Erakilo was born in 3224 in Zeirdan, capital of the province of Zeir, to a naval family: his father Sila and his grandfather Calto were both captains in the Verdurian Navy— which however was no great distinction; the Navy was the Army's poor cousin, small, strapped for funds, and largely staffed by civilians. Though it did an effective job patrolling the coast, the high seas belonged to Kebri.
He attended the military cletana in Zeirdan, graduating in 3243, but at first was not interested in a military career; he joined the merchant marine instead, sailing widely through the Mišicama; in his memoirs he attributed his later successes to the broad experience this gave him, especially of Kebreni ships and ports. He learned passable Kebreni as well— Kebreni was the lingua franca of sailors and ports. This did not mean that he liked the Kebreni; like most Verdurian sailors he considered them arrogant and cruel.
There were experiences of other sorts as well. In 3249 he spent several months in a miserable hut in Cuni, capital of Koto, racked with scurvy and diarrhea; if that weren't enough, the girl he was living with found he'd been cheating on her and chased him out of her house, still sick, with a knife. He decided that there was something to what his father was always telling him about settling down, made his way back to Zeirdan, and joined the Navy.
He became a fine officer, quiet and competent, making captain by 3260. The previous year he married Camélia Uzëina, from another military family.
First Kebreni war
War with Kebri had been brewing for decades, as Verdurian trade became increasingly competitive, and erupted in 3266. Erakilo was eager to fight, but his record as a captain cannot be considered impressive: one Kebreni ship and two privateers sunk; one ship of his own sunk and one captured. But in fact he had done better than most captains— by early 3267 Verduria had lost most of its navy, and half its captains were held prisoner. Searching for a new culso or Fleet Commander after the failure of Mihel Barbúl and Caiem Foriy, queen Elena picked Erakilo. It didn't hurt that he was Eleďe.
He had barely been on the job for a week when Adriano Melondan, the prime minister, sued for peace. Kebreni terms were harsh, and the Esčambra impeached Melondan and Erakilo. Elena reacted to this by dismissing and entirely reorganizing the Esčambra. She named Erakilo War Minister— an affront to the traditional army and nobility, but it was clear that the next major war would be naval. Erakilo organized a massive project of shipbuilding— and cannon-building; naval warfare was now waged largely with cannon rather than ramming and boarding.
War in Sereor
Sereor had been in rebellion since the reign of Ihano; Ihano's negligence was one of the reasons Elena had deposed him, and she was resolved to crush the rebels. The new naval-oriented War Minister found himself waging a land campaign against feudal lords.
“Born in a seafaring town, I knew how the townspeople felt about nobles,” he later wrote. His first move, then, was to occupy the main towns, Ervost and Leďear. As he suspected, the towns repudiated the rebellion and proved to be excellent forward bases. Though his forces were no larger than the enemy's, he was able to keep the rebels from concentrating, and to sap their strength with a series of small but frequent attacks. Finally he was able to defeat the main rebel force at Endi Ervostei in cuéndimar 3269.
Second Kebreni war
By 3271 Erakilo advised Elena that the time was right to resume the war: the Navy had been rebuilding faster than Kebri, but this advantage might not last. An alliance with Érenat had also been arranged. She declared that seizures of Verdurian ships would be taken as an act of war; the Kebreni obliged by stopping a merchantman in the Straits of Kebri; it signalled two waiting Verdurian warships, which swooped in and sunk the Kebreni ship.
The war went very well to begin with: Verdurian and Érenati forces took Melloin island, then the strait islands, Gaḣta and Meḣta. Erakilo landed a thousand men on the northeastern shore of Kebri, too few to conquer anything, but plenty for causing a good deal of destruction. Best of all, a force under Ekezkël Mesti defeated a Kebreni fleet off Moreo Ašcai.
The winter saw reverses. To rescue the remaining 800 soldiers of the Verdurian expeditionary force, a punishing naval battle off Nekunoḣa was fought in which 400 sailors were lost. Ismahi joined the war on the Kebreni side, and in the spring Kebri retook the strait islands.
The war dragged on; both sides avoided another huge battle, but the skirmishes that occurred favored the Kebreni, and the war was becoming unpopular. In calo a Kebreni ship accidentally sank a Florann vessel; the angry flaids threatened to join the war. This was enough to force negotiations, which were difficult. A treaty was signed in Syxesteer in 3270.
