Red Wind Corsairs
The Red Wind Corsairs is the oldest Freeborn army and arguably remains the most famous. The core of this army is made up of corsairs and it was the closest the Empire had to a naval force for many years. Many of the soldiers who serve with this army have experience serving as sailors, and the force is supported by a number of boats and ships. The Empire often takes advantage of this to reinforce and support difficult positions or move quickly to areas where it can do the most good. The experienced privateers who often serve as officers excel at foraging supplies and prior to the Winter Solstice 381YE, the army was known for its enthusiastic plundering of barbarian territory.
The Red Wind Corsairs was the defacto military force protecting Madruga and Feroz long before the formation of the Empire. Little is known of its exploits from this time, but there are scraps of traditional songs still sung in Feroz that sing of a great battle between the Red Corsairs and a force of orcs bedecked in robes the colour of flames on the long beaches near the town of Shantarim.
Their first Imperial engagement was fighting against Alderei the Fair, under the command of General Alejandra i Mastaq i Erigo, alongside the rest of the nascent Empire's armies. At one time there were records from that battle that claimed to show the Corsairs capturing a great bounty from the rebellious Varushkan forces, a trove of mana crystals and a treasure listed only as the Granite Staff - but the records of what this item was and what happened to it were destroyed when Emperor Nicovar burned the libraries.
Many soldiers in the Corsairs nurture a traditional grudge towards the Grendel of the Broken Shore and there have been many bitter campaigns between the two forces. At the end of the second interregnum the Empire was threatened by a series of daring Grendel raids along the coast of the Bay of Catazar. Freeborn scouts had unearthed information that suggested that these raids were the prelude to a full on invasion, but they were unable to persuade the Military Council to commit forces to the defence of the Coast.
In desperation the general of the Corsairs issued orders to repel the invaders with an overwhelming assault. Despite being heavily outnumbered, they fought the attackers to a standstill at Calvos Sound. However they suffered catastrophic losses in the process, the heaviest ever experienced by a Freeborn army in a single season's campaigning. Close to breaking they were forced to retreat, but the campaign achieved its purpose convincing the nations of the south that the threat from the Grendel was real, events that would eventually lead to the elevation of Empress Deanne.
The distinctive military approach of the Corsairs is not without controversy. The armies of both Wintermark and Highguard often regard the Corsairs with contempt due to their penchant for battlefield looting and prioritising enemy baggage trains. In 339YE this came to a head when Hansa the Mudmaw, general of the Fist of the Mountains openly rebuked Adriano i Erigo, general of the Corsairs during the military council referring to him contemptuously as a maggot. The table map had to be replaced it was so badly damaged during the ensuing melee.
With all due haste - which should be plenty after your great rest - let's get us into Spiral, Freeborn! We are helping our great friends the Urizen, and fighting the cursed Grendel! Let's make this war no longer give them profit. Let's bleed them, coin and all, until they realise the folly of their ways. All freeborn are fighting here this season. We will link with the Fire of the South in the Ankra whilst the Freeborn Storm in the South. Let's Plunder the Barbarians! For the Freeborn! For the Empire!General Estana i Mestiere i Guerra of the Red Wind Corsairs, Autumn 381YE
The Red Wind Corsairs were responsible for initiating the liberation of Segura in the Winter of 377YE which was quickly reinforced by the Hounds of Glory of Dawn. They fought at the Battle of the Iron Plains, perhaps the most decisive conflict in the liberation of Segura, facing the armies of the Lasambrian orcs and their Summer realm allies alongside their allies in the Hounds and the Eastern Sky.
The tail-end of 378YE saw the Red Wind Corsairs speeding north from Segura to Sermersuaq, where they joined the Imperial defence of the Silver Peaks against the Thule. During the Spring and Summer of 379YE, they launched raid after raid against the Thule, plundering the orcs at every opportunity. Some of their Wintermark allies voiced open contempt for the tactics employed by these “Maggots” but Freeborn general Estana appeared broadly indifferent to his criticism.
Mobility was very much the watch-word of the Corsairs throughout the following years. The Winter of 379YE saw them join with the Fire of the South to invade Liathaven, this time pillaging the Jotun wherever possible. When the attempted invasion failed, they continued to harry the western orcs - first in the defence of Kahraman and then during the cataclysmic Harrowing of the Mourn.
During the Autumn of 381YE the army, enacting a shrewd plan created by General Estana i Mestiere i Guerra and General Gabriel Barossa of the Wolves of War, pushed deep into Grendel held Spiral, taking out the southern barbarians' baggage trains and claiming a grand bounty of mithril stolen by the southern orcs from the Legacy. They continued to harry the Grendel as they had the Druj and the Jotun, taking a small fortune in loot from the southern orcs, and were one of the few Imperial armies to maintain cohesion in the face of the magical disaster that followed the Battle for Solen’s Doubt.
Winter 382YE saw them return to Jotun-held Sermersuaq, once more raiding ahead of a more conservative Imperial advance, gaining valuable intelligence from their captives. Again fighting alongside the Fire of the South, they helped to break the deadlock at Atkonartoq by flanking the Jotun over a frozen lake, allowing the main Imperial force to break the orc line even as the ice began to crack and fail around them. Many Red Wind soldiers were saved from a frigid, watery grave by the intervention of the peculiar hyljefolk.
