By Ives Opomba, Midshipman 2nd Classby David Hart
Blackjammer and his reign of piracy ended decisively 95 years ago by the Imperial Elvish Navy. He and his six-ship fleet were rising from a planet after a raid on the groundling communities below and was defeated in battle by the Elven Armada Cael'athaertho [`Arrow of Justice'} led by RuaCoronal Icarus of the IEN.
The IEN has been presented in various tales, epics, and the infamously bad opera as the villain, hero, or the rock that Blackjammer smashed himself upon. The few records of the IEN proclaiming its defeat of Blackjammer were without exception to the point and blunt by proclaiming that Blackjammer had been destroyed.
His end though isn't as informative as his twenty-year career raiding, pirating, and looting wildspace. An examination of what little is known of the man himself, his battles, tactics, and of course the ubiquitous tavern rumours shall I hope what to be enlightening.
Blackjammers trademark flag, a jolly roger with horns and crossed cutlasses, was first raised over a pirate ship 115 years ago. The swarthy black-bearded youth had challenged the ogre pirate, Shagrat of the Grinder, to single combat for captaincy of the Squidship `Bloodfang'. The combat between the two was said to have ended when Blackjammer used the length of rope tying the two together to choke and crush Shagrats windpipe.
An early record of Blackjammer was written by Daos of Bral, a priest of Ptah aboard the Ptathian ship `Ox of Memphis' (a tradesman cargo vessel), after the Bloodfang had attacked it.
"A days journey out of Bral the `Ox of Memphis' was forced out of spelljamming by a squidship. While the captain called for men to man the weapons he began to manoeuvre the Ox out of the pirate ships way. The chase lasted for hours with the captain employing masterful navigation skills to constantly keep us out of the range of the squidship. But in the end the pirate managed to catch us with a burst of speed placing him right on top of us.
The pirate called for us to surrender, and being out-manned nearly four to one, our captain agreed in exchange for our safety. The large black bearded pirate laughing agreed and complemented the captains' superb skill for leading him on a merry chase. After pulling all the cargo and gold off the ship, the pirates left us alone and speed along their way"
In contrast to humane treatment given to the crew of the Ox, another early record of Blackjammer concerns an attack on Redfields, an out port in the Grinder. Larus Moonstrider, a priest of Celestian recorded the following scene.
"Redfields is no more, all that remains of the small out port of 170 souls is smoking rubble, and the remains that the scavver left after feasting. The out port it seems was taken by surprise with its watchtowers turned into death traps, and arrows fell shortly after in a deadly rain.
In what remains of the market square a jolly roger with horns and crossed cutlasses was left flying, the mark of the pirate who preformed this raid. Attached to the flag-pole was a list of grievances the pirate `Blackjammer' had against Redfields included here [Rest of entry is unreadable]"
Blackjammer, having appeared out of now where in Bralspace quickly pirated his way through the Wildspace. Most active within the Triad, and especially active in Realmspace Blackjammer wasn't averse to traveling to find his prey. With hundreds of reputed attacks by him, rumours started to spread about far-fetched accounts and pitched battles with fleets, but he like other spelljamming pirates targeted merchants and groundling villages, not hitting major ports or warships.
That is until Blackjammer's fifth year as a pirate, when with his small fleet (The Bloodfang, a hammership, and viper) he captured the IEN Man-o-War Elrame ['Star-wing'] captained by the brave Kerym Sha'Sylsar ['Faerie Sun Seeker'] Starym. It is said he gained the mythic bow Angvoncael ['Glittering Ice Arrow'] from her but he was never known to wield it, so many claim it is in his hoard. This battle began the IEN's long, focused hunt that led to his death, as he and Icarus became fierce enemies.
Increasingly confident Blackjammer was said to have then stolen the Olglander, or Seven Jewels of Marazinbar, from the dwarven Berserkers of Clan Olgur. To further add insult to injury Blackjammer lured the Berserkers out of Clan Olgur and engaged them in a fierce battle.
Building upon his reputation as a pirate Blackjammer managed to gather the great fleet of pirate vessels. The Great Sack of Dragon Rock is still thought to be the largest single raid in Wildspace, even with the Unhuman wars and those battles. Dragon Rock had been growing in wealth tremendously for a period of five decades. Its merchant fleets had been unusually successful and were well guarded in their journeys across the Void by a powerful fleet of escorts. Pirate attacks against the escorts were considered useless and doomed to failure as Dragon Rock escorts relentlessly drove off attacks.
It was then that Blackjammer appeared to be most influential. Boldly seizing command of pirate vessels, or bullying captains and crews to serve under him Blackjammer built a massive fleet of over 200 ships with a single purpose. That purpose was to raid Dragon Rock and take as much of the gold of the fat rich merchants as possible. Blackjammers decision to raid Dragon Rock was based upon the lack of a dedicated fleet, as its merchants feared their mercenary fleets would find their city too tempting a target if they guarded it all the time. There were rare days when arriving or departing merchant fleets and their escorts did not cover the city. Blackjammer struck on one of those rare days, and an account of the Sack follows from an unknown source on Dragon Rock.
"The multitude of ships descended upon us like a swarm of asteroids, the sky was filled with them. Breaking the loose defences with massed fire, the ships descended onto us like scavvers on a man cast adrift. The streets flowed with blood, and the screams of the innocent. A black bearded man wielding a cutlass had under the supervision of three warships, crews loading several traders full of gold, gems, fine cloth, metal, vitals, and several score of people in chains. There in the midst of crumbled buildings he raised a jolly roger with horns and crossed cutlasses..."
Blackjammer is said to have presented ole Blackclaw (the Iron Dragon Gundishiburguulgoth ['Lord of Stone in Shadow']) with his only known defeat, driving Blackclaw off when he was attacked in the God's Marbles. The fame of this defeat has spread with time, and even the opera has Blackclaw jeered off without any need for action by Blackjammer. The fate of the composer after the first performance of the opera remains unknown, but those who stage the opera without dropping the appearance of Blackclaw tend to run into trouble.
Several caches have been found and reported over the past 100 years as Blackjammers, but no proof has been found that any of them were actually his. Some think that he had only one cache, still undiscovered.
A remarkably lusty man Blackjammer was said to have a child in every port. While an obvious exaggeration, Blackjammer did leave behind many children, and many pirates still claim to be his descendant in order to bolster their fame.
I have discovered that Bral himself might have wielded Blackjammer's Cutlass. Bral was mentioned several times wielding a cutlass like the one Blackjammer was famed for. Blackjammer could in fact be the descendant of Bral.
A constant rumour circulating in taverns is that Blackjammer is said to have hidden the Elrame ['Star Wing'] away somewhere in the Tears of Selune repaired and fully topped out. All that is needed is the right map to find the Man-O-War.