The Gypsies and The Gilded Lady
History of the Gypsies
Gypsies have wandered the seas of the Realm for hundreds of years. Many scholars trace their origins back to the earliest years of the seventh century TA. Some evidence points to their beginnings during the Great Prison Exile of 605-606 TA. Several ships are thought to have escaped being sunk by the Old Kingdom, and shortly thereafter the first wandering bands of entertainers were reported in Sandal, the Tang Empire and later the Reaches.
Other accounts hold to a much older origins for the gypsies, tracing their history back to the First Age travelers and wanderers of the Old Kingdom.
Today, the gypsies always travel by sea, making their homes on huge colorful ships that also carry trade goods, livestock and their traveling circus cargo. At times, small caravans will leave a port traveling inland for short durations - taking the show on the road. But these detours always rendezvous with the gypsy ship after a short time. The sense of family and tradition are of paramount importance to the gypsy people. Many gypsies are members of the Bonfire Flock a sect of the Church of the Hearth. Others hold to more esoteric practices.
While history records over forty gypsy ships during the last 300 years, only a few ships are thought to exist at any one time. Some of the more famous gypsy ships have been: The Rose, The Lost Horizon (sunk in 832 TA outside of Teufeldorf), The Layla, The Last Camp, and Veronica's Dance.
It is common practice for gypsy ships to exchange crew (called a lovoro) on the rare occasion when they meet in port. This allows for influx of new talents, skills and shows within the community. It also allows those who are looking for new surroundings to leave while remaining in the gypsy tradition. It is rare for outsider to join the gypsies unless they bring a very special or powerful talent with them.
Gypsy ships are, by tradition, lucky, and it is considered extreme bad luck to attack them. Even unarmed, gypsy ships ply the waters aside pirate, brigands and merchants. While there is some trade (mostly illegal contraband) that is undertaken by the gypsies, their capricious schedules keep them from seriously affecting global trade routes.
The lifeblood of gypsy life are elaborately staged circuses and shows. The music, dance and costumes of the gypsies are unmatched. They are natural storytellers, magicians, oracles, and showmen. A gypsy festival in a port city is a time of great celebration and merriment. Most towns see a gypsy ship only once every few years while large cities have annual festivals to celebrate their arrival.
The Gilded Lady
One gypsy ship currently plying the waters is The Gilded Lady.
Unlike the military ships of the Realm, The Gilded Lady is not built for speed or war. She is a merchant ship - a massive three-masted ship large enough for heavy seas, large cargoes, and very long voyages. She is square-rigged with a high rounded stern, a large aftcastle and a prominent forecastle. With four large decks, she weighs in at almost 1500 tons. It is rumored that 400 gypsies live aboard The Gilded Lady.
The sails of The Gilded Lady are a bright green - in stark contrast to the white sails of almost all other ships. Her hull is painted red and black and decorated with thousands of bright flowing yellow lines highlighted in green flowers. The ship is brightly lit with dozens of lamps that hang about its decks, and there is a festive air about the ship. Music can almost always be heard coming from its decks. The Gilded Lady is often lit by faerie fire when in port.
The Gilded Lady is rumored to be lucky - always escaping harm by some miraculous means. The Gilded Lady is also known as The Murderess. The captain of the ship is Bavol Scamp.