Rekj Snivild is an Avennorian pirate, who raids trade ships and other vessels with valuable cargoes up and down the east coast of Manthria. He would be entirely unremarkable - insofar as a pirate can be unremarkable - were it not for the fact that he has, allegedly, made a promise never to kill, and so he uses instead of a cutlass - the traditional weapon of a pirate captain - a hrkje whip. He was born in ca. 1630 a.S. in Altnamm, a small village in Manthria, near Ciosa, but at the age of 15 his father, a drunkard, died and Rekj left his home forever. He was near death when a pirate captain took him on board and made him a slave. When Rekj was 20 he killed his master, a cruel and heartless man. His oath never to kill is said to date from this time. With ruthless determination, he then took over the ship, and forced it to his rules. The men were sceptical at first, but he had a genius for strategy and quickly earned their respect.
Appearance. Rekj has been, for a pirate, extremely well documented, as he leaves all passengers and sailors on the ships he raids alive to describe him. Thus we have this very comprehensive report from a merchant, Veireck Arnloff Fjorcolm. The Compendium apologises in advance for the tendency to wordiness displayed by the aforementioned:
"[Rekj] strode along the decking, a tall and imposing man, with broad shoulders and an air of confidence. I had heard of the horrors perpetrated by pirates for gold, and I do confess that I was quite alarmed by his imposing air. He was un-naturally tall for an Avennorian, and maybe stood at two peds or even more, and I could myself clearly distinguish his lack of similarity to our revered Glandorian roots. He had calloused hands, and methought him rather similar to the Darian peasantry of the small villages around Port Cael. Then, he bespoke himself and I do say that his voice had none of the harshness I would connect to a man accustomed to killing ruthlessly - indeed, I was in no small measure surprised that I still did breathe, though I did expect him to effect a change in that with some speed, or worse to humiliate me in slavery. However, his voice was calming, like the end of the storm. "Don't ye be worryin', master merchant - how should I be callin' ye?" Befuddled, I responded, and he resumed his speech "Well Arnloff, ye needn't fear, I'll never kill or allow a killin', so yer crew an' ye're safe for now." He was crouching now, and I perceived his eyes were thoughtful and in some measure introspective. Deep blue I saw them to be, and yet with a hint of the living green of the ocean, and streaked with a soothing grey. Methinks indeed that the eyes of Baveras Herself could be of this hue. His hair, which fell to his shoulder and had most probably been braided, was of a dark blond, and he wore an outfit that I deemed most uncomfortable, although he did later assure me it was quite utilitarian in design. Around his waist was tied a length of rope, which also formed him a diagonal body sash, and he, in line with his claims to mercy, carried no cutlass. It came to my mind that he, as his crew, fought with this, a hrkje whip, a weapon I have seen many times on the ports, and this would seem to fit with his professions of mercy."
Fjorcolm goes on to detail his conversation with Rekj, who
seemed to enjoy relating his history to a third-party even after the original
ship had been allowed to leave - he records that he was placed on a beach a few
Ciosa after he had spoken with
the captain at length. From this description of Rekj, a mental picture can be
formed which we hope will suffice for the readers of the
Personality. From the accounts of Veireck Fjorcolm and others, we can see that Rekj is a man of seeming contradictions. He is both a man of mercy and kindness, but also, according to his detractors, a "destroyer of decent men's livelihoods; a vile pirate" and other uncomplimentary things. Fjorcolm's account is scornful of him and his station, with not a small amount of racial prejudice, but also understanding of him as a person. Of course, as a native born Avennorian, Forcolm himself feels the same wanderlust and desire for success that drives a pirate - merchants of other nations are not quite so understanding. Rekj is reported to have been exposed to high amounts of brutality in his life, and this, rather than in turn brutalising him, has made him sick of cruelty and bloodshed - hence his vow never to take life. It is even reported that he will not partake of animal flesh except at direst need, and looks with disapproval on those of his crew who do. Consequently, his ship has attracted men like him of sensibility, not killers, and his grasp of navigation, with the related ability to bring home large hauls, has earned him respect, perhaps keeping men with him who would not otherwise stay. So the picture which can be formed of Rekj is one of a compassionate man who refuses to kill and likes to talk, but with a sadness underlying his demeanour from his past - a drunken father and a sadistic master.
Biography. The following is the best biography this researcher can piece together of the pirate Rekj Snivild, although as he went from obscurity to pirate, and that gradually, very little certainty can be had about dates.
Father comes South (ca. 1630 a.S.). Around this time, Rekj's father Jepploff is believed to have come south to Ciosa from the reeking town of Barekmahr to find a job which did not involve processing human waste. He worked hard and was admired by all his fellow workers for his willingness to do any job (little knowing that the jobs they hated were nothing in comparison to wading in sewage).
Mother comes to Ciosa (ca. 1633 a.S.). From the records of the company for which Jepploff worked we know that in this year his young wife Kjulas came to join him, when he had saved enough for a nice town house.
