Isla 'Blackbird' MacLeod
CHARACTER NAME: Isla “Blackbird” MacLeod
CHARACTER AGE: 20

DESCRIPTION: Small and unassuming Isla can easily fade into the background. With her dark hair, pale skin, and blue eyes, she may be a comely young lass to those who take notice but otherwise rather average. Her frame is thin, most likely from malnourishment. Although her curves have filled in, in her young adulthood, the young Scot has a rather boyish figure. Her dark, wavy tresses are often left unkempt and wild, not having many women around growing up to show her how to tame her hair. Her clothes are somewhat oversized. In recent years, Isla has started wearing skirts again, for the practical purposes of not standing out: a girl in a dress is far more normal than a girl in trousers.

SKILLS: Espionage, skilled with knives and pistols, sailing

FACTION:  GOOD/Pirate

CHARACTER'S BRIEF BACKGROUND: Isla’s earliest memory is waiting on the coast of her small Scottish island, with anticipation for those white sails to peak the horizon. Growing up in a small cottage on the shores of Isle of Skye, Isla’s dreams were filled with seafaring adventure. Dreams placed there by the stories told by her older brothers Ollie and Peter whenever they returned home from sea. Although she loved both her brothers dearly, Isla’s dearest brother was Peter. He was her father figure, her playmate, her champion, her entire world.

Their mother had died in childbirth and father, a merchant, perished in an accident at sea. From the time Isla was a wee child, Peter fought to keep their family afloat, hiring himself out to a merchant at first as a cabin boy. Ollie soon following suit, leaving Isla with an elderly aunt. Still, she waited at the water’s edge everyday for her brothers to come home. Isla can still remember the first time she felt the rush of the waves beneath her boat and the soft burn as a rope slowly pulled against her palm. When she closes her eyes, Peter is there smiling at her while he steers their small skiff in the waters near their home. She can hear the soft lilt of his voice as he laughs, “Adjust your sails, Isla.” But that daydream quickly turns to a nightmare with ropes around Peter and Ollie’s necks, Peter looking into the girl’s tearfilled eyes, mouthing the words, “Adjust your sails,” as thirteen-year-old Isla watches her world hang from the gallows.

Pirates. The people she loved the most were the most fearsome creatures told in tales. Yet, the young girl couldn’t find any hate for her pirates. Somehow, Isla knew their death was her fault. If they didn’t need to pay for her living, her food, they wouldn’t have wanted for stolen wealth. Her aunt, unable to afford to keep Isla, turned her out, assuming she would find work as a kitchen maid in a clansmen’s home. But Isla’s only desire was to smell the salt air and feel the sea spray against her cheek, to live in the memory of Peter. He’d promised she would go to sea one day.

Posing as a boy, Isla introduced herself as Ian, the youngest MacLeod brother, to their pirate captain, Ruthless Jack Roberts, and offered her services as a cabin boy. Isla was a fast study on the ship. Adept at navigating the stars and understanding the wind, Isla was taken under the wing of the ship’s navigator and revered crew member, Edward Keats. He couldn’t have been more than nineteen at the time but Edward was a force of a man. Affable and well-liked amongst the crew, he was trustworthy to those who loved him, and fearsome to those who tested him. As Ian she admired him, but as Isla, her young heart swelled whenever Edward would hold her shoulder as he focused her in on the charts. Puppy love some might call it.

A year on Ruthless Roberts’ ship, earned Isla the nickname “Blackbird” for her dark hair, quiet demeanor, and stealthy knife skills when sneaking up on men who happened to be in the way of their prize. The blackbird: a harbinger of death. After a job well done, Edward would sit next to her, a flutter in her chest. “Well done, Birdy,” he’d say passing her his flask filled with whiskey. He became her closest friend. That all changed the night she became a woman.

Leading up to that fateful night, Isla felt like death. Yet, wanting to avoid the ship’s surgeon for fear he might expose her, she went on with her daily tasks. Feeling a stomach pain in the middle of the night, she looked into the pool in her hammock. She thought she was dying. Waking half the crew with her sobs, they stared at Isla first in horror, then raucous hilarity as they saw for the first time who little Blackbird truly was. Isla remembers meeting Edward’s eyes: downcast, a look of concern with a hint of betrayal. At first the captain didn’t know what to do with her. Ian had proven himself a valuable member of the ship, but Isla was just a girl, who would only bring them trouble. Whispers amongst the crew members included thoughts of throwing her overboard, others suggested keeping her around for more lecherous purposes. As Isla lay on the deck of the ship, trying to sleep away her shame, she could hear Edward’s voice shout below deck, “If you even think of touching the girl, I’ll make sure you’re keelhauled before the night’s over.” But, in the week before bringing the ship into land, Edward would not so much as look at her.

They made port at the closest harbor: Cornwall. Isla begging and sobbing not to be parted from the sea and crew, Edward and Captain Roberts dumped her on the wooden boards of the dock. “You’re lucky, he isn't selling you to the nearest brothel,” Edward said with contempt in his voice. Was her womanness so disgusting to him? Still, she wanted him to love her, to let her stay. “Goodbye, Birdy,” were his last, dry words to fifteen-year-old Isla.

Isla found work in a tavern in Cornwall. As she did when she was a child, she would go to the shore everyday, hoping Edward would come back and greet her like he used to. Soon, with her savvy espionage and smuggling skills, she became a smuggler of secrets to whoever had enough coin to spare. “Adjust your sails, Isla,” Peter’s voice still echoing in her head. It’s been five years since she sailed the high seas, her sailing becoming nothing more than sailing a skiff in the harbor. Yet, Isla knows she will return one day to her only constant love.


Dear Ole Whisper: