"We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came."
- – John F. Kennedy
"I heard, I heard, across a moonlit sea, The old voice warning me, 'Beware, beware the Daughter of the Sea, Beware, beware... of me.'"
- – Jaina Proudmoore
"Fathers, be good to your daughters. You are the god and the weight of her world."
- – John Mayor
"The very deep did rot: O Christ! That ever this should be! Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs, Upon the slimy sea."
- – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
Originating in Dreadfleet, Saltspite is a Warhammer Fantasy pirate character. Having only come from a boardgame from 2011 she had no place in the actual Warhammer Fantasy game, but still found herself in Total War: WARHAMMER in 2018.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay gave her the name "Aranessa Anja Saltspite" in the Dreadfleet Captains expansion from Fantasy Flight Games, although we don't know if Anja is her human surname or something else, and the Dreadfleet novel gave her the nickname "Queen Of Tides".
Saltspire almost never speaks beyond orders to her crew, so in-universe there's many theories to who she is ranging from being a mermaid who cut off her own tail to a Chaos Mutant psychopath to the literal daughter of the god Manaan. The truth is...all of the above.
Born to a Norscan chieftain from a group which, strangely for a race of Chaos-worshipers, killed their mutants rather than see them as blessed like most Chaos vikings or simply leave them for the Beastmen like basically everyone else. Already disappointed to have a daughter rather than a son, the fact his daughter had spines all over her body and a mermaid tail below the knees resulted in her being chucked straight into the ocean without remorse. The story gets even stranger, since despite being a Chaos Mutant the decidedly NOT Chaos god of the seas named Manaan (who may or may not be the Elf god Mathlann by a human name) spirited her away safely via a school of daggerfish (presumably small swordfish) to a small island cove where three Sea Nymphs lived, who cared for her and raised her on a diet of crab, kelp, and algae until in her youth she began spearfishing for sharks and Mer-Manticores. So yeah, badass. Every day Manaan sent treasure and beautiful shells to her home, either washing ashore or aboard entire empty shipwrecks that drifted to her island. From these shipwrecks she learned much about the life of a sailor and the skills required for land-dwellers to survive on his oceans. Eventually she decided to rejoin her race, but knowing that her mermaid tail was not only a hindrance to a life on the land but also how even among the lowest of the human race having a Chaos mutation was a death sentence, she prepared a pair of replacement legs made from sawfish (a type of shark) skulls then drank enough rum to numb herself, cut off her tail with a cutlass which freed her upper legs, cauterized the stumps, and continued to treat them with saltwater to keep them from infection, then used the belts of captains from her shipwreck gifts to attach the blades from the swordfish skulls to her legs, and after a week of recuperation learned to walk. She used a functional rowboat, another gift from her adopted father, to sail the sea for three days until she was picked up by a pirate vessel called the Swordfysh which gave her shelter (and despite lopping off her tail to look human, she still had fish scale legs and arms as well as webbed hands and spikes all over her body but apparently nobody cared). She refused to speak and killed any man who tried to touch her, but every day she took duty as the lookout in the crow's nest. For ten years she was a member of the crew, eventually breaking her silence (to swear) and proving herself vicious in battle as well as effective at any role she was assigned. She went from mascot to first mate, becoming captain after the original captain of the Swordfysh was eaten by a Sea Gargoyle (we have no idea what that is, it only exists in this backstory). As the commander of the Swordfysh she gained a reputation as one of the greatest pirates who ever lived, earning the nickname "Saltspite". Even her crew was afraid of her and prayed to Manaan to protect them from her, despite never having harmed one of them unless given reason. She flew only Manaan's symbols on her flags, and attacked whoever she came across. Despite having no love for the forces of Chaos she refused the Letters Of Marque offered by The Empire by opening fire on their ships, refusing to serve any man other than her adoptive father. Eventually she began receiving dreams from Manaan, who wanted the "empire" of Count Noctilus removed from his domain. Not long after she was approached in a pirate gambling den by an old pirate of Sartosa named Jaego Roth. Roth was looking for ships to join him in his pursuit of vengeance against Noctilus, and offered Aranessa the gold and independence she required. After a bottle of fine Tilean rum she became the first captain to join what would become the Grand Alliance.