After a temporary truce of sorts was negotiated with the Jotun, the Red Wind Corsairs returned to fight again on home territory, battling the Grendel in Feroz. As 383YE drew to a close, and the Imperial Senate signed a treaty with the Grendel to concede Feroz to the orcs, they continued to defend the Brass Coast, engaging the Lasambrian Jotun in the defence of Segura. Once again, the Corsairs were victorious against the orcs of the western hills, driving them back to Anduz and in the process recovering evidence of unusual Lasambrian archaeology at the Caida.
A skilled general of the Corsairs who issues the right orders can use their position to accrue significant wealth for themselves. In the past some generals have used this bounty to influence the Freenborn senatorial elections for Segura, or sometimes all the territories in the Brass Coast. General Isabelle i Otero i Guerra made Freeborn history in 286YE by successfully winning all three elections using the riches gained from campaigning. Her strategy drew criticism from senators and generals of other nations, but she was fiercely defended as an inspirational, prosperous, heroine by the Freeborn. The view on the Coast at the time was that the entire Freeborn nation had been enriched by their general's actions. Isabelle went on to hold the title for another seven years though she was never quite able to repeat the triumphant clean sweep.
Although it has fallen out of practice recently, Imperial heroes who have served with the Corsairs in their formative years would often engage in a competition known as the Haul. Competitors taking part in the Haul usually wear a simple sash formed of long thin pieces of red and yellow cloth twisted together, (the colours allegedly represent blood and gold). When the participating heroes pass through the Sentinel Gate they compete to loot the most riches from the orcs they face. The returning heroes reveal their haul before the assembled nation, often with a story of how they claimed the bounty, whereupon the winner is picked by acclaim of their peers. The winner's prize is to give up the smallest item of loot they have claimed to the hakima to be auctioned for the benefit of the nation. The Haul has frequently been the subject of criticism by prominent Imperial citizens from other nations given it is both based around theft and encourages Freeborn warriors to spend their time thinking about where they can acquire the most loot rather than where they can best serve the needs of the Empire.
The Red Wind Corsair philosophy of warfare is best epitomized by their elite scouts, nicknamed the Jackals. In addition to their normal roles of scouts, serving as pathfinders and seeking out and spying on enemy forces, Jackals are tasked with seeking opportunities for the army to turn a profit on the campaign. Their essential philosophy is one of total opportunism - they strive to be constantly alert for chances to turn any situation to their advantage.
Practicality and ingenuity is an important part of being a Jackal. A skilled Jackal who is tasked with finding a bridge understands that the actual orders are irrelevant - the goal is to get the army across the river and anything that achieves that is a success. Jackals pride themselves on being problem solvers, always looking for a way to redefine the problem to find a clever solution, or a new way to address a challenge using the materials available. In practice much of what they do is incredibly mundane, negotiating with farmers for local supplies when lines are cut, or hiring local boats to ferry the army across a river. But the occasional extraordinary success has given members of the unit a reputation for being able to turn up with exactly what is needed at the right moment. Any suggestion that a Jackal will occasionally delay their arrival until the timing is perfectly serendipitous is fiercely rejected by the group.
Sadly outside the Brass Coast the Jackals tend to be better known for their ability to spy out chances for the army to capture valuable goods. Where other scouts learn how to count soldiers, Jackals it is said, learn to count coins. Traditionally, it is the reports provided by the Jackals that have allowed the Corsairs to identify targets to raid and pillage, enabling them to target their attacks to produce the most loot. Such tactics are sometimes criticised by generals of other nations, but they are perfectly inline with the view of many on the Brass Coast that warfare is fundamentally an economic activity. The Jackals are the embodiment of the philosophy that the point of war is not to murder your opponent but to take what is theirs.
Army Quality : Daring
The Red Wind Corsairs make excellent raiders. They tend to be mobile, favouring mithril scale over heavier metal armours, and they are adept at living off the land and making use of whatever resources they can scrounge up during a campaign. Guided by the divination magics of the hakima who travel with the army they are adept at finding weak points to exploit and have a long history of seizing riches from the territories where they have fought.
After an opportunity to turn away from cruel tactics during the Autumn Equinox 381YE, Gonzalo i Riqueza was sent by the Freeborn assembly to encourage the corsairs to ransom their foes rather than simply robbing them. This lead the army to focus less on plundering and more on daring raids to capture high value targets for ransom. The Freeborn reputation for honesty has helped them to secure high ransoms from the enemy despite the general lack of trust of the Empire by its enemies.
|Summer Solstice 383YE||Vrael i Sol-Devorador i Erigo|
|Summer Solstice 382YE||Vrael i Sol-Devorador i Erigo|
|Summer Solstice 381YE||Estana i Mestiere i Guerra|
|Summer Solstice 380YE||Estana i Mestiere i Guerra|
|Summer Solstice 379YE||Estana i Mestiere i Guerra|
|Summer Solstice 378YE||Estana i Mestiere i Guerra|
|Summer Solstice 377YE||Estana i Mestiere i Guerra|
|Winter Solstice 376YE||Yasmina i Ezmara i Erigo|
This title is currently held by Vrael i Sol-Devorador i Erigo; it will be reelected at Summer Solstice 384YE. The table to the right shows the citizens who have been elected to hold the title of General of the Red Wind Corsairs in the years since Empress Britta died.