Skull & Shackles
Merrill Pegsworthy wears a blue greatcoat with golden shoulder braids, and a wooden peg leg where his left leg used to be. During boarding actions, he also wears a mithral chain shirt, and carries a mighty greatsword.
Merrill Pegsworthy was once a military man of Andoran, bound by honor and duty to a cause, but he has since found his faith in such things to be based on illusions—the greater causes all being made of individuals who themselves define the causes to which they cling. As such, he is much less interested in “the greater good” and much more focused on individual honor and loyalty. He defines his own code of conduct and sticks to it. He is a ruthless but fair adversary and is prone to holding prisoners of worth for ransom and letting those without such means go free. For this he is a Free Captain both popular and reviled among his peers. That he stills wears his Eagle Knight coat and epaulets makes his fellow captains nervous, but his skill and knowledge of naval combat along with his willingness to engage in battle with ships of Andoran make them recognize his value as an ally. For his part, he goes his own way making few enemies and fewer friends. Captain Pegsworthy controls four ships: the Bonaventure, the Drale, and the Hound, and the Chelish galleon Strix, which he has just captured at the start of this adventure.
Merrill Pegsworthy began his career in the Andoren navy as Merrill Tantrey, eventually becoming an Eagle Knight of the Steel Falcons and joining the infamous f leet of the Gray Corsairs. As a loyal patriot, Captain Tantrey and his ship the Bonaventure faced down the Chelish navy and Inner Sea slavers alike through dozens of missions on behalf of Andoran and the precepts of liberty. He unf linchingly watched many comrades die in action, and even lost his younger brother in a storm off of Yanimere Island, yet never swerved from his duty or his oath to serve the cause of freedom and democracy with his last breath.
In the end, it was not Tantrey who turned away from the cause, but the cause that turned away from him. In an ngagement with Katapeshi slave galleys off the Scorpion Coast, his right leg became fouled in fallen rigging lines as one of the Bonaventure’s masts broke from a hurled catapult stone. As the mast fell into the sea, it carried Captain Tantrey with it to what would have been his watery grave, had not his first mate and best friend, Carson Drale, dived in to save him. Lieutenant Drale swam down but was unable to free the trapped leg from the tangled lines. Quickly using his famous blade Steeltooth, Drale severed the captain’s leg and pushed the feebly struggling Eagle Knight back toward the surface, where a ship’s boat was waiting. The lieutenant’s own metal cuirass weighed him down too much, however, and he never made it back to the surface. Even as a naval cleric stanched the blood f lowing from the bleeding stump, Captain Tantrey swore an oath to the memory of his first mate, who had given his life to save him, that he would not allow the injury to keep him from the sea.
Captain Tantrey was transported back to Augustana to recover, but lacked the funds and the clout to have his leg magically regenerated. Instead, he had it fitted for a peg and joked that he would be the first one-legged captain in the Andoren f leet. The admiralty did not take his injury so lightly, however. Tantrey was told that he was no longer fit to command a ship of the line and was reassigned to desk duty in the shipyards. Captain Tantrey appealed his reassignment to the admiralty and ultimately to the People’s Council. For over 2 years he wrote letters and made overtures without headway until he chanced upon the Admiral of the Fleet one day on the street. Referring to Tantrey’s continued doggedness, the admiral laughingly remarked to a member of the Council that Lieutenant Drale should have let Tantrey drown: “Of more value to the cause of liberty is a foolish mate than the honorable ‘Captain Pegsworthy.’”
This insult not only to himself but also to the sacrifice of Lieutenant Drale, along with the sure knowledge that the Council took his appeals no more seriously than did his superior officers, caused something to snap in Captain Tantrey. His oath to Drale now seemed to outweigh his loyalty to the Eagle Knights. Tantrey began quietly recruiting others who had been drummed out of the navy for supposed infractions and used his extensive knowledge of the shipyard’s routines to make his plan. On the next occasion that the Bonaventure was in port for repairs, the ship’s sentries were found tied up in a carpenter’s shack—the ship was back under the command of the one-legged captain and making for the open sea. Thus was born the infamous Free Captain Pegsworthy of the Shackles.