Revision as of 17:58, 29 December 2023 by Dre (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)


Guerra is one of the three Founders of the Brass Coast, an acknowledged master of day magic though she was the youngest of the three sisters. Some hakima claim that it was Guerra, not Riqueza, who led the Freeborn to the Brass Coast, using a dowsing pendulum marked with the rune of discovery. She was known both for her quick temper and for the courage with which she spoke her mind. She was the most politically minded of the three founders, and an accomplished negotiator, responsible for creating treaties with scattered Navarr stridings as well as the merchants of the League.

Was Guerra a merrow heretic?
Some Highborn sources claim Guerra possessed the merrow lineage, but this theory has largely been discredited. Its roots can be traced to the writing of Ham of Valour's Peak writing several decades after Guerra's death. There is some evidence that this was part of a larger attempt to diminish the significance of the Freeborn exodus in the years following the reformation of Highborn society. It must be remembered that for many of the Highborn at that time, being a merrow would have been seen in a negative light. The overwhelming majority of Freeborn scholars agree that the three Founders were unlineaged humans.

There are also attempts to brand Guerra as a heretic, a follower of the false spiritual power of anarchy. Again, these claims are largely refuted by modern historians. Parallels are often drawn with both Emperor Frederick and Emperor Ahraz, both proponents of philosophies that focused on the importance of personal responsibility and personal liberty. Guerra herself is never depicted as particularly religious or spiritual, but rather being an idealistic political and social reformer. Suggestions that she might have openly embraced Anarchy can again largely be traced back to Highborn archivists writing years or centuries later and with a vested interest in securing a narrative that cast the Brass Coast exodus in a negative light.

Before the Exodus

Although Guerra was the scion of one of the powerful patrician families, she was an outspoken critic of the Patrician Council from an early age. She spoke out in public about the corruption and nepotism that had become rife in that time. In particular though, she was driven to oppose the practice of slavery in Highguard which she saw as an abomination. Although slavery was not endemic in Highguard at that time, it was not uncommon, with both humans and orcs kept as slaves by some of the larger and more powerful families. There was a small group who had sought to abolish slavery for some time but it had negligible political influence or support and was relegated to the fringe of Highborn society until Guerra took up the cause.

Guerra repeatedly brought the issue of slavery before the Patrician Council, certain of the righteousness of her cause, and confident that she could persuade her fellow patricians to pass laws to forbid it. Unfortunately a number of the patrician families were heavily invested in slavery, owning estates and mines whose profitability depended on it. All these families would be expected to vote against her with their self-interest on the line, but it was the heavy bribes they provided to other council members that ensured that Guerra's efforts were firmly rebuffed.

Frustrated by her failure, Guerra became increasingly vocal in public, decrying the Council as venal, and accusing members of taking bribes. Although her accusations were almost certainly correct, she had no proof, and she was repeatedly censored by the Council and eventually placed under virtual house arrest. Because of her high birth, it was difficult for the Council to take punitive action against Guerra herself, but some of those fighting with her were not so fortunate. They found themselves arrested and facing charges of sedition and treason, crimes that would likely result in their death if found guilty. It was made clear to Guerra that her friends would only be released if she ceased her campaign against the Patrician Council.

Many Highborn whose views caused them to fall foul of the Patrician Council left Pharos to join one of the chapters which were growing in power and importance as a result. Guerra refused to take that path; she had never taken much interest in the virtues seeing the issue of slavery and the way Highguard was governed as much more significant than personal morality. Moreover, she felt that the chapters had recognised the fundamental flaws in Highguard, but rather than do anything about it simply moved to the outskirts of society and attempted to pretend that they were not part of society while remaining Highborn. Guerra refused to acknowledge that this compromise enabled both parties to attempt to live as they chose without coming into conflict with the other. Instead she saw it as an abdication of responsibility, and an act of moral cowardice, either she would change Highborn laws or she would leave the nation completely, she would accept no compromise.

The execution of a man called Rufus, either a close friend or possibly a cousin of Guerra, seems to have been the final straw. Guerra was forced to accept that the Patrician Council could not be changed and that her actions had reaped a dangerous harvest for those closest to her. After length discussions with Erigo and Riqueza, and the three Founders agreed to depart Highguard together, along with any they could persuade to go with them.

