Overview

Erigo was one of the three Founders of the Brass Coast. Generally agreed to be the middle sister of the three, she was the most martial of her siblings, a remarkable warrior as well as a skilled captain. She also made use of summer magic and was said to have been skilled at weaving enchantments over soldiers and fleets alike. A significant proportion of her followers were warriors and battle magicians, and when the Freeborn decided to settle on the Brass Coast she and her tribe took the lead in driving out the orcs who inhabited their new homeland.

Before the Exodus

It is generally accepted that Erigo, Guerra, and Riqueza were not directly related by blood, but rather connected by bonds of idealism and opposition to the Patrician Council. Erigo was born to a life of privilege as part of a wealthy patrician family in Pharos (what is today the Necropolis). As one of the heirs to her house's wealth and titles, her early years were spent commanding one of the family ships. She built up a reputation for taking daring risks that brought her renown and rewards to match. It also meant that positions on her ship were in great demand as she insisted that her crew shared in the rewards. She might well have vanished into obscurity, had she not been recalled to land to inherit her family's title and position on the Patrician Council when the head of the household died young.

Erigo's family were wealthy and prosperous, owning three trading vessels, as well as extensive farm-land along the banks of the Couros, and additional property in the town of Hedra. Despite this affluence, the family were not influential in the Patrician Council where their emphasis on mercantile concerns had earned them more enemies than allies. Thus were kept at arms length by the more powerful patricians many of whom jealously regarded Erigo's wealth as unseemly and a threat to the social order.

Like her sisters, however, Erigo herself was an idealist. She was not content merely to make money for its own sake, rather she sought to use her wealth to change the nature of Highborn society. The corrupt Patrician's Council levied heavy taxes on the poorest members of Highborn society as well as duties on most goods carried by merchants - but provided wide exemptions from these tariffs for members of the patrician families and those connected to them. These injustices incensed Erigo, and she spoke out loudly against it on several occasions before the Council. She argued vehemently that the arbitrary nature of the taxes was a corruption that strangled the ambition of Highborn merchants to line the pockets of those whose acumen and industry were insufficient to provide them with a profit.

These tirades did not contribute to an improvement in the political standing of the Erigo household, and the prosperity of the household began to suffer as a result. In response Erigo looked into leaving Highguard, making investments in prosperous Sarvos and the frontier town of Tassato, but she was forced to accept that leaving Pharos would not be enough to get away from the rule of the Council. She began to search for a new home, outside the rule of the Patrician Council. She ordered her ships' captains to look for a land where people were empowered by the wealth they earned to live lives that were free. Money she argued meant much more than freedom from poverty and squalor, she saw it as vital for dignity, giving people the right to make choices of their own unhindered by the judgements of others.

The Exodus from Highguard

She never found such a land; instead Erigo fell in with Guerra and Riqueza, embracing their dream to found a new nation. If she could not find the freedom she was looking for, she would create it. Of the three, she was the most open about discussing the plan to leave Highguard and found a new colony, and attracted a significant number of people eager to join her household and escape the corruption of the Patrician Council. She was especially successful at attracting merchants and traders, as well as ambitious younger Highborn who chafed at the relative lack of opportunity in Highborn society. It is ironic that, had she been more circumspect, there is little doubt that her families' vessels would have been sufficient to take all three households out of Highguard. But as the number of their followers grew, it soon became clear that the Erigo fleet was simply too small to carry all those who wished to leave with the Founders

In response, Riqueza petitioned the Patricians Council for aid, seeking financial support to charter additional vessels. This frustrated Erigo, who felt that if they accepted the Council's aid then it would compromise their vision. In Erigo's eyes, the only moral wealth was that which was obtained honestly. According to legend she celebrated when the request was rejected saying that relying on the charity of others made you beholden to them and morally responsible for the means they used to accrue the wealth they granted. The Founders were forced to change their plans and accept the need to leave on foot.

Ergio and her family provided much of the capital required to prepare the Freeborn exodus, purchasing goods themselves and helping members of the other households secure the supplies they would need for their long trip. She worked closely with Riqueza to ensure that basic needs were met, but her own focus lay on ensuring the security of the pilgrims. Highguard, for all its vaunted civilisation, was much less settled than it is today; most of the land outside the larger settlements was dangerous wilderness. Erigo and the warriors of her household were vital in defending the caravan from the predations of bandits and savage orcs.

When Guerra negotiated with the Patrician of Sarvos, it was Erigo who took a vessel and her closest followers to sail south and west to scout the coast of Madruga and Feroz, and drew up the plans to attack the Naguerro stronghold on the site of modern-day Trivento. She lead the troops herself, carrying out a risky surprise assault, which required her to lead thirty hand picked warriors in a marathon swim up to the docks just before dawn. They crept through the settlement under cover of darkness, before seizing the gate, and holding it long enough to allow their allies entry into the town. It was a risky but daring strategy, of the kind that Erigo would become famous for in the coming years.

With the gate under the control of their Sarvosan allies and mercenaries, Erigo led her soldiers to secure the harbour and the fleet moored there. As each ship was captured, she freed and armed any galley slaves she found who were prepared to fight the Naguerro, allowing her small force to rapidly grow in size so that they could swiftly overwhelm the defenders. In the end only five vessels escaped the harbour, with the rest of the fleet captured. This was a vital triumph, for the captured ships were central to Erigo's plan to found a new nation.

