Day and Night/ Night and Day
The Black Fleet. Armada of the Damned. Whatever name they are called by, all races and peoples of Paradigm fear the Shi’loon (pronounced Shy-loon). One of the great evils of the world, the Shi’loon is a terrible fleet of undead who sail the seas of Paradigm, forever seeking to add to their crew of the damned. The Fleet is instantly recognizable, for they alone sail on the seas using black sails. Few else who even think of using such a color for sails, so great is the fear. Indeed, in most places of the world to use black sails is a crime worthy of a death sentence. This terrible fleet will appear from time to time as though from a mist, attacking ships, flotillas or even ports. They cannot be tracked, and seem to vanish beneath the waves after completing their raids. While many of their attacks seem to be at random, they are known to appear at times and places of strife and bloodshed, as though drawn to death. Those intelligent beings who die to the blades of the Shi’loon, or drown when the Black Fleet sinks their ship, will themselves be bound to the Fleet, damned to forever serve at the mast until released by the destruction of their shell of a body. Nearly as terrible is the fact that many ships that are lost to the sea because of The Black Fleet will rise again at the next moon, with rough repairs keeping them somehow seaworthy enough to carry their vile crew to their next victim.
The exact composition of the Shi’loon is in constant flux, as they are forever losing “crew” to the living, who resist being press ganged into eternal service in the Black Fleet, even while adding as crew those who fall to their blades. Sometimes the fleet is as small as half-dozen ships, at other times it numbers over a hundred. Always present, however, is the unholy ship which lends its name to the Black Fleet: The Shi’loon itself. A dreadful vessel composed of bleached bone, it is said the crew of the vessel who fall apart have their bones absorbed into the ship in order to maintain its vile existence. Ships of the Shi’loon are sunk, the undead crew is destroyed or laid to rest, but the Fleet is never destroyed. No matter the damage done to the flagship, it always rises from depths to which it sunk after the next pass of the moon Numali. Indeed, the Black Fleet will retreat if it seems as though the battle is lost, though such an event is almost unheard of. After all, the dead are nothing if not patient.
What terrible force it is that animates and drives the Armada of the Damned is a mystery, and has been since the first known appearance of the Fleet in the 3rd Turning. However, there are those who argue that the Black Fleet has been around since the 1st Turning, and that the relative lack of evidence of such is merely a testimony to the fact that few ever survive an encounter with the Black Fleet. Even more mysterious than their origins is the true intent and purpose of the Shi’loon. While they do seek to forever add to their number, that alone does not seem to be their true purpose. Sages and scholars have long speculated the the Shi’loon are driven to forever search for something. What that something is baffles the minds of even the greatest scholars. Divination into the true nature of the Black Fleet always ends fruitlessly; it seems as though the power that gives unlife to the Fleet also prevents anyone from learning more about them.
Whatever their motives, whatever dark power animates them, the Shi’loon are an omnipresent threat that ever looms in the minds of those who dwell near, or sail on, the seas of Paradigm. The fact that they usually never appear more than once a decade does nothing to detract sailors and watchers of the waves from keeping a constant eye on the horizon for the appearance of black sails…