The Exodus from Highguard

Guerra's household attracted small groups of philosophers and reformers dissatisfied with the shape of Highborn society as well as three Highborn chapters to her banner. Writing in the time of Empress Aenea, the Highborn historian Evangeline of Valour's Peak claims that Guerra brought to her household the newly formed chapters that dedicated themselves to the study of the false spiritual power of Anarchy, but later writers criticise her scholarship and suggest she was attempting to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Freeborn exodus. Guerra herself held little interest in the virtues, though many of those who supported her were dedicated, however a letter from her to Erigo (who was a known devotee of Prosperity) states that her supporters were "followers of all the virtues and none".

It is largely agreed that Guerra marched at the head of the caravan as it travelled west toward Sarvos, and it is likely that this is where the widely accepted story that Guerra led the pilgrims with her enchanted dowsing crystal. In reality the three Founders appear to have shared the burden of leadership, taking most crucial decisions together. A letter from Guerra to one of her cousins in Highguard first refers to the three Founders as sisters at this time. The romantic view that the three had blood ties likely stems from this, but it is more likely she was referring to way in which the three worked together.

League historians agree that it was Guerra who led the negotiations with the people of Sarvos during the winter that the Freeborn caravan spent camped outside the city walls. There are a number of humorous stories about Guerra and Benedict Saravos, the powerful patrician of Sarvos, in which he and his family repeatedly tried to woo her into political (and romantic) entanglements that she cleverly turns to her own advantage. Guerra was an experienced politician and a skill public speaker with a reputation as a free-thinker. She found many kindred spirits in Sarvos, who likewise chafed under the yoke of the Patrician Council; and she encouraged everyone she spoke with to question the idea of inherited authority.

After many weeks of negotiations, Guerra was able to secure an alliance with the rich merchants of Sarvos. These traders had long suffered the depredations of pirates attacking their shipping from the Grendel port of Trivento. Appeals for aid to Pharos in dealing with the local Naguerro orcs had gone unheeded, but Guerra was able to persuade them that by pooling their resources, they could deal with the threat together. They pooled their forces, hired mercenaries to bolster their strength and launched a successful surprise attack on Trivento, seizing the pirate fleet, and breaking their power on the northern Bay of Catazar.

Benedict had tried and failed to persuade Guerra and her sisters to remain in Trivento, taking the town as their own. Instead they had agreed to leave the entire town and its spoils to Sarvos, but in return they took possession of the captured fleet. By this time Erigo had located Atalaya, the final destination for the caravan, but they needed the newly captured fleet to reach it safely. For perhaps as long as a year the Freeborn remained in control of Trivento, as Erigo and her fellow mariners secured Atalaya and the more northerly islands and slowly ferried the people to their new homes. Guerra split her time between Atalaya and Sarvos, and even after the Brass Coast became a reality, relations between the Freeborn and the merchant city remained excellent.

The Spider's Dream, the elegant suspension bridge that bridges the Vassa, was constructed not long after the Freeborn secured their claim on Madruga through a combination of Freeborn enthusiasm and League engineering. Guerra and Benedict between them are said to have paid half of the money required for the ambitious project, partly in recognition of the importance of trade between the Coast and Sarvos, and partly as a memorial to the cooperation that had helped the Freeborn secure their destiny.

The Founding of the Brass Coast

The foundation of the Brass Coast involved a long drawn out conflict between the followers of the Founders and the Grendel orcs who dwelt on the coast. This nation kept thousands of humans and orcs as slaves, just as the Grendel do today, and Guerra was determined to take the fight to them. If she could not free the slaves of Highguard, then she would achieve something even greater, by freeing the slaves of the Brass Coast. As each Naguerro settlement fell to the Freeborn, the Guerra would liberate the slaves and offer them a chance to join the Freeborn. This strategy was not universally popular - members of both the Riqueza and the Erigo are said to have questioned the wisdom of welcoming folk of unknown provenance as equals, but Guerra would brook no argument. Guerra said time and again that all people were siblings, regardless of their bloodline. If the Freeborn were to avoid the failures of Highguard, it was vital that they remember that simple fact.

