Sea of Shards
Seventy years past, when the Rapti first laid claim to the Sea of Shards, their expansion was nearly crushed in its infancy by mighty vishkanya magic. As the Imperium fleet moved east from High Simurgh, vishkanya priestesses beseeched their patron, Hecate, to drop a curtain of dark flame across the Sea, protecting their territories on the Ovindi peninsula and the Shrapnels archipelago. Only ships that bore a member of Hecate’s clergy were free to sail through the Shadowline; all other vessels, from a Dalagi pirate junk to a colossal Rapti gunship, were blasted to ash, their crews naught but bones.
For nine months, the Shadowline held, forcing the Rapti armada south, into the monster-laden seas of the Rimwater. Finally, the Rapti’s most brilliant strategist, Admiral Shai Bellrazor, proposed a daring scheme to strike at the vishkanya fortress of Shardhold, in the Decapitate. While the armada sailed east, towards the Broken Hearts, to draw the serpent fleet away, three ships would slip through the Shadowline — each one bearing an abducted cleric of Hecate, to enforce passage through the fire. Bellrazor claimed the three crews would be enough to infiltrate and seize Shardhold.
It was a daring plan, but fate spun otherwise. Whether drawn astray by the wiles of Hecate’s captive priestess, or by some other god’s malice, none can say; but one of the ships, called Shacklerun, became separated in the Shadowline, and never reached Shardhold. With a third of its invasion force gone, Bellrazor’s mission was scuttled, and the Admiral was taken prisoner by the vishkanya matriarchs.
Yet, the Rapti won a victory that day, though not the one they’d planned. For when the serpent fleet caught word of the attack on Shardhold, they turned back — leaving the Rapti armada to sail up the Ovindi coast and seize control of Yiskir, a ratfolk city only recently liberated from vishkanya rule. With a toehold there to match their strength in High Simurgh, the Rapti had a vise grip on the region. Hecate, sensing inevitable defeat, dropped her flaming curtain and directed her power elsewhere on Allu.
The vishkanya held out for nearly a decade, retaking Yiskir twice, only to lose it again. Ultimately, they all but fled the Sea of Shards, leaving the Rapti firmly in power. Today, Yiskir is called Firstclaw; and in the Forum of Tides, there stand three pillars in honour of Bellrazor’s three ships, whose crews died valiantly at Shardhold.
At least, two of the crews did. For the resting place of the Shacklerun was never told… and so, one of the three pillars stands empty, and about its base is carved a serpent, to signify that Hecate was paid a heavy sacrifice.