The Founding of the Brass Coast

From the captured ships Erigo created the naval force that would eventually become the Freeborn corsairs. She lead the corsairs in the initial foray to the island of Atalaya, and soon after attacked and plundered islands off the coast of Madruga and Feroz. Erigo freed any slaves she found and those who wished to join them were brought back to Free Landing to join the ranks of the Freeborn. As their strength grew, she and her followers launched lightning raids against the Naguerro ports along the Bay of Catazar, and harried Grendel shipping at every turn. Once the islands and the coast were secure, Erigo and her household lead the slow push inland to drive the Naguerro orcs west towards Kharaman and Segura, an ultimately the Lasambrian Hills. Never one to rest on her laurels, she also lead attacks into Anozeseri, Lucksprings, and Braydon's Jasse.

Erigo's methods of lightning raids designed to free slaves and carry off wealth and plunder seem at odds with her personal morality. She despised thieves with a passion and was relentless in her aggression towards any who threatened not just her own wealth or prosperity but also those she protected. Erigo saw anyone who tried to take wealth from her family as her enemy; arguing there was little difference between the taxes of the patricians and the piracy of the Grendel. Since their nation were enemies of the Grendel tribes that controlled the Coast, it made sense to pillage their ships and settlements. She believed that the purpose of war was to destroy your enemy's capacity to fight back. While others sought to slay their enemy, Erigo preferred to take the means to conduct war away from them. The naval ships they stole from the Naguerro were an obvious case, but everything that Erigo targetted was designed to weaken her enemies and strengthen the Freeborn.

It is easy to focus on Erigo's martial activities, but she was equally passionate about ensuring the prosperity of the Coast in other ways. She helped merchants create trade links with Sarvos, Pharos and beyond and encouraged craftsmen to try novel new techniques and ideas imported from overseas. She hired prospectors to search the hills for deposits of silver and gold and oversaw the minting of the first silver moons, the coins that would serve as currency in the Brass Coast until they joined the Empire. The oldest such coins all bear an image of Erigo's ship, the Red Wind, beneath a crescent moon.

Like the other Founders, she was a key figure in the development of the Freeborn nation. She ensured that the society the Freeborn were building would recognise the freedom of the individual to make their own destiny, by opposing any kind of centralised body intended to levy taxes and rule, instead trusting to the good sense and self-interest of the dhomiros and their families to ensure that whatever communal tasks needed to be done would be sorted out. By founding the corsairs she demonstrated that the Brass Coast could defend itself without needing to have a standing army paid for with taxes. A number of the oldest corsair families trace their lineage directly to her and the traditions for protecting the Coast she founded.

Death and Legacy

Erigo was known for her daring but brilliant plans, often taking risks that no other corsair captain would dare. Although she was wildly successful, this approach was ultimately her undoing and she died while fighting in Kharaman against a force of orc bandits threatening the miners of Braydon's Jasse. Erigo critically misjudged the situation and the error saw her cut off from the main body of her troops and struck down by the Naguerro. By the time her warriors were able to recover her body, it was far too late. The woman who the foolish had claimed could never lose had fought her last battle.

She was carried back to Atalaya by her grieving followers, and in the manner of some heathen prince she was set adrift in the Red Wind before the ship was immolated with fire arrows. There are fanciful tales that say that as the ship burned it seemed to rise into the sky on wings of flame; Erigo children to this day are told stories of how their Founder sails now among the stars seeking unearthly fortune. Like the Founder herself, the ship became something of a legend, and to this day there are never less than a score of ships on the Coast all called the Red Wind, led by ambitious captains hoping to be as daring and as successful as Erigo herself.

Erigo's grandson Barto would later build Fort Braydon not far from the field where Erigo fell. While it would be several centuries before Kahraman was brought entirely under Freeborn control, Fort Braydon served to protect miners and traders in Braydon's Jasse and later settlers in Jade Range and Gambit, and served a crucial role in eventually allowing the people of the Brass Coast to claim the riches of Serra Damata and Serra Briante.

She left three unique relics behind. Hightide, her enchanted bhuj was recently recovered by a Freeborn expeditionary force. In addition to its magical properties, the weapon is said to twist serendipity to bring the bearer adventure and danger wherever they go. She invariably wore a suit of golden scale armour - while she was a magician she rarely used magic on the battlefield. For centuries it was assumed that the armour was burned along with her body, but in 198YE a letter written by Barto to his wife cast doubt on this claim. Allegedly Barto had claimed the armour himself, as an heirloom. If the story is true, there are no records of what became of the armour after Barto's death. Finally, she often wore an intricate gold-and-ruby chain circlet that was allegedly a gift from an eternal that not only empowered her magic but also granted additional prowess on the battlefield. Historians disagree whether the circlet was given by Eleonaris as recognition of her martial prowess, or acquired following a night of clever bargaining from Ephisis of the City of Lead and Gold. The Erigo hakima who have worn the piece have been closed-mouthed as to its precise abilities which have simply added to its mystery and perceived value.

The most famous descendent of Erigo is surely exemplar Zemress i Ezmara i Erigo, who fought tirelessly to protect the Prosperity of Imperial mariners and merchants. Other less well known, but just as important figures include Alejandra i Mastaq i Erigo, the general of the Red Wind Corsairs who distinguished herself with daring and courage during the war against Alderei the Fair. Demio i Zabalar i Erigo the scrivener who worked closely with Emperor Giovanni to establish the Imperial Bourse and the imperial coinage. His granddaughter Temaria established a powerful cartel of Freeborn merchants who controlled the Damatian Cliffs, the Great Mine of Briante, and the Scorrero Nets for thirty years through a combination of wealth, blackmail, and clever political manoeuvring. Leo i Erigo the architect behind the Towers of Anduz that helped cement Imperial trade with Faraden during the reign of Empress Mariika.