The offer to join the Freeborn did not extend to the orc slaves kept by the Naguerro. What happened to these orcs is unclear, though it is certain that they were not taken as slaves by the Freeborn - all the histories agree that all forms of slavery have always been illegal on the Coast - but clearly they were not accepted by the Freeborn either. Some scholars theorize that they were simply killed, others point out that while Guerra and her sisters believed strongly in human rights, it is clear that they were talking about humans and did not regard orcs the same way. The Founders and their followers came from Highguard, where orcs were considered intelligent but savage beasts - clearly not animals like oxen or horses but not civilised like humans. Some Freeborn historians claim that the orcs were freed, and told to leave. There is some evidence that they were armed, and sent west to survive on their own merits and it is possible that some of the bandits that inhabit the mountains of Kahraman may descend from orcs liberated by the Freeborn and exiled from their lands. More cynical scholars suggest that the freed orcs were either simply re-enslaved by the Naguerro, or formed their own clans. A recent fanciful tale by Ludwig von Temeschwar suggests that the Naguerro orc slaves rejected by the Freeborn went on to form the core of the Hierro clan; but Ludwig is better known as a provocateur and satirist than as a historian.

Throughout this period, Guerra continued to send emissaries to Sarvos and Tassato, and even as far east as the streets of Pharos. Her followers still spoke out against the evils of slavery, but now they carried an important new message. They talked of the Brass Coast, a land without nepotistic rulers and corrupt laws, a land where everyone was Freeborn. These messengers recruited a second wave of exiles to join the Founders, much to the dismay of the patricians who it seems had expected the Founders journey to end in disaster. Some scholars have suggested that the departure of those who disgruntled with the rule of the Council may have hastened the oncoming conflict, for those who remained increasingly supported either the Council or the chapters, making civil war increasingly inevitable.

Guerra also negotiated treaties of recognition with the scattered Navarr stridings, giving them the freedom to walk the trods on the Brass Coast in return for helping the nascent Freeborn nation maintain lines of communication between scattered settlements. The Navarr further helped to bring a steady trickle of dissatisfied new citizens to the Coast, some from as far afield as Varushka and Dawn, a practice which continues to this day.

Guerra is also recognised as the builder among the Founders. She founded the city of Siroc, overseeing the construction of the first harbour. While Atalaya was the first major settlement of the Freeborn, it was also a hard-to-reach island surrounded by treacherous seas. Its small size, isolated location, and limited potential for expansion all made it a poor choice for the capital of the Brass Coast. Guerra was visionary enough to realize that once the Freeborn nation became established they would need a capital that was more central, and easy to reach for both ships and caravans. With the conquest of Feroz, Siroc enjoyed a central location that made it ideal as the heart of the nation.

Death and Legacy

Guerra was the last of the three Founders to die. She passed away peacefully in her late eighties, surrounded by friends and families. A passionate politician to the last, her final words are said to have been an exhortation to her people saying that their task could only really be complete when every person was as free as they were. The Guerra were the first group to formally organise themselves as a tribe, instituting the practice of allowing their hakima to recruit those who shared their Founder's vision to join them. The Riqueza and the Erigo quickly followed suit, and the three tribes as they are known today came into being.

Unlike Erigo and Riqueza, Guerra left comparatively few physical relics behind. An apocryphal tale says that the crystal she used as the focus of her magical arts was infused with light with the aid of an eternal and incorporated into the Shining Pillar that watches over Free Landing and the coast of Madruga. Roshanwe is the eternal most often credited with the deed; while Guerra is remembered as a politician she was also a master of the lore of Day and according to contemporary accounts enjoyed a friendly relationship with several of the eternals of that realm especially Roshanwe and Leviathan. The only other relic associated with Guerra was a crimson sash she wore at all times that greatly enhanced the magic abilities of the wearer (in a manner similar to an Ashen Mantle or Glamourweave Robe - scholars are divided on this issue). It was passed down from i Guerra to i Guerra under the watchful eye of the hakima until it was finally lost in 300YE. The last wearer was Callia i Arkaitz i Guerra, general of the Fire of the South, who fell in battle against the Grendel during the pivotal battle of Sanctuary Sand.

Most of Guerra's legacy lies in her passionate idealism; her commitment to abolitionism; and her belief that a free society based on mutual respect was the ideal state for all human beings to aspire to. Perhaps the most famous of the Freeborn inspired by Guerra was Emperor Ahraz, idealist and abolitionist who eventually ended centuries of injustice by welcoming the Imperial orcs as the tenth nation of the Empire. It is often a source of pride to the Guerra that the only Freeborn Throne to date embraced the ideals of their Founder, and did so in a way that had such a profound impact on the Empire.