What follows is the events of the game Dreadfleet. In one scenario she is turned into a vampire by Noctilus and every match she has a chance for her willpower to break and switch sides, and in the novel she regrows her fish tail but in a battle with the Chaos Dwarf ship she wedges it in the escape path of her enemy, who is boiled alive inside and mockingly makes the sign of Manaan (three fingers like a trident) at the ship captain as they all sink and drown together.
Total War: WARHAMMER
Aranessa returned in the Vampire Coast expansion for Total War: WARHAMMER, retconning her death. She wants the death of Noctilus (who also came back), as well as treasure because...well, its fucking treasure and she's a fucking pirate. Although not a vampire herself, she recruited vampires among her crew who in turn bolstered her forces into an armada of her own by raising the dead as zombies thanks to her god-daddy still bringing her presents in the form of corpses washing up against her ship hulls. She still has a living crew however, being the only member of the faction with such. In the lore she's not very fond of anyone, but hates Norscans more than anything else. She has no real grudge against vampires other than Noctilus and only sided against him because Manaan wanted it and Roth threw a fuckton of gold her way for it, so siding with all the non-Noctilus vampires isn't breaking her lore.
Her army is the same as that of Luthor Harkon's Zombie Pirates, only she can take the Sartosa Free Company as her living crew (there is a mod to give her more human units). She's the treasure-hunter Lord, which factors more into the campaign than multiplayer. She herself fights like what was a traditional "blender lord" vampire from the Vampire Counts army, which is to say that she wants to basically wipe out units of squishies by herself or take on single entities that are WAAAAAAAY bigger and stronger than her and utterly destroy them. She struggles when she engages multiple elite troops or character duelists; although, the fact she buffs nearby ally melee troops can help mitigate this greatly. She also gets to throw nets, and can ride a giant undead crab called a Rotting Promethean. Her army itself favors giant crabs as well, has perfect vigour and is thus immune to fatigue, and her artillery has more ammunition. In a faction full of godlike pirates she also is the only one to get a bonus to treasure earned from fighting at sea, so she may in fact be the best pirate in the lot. Her start location sits in Sartosa between Tilea and Estalia (Italy and Spain analogues), but in the Eye of the Vortex campaign map, Sartosa is smushed a little closer to Ulthuan. They also gave some lore behind the trident-like weapon she's seen holding in her only preexisting artwork, seen at the top of the page, calling it "Kraken's Bane" and counting it as a halberd. It has really high armour-piercing damage and absolutely annihilates high armour lords like Lokhir Fellheart
So, why would such an obscure character only present in a failed boardgame project that didn't have enough time to become beloved find her way into a faction she doesn't really have a precedent for belonging in? Well, the lead narrative director for Total War: WARHAMMER is one of the writers of the Dreadfleet lore of course! (So, favoritism, basically) Not that it stopped the massive speculation and butthurt from some fans as soon as someone spotted a female human behind Harkon in the artwork for the DLC then her impossible to disguise silhouette appeared in the roster before the reveal, after all her being there is still nonsensical.
She generally is considered the worst Legendary Lord for the Vampire Coast in multiplayer, as she still routes like a normal living lord rather than fight to the bitter end. Her mount is considered a handicap depending on your army build, as it slows her down and doesn't provide enough defense to excuse her riding one for the cost. She does fulfill some niches and can take a large armoured lord to town and stall any elite unit with her net.
She does not like being called a Mermaid.
She never was actually in Warhammer Fantasy, but she appears in fan expansions of the Dogs Of War army often where she is usually a hybrid character, using magic and magic items showing her favor with Manaan but also having melee prowess and rules that make her a glass cannon; so the Total War team didn't exactly come up with something new with how she herself fights. Even though she is carrying a rifle in her original artwork, nobody seems to give her a ranged weapon. She also appears in the Warhammer Army Project as a very offensively minded legendary lord for the Pirates of Sartosa (she has a ranged weapon but it's a magic harpoon instead of a rifle.)
If you want a model for her, you can find one from Reaper Miniatures here which when given a legswap (meaning cutting off the legs and replacing them with Chainswords, regular swords with some notches cut into them, or the chainsaw off two of these cheap models) and a trident (a cheap Reaper one can be found off this model) is pretty much exactly Aranessa (if you're following the Reaper mini modding guide here she'll cost you about $12, plus shipping unless you get whatever amount of other stuff you need to get free shipping). Add some greenstuff along her chinline as her sharkbone jaw chinstrap as per your sculpting skill allows, or just paint it on.