Parents move to Altnamm (ca. 1635 a.S.). In this year Jepploff left his job and moved to a small town outside Ciosa, Altnamm, where he lived with his wife.
Birth (ca. 1636 a.S.). After Jepploff left his job, there are few records and we are forced to rely on conjuncture. It is believed that in this year, or thereabouts, Rekj was born.
Death of Kjulas (ca. 1636 a.S.). It is not known whether Rekj's mother died in childbirth or not, but she certainly did not live more than a few months after the birth of her only son.
Jepploff turns to Drink (ca. 1637 a.S.). Unable to cope with the loss of his wife, Jepploff turns to drink in order to drown his sorrows.
Jepploff becomes Criminal; Loses Job (ca. 1638 a.S.). Jepploff is believed to have lost his job around this point for tardiness, and to have turned to petty crime in order to fund his drinking habits.
Unloved and Abused (ca. 1638 a.S. to ca. 1649 a.S.). During his young life, Rekj was frequently abused by his father, and learnt the value of keeping his head down. He grew up with no-one to love him or take care of him, and frequently suffered from minor contusions.
Rekj Knocks Out Jepploff (ca. 1649 a.S.). When Rekj was about fourteen, a town constable records how he heard a disturbance in the Snivild household, and entered to find Rekj in the act of knocking out his abusive and drunken father. When he smelt the huge amounts of alcohol on Jepploff's breath, he decided to be lenient with Rekj and make no more of the matter. However, Jepploff never tried to harm his son again - weakened and permanently slowed by drink as he was, he had no hope against a physically fit young man just coming into his full strength, with the suppleness of youth still green within him.
Jepploff Dies (ca. 1651 a.S.). Whilst "drowning his sorrows" one night, Jepploff strayed too close to the docks and drowned himself. Rekj is not reported to have grieved greatly at this occurrence. The records of Jepploff's creditors give this year accurately.
Rekj Leaves (ca. 1651 a.S.). After his death, it transpired that Jepploff had vast debts, and no money to repay them. Rekj's house and other possessions were taken by the town and sold to cover these debts, and Rekj leaves town with nothing but the clothes on his back. This date is known through town records and those of Jepploff's creditors.
Piracy! (ca. 1651 a.S.). It is believed that around this time Rekj, on the point of freezing or starving to death, was found by the pirate captain Ekjerth Arnskun, a vile and sadistic man who took pleasure in the misery of others, as Jepploff had in his latter years - though he did not need drink to be thus. This date is speculation, but it is unlikely that a fifteen year old boy could possibly have survived very long without supplies or equipment, and he most certainly would not have been able to find shelter in the fishing villages that littered the coast, ragged as he undoubtedly was. He was made into a slave by Ekjerth, forced to lift and carry and do all the horrible jobs that no-one wanted to do, and that he was not brutalised by this ill-treatment seems even to a Compendiumist dedicated to logic and order to be interpretable as indicative of divine intervention - and has often been cited as such by theologians.
Slavery! (ca. 1651-1656 a.S.). In this time we draw, from accounts such as that of Veireck Fjorcolm, the conclusion that Rekj continued as a slave of the loathsome Arnskun, badly maltreated and exposed to such cruelty and wickedness - the pirate was reported to have been fond of four things: having virgins, gathering gold, inflicting suffering and drinking ale - that it was "a miracle he was not brutalised entirely, abased to the level of an animal, bestial and feral", in the words of Veireck Arnloff Fjorcolm. This, coupled with Rekj's experiences with drink as a child, led to him banning drunkenness on board his ship. He also bans his pirates from abusing captives, and raping women. This would seems to be a good place to mention the penal code of a pirate who believes in mercy. When questioned by Arnloff on this issue, Rekj responded that in place of the usual corporal punishment and marooning - the staples of most crews - his mercy extends, as one would expect, to his own men. All offences have a monetary value, which must be paid from the pocket of the offending pirate. If he does not have enough money to pay - an unusual occurence, as the majority of Rekj's crew are fairly wealthy due to his instinct for finding ships with valuable cargoes and the fact that most crews surrender fast, knowing that they have little chance of winning against a pirate crew, and that fighting entails a real chance of death or injury - he goes into debt, and until he has paid it off any money he earns is taken from him and given to the "Crew Purse", a device whereby Rekj can compensate pirates who become injured and unable to fight, and pay for such needs as materials, medicinal herbs and ship repairs.
Murder! (ca. 1656 a.S.). This date is extremely hazy, but at the Compendium's best guess it was then that Rekj, disabused of romantic notions of piracy and sickened by the depraved and horrific conduct of his master, finally gave way, for what is said to be the first and only time in his life, to the urge to kill. One night, after seeing his master raid a village and kill five men, just for the prize of a small amulet from the Temple of Grothar, he crept like a thief into the cabin where the animalistic brute snored. The alcohol had sent him to sleep, and with a quick thrust Rekj's dagger ensured that he would never wake up again. As he knelt by the side of his murdered master, it is said that Rekj swore a silent oath that he would never sink to such a level, and to ensure this a contemporaneous oath never to kill again - this would be the first and only death at his hands. This story is almost certainly vastly exaggerated, as the sheer improbability of a pirate captain managing to last for over a decade whithout a killing is too great an obstacle for this tale to be true. The next day, he spoke from the forecastle to the men on board. Their drunk of a captain was dead, and he, Rekj, was taking control of the ship. His grim determination melted away all opposition, and even the most sceptical decided to follow - they didn't care who led, as long as they were paid. Over time, those who could not stand Rekj's ways left and those who admired his courage and charisma, not to mention his honour, flocked to his banner. His incredible charisma has ensured that the latter outnumber the former, as does the fact that Arnskun was cruel even for a pirate and most other pirates, even his crew, despised him.
Captaincy and Mercy (ca. 1656-1660 a.S.). Over this ill-defined period, reports began to surface of the "merciful pirate" who had sworn never to kill. As with all such legends, the truth of these tales was quickly hidden behind the myth - that Rekj was seven fores tall and had arms like the masts of his ship, that he wouldn't step on an ant, that he took the share of one of his men away if he harmed an enemy and broke his arm for a death. In fact, Rekj kept his men in line by dint of his forceful personality and his skill as a navigator - the ability to locate treasure and accurately intercept it was a skill the importance of which did not go to waste on his crew. Pirates will do anything for gold - after all, that is why they're pirates. When deaths have occured - which they must do during the raids - it is reported that Rekj has let the ship go and forced the offending pirate, in line with his system of fines, to pay compensation to the family of the dead man. Of course this is only for immediate deaths - men who die from later infections and the like are logistically impossible to compensate.
Family Ties (ca. 1666 a.S.) In this year the pirate ship Ekeijerth the Swift, captained by a man who would later die at the hands of the Port Cael authorities, Geir Sinskun, attacked the village of Altnamm, Rekj's birthplace. As Rekj pursued a merchantman across the Adanian Sea, going from Ciosa to Marduran, passing close to the coast, he saw the ship bearing down on his home town. Breaking off the chase, he urged his ship into the cove and saw people running and the grinning pirate crew with bloodied cutlasses. Ordering his men with shouted commands to attack the other crew and protect the citizens, he dived into the water and swam a powerful hundred peds to the other ship. Climbing aboard, he drew his eating knife and slashed the rigging, before removing the pegs that held the rudder in place and throwing them overboard. His men, meanwhile, had landed and taken the attacking crew by surprise. When Rekj swam to shore, the short and brutal battle was nearly over. His men, experienced in fighting cutlasses, beat or wrenched the enemy weapons out of their hands or snapped the blades before sending them to the floor with a powerful swipe to the side of the head. The landing boat had been deserted, and Rekj quickly grabbed the oars to prevent Geir's men from making their escape. Improvising with these, having had no time to make ready his whip, he struck one man on the base of the skull and another in the face before confronting the captain himself. According to eyewitness accounts, Rekj cast one of the oars at Geir before leaping forward and swiping at his side. The cutlass blade dug into the oar and Rekj dropped it. As Geir struggled with the two items, Rekj struck him around the head with his hrkje.
When the Ciosa authorities arrived, they found the entire crew of Ekeijerth the Swift bound and gagged on the waterfront, along with a rowboat missing its oars and a pirate galleon with the rigging expertly slashed and the rudder lying neatly on the decking.
Reports of the battle in progress were also obtained from Captain Morok Jaek of Ciosa, who captained the merchant ship the chase of which was broken off by the assault, and who circled back to have a look.
Present Day (1670 a.S. onwards). Fame and Fortune. Thanks to his habits of mercy Rekj has gained great fame - a product of the fact that there are people to write about him and a very interesting character facet to write about. He is willingly followed by his crew, who all wield hrkje whips or similar non-lethal weapons, although some carry daggers for an emergency, or to inflict non-lethal wounds such as gashed muscles. However, it is greatly doubtful whether the man himself lives up to the myth that has been built up around him, and it is quite possible that we will never know.
Importance. Rekj's importance lies in the fact that he is the first man even to be claimed to have blended piracy and mercy - while not all pirates follow the example of the Crimson Blades in killing all aboard, he is the first pirate captain said never to have had a killing under his command. He also is well known for his antagonism to such ruthless groups and figures as the Crimson Blades and their leader Arkan Delath, and of course for his heroic rescue of the town of Altnamm from a rival pirate crew.
 Firstly, the Compendium would like to point out that it in no way endorses piracy, and any praise of Rekj Snivild's merciful ways must be taken in context. Secondly, thanks are most humbly presented to Veireck Arnloff Fjorcolm and others, whose memoirs form the large part of our knowledge of this pirate, and the core of the section on the physical appearance of this man. Lastly, the records of Captain Morok Jaek of Ciosa were most useful in constructing the account of the assault on Altnamm. [Back]