The Zugleich is the flagship (or should that be flagdarkship?) of the fleet of the pirate vempire of the Dagger Seas. Its exact size is unknown, but it is the largest ship present at the sea fairs. Of course, a darkship is no more a uniform design than a Trundle cart is. Darkships come in all sizes and configurations. The Zugleich was built at sea, and has never docked at any shore or wharf. It carries a crew of more than 100, and includes several Xurientals, Notar Republicans, and Dulalians among their number.
The ship was built between -135 and -125 EC and was initially named the Riquiras Revenge.(1) But Riquiras' popularity among the crew was on the wane, and the ship seemed to be beset by blue luck. It was severely damaged and abandoned and almost lost in the Great Sea Storm of -117 EC. In -115 EC the ship was renamed the Cronferd, and its luck quickly recolored.
By -105 EC the pirates of the Dagger Seas were organized into a confederation that coordinated their activities and allocated territory to their members while forcing outsiders to either become members of the confederation or to move on and take their bucaneering elsewhere. The Golden Era of Pirates would be short lived, however. Within 20 years, the confederation rose to become an empire, with all sea trade and shipping traffic tightly controlled by the Sea Emperor "Scott" Roberts (b.-135 EC d.-87 EC), but then quickly devolved into a vempire.
In -97 EC, the Cronferd snapped its mainmast in a fierce storm. A new mainmast was installed, and the crew quickly discovered that the new mast was drowned sphoxolis. The spirit of the new mainmast not only took over the steering of the ship, but was evidently able to move the ship backwards and forwards in time, an ability the crew found even more disconcerting and frightening than Captain Riquiras' "Brass Hell". However, this also enabled the ship to suddenly appear next to its victims without any warning, and the pirates became all but unstoppable. Buoyed by its successes, the ship decided that the name Cronferd was unsuitable and it insisted on being renamed Zugleich. The crew readily agreed, thinking that renaming the ship might weaken the hold of the ghoulwood on the ship's operations, but, if anything, the renaming only served to more tightly bind the spirit of the ship to its hull. And, as the ship became more and more powerful, the pirate empire slid slowly to becoming a vempire.
In late -53 EC the Sea Emperor was attacked by a group of young adventurers who sought to destroy the vempire. They assualted the Zugleich during the day, while only a handful of its crew was on watch, and managed to strike the vemperor with Carthage stakes. While this weakened the vempire of the pirates greatly, but does not seem to have finished it off. Perhaps it is a wive's tale that carthage can be used to destroy a vempire. Darkships, pirates, sea fairs, and smuggling all continue on the Dagger Seas to this day, and whether or not the vempire was destroyed remains inconclusive.
(1) Although Captain Riquiras' crew killed him not because of their fear of the "Brass Hell" image on his sails (as is popularly reported), but because he would not give up his besq boat in exchange for the superior handling darkship. Besq Boats are principally coastal craft. They are relatively small and shallow, which makes them well suited to fishing and coastal trading requirements, but also makes them difficult to operate in storms and in heavier seas. Riquiras obstinacy led to his ultiamte doom (as well as his name becoming an epithet for anyone or anything that was backward-thinking or obstinate).
--Entry by Novice Frettac (and not Brother Arfrus 15:38, 18 November 2005 (EST)