Elena was pleased at the improvement in the Navy's performance; Erakilo felt that it was something of a successful bluff. The Navy had lost two thirds of its ships and could not have afforded to prolong the war.
Erakilo immediately went back to building ships; indeed, the government's plan to build up the Navy was so insistent that the pro-Elena faction in the Esčambra became known as the fako i Navirora, the Navy party. Erakilo was a key member of the party, though the lead was taken by Pavel Sofuit.
Erakilo sent the Navy on various explorations, making charts and building relationships. He also sent expeditions to find the source of the Eärdur and the Meuna far to the south in the Barbarian Plain. Verduria became fascinated by the many strange cultures it encountered, especially Xurno; the new Admiralty building in the Petrei district was influenced by Xurnese architecture.
Third Kebreni war
In 3285 Elena ordered an invasion of Harum, a barony in Ismahi which she rather speciously claimed. There was no lack of confidence now that Erakilo could wage a land campaign. Harum was duly occupied, but proved difficult to defend: the Ismaîn and Kebreni could rain down artillery and cavalry attacks on the valley.
Erakilo brought the war back to the sea, blockading the Ismaîn coast and landing 3000 men at Nërona Altea on the north coast of Kebri. He figured that the north would be less well defended; this was accurate enough, but the force was also too far from the population centers of Kebri to be more than an annoyance.
Frustrated, he changed his approach entirely. He withdrew the expeditionary force and concentrated his attacks on the Ismaîn coast, finally taking the key fortress of Gulagór. He then occupied Koto and the strait islands, readying a bold assault on the Kebreni capital, Kebropol.
Unfortunately he had failed to clear this plan of attack with the queen— who had decided that the war was stalemated and was seeking to end it. Furious, she dismissed him and told him to prepare for a court-martial. However, when he returned to Verduria city he was acclaimed as a hero. She abandoned the plans to try him, and instead gave him another title, surcont of Mišicama, with large estates in Zeir. She wasn't willing to let him retain his post, however, and gave it to the duke of Sereor— who was entirely unable to follow up on Erakilo's advances. The war petered out by the end of the year.
Erakilo retired to his Zeiri estate, fully intending to enjoy a quiet country life, not even particpating in the Esčambra. “I bothered poor Camélia immensely,” he admitted; finally, to give himself something to do, he wrote an autobiography, which was published in 3294, to great acclaim; it’s still admired as a basic text in the history of the Kebreni wars.
He had somewhat soured on military life; his eldest son Felic became a captain in the Navy, but he advised his younger son Cläďo to pursue sea trading instead, the industry of the future.
In 3296 he was brought out of retirement by the new queen Andrea to again run the War Ministry. Now in his seventies, he was in no state to personally undertake expeditions. Nonetheless he oversaw a confrontration with the Kebreni off Lädau in 3297 which was enough to persuade the Kebreni to open this port to Verdurian trade, and he helped organize (though he did not accompany) Andrea's visit to Xurno with more than 70 ships.
When Andrea disappeared by sea in 3301, he sent ships around the known world seeking clues, with no result. As she had taken a Navy ship, it was widely believed or alleged that he knew more than he was telling. He maintained that he knew nothing of her destination and had even not been asked for the ship. (It was certainly the monarch’s prerogative to use any ship in her Navy without going through protocol.) The new king Mëranac 1e, to no one's surprise, sent him back to his estate in Zeir, where he died in 3312.
Erakilo was a controversial figure in his time, viewed— like the Eleďe dynasty he served— as something of an upstart: a Zeiri Eleďe, indeed a commoner, who upended the stodgy world of the Verdurian military, then dominated by reactionary old pagan nobles. That he was largely successful only added to the offense. Mëranac ignored him entirely, and the Navy indeed declined under his rule.
But it was undeniable that Verduria had barely rated as a naval power before Erakilo and Elena took over, and has been a major player ever since. Even the Abolinerons changed their tune; under Tihom Berg the Navy was enlarged again, and Verduria assumed direct rule over Téllinor. Within the Navy, he is venerated, his name invoked in almost every debate.
Erakilo left Felic his estate in Zeir— smaller, but closer to the center of power— and Leďear to Cläďo; there are thus two branches of the Erakilo family, each with a surcontana.
In Verdurian Erakilo is known as Petro surcont Mišicama— but only since 3285; from 3269 to 3285 he was known as surcont Leďear, and before that of course by his surname. As this usage is unusually confusing, I've elected to use his non-noble name throughout.