The Black Fleet (/ðə blak fli:t/ (Gallacan: /Lä flotä Negrä/))
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The Black Fleet, also known as Admiral de Souza's fleet, the Great Fleet, or the Free State of Leandris is a major pirate organization operating primarily in the Tealestrian Sea and Yulan Ocean and around the coast of northern Leandris. The Black Fleet frequently engages in the harassment of shipping particularly Aeillan and Dotharan shipping, attacking targets that other fleets cannot, particularly those of the Leandris Company, proving the company's only major threat. The Black Fleet is also well known for its extensive smuggling operations, and in recent years is believed to have developed the capability to manufacture certain magic items in limited quantities, particularly mana potions for which it currently has a monopoly. The Black Fleet is headed and some might say ruled by the self-appointed Admiral Osvaldo de Souza Reyes, who has had a long and storied career as a successful pirate captain before retiring from actively captaining himself in order to run the wider fleet. Underneath him are his three daughters Ophelia, Olivia, and Isabel who each command the three main flotillas of the fleet. Below the de Souza family are the various captains of the fleet who each manage individual vessels with those who have served in the longer term and displayed more loyalty being given more prestigious ships to captain. The Black Fleet has also, quite recently developed a crude, if effective bureaucracy to manage the extensive business of the fleet and the steadily accumulating land holdings, ports, and forts held by it. The Black Fleet has been seen by the major states of the region as an increasingly dangerous threat to shipping, and indeed several navies have been tasked with the destruction of de Souza ships and strongholds. These efforts have been undercut however, by the efforts of Admiral de Souza in exploiting corrupt officials to secure safe havens in the territories of major states, particularly for smuggling operations, if not the docking of ships known to have engaged in piracy. As the Black Fleet has grown in strength, it is believed that it will eventually enter the great game as an equal player instead of being seen as an overgrown bandit gang.
The primary goal of the Black Fleet is the accumulation of wealth for its members, primarily through piracy on the high seas, smuggling, and other illicit activity. They are publicly, and as a group not actively seeking out any other goal. Individual captains may have other agendas, and even the daughters of Admiral de Souza have pursued other goals, with the most notable of these being Isabel who has become well known as having been viciously opposed to slavery and will routinely intercept and attack slave ships as a means of lashing out at the institutions. These deviations from the overall goal are allowed, so long as the primary objective is not hindered by side projects, and indeed, many operations of the black fleet, even nominally deviant ones end up filling the coffers of Admiral de Souza.
The Black Fleet maintains one of the largest collective fleets in the known world, possessing as many as eighty vessels under its banner. While impressive on paper, the realities of this fleet make it less so, as many of the vessels under de Souza's command are small and lightly armed vessels, poorly suited to combat against dedicated warships. Nonetheless this still remains a force far more potent than many states under an organization more centralized than the other major pirate fleets and confederations. The most important ships of the Black Fleet are its trio Dragonships (which are entrusted to the Admiral's Daughters), a trio of ships custom built, each featuring the figurehead depicting a dragon, and each of which are heavily enchanted to become some of the deadliest vessels surpassed only by the Tymnandroi and some of more recent Dotharan vessels which are likewise exceptionally rare. Aside from ships, the Black Fleet maintains a number of modest ports and fortifications in Leandris that serve as the logistical heart of the fleet. Lastly, the Admiral came into possession of the formula for Mana potions, and the fleet currently holds a monopoly on this incredibly useful technology.
The history of the Black Fleet begins with the career of Osvaldo de Souza Reyes who first took to piracy after leading a mutiny on the Kolonai Silente a vessel of the Royal Gallacan Navy over a matter of bounties. De Souza would establish himself as a successful captain raiding the vulnerable routes of southern Gallaca accumulating a small flotilla over the course of ten years. As targets became increasingly well defended, out of fear of him and other infamous Gallacan pirates however, de Souza found himself in in increasingly dire straits, particularly when, after most of the other pirate captains were hunted down and subdued, he become one of the sole focuses of the Kingdom. De Souza after securing the support of the other captains sailed southward towards richer, and at the time, less well defended plunder in the Yulan Ocean and Tealestrian Sea. Within a few years of raiding the world's most important trade lanes, de Souza had amassed considerable wealth and power, and growing numbers of mutineers, disaffected privateers, and assorted brigands swore fealty under the banner of Captain de Souza. Finding the steadily expanding fleet too much to manage, de Souza, along with many trusted captains came upon a consensus to establish the Black Fleet in ER 488, with de Souza being elected its first captain. The codification of rules of conduct, standardization of pay was a lengthy process, and one that proved somewhat unpopular with a few of the more rebellious captains and crews breaking away from the fleet, and leaving the Black Fleet a smaller, but much more cohesive entity. In the years since the founding of the Black Fleet it has been steadily expanding its operations, with a number of crews and vessels added to the fleet every year since its inception, and with operations moving from beyond simple pillaging of merchant shipping to include smuggling, as well as more legitimate trade in various grey markets throughout the Tealestrian Sea. As the years have gone by however, Admiral de Souza has gone into a soft retirement from active piracy leaving much of the running of the organization to his daughters, and a few of the old guard that have been with him since the beginning. Most recently, the Black Fleet has begun a campaign of harassment against the Leandris Company which possesses some of the wealthiest treasure hauls to be had in the region; indeed the banner of the Black Fleet was changed, incoporated the anchor motif as an insult to the company and to Artenos. Additionally they have been selling mana potions to various organizations of spellcasters, who will vast sums of coin, all of which flows into the coffers of the Black Fleet, which has currently, the sole knowledge of how to produce the potions.
Admiral de Souza's fleet, the Great Fleet, the Free State of Leandris
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