement as the cutlass cut completely through his wrist and the railing, sending his hand into the murky depths. Crow then narrowly avoided a blow aimed for his neck, and the half-orc’s cutlass claimed Crow’s eye rather than his life. Thinking Crow had been defeated, the half-orc turned to face a new enemy, but this was his last mistake. Crow took this opportunity to shove his cutlass through the half-orc’s back, piercing his lung. Crow then picked up the magical cutlass and decapitated the half-orc before collapsing on the deck next to his foe.
By the time the Fate limped into dock, there was nothing the clerics could do to restore his hand or his eye, so Crow sought out a wizard who was capable of creating grafts. Crow learned of a man named Kylan Dunstar, a wizard who had sailed with pirate ships throughout his career, but had recently retired. Kylan had become an expert in creating magical grafts, to replace missing limbs and other body parts lost at sea. The wizard replaced Crow’s hand with an enchanted hook laced with alchemical silver. Crow’s eye was replaced with a magical graft known as the Mutineer’s Eye. The smooth black glass eye would not restore Crow’s vision, but it would make him a more formidable opponent in battle, by helping him more easily find his enemies’ weak spots.
Back in decent health and good spirits, Crow returned home to the Adder Swamp and his lovely wife. Zania was at first troubled by Crow’s appearance and worried about his health, but upon hearing his tale, she was just happy to have him back home alive. During his recovery, Crow visited Phlensos to see if he could learn anything about the script he had found engraved on his newly acquired cutlass. Phlensos was able to determine that “Azerlan” was the word engraved on the blade of the cutlass, and Amman Loshka, a visiting bard-priest of Deneir, provided Crow with the translation. Amman surmised that this was in fact the name of the weapon itself. The first element of the name, “Acer” was an old Chessentan word meaning “sharp” that had fallen out of use in the early to mid 1200s. The second element of the name came from another old Chessentan word, “lamna” which could be loosely translated as “edge.” Based on these findings, the cutlass named “Azerlan” or “Sharp Edge” was assumed to be around 150 years old and of Chessentan origin.
Phlonsos then examined it for any magical properties. Phlonsos confirmed that the cutlass was magically enhanced, but that its most important feature was the material from which it was made. He informed Crow that the cutlass had been forged from adamantine which, he explained, is the hardest metal known to man. This explained the heaviness of the blade, and the ease with which it sliced through Crow’s wrist and the ship’s railing.
Crow continued to sail with Captain Flint for the next several years, fighting and pillaging ships across the Sea of Fallen Stars and making a name for himself as a pirate to be feared. While docked in the Pirate Isles, assassins killed Captain Flint and most of his crew in their sleep. The next day, Thanos Blackiron, the bastard responsible for the attack in the Pirate Isles, as well as the attack that claimed Crow’s father, commandeered the Fate. Crow snuck out of the pirate isles as a stowaway on the Cyric’s Truth, and managed to make his way back to Cimbar before going home to Ursuma.
Since his return to Ursuma, Crow has been laying low, waiting to take his revenge on Thanos Blackiron. Crow is usually found in Ursuma with Zania, but he does still travel to Cimbar regularly to visit his mother and sister, his old friend Ioz, and the few remaining survivors from the Umberlee’s Fate. Crow still takes care of his mother and sister, although his sister, now 19 years old, seems to be following in her brother’s footsteps, using her beauty and charm to become a quite successful thief. Although the Dock Street Rats have disbanded, Ioz is still working in Cimbar and has looked after Scylla over the years, and the two have recently started working together. Of course, it doesn’t hurt Scylla’s reputation that her brother is the infamous pirate Crow, a fact that Scylla often uses to her advantage. Crow has been sailing with The Bitch’s Heart, a man-of-war captained by Marrek Highcastle of Tempus. The Bitch’s Heart is a privateer sanctioned by some of the wealthiest merchants of Cimbar. This arrangement provides the crew of The Bitch’s Heart with a safe haven in Cimbar, at the cost of five shares.
Crow has also been hiring himself out as a mercenary, working with many adventurers that frequent the Emporium. Crow has been enjoying this type of work since the rewards are usually greater than a simple share of booty, and he is normally not gone for months at a time, which is common for sailors. Zania prefers the adventuring life for Crow over the pirate’s life, but she knows she will never take the pirate completely out of Crow, nor would she wish to. Zania understands what a fickle bitch Umberlee is, and she knows it’s only a matter of time before the sea will claim all who sail her. For this reason, she encourages Crow to take on adventures that don’t involve piracy. Crow however, dreams of the day he will captain his own ship and seek his vengeance against Blackiron.
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