The Freeborn Storm was the first Imperial navy constructed by the Empire since the disaster that ended the reign of Emperor Barabbas. Launched triumphantly in the months following the liberation of Segura, the navy was unfortunately outmatched by the Grendel armada and after only two years of active service was destroyed during the conquest of Atalaya by the southern orcs.
Prior to its destruction, the admiral of the Freeborn Storm was appointed during the Winter Solstice.
This Freeborn Storm was constructed at the Atalaya Shipyards in Madruga over the course of 379YE. Enthusiasm for constructing the navy peaked during the celebrations surrounding the Imperial victory over the Lasambrian orcs in Segura, and the Imperial Synod capitalised on that enthusiasm to provide additional support to the project. The navy launched for the first time just before the Winter Solstice 379YE.
The first major engagement against the enemy came during the Battle of Rebekah's Leap in Autumn 380YE. Attempting to catch the Grendel fleets by surprise the Storm faced off against the vastly larger Grendel armada. Despite being forced to fall back to Necropolis, they nonetheless managed to inflict notable casualties on the orc war fleet.
A year later in Autumn 381YE, after helping to clear the Grendel presence from southern Redoubt, the Freeborn Storm again clashed with the Grendel armada, this time in the waters south of Spiral. Despite huge support from Imperial captains, the Freeborn navy was again outmatched. This time it was driven back into Highborn waters after suffering crippling casualties from the orc flotilla.
Following the engagement in the east, the Freeborn Storm retreated to Atalaya to regroup and resupply. Unfortunately, the Grendel ships followed them home. The Grendel attacked the historic Freeborn settlement with a force five times the size of the remaining ships, and despite a valiant effort, the Storm was burnt to the waterline along with the shipyards where it had been created.
The Grendel have run away for too long.
Now is the time to bloody their nose! ...
We missed them in Sarvos, now we will take no quarter!
During its brief time in service, it was very much a point of pride for Freeborn corsairs to serve with and support the navy with ships and sailors, but the navy was too short-lived to lead to any specific traditions. Rather, its influence lies more in the legacy created by its brief service and tragic loss.
The destruction of the Freeborn Storm struck a stinging blow to the pride and ambition of the Brass Coast, which was in turn exacerbated by the ceding of Feroz. For some, the burning of the Atalaya shipyard has become symbolic of the losses the Freeborn have suffered in the war with the Grendel. As a consequence, relics of the burnt vessels destroyed in Atalaya are sought after by those who feel a particular connection to the navy. These mementos of the lost navy vary from a few splinters bound together and kept in a locket to partially burnt wooden badges, to actual rods or staffs made from wood reclaimed from the shores of the Madrugan island.
For the wider Empire, the lessons learned from the Freeborn Storm seem to have made the Senate and Military Council wary of building another Imperial navy, at least in the short term. Despite the widespread support among independent ship captains, a single navy was demonstrably no match for the Grendel armada, and evidence suggests that the orcs of Attar have expanded their naval forces even further since the destruction of the Freeborn Storm. The Autumn 383YE treaty with the southern barbarians, which specifically restricts the Empire's ability to build navies in the Bay of Catazar, was arguably only acceptable given the reported opposition to further investment in marine forces. Even without the treaty, there is currently no shipyard capable of building a navy anywhere in the Empire.
Despite this reported opposition from the senators and generals, on the Brass Coast itself there is still a strong voice supporting Freeborn ambitions to drive the Grendel from the Bay of Catazar. This movement has gained additional strength since the treaty ceded Feroz to the orcs. While few are pushing for another navy yet, it has become customary for those who dream reclaiming the waters of the Bay to wear the symbol of the Freeborn Storm as a badge or patch sewn into their clothing.
Most of these supporters broadly accept the idea that the Brass Coast alone cannot hope to build sufficient naval forces to challenge the Grendel. Even if they were to disband the Red Wind Corsairs and Fire of the South - something which nobody thinks is a good idea - the Grendel would still outnumber the Imperial armada. Rather, the more realistic supporters of the Imperial naval legacy talk of forming a pan-Catazari alliance with the League, Highguard, and even Urizen. If each of the four nations was to float their own navy, the dream of an Imperial armada to rival the strength of the Grendel flotilla could become a reality. These ambitious individuals argue that the Grendel will never truly be beaten until the Empire can defeat them at sea. The Grendel must surely know this they say; that is why they insisted on peace terms that would scupper any opposition to their naval supremacy.
The core of the Freeborn Storm was made up of several large warships newly constructed at the shipyards of Atalaya. Most of the smaller fighting vessels and support ships were purchased from families across the Brass Coast who wanted to support the new navy.
As there had been no Imperial navy in almost two hundred years, one of the first challenges faced by the mariners of the Brass Coast was to address the logistical issues presented by bringing together such a force of ships and sailors, especially with regards to communication of strategy and coordinating once battle was joined. In many ways the independent nature of the Freeborn gave the Storm an advantage; once battle was joined the individual captains could be relied upon to engage the enemy in broad support of the declared strategy without needing to constantly update orders.
The Freeborn Storm did not possess a unique quality - beyond the fact that it was the only Imperial navy deployed during its period of service. The Empire lacked the expertise in constructing warships to be able to create navies with special qualities, and this technological shortcoming reduce their ability to face the Grendel navies on equal terms. The support of independent ships captains went some way towards ameliorating the martial disadvantage, but couldn't make up for the strategic advantages the orc armada enjoyed with their swift ships and cavernous holds.
|Winter Solstice 380YE||Edgardo i Ruiloba i Guerra|
|Winter Solstice 379YE||Edgardo i Ruiloba i Guerra|
This title is no longer elected as the force was destroyed on campaign. The table to the right shows the citizens who have been elected to hold the title of Admiral of the Freeborn Storm in the years since Empress Britta died.