Sea of Shards
Captain Abillie Dirge
Rapti Naval Commander
Deceptively young and fair-featured, Captain Abillie Dirge is one of the most ruthless, enterprising, and feared commanders in the Rapti Empire. A daughter of a noble human family, Dirge has aristocratic features and rich, dark tresses that wave like an ominous flag in the oceanic winds. She wears practical leather armour beneath her captain’s jacket, and when at sea, her right eye is covered by a curious monocle bearing esoteric gears and dials. She is seldom seen without Gravesend, her enchanted musket.
Though clearly born for greatness, Abillie Dirge stumbled into a military career instead of embracing her original destiny, as handmaiden of the Rapti Princess Leijsalla. Since the foundation of the Rapti Empire 70 years ago, it has been tradition for noble families to assign their first-born daughters to serve in one of the royal houses. The Dirges, a family of wealthy arms merchants, had a particularly close relationship with Empress Ovean, and so it surprised no one when Her Elevated Majesty chose Abillie to bond with her second-born daughter, Leijsalla.
For the first 15 years of her life, Abillie knew only the comforts and excess of the royal palaces in Earthstar, the Rapti capital. She and Leijsalla grew especially close; it was an open secret that the two girls were lovers, and that Abillie tried to persuade Leijsalla never to marry. Yet the young handmaiden also felt herself drawn to adventure and exploration. She began to urge Leijsalla to run away together, abdicating all power and responsibility — an act which would have been not only disgraceful for the young princess, but also blasphemous in the eyes of Jujani, the Rapti’s patron deity.
When Empress Ovean learned of Abillie’s influence over her daughter, she sought to teach them both a lesson. Ovean granted Abillie’s wishes, after a fashion, by letting the two girls think they successfully stowed away aboard a ship bound for Linivar. Soon, the ship was attacked by minotauri pirates — all part of the Empress’s plan, for she hoped to show Leijsalla how dangerous freedom could be, and how inadequate her handmaiden was, to protect her from those dangers.
But the empress’s plan backfired when Abillie used quick wits, guile, and an astonishing gift for marksmanship to seize control of the pirate ship. Ovean had her Thinfinger wizards teleport Leijsalla back to Earthstar, but the damage was done: the princess was hopelessly infatuated with Abillie Dirge, and has remained so despite being forced to marry and relocate to High Simurgh.
Meanwhile, Abillie Dirge launched a brief career as a free agent of the seas. After the empress tried in vain to have Dirge assassinated, she decided to put the captain’s astonishing talents to use serving the Empire. Dirge was assigned her own warship, the Cloudbreaker, but Ovean ensured that she was sent into the most hazardous frontiers of the Empire. Ovean hoped that Abillie would be slaughtered in one of her many engagements against minotauri, vishkanya, Mali, and merfolk, thus freeing Leijsalla from her obsession. But Abillie cheated death time and again, working swiftly up the ranks to become First Admiral of the Rimwater. At 23, she was the youngest admiral in Rapti history.
During the Dragonway campaign of 1496, Admiral Dirge discovered a new focus for her ambition. Her flagship, the Phoenix Rising, ran aground on a rocky atoll following an engagement with the minotauri navy; there, in a ruined temple to an unknown god, Dirge found a time-displaced deposit of future technology. She realized that weapons from Allu’s future could make the Rapti Empire invincible, and began a two-year search for the means to travel forward to the Age of Gears — or else to bring more of its source-powered technology back into the present.
Her new quest not only dismayed Princess Leijsalla, her former love, but also Empress Ovean, who was just beginning to respect the fearless commander. Ovean discouraged Dirge from chasing such “fanciful notions,” stating she should have faith in Jujani to deliver new tools and magics to the worthiest Rapti in their own time. When Dirge disobeyed the empress by sailing to the Maelstrom (where sudur chronoclasts roundly rejected her requests for access to time travel magic), she was demoted from Admiral to Captain, and assigned patrol of the Sea of Shards, a relatively uncontested region of Rapti territory.
Now, Captain Dirge patrols the Shrapnels in her man-o-war, the Hurricane. She is stationed uncomfortably close to Princess Leijsalla’s palace in High Simurgh, but the princess’s new family, together with Abillie’s ongoing obsession with technology, keep both women from any hope of reconciliation.