Claudius is a short, stocky man with a large barrel chest. His upper body is very well muscled from years of sailing; however thanks to his unrestrained consumption of alcohol, not all his bulk is muscle. Curly dark blond hair tumbles to his shoulders, generally pulled back when it might get in his way. His close-cropped beard is cut in the Illianer fashion, without a moustache, and tends more towards brown than blond. He generally sports a half-buttoned shirt tucked into loose pants that are, in turn, tucked into calf-high heeled boots – adding an extra inch to his less-than-average height.
He is a jovial man and is rarely moved to anger. Claudius takes few things seriously and avoids responsibility as much as possible. That said, he does not take orders and is unquestionably captain of his ship; a position he maintains in part because of the education he received in father’s house. He is not a stupid man by any means, though he survives and thrives based more in luck than his own intelligence. As captain, he is fair, bordering on generous, towards his crew. Though while he is not naturally an angry or cruel man, he can be extremely aggressive and does not take kindly to his position being challenged by those he deems “employees”.
Claudius cares about very few things in life: gold, alcohol, women, ships, and his crew. However, he will betray any of these to save his own skin with very little guilt. While Claudius can be incredibly charming around women and will promise them the world, he will generally disappear from a town and them without a word of warning. He also tends to find himself especially attracted to women that are stronger than he is, in any sense of the word: physical, personality, One Power.
Finally the great harbour of Illian was swallowed up by the horizon. The faint smudge of the capitol city’s peninsula lay behind them and in front, nothing but blue. For the first time in his life, Claudius could breathe; a great grin broke his sun-dark face. The young man rolled his shoulders back, puffing out his chest, and adjusted his saber. Feeling the familiar roll of the ship beneath his heeled boots, he left the stern en route to the bow, barking orders to his crew as he went.
His first voyage as captain of his own ship! Finally, after his twenty-second nameday, the extremely wealthy merchant Markus Marianas had trusted his youngest son to pilot the Laurel Beauty, carrying a mixed cargo of wine, lumber, and grain to Tear. Now, out from under the ever-watchful eyes of his father or two older brothers, Claudius felt free.
Claudius barely saw the man’s fist in time to turn his head, softening the blow; as it was, he stumbled back a few steps as the world lurched. The table where he’d been sitting exploded as his crew jumped to their feet. On the ship, Claudius was just shy of useless as a commander. However, he’d had the sense to bring a personal stash of ale and whiskey with which he was very generous; even now, in this tavern in Tear, it was his coin that had covered most of the men’s drinks. So, though useless, he was dearly loved by the hired hands.
As a single unit, the merchant’s son and his men threw themselves at the irate gambler, ignoring the drinks, dice, and their winnings as they fell through cracks in the wood floor. Apparently one of the men had been cheating and their opponents had not taken kindly to the filthy Illianers and their arrogant lordling. Thus in turn, the Tairens threw themselves against the foreign merchants, igniting the age-old enmity between the two countries separated only by the Plains of Maredo.
Soon enough, the Illianers were forced to flee the hostile establishment, splashing drunkenly through the muddy streets of Tear. Laughing as they nursed injuries, flasks were passed around and none drank deeper than Claudius who felt more macho than ever sporting a black eye, split lip, and the acclamation of the crew. They laughed how he’d regret it tomorrow on their return voyage, but Claudius highly doubted that.
His boots may have lent him an extra inch of height but they helped Claudius none as his ankle rolled again, sending him crashing to the ground. Wincing, he turned around and watched flames lick the sky, demolishing the White Otter. Luckily, it seemed the brigands, who had ambushed the riverboat with flaming arrows that night, were far more interested in the cargo than those who had abandoned ship when it became apparent that the fight was not going in the crew’s favour. Claudius rolled over to sit, thinking of what to do next…
Whimpering, the young man ran his hand over his backside, startled to discover an arrow protruding from his left cheek. Biting back tears, Claudius forced himself to his feet and began stumbling towards the voices alerted to his presence by the girlish shriek. Dear Light, he prayed they were crewmates and not brigands.
- Westlander (29